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Wednesday, 31 December 2003

it was a very good year



Ah, 2003. The year in which we became homeowners and dog owners, we visited California and Nevada, hosted our very first Christmas together in England, and every one of my friends got pregnant, gave birth, got engaged, or got married. I walked through London in my bra, I saw Wales for the first time, was swept away to London for a birthday surprise and saw Gandolf live, and got my very first diamonds from a boy.



In 2003, this site got 729,916 hits and had 60,214 visitors. In 1996 when I first put together a web page (if you want to call it that), I could count all my visitors on one hand.



To all 60,214 of you, no matter how you stumbled across this site, here's to a very good year for us all.

Monday, 29 December 2003

your questions answered



Once again, I have poured through my usage statistics and taken note of particular search strings leading to this site. I shall attempt to answer some of the questions that bring you to my site, with the hope that I can provide some sort of insight to you, my beloved readers. It's in the spirit of the holiday season, an' all that.



1. what kind of life incanada how they spend the time canadian?

Judging by the lack of spaces and punctuation in this query, I'm guessing that this Googler was so keen to gain any knowledge about Canada, good sentence structure went right out the window. Good for you, Googler! Life in Canada, for me, was good. A little chilly, but good. We spend our time just like anyone else, except with more beer, ice hockey, and swearing in two official languages.



2. why do dogs make funny noises when they are asleep?

I've come to the conclusion that dogs do it to freak out their owners. Not only do they make funny noises, they twitch and spasm like they're going into convulsions, and sometimes sleep with their eyes open (usually staring right at you while they twitch and make funny noises). I am also convinced that our dog belches deliberately whenever I happen to be very close to his face.



3. how to hard boil an egg?

One: boil water in a pan. Two: put egg in water, turn down heat slightly. Three: let sit in gently boiling water for about 11 minutes. Four: remove from water and let cool slightly before peeling 'cos it'll be really, really hot. Five: try to enjoy hard boiled egg regardless of the bellowing laughter from your partner who can't believe that you don't know how to hard boil an egg.

Sunday, 28 December 2003

a taste of home



It's official - several Britons agree that tourtiere is darn tasty. I went all Delia and put a doughy holly decoration on top (god help me).







The holidays have been fab and a lot of fun, spent eating and drinking far too much and seeing lots of friends and family. The most beautiful present I received was a diamond and white gold necklace from Paul. The most hilarious (and slightly frightening) present I received was a book from my Mom and Dad called "About My Dog", which is very similar to a baby record book. Although there is no page in which to insert his first lock of shed hair or his first lost baby tooth, it does allow you to record all sorts of information that only the nuttiest of pet owners would seriously log. My favourite Christmas photo so far is this one of Paul's niece Polly. I love it because it sums her up perfectly that day, following me and constantly asking me "What are you doing?" with that inquisitive look on her face. Oh and this photo as well because it reminds me of the Grinch's dog Max when he straps the reindeer antlers to his head (another gift courtesy of Mom and Dad).



We've still got another week off and a lot of leftover chocolate to get through. Somehow, I think we'll survive.

Tuesday, 23 December 2003

have yourself a merry little christmas



Have a fab holiday and may lots of good stuff happen to you in 2004. :)



Festive smoochies,

The broad, her bloke, and the dawg

xx



Sunday, 21 December 2003

it's the most wonderful time of the year



Everyone decided to go to Tesco yesterday. That is, everyone who is a) midly brain damaged and/or had a common sense-ectomy b) clinically insane or c) over the age of 102. People abandoned their trolleys in the middle of aisles as if they suddenly remembered that their houses were on fire. Those who didn't abandon their trolleys used them as battering rams to push their way through the crowds. For some bizarre reason, everyone was in the cheese aisle. It was refreshingly quiet in the gluten-free food section, so I took refuge there for a few moments. I said "oh, excuse me" sarcastically when people shoved into me (that's how rude us Canadians get, really). I did deep breathing exercises to calm down and stop myself from throwing packages of pitted dates at the next person who stopped in front of me for no apparent reason.



Christmas is my favourite time of the year. I just don't know it until it's all over.

Friday, 19 December 2003

ho, ho, ho



I'm all set. Got my tourtiere recipe (thank you Maggie and Terry!). Got my food shopping list done. Have eaten way too much junk food in the past two days, and I don't care. Am feeling splendidly merry without the aid of red wine or a gin and tonic. Spent lunchtime hugging Jasper and telling him that he's the best puppy in the world (including such clever snippets of conversation as "Who's the puppy? You are, Jaspey!"). Have hung the Christmas cards up on a pretty red ribbon on the French doors.



It must be Christmas. Or I'm going a little bit loopy.



Does anyone in North America remember a commercial from about 10 years ago for Cornflakes, where kids leave a bowl out for Santa? The little girl (a la Cindy Lou Hoo) wakes up to discover Santa eating the Cornflakes and she whispers "Shhhh. Ho, ho, ho!" to him and goes back to sleep. They are airing this ad now in the UK, dubbed with the voices of English children who have spent too much time in bad acting schools. No, seriously. It's bizarre.



So spray on the fake snow, hang up your stockings, deck them halls, and steam your puddings. I'm outta here until January 5, and I couldn't be giddier (I will be away from work, but will undoubtedly fit in some time for blogging over the hols). Let the countdown to the end of the work day begin...

Tuesday, 16 December 2003

sorted



We want to see Lord of the Rings: Return of the King tomorrow, but we can only see it after work. This is a bit of a problem because this would mean leaving Jasper alone for too long. My friend Paul G. came up with the following solution:

"bring him - I am fairly sure that he will really enjoy it - mind you - make sure to give him all of the back story first - otherwise he might get a little lost and bored - which would likely result with him chewing the seat apart and taking out all of the stuffing. if he saw the second one he is good to go - just dress him up like a hairy little kid and it will be no problem - buy him a glass of ice and he will be happy as a clam."



Fantastic - I'm booking for two adults and one child right now.

Monday, 15 December 2003

festive blockage



"Thames Water estimates that the annual yuletide feast of turkey, goose, beef, and ham leads to a 25% increase in the amount of fat ending up down the drain."



Mmmmm. Drain drippings.
a holiday plea



Does anyone have a good (i.e. tried and true) recipe for tourtiere? Please leave a comment or send me an email at broad[at]wittydomainname[dot]com. Along with Nanaimo bars, this is my attempt at integrating some Canadian goodness into this year's holiday season.



Well it's either that, or we go out and play road hockey and get really drunk.

Friday, 12 December 2003

bits n' bobs



Heyho, haven't done the Friday Five for a while:



1. Do you enjoy the cold weather and snow for the holidays?

Cold weather no - snow, yes. See my snow nostalgia post here.



2. What is your ideal holiday celebration? How, where, with whom would you celebrate to make things perfect?

There's nothing better than being at home for the holidays, but I'm really looking forward to our first Christmas in the new house here. I dearly miss spending Christmas day at my Grandma and Grandpa's house in St. Catharines, Ontario.



3. Do you do have any holiday traditions?

My parents and I started doing stocking stuffers on Christmas Eve when I was a pre-teen (usually after the late night service at church - no really, I've been in one before). Paul and I are continuing this tradition with his parents this year.



4. Do you do anything to help the needy?

Not specifically for the holidays, although I try to do what I can throughout the year (e.g. donating loads of things to the Salvation Army).



5. What one gift would you like for yourself?

I could be really corny and say that I already have the best gift of all - the love of my boyfriend and my dog - but I won't. I am absolutely rubbish at thinking of gifts for myself, as Paul can attest to. I love being surprised and because I have such a crappy short term memory, I find myself being surprised quite often. I'm a bit like Dory in Finding Nemo, really.

Tuesday, 9 December 2003

reasons to be festive



In the spirit of the season, I've added snowflakes to the left menu and changed a couple of colours. Don't say that I don't go all out for you people.



Early on Sunday morning, the fabulously lovely Ruth gave birth to a bouncing baby girl. Naomi is the first child for Gary and Ruth, and another little one to make me all broody. I'm starting to get the urge to dress the dog up in little outfits, for goodness sake. What was I saying? Oh yes, congratulations to you both and we'll be over to make funny faces at your newborn very soon.



After having been around various malls looking for baby-themed presents for various friends, I've come to one conclusion: we need more shops that sell baby-themed presents. It's been surprisingly difficult to find things like baby books and pretty photo albums. Could I find a Christmas ornament that said something to the effect of "Baby's First Christmas"? Heck, no. Back home, I'd probably find this stuff at my local Hallmark shop or I'd just ask my Mom because she knows where to find everything. No, seriously, it's scary. Ask her where to purchase any item, and she'll be able to tell you. This is the woman who found Marmite in Toronto for Paul last Christmas, she's that good. So anyway, I've tried to be as creative with the baby gifts as possible but it's been quite a challenge. If anyone would care to open this sort of specialty shop, please open it near me. Thank you.

Monday, 8 December 2003

threes



My alarm didn't go off this morning, so I ended up sleeping in a bit. Nothing too tragic; it was only an extra 20 minutes. So I got up and started running the shower, which would only provide me with a slow trickle of relatively cold water. Again, nothing too tragic as I used the other shower instead. I knew there was a third thing coming because things always happen in threes. I thought it would be something like running out of toilet paper or finding that we had no skimmed milk this morning*.

*(The latter did actually happen, but I'm over it now.)



Number three - a FedEx man arrives at my door while I was home at lunchtime and hands me a letter. It's from a corporate lawyer threatening to take legal action because I put samples of manuals I worked on 18 months ago on a Tripod personal web site that nobody visits (or so my stats tell me). Apart from the fact that this is unnecessarily dramatic (I know the Americans are a litigious people, but this is silly), it really hacks me off to think that ex-colleagues couldn't drop me a note or pick up a phone to ask me to remove the files. It was obvious that the samples were part of a professional portfolio, and I included the company's copyright information with the excerpts. I now understand that this violates the NDA I signed when I joined the company, but did this warrant a heavy-handed letter couriered to me from some lawyer in Ohio?



When I left that company, I could have slagged people off in my exit interview, but I didn't. I didn't badmouth anyone because a) I have never disliked anyone enough to bitch about them to someone I barely know in HR and b) there was no point. I was moving on to another company, I had made some great friends at the former, and there was absolutely nothing to gain by burning bridges. I didn't think anyone there harboured any bad feelings towards me, but maybe that's just me being the innocent Canadian that I am.



Although this wasn't really the nicest thing to happen to me (and things like this do put a bit of a damper on my view of the human race and makes me want to run away to a desert island with my dog and my boyfriend), it does convince me of one thing: I have a really fantastic job. It has its moments of lunacy and frustration, but I do love my job.



And now I'm wondering if I can get sued for talking about an incident in which someone is threatening to sue me. Damn.

Thursday, 4 December 2003

shift



I have one final assignment and a portfolio to submit for my MA course, and it's due in about two weeks. Four weeks ago, I worked out a strategy. I had a plan. I was a woman with time on her side. I could do one section of the assignment/portfolio per week, and I'd be finished on time. Hurrah, I thought. And now it's four weeks later and I have no idea where the time went and now I'm starting to panic.



I am suffering from Procrastinatory Paralysis; a condition in which the subject has been unable to complete a task and eventually experiences the inability to get her arse in gear. Symptoms include: an aversion to looking at the pile of paper and textbooks on the desk next to you, a sudden interest in any activity that doesn't involve essay writing, a heightened sense of urgency (for all tasks with the exception of the task that has a rapidly approaching deadline because that one doesn't exist la la la I can't hear youuu), and the inability to fall asleep quickly because your brain won't shut off for the night.



Cure: get my arse in gear.

Tuesday, 2 December 2003

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow



We watched a television show with Billy Connolly in the Arctic last night, which was good fun (do try to catch any of his "Around the World" tours on television or DVD - they're hilarious). He was in the snowy wilds of the North West Territories, and oddly, it made me nostalgic and homesick. I didn't grow up in the NWT nor have I ever been there, but most of the programme was about snow. Lots and lots of open space and snow (and bears, but they don't make me nostalgic, really).



I miss how silent the world becomes after a snowfall and the squeaky crunchy sound that your boots make when you step onto a snow-covered surface (and the slight thrill of being the first person to leave a footprint). I remember the snowsuits I had as a kid - the one piece snowsuits that always made you feel like you had to pee the second your Mom zipped you up, and the two piece snowsuits you got when you were a bit bigger. Both styles made arm and knee bending impossible, and you had to complete your outfit with a toque, probably knit by an older relative (complete with a giant pompom on top). I had a Krazy Karpet (a bright orange sheet of thick plastic) that was likely pulled off the market for being hazardous to children, while other (older and cooler) kids skidded down the hills on inner tubes. I miss the quiet beauty of big fluffy flakes drifting past my window in the evening. I never thought I'd say this, but I miss Canadian winters. To a point.



Do British people get nostalgic for rain if they move to a drier climate?
stop, thief!



I generally review my Web stats for three reasons: to find out how people stumble across this site, to giggle at amusing search strings, and to check for twonks* who are stealing images (and bandwidth) from my site.



If anyone knows how to a) find out who is linking to images on this site and b) prevent people from doing so, please let me know. Paul found something that I could do via php scripts, but I don't think I can do that unless I start hosting this page on my own server (as opposed to Easily's).



*(The hijacked image has been renamed; another bandwidth pirate has been thwarted. Victory is temporarily mine!)