Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A picture's worth a thousand words

So as you may remember, in August Serdic and I had a long weekend in Quebec City. For a number of reasons, it was an excellent trip, our first real getaway together as a couple, a beautiful city, great meals and sightseeing, fabulous weather, etc. etc. etc. And I took a lot of pictures, as I tend to do when I'm travelling -- as anyone who has been forced enjoyed looking at my photo albums will know. Now, I don't claim to be a fabulous photographer, but I do have a good quality camera which takes a pretty nice picture, and I have found with digital cameras and the advances with screens and settings and such (and especially the ability to know right away if the photo will turn out or not and take another one if necessary) that I tend to take a lot of nice pictures. And then I like to share them with people. So when we got home I put my photos of QC up on my Flickr account, sent the link out to friends and family (and posted it here), basked in their admiration for a couple of days, and went on about my business.

Fast forward to mid-December. Sitting at my desk at work one afternoon I got an email via Flickr from a woman who works for the Musée de la Civilisation in QC. She had found my photos on Flickr and was wondering if I would grant permission for them to use one of them in an exhibition they are putting on this spring at the museum. At first, I thought it had to be some kind of hoax, as it just seemed so random. But I did some investigating and googling and she seemed to be who she said she was, and we exchanged several emails over the course of the week about the exhibit and I sent her the high resolution copy of the photo and so forth. She told me that the photo would be used in the "interactive" portion of the exhibit, and they wanted to use it because it was exactly the right angle and perspective of the city's skyline that they were looking for. So it won't be framed and hanging on the wall, but it is apparently in the exhibit, with credit given to me as photographer.

Obviously, Serdic and I decided we needed to go see it. It's not every day this sort of thing happens, after all. So we are off this weekend for a flying trip to QC to see the exhibit and have a couple of days of R&R and pampering. We are splurging and taking the train down and staying in a hotel in the lower part of the old section of the city, just across the street from the museum, in fact. I anticipate some great meals and a lovely soak or two in the hotel room's jacuzzi tub (we upgraded our room when we found out that for $10 more a night we could have a jacuzzi!). And the photo thing is still too cool for words.

What's funny about that particular photo is that it was a random snap out the window of the car. I had been trying to get a shot of the city from that angle as we came back in on the highway, but it's hard to take pictures out of a moving vehicle and they were all blurry. Then as we were bombing down the highway all of a sudden we came upon a stoplight. In the middle of the highway. And it was red. And we were saying to each other "what the heck is up with this stoplight in the middle of the highway?" when I turned to look and the city was perfectly framed in Serdic's open driver's side window. I threw the camera up and grabbed a shot just as the light turned green and we took off again. So we decided that stoplight was there for photo ops. Little did I know that it would be the photo that would bring me glory and riches. Well, glory at least. Well, for a moment or two, anyway. :-)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter musings

This has been a strange Easter for me. Usually Easter follows a very specific and well-established tradition ... I go home, we have church Friday night and Sunday morning, big turkey dinner at my grandmother's house, blah blah family traditions blah. As a family we're all about traditions, and doing things the same way every year. Minor variations, sure, especially as we've grown and the family has been enlarged with inlaws and such, but the fundamentals are the same.

This year, not so much. My parents were out of the country until late last night, so I didn't go home. And Easter came so early this year, and with the snow still on the ground and with only the barest hint of spring in the air, I think it caught a lot of us still hibernating. It just didn't feel like Easter this weekend. At all. And that's a shame, because Easter is one of my favourite times of the year, I love the awakening that spring brings, and the message of Easter is a very powerful and hopeful one for me. I really feel like I missed it this year.

On the other hand, I did have some lovely moments this weekend, bookended by two fabulous meals. On Friday we had my sister and brother-in-law over for dinner, and Serdic cooked a DELICIOUS meal of tilapia, rice, and veggies. He really is a genius in the kitchen, and I knew half way through the meal when my sister turned to me and said "We're just going to have dinner here every night from now on" that I'm not the only one who thinks so. Today my parents returned from their trip and joined the four of us for a full on Easter dinner, cooked by yours truly (with lots of help, of course!). This was my first time taking on responsibility for a holiday dinner, and it turned out rather nicely, if I do say so myself. All the dishes were even finished at (approximately!) the same time! I did my famous glazed ham, mashed potatoes, spinach sauteed with sesame seeds, sugarsnap peas tossed in lemon butter, and steamed carrots. Serdic contributed his fantastic caramel flan with fresh fruit for dessert, and everyone all but licked their plates clean. It was great to see the folks again (they've been out of the country for two weeks, touring Scandinavia) and hear their stories and see the pictures. And have that quality family time I crave so much, and was really missing this weekend.

I also made it out Sunday morning for a sunrise service of hymns and choruses from the Messiah. Rolled out of bed at 5:15 which nearly killed me, but once we started singing and watched the sun come up over the river it was worth it. I didn't quite find the inspiration and fulfillment that Easter morning services usually bring me, but I did get to sing some glorious music and have some time with some very important friends in my life, so it was a good way to spend a few hours.

So now all I have to do is get ready to go back to work after four days off. Somehow I find I'm lacking the inspiration to do so. ;-)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Mixed Feelings

So my sister and her husband are moving to England, effective June 9th, for what looks like probably a couple of years. We've known this was likely for a few months, as they have been actively pursuing it and it was really more a matter of "when," rather than "if," but it became official this week when he was offered a transfer within his company to the London office. This is, of course, very exciting, although I don't envy them the HUGE amount of work they have to do over the next couple of months to get ready to go ... sell their house and cars, arrange storage for the things they won't take with them, pack, get the dog's papers and such in order, get their own papers in order, and the list, I'm sure, is endless. But what a grand adventure! I had a year "away" in Denmark, once upon a time, and it changed me in so many ways, all of them good and meaningful. And, of course, it is not a bad thing for *me* to have someone I can crash with in London. *grin* I intend to make as many trips over as finances and vacation time will allow.

But it is with mixed feelings that I wish them Godspeed and good luck. I will miss them dreadfully. My sister has been my best friend from the day she was born and my brother-in-law has been a close friend and member of the family for more than a decade. I have *loved* having them here in Ottawa for the last three years, and they are going to leave a big hole in my life when they go. We're a very close family and we've always been within arm's reach of each other, or at least within a couple of hours of travel time. It'll be really strange not to have that. Also, London has always been one of my favourite cities in the world, and I feel a little (very selfishly, I admit) jealous that my sister will know it in a way I never will, that it will be her home and her city now. Wonderful for her, slightly bittersweet for me.

The good news is Sis has decided to start blogging about their adventure, so those of us left at home can follow along. So she's been added to the blog roll on the left hand side. I was thinking today about how far technology has come since I was in Denmark 13 years ago. All of my communication with home was done by snail mail and a weekly telephone call. If I had had email and blogging and the interwebz then, how different it would have been!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

51 cm

Friday, March 7, 2008

Friday Fun

Winter Storm Watch, part 622. 30-50 cm in the next 36 hours. On top of the 30 we received this week already. Awesome! [/opposite day]

We just got an email from the head of our building's health and safety committee, reminding us that the path to the bus stop and all sidewalks are property of the city, and as such it is the city's responsibility to maintain them, and all complaints should be directed to the city. In other words, STOP EMAILING HER ABOUT THE PATH. That was the subtext, anyway.

Had a great experience on the bus this morning. A young man seated towards the back was holding forth about, basically, how awful his life is. He was directing this diatribe in theory towards the poor woman who had the misfortune of sitting next to him, but he was speaking loudly enough that the whole bus could hear him. He seemed to think that he is the only person in Ottawa who has to deal with the snow, and roommate problems, and financial difficulties, and an overbearing mother, and so on and so forth. This would have been bad enough, but he was also extremely foul mouthed, and while I am all in favour of the occasional naughty word, this was really a bit much for the time and place. The two older ladies sitting next to me were quite bothered by this behaviour, and I smiled sympathetically at them and rolled my eyes. Then one of the ladies turned around and told him to keep his voice down. The following exchange ensued:

Him: Screw you, lady. I barely have any voice. (One of his complaints was that he was sick with a cold and sore throat.)
Her: Then maybe you should be resting it.
Him: And maybe you should mind your own business.
Her: You made it my business with your broadcast. I don't want to hear it anymore.

She turned back around, he grumbled a bit and then was mercifully quiet for the rest of the ride. This delightful lady and I got off at the same stop downtown, and had to climb over a snowbank to get to the sidewalk. I gave her a hand over the snow, then she smiled at me, said "You have yourself a lovely Friday," and walked away.


And, finally, happy birthday to the wonderful SingerMom. I am blessed to have a mother who is not only a great parent, but a great friend as well. She has set a shining example for me in all areas of life, and I can only hope to follow in her footsteps. Thanks, Mom. For everything.

Monday, March 3, 2008

March Madness

A variety of tidbits for your reading pleasure on this fine Monday morning.

White Witch is Pissing Me Off

I keep thinking of dear Mr. Tumnus in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, when he describes conditions in Narnia as "Always winter, never Christmas." We did have Christmas this year, yes, but it feels like it was at least three years ago. I am so tired of winter. There's been snow on the ground since mid-freaking-November, people. It has snowed and/or freezing rained (yes, I know that's not technically a word) nearly every day since. I think I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of days it hasn't snowed since November. It really starts to weigh you down after awhile. I feel like I don't know what it's like to live in our apartment in any other season -- we were only in a few weeks when it started to snow. I want to sit on our little back porch and enjoy my Saturday morning coffee. I want to be able to pull out of our driveway without having to peer around the snowbanks. I want my commute to be straightforward and take the expected 45 minutes, instead of the hour and a half I'm currently averaging. I want to be able to just pull on a jacket and go, instead of having to spend five minutes deciding which coat I need based on the forecast and then tracking down and layering on gloves, hats, scarves, etc.

I know I'm whining, and it's no more than everyone else in this part of the world has to deal with right now, but enough already, Mother Nature. Go pick on a different part of the world for awhile. I know we Ottawa-ians pride ourselves on not complaining about the weather (unlike other cities; yes, I'm looking at you, Toronto) but seriously, enough is enough. Time to overthrow the White Witch and get on with spring. Where's Aslan when you need him?

Fun with Gadgets

Joined the 21st century this weekend and got me a cell phone. I have resisted having one, for a couple of reasons, mostly because I didn't feel it was necessary and I had other monthly expenses that had to be higher priority. I've always said that I have a phone at home, and I have a phone at work, and if I'm not at home or at work I'm probably out doing something fun and don't want to talk to you anyway. Now that things are very different for me financially (love that "dual income household" thing!) and I can handle the expense better, and I have someone I need to check in with from time to time, including sometimes when I'm running late and not at home/work (see above about my stupid commute these days), and I'm doing more driving, including on the highway, and might need to be able to call for help, etc. etc. etc. ... I just decided it was time. Plus, you know, shiny! And fun! And something new to play with! Serdic is already regretting my decision, as I have texted him approximately 862 times since this time yesterday. I still intend for this to be very much for *my* convenience, and I won't be giving the number out to a lot of people as I do not intend to be one of those people who is constantly texting/on the phone, but it is nice to know it's there if I need/want it. Plus, you know, shiny! (Did I say that already?)

Sing Out

The concert went quite well Friday night. We were pleased. I have to admit that fifteen minutes before show time I was a little nervous, as getting three choirs, two soloists (one of whom was double booked and wouldn't be there until about twenty minutes after the concert started!), guest percussionists and more all organized did not go without any hiccups. But once the show started and we actually got to perform everything went smoothly. The audience seemed to enjoy it, at any rate. And I had the great ... ah ... pleasure of seeing my pasty white face and six chins on tv as part of CJOH's coverage. Great that we got the publicity, not so great that the world had to see that. Seeing yourself on video is always a humbling experience, no? But the music was great.