Friday, December 30, 2005

New Year's Resolutions

The past few years, I have opted not to have any New Year's Resolutions. This a different story. I have a list.

1: Stop talking about losing weight, and actually lose weight! Back to WW. Again. (12th time? 13th? I've lost track) Nevermind, this time, I'm motivated. Really! I was stopped by Global news the other day and was asked a few questions about a recent shooting in the area. I was on the 5:30 news, and I was GINORMOUS! My head was the size of the Great Pumpkin. This time, Greg will also be doing WW with me.
2: Back to Bikram Yoga. My back has been killing me, I need to exercise. No more excuses.
3: I'm starting up a book club, first meeting is on January 18th. The book is 'Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons,' a good book to start with, I think.
4: Ease up on the wine intake. I've been overindulging this year. Too many cozy nights in front of the tv.
5: Make more of an effort to hook up with friends.
6: Go to Berlin with Greg. (I don't think our honeymoon was long enough.)
7: Get financially smart. Figure out a budget.
8: Clean out the laundry room.
9: Go ice skating.
10: Keep above resolutions.

Did you make any relsolutions this year?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Is it just me, or am I the only one who is glad that Christmas is done? It's like I can finally breathe a big, huge, gigantic, sigh of relief!
I got the scrapbooks done. I was still working on them on Christmas day, but I got all 3 of 'em done. And, surprisingly, I think my mom appreciated it the most! (Surprise, surprise!) They turned out pretty good, but in my haste, I forgot to take pictures of them. I was pleased with the end result, but let's just may be a while before I start another scrapbooking project.
Christmas Eve at my Mom's was really nice. She made a lovely dinner of Rouladen and Red Cabbage, which is my favourite. Greg likes it too, and she really made it for him. The neighbours were invited, and they gave Greg and I beautiful pens carved out of African tropical wood that Mr. G had made himself...a la Watermen style.
Christmas Eve when I was growing up was interesting. Being German, my parents had to come up with an innnovative idea of how Santa would come to our house. At some point in the evening, my dad would pack me and my brother in the car and we would drive around the neighbourhood looking at other people's lights on their houses, listening to Christmas Carols on the radio. Every once in a while, he would point up at the sky and say "I think I see him!" (Of course, he would say it it German...("Ich glaube, dass Ich Ihm sehe!") (I shudder to think of it, but my dad was probably loaded while he was bootin' about with the kids, hand off the wheel, pointing at the sky)
By the time we got home...Lo and Behold! Santa (Der Weihnachtsmahn) would have come to our house already, because apparently Santa comes to the German Kids houses first, dont'cha'no.
Nowadays, I have to say, I LOVE that we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. We had a great dinner, and afterwards spent hours opening up gifts one by one, having a few drinks, and reminicing about Christmas pasts.
Two things didn't happen this year:
1) My brother didn't get shit-faced drunk
2) We didn't play the VCR tape of the 8mm movie I had copied years ago of our family when we were young. My Dad was, of course, a big part of that movie. We mentioned it...but this year we didn't have the great need to watch it. We did, however, light a candle in his honour. That goes without saying.

Christmas Day:
Scrapbook, scrapbook, scrapbook. #%$@%^SCRAPBOOK!!!
Went to Greg's Dad's and MIL2 for dinner.
Wonderful! My mom and brother were also invited, for which, I was, on the one hand thankful, and on the other hand stressed about.
MIL2 is an excellent cook, and she served up a feast! Greg's brother got Shit-faced drunk, my mother felt sorry for him and babied him, Greg's dad got drunk and cracked a smile, but the craziest news of the night is that Greg's sister, Louise, got engaged to Jeff! (In the future, I am certainly sure that I will have something to say about this!) My mom, had the time of her life! Maybe, because it was the first time she realized that other families have the same kind of problems, and she felt normal for a change.
Boxing Day, we usually have an open house at our place, but this year, Louise and Jeff had a dinner at their place. 2-4 was there, and I was so happy to see her! As much as she drives me crazy in the summer, I miss her when I don't see her for a while. She was in fine form, and a laugh and a half! As was Greg's brother, who was shit-faced drunk, but...not quite so funny.
All in all...a successful enough Christmas.

How were your holidays?!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

To All of my Blogfriends,
I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and the happiest of New Years!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Don't want to be a bummer...but I just wanted to acknowledge that Dec 23rd marks six years since my Dad died.
And, I was closer to my Dad than anyone else in my family. I think that he was the one person who really understood me, and who really liked me, for being me. He respected me, and wanted to know what I thought about things. I don't know what kind of a relationship he had with my brother, I don't think it was good. My mom and brother stuck together (still do) but my Dad (Papa) and I had a kind of grown up relationship. Grown-up in the sense that I could talk to him about what was going on in the world, what I wanted to do with my life. I confided in him. He let me know when he wasn't happy with the choices I had made, but he would support me with whatever it was I had chosen to do. And he let me know that I would learn from my mistakes.
I think he believed in me. And that is what I miss about him the most. HE BELIEVED IN ME.
As sad as I am that he is not here any more, I'm going to take that belief, and run with it.
But, I really miss him.
More than I let on.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

4 Days 'til Christmas?!

Would anyone really mind if let Christmas come a little later this year?
It seems that I am really behind on everything.
I have made a dent in the Christmas shopping. Tip: One stop shopping at the bookstore.
I had this wild and crazy (thoughtful, I thought) thought that I would make scrapbooks of the wedding for the Mothers. Well, I only JUST got some of the photos back yesterday, and spent 4 hours today before going to work getting started. I am doing three scrapbooks at a time, and there are only 10 pages, and they are smaller scrapbooks, but, seeing as I have never scrapbooked before in my life...I probably should have started about a month ago.
The good news is, is that the first two pages of these scrapbooks are done, and really are quite pretty. I like them so much, I might even have a hard time to give them away! But, the bad news is, is that I have to work evenings this week, and that is taking up my valuable time. Oh, to not have to work for a living!
I'll just keep reminding myself how well I do under pressure.

Now, I have to tell you all something else. And, unfortunately it's a bit sad. Nat is not doing very well.
He has a bad case of Alzheimer's and has been deteriorating quite rapidly. A few Friday nights ago there was a knock at the door, and there stood Nat. He had a red leather glove in his hand which someone had dropped at the elevator. Now, Nat, ever the gentleman, took it upon himself to knock on all the doors to see if any of his neighbours may have lost it. It wasn't mine, but he then decided to invite himself in. Which was fine. He shuffled in admiring this and that, and then he asked if he could see the bedroom! Well, of course I found that quite humourous, as did our company, but nonetheless, I didn't mind. He admired the bedroom (thank god the bed was made!) asked me my name, said good night to my guests, and then left as he had to find the owner of the red glove.

Today I saw his wife Betty in the lobby, and I was so shocked because she looked so awful! I had overheard her talking to the concierge about Nat, and I already knew that he wasn't doing well. I was on my way to work, but something told me to stop and talk to her.
Well. Poor Betty has been up at all hours of the night with Nat. She says that she doesn't know what to do, that he has gone downhill so quickly in the past few days, that she can't leave him alone anymore, and then the poor lady started crying. And she was so embarrassed.
So, I gave her my number, told her to call me day or night, and that I would knock on her door tomorrow to see how things were going. That made Betty cry harder and in between dabbing at her eyes, Ever The Lady, she said "oh that would be so nice if you even just come for a cup of tea."
It looks like I've turned into the Residential Nurse. First my neighbour, now my neighbour's neighbour.
But hey, people need to use whatever resources they have, right? Right. And what kind of nurse (person) would I be, if I ignored someone who needed my help?

And, I guess the scrapbooks can wait.
And, no matter how much I'd like it to, Christmas probably won't.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I haven't been much in a blogging mood lately, a little tired, a little moody. Not anti-Christmas moody, but also, not really in the mood to do much shopping. I love the lights, the trees, even caught myself humming "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow" today...although that might be because we are in the midst of a major winter storm.
My lovely hubby was up at 5:30 this am, fed the kitties, woke me up an hour later, and then drove me to work. All in anticipation of this storm.
Well, really, this morning the storm hadn't started, but he knew it was coming. And Boy, did it ever! I took the subway home today (which I don't do very often) and am very glad I did. Traffic is snarled to say the very least as the snow started during the rush hour crawl home at 3pm.
Have you ever notice how Canadians love to talk about the weather? It is a daily source of conversation. I'll try not to go on about it, although I know I'm taking the subway to work again tomorrow. The route I take to work goes uphill, and I haven't put my snow tires on yet. A little late now, I know. And, I need new boots.

A few updates: my neighbour is out of the ICU, but still in the hospital. He is improving slowly. When his family was here, my neighbour (D) ended up telling (B's) brother that he was HIV positive. They racked their brains trying to figure out how he got it. Seems that B, being French had to spend some time in the army in France in the early 80's, before he met D. His brother recalls that he was very sick for a time while in the army, and that he required a blood transfusion. At the time, they did not test blood for HIV. Mystery solved.
However, the other mystery is, that the doctors don't know why he got so sick this time around. His HIV levels are low, and all biopsies were negetive for lymphoma. He has a mystery illness, which, I know, is not unheard of. The good part is, is that he is improving and likely will even be home before Christmas.

My eyes. While the average person here in Canada must wait approx 3 months to see an Opthalmologist, I used my hospital connections and got in two days after my optomitrist appt. It wasn't as easy as I'm making it out to be, when I tried to make an appointment on my own at the very hospital that I have faithfully worked at for 2/3 of my career, I was flatly turned down and told I would have to try to get an appt with a GP Opthalmologist because at this hospital, the Opthalmologists are Specialists. Whoop-dee-doo, I say. Isn't an Opthalmologist, and Opthalmologist?! Anyway, I got one of the docs I know to call an Eye Doc on my behalf and he saw me on his lunch hour. It took all of 10 minutes for him to tell me that a) my prescription is correct, and b) yes, the pressure in my eyes IS high. Not to worry, he will re-check me in 6 weeks, and do further visual field testing, and then decide what to do.
So, as eccentric as the Sugar Plum Fairy-Bag Lady was, she knew what she was doing, and I'll give her credit for a job well done.
I pick up my funky new glasses tomorrow on my way to the subway, on my way to work. Did I mention that one pair is red with green arms, and the other is purple?! LOL, I'm not kidding! I'll post some pics later this week. Did I mention the snow-storm?!

Someone told me something funny today. First a little background info. My two best friends at work are Salena and Edward. Ed is married, and Greg and I have spent quite a few evenings with Ed and his wife, Kate. At work, Edward and I arrange our breaks together and everyone knows that we are buddies. There is a new nurse at work who knew I was getting married, but thought I was marrying Edward! So she asked him how our wedding was! I thought this was terribly funny, but more so because she was mortified at her mistake! When other people make foot-in-mouth errors it's a lot more funny than when I do it!
Speaking of wedding, the photos from the chapel arrived, and they turned out pretty good. Really good, as a matter of fact.

I'll leave you with a pic of Saucy Mao having a sip of H2O. He thinks that every glass we pour is meant for him.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

swarovski ornaments

10 years ago, my mom started a tradition of giving me a Swarovski Snowflake ornament for Christmas. Each year, those ornaments bring me joy when I decorate the tree, not only because I treasure them, but also because they are exquisitely beautiful. This year, Toronto Eaton Centre and Swarovski Canada have collaborated to create Canada's first Crystal Wish Tree. It is decorated with 4,000 sparkling Swarovski cut crystals and a three-foot custom designed tree topper, and is pretty spectacular. The tree turns slowly so that the crystals catch the light...too bad that these pictures don't really do it justice, guess you'll have to come to Toronto for a quick little visit!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Visions of Sugar Plums Dancing in my Head

Yesterday I went to get my eyes checked for the first time ever. I've been having a bit of difficulty reading the cardiac monitors at work, and night driving is awful.
So, I got to the optical place, which is down the street from where I live, sat down in the reception area, which consisted of three chairs, a desk and a faded poster. A minute later, an elderly woman pokes her head around the corner, and says the receptionist will be right with me, she's just parking the car. OK, no worries...but I do hear some grunting and groaning and huffing and puffing coming from the other room. Okaaaay.
The receptionist comes in, takes my name, blah, blah,blah...then she gets me to sit in a few different chairs with chin rests. One of them I just had to look at little trees, but the other one blew puffs of air into my eyes. I was a little nervous about that one, never having had it done before. But, I get it done, TWICE on each eyeball, and the receptionist says "ohhhh...da doctor's not goink to like dis!" I'm like "What? Why?" Apparently the pressure in my eyes is too high. Now, I'll let you all know, that one of my 3 year stints in the Middle East, was at The King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital (doesn't it look like a palace?!) so I DO have some knowledge of Ocular problems. Glaucoma is something I'd rather not have.
I make my way into the actual doctor's office, and was invited to throw my purse and coat on the floor, all the while my brain trying to comprehend that my Intraocular Pressure is abnormally high and there must be a mistake. I meet the woman who had poked her head around the corner, and who was grunting and groaning and huffing and puffing, and realize that SHE is the doctor!
Oh. My!
My first instinct was to get the hell outta there, but I was too polite, I guess. I swear to god, my Optician looked like a Bag Lady. A well-fed Bag Lady. She had on a purple jersey summer skirt from circa 1980 that had 100's of runs in the material. Nylons with runs in them, white running shoes, a purple golf shirt that had last weeks food caked on to the front, and big, sloppy boobs. The first words out of her mouth were "I hate Christmas!" I didn't know what to say, so I politely laughed and said "Oh, you're not a Grinch, are you?!" Then I immediately regretted my words because she had some kind of a facial palsy on the left side of her face that made it look all droopy and her eyelid was kind of inside out. (I seriously wasn't making fun of her, and hoped she didn't think I was, because then maybe my new glaucoma would probably turn into a brain tumour or something, due to bad Karma.)
Thankfully, the Sugar Plum Fairy Bag Lady had a sense of humour. She laughed and said "no, not the Grinch, but maybe Ebenezer Scrooge." Then she talked for about 15 minutes about what she had to get everyone for Christmas. I was thinking about the glaucoma.
I finally got her on track by telling her I was a nurse, and had never had my eyes checked before. I tell her which hospital I work at (because she asked) which, gave her something else to talk about for the next 10 minutes. She can't stand that hospital because they misdiagnosed her Menniere's disease and sent her home, and now she's deaf. And, she lives all alone, so how was she supposed to manage when she's dizzy and can't hear?
I've been there 25 minutes, and she has not looked into my bulging, high-pressured eyes!
So, I try another tactic. I tell her that I WORKED at an Eye Specialist Hospital in Saudi Arabia, and that her receptionist had mentioned that my eye pressures were high. Did she think I had glaucoma?
That, gave her another topic to talk about. "You worked in Saudi Arabia? How did you cope with not being able to drive?! And you had to cover your arms! I worked up North with the Indians back in the day of Tubercolosis, although people called it Consumption back then. And the men would speak for the women up there, but the women could show their arms."
35 minutes. And she has not looked at my eyes yet.
I seriously thought I'd never get out of there, and go blind waiting.
Finally, I think that she's getting down to business, when she asks me my name. I say "Ramona H@@@@@t."
"Ramona. H@@@@@t. Well now, that doesn't quite go together, does it?! What's your background?"
"Well, H@@@@@t isn't German."
Sigh. "No, I just got married."
"Ramona's not a German name either."
Sigh. "My mom had a thing for Spanish names."
Tick tock. Tick tock.

Finally. Finally she makes a move and gets me to recite EPGAOF. (Or, whatever the letters are.)
She looks into my eyes. "OH! GEEZ!"
"I think you have a stigmatism."
Oh. Is that all? No brain tumour?
Next eye.
"OH. MY! OH. MY!"
"I see some cupping of your disc. You'll have to go to an Opthalmologist. I can write you a prescription for glasses, but you'll need to see a specialist, I can't deal with that!"

OK. Fine. Just let me out of here.
I got there at 11:30, and left at 1pm.
I kid you not.

My guess is, she doesn't have a very busy practice.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Good Friends, Good Food, Good Cheer

'Tis the Season for parties!
Friday night Greg and I went to the annual Christmas dinner hosted by my friends Kevin and Jeffrey. It is always a hilarious time with good food and plenty of wine, and is usually early enough in December that it is the start of everyone's Christmas Cheer. Kevin decorates his Victorian Rowhouse beautifully and cooks a fantastic feast. We have been doing this dinner tradition now for about 10 years, and it's an interesting group of people.
It started out, I believe, as a get together for a group of us who had been to Saudi together. Over the years the core group has always remained the same, but every year there seem to be a slight guest shuffle. These guests, invariably, include ex-boyfriends and their new boyfriends, and this year, a couple of new husbands. Greg is usually the only straight man there, and while he could be a little more Metrosexual, he thankfully is not a redneck and not even a little homophobic. He gets right in there with the kissies on the cheek and the sassy innuendos that fly round the room!
Jeffrey is the comedian of the group, a professional chef who at one time was an opera singer.
Kevin is a walking-talking encyclopedia and a natural athlete. I once had the pleasure of watching him do a perfect swan-dive off a yacht into the Aegean Sea. (He actually looks good in a Speedo!) There is nothing that Kevin can't do. Need a sweater knitted? Need a wall moved a foot to the left? Need a barn raised? Need to bake a Black forest cake? Kevin is your guy!
Norm is a naturally happy man who I'm sure, has a friend in every country around the world. When Norm has a thimbleful of alcohol he bends over in laughter, clutching at his pearls (his invisible necklace!)
Steve is Kevin's Ex, and was there this year with his new Boy-Toy who is even younger then last years' Boy-Toy. Everyone loves the new Boy-Toy. He is the baby of the group, 2o years younger than Steve. He may be a Boy-Toy, but he has an Old Soul. A good catch, and there was plenty of lovin' in the air!
Jose is Jeffrey's Ex and was also there with his new BF. Who looks like his twin. Jose!
Please note: the ladies of the group never invite their Ex's. Out with the with the new!
Sharona was there with her new Hubby, who IS a Metrosexual, but was maybe also a little ill at ease as it was his first party with the Group. It took only 10 minutes for him to be as cozy as the rest of us.
Ali, Sal and I rounded out the group this year. Notably absent was KD, who couldn't make the trek from Montreal this year (but who did make it to Vegas!)

The Annual Christmas Get Together

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Life Support

My neigbours are not doing very well. B is in the ICU, on life support. His family (who did not know anything about his health) is arriving from France tomorrow.
D, has found life support through her sisters. She is panicking, not only because of her husbands ill health, but also because his family is arriving. D and B have been together for over 20 years, but the relationship has never been acknowledged by his family because they are not married. Needless to say, D is not comfortable around 'Madame', B's mother. This is the first time anyone in B's family has been to Canada, and they are apparently all going to be staying at the Condo. 7 People staying in a one bedroom apartment.
Now, as if there is not enough panic going on in D's life, I'm going to tell you that her and B live in a pigsty. They were in France this past September, so I agreed to feed their cats for three weeks. Never in my life, have I ever seen such a dirty home. Newspapers and magazines piled high on the coffee table, clothes piles everywhere, some halfway high to the ceiling, and facial creams everywhere. I'm not talking about 5 or 10 bottles and jars, I'm talking hundreds...everywhere. On the floor, on the dining room table, on the kitchen counter, in the laundry room. I honestly think that my neighbour is a hoarder. I remember watching an Oprah episode about this not too long ago. A business woman, very well put together, but her home was a disaster.
Anyway, when she told me that his family was coming, I offered my help in cleaning, but her sisters were there, and she felt like she had enough help. She did ask me over to meet her sisters, and had asked for extra cleaning supplies. So, I went over and met three totally exhausted women. Her sisters were not shy about the mess she lived in. Her oven hadn't been cleaned since her and B had moved in 10 years ago. She didn't even know it was a self-cleaning oven. The bathroom floor was black underneathe all the face creams. Poor D was looking like her world was falling apart, and was clinging to a picture of B in better times.

And, really, I think that this best describes her situation. Her world, as she knows it, is falling apart.