Saturday, December 27, 2008

2008 wrap up

1) What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? locked my keys in the car ... too prosaic? How about saw the Scottish Highlands
2) Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don't really make New Year's resolutions, other than I always resolve to be a better person, lose weight, save money, etc. Sort of ongoing things.
3) Did anyone close to you give birth? Several dear friends.
4) Did anyone close to you die? My grandma.
5) What countries did you visit? England, Scotland
6) What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? nothing was lacking ... more money, maybe
7) What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? September 10, 2008 -- we flew to England
8) What was your biggest achievement of the year? Substantially paying down debt and getting on top of my credit card usage
9) What was your biggest failure? not losing any weight
10) Did you suffer illness or injury? nothing except the common cold
11) What was the best thing you bought? a trip to the UK
12) Whose behavior merited celebration? my sister and her husband, for having the courage to move to a new country and for the wonderful life they are building for themselves there
13) Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? various public figures
14) Where did most of your money go? travel, Christmas presents, debt reduction
15) What did you get really, really, really excited about? trip to England
17) Compared to this time last year, are you:
- happier or sadder? happier
- thinner or fatter? about the same
- richer or poorer? richer
18) What do you wish you'd done more of? saving money, weight loss
19) What do you wish you'd done less of? complaining
20) How did you spend Christmas? with the family and Serdic
21) Did you fall in love in 2008? over and over ... fortunately always with the same guy!
22) How many one-night stands? none
23) What was your favorite TV program? Dancing With the Stars /shameful admission
24) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? I try not to hate, but the head of the Ottawa bus drivers' union and the mayor of Ottawa are climbing the list
25) What was the best book you read? The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
26) What was your greatest musical discovery? honestly, I have to say it was a new appreciation for some Canadian classics, like Gordon Lightfoot and Anne Murray
27) What did you want and get? To be loved
28) What did you want and not get? to be independently and fabulously wealthy
29) What was your favorite film of this year? I'm a little ashamed to admit this, but probably Mamma Mia, just for sheer fun
30) What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? spent the day with my family, went to choir, was loved and celebrated ... I was 32
31) What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? to be independently and fabulously wealthy
32) How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? I have a personal fashion concept?
33) What kept you sane? family, friends, love, music, faith ... all the good stuff
34) Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Colin Firth, as always
35) What political issue stirred you the most? bus strike ... grrrrrr
36) Who did you miss? my grandma, my grandad, my sister
37) Who was the best new person you met? a new member of one of my choirs who has become a good friend
38) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008: patience
39) Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: Hallelujah

Monday, December 15, 2008

Deck the halls

Inspired by Kiy, I thought I'd share some photos of our Christmas decor this year. One of my favourite things about setting up my own household has been developing and expanding my collection of Christmas decorations, incorporating some favourites from my childhood and adding in some new things that are just me! The first Christmas I lived in Ottawa my "big" purchase was my tree -- growing up we always had real trees and some day I'd like to go back to that, but living in a highrise apartment on my own it didn't make sense, so for now I have an artificial one. I didn't pay a lot for my tree (I can't remember how much it was but it can't have been too expensive, as I was pretty broke that first year) but it is one of the prettiest I have ever seen. (And so easy to put together -- it's in four pieces and prelit, so all you have to do is put the trunk together and plug 'er in. Simplicity itself!) Since then I've made a big purchase every year -- my nativity scene, the Advent wreath, etc. -- and this year my new addition is a set of embroidered Christmas linens I picked up in a tiny little town in Scotland. So pretty!

I started to upload the photos to the blog, but I find I always end up fighting with Blogger for hours with formatting issues when I try to upload photos, and it was getting to be quite a lengthy post, so they are in a Flickr album for your viewing pleasure.

Maybe tomorrow I'll post the story of why I'm now CAA's biggest fan. /sheepish grin

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Weird week

So, it's not been the usual kind of week around Casa Double S. First of all, Serdic is in Texas for work (he left Monday morning), so I've been "bach"ing it for a few days, and will be until the end of next week. It's funny that before Serdic I had lived on my own for the better part of ten years and loved every minute of it, but now all I can do is count the days until he comes home and I don't have to be alone in the apartment any more. Not to say that I'm wallowing in loneliness or anything -- I have my choirs and my friends and work and all the rest of it, and I'm definitely keeping busy! -- but there's just something really fundamental missing right now. And I'm not even talking about the fact that I have to make my own coffee in the mornings and cook my own dinners! ;-)

The other big news this week, of course, is the bus drivers going on strike. Since I use the bus to commute to work, obviously this affects me greatly. At first I thought it would be ok, as with Serdic away I have the car at my disposal for the next little while, but there is absolutely no place to park it at work. We actually are a little annoyed here in general, as emails went out earlier in the week encouraging us to carpool and reminding us that we are expected to report to work as usual, but we are a) not allowed to use the email system for carpool/ride requests (understandable, as they don't want the email clogged), b) unable to use the intranet carpool site that was set up a couple of years ago when they moved us out to the godforsaken wilderness (the "functionality" of the site is "compromised at this time"), and c) not provided with any temporary accomodations for additional parking (I emailed parking and accomodations to ask if they had any suggestions for parking within walking distance and the response was, and I quote, "Not really." You could almost hear the virtual shrug echoing through cyberspace.). So carpooling sounds great in theory, but is a little shaky in execution.

I am lucky in that I have a colleague who has offered to include me in her rounds (she is picking up another colleague as well) for the duration of the strike, and she already has a parking spot here. So it's working out pretty well for me, although my colleague does start work more than an hour earlier than I usually do, so it's been some pretty early mornings for me this week. However, we get to leave earlier than I usually do, too, so I'm enjoying that. Maybe my internal clock will reset and I'll be able to keep this schedule once I go back to the buses?

And to top it all off, we got 30 cm of snow this week. Just to keep things interesting.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Come sing!

Yet another fun filled and jampacked weekend is over. I'm definitely in the Christmas spirit now! Friday night I participated in my first ever "sing a long" performance of Handel's Messiah. What an event! This is a very popular and beloved Ottawa tradition, featuring nearly a thousand singers of all abilities and levels of experience filling one of the big downtown churches and singing Messiah together. There were professional soloists and a conductor and orchestra, but the choruses were all us, baby. I've never gone before, but I said to my friend Pixie as we were leaving that I'm never missing it again. Uplifting, glorious music, and inspiring fellowship with friends and fellow lovers of music ... what could be better?

Last night Serdic and I hosted our first joint Christmas party -- I usually host one, but we didn't last year as we had just had our housewarming and a big milestone birthday party for my friend D, and we felt it was a bit of overkill to have a third party in two and a half months. But this year we really wanted to get back to the tradition. And what a party it was! We had about sixteen of our nearest and dearest pass through at one point or another in the evening, and the general consensus seemed to be that Serdic and I give good party. And the food. Oh, the food. Serdic spent two days baking and cooking and chopping and prepping and there was something to tempt every palate. A good time was had by all, I think.

Today we did some shopping and I finished addressing my Christmas cards, so I'm hoping to drop them in the mail tomorrow. And now Serdic is packing, as his work is sending him to Texas for two weeks, starting tomorrow. Miss Bella is "helping" him pack.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Stop and look around

As that modern philosopher Ferris Bueller once said, "life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Serdic and I agreed at the beginning of November that life was moving pretty fast these days, and only going to get crazier the closer we got to Christmas, so we made a pact that the last weekend in November we would do nothing. Accept no invitations, make no plans, agree to no commitments. As all the other weekends in November and December filled up we stuck to our pact and left this one completely free (not quite true, as we went curling with Nail and his lovely wife on Friday evening and my muscles still have not recovered, but that's another story). At first we thought we might try to get away for one of our infamous minibreaks (one of our favourite things to do) but we eventually decided that that would add stress and expense to a weekend we were trying to keep lowkey.

Eventually we decided that what we would like to do was just get out of the city for the day on Saturday, and we settled on Manotick, about a twenty minute drive from downtown. I have a soft spot for Manotick, as my Grandad was minister at the United Church there for most of my childhood, so we spent a lot of holidays in this pretty little village, but I hadn't been back there in years. So we headed out late morning and spent a lovely couple of hours wandering the streets and in the shops, and then grabbed a late lunch. There was also a Christmas market going on in the old mill (see photo above) so that was a nice treat. We did a drive by of some of my childhood places, too, including Grandad's church (photo to the right) and the house my grandparents lived in on Rideau Bend. I may or may not have teared up seeing the house and remembering all the fun family holidays we spent there. A very special place. We were also blessed, as you can see from the photos, with the most beautiful day we've had in weeks -- blue skies and bright sunshine. It was a delightful treat.

Sunday we lounged about until late afternoon, when we decided we should really bring the tree in from the garage before it got dark and the forecasted winter storm hit. After dinner we put it together and spent a lovely couple of hours decorating. I had put up most of the non-tree things through this week, so the tree was the finishing touch. It's twinkling away in the corner of our living room now, and it makes me smile every time I catch sight of it. A bit early, perhaps, but I'm truly in the Christmas spirit now, and looking forward to December, even as it promises to get crazier and crazier. I tried to take some pictures of the tree and other decorations, but I haven't gotten any really nice ones yet. I'll keep trying. I love my new(ish) camera, but I'm still figuring it out!