Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Travel Tuesdays #5

This week, we are in Poland. I was there about 5 years ago with my friend Kevin, who is an excellent travel partner. We spent a week in Berlin, and a week in Poland. I must say, that Poland is one of the nicest places I have ever been and I enjoyed every second of it. If you are thinking of a place to go to that is a little off the beaten path (for us North Americans) I would strongly recommend going there. The people, although many did not speak english, were very gracious, the food was rib-stickingly good, and the sights are beautiful. We stayed in a vacation apartment for about $30 night and were directly in the Old Town. The girl who rented us the apartment also had a place in the mountains, which is how we ended up going from Cracow to Zakopane. The Old Town of Cracow is a World Heritage site. The Barbican was built in 1499 during the era of the Ottoman threat and remains the best example of its kind in Europe. The Barbican was both a principal gateway and a key element of defence. A covered passageway linked it to St. Florian's Gate, the historic entrance into the Old Town. You can still see parts of the original old wall. Centuries ago, this wall encircled the whole city, and a moat encircled the wall. There is a street from this Gate, called The Royal Way which leads through the centre of town, past the Cloth Hall and Main Square, to the Wawel Cathedral.

A short bus ride from Cracow are The Wieliczka Salt Mines another UNESCO World Heritage Site. This has been, for me, one of the best sites I have ever been to. We travelled far down in an elevator shaft and had a tour of dozens of rooms, all carved out of salt. In one area, there is even a sanitarium for asthma and allergy sufferers. By far the most interesting room was the Chapel of St. Kinga. I wish I could find the picture, but I do have one of myself standing with Pope John-Paul II who is carved out of salt! Here is a pretty good picture I found of the chapel. Even the chandeliers where made of salt!

Zakopane is about 2 hours away from Cracow, and was very much worth the visit. It is a very quaint resort town with beautiful mountain scenery. We did a lot of hiking, so please take note of my very trendy hiking shoes: gold platform sandals! What was I thinking? But you know, I'm sure I walked halfway around the world in those platforms, they were so comfortable! I don't have them anymore as I finally had to retire them, but I certainly do miss them.

I hope that you enjoyed the trip...I certainly did!
Now, head on over to Mitey Mite's and check out Dordogne region of France the famous place where cave paintings were first discovered, and where Jean Auel did her research for her book Clan of the Cave Bear.

Check out the modes of transportation in Iraq at The Beehive. Would you prefer a ride in a pick-up, or perhaps on an ass?
And, if you'd like to share your travel pics, leave me your link, and I'll be happy to send people over to visit.

Mr. Mao is sick...

My sweet little Mr. Mao is in the hospital. When I woke up this afternoon, I noticed that he wasn't as perky as he usually is. When Greg came home from work, I mentioned it to him. He went to pick him up for a cuddle and Mao was drooling and listless. He also barfed up some bile. I took him ot the vet's around the corner and it turns out that he is terribly dehydrated and needs IV fluid replacement. They are also working him up to rule out pancreatitis. I feel so bad, and it killed me having to leave him there. He'll be in the hospital for 3 days.

I mentioned to the vet that despite trying to Mao-proof the house, he likes to eat plastic bags, dryer lint, anything he can find to get himself into trouble. The other day he must have gotten into the compost bin, because I noticed he barfed up corn.

I'm sure he'll be okay. He was fine yesterday, so whatever the problem is it was caught early, but I can't help but be worried about the little guy. Update #1: The xrays show that there is no bowel obstruction. Urine results are normal for a cat his age. Blood results will be back tomorrow. He has an IV, but is still drooling. The vet thinks this is due to nausea.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

WCB, Updates and a Perfect Sunday

This has been a busy week at work and with after-work appointments, so this weekend has been especially welcomed.
Family Update: Two-Four has now changed her mind. Adriana is not Chronically Depressed, she either has Schizophrenia or is Bi-Polar. It runs in the family, don'chya'know. There is a fourth cousin thrice removed who has it. Uh-huh, if you need cheap psychiatric advice let me put you in touch with Two-Four. She charges 5 cents and will talk your ear off for hours on end. On being be 17 again: maybe it's harder these days. Despite MY mother's opinion, I was a relatively good kid, and she should consider herself lucky to have gotten away so easily with the likes of me. Adriana....well who knows what's going on with her. Although 17 doesn't seem that long ago, I have no clue as to why she has been doing the crazy things she has been doing. It makes me feel old. But I'd never in a million-trillion years want to re-live 17.
Vacation Update: Not only am I going to Seattle, Greg and I are 100% booked to go to Berlin and Amsterdam. I have even booked a hotel in Amsterdam for three nights. It is a budget hotel located directly across the street from Anne Frank's house. I am the happiest person in the world when I can plan a travel vacation. (Reminder to self: re-read The Diary of Anne Frank)
Work Update: I will officially have a job-share partner as of February 10th. Which means that I am going to be working part-time in the Recovery Room, and part-time in Critical Care. I am ready to make the move back to ICU, but am still not sure I can do it full-time. It really sucked the life out of me when that was my only job.
Diet Update: Things are going OK. I am losing weight slowly, but steadily. I am cautiously optimistic that I will be a few clothing sizes smaller by summer.

Last night, we went to a wedding. The Bride was the daughter of Greg's boss, and we had never met her, or the Groom. In fact, we didn't even know their names because Greg left the invitation at work. Anyway, it was an Italian wedding and there were over 300 people there, many of whom I'm guessing who were also strangers. Although, we must have been the strangest, because we sat at the table the furthest away from the head table, and tucked into a corner. It was a good wedding. The bride seriously looked like Cinderella, her dress skirt was so BIG, and her hair was so BIG, but she was a teensy-tiny-weenie girl. With a BIG smile! I am sure she had the wedding of her dreams.
Here is a picture of Greg and I last night.
See my new haircut and highlights? I went to a new hair-stylist and I was quite pleased with her work.
This morning, we woke up to a beautiful snow-fall. Here is The Dutchess in her basket looking very sweet...
And another view out of our front window...
Mr. Mao, always the trouble-maker, was nosing about in a plastic bag that I had literally JUST emptied and hadn't gotten around to putting way yet. Here he is, pretending that he is Super-Cat. Or maybe he is thinking that he can either run fast enough for him to use it as a parachute, or, conversely, sit on top of the heat return, and use it as a hot-air balloon. That cat is full of Crazy Ideas. Never a dull moment I tell you. Sometimes, I think he purposely does stupid stuff like that when we're around so that he gets even more attention. He thinks it's normal cat behaviour. Little does he know.

So, I had said that this has been a Perfect Sunday. We got up early, read the paper, and then decided to head downtown to our old haunt The Antique Market. We hung out there for a while, went to Tim Horton's for coffee, and the the Supermarket where we bought enough meat for the month and a loaf of bread. And then, we headed to our new favourite place. The Bird Park. We were there last weekend and really enjoyed the birds. This week, we brought our own bread, and because it was snowing, we were pretty much the only people there. We had fun, and of course, I took more bird pictures:

I have no idea how I got this picture of a seagull in flight, but I like it!
I like how there is just one swan amongst all these not-so ugly ducklings.
How did this silly goose get in the picture?!And, because it is a new camera, and I am still experimenting, here are my last two "artistic" photos: Sumac

And Feather Grass

That's it! It doesn't take a whole lot for me to have a Perfect Sunday. Peace and quiet, no obligations, just taking the time to be together and enjoy what we have right in front of us.

Head on over to Kate in the Kitchen for more Weekend Cat Blogging...those kitties make even a most Perfect Sunday just one little bit better.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Travel Tuesdays #4

Now that I'm all excited about our trip to Berlin in May, I thought I would venture out of the Middle East for a bit and post some pictures taken way back in 1990 when I traveled to Germany with my brother. The Berlin Wall was in the process of being destroyed and I feel quite fortunate that I was able to get a picture taken of me with a pick-axe at the Wall. I also have my own little chunk as a souvenir, bought from the guy who lent me his axe.

Do take the time to head on over to Mitey Mite's to check out the lovely sites of Mont St. Michel off the Normandy Coast.
And you absolutely must visit The Beeshive to see the vibrant clothing colours in Kurdistan, Iraq.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

WCB is Going to the Birds!

While Mr. Mao stayed inside to play Mah Jong ...

Greg and I went for a drive to the park and met up with The Birds. There were hundreds of them: Canada Geese, Pigeons, Seagulls and pretty Mallard Ducks. Here's a bit of UBI: Did you know that one Canada Goose can poop 1kg (2.2lbs) per day? That's a lot of green poop.

This last pic is my favourite, the colours of the birds were incredible in the sunlight. Click for a larger view.

This weeks WCB is being hosted at The Cat Blogosphere , so head on over there to check out more furry felines.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Resolutions in the works...

I booked a flight yesterday to go and visit my BFF Pez for her birthday at the end of March. I can't wait to see her and her boys! It's been a while. I have also tentatively booked Greg and I on a flight to Berlin with a stopover in Amsterdam for a few days. That trip will be at the beginning of May. Also, my FIL and MIL2 are planning to drive to NYC for a long weekend, and we are going to tag along! This is the year I resolved to start seeing the world again, and to give Greg the travel bug. I've been to all of these places before, but it'll be especially nice to see them with Greg.
Thanks to Begered at Beeshive for participating in Travel Tuesdays. Go visit the Beeshive to see the other side of Iraq. Also, head over to Mitey Mite to see a beautiful sunset on the Masi Mara.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Travel Tuesdays #3

I've decided to stick with pics from Saudi for a little while longer. Prior to living in the Middle East, the only place I had ever seen camels before was at the zoo. I found it to be so strange when you'd be driving along on a highway and see a camel being transported in the back of a pick up truck. How did they get them onto the trucks? Why, by camel crane of course! You could go to the camel souk and buy yourself a camel and it would simply be loaded onto the truck. I never tried to buy a camel, nor did I know anyone who bought themselves a camel, but just the fact that you could buy a camel was kind of interesting. Imagine having a camel as a pet?!
I came across these falcons at the airport. Saudi's love their falcons. These birds were in the waiting room at the airport sitting on a seat near me. The birds were gorgeous, and surprisingly very well behaved. They did have little blinders on that I suppose kept them calm. I remember when I took these pictures that their owners were thrilled that the birds were being admired and photographed. Maybe that's why I didn't make a fuss when the one single falcon ended up being perched on the lap of a man sitting directly behind me on the plane! (Click for a larger view)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Winter has Arrived...

...and I'm quite happy that I got my shift covered today so that I don't have to go out and drive in that icy mess! All night long we could hear ice pellets raining against the window in our bedroom. A few times I thought it was Mao eating a plastic bag, which is one his favourite pastimes. Every night before we head to bed we have to make sure that there are no visible plastic bags for him to gnaw on. And, it's not just ANY plastic bag. He favours those ultra-cheap crinkly plastic ones. Then, after a feast of plastic, he pukes Cat Yak usually in a place where we are most likely to step in it in the middle of the night. Nice cat, eh? We've been told by the vet that he has Pica, which comes from the Latin word for Magpie, a bird that is known for it's large and indiscriminate appetite. In people, one of the causes is thought to be from an iron-deficient diet. Apparently, Pica is common in Siamese cats.
"While pica is common in many breeds, the intelligent and sensitive Siamese, Burmese, and Himalayan breeds all inherit common genes which seem to carry the urge to wool-suck or chew." As well as El-cheapo plastic bags, I have to be careful with the dryer lint, because Mr. Mao thinks that is quite tasty too. I don't think it is a diet-related issue with him, rather, he does it when he is bored and is not getting enough attention. Like, when we are asleep. Sometimes, when he can't find bags, he will suck on the tip of his tail, and then drag his soaking wet tail across our faces. He is a cute, but very weird cat.
Anyway, how did I get on to this? Oh...the weather! And I get to stay home today. Big plans for me include putting the flannel sheets on the bed. Winter is here, and I am freezing at night! I also plan to salt the driveway. It is slippery when wet at the best of times, but right now there is about an inch of ice on it. Maybe I'll salt the neighbour's driveway too. I'd hate for her to slip and fall. There are 11 loads of laundry waiting to be done and a pile of clothes to be folded and put away. Somewhere a long the way, I have to figure out how I am going to lose 2 lbs by tomorrow's weigh-in day. If I could get my period today that might help. My boobs are so heavy and sore I had to sleep in my bra last night (which I've never done before.) Another good reason to be home. It would be highly inappropriate if I were caught walking around at work cupping a boob in each hand for additional support like I am today. TMI, I know.
All right, stay warm.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Weekend Cat Blogging

Check out the bunkbed kitties.
Mr. Mao was tucked into the zebra blankie quite peacefully when Madame Dutchie came along and plopped herself down right on top of him and fell asleep.
The Nerve!
Do yourselves a favour and head on over to What Did You Eat? and meet Sher and Upsie.
Sher always has the greatest recipes and food pics, and Upsie has the best expressions I've ever seen on a cat.
There are plenty of tuna appetizers to go around!

Friday, January 12, 2007

There have been a few unfortunate, although not unforeseeable events this week. The first, is that my friends C and S are separating. They were married a few months before Greg and I and we both stood up for them at their wedding. Here is the speech I made. The day of their wedding, I remember Greg and I saying to each other "I wonder how long this will last." They actually managed to argue as wedding photos were being taken. He has been on disability for the past 4 years and, although he is no longer injured, is still sucking it up for all its' worth. She has been working overtime to support them both, and crazily enough they bought a house 9 months ago that is now in worse condition than when they moved in. They both have their issues, but he's a bigger nut than she is. Anyway, she finally kicked him to the curb. About time. He apparently did not see this coming. Uh-huh.

This morning Greg received a call from his mom, that his little sister was arrested for shop-lifting at the liquor store. Christ it's been one thing after another with her, and it's really starting to get out of hand. First of all, she should have been at school. Second of all, why on earth would she think that it is ok to shop lift. Did she not think that two young girls in a liquor store would look suspicious to begin with? Greg's mom is of course blaming this on her depression/anxiety which totally pisses me off. Even if she were to have these afflictions, she should know the simple difference between right and wrong. I am so disappointed in her. She has certainly been heading down the wrong path this year. Lucky for her she is 17 so formal charges were not laid. In my head I think what I would do if she were my daughter. But, then I think that if I had a daughter I would have tried my hardest to have prevented this crap from getting to the place where it is. I would not have allowed her to have a bf at age 14. Or, at least not to the point where they were sleeping in the same bedroom, and sometimes even the same bed. I would not have allowed her to stay home from school because she had period cramps. Deal with it baby, we all do. Anyway, I better not say to much because I'm getting all riled up again, and after all, she's not my daughter. But I do care about her, and with all my heart, wish that she would smarten up. It'll be hard though, because I don't think that Greg's mom is handling this the right way. She's ready to kick her out of the house and keeps threatening to send her to Foster Care (like that's going happen, right?) Apparently she's threatened all of her kids with this over the years. Makes me think that maybe I didn't have it so bad with my German Mother (although, god knows she's had her psychotic episodes over the years.)

Last night, we had a couple over for dinner. Greg calls them The Sexuals. Clearly, they Really love each other. They arrived at 6pm, and didn't leave until 12:30am. Holy crap! At 10:00 I started figuring that they would leave soon, it being a school n ight and all. But they didn't. At 11:00 she started wheezing because she is allergic to the cats. Still, they did not leave. At 12:00 I started yawning, and they put on their coats. At 12:30 Greg escorted them out.
I will take this as a compliment that we have a comfortable home.
Good Night!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Travel Tuesdays #2

It was always fun to take a cab out to the original city site and wander around in the mud ruins. Most times, my friends and I would be the only people there. Click for larger pictures.

"City of old Diriyah
The ruins of the historically significant city of Diriyah, standing imposing and silent in the desert about 12 miles (20km) northwest of Riyadh city centre, provide an interesting excursion. The city, stronghold of the powerful Saud family, was the site of an important Islamic reform movement in around 1745, when two influential Imams called for the people to return to the true faith and abandon heresy, polytheism and superstition. The city was once the biggest in the Arab Peninsula, but was overtaken by Riyadh after being destroyed by the Turks in the early 19th century. The ruins of many of the mud-brick buildings remain to be explored."

Monday, January 08, 2007

For some reason, I am unable to post pictures, and I have struggled with this for the past couple of days. It's very frustrating.

The new year's resolutions are going ok-ish. I talked to my mom yesterday and she was feeling sorry for herself that we didn't see her this weekend. She had had a few glasses of wine, and it was not a good conversation. She had been in our neighbourhood, visiting my dad's site at the cemetary (5 minutes from us) and she didn't feel comfortable just dropping by. So, she decided to turn on her passive-aggressive switch saying things like "I wouldn't dream of coming by unannounced" and "I wouldn't want to disturb you"and "How are your relatives?" (meaning Greg's family) and "I have to be so careful with what I say, you're so sensitive." Give me a break. She's upset because she thinks I said something to my brother to upet him because he's kept to himself this past week. On January 31st I had called their house to welcome my mom home from her trip. On my mind was also breaking the news that her friend had died. Imagine my shock when I called to speak to her, and my brother tells me that she missed her flight becasue she is in Boston in a hospital. I freaked out, I felt instantly sick to my stomache and then my brother laughs and says he is just kidding. WTF?! When I told him that I didn't think it was funny, he hung up on me. I called him back, and he tells me that I just don't get his sense of humour. Oh ya, that's funny. Anyway, clearly he felt bad about it because he didn't come over for NY eve, and we haven't heard much from him since.

I don't dare tell my mom what this is about and quite frankly, I had forgotten all about it. But it's my fault that I upset him, and now he's moody, and she had a bad weekend. ARGH!!!
And, for the record, she can stop by any time she likes. Although, it would be great if she had a cell phone.


We did have a very productive weekend. We've been working on our office, repainting the walls. And, don't laugh, I have ordered wallpaper to put on one wall. Ya, ya, I know all about the bitching I did about the paper that was already hanging when we moved in. But THIS paper is going to look very modern, very contemporary. Trust me. It's on special order, so it'll be another few weeks before we get it up. But I'm pretty excited about it. And, although Greg is dragging his heels, he has also agreed that the room is mostly mine, so I can do what I like with it. He's happy that he's got his Jam Room downstairs with his drum kit and guitars and seventeen thousand amplifiers and I've given him free rein to do whatever he likes with it as long as he installs a door.
Hey, whaddaya know. I was finally able to upload a picture. This was taken on the weekend in our backyard. Notice the green grass and the buds on the lilac bush? It appears that here in Central Canada we have bypassed Winter and headed right into Spring. I don't particularly mind, but I can't help but think that this is incredibly abnormal. And, from the sounds of it, things have been abnormal everywhere.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Travel Tuesdays #1

For the first edition of Travel Tuesdays, I thought I would start with a few photos from Saudi Arabia. I worked there in the 90's which seems like a lifetime ago, and now that I think of it, it WAS a lifetime ago! Deira Souk was enormous and you could buy anything there. Household goods, fabric, antiques, carpets, brass knick-knacks, jewels and gold. We were paid once a month, and payday always included a trip to the gold souk, where you could buy jewellery based on the daily price/weight of gold. Click on the pic to enlarge.
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Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Last year, I did not made any resolutions, other than I was going to read more books. Which was a resolution I did manage to keep, so kudos to me. January 1st of any year I don't start any of the promises I've made to myself. It ends up being a slothful day and this year was no exception. This was last year, January 1. Today, we lounged on the new couch, watched the Ali G marathon, ate nuts and napped. All in preparation for tomorrow. This year, I have made a list of New Year's resolutions.
1) Lose 35 lbs. Tomorrow after work, I am heading to a WW Meeting. Sarah Ferguson herself sent me a New Year's letter inviting me back. So, I'm going. How can I refuse? Besides, the $21.95/month that the WW on-line programme charges my VISA card clearly has not worked for me. I've been paying WW for a year now, and have only managed to gain another 10 lbs. I will go to the meetings. However, I will not talk about the buttery pounds melting off of me on this blog. If you really want, you can follow my progress over at Down Kitty Down!
2) I will post everyday at Down Kitty Down , mostly for my own benefit as a way to keep me in line.
3) I will spend more time with my mom. A few things have happened in the past week to make me realize that I need to make more of an effort. Firstly, Amanda, at Putting Out Fires has had a rough time over the holidays as her mom is in the hospital with a diagnosis of leukemia. Second, while my mom was away, one her friends died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. She was the same age as my mom. I already know the sadness of losing a parent, and I can't help but think that my mom is not getting any younger. I should be making the most of having a mother, even if she pisses me off at times.
4) This year I will start travelling again and will infect Greg with the travel bug.
5) Watch out for "Travel Tuesdays" on this blog. I want to scan some of my best photos now that I have a new scanner.
6) I will get my red wine consumption under control. No doubt, this will help with resolution #1.

I think these are the resolutions that I can reasonably handle. Wish me luck!

Happy 2007, and good luck with your resolutions!