10 Things About Me

Some who read this know me well.  Others not at all.  I like lists.  There, by the time you’re done reading this, you’ll know 11 things about me, because one thing is I like lists.  I love watching those shows that they usually show around the end of the year counting down the 10 best and worst ________ of ________.  I like grocery lists, to do lists, guest lists, etc.  So I decided to make a list of 10 well known and little known facts about yours truly.  The point?  There isn’t one, except to indulge myself in yet another list.

So here it is.  Some will be blatantly obvious even from reading this blog.  Others will be deep, dark secrets that no one knows.  Intrigued?  Hopefully I don’t end up getting arrested after this. 😉

Here we go…

1. I have many important roles in my life, but the one that I take most seriously, the one that means the most to me, is that of being a mother.  I love my family, and I love my friends, but I consider the responsibility of being a parent the biggest thing that can happen to a person and I don’t take it for granted, or handle it lightly.  I love my son with a fierceness that I never thought possible before I met him, and that grows every day.  I know that I am responsible for helping to shape the person that he is and that is very important to me.

2. I love to cook and bake.  I love to watch people eat.  Nothing gives me more pleasure than to have people get up from my table stuffed and satisfied.  When I am feeding people, there is no such thing as preparing too much food.

3. I love musicals.  TV and stage.  I love music, all music.  Musicals though, I have a real soft spot for.  We used to go quite often to see musicals and plays in Toronto or other places.  We don’t really get to do that very often anymore and I really really miss it.

4. I am a HUGE procrastinator.  But more on that later…

5. I’m a bookworm.  I have loved reading all my life.  Since I was a child I could always be found with my nose in a book.  The same is true today.

6. I come across as confident, and I am confident in many of my abilities.   I also have a side of me that has very low self esteem, where I’m always waiting for someone to point out what I’ve done wrong.  To make fun of me or laugh at me behind my back.

7. I wish I had more time to myself.

8. I’m an accessory freak.  Handbags, sunglasses, jewelry, hats, iPhone cases, iPad cases, beach bags, tote bags, lunch bags, travel mugs and water bottles, you name it.  I love any and all accessories, and often the accessories that I have on will end up being more expensive than the rest of the outfit.

9. I’m a techie and gadget junkie.  Read more about that here.

10. I wish I had been a writer.  Or a make up artist.  Or a photographer.  Maybe a stage actor.  Overall, I wish I had a job that exercised my creative muscles more.  That made me draw from somewhere different every day.  I like what I do, but I always envisioned myself doing something else.  Broadway anyone? Well…I’d have to get a few voice lessons first I suppose.

So now you know a bit more about me.  Did this add to your existence?  Probably not.  But I had fun writing it.

Thanks for indulging me.

Care of Wooden Floors – Book Review

So my book club last month read Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles. It got picked randomly just by looking around Chapters and pulling random titles, then voting.
Overall, the reviews were very mixed. The general idea of the story is this: the main character, whose name we never do find out, is asked to apartment sit by his friend Oscar. He is a writer of commercial jingles, struggling to be something more. Oscar is a relatively famous composer of classical music. The two met in college.
We never actually meet Oscar face to face except in memories, but his presence is very strongly there throughout the whole book. This is actually a book about Oscar. Oscar's flat, Oscar's stuff, Oscar's marriage, Oscar's friends, Oscar's life. We learn that “control freak” and “perfectionist” are not quite strong enough terms to describe Oscar. When we arrive at his apartment, there are annoying little notes in the most annoying places. “Do not play with the piano!” On the piano keys. Notes everywhere, stating how things are to be done, how to look after the cats, and most importantly, to take meticulous care of the pristine wooden floors in the flat.
What starts out as a simple apartment sitting situation, quickly turns to disaster. One mishap after another, where our lead blames everyone but himself, leads to quite a messy situation.
This is actually a lot like watching a car crash in slow motion. There is an ominous feeling throughout the whole thing. A feeling like – this can't end well. Innocent actions turn disastrous, and you can't help feeling throughout like this guy really is his own worst enemy.
As for my own feelings about this book, well, I didn't really have many. I mean, it was okay, but I like to have emotions from reading a book. I didn't have any here. I didn't root for anyone, I didn't particularly like anyone in the book. When I was finished, I found myself asking really what the point of the story was.
There have been many positive reviews of this book online, and I'm sure that many that appreciate this writing style will enjoy it.
I feel duped. The mention of porn on the back made me vote for it. It was just okay.
 

 

Attitude – A Rant. You’ve been warned.

Just a bunch of cry babies!

Every now and then a girl just has to get things off her chest.  Some cry about it, some scream about it.  I’m gonna blog about it.

I honestly think that the biggest problem that plagues society today is people and their bad attitudes.  Some people honestly wouldn’t know a positive comment if someone came along and hit them over the head with one.  I know I wrote in one of my previous blog entries that there are some people that you just can’t please, and you just have to move on and not let them bother you.

Well heck.  Today, they are bothering me!  Some people are just so negative, so sour, so argumentative and confrontational, it makes me want to dump a bucket of ice water on their heads.  They are nasty, nasty NASTY!

PEOPLE!  Lighten up a bit!  I know that sometimes life isn’t fair.  Sometimes people mistreat you, sometimes the crap just keeps piling up.  But having a bad attitude about the whole thing, dropping f-bombs left, right and center may make you feel better about things, but trust me, it’s driving everyone else around you CRAZY!

Your negative attitude is only bringing down the people around you.  It’s not doing you any good.  You may think that it feels good to complain about things and make your beefs known.  All you are doing is feeding into your own anger and keeping it alive.  Just think.  Just think of how much better your life could be if whenever something happens that normally would send you into orbit, you just said “Nope.  I’m not going to let it get the better of me.  I’m not going to let something that is out of my control get me down in the dumps.”  I know that every now and then it does get so bad that you have to let it out.  That’s what I’m doing right now.  Normally I can turn the other cheek and ignore the negativity.  Today, it just annoyed me to the point where I have to let it out.  That happens.  But it’s almost like the boy who cried wolf.  If all people hear from you is complaining, it quickly becomes white noise and has no meaning.  If you are generally a positive person and don’t complain much, looking at life like it is a bowl of cherries and spitting the pits out and forgetting about them – then when you do have a complaint to make, and it’s made in the right way – people are much more likely to listen and do something to help you.

So buck up Buttercup!  Smile a bit.  Don’t let things get to you and worry you so much.  Your friends will thank you, your family will thank you, your co-workers will thank you.  Your doctor will thank you too – you’ll live longer!

Peace!

 

Bloodlines & The Golden Lily – Book Reviews

If you read my previous blog entry about the Vampire Academy books by Richelle Mead, you’ll know I’m a fan.  I was very happy to learn that there was indeed a spinoff planned of these books.  The Bloodlines Series started with Bloodlines, and continued with The Golden Lily.  The Indigo Spell is due out in February of 2013.

You don’t totally have to have read the Vampire Academy books to understand this series, but it certainly helps.  Many things are written as though it is implied that the reader has read the previous series.

Bloodlines is basically the story of Alchemist Sydney Sage.  If you read the VA books, you’ll recognize her as one of the people who aided Rose in her quest.  The story picks up a little while after the VA books leave off, and we are re-united with Sydney, who is somewhat suffering the consequences of her involvement in aiding a fugitive.

She is recruited by the Alchemists to go on a mission to keep Jill Dragomir (Lissa’s half sister) safe from the ones who are trying to kill her.  Lissa’s reign as Queen of the Moroi is only valid as long as she has a living relative.  Trying to kill a queen is tough work, so the rebels are going after her sister Jill, who is more vulnerable, and in killing her they basically achieve the same thing: removing Lissa from the throne.

So Sydney is posing as Lissa’s sister at a totally human school under complete secrecy.  We get to see many others from the VA series as more central characters in this series.  Aside from Sydney, we have Eddie and Adrian, and even Sonia and Dmitri play supporting rolls.  There is even a cameo appearance near the beginning from Rose herself.  Those who read and enjoyed VA will appreciate that.

These books are kind of the same as VA, but very different in some ways too.  Our heroine is very different.  With Rose, we had a badass, ass kicking, brave, impulsive heroine.  Sydney has her own style, and though she is very intelligent, and brave as well, she certainly goes about life more differently and more responsibly.

I liked these books.  I will have to wait to pass my full judgment until I read farther into the series, obviously.  They move a little slower, and spend a lot of time building up the characters and giving insight into them.  Sydney can be extremely frustrating at times as she has literally no dating experience and is completely oblivious to the world of love and dating.  As an Alchemist, she also has several prejudices against vampires that have been ingrained in her since she was little.  She literally has a physical reaction to the use of magic.  She is certainly more tolerant of vampires and damphirs than most of the rest of her kind.  She considers them friends and allies, and shares her life with them, above and beyond her mission to protect Jill.  But those prejudices are there, and though I hope she shakes them as she continues throughout this series, I imagine that will take some time and will cause much more frustration for the reader as she does.  She is already starting to see many things about her kind that are disturbing to her, and making her question the foundation upon which her life has been built.

These books have everything.  A bit of action, a bit of magic, some romance, friendship, you name it.  Adrian plays a large role, as I loved him in the other books.  I didn’t love him for Rose, as I am a huge fan of Dmitri and believe that they are totally right together.  But he is still a wonderful and very misunderstood character, and from what I can see, I think he will finally get a chance to really shine in these books.

Overall, if you like this kind of thing, definitely read these.  I’m looking forward to the rest.  I had heard somewhere I think that there were six planned, but I’m not 100% sure about that.  I hope there is, because there are a lot of directions this story can go.

Until the next one… 🙂

Don’t Take Your Organs to Heaven…

So much truth in this statement

…Heaven knows we need them here.  Not sure if you’ve heard that slogan before.  About 16 or 17 years ago, I had t-shirts, sweatshirts, pillows, all kinds of stuff with these words written on them.  My Dad was on the waiting list for a liver transplant.

Organ donation is a very touchy subject for some people.  Many support it, many don’t believe in it at all.  It is a subject very near and dear to my heart, so I thought I would share my thoughts.  My opinion is very biased, and based on my own experience, but if it can help to change the mind of one naysayer, then it can save the lives of many.  So I’m happy to share it with you.

When we lose someone we love, especially in a situation of an accident, sometimes the shock and trauma overwhelm us and we are unable to think about anything except our loss and grief.  Quite understandably.  If a person dies and an organ donor card has been signed or a declaration has been made, it helps to take some of the guesswork out for the family.  At least if the family knows the wishes of the deceased, it is easier for them to be followed.  Often times, especially in the case of younger people, it is not known, not discussed.  So when the family is asked, their first reaction is to refuse as they are overcome by grief and can not imagine doing that to their loved one.

I was 17 or 18 years old when my Dad was diagnosed with a liver problem.  He had a condition that had resulted in a slow deterioration of the organ over what was probably several years, maybe several decades.  His behaviour started to get very sporadic.  He would get very confused and we started to really worry about him.  My Mom finally took him into emergency.  At first they thought it may have been a neurological problem due to his symptoms.  Several tests later, we found out that it was in fact his liver.  It was almost completely gone, and not removing the toxins from his body, therefore causing the confusion and erratic behaviour.  It was a relief to know what the problem was, but opened up a bunch of new scary realizations for us.  This was serious.

After a bunch more tests, and paperwork, and endless conversations with doctors, it was decided that he would be put on the organ transplant recipient waiting list.  And so the wait began.

He was on the list for about a year.  Twice we were called in as a back up.  Meaning someone else needed the liver more than Dad did, but if for some reason that person wasn’t a match, then Dad could be given it.  Both times it didn’t work out.  Those times were bittersweet.  We wanted him to have his new liver, but we also didn’t want it to be because someone else who needed it more couldn’t have it.  So back home we went.

One night in May, Dad and I were home alone.  He had been feeling a little off.  We were sitting in the family room when suddenly he started heaving like he was going to throw up.  I jumped up and ran from the room to get a pail or wastebasket for him.  Imagine my shock when I came back in the room to find he had already thrown up a huge amount of blood.  He sat there and looked at me, in shock I think.  I got his shirt off him and got on the phone to find Mom.  When I finally got a hold of her, she came right home and we picked up and headed into emerg with him.

They got him stabilized, and admitted into a room.  It was scary, but seemed like it was going to be okay again – for a while anyway.  I remember when my Mom and I went to the hospital, we figured we were going to take him home.  We got to his room and were unable to find him.  We waited, thinking they must have taken him down to do one of the many tests that they were doing on him all the time.

Finally we were able to find his doctor.  He took us into a waiting room and told us that Dad had been sent down for an Endoscopy, where they put a scope down your throat to look around.  The scope had triggered internal bleeding.  He was currently in ICU in critical condition.  He had moved from mid way up the waiting list to the very top.  If they did not find a liver for him in the next few hours, we would have no other options.  He would die.

I sat there and listened, but I was out of my body.  We went down to the ICU waiting room, but I felt like I was in a bad movie or something.  I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me.  We finally were able to go in and see him, and I will never forget the sight of him in ICU.  He was blown up, he had tubes and monitors coming everywhere out of him and attached to him.  His mouth was open and there was something sticking out of it, which they told us was a balloon that they had inserted down his esophagus to keep the bleeding at bay.

My mother went to pieces.  I just stood there.  I wanted to comfort her, I wanted to react.  I wanted to cry, or scream or something.  All I could do was stand there and stare at him.  The movie had just become a reality, and I had never felt so helpless in my life.

Later that night, they came to tell us that they had found a possible match in Saskatchewan.  A team was flying out to get it as we spoke, and if all went well, they would operate on him the next day.  It was again bittersweet – you are rejoicing as another family mourns.  You are sitting around, waiting for someone to die, so that your loved one can live.

After an 8 hour operation, and a very slow, but steady recovery, my Dad is literally healthy as a horse today.  His quality of life is good, he’s got a ton of doctors that keep an eye on him, which is awesome, and I feel like he will live to be a ripe old age.  We were so lucky that if he was going to get sick, that it happened when it did, where it did, and the circumstances were in his favour.  He literally got a second chance at life, and we are so grateful.

Because of the gift from someone who passed away, my Dad got to live.  I’m sure that the family of this person were devastated, and yet they allowed this to happen.  Because of this, my Dad was there to give me away at my wedding.  He was there when my son was born and has forged an amazing relationship with him.  If he had died that night, Nicholas never would have had the gift of his grandfather. He has 3 other grandchildren that would never have met him either.  He has been around to celebrate his 60th, 65th, 70th Birthdays, and hopefully will be around for many more.  All because one person, one family, said yes.  What a truly wonderful thing to come out of a tragedy.

I urge you to think about it.  I urge you to read about it and find out the wonderful things that can happen when you donate your organs. If you choose to donate, make it known.  Tell your family, register for donation.  Tell them why, and make it clear that these are your wishes, and they are to be followed.

If you’re on the fence, imagine yourself in the position where you have a loved one on the brink of death.  Imagine yourself in a near-death situation.  Your life or the life of your mother, father, sibling, or God forbid – child.  After neurological death, there are 6 organs that can be donated.  After cardiac death, 4.  Up to 6 lives could be saved by the generosity of one person.  One of those lives could be yours, or someone you love.

Once you’re gone, you’re gone.  We all want to do something so that we’ll be remembered after we die.  I don’t think that there is a greater gift that you can give to someone than the gift of life.  Take it from someone who knows.  That person will thank you for it, their children will thank you for it.  Their grandchildren will too.  I know when Nicholas is old enough to understand he will be grateful that someone took the time to sign their organ donor card and make it possible for his Grandpa to be in his life.

Just Because I Love Being Canadian

With the Olympics coming up, I thought I would share this clip from the last Olympics in Vancouver.

If you’re Canadian, this will make you proud, and maybe teach you a few things you didn’t know about your country.

If you’re not Canadian, I hope you enjoy it, and also maybe learn a something about this wonderful country.

Have an awesome weekend! 🙂

Growing up Tech

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m a geek.  Totally.  I’m a geek about a lot of things – I love Harry Potter, Glee, many of the current fandoms.  I adore musical theatre, movie musicals, etc.  I’m a total bookworm, and will not think twice about standing in line at a bookstore for a midnight release, or getting to the theater 4 hours before a movie to wait in line to get a seat in the back.

All these things make me a geek, or a nerd I guess, but the biggest thing is my obsession with all things tech.  The world is exploding with all the latest releases of gadgets of all kind.  My son is four.  When I was his age, I was carrying around my old fashioned tape recorder, so happy because there were buttons to push.

Good old tape recorder

I got my first cell phone late by today’s standards, at 18 when I started university.  I’ve counted (the ones I can remember) the cell phones I’ve had since then and there have been 13 in the last 17 years.  That’s an average of a new one every 1.3 years.  Not a lot by a lot of techie standards, but far higher than average, I’m sure.  I’m totally addicted.  I got my first computer, which was a 486 running DOS and Windows 3.1, when I was probably about 14.


I’m an admitted Apple fangirl.  If Apple makes it, I want one.  I’m already plotting to “unload” my iPhone 4S on my hubby when the next generation comes out.  I remember wanting a tablet computer so bad years ago when they had those big, bulky Tablet PC’s that were so expensive.  When the iPad came out, I thought I had died and gone to Heaven.

I drive my co-worker crazy listening to podcasts about various things, keynote speeches, videos of drop tests of cell phones.  I get excited and call her over when I see nifty things online that I think are so cool, and she just rolls her eyes at me.  I’m a huge fan of social networking, having accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and on and on.  I’m the only one of my friends that stops to “check in” when we go somewhere, the only one that checks Twitter when someone mentions the latest news.  Or knows the news first because of my Twitter feed.  Heck, I was the only one who actually would send a text for a long time.  Unfortunately I had no one to send them to.

It kind of sucks actually, being one of the only geeks among my friends.  Every now and then I meet folks who are on the same page and it is so wonderful to sit and talk about the latest in the tech world, or what I happened to read on a tech blog that morning.  To discuss our favourite apps and compare Angry Birds scores.  These opportunities are very few and far between.  My hubby and most friends will try to nod and smile and act interested when I talk about how the new Macbook Pro has retina display, or how excited I am to try iOS 6.  But I see the bored blankness behind their eyes.  That’s why I love social networking, the number of people on Twitter alone to chat with about all things tech is more than you could possibly imagine.

The way I see it, unless I make some new friends 😉 , my last hope is my son.  He is growing up in a world where the things that I witnessed happening as I was growing up (personal computers in every home, personal e-mail addresses for everyone, real touchscreen technology, cell phones replacing landlines) are all firmly a part of life.  If we’ve come this far in the last 30 years, imagine how much can happen in the next 30.

Loves the iPad

Technology is the future.  Obviously.  There are so many things we can do now, that we could never do before.  I use my iPad for everything.  Web surfing, e-mail, blogging, journaling, contact management, calendar and to do lists, reading books, magazines, watching a missed episode of a favourite TV show or listening to a favourite song.  I store recipes on it, edit documents, play games, all social networking, manage my household budget, banking, edit photos, Skype, etc.  With just one piece of equipment, I have made a ton of other things totally unnecessary….and I can carry it in my handbag.  I find this incredibly cool.  On this, my son can relate.  He loves the iPad, and would be on it all the time if I let him.  He watches Netflix, searches YouTube, reads books, does puzzles.  My parents watch him as he says “here Grandma, I’ll do it for you” with wonder on their faces.  I watch him on the iPad, or on my phone, or on a computer, and I see that the apple definitely doesn’t fall far from the tree.  I’m excited for all the future has to hold for him and generations to come and all the things that will be made possible because of technology.

Geeks unite!

Easy – But Yummy – Pasta Salad

When I start making this pasta salad, I know that summer has arrived.  Everyone has their own variation, this is mine.

Summer in a bowl

Ingredients

1 bag – pasta of choice. Hardier pastas work best.  I’ve used Rotini, Fusilli, Farfale (bowtie), and Scoobi-Do is a favourite.  It’s a nice change from  the traditional elbow.

1 jar – Miracle Whip

2 cans – flakes of ham – some people like tuna, I prefer the taste and saltiness of ham

4 eggs – hard boiled

mustard – a healthy squirt

dried dill – a healthy shake

curry powder – to taste

salt and pepper – to taste

Directions

Cook the pasta in salted water to al dente.  Strain and run under cold water until completely cooled.

In a large bowl, break up flakes of ham and cut up hard boiled eggs.  Leave both in fairly large chunks as they will break down more when you stir it all together.

Dump the pasta on top, and add Miracle Whip and combine, to get desired creaminess.  Add mustard, dill and curry, along with salt and pepper, all to taste, testing along the way of course! 😉

That’s it.  It’s best served chilled, though if you plan on storing it in the fridge for a while, the pasta will absorb the dressing, so before serving add a bit more and give it a stir.

I prefer mine very simple, but there are literally hundreds of things you could add to this salad – bell peppers, green onions, spanish onion.  You could add fresh peas if you had some from the garden or market.  That’s what’s nice about it, add what you like to make it your own and suit your tastes.

Serve with a burger or hot dog or whatever summer treat you’ve got off the grill, and enjoy!

Bomb Threats Close to Home

Ambassador Bridge – Windsor/Detroit

I consider myself lucky to be born where I was born, with the luxuries that I have. Clean drinking water right out of my tap, a roof over my head, food on my table. I watch the news and see people that live in war zones, like Iraq and Afghanistan, and know people in the military that have fought in both places during the height of the war there.

I feel for these people, I fear for them, I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to live under a constant veil of fear. That’s what I’m talking about, because as much as I sympathize, I can’t empathize. I’ve lived my life up to this point with virtually no fear of an outside attack. The most scared I’ve ever been was on September 11, 2001, when I heard on the radio that a second plane had struck the World Trade Center. The first one I could assume was a tragic accident. The second one showed for sure that there was something sinister happening. The news of a crash at the Pentagon made my stomach roll over in fear.

I felt this way, and yet I was so removed from the situation. Miles away, no one I knew personally affected directly by these tragic events. I sat and watched, horrified, with the rest of the world, but though this was the first time that I ever wondered how events like these would change my life as I knew it, I was still just a spectator.

In less than a week, there have been two bomb threats on border crossings between the cities of Windsor and Detroit. The first one was at the Tunnel that runs under water connecting the two cities and countries. The second one at the Ambassador Bridge that spans the Detroit River, linking the two as well. Both incidents shut down the crossings for a number of hours. Thankfully, neither amounted to anything more than a huge inconvenience for travelers, and probably tons of cash and man hours investigating the threats.

This one hit close to home though. Windsor is right down the 401 from us – I can get there by car in just over 2 hours. We have friends in Windsor. Family in Windsor and Detroit. Even though it appears that there was no danger after all, it sure made me think about it and realize, just as those people in New York and Virginia who went to work on 9/11 totally unsuspecting and never thinking that anything could happen to them, anything is possible.

It makes you wonder what this world is coming to. But also, it makes you think about people that live under a constant threat all the time. Who go to bed at night knowing full well that it is a real possibility that a bomb could fall on their house. Or could go shopping to have a suicide bomber blow up 5 feet from them. Those people don’t wonder what the world is coming to, because it has always been their reality.

We all have hardships and tough times. We all deal with them differently. Everyone has blessings too. We, when compared to the rest of the planet are like individual grains of sand. As this world gets smaller and smaller and threats seem to happen closer to home, it helps to put things into perspective and if not totally, at least a little bit – helps us to understand what it might be like to live in their shoes.

Peace.