Friday, December 30, 2005

keep your eye on the fish

even more fish photos
Originally uploaded by Julep67.
Our handy-person, Pat, showed up yesterday and he's been doing lots of stuff around the house.

Yesterday, he installed our new back steps. Today, he spent the morning working on the duct work in the basement and the back of our house is much warmer now than it was before. The fellow who lived here before us did a lot of slip-shod work on the ventilation system. Basically, he knew not what he was doing. Pat and Mark have rectified this and I can feel the difference already, and Pat's still only about 1/2 done.

It's going to make such a difference when get those January and February cold snaps. I'm sure we'll see it too, in the summer, when the central air is on.

In other news, Joe's not been feeling that great the past few days. We're not quite sure what's wrong but we're waiting for some test results. I'm sure it's nothing serious but he's not been sleeping on a regular schedule and he's been a little mixed up over the past few days. We popped in to see him last night but he was out like a light so we didn't wake him up. I did grab the dirty clothes out of his hamper though. When I called him this morning, he was asking one of the nurses where his clothes were. Luckily, I could tell him that we had them. I was afraid that he'd be wondering about it, and he was. I think that this is a sign that he's on the mend though, because he was actually thinking about laundry! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he'll be back to his normal, crusty, self in a few days. It's no fun for anyone when he's feeling lousy.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


So, instead of curling up with a book today, I've updated things a little bit around. How come, no matter how many times you do this, no matter how much you have learned, even when you're using a canned template, it takes so long to tweak it and make it yours?

If anything appears wonky or isn't working properly, please let me know. This one seems to work okay in Firefox so hopefully, I'll stick with it for a while.

so much better

hey christmas tree
Originally uploaded by Julep67.
What a difference a day can make, or a night rather.

I woke up this morning feeling soooo much better than I felt yesterday. Whatever kind of bug I had, fortunately, it seems to have passed through my system rather quickly. Good thing too, I just didn't want to be sick for the rest of my vacation. It seems hard to believe that I've been off of work for almost two whole weeks already. The time has just flown by.

Looking back over the past two weeks, I am in awe of how much I got done. Between finishing up the shopping, wrapping everything, baking dozens and dozens of goodies, cleaning the house, completing the decorations... it's been very productive.

Of course, as always, it's over too quickly. I don't know if that's because we work so hard in the days leading up to Christmas but it seems to be here and gone again before you know it. Today, I actually feel like packing away the decorations but I won't. It feels too soon, I think I'll wait until the weekend at the earliest. I think Mark will be working at least part of New Years Eve so I may just pop in a movie and plug away at it. It usually takes me way longer to pack everything away than it did to pull it out!

At the moment, I'm once again waiting for our handy-person to arrive. He's supposed to be here at 7:30 a.m. Whether he's here or not, I plan to do very little today. I'm thinking that I may just curl up on the sofa with a book today, or, if I'm feeling really ambitious, watch a couple of movies. Right now, I'm just enjoying how very good "normal" feels.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Right now, I should be in bed, asleep, with the covers up and over my head.

I think I am sick, I feel pretty crappy, achey, tired, nauseous.

I am not in bed as I am waiting for our handy-person to arrive. He was scheduled to be here at 7:30. Once he arrives, I'm going back to bed.

Is it possible to get through the holiday season without contracting some kind of weird bug??

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

new machine

building mum & dad's computer
Originally uploaded by Julep67.
On Christmas Day, Mark had to install a couple of software upgrades to my parents' computer. Their machine is one that was cobbled together from parts that my brother had and that we had. They purchased a new monitor and my dad made a really cool desk for it but the machine itself, while functional, was slow.

Dad and mum commented on Christmas day how they had been thinking about an upgrade. As luck would have it, our favourite local computer shop, had a really awesome machine on sale. Mum and dad seemed pretty happy to hear about the deal so Mark picked up the machine today. It's awesome, really fast. Of course, is was just an empty box, no software or anything so Mark's been working on installing an operating system and putting in all of their applications. Once he's done that, all we'll need to do is grab their old machine, pop their current hard drive and DVD-ROM into the new machine and they'll be good to go. All of the installations have gone very very smoothly and I think that they will notice a huge difference between the new computer and their current one.

Isn't it nice when good things happen to good people?

boxing day wrap-up

yummy snacks
Originally uploaded by Julep67.
We had a really nice Boxing Day.

Every year, my aunt and uncle have an open house on Boxing Day. It's mostly family and close friends of theirs. For the past two years now, Mark and I have been able to go. The faces are now familiar although the names don't come to me quickly. The nice thing about this party is the timing. It doesn't get going until quite late in the afternoon so, even though it's an hour and a bit drive from here, we don't have to get up and out of the house super early.

We had a nice dinner, lots of yummy snacks, some good visits with folks I only really seem to see once a year anymore. My godparents where there, I saw some cousins I hadn't seen since last year on Boxing Day. It was fun. We sort of ate and ran though. We thought that we were going to be eating around 5 but it was closer to 7 when we sat down to dinner. Because we still had an hour drive home, we sort of dashed out after dessert. I felt kind of bad about that but, turns out that my parents left not long after we did.

Even though I'm not working this week, Mark is so we're still on our usual routine of getting up early. It's been good though, I've been using the time to get my baking and stuff done. Today was the first day that I didn't have to do anything or be anywhere. I've been enjoying being a bit lazy.

This morning, I watched a movie and this afternoon, I grabbed a little nap. It's weird but good. I feel a little guilty about it, because Mark's still having to work but, I'm sure I'll get over it!

Monday, December 26, 2005

tickets and coffee

tickets and coffee
Originally uploaded by Julep67.
It's Boxing Day morning and we're not out in the stores. What a nice feeling!!!

I generally don't like to go shopping on Boxing Day but, more often than not, we find ourselves in the crush, looking for bargains. After close scrutiny of the pile of flyers which arrived here on Saturday, I realize that there are not any super sales going on. The prices seems no different than they were before December 25. The only thing that is different is that many folks got cash or gift cards for Christmas and they are burning a hole in their pockets.

Christmas was really nice. We had a quick visit in the morning with Mark's dad (he wasn't feeling well so he didn't join us for Christmas lunch at my mum's house). We then went to out to my parents' place for lunch. The meal was amazing, truly outstanding. It's always good but this was really super.

After we ate, we decided to exchange gifts. We were all way too full from lunch to even think about dessert! I got some really neat things. I suprised the heck out of Mark, which was fun. A while ago, I had ordered a copy of The Beatles in India for him. He knew about it but he had no idea that it was shipping before Christmas. I had it sent to my folks' house so he really had no clue. It's a beautiful book, I knew it would nice but truly, it's a gorgeous volume.

Last night, my brother stayed with us. He's heading home today. We just sat around and shot the shit, drank some beer, ate some chips and then topped it off by watching a Bill Hicks DVD. It was a fun way to end a really great Christmas.

Today, we're heading to Smiths Falls for a family function. My aunt is having her annual Boxing Day open house. Hopefully the weather will cooperate with us.

Speaking of which, I should probably toddle off and start thinking about getting ready.

Happy Boxing Day kiddos!!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

...twas the night before Christmas

I'm pooped.

It's a good kind of pooped though. We had a busy day, it was a long day but it was productive. This morning, I did some more baking, another pan of squares, another batch of cookies. I didn't get as much done as I had thought I would (I had planned to make two more varieties of cookies) but, looking at the pile of tins that have piled up in our spare room, I'd say that I did okay.

Tonight, we went out to my folks' place. They live in a, I guess you would call it a village now, it's bigger than a suburb. The area they live in have a cool / strange, Christmas tradition. Santa drives around on the back of a fire truck on Christmas eve:

Santa on the fire truck

You know it's Christmas for sure, when you spot Santa on the fire truck!

Anyway, my house is clean (finally), the gifts are all wrapped and ready to go to my mum's tomorrow and the baking is done. I can sleep now, yay!!

Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas tomorrow!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

the baking has begun!

Originally uploaded by Julep67.
Finally, today, I started my annual holiday baking.

Do these treats look familiar to you?? They might if I gave you a little bag full of them last year. They were such a hit last year that I made 'em again this year!

At 7 a.m., I started melting those kisses and hugs and by 9:30 a.m., I had 230 some odd of them all over the kitchen. I followed them up by baking some chip crumble squares and then, some coconut fudge bars. I still have cookies to make but at least it's a start, right?

This afternoon, I managed to wrap almost all of our holiday gifts. I still have a few little things to wrap up but the majority of it is done. Last night I was thinking about why I hadn't started all of this earlier in the week. I then reminded myself that not only was Mark sick on Monday and Tuesday, but yesterday, I worked on "office work," from 7:15 a.m. until around 2 p.m. I didn't think it would take me that long but, it did. It's all done now though, so that's good.

All things considered, it's been very busy. I'm really looking forward to the weekend, it should be fun and, hopefully, relaxing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

on the mend

I'm very happy and relieved to report that Mark is feeling much better this afternoon. He took another day off from work, slept in, spent some time on the heating pad and then some more time in the spa tub and I think that those jets of water did his back a world of good. He actually has colour back in his face again and the sparkle has returned to his eyes. He was a sick boy yesterday, it was scary.

Because he's been home the past couple of days, I have not done too much as far as my "Christmas chores" go but that's okay. Tonight, while we watched old episodes of "Huff," I peeled the wrappers off of Hershey hugs and kisses. Tomorrow I'll melt them onto pretzels and voila, holiday pretzel treats!!

I should be able to get started on my baking too. All I really need to get done between now and Saturday night is the baking, finish wrapping gifts and then do some housework. I can't believe how quickly laundry piles up when you're home from work. Also, I've been running the dishwasher every day. Normally, we can go two or three days without turning it on. The good side of that is that we've not eaten in a restaurant in a while so I figure the money we're saving by eating at home is a lots more than the cost of running the dishwasher!! I don't feel like I'm really on vacation yet, I guess I will after Christmas, because I have a whole week off after that to just chill out and putter around the house.

I still feel really spoiled, having all of this time off. At least I feel right now like I'm putting it to good use!

Monday, December 19, 2005

the sickness, it's in the house

the sickness, it's in the house

Princess Street
Originally uploaded by Julep67.
If you ever receive an invitation to eat a meal in a nursing home, in the winter, do yourself a favour and say no.

I must say, the meal itself was really lovely. We went to the long-term care facility where Joe now lives for their annual holiday buffet. They do these things on Thanksgiving and Easter too. The residents must purchase tickets for their respective family members and the catering staff go all out. The food was really quite good, we sat with another family at our table and had a terrific visit. Joe didn't seem to be as zippy as usual but other than that, the whole thing was fine.

As you can expect, by the time the meal was over, the room was quite warm and Mark and I were both feeling a little over-heated. Later on the in the day, both of us felt a little off. I chaulked the stiffness in my knees and legs up to too much time spent sitting on the living room floor, wrapping gifts for Mark's co-workers.

When we woke up this morning, we both felt kind of yucky. Mark felt much worse than I did, he could barely stand up straight. He got right back into bed, onto the heating pad and under the covers. I checked on him about an hour ago and he was burning up. I'm feeling a little better but am seriously considering taking a nap, very soon.

Hopefully, whatever we have, is fleeting and, if we're lucky, Joe won't have it. Merry Christmas huh??

Saturday, December 17, 2005

gettin' ready

cutie snowman
Originally uploaded by Julep67.
I got a lot of stuff done yesterday, I was quite surprised actually. Usually, when I'm off for christmas vacation, I spend a good sized chunk of the first day off playing free cell. Yeah, that's right, free cell. I'll veg out in front of the computer, put some music on and play. It's sad but true.

Now, yesterday I did play a few games but I still got some stuff done too. Thursday night, Mark and were able to get almost everything we needed before the snow hit. We'll need to go for some groceries at some point in the week but that's about it.

It's a nice feeling and yet it's weird too. There is part of me that feels like I'm forgetting something, even though I know I'm not.

Tomorrow we are going to a holiday brunch at Joe's place. When he first told us about it, right after Thanksgiving, he was super excited. A couple of weeks ago though, he told us that the tickets sold out before he was able to get any so, we weren't going. As luck would have it (?), he called us on Wednesday and informed us that he'd been able to get two (I think that he was on some kind of cancellation / waiting list) so now we're going. It's a mid-day function so we'll have the afternoon off anyway. I hope to get the bulk of my wrapping done (not that I have a lot). We'll see I suppose. I also have a bit of decorating to finish up and the house needs a clean.

The really nice thing about having this week off is that I'll be able to take my time with all the stuff I need to do. And don't think I don't know how lucky I am, I know it, trust me!

Friday, December 16, 2005

best neighbours EVER!!

best neighbours EVER!!
Originally uploaded by Julep67.
When we went to bed last night it was snowing. It was coming down quite hard actually and the weather reports were screaming about heavy snow fall. When I got up this morning, I peeped through the curtains and could tell that we definitely got some snow but had no idea how much.

As I walked out to the front of the house, to see how much we had on the porch, Mark turned the weather channel on. The screen was bright red. That's never good. To me, it looked like we might have 4 to 6 inches on the ground. Of course, at 4:30 a.m., it's hard to tell exactly what's going on in the world outside. One thing was certain, no plow had been anywhere near our street yet.

Mark, very carefully, headed out to work. It was still snowing quite hard so I (on my first full day of vacation!!) took to my office to clear out some clutter, sort out bills, drink massive amounts of coffee, that sort of thing. By 9 a.m or so, you could tell that it was starting to let up so I got dressed and headed out to shovel. Imagine my surprise when I opened the front door and found almost a foot of snow on our porch.

Now, usually (by usually I mean, the past 3 times I have had to shovel our new driveway), I do the driveway first and then the porch and the little sidewalk that leads from the driveway to the steps. I couldn't even see the step. I could barely see Mark's 4 hour old steps in the snow. It was THAT thick!

I had no choice in the matter, I had to start on the steps and basically try to dig my way to the driveway. I've been outside for about 2 minutes and our next door neighbour, Pat, who is outside digging out his vehicles hollers over at me, "hey, Tommy will probably do your driveway for some beer." Just as he's telling me this, Mark pulls up in front of the house, home for his coffee break... Mark goes and talks to Tommy and the deal is made.

Tommy has a ride on lawn mower that has a snow blower thing on the front of it, he did an amazing job on the driveway, he did Pat's drive, the sidewalks in front of our house. It was terrific.

We've been in this house less than 7 months now and don't know many of the neighbours, well, didn't until this morning. One of the nice things about a big storm is that it pulls everyone out of the house and into the street. I can't get over how friendly everyone is on this street. We're literally around the corner (there are 2 stop signs between them) from our old house but it's like being a different world, in a really good way!!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

holiday, celebration!!

I'll tell ya! It's holiday time, that's right, I'm almost officially on my vacation. It seems like it's been a really long time coming but it's here at last.

This afternoon we had our "big annual" office holiday party. About an hour or so ago, I got back to the office (many folks took off, I had stuff to do so I could get out of here). I had a really productive hour, probably because it's so quiet. I really didn't think, earlier in the week, that I'd get everything sorted out but it seems to have come together. I'm bringing my laptop home though, I do have a couple of little things to work on but it shouldn't take me too long.

Right now, I'm just waiting for Mark to pick me up. We're due to get hit with a big snow storm tonight but right now, it's okay outside. It has really warmed up so I'm sure we actually will get that big storm. Anyway, when he gets here, I think we'll head out and try to finish up the little bits of "christmas" shopping that we need to do. If it does storm tonight, it'll be nice to not have to go out into it tomorrow. Yay!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


A friend left a comment on one of my flickr photos. She said that the lights on this particular tree looked like fireworks. I agree, if you squint your eyes they kind of do.

Every day, our neighbourhood gets sparkly-er. Is that a word? Who cares, it's pretty. Gorgeous actually, snow on top of all of those lights is just amazing!

Things at work are getting sorted out. There is almost a light at the end of the tunnel. If all continues like it has been this morning, I might actually be able to get out of here as scheduled, without too much guilt or worry about what I'm leaving behind.

To paraphase an old Muppet christmas special, it's cold enough to freeze your Winnebago out there right now. It's one of those lovely, albeit deceiving, winter type days. It's gorgeously sunny and bright, there is a blanket of snow on the ground. Inviting I guess you'd say. Step out into though, you'll realize soon enough that it's cold enough to freeze the snot in your nose. That's cold.

Honestly, I love this kind of weather. When I'm outside, walking or shoveling in this temperature, my lungs just can't get enough of this fresh, clean air. It's totally invigorating and just feels healthy (unlike the crappy dirty humid air we're stuck with all summer). Boots and heavy coats and mitts, I'm not such a fan of but, I'd rather have to bundle up to go outside than hide inside, in the fake "conditioned" air any day!

Monday, December 12, 2005

happy monday!

Okay, not happy? Busy? Yes, definitely. I'm working a shortened week this week (3.5 days). This is good because, hurray, holidays start on Thursday. It's bad though because I have a lot of little things that need to get sorted out before I go. I shouldn't even really be taking a lunch break at the moment but sometimes you just need to, right?? Those clementine oranges are not going to peel themselves!!

The weekend was nice for me, not so much for Mark. He was really sick on Saturday. He woke up on Friday morning with a migraine but worked through it. It caught up with him sometime early Saturday morning. Fortuantely, he's feeling better today but he was definitely under the weather on Saturday.

While he slept, I went out and did some purely selfish errands. One of things I did was get a long-overdue hair cut. I had grown enough to make another donation to "locks of love." I was surprised and didn't realize that my hair was that long again but I guess it was. Actually, I don't guess, I know because I have a pony tail at home that is slowly drying out.

Yesterday, it snowed almost the whole day. As you can see from the photo, the driveway was clean last night. We woke up this morning to a brand new blanket of snow so it's covered, again. Thankfully, our lovely neighbour across the street (who we have yet to formally meet), plowed out all of the heavy / wet / icy stuff from the bottom of the driveway. This made doing the rest of it fairly easy. Oh well, I'm not going to complain too loudly. Afterall, it's good exercise and I'd always rather have this cold wintery weather than the stinkin' hot stuff we get all summer, any day!!

Friday, December 09, 2005

finishing the cards

finishing the cards
Originally uploaded by Julep67.
For the first time in, I have no idea how long, we actually got our shit together and got our christmas cards out, in the post, in a decent amount of time. I still can't believe that. We are doing such a tiny amount of holiday gift giving this year that we have that almost under control. Fortunately, we're making a lot of gifts this year so we don't have much actual shopping to do.

Last night, we had to go out and do a proper shop at the grocery store. It's been weeks since we did that. Recently we've been just popping into the store for one or two things and we realized yesterday that we were running out of almost everything. On our way to the store (which is in the west end of town so we travelled along the lakeshore from my office) we saw that the sky over the lake was completely dark. It wasn't black, more like a charcoal colour. When we drove by the DuPont factory, you could hardly make out where it ended and the sky started. It was snowing lightly by then and that proved to be good for the shopping as the store was mostly empty.

By the time we got home, it was really coming down and I was so glad that we were "all stocked up" and that, if we needed to, we could stay home all weekend without needing to venture out for provisions. This morning, when we got up, there were about 4 to 6 inches of the white stuff on the ground. We quickly cleaned off the porch and the steps and cut a path for the mail carrier person on our way to work. The wind really kicked up once I got to work and right now, the sun is shining so bright that it's almost blinding me (I LOVE IT!!). Crazy huh?? I'm not sure what the temperature is like but, with any luck, the snow in the driveway will be mostly melted when we get home tonight.

I will say this about the snow, as much as I don't like shoveling it, it sure makes all of the sparkly lights in our very griswaldy neighbourhood look even prettier.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

thinking about john

imagine mosaic
Originally uploaded by Julep67.
Every day without John is a little sad. Sure, we have the legacy he left us, his music, his words, his artwork but tears always come to my eyes when I think of what he had left to share with the world, with us, the people who loved him.

Today, it seems unthinkable that 25 years have passed since he was taken from us. I can remember my mum coming into my bedroom to wake me up for school and telling me that someone had shot John Lennon. It seemed like a bad dream. How could anyone have shot John Lennon? He was a Beatle, he was a father, a husband, a peaceful man. What could he have possibily done to make someone want to hurt him in this way?

It's easy to get bogged down in how his life ended, to concentrate on the violent, insane person who did this. It's much harder to look past the hurt and celebrate his life on days like this. Some nice folks have a petition up on their website. They are trying to have October 9, John's birthday, made into an international holiday. If you, like me, are having a tough time today, you may want to wander over there and sign your name, it might even make you feel a little better.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


How is it possible that I've not posted in almost a week? I suppose, it's possible because we've been really busy. So, the emails go un-answered, the bills pile up, waiting for the weekend to get paid, stuff just seems to swirl around us these days.

The weekend was very productive as far as the house goes. Mark got some jobs done that have been on his "to do" list for a while. I pulled out the indoors holiday decorations so the inside of the house is starting to look as festive as the outside. It's all a little tacky but it's fun. I put the tree up on Sunday, added the lights but didn't get the decorations on it until Monday night. It's looking very disco-y (with actual disco-ball ornaments). When my camera is working again, I'll take some pictures.

The camera has become a bit of a pain in my bum. On Sunday, after shoveling the snow and putting up some lights on one of our trees outside, I wanted to take a few snaps of the front of the house while the sun was still shining. Sadly, my battery had died (even though I had just taken the camera off of the charger). My camera is pretty "old" by today's standards. I have a Kodak DX3600 (2.2 mega pixels) which I purchased in June 2002. It's been a great camera, easy to use and, I think, capable of some really neat stuff. It's also able to make quick time videos which I also like. The only issue I have ever had with this camera is the batteries. I bought the docking station which allows you (via USB) to upload your pictures and it charges the batteries at the same time. We think that there is some kind of electrical flaw in the docking thing that is mucking with the batteries. I have been unable to find replacement batteries locally but lucked out on eBay tonight. I found a couple of guys who are selling chargers and batteries at really reasonable prices so I've ordered a charger (with a car adapter) and a few batteries. I think that if I can charge the batteries outside of the docking station, that should solve my problem. I really like this camera and would hate to have to replace it just because of battery issues!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

sunny day

sunny day
Originally uploaded by Julep67.
It's so sunny right now, it's gorgeous!! It's amazing how a sunny day can just turn your whole attitude around.

Yesterday, the dark and gloom was just getting to me. I let it happen and I shouldn't. The sunshine is always out there somewhere!! Also, I think part of my problem yesterday was sleep deprivation. As I expected, I slept like the dead last night so I'm feeling the benefit of that today.

Of course, with no snow on the ground and lots of sun, it is easier to convince yourself that it's not actually December 1! It looks more like spring out there, it doesn't feel like it but it does look the part.

Anyway, the countdown is on now, two weeks from today, I start my vacation. I'll be off for 2.5 weeks and, while I'm not one of those folks who likes to wish their lives away, I can say that I'm quite looking forward to the break being here.