Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The following is a letter I was originally planning to mail my Christmas card recipients..instead it has ended up on my blog. The reasons are many, the need to explain non-existent. Enjoy the read (I hope) and then do your own yearly review and see how many times you can throw the word 'fuzzy' or 'yarn' or 'conducted' into your personalised "This Is What I Did in 2005" piece. For the record - my challenge was to include the names of all the people I emailed today to inform of this post...

Well, at the ripe old age of twenty-five I have finally succumbed to the versatile, yet slightly impersonal mass letter. It’s not even a mass email, it’s a mass snail mail – I’m not sure whether this is kosher! To be honest I’m not even sure exactly what kosher means, but it sounds good, so I’ve opted to use it. Speaking of mass (see sentence 2), if you go at Christmas, by all means do it in style and go to midnight mass. The stars will be shining, the frost will be frosty and the eggnog will be flowing.

Anyways, I suppose I should get on with this mass(ive) mail by sharing with y’all (thanks for that one Beth) what I made of the year 2005. After all, sharing is what the season is supposed to be all about. In an attempt to jazz up this whole ‘recount 2005’ thing, I will break it down. Not as in hip hop style breaking it down, but chronologically, month by month.

January - Welcomed in the New Year by nursing a rotten tooth (literally). No worries – I had it pulled three days later at a mere cost of $250. Returned to bonnie Scotchland and spent the month holed up at 4 Canon Street. It was a frigid month in all respects. The social outing of the month was the Burns night – a Scottish holiday in celebration of the writer, Robbie Burns. And here I thought we would be having a bonfire and burning some interesting things, instead we stood in humble silence as a sheep’s stomach was piped into the dining room on a platter. Later we did some Scottish dancing – it turned out to be addictive.

- A month of blurriness - possible correlation here to amount of booze consumed. Valentine’s Day was spent in the company of chocolate, wine and fellow singletons. Many ceilidhs were attended, the Irish band, Blue Moose, was ‘discovered’ on a random night at the Walk About, and Drop Kick Murphy’s became the place to be at the end of the night. It was a short month, there isn’t much else to recollect aside from a quick weekend trip to Glasgow, where we still somehow managed to end up dancing at the Walk About.

March - Ah yes, March the Month of Mental Turmoil. I wish I’d known, I would have skipped ahead to April. On a high note, I made my way to Sweden (up there by Norway, NOT the place with really really yummy chocolate). I saw Natasha, the wanderlust, explored a new country and discovered that Volvos are popular in at least one nation in the world. My father is not, after all, the only one with questionable taste in vehichles..there is a whole country out there like him....

April - With April came many new things, very few of which I can actually recall. I know there were new prices at ScotEq’s restaurant by this point in time and, as I recollect, they were contested…and…um..there were new things...uh…. Oh wait, it’s all coming back to me now (sorry for the Celine Dion there)! Yes, yes April was New Flatmate month!! Kelly Coffin, KC for short (good thing her middle name isn’t Francis), moved into the room recently vacated by Keri Shields. A new living dynamic, new blood and new bathroom tissue! Yeah OK, that last one’s a stretch, but it is also a fact that we bought new toilet paper in the month of April. Guaranteed. And Brandon came back to Europe (funny how his return coincided with beginning of softball season..ahem..)

May – May I have another holiday like the one I had in May 2005? Thanks to Europe’s very generous holiday allotment, I was able to jet off to Spain with Jen MacPhail and fellow traveller, Anne (not of Green Gables, but of Rocky Mountain House). Palm trees, siestas, fiestas, sunshine, sangria and a male exotic dancer. That pretty much sums up Spain. I would return in a heartbeat. Following my Spanish conquest, I made my way back to the Emerald Isle.

The plan was to check out the country, which I’d somehow neglected to do during the six months I lived in Dublin with Gavin & Graeme (or G-squared as I very infrequently referred to them). If I had been aware that the bus system in Ireland is slower than the donkey & wagon option available in less developed countries, I would have revised my plans. As it was I spent a good chunk of my Ireland holiday on buses, feeling doubly sick from a horrible cold and motion-sickness. Nonetheless, I managed to have a Grand time in Ireland. Upon my return to Canon Street, I was excited to meet my newest flatmate, Lindsay Peters, who had taken over Jen’s room. The floor could be seen again!!

June - Spent a lot of time doing things I didn’t want to do (like dating an Irish guy that was SO not my type) and things I really wanted to do (like celebrate flatmate birthdays and go out with fab workmates). June also marked the reopening of Canon Street hostel, with some absolutely wonderful guests dropping in to spend time on our IKEA couches and in the company of our resident mouse. Islanders galore in our humble abode! And to top it all off, Jen moved back into Canon Street. And then there were 4 (in a 2 bedroom flat). But back to the mouse – oh what havoc that little critter wreaked upon our nerves. Jen was the only one who didn’t seem in the least bit concerned. Maybe this explains how she is able to now work for a really, really big mouse that talks and is named Mickey.

July – Oh, oh, my favourite month in Edinburgh! Started it off with a bang by celebrating Canada Day in red & white style. I opted for the ole flag converted to a dress option, since I had no more Molson boxers to turn into halter tops (see Canada Day 2004). The month was spent eating, drinking and having a bloody brilliant time. Festivals were attended, wine was consumed, farewell parties were held (still missing you Emily!) and the best holiday within a working holiday was had. I took the last week of July off and in the grand company of Beth & Ailbhe, journeyed to the Isle of Arran for some R&R (or, more accurately, a lot of hiking and very little of anything else!). Arran was awesome in all respects, although I must say it was the company at the hostel that really made the trip for me. The Spiegel Tent still rocks! .

August – Celebrations and adieus galore. Birthdays, Fringe festival shows, farewells to everyone and everything, including about half of my wardrobe and our home/flat for the past year. It was the perfect way to end a very excellent adventure, on the highest of high notes! I even made it to Inverness and managed to gain 10 lbs in four weeks! Much
chocolate was consumed and there was a massive Grand Opening at Lau’s birthday bash.

September – Last of my days in Scotland were spent playing hostess to Canuck friends, Rae, Chris & Wendy. Good times were had by all…except my feet, which hated me..and possibly my stomach, which may have hated me even more for punishing it with food all the time. September 11th I said goodbye to the best adventure I have yet experienced and headed home with not a plan in the world. Luckily I had a place to crash in Long Creek while in this ‘Not a Plan in the World’ mode.

October – I kind of fell into a great job working in Communications. I bought a car and enjoyed Thanksgiving with my family, including Sahra (old sister…er..I mean, older!). I continued to marvel at how lucky I have always been to have things come my way just when I need them the most. It’s a combination of luck, timing, knowing good people and, well, I guess I can give myself a little credit for being persistent! First job perk involved a trip to Ottawa, where I connected with Rae & Becky, revisited my favourite haunt – Sugar Mountain, and met some really interesting and great people.

November - I found myself settling into and enjoying the quiet life on PEI. Of course, I kept myself busy with the gym, hip-hop classes avec Rana, going to the movies, cooking up a storm, etc. I finally broke down and visited a nutritionist. I finally broke down and bought winter tires. But, for a change, I didn't break down with the stress of upcoming Christmas season. What a relief!

December – And here we are again, getting ready to celebrate Christmas. Baking, shopping, decorating, trying to stash Christmas sweets in the purse while at various Christmas functions, putting the ole Raffi Christmas CD on over and over again, and kind of hoping for a light sprinkling of snow before the 25th. It’s a magical time of year, a time where every little wish and every little dream has a chance of coming true. retrospect it’s been a pretty busy and very fun-filled year, as they all should be!

Final thoughts

I am truly grateful to be home, to welcome home old high-school friends like Christine, Jimmy & Schemida, and more recently acquired ones such as Sarah & Kelly. Alas, some friends will be absent, but rest assured they’ll be toasted on New Year’s Eve – Gary, Beth, Ailbhe, Anne, Brandon, Teresa, Pam et al.

I am also grateful to be with my fabulous, if not slightly odd, family this year, as I will be packing up and heading to Australia in the summer of 2006. Christmas 2006 will be celebrated from a Land Down Under for this Shanadian.

I am also thankful that I will not be seeing my nutritionist during the week between Christmas and New Year’s as I fully intend to enjoy some tasty sweets on J’s birthday. And I am thankful for gift bags, because there is no way I can finish wrapping 50 gifts before the 25th. Oh, and I am thankful for government holidays and cheap flights to Orlando and, well, a whole lot of things!

It doesn’t get much better than this folks – family, friends and food...

Enjoy the moments because they are truly what make up a lifetime of memories.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Raffi is singing We Wish You A Merry Christmas. I love Raffi, Canadian children's troubadour extrordinaire. I've never been particularly keen on autobiographies, but my father gave me Raffi's a few years ago and I'd have to say it's one of the best books I've ever had the pleasure of reading.

Anywho, yesterday was a no-go-to-work day, due to snowfall and wind warnings that deemed it rather unwise to venture out on the roads. Especially in a Toyota Echo. No, really, the Department of Transportation specifically said "If you are driving a tin can, we highly recommend that you do not go anywhere in your tin can today. It is almost guaranteed to be blown off the road." So me and my tin can stayed safe, nestled in at 3376 Long Creek, with the fire blazing, the Christmas tree lit and Mom hacking away her cold and strep throat.

Now, could there have been a worse time for me to be impaired from driving to work? Of course not. Yep, that's right folks, the skills of a twenty-something were rather in high demand this week at work, so, byt the beauty of technology, I was able to get some work done from home and finally made it to the office today..just in time for my scheduled lunch.

In other food related news - I made fudge yesterday. It took me approximately five minutes from start to end. Bless microwaves, bless chocolate. Chocolate-Walnut was the flavour of the day. I''ll have to take the word of my taste testers that it was good, since I was not allowed to sample even a morsel! I made it for gifts, in going with the whole 'less consumption, more sharing' idea. As if any of us needs more food in this part of the world. but anyways....

Random self-observation of the day - I lose things a lot. By a lot, I mean all the time, and by lose I mean misplace. Because, of course 90% of the time I eventually find them..sometimes in the weirdest places. The problem is, in the meantime, I tend to drive myself and everyone else around me nuts. Lindsay & Kelly can atest to this - I am sure they remember when I lost my teal halter top and turned the flat upside down looking for it. I was almost convinced the mouse had decided it would make a nice nest and somehow towed it to a secret hiding place. I found it a few days later tangled up in my freshly laundered sheets. Whoops.

Anyways, tomorrow night Grand Theft Bus is playing at the Wave and I SO want to go, but wouldn't it have to be PEI, where I can STILL count my friends on one hand plus and extra thumb, and all but one have confirmed their lack of availability. Oh,e xcept Tash who will arrive late with her Navy commrades....

ANyways, will keep my fingers crossed and keep harassing people. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

12 sleeps!!! 12 Drummers drumming!!! 12 pounds of chocolate to be consumed!!! OK, that last one was a stretch, but give me credit for trying. I just realised it's almost the middle of December and I've yet to mention anything about Christmas, so here's my first season special blog post for your holiday entertainment.

Christmas comes but once for two months of the year. Once the scarecrows and goblins are tucked away and the bags of mini everything are sold off at discount rates, in come the giant candy canes, gift galore at every store (note the cute rhyme there) and, of course, good old Sunday shopping. Is it just me that finds it ironic that on PEI Sunday shopping is not allowed except for the five weekends before we celebrate Christianity in big to-do birthday party for Jesus? I mean, based on my unqualified assumption that Sunday shopping is banned due to its interference with the 'day of rest' concept (because PEI is still v. dominated by church-goign elders), it just seems kind of, well, hypocritical to declare pre-Christmas an OK time to shop - as if business somehow deserves the opportunity to make even more big bucks in this cheerful season of giving and receiving.

There - that's my one and only comment on the materialism associated with Christmas. In my humble opinion, it's not an overly ridiculous rant. Believe me, I could have raved on for much longer! The thing is, I love Christmas so much and I love everything about it! People who say they don't like Christmas because it is commercial, well I don't understand that philosophy. Christmas is only as commercial as each of us chooses to make it. Why, all one has to do is watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas to understand this very simple concept. So, if you don't like the commercialism, don't buy gifts and don't spend every moment worrying about whether your decorations are better than the Jones'. Take some time and make gifts, or donate some of your hard-earned money to a worthy charity on behalf of your friends and family and tell them this is your gift of the season.

Random notes regarding Christmas 2005 so far:
  • Every year I get better and better at the whole being prepared thing. The time I came back from Europe at the beginnin of December I was on the top of my game, having picked up all my gifts along the way and somehow managing to stuff them in my luggage. Suffice ot say there were many soft and light gifts given that year. And a lot of chocolate, which almost got sniffed out by the drug dog at the Montreal airport. This year there is no Europe, only on-line shopping, big box stores and some cute little independent shops in downtown Charlottetown. It's no Florence, but somehow I have managed to get about 75% of my shopping done!
  • I helped pick out the Christmas tree this year. Helped being the operative word here. Last time I was given full reign I paid and extra $5 for a super tall tree. Mom still claims to this day that the amount we had to saw off the bottom of the trunk was equal to $5. Hey, I never claimed to be good at guessing measurments. This year's tree is fir, as per usual, and just the right height, with very full branches. The only snag we encountered was that the entire top broke off when it got delivered. There was nowhere for our angel. Jim and some pipe clamps to the rescue! SoI guess our tree isn't 100% wood, there's a bit of metal to 'er!
  • I've done most of the tree decorating to date. With Mom presently sick and Jim just recovering, I was called to lighting duty. Oh and how I strung those Christmas lights with care. And then there were the beads, and the bulbs and the candy canes. 80% there now!
  • I've never worked during the Christmas season before. I must say it's a rather less-than-enjoyable experience, but it pays the bills and keeps me from thinkinga about elves and the such...
  • Christmas candy. Sigh. It is SO off limits, it's not even funny. Most dissapointed to discover that Shopper's is not carrying Fazer mints this year. They are a favorite of mine and I was looking forward to smelling them through the wrapper and salivating.
  • No Christmas baking...yet! I very much intend to participate in making chocolate balls and shortbread cookies, but will refrain from consuming.

Ok too tired to say or do anything type

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Achoo! OK, so it's Saturday evening and I should be getting ready to go to a movie with my father. I was supposed to go with him last night, but delayed because a rare occassion occurred - a friend (one of the four I ahve here on PEI) invited me to a movie. Anyways, Adam and I went to see A History of Violence last night after a few drinks (the diet stuff for me, the draft stuff for him) at the Churchill Arms. It was a pretty good film..very graphic scenes of violence and sex. One woman who was old enough to know better had a child who could have been no more than ten with her. Good grief. It was definitely an 18 and over movie.

Anywho, this morning I went to aerobics as usual. Afterwards I was meant to meet the guy I met a Cultarama for a coffee. The thing is... I had decided at some point last night that I didn't want to go. I am just not interested in being pursued right now (there are exceptions to this rule, but they won't be disclosed until an exception occurs!) Anyways, so I was going to cop out on this guy, but to my great fortune, he copped out on me! Hey, I gave him five minutes grace and then walked. When I got home, it looked like he had called me earlier than our meeting time, probably to cancel. All's well that end well!

We picked up our Christmas tree on the way home. Heading out of Ch'town I pointed out a sign to Mom that read "Fur Trees for Sale". Seriously. Um..yes I'll have a fox fur tree please. I suppose it could have been could have been "Fur Trees for Sail". One fox fur tree setting sail for the Land of Poor Spelling please.

Anywho, about midway through the afternoon I began to feel a bit queasy and then a bit tired. Now I have a headache and absolutely no energy. I am taking echinecea and going to sleep copious amounts tonight. I refuse to give in to any virus that tries to tie me down!

On that note, will return to blogging when better able to write and think. In the meantime check out the Liberal campaign website, where the PM's speechwriter, Scott Feschuk is delivering hilarious, light entertainment via his Blackberry Blog. I'm sorry Becky R, but you have to admit it, the Tory blogger has nuttin on the Grits'. But I digress, I shouldn't be talking's not my bag, it's just that I am now part of that world. And, I supopse as a Canadian citizen I have to right to express my opinion - namely that, above all, I fear the leadership of a man who resembles the Grinch, thinks every problem in Canada can be solved by tax cuts, and who believes decisions regarding things like Same Sex Marriage should be decided by Parliament and NOT the courts of law. Um, yeah, well if that's the case we might as just dissolve the courts of law, get rid of our public broadcaster, do away with a bunch of our freedoms & rights as citizens, and call ourselves the 51st State.

Yes, I am completely aware of how biased and over the top that previous paragraph was. I apologise, blame it on the echinecea.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I just learned a very valuable and rather expensive lesson about complacency when it comes to one's finances. Since returning to PEI, I've been using my CIBC bank card to do all my transactinos, sice my wages are going into this account.

Well, today I checked my transactions on-line and discovered that I've racked up more than $90.00 in service fees since September!!! Just for withdrawing my money at bank machines and using Interac. It's ridiculous. Anyways, the guy offered to reverse some of the fees and told me I should switch to a better service account. Um, yeah no kidding.

The short and long of it, however, is that I will now be giong back to using my President's Choice bank card ALL the time since it has NO SERVICE FEES! Yep, that's right- not a one! I used to use it but it's been empty since I got home. From here on in I will transferring my spending money to that account.

In other news..I have lost 6.5 lbs in two weeks! I've also convinced Mom we should get the Christmas treet this weekend, not Dec 17th and sister Sara has confiremd she will be in attendance for Christ's birthday celebrations!

Reading My Ishmael at the moment - more insights from Daniel Quinn

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Happy Saturday! It’s mid-afternoon and I am finally home after a rather hectic morning of working out, spending money, parking far away from the doors of evil (aka shopping malls) and, well, spending more money I guess!

Anywho, it’s December and it’s something like 5 degree Celsius and while I am inclined to agree with the general public that this is lovely weather compared to the blustery windchill-filled, flurry filled Decembers we usually have to endure, I am also slightly concerned. Ummm, hello, is this due to global warming??? There’s a certain irony in the idea that our destructive gas-guzzling and oil-burning ways have possibly impacted the weather to such an extent that we now don’t have to use as much oil to heat our homes, because we’ve essentially heated the entire world up with our consumptive-filled lives.

OK, enough of that, on to bigger and better things! Yesterday was one of the most productive/interesting days I have had since returning to PEI. A quick synopsis of main reasons I would term it as such:

  1. Lunch with Rob P, one of my favorite people and one of the reasons I have not gone mad with boredom here on PEI…yet. He’s got me thinking, he did have me working and, well, we’ll say ke sera sera for the future now, but I anticipate more thinking, doing and working in ways that are challenging, fruitful and meaningful I joined the Queen Street Commons – this is a local entity/community, namely made up of members who are transient, free-lancing, creative individuals in need of office space and opportunities to interact with like-minded people. In other words, it’s a funky place where thinking is encouraged and towing the line is not!! Given that I already have an office, and a very nice one at that, I’m not sure how often I’ll be popping into the QSC but, hey, if there’s a storm and I can’t get home I know I have a place to stay J
  2. I met the owners of a local fitness club/group/community…anyways the long and short of it is that I may have yet another opportunity to freelance my writing skills! Yah!
  3. I went to Culturama in the evening with Natasha and met more people in one night that I knew, than I have on any other day or week for that matter, since returning home. It was a great night, especially for the two reasons that follow (5 & 6)
  4. I made $50. No, I didn’t win it in a raffle or anything, actually I ended up sitting at the same table as the guy who sold me my laptop last Christmas. I had returned to Scotland by the time I was able to contact him and tell him the laptop did not have a CD burner as he had indicated. He promised to mail me $50 in compensation, but it never arrived in the mail. I didn’t really mind since I’d gotten a good deal anyways. Anywho, he didn’t recognize me at first, but thanks to my loud voice he finally heard me say Scotland and made the connection. Five minutes later $50 was plopped onto the table. Woohoo!!
  5. A guy asked me for my number. OK, this isn’t really something new, it happened quite often in Scotland and Ireland, but that’s Europe where guys are and where everyone has mobiles and where my freaky hair doesn’t scare every single lad away. So, history was made last night in that this is the FIRST TIME a guy has ever asked for my number on PEI. So much for my thinking that PEI was some sort of safe haven, that I wouldn’t have to worry about stupid things like men because, well, there aren’t any here. I guess I was wrong. And who am I kidding?? even in the absence of geographically available males, I still find myself thinking/worrying about general and specific ways.

In other good news, random notes and observations

  • I am going to take a Creative Writing course next semester! It was only because of yet another lunch-time run-in that’ I lucked into this opportunity. I ran into my former professor, Lesley-Anne, and mentioned that I wanted to take another writing course but had taken all the ones being offered at UPEI. She said she would see if she can get me into her Advanced Creative Writing class, since I took this one with a different professor last time! I AM SO SO EXCITED!!!! I miss writing, I have been trying to do some as of late…
  • I have a partner in crime for upcoming Disney Caper! Ms Natasha McKinnon has agreed to join me on a journey that will surely result in much Mouseketeering, revelry and maybe some wild out-of-this-world rides!
  • Checked out flights to Australia for the first time yesterday. Can’t decided whether to get a one-way ticket or round-trip, but suppose if I am thinking of doing NZ afterwards, there’s no sense in getting a round-trip right? Anyways, it turns out it’s just as cheap to fly from here to the UK, then the UK to Australia, so I think that is what I will do and maybe I’ll just take a wee bit of a detour to Edinburgh for a week or so!
  • Today, as I was coming out of the Charlottetown Shopping Mall, I was greeted by a rather chunky, ruddy middle-aged man with thick-rimmed glasses (like the ones from the eighties, not the cool ones that Joe McGuire wears these days). He had a cigarette dangling out of his mouth (I suspect he was trying to keep his precious hands warm in pockets.even though it was like a bloody warm spring day out). Anyways, this character was wearing a Santa hat. Nice. Geez..all the kids coming out of the mall are going to think Santa’s a middle-aged smoker with two-day growth and no taste in frameware. So many disillusionments for the little ones these days. Sigh.
  • I am starting to think I should NEVER change my hairstyle , or make-up routine for that matter. The number of compliments I’ve received on both since coming back to PEI is indicative of two things 1) My hair DOES stand out here, literally and figuratively 2) I could easily open a hair salon here and pretend I am a hair stylist because so many people have asked me if am one. Of course, once I started trying to style other people’s hair, the jig would be up. But wouldn’t it be FUN in the meantime???