Friday 29 November 2002

break time

I've just realised that whenever I do non-work related stuff on my PC, I like to settle down with a cup of tea before I start. It's the same kind of subconcious ritual I used to have when I smoked; I'd always light a cig beforehand. Bizarre. Incidentally, of all the things I've changed or done something about in my life, quitting smoking was the toughest and is the one thing I am most proud about. Losing weight was no small feat either, but I never really got rid of all my bad habits. I don't really watch what I eat, I don't go to the gym anymore, and I truly can't be arsed to put all the effort into it. For some reason, I never had this problem with quitting smoking. I had my last cig on March 31/00 (my 31st. birthday), and that was it. I've never had another cig or even a drag off a cig since. Not that I haven't wanted one - there are some days when I would sell my own mother for a cig - I just never caved in. For someone who had around 12-15 cigs a day for 16 years (never tried to quit before either), that's pretty darn good, if you ask me. Mostly I'm just pleased that every cold doesn't turn into bronchitis now and that I can take a transatlanic flight without feeling the need to slap everyone on the plane because of nicotine withdrawal after 8 hours.

Changing the subject before I turn into one of those boring ex-smokers, this weekend we will be entertaining Paul's parents. They'll get to see all the fabulous DIY we've done and new stuff that Paul's done/had done since their last visit over a year ago. Apparently his Mum always cleans when she visits, so I bet that lunch meat is gonna end up in cling film and the fridge will get a good wipe down.

Holy guacamole, I just looked out the window. The zombies are back! Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!

Thursday 28 November 2002

the psychology of fridges

Ed has inspired me yet again (maybe I just pay more attention to his writing 'cos he's always talking about food) and got me thinking about the contents of my fridge (see? Food.). First of all, let me just say that fridges in this country are really annoying. Actually, let me rephrase: all the fridges I've had have been annoying. What is it with these little tiny fridges you always get here when you rent a house/flat? They are what we call "bar fridges" in North America; refrigerators that are about 3 feet high that will fit two bottles of water and a few items of very flat food like bacon or torillas. You're screwed if you want to store things like bottles of wine (upright) and big bags of salad. Even the bigger houses I've been in had these little tiny fridges. Do you know what they call (what I think of as) regular fridges here? "American fridges". Bizarre.

Anyway, so I was thinking about what's usually in my fridge and how I store food. If I'm going to be here a fair amount, then it's pretty well stocked. I always have my staples: milk, butter, condiments (mayo, mustard, chutney, Branston pickle, salad dressing), usually some sort of cheese, and a few veggies hanging about from previous meals. Then I've got my freezer, chock full of pre-portioned sauces, curries, and other meals, breads, oven chips, and various other bits and bobs. Stuff in my fridge is always contained somehow, either in cling film/Saran wrap or plastic containers and jars. I check sell by dates fairly often, and chuck out stuff that's starting to look dodgy. On rare occasions, I'll wipe the inside of my fridge clean. Then I go to Paul's house and I have to resist the urge to a) wrap everything up in cling film (sandwich meat! In its original wrapping but half open! Aaaieee!) b) throw things away and c) move everything to the bottom shelf so I can reach it. I know what I said about small fridges here, but his is on top of a good-sized freezer.

So yes, not a lot of psychological analysis needed there. I'm tidy. He's not. But at least I'm not cleaning out his fridge because frankly, I think that would be a baaad sign.
white ribbons

The other day, I was reminded of the fact that I used to wear a white ribbon this time of year every year since the Montreal Ecole Polytechnique massacre. This event had a signifant impact on me, not only because it was horrific, but because a week after the massacre, a man came into the video shop where I worked on a Saturday afternoon, pointed a gun at me, and told me to give him the money out of the til. I had only just moved to Montreal in May of that year, I was 20 years old, living alone, and had never seen a gun in real life. I didn't feel safe again for a long time after that.

Last week I thought I'd buy a piece of ribbon in a shop somewhere or find one of my Montreal ribbons (I think I still have one in a box somewhere) because even though I'm 3,000 miles away, I still want to remember the women who died. I went to the Body Shop in Cambridge a couple of days ago, and when I went up to the til, I noticed a box of white ribbons in front of me. I never realised that the white ribbon campaign was international, and I was so happy to put my pound coin in the box and take out a ribbon for myself.

Incidentally, I do not condone violence against anyone. I've heard the arguments that this campaign is discriminatory because it's against violence towards women only (no really, I have - more than once), but it's important to acknowledge why and how the white ribbon campaign began. This was started by a group of men to remember the women who were shot dead in what was supposed to be a safe place (their university) by a man who specifically stated that women ("feminists", actually) were the cause of his miserable life. So yes, it's about women this time. You can put the remaining 364 days of the year to good use, too.

Monday 25 November 2002

love is...

...when my boyfriend, knowing full well that I have a fireman fetish, honks at the local fire brigade as we drive by (who are picketing at the moment) and says "That was for your benefit!" Ah, the gift of a dozen firemen waving at me. I couldn't ask for more, really.

We had another weekend of DIY and another weekend of vowing never to do any DIY ever again. Paul and I painted his kitchen (it's really gorgeous now), and then Paul tackled the bathroom lighting and drilled things into the walls. After searching through dozens of vinyl flooring samples (and good god, there are a lot of ugly ones out there - what are you people doing to your poor defenseless floors, for goodness sake?), Paul found one that was quite nice. Now all that's left is the flooring on the ground level, Paul's bedroom, and various carpeting issues. Did we say no DIY ever again? We'll say it again when we embark upon it after we've forgotten how much of a hassle this round was.

They make it look so bloody easy on the UK Style channel. I can't believe that television has led me astray.

This is the view from my office today. I keep expecting zombies to burst through the mist and start pounding on my window - which would be a good trick because I work on the first floor (second floor to you North American types), but anyway...

Thursday 21 November 2002


I've ordered this book for myself. My personal faves from the editorial review: If you can't remember if you've ever curled or not, because of how drunk you were, you get 50 points, Twelve Ways to Say "I'm Sorry.", and How to Find Canada on a Map. And 'cos I just can't resist a good deal, I've ordered it with this book. They should be waiting for me when I go back to Toronto in three weeks.

THREE WEEKS?! Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah I'm not ready for Christmas yet!!!

Wednesday 20 November 2002


Is it wrong to be really excited that celebrity Big Brother starts tonight? Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Tuesday 19 November 2002

it's about time

Gah, the days are blasting past me and time is going full speed ahead. I've been busy at work (deadlines abound), busy outside of work, and generally keeping myself off the streets and out of trouble.

We had a super fantastic smashing time in London last weekend. We drove in on Saturday, checked into our hotel, went up the London Eye (click here for piccies!), met Gary and Ruth for dinner (for very yummy food at Bar 38 where the boys and girls share a hand washing fountain outside the loos), saw the Fast Show (brilliaaaaaaaaaaant!!!), and wandered back to our hotel for a nightcap. Sunday morning we checked out, trapsed around London in the pouring rain (go figure), wandered around in search of a place that does brunch (apparently people in London don't eat brunch on Sundays 'cos everything was shut), and finally found a place near Leicester Square. We'd booked tickets to see Harry Potter at the Odeon and had a couple of hours to kill, so we walked along to the Regent Street area to do some shopping.

We went to Hamley's, which I suppose would be the London equivalent to FAO Schwartz - it's a massive toy shop with all sorts of cool stuff in it. My Mom loves teddy bears, and Hamley's has the most fabulous "bear factory" I've ever seen. You pick out your bear (or moose, or monkey, or one of the other creatures), take him to be stuffed (which looks kinda painful and yet rather humorous at the same time), and he's hand sewn at a counter where you take a little red satin heart, kiss it, make a wish, and it's tucked inside the bear. You then pick your bear's name and give some other info, and they make up a birth certificate for you. They have an entire room full of outfits, so I picked out a full Scottish kilt getup for my bear and called him...please, don't pelt me with rotting veg...Billy MacBear. So my Dad's name is Bill and I thought my Mom would get a kick out of it. Shush. I know it's all just too cute for words, but it really is quite something and I think my Mom will really love the fact that this bear was custom made for her. You can even record a message that'll play when you squeeze your bear, but even I thought that was too naff. It's cute when you're 6, but at 33, your parents aren't exactly going to go "awwwww" at the idea of hearing your voice coming out of a stuffed toy.

We headed to the cinema to see Harry Potter, and what a grand cinema it was - it must seat around 2,000 people (I think I heard an usher say that it was quite a lot of work cleaning up after 2,000 kids) and the screen is massive. Our seats were pretty good and the film was enjoyable. I think Jack sums it up best by saying it's sort of a "greatest hits" of the book, so it comes across rather disjointed in spots. Still, it's good fun and darn nice to look at. We headed back to Cambridge later in the afternoon, a bit tired but happy after a fun trip to the Big Smoke. Oh yes, and I think they call it that 'cos every single person in London chain smokes. Bleah.

So, it's back to life, back to reality. Too much to do at work, getting a bit stressed, starting to panic about the holidays (holy crap, we're flying out in less than a month and I've not done any shopping apart from that feckin bear), and realising that we have wait, two free weekends before we go. *eep!* Time for a cup of tea and a bubble bath.

Tuesday 12 November 2002

i majored in art at university...

...and I still can't paint along a straight line to save my life. This weekend, we were mostly doing home reno things around Paul's house. Yes, I realise that I don't live here. No, I wasn't forced to paint by my big meanie boyfriend; I actually wanted to do it. You see, I have never been a homeowner and I find the idea of doing DIY around a house quite the exciting novelty. That is, until I actually start doing the work and then realise how it's mostly just annoying. Still, despite the mishaps (paint splodges on tiles and the ceiling, a slip when I decided the edge of the tub was a better place to stand than the stepladder, picking bristles off of my newly painted walls, oh I could go on and on), it's actually pretty cool to stand back and look at it all when it's done. I've painted over the godawful green leafy stencilling and peach coloured walls that have plagued me every time I've soaked in the tub and stared at them. It's all a lovely sky blue; calm and so very clean. It needs some accessories and new flooring of some sort, but for now, it's a big improvement.

Paul put in new lighting in the kitchen, and it's absolutely brilliant. No, really - kitchen lighting can be something to get excited about. He put two recessed halogen lights above the sink area, a nice chrome and frosted glass halogen light fixture in the middle of the kitchen (with 3 adjustable spotlights), and flourescent lights under the cabinets. It looks fantastic. We also found a paint colour that went really well with the counter and cupboards, but then ran into a rather interesting dilemma: the shops ran out of one of the tints used to make it. It's one of those mix your own colour deals, but that's a little hard to do when they run out of a colour you need. How you can run out of a tint is beyond me. To elaborate, how all the shops in Northampton could be out of this particular tint is beyond me. I think it's either a really popular colour or local kids have discovered a way to make narcotics out of it and cleaned out the local shops.

I've watched too many programmes on the UK Style channel and figured hey, if they can decorate an entire house in 1/2 an hour, surely a small bathroom can be done in seconds. Three days it took us. Apparently, paint needs to dry quite a long time in between coats (16 hours is just greedy and excessive, you fussy jasmine white gloss) and if you have no idea about what you're doing, it takes hours to paint trim without dribbling paint everywhere. Plus there was this "preparation" ritual (filling holes with Polyfilla which also, very greedily, demands that you wait 24 hours before you can touch it with sandpaper or paint) and the clean up afterwards.

And yet the novelty hasn't worn off and I'm actually interested in looking at flooring samples. Is this what happens to you when you reach your mid-30s?

Sunday 10 November 2002

it's a canadian thing

Something only Canadians will find amusing, so apologies in advance for the inside joke. I was just poking around some (totally legal, I'm sure) mp3s and someone has "Bob Cajun" by the Tragically Hip available for download. That's right - you thought Bobcaygeon was just a boring town in Northern Ontario but no! It's also a guy called Bob from Louisiana.

Friday 8 November 2002

tgif ffs

A very welcome end to a very long week. At least being busy at work keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. Tip du jour: Underworld's latest CD "Hundred Days Off" is the best thing to blast in your headphones when you're writing under deadline. Bring in da funk.

We're both off on Monday, making for a lovely long weekend in exotic Northampton. We were supposed to go to Dublin, but things fell through (we were supposed to go for Paul's friend Russell's birthday, but he had to cancel because he's moving house). No, I'm not bitter. Heartbroken...saddened...wanting to give Russ a wedgie...maybe just a little. I have been promised a future visit to Dublin (home of Molly Bloom, doncha know), so all is not lost. In the meantime, I'm sitting here sipping a nice glass of wine after having indulged in a thoroughly greasy and absolutely heavenly fish and chip dinner. You know it's good when the paper it's wrapped in turns translucent.

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, hope you have a fantabulous weekend. Unless you live in Halifax in which case, you're buried under snow, can't leave the house, and have bugger all to do until the next thaw.

Wednesday 6 November 2002

poppin' good fun

Guy Fawkes night was excellent! Lotsa loud, colourful fireworks, plenty of drinks before and after, and fabulous Chinese food to end the evening. Click here to see pictures and a couple of mpegs. Fun, fun, fun!

Tuesday 5 November 2002

Potter news

A friend of mine just sent me a blurb about the latest Harry Potter book, containing revelations from JK Rowling herself. In response, I sent him this message.

Other revelations in Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix:

  • Hermione's tangled hairdo? A home perm gone really wrong. Uses the "I'm a witch and shouldn't have neat hair" excuse to not do anything about it.

  • That is a wand in Harry's pocket AND he is glad to see you.

  • Chocolate Frogs make excellent laxatives.

  • Not only does the sorting hat yell out which house you should belong to, it now also tells everyone your sexual preference.

  • Neville's clumsiness is a result of several years of crack abuse.

  • Hagrid is just "big boned".

  • Post owls are really budgies in big fluffy bird suits. Real owls kept clawing the children's eyes out.

  • There is no spell in the world that will rid us of Celine Dion. None. We're all doomed.

Anyone heard any other rumours about this book?
penny for the guy

Hooray hooray, it's fireworks day! It's rainy and muddy, but after a trip to the pub, we won't mind too much. Stay tuned for firework piccies tomorrowish.

Paul has earned another slew of brownie points today by leaving me a surprise pressie on my desk this morning - a very colourful mug inscribed with the following:

Lisa is so smashing

the bestest girl by far

She's a little ray of fabness

a cool and groovy star!

In work-related news, I've just looked at Pete's armpit. My job just doesn't get weirder than that.

Monday 4 November 2002

number one in the under 7 demographic

I had a fantastic weekend in Kent, meeting the rest of the boyfriend's clan (must go to California to meet the American side - damn, what a shame) and enjoyed ourselves despite the weather. "How English", everyone said as we stood under umbrellas with our sparklers and set off fireworks in the pouring rain. We dried ourselves off and had a lovely dinner, and Paul's nieces ran around with my digital camera and took a billion pictures (here's one of me taken by 4 year old Polly, which explains why it's a shot from the ground up). I loved these girls, and for some bizarre reason, I was a big hit with them as well. Honestly, kids usually don't really seem too bothered with me, but this time I had two nieces fighting over my lap space and acting as my bookends the entire weekend. Here is a picture of Polly, her sister (and Paul's goddaughter) Grace, and Harry the dog (belonging to Paul's oldest brother Andrew and his wife Gabi) in a quiet moment after dinner. The next day, we went out for a lovely Sunday lunch to a fantastic pub a few miles away. This was the big "meet the family" event, as I got acquainted with another dozen or so of Paul's relatives - all of them extremely nice and fun. Here's Andrew, Polly, and me at lunch - what a little impish smile (and I don't mean Andrew)! A tiring but very enjoyable weekend, probably a little more tiring for Paul who had to fend off two sisters-in-law demanding to know if they need to buy new hats yet.

Friday 1 November 2002

rain rain go away

It's November in England which means the sun fecks off at 4.30pm and it rains on us 24 hrs. a day. Check out the Cambourne Business Park web cam to see the mucky view I have from my office today. Bleah indeed.

It's supposed to pour rain tomorrow as well, which is going to be annoying. We're supposed to be setting off fireworks in Paul's parents' garden tomorrow night, and it'll be a bit crap if we're huddled under umbrellas holding sparklers. It's Guy Fawkes night here on Nov. 5, so we're having fireworks this weekend (also to celebrate Paul's Mum's birthday). I'm thinking we'll likely end up sitting inside with sparklers and drinking a lot of wine, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I love fireworks (and really miss the big fireworks competition in Montreal) and I always end up missing bonfire night festivities for various reasons. Since my first holiday in England, I've been here for Guy Fawkes night 4 times. I've missed every single bonfire night and have only seen fleeting glimpses of fireworks from motorways or living room windows. This year, I'll be going out with the usual suspects for an evening of drinks, fireworks, and Chinese food. Finally! Fireworks!