Thursday, December 20, 2012

Yes I Can!

So the weather here has been nuts! In the past 48 hours we have gotten roughly 2 feet of snow and it's still coming down as we speak. I love snow and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, however it makes life a bit more difficult when it dumps down continuously. First of all, the snow plows can't keep up so the roads have been less-than ideal to drive on. I'm not a nervous winter driver so I will go out and drive around, but I'll go 60 in a 90 zone with no damage to my conscience for the drivers behind me. Shake and wave your fists at me all you want but I'm happy not dying today and I think you should be too. Second of all, the snow shovellers can't keep up either (aka, me!). I shoveled the driveway twice today and am saddened to see what has accumulated out there since the last clearing.

The third way the snow makes life a bit more difficult is that the trail that we walk every day to walk the dogs is covered with 2 feet of snow. I blazed the trail yesterday to begin the formation of the snow-trail but when I went back this morning I realized that no one else had been on the trail since so it was severely covered once again. I decided to not walk the trail and do a different walk (I was also pressed for time to make it to an early am dentist appointment) but decided that once I got back from town that I would strap on the snowshoes and get out there to make the path easier for my fellow dog-walkers.

So I started off my trek full of excitement and vigor. It was snowing profusely and while most people were hiding in their homes sipping hot cocoa and watching TV, I was going to face the snowfall, get a little exercise and take my dog for a much needed walk. I was full of determination of breaking the trail to prove that there are people out there brave enough to face the hard work ahead and that snow should not stop us from getting outside.

Now I am not highly experienced with snowshoes. I have used them a handful of times in the past, mostly when I was very young, but I had it in my head that using snowshoes makes it easier to walk in snow since they spread the weight of the person over a larger surface area. Right? Isn't this supposed to make it so that you don't sink so much in the snow? Not today! Well, if I wasn't sinking as much then that means that I was only sinking 1.5 feet vs. the 2 feet accumulated. Maybe the snow is too soft so sinking was inevitable, I'm really not all that sure, but what I do know is that about 15 minutes in I realized that I was way overdressed and I should not have attempted this journey on such a full stomach.

This walk that I was planning on completing usually takes me about 40 minutes if I don't stop to play with the dog or talk to a neighbour. About 20 minutes in I wasn't even remotely half way and I had to stop multiple times to catch my breath or remove an article of clothing to prevent overheating. I'll admit that I stopped on several occasions and contemplated turning back. This quick little jaunt in the snow was neither quick nor a jaunt. It was a slow and meticulous trudge in which every step had to be calculated to keep from losing my balance in the uneven terrain.

I almost admitted defeat. Almost! But not quite. Every time I stopped and looked at how far I still had to go, my heart would sink a little (even though it was beating ferociously but then I would think about how much my fellow trail walkers would appreciate the trail being beaten down and widened, and also how good it would feel to finish what I set out to do that morning. My mantra for the remainder of that hike was "Yes I Can" (and in the voice of Eddie Murphy) and onward I went.

As much as I thought I might die while snowshoeing today, there's a good chance I'll do it again tomorrow. Why you might ask? Because I survived and tomorrow I'll be able to do it a bit better since some awesome person already blazed the trail!

Plus I really want to do this someday.

Monday, December 17, 2012

These Are A Few

Rain drops on roses, whiskers on kittens....these are a few of my favourite things right now.

1) First of all, I want to give a HUGE shout out to whoever invented the dog harness that claps on the front of the chest. I have been working hard with Axel to get him to heel while walking but he's a stubborn creature who wants to meet and greet every person and every thing that is around him. I finally got so frustrated at his pulling that I threw him in the car and we drove to the pet store to try on harnesses for him. I decided on the Premier Easy Walk Harness and it has changed our walking experience dramatically. From the second I put it on him he never pulled on the leash again and he walks perfectly beside me. AMAZING! Sure he is incredibly grumpy and sulking for having to wear it and turns away when I try to slip it over his head, but it is a game changer for me. If you have any problems with your dog pulling while on the leash, go and buy one for instant relief.

2) Am I the only person who didn't realize that Lindt makes peanut butter truffles? You know those packages of Lindt truffles that has several flavours with several coloured wrappers? Well I got one of those and pulled out an orange one thinking that it was chocolate orange. After I bit into it and realized that it was actually chocolate peanut butter and my mind was blown. If there is a heaven and I end up there somehow, I'd imagine that it would involve oceans full of those things with me swimming through with a huge grin on my face and waterfalls of milk falling gently in the background.

3) The other day I was walking by Hanna Creek and saw that the icy water had formed gorgeous icicles around the thick ferns which overhang into the creek. I wish that I had my camera on me because it was so beautiful I know that I could have sold copies of that scene. The simple beauty of Mother Nature is most definitely one of my favourite things.

4) SPA Resource Coconut Hand Cream. I love this hand cream. I have a tube of it on my nightstand and lather the hands up before I turn out the lamp. My hands feel so soft and rejuvenated in the morning and for a chronic hand-washer at work, this is a major relief. It's a fairly cheap product too which gives it an extra bonus of greatness.

5) One of my favourite things right now is actually a person. One of the guys who works at the restaurant with me who is one of the dishwashers there, he always has one earphone in and sings along to his music while he works. The thing that makes him so great is that he a flat and incredibly tone deaf singer but still sings quite loudly along to mostly new and old-school rap music. He doesn't care that we all hear him and that he sucks. He just sings along while doing his less-than-glamourous job and entertains us all while doing it. Yesterday he was singing "Baby Got Back" so I did all of the back-up singing as I wrapped cutlery.

6) Free shipping. Gotta love it! Buying your stuff online and finding out that you get free shipping is just awesome. Unfortunately it makes you feel the need to buy more.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Uncle Frank

Frank and Danaya, 1986
On Sunday, December 9th, I was working at the restaurant in Castlegar and it was about 8:30pm when I clocked out and got ready to head home. As I put on my coat, a man sitting at the bar who had been talking on his cell, closed his phone and told myself and the bartender that the highway to Trail was closed due a 2-car accident involving a fatality. He said it would be a couple hours until they allowed vehicles through and I was frustrated at the idea of being stuck in Castlegar for some time. I found out that I could make it to Genelle before reaching the crash scene (where my sister lives) so I drove there, hung out and watched Dexter until the road opened up. As I approached the site of the accident, my heart was beating furiously and I allowed only a brief glance at the broken cars and numerous emergency vehicles taking up the majority of the highway. When I passed by and got back onto the open road, I thought to myself, "Some poor family's life is about to change in a terrible way." What I did not know is that it would be my family facing an inconceivable tragedy that night.

My dad's brother, my Uncle Frank, was heading to Castlegar that night when, whether it be the slick snowy roads or another reason we may never know, his car went into the other lane and was struck by an oncoming vehicle. In the short time it took me to drive from my sister's house to my house (about 6-7 minutes) my dad got the phone call telling him that his younger brother, the youngest child in the Kotyk family, had been killed that night. The unthinkable news hit us like a wrecking-ball to the stomach. How could such an amazing and devoted man like Frank be suddenly taken from his wife, children, family and friends? How could this be real?

Unfortunately it was real.

Frank and Dad
When you're a kid and the relatives come to visit, there's little real conversation between adult and child apart from trivial chatter about topics such as school or toys. As you get a bit older, you begin to sit with the adults and listen a bit to what they're saying, but never really become part of the conversation or know the inside jokes or back-story behind their words. But when you become an adult, you all of a sudden start to interact with your aunts, uncles and grandparents as adults and get to know them as the people they really are. You can begin to put yourself in their shoes and relate to their experiences and point-of-view and appreciate them in a way that you could never do as a kid. I have spend the majority of the past 5 years away from my family but whenever I would run into Uncle Frank on the street or sit and talk with him at a family gathering, I always enjoyed our easy-going conversations. The last 3 days, my sisters have spoken to me about their experiences with him and agreed at what a genuine, agreeable and good-hearted man he was. Pam's office at work is right next to his so she spoke to him nearly every day and laughed over how he liked to burn his toast. Amy told me that she appreciated that she got to know him more the past year since they became neighbours when he bought a property just up the street from her and dropped by her place from time to time.

Grandma and all the Kotyk kids
I've been enjoying sitting with my family listening to funny stories about him in his younger years and getting to know him through their experiences. If there is one thing that I know about my uncle is that he made my dad happy. Whenever Frank arrived to a Christmas Eve party or any family function, my dad became jovial and their conversation always became loud and full of infectious laughter. Then if you add the two sisters into the mix, you'd might as well get them their own room because the four of them together entered their own noisy world of jesting, laughter and shared stories.

My grandfather was lost to a car accident many decades ago, so having another car accident take the life of another family member is just overwhelmingly unfair. Especially during the holiday season. No time of year is appropriate to lose a loved one, but it's hard to get in the Christmas spirit right now.

So how do you say goodbye to a loved one? Is this even possible? They say only time heals all wounds but it's hard to believe that my family will ever be able to heal from a wound this big. The funeral is in 2 days and even though no one ever wants to attend a funeral, they are helpful for those who are grieving and there will be so many stories about Frank given by his family, friends, members of his church and everyone else whose life he has touched.
Frank and Dad again

Rest in Peace. You were taken far too soon but your memories will be kept and shared by us all. You'll be greatly missed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Elliptical Schmalliptical

Even though I'm not one of those hardcore outdoorsy people who has done everything from rock climbing and white water rafting, I've always loved the outdoors and try to spend my fair share of time in it. Living in PEI for the last 5 years was an experience I loved and even though the province is gorgeous, I always missed my majestic mountain backyard. In BC I never went to the gym or anything like that, but when my tuition at UPEI automatically included a gym pass for the campus gym, I took advantage of it since I was paying for it anyway so I'd might as well use it. Those years taught me about a love of personal fitness that I never had before and whenever I would come home to BC for visits, I'd be out looking for ways to stay active (since my gym membership was left back in PEI). The most natural connection that I made was to find hiking trails and start climbing some mountains!

Now I'm definitely no expert mountain climber or anything like that, but I do love to find trials I've never been on before and see where they lead me. There are hundreds of hiking trails all within short driving distance (and some walking) from the house, so over the years and visits home I would drag along whoever was willing to take up the challenge, pack up some water and the dogs in the car and off we went.

There is this one trail that I have done probably dozens of times. It's about a 10 minute walk from my sister's old house (the one that Chris and I lived in when we were both here a couple summers ago) and it's a fairly easy 4km walk up behind Miral Heights and up to the Flag Pole Lookout where you get a panoramic view of Trail. I once ran into a man who walks the trail frequently and he told me about a trail that keeps on going past the flag pole and goes all the way to Sunningdale. I was instantly intrigued but never really took the time to find where the trail began/continued and kind of just forgot about its existence. Then today I wanted to take Axel somewhere new for his afternoon walk and decided to go up to Miral Heights to do the flagpole loop. When we got to the lookout point I noticed there was trail just past where I was standing which headed towards Sunningdale. I'd never noticed it before but today there was a tiny bit of old snow on the ground which easily showed the worn down trail. I decided to follow it a little ways to see where it headed, and then the next thing I knew I was breathing hard and climbing along the edge of the mountain on a teeny tiny narrow trail, determined to see where this led to.

The trail was not tough but definitely dodgy in some spots and not wearing the right hiking boots would have been my demise. There was a fair bit of climbing but it was mostly downhill the whole way which not only fed my speed but made me go a lot farther than I should have. When you're in the zone, pushing away branches, jumping over fallen trees, searching for the trail markers and taking in the view, it's easy to get a bit carried away. The adrenaline is pumping and you're excited to see where you end up. When I got well past Sunningdale I found myself on this new trail that someone had carved out of the side of the mountain and it just kept going and going and going. I wanted to keep going to see where it ended but my internal clock was telling me that I should head back. Daylight was fading already (it's completely dark by 4:30) so I decided to turn back. I also figured that if I got eaten by a cougar or turned my ankle and fell down the mountain that no one would know to look for me there.

On the way back I found this amazing little grave-site for a family's dog which had recently been visited. Spencer's grave had a fresh little plastic flower plus a few miniature pumpkins. One of the pumpkins was written on saying something like, "You are such a good boy and we know that you are still with us every day." It was so sweet. About 10 minutes into my walk by I realized just how far I had actually gone and just how uphill the entire walk back was going to be. I also somehow lost the trail for about 20 minutes which was a little disheartening since it made me feel like a fool and I had to find a much more difficult way to get back up on it. Axel was happy to be bushwhacking but I was less than impressed with myself. But climbing up the sheer side of the mountain was good for the heart and I only had to stop to catch my breath once. Ok, three times. It was really hard!!! But I found the trail again and blazed on.

When I got back home I wanted to figure out how far I went so I went online to try to find the trail but haven't really found exactly the trail that I followed. There is one site that kind of has a version of it but I know it's not the right one. By using this site I am guesstimating that I went about 15 kms today. Who needs a gym when you have a built in stepper/elliptical on the side of a mountain! You just need the motivation to get out there and climb!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Passing the Honeymoon Stage

Adopting a dog from the SPCA is really not all that different than beginning a relationship with a person. There are obvious "perks" of a relationship with a human vs. a dog, but all-in-all, the situations are very similar. When you get a puppy you can kind of mold them into what you want them to be which is much more difficult than with a full-grown dog since the dog has previous life experiences. Just like a human does. We can try to train a human companion as much as we want, but in the end, they know where they came from and leaving the toilet seat up will forever be ingrained in their brains.

So when I adopted Axel I went through the kind of courting stage with him in which I went to the shelter regularly to take him for walks, learn his personality a bit and introduce him to my family and the other dogs in the family to see what kind of compatibility existed there. And then came the day when I decided to go for it and commit to him and let him into the family. It takes a leap of faith to commit yourself to one dog to give all of your love and attention to, but Axel was my choice.

And like in any relationship, as time goes by you start to let the other person see different sides of you as you become more comfortable with him/her. Like farting for example. In the beginning most people would never dream of farting in front of the other person because the beginning of a relationship is the most romantic part in which you are basically perfect in the other person's eyes. You can do no wrong. So the idea of letting one rip while cuddling on the couch while watching a movie is completely out of the question. Periodically in some relationships there is the accidental too-soon fart which occurs at an inconvenient time, such as when lifting something heavy or sneezing while at the dinner table. They're unfortunate moments but they can happen. Farting was something that Axel felt comfortable doing quite early in the relationship and he seems to be going for some kind of world record. No seriously though, he might have beaten the record at this point. He little guy can fart like no other. (I've changed his food and he's actually gotten better which is a HUGE relief. That guy has gassed me out of the living room on several occasions.)

When you start dating someone, you might not divulge things about yourself right away. Letting your new girlfriend know that you are a professional jigsaw puzzler or have a foot fetish might not come up in the first couple of dates. But as time goes on you break these topics into conversation somewhere and at that point it's ok to be a bit quirky. For the first couple of weeks Axel was not interested in toys, sticks, balls or anything that normal dogs enjoy to have around. Well, he would get excited when he saw the objects but not really act on the impulse to play. Now that he's become more comfortable and is realizing that he's not going back to the SPCA, these things are becoming much more exciting and he's letting himself enjoy the little luxuries around him. It's almost as if he didn't want to screw up because it might mean he'd have to pack his bags and leave. He's so cute.

Then there is the dominance struggle which every relationship will go through. Most couples know who is the rooster and who is the hen in the partnership. There is one person who only needs to cock an eyebrow and suddenly dinner is on the table or the garbage is being taken out. Someone has to admit defeat and come to the realization that they are either whipped or just plainly submissive. Axel is constantly trying to prove his dominance over me which is very annoying and very trying on my mental health. Blue Heelers are famous for always wanting to be top dog and to rule the coop. All the literature says that owners need to be strict and dominant and always maintain Top Dog status or else their dog will walk all over them. Axel is incredibly stubborn when it comes to the littlest things and he's just waiting to learn where I draw the line so that he can walk over to that line and roll all over it. What a brat.

I found this picture on and just instantly fell
in love with it.  It captures the love so well.

But like in any relationship, you take the good with the bad and love them no matter what. Whenever Axel makes me angry or frustrated, I have to just keep in mind that he's young and new and we're still learning about each other. Plus for every minute that he pisses me off there are hundred of minutes that he makes me feel happy and loved. Dogs are awesome.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Travel Time

I bet that if you added up the amount of time that I have spent in airports in the past 5 years, there would be enough hours (no, days) accumulated to probably do something great with my life, such as learn a second language. I sit back and think about what I do when killing time in airports and really, I should have spent my time here more wisely. Airports are no fun when you just don't have the room in your carry-on to buy anything plus you're generally not in the mood to spend ridiculous amounts of money on poorly made, overpriced items. I bought a bottle of water for $2.96 and my heart skipped about 3 beats when the total popped up on the register. Yikes.

So my airport talk is a good clue that I am on my way back to BC. The trip to PEI was lovely and I am glad that I made the effort to make it out there one last (?) time. I have no idea if I will ever visit again, but I truly hope I do because I'm going to be going through friend withdrawl in a matter of hours.

My flight back flew out of Halifax which is about a 3.5 hour drive from Charlottetown, so Chris and I decided to make a little trip of it and drove the day before to spend the night so that he could drop me off at the airport in the morning. We arrived early in the afternoon and did some shopping since the weather was kind of working against us. But Chris was needing a H&M fix since it had been so long since his last visit and I am never one to turn down a trip to H&M since I always find about 50 things that I NEED to buy. After shopping and a quick check in at the hotel, we went to a well researched dinner at The Wooden Monkey which has won tons of awards and is a "must-stop" place to eat (according to All I have to say about that place is HAVE THE LAMB BURGER! Ohhhhhhh maaaaaannnnnn! It comes with this shockingly massive dollop of minted goat cheese which melts over top and makes the whole experience this amazing rich and tangy and semi-messy but overall delicious experience.

After the meal we walked around the city for a while and decided to head over to Dartmouth to get a nice view of the skyline of Halifax from across the water. Chris is a sucker for city skylines and so excited at the idea of seeing it, so who am I to deny him of it? I tried to get a nice picture of the view but my camera would not cooperate; however I got a couple nice ones of Chris!

And a semi-strange one of me too!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween 2012

I only have a few days left here on PEI and as always, time is going by much more quickly then I would like it to. But I am having a wonderful time and have been surrounding myself with all of the people that I love so much, so my time is being very well spent.

As usual, Halloween was a lot of fun and I was reminded again why people love this day of the year so much. First of all, I want to say that I saw on the news that the average household is spending about $325 every year on Halloween which a lot of people were blown away by. But really when you think of it, it's not all that surprising. First there's the candy that you hand out. Then the costumes and if you have multiple children then this can add up depending on where you're getting them. Even if you make your own, the fabric costs quite a bit and there's always the little extras to accentuate the costume (paint, tiaras, shoes, fingernails, teeth, boas). Then there's pumpkins, baking supplies (if you're a baking dork like me), decorations and last but not least, lots of booze for the adults. And if you're an adult and going out, costumes can get super pricey! It's strange how these teeny tiny little costumes that the women wear out cover very little surface area of their bodies yet they can cost anywhere from $20-several 100 dollars.

My first priority of every Halloween is always cupcakes. What will my theme be? This year it was skeletons,

I found the idea online and started to giggle with delight at their adorableness so I could no resist collecting all of the ingredients and giving them a shot.

Chris also wanted to do some pumpkin carving so we headed out to Stratford to buy a couple of pumpkins at Balderson's Farm Market where I have been buying my pumpkins while living on PEI. Here are the creations that we came up with.

This is obviously his.

On the night of the 31st we went out to Hunters to meet up with some friends and see Slowcoaster (local band who is really quite awesome). What I love love love about Halloween is how everyone is so easygoing, social and rather uninhibited. While squished up in the crowd, rocking along to the band, I was watching people dance and interact and Halloween just seems to bring out something in people. Like me for example, I will walk up to people and just start up random conversations, jesting along with them while we laugh about each others costumes and discuss similarities in personal taste. Striking up a conversation with strangers on Halloween is so easy because the topics are so out in the open. One dude was dressed up as a Ninja Turtle. Hello! Perfect conversation for me to be had there!

This one dude was dressed up like Stone Cold Steve Austin and I jumped over to him, telling him how much I adored him when I was in high school and even told him about my trip to Vancouver to see WWF. He stayed in character, trying to remember that epic match between him and the Undertaker (Buried Alive match!). There was this other guy who was dressed up in this amazing squirrel costume and he had this huge inflatable tail. Everyone was poking, hugging and punching his tail and he just took it in good stride, smiling and dancing and having a good time. We saw a guy dressed up like Walter White (Breaking Bad character) so I walked over to him causally and asked him if he had any of that amazing blue crystal on him. (If you've never seen the show, Walter White makes crystal meth and his recipe gives it a blue colour). Then he casually whips out this little baggie with blue crystal candy in it and gives it to me. Conversation done.

There was this little guy, he couldn't have been taller then 5'0, and he was drunk, dressed up like a Frenchman and I am doubting that he normally had the guts to do the things that he was doing that night. There was no girl that he would not ask to dance (or just start grinding up against). He was dancing with me while running his hand up and down my thigh and normally I would have discouraged this behaviour a bit, especially with Chris standing literally 3 inches from me, but I admired his audacity and allowed it.

Then there's Chris. Chris was Billy Idol and even though his British accent constantly wavered thickly into Australian, he gave it his all and rocked the costume.

After the bar closed we headed to a house party but the cops closed it down about 20 minutes after we arrived. Good ol Halloween night!

Yesterday I got to hang out with all of my best friends which was great and I hope to be able to get together with all of them again before I go. I don't know if coming here was good or incredibly stupid. Seeing everyone is amazing but it will be so hard to leave again. I'll just try not to think about it until the time comes in a few days.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Self Induced To Do List

It's been an incredibly busy week and I can't believe that I am actually sitting here attempting to write  blog post while the chaos whirls around me. The thing about my kind of "chaos" is that it is completely self induced and most of the things that I need to get done don't actually "need" to get done. It's totally my choice and yet I let these things run my life!

Yes there have been many things and events happening the past few days which have kept me going, such as my job and school. I was working about 6 days in a row there and trying to study for a few exams plus finish some assignments so I was up to elbows in that kind of stuff (boring!) But on top of that, it was my dad's 60th birthday on Wednesday (Happy Birthday Dad!) and I had to work 10:30-4 that day which meant that by the time I got home from work, made the cake and got ready for supper, there would be zero homework done that day, which stressed me out. Plus having Axel around is a constant walking and playing marathon which gobbles up lots of time as well.

Have I mentioned that I am going to PEI for a visit? I am flying out tomorrow (apparently just in time to meet up with Hurricane Sandy who is plummeting the East Coast at this very minute) and arriving on Sunday morning. I have been so busy with school, work, dogs and birthdays that I haven't give myself a single moment to get excited about this trip. Unfortunately I will have to spend some time doing school work and being a responsible student, but now that I am done exams and off work for a while, I get to be excited about seeing Chris and my friends! The weather is supposed to be crap but I don't mind. I'll be with good company which is all I need for my duration there.

But then there's the silly little things that I need to get done as well which, in my head, seem just as crucial as going to work and studying for midterms. Things like getting my pumpkin carving done! Halloween would not be Halloween if I didn't get the carve at least one pumpkin, and since I bought 2 this year then that meant twice the fun! Normally I wait until the night of the 30th or morning of the 31st to do the carving so that they look nice and fresh for the Trick-or-Treaters, but since I am heading out tomorrow I thought that today would have to be the day. I always like to try to do a  "scary" pumpkin which ultimately never really ends up being all that scary but I enjoy cutting out the jagged teeth.

And this year since I got 2, I figured I'd might as well do something ridiculous. I've never met a pumpkin with a moustache so this year I created one.

I am incredibly disappointed that I will be missing all of the Halloween festivities both here at home and out in PEI. Halloween is on a Wednesday this year (BOOOOO) which means that all parties are the Saturday before, which is the night I will be flying across the country. I was never a huge Halloween person until I met Chris and he loves it so much that it kind of wore off on me and now I look forward to it so much! Stupid me for stupid making the stupid flight reservation on stupid Saturday before Halloween. Stupid.

Now it's only just past 9pm and I'm utterly exhausted. I'm waiting for my clothes in the dryer to finish drying so that I can continue packing up my suitcase, but all I want to do is crawl in bed and sleeeeeep. Axel and the cat don't get along so at night he sleeps upstairs while she sleeps downstairs, which is where my bedroom is. So for the past few mornings she's been waking me up around 5:30-6am to let her outside. And then of course I can never fall back asleep because my brain starts spiraling thinking about everything that I have to get done that day. So I am trying to stay up late tonight in hopes of sleeping in since I am taking a late flight out tomorrow which lands in PEI at 11am Sunday. Staying awake for 48 hours is not on my "To Do" list at the moment.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Halloween Dreams

I loved growing up in Canada and I am a firm lover of all 4 seasons. The spring is fresh and warm, summers are hot (most of the time), the autumn is beautiful and winters are majestic. Today was the first snowfall of the year and waking up to a light blanket of white snow always brings a big smile to my face. Snow makes everything so much prettier and always I appreciate its ability to create a calm and peaceful backdrop.

The one and only thing that I did not enjoy about growing up where I live is that as a kid, by the time the end of October came around, you'd be hoping and praying and begging Mother Nature to hold off the snow until at least November 1st. Many times I remember trudging around the neighbourhood trick-or-treating in my pretty costumes with ugly noisy snow pants peeping out from under my skirt. Every year I hoped that I could wear just my costume and no winter coat or gloves to keep me from shivering like the candles flickering in the Jack-o-lanterns. You see all those commercials on TV of groups of kids running around on Halloween in their fancy short-sleeved costumes and perfect make-up, when in reality most of us kids are forced to bundle against the imminent winter weather with our careful planned makeup hiding under our hood. How was I supposed to show off my fancy fairy wings when they were stuck inside my coat? Plus clunking around in Sorels instead of pretty sparkly shoes was such a bummer.

We all dream of growing up and being able to go out on Halloween dressed like this:

But in reality, we ended up going out like this

It's only the 23rd which means that there is still 8 days for the snow to melt, the sun to break through and the world to warm up so that all Canadian kids can live the dream of actually wearing just their costumes on Halloween. Back off winter! It's not your time yet!

Sunday, October 14, 2012


His name is Axel and he's mine, all mine! It took me nearly a week of meeting, greeting, walking and thinking to decide to take him on.

I didn't mean to fall for him. I went to the SPCA to look at a dog that might be a good fit for my parents and after they turned out to be less than ideal, I set my eyes on this friendly guy and was instantly hooked. Axel came from the Similkameen Valley where he was found as a stray. After being in a shelter out there for a while with no one coming looking for him, he was adopted by someone who owned a small farm. Unfortunately Axel got a taste for chicken and they ended up having to give him up since he was a repeated offender in the chicken coop. They shipped him to the Trail shelter in hopes of finding someone here who wanted to give him a home.

Axel had an award winning personality that I could not help but instantly enjoy. To him, every person that he meets is an incredibly exciting moment which is a change from the dogs that we have had in the past. Rizzo was always really person friendly but the others...not so much. When he gets really excited he smiles and shows his teeth, which is something that I have never seen before. It's pretty cute! He's got goofy lopsided ears, natural camouflage and lots of energy. He's a mix of Australian Cattle Dog and Blue Heeler, which means that he might be a bit of a handful in terms of needs for exercise, but I am up for the challenge. So far he's proving to be quite easy to handle and I am so happy to have a dog that already knows all of the basic commands. I also really love that he's excellent with kids and other dogs. Bonus!

One of my favourite things about dogs is how adaptable and flexible they can be. I really don't know anything about how this guy was raised but he came into the house and immediately made himself at home. I was worried that he might not like where I put him to sleep for the night, but he was quiet and didn't make much of a peep the entire night. He just seems so happy to have people around that actually want him to be close by. I am also loving how quickly he is catching on to the routine and the things he is learning. For example, he knows nothing about toys, fetch or playing tug-o-war. I threw a ball for him yesterday and he just sat there and watched it bounce away without a hint of recognition of what to do in the situation. After some time in the yard with the ball, he is not starting to figure out that this is meant to be fun and he gets excited to see toys around. Sort of.

Welcome to the family Axel! I hope we are all you wanted in a family!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Hand Sanitizer Hostility

Today I have decided to take a stand and express my perspective against hand sanitizer. That's right. HAND SANITIZER! Most of the time when I mention to people that I am against all forms of hand sanitizer, they give me this look like I am slightly crazy and might be waiting for a story about the time I got abducted by aliens. Is it really that bizarre to detest the stuff? I think it's bizarre that people swear by it and carry multiple tubes around with them at all times. I don't care if it's scented with lavender, coconut-pie, new leather smell or key-lime, it's not going in my shopping cart.

The reason I am dead against the stuff is that the only times I ever get sick is within 24-48 hours of using it. Now this is the part in the conversation in which I get the strange looks, but it's totally and completely true! How could someone make something like this up? I get a cold maybe once a year. If that. Colds are not my style and I do a fairly good job at avoiding them. But then a day will come where my hands will get something especially nasty on them when I'm out and about, and my only resort to any kind of cleanliness is a couple of squirts from one of those public hand sanitizer dispensers. And them BAM! By the next day or day after that, it all starts with a sore throat and I know I've lost my battle with cold-aversion. It's hard to avoid these dispensers though. They're in banks, grocery stores, restaurants, gyms, classrooms, clothing stores, washroom, public parks, offices, drug stores, coffee shops...and every five steps in between. Taunting you. Reminding you of everything that you touched, making you second guess your personal hand cleanliness. 

Why do we feel the need to destroy all of the bacterial on our hands continuously throughout the day? Do you know why it is recommend for babies to crawl around on the floor and put things in their mouths? To eat bacteria and build their immune systems! If we go around killing every teeny tiny bacteria that might come in contact with a mucousal membrane (nose, mouth) then we'd might as well not breathe the air. We'd might as well live in a bubble and avoid every surface and every person who might come in contact with us. Our skin is covered all of the time with millions of friendly bacteria that are there to keep us healthy, and we're going out spending money on products to kill them off. 

When did the obsession of insane hand cleanliness start? Oh wait...I remember. It was when H1N1 was exploding on the scene and everyone was freaking out of coming down with it. When was that...2008? 2009? Sometime in there. I remember being in university and suddenly there were machines everywhere squirting chemicals in your direction if your hand brushed near. At first I thought that it was neat that people were being proactive in the fight against evil viruses and I'll admit that I used the antibacterial gel on more than one occasion, but overall not that often. But then I started to get more colds. Hmmm. It took me a while to find the correlation between using hand sanitizer and developing a head-cold, but as time went on, I figured it out and have been avoiding all kinds of hand sanitizer ever since. But as I mentioned, every so often my hands get uncontrollably gross and a handy-dandy dispenser is always near to entice me to place my palm underneath. Yesterday I fell for it once again and SHAZAM! Today I have a sore throat. It's been about a year since I last used the stuff. When will I learn?

I stopped at the dispenser and stared at it for a while before making the terrible decision of giving into it. Why did I do it? What is it that compelled me to give in when I knew the outcome would be a sore and snotty mess which would last for up to a week. Now I am double-dosing myself with Oil of Oregano in hopes of kicking this thing down before anything substantial develops in my head.

Wait...what? I haven't told you about my obsession with Oil of Oregano? Oil of Oregano is the most amazing substance that humans have discovered in the fight against...well...everything! I use it exclusively when I feel a cold coming on, but it is a powerful anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-parasitic and can help with problems such as digestive issues and skin infections. It can help boost your immune system, improve your joints and flexibility and even help with your respiratory system. People use it to treat warts, shingles, lice, headaches, bladder infections, acne, burns, bruises, candida overgrowth and dozens of more problems. It's amazing. Truly. I recommend everyone go out, buy a bottle and try it on your own personal symptoms. You can pick it up at any health store or even in the grocery store with all of the vitamins. 

While you're there, don't buy any hand sanitizer! 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Housesitting Hysteria (aka Sophie)

I've been house sitting for my sister for the past couple of days and have been thrown back into the wild and crazy world of having a puppy around. Pam and her husband have a 10(ish) month old pup Sophie who, even though she is highly entertaining, is such a pain 95% of the time. My last blog was about the death of our family dog Rizzo, and even though it was 15 years ago that she was a puppy, I don't remember her being as crazy as Sophie is. Riz didn't jump up on counters or have the level of separation anxiety as Sophie does. I feel like I can never fully relax because I am on constant Sophie-patrol, meaning that she could be up to anything and anytime and in any part of the house, so I have to be on high alert to make sure she's not pulling gloves, knives, bottles, beer cans, lids, of the counter, or pulling the garbage out of the bathroom and dragging it around the house. We've learned to keep all bedroom and bathroom doors closed at all time because there is no telling what she will find exciting enough to steal away and bring to her bed to gnaw on. Unfortunately she somehow grabbed a roll of toilet paper from my bathroom and destroyed it all over the living room rug. Being here for the weekend is a great reminder that I don't ever want to own a puppy again and that a full grown dog from the SPCA will be a great addition to my life sometime in the future.

Plus she has the worst dog farts right now and is grossing me out.

But like I said, puppies are very entertaining creatures to have around. They are very simple minded and find happiness in the smallest things, such as apples, sticks, bugs, grass, old rotten zucchinis and basically anything that gets in their line of vision. I've been taking them on the same walk for the past 3 days and every time at the exact same spot on the trail, Sophie gets this burst of energy and runs back and forth up the trail while lunging at Splash trying to get her to play with her. And every time she does this, Splash turns to me with this defeated look that clearly displays that she thinks this pup is a lunatic who she wish would just leave her be to enjoy the walk.

This morning's walk was full of adventure and fun though! After finding someone's discarded bag of garbage (that Sophie ate a lot of) and a big pile of some kind of animal excrement (which Sophie ate a lot of) AND some more garbage left behind farther down the trail (which Sophie ate some of and ran around excitedly with in her mouth until I chased her down and made her drop it), we came across an old deer carcass. The trail is at the bottom of the bank which follows alongside the highway, so I am guessing that the deer was hit by a car, landed in the bushes on the side of the highway and somehow made its way to the bottom of the bank (probably an animal dragged it down) and landed on the trail for us to find. I let the dogs investigate it and give it a good sniff, then proceeded to carry on down the trail while calling them to come along. Splash gave up quite quickly and followed along but Sophie panicked at the idea of leaving this amazing carcass behind and decided to try to pull it home. She grabbed a hold of a rib bone and pulled with all her puppy might, only to drag it about an inch. I could see the excitement in her eyes as she tried her best to get this thing to come along with us, but she soon realized that this was a lost cause. No doubt she'll try again next time she's that way again.

Tip of the Day: Puppies are relentless and will push your every button until your head hypothetically explodes. Always have lots of tasty treats around to bribe them with.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


We found Rizzo nestled in the
laundry basket on a regular basis
Nearly 15 years ago on a cool December evening, my mom and I took a trip up to Fruitvale to take a look at a litter of puppies. I was 14 back then and super excited at the possibility of getting a puppy...although mom told me repeatedly that we were "only there to look". We got to the house which was way out in the middle of nowhere, and were directed to a shelter where the puppies were being kept. They were just 6 weeks old, mutts made up of Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd, and there were 13 in the litter! I remember walking up to the litter and being overwhelmed by 13 puppies all jumping up at the fence, excited to meet the visitors.

As soon as I saw her, I knew she had to be mine. She was mostly black but had some markings which showed that she clearly had German Shepherd in her. But what got me was the tiny white line right down the middle of her forehead. She was so small and sweet looking (little did I know at the time what puppyhood would bring my way) and I picked her up and held her to my chest while mom looked at the remaining 12 pups. After a few minutes mom told me to put her down and play with the rest of the litter, so I put her back and pet a few other pups, but after about 2 minutes I picked up my little one again and didn't put her back down. On the drive home we stopped at the only open grocery store and bought some puppy food, a food dish, a couple toys and a collar and leash.

It took a couple days to agree on a name for her but we eventually agreed on Rizzo. The first few nights were tough because she didn't want to be left alone at night, but she eventually learned the routine. I remember her being so small and the snow was so deep in the streets that she had to walk in the tire tracks to keep up with me on our walks. As she grew bigger and bigger, she proved to be a major handful and most of the first year owning her was full of threats from my mom that we had to get rid of her, and me crying my eyes out saying that she would get better. She was an escape artist and we could barely keep her in the yard. My poor dad had to keep renovating the side yard, building the fence higher and closing up any openings she might be able to squeeze through. Luckily she almost always went to the same neighbours yard to play with their dog, so most of the time I knew where to find her when I looked outside and saw the yard empty of Rizzo.

It's been almost 15 years since we got that dog and the stories of Rizzo are endless. As the years have gone by, she's had a fun and busy life with lots of love and lots of great walks. When she was younger she was amazing at playing hide-and-go-seek with me. I would throw the ball down the riverbank then run and hide somewhere on the property. She figured out my hiding places pretty quickly and the only time I ever stumped her was when I jumped into the cab of the truck. She never forgot that hiding spot and went to check every time past that. Dad was unimpressed when he saw her jump up against his truck to try to look inside to see me. The past year has been hard on her and she lost a lot of her strength in her back end, so she has trouble walking a lot of the time. Plus her heart has been failing for a while now so she can't get too stressed out or too much exercise before she collapses, out of breath.

I am sad to announce that today was her last day with us. She was struggling too much and as much as it killed us to do it, called the vet to make an appointment to get her in for her last visit. Even though I didn't want to go through with it, I knew that I should be there with her for her last minutes with us since it was me who brought her into this family. Watching her drift away was one of the hardest things I have ever done but I am so glad that I was there for her last few minutes. I know I'll be a crying fool for a while, but having Riz for all those years was worth a couple days of constant tears. I'll miss you Rizzo. We all love you.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Green Coffee Bean Extract Rant

While on a hike up the mountain with my sister, I somehow ended up on a giant rant about Green Coffee Bean Extract. I figured that if the topic was worthy enough of a random rant on a random hike then it might be worthy of a blog post.

Alright. Green coffee bean extract is a supplement created from unroasted coffee beans and it has become the newest weight loss craze supplement. The supplement works in a couple of ways. 1) It contains caffeine which is a stimulant and linked to weight loss (but there is a small amount in the supplement so I can't imagine how this could factor in), 2) It contains a polyphenol antioxidant that is supposed to reduce fat and glucose absorption in the gut. Apparently Dr. Oz started talking about it on his show back in the spring and he got a lot of grief about it cause everyone figured that he was getting paid by the green coffee bean extract people to rave about its weight loss qualities. So then Dr. Oz came back with a rebuttal saying that he was not paid by anyone and that this was his own actual opinion on the product. To prove that he was not a sellout, over the course of the summer he conducted his own experiment with green coffee bean extract to see if it did actually truly work.

I shall refer to green coffee bean extract as GCBE because I am too lazy to keep typing it out.

He conducted an experiment with 100 women in which 1/2 took the GCBE while the other 1/2 took a placebo. None of the participants knew if she was taking the real pill or just a sugar pill. All women were told to not change their diet and to record everything that they ate during the 2 weeks. The results were that the women who took the GCBE lost twice as much weight as the ones taking the placebo! Interesting. Sure the results didn't include an outstandingly enormous weight loss stories, but the women who lost weight lost about 1-2 pounds each week.

Some may think that this is a petty amount of weight and that taking the GCBE is not worth the expense and discipline of remembering to take them before every meal. But really, the best and healthiest way to lose weight is to lose it slowly, at about a rate of 1-2 pounds per week. Those who lose weight much more quickly then that tend to gain it back because it shocks the body. When the body sheds the weight more slowly then it can adjust to the changes accordingly which will help to keep the weight off long-term. What is also impressive about this GCBE is that the women in the study made no changes to their every day eating and were still able to lose weight. 

So I know what you're all thinking. Finally, a pill that will end obesity! "Sweet! A miracle weight loss pill that will make me burn fat and lose weight without having to change my diet!" I should be happy right? Taking this pill will help people to lose weight and improve their health and reduce the risk of developing horrible diseases...right?


In my opinion...not so much. Reducing obesity and increasing the health of the population would be amazingly amazing, but doing it with a supplement is not the right way to do it. No at all. What a pill like GCBE is teaching the world is that it is alright to eat all of the crap that you want cause you can still lose weight doing it. It isn't teaching people to eat more green vegetables, less saturated fats and increase your daily exercise. It's just another cop-out pill that will work as a bandaid for all of the disease and sickness in the world. Just because a person is thin on the outside does not make them healthy on the inside.

Here is what I would suggest regarding GCBE. If you're going to take it, take it as part of a complete nutrition and lifestyle makeover. Change your diet to include more fresh vegetables, fruits, lean meats and low fat dairy products. Change your lifestyle by riding your bike to work, taking the stairs more often or walk an extra 20 minutes with the dog in the morning. Make the GCBE the last priority of your weight loss goal and make changes that will improve your health for the rest of your life.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Over My Head

I'm getting to that point in my thoughts in which I am starting to come to the realization that I am not in BC on vacation and am actually here to stay. For the past 5 years, coming to BC was always a temporary trip in which I was basically on vacation and had no major responsibilities apart from doing some minor cleaning, cooking and making sure that I got to the airport on the correct day and at the correct time to get back to the East Coast.

Which reminds me. Being on vacation, for me, always meant lots of reading, which I have been doing since I have been home. Even though school has started and I have lots of textbook reading to do, reading novels has unfortunately been taking up much more of my spare time then reading the super expensive textbooks I bought. In less than 2 weeks I read the entire Hunger Games series. I've been wanting to read them for a long time but was never able to get my hands on the first book, so when I was finally able to have all 3 in my possession, I jumped in with both feet and plowed through. Now that I have finished them I know that I will be able to concentrate more on school, and I think that that was my train of thought when skipping school work for them. "Once I finish these then they will be done and I won't have anything to distract me!"

So now my thoughts on the Hunger Games series. Suzanne Collins wrote these books aimed for the young adult audience, but as book series seem to do these days, the rest of the population was drawn to them and they became a huge world-wide phenomenon (such as Harry Potter and Twilight). I am known to be a bit of a harsh critic when it comes to books but I was pleasantly surprised by these books. Ok, I take that back. I really enjoyed the first book but the other 2 weren't as great...but this is usually how sequels work anyway so there is no shocker there. I think that the content is a bit morbid for young kids/adults to read since the whole  story behind the books is a national televised game in which kids have to kill other kids in order to win the game and be released back to their homes. Not wanting to sound like a drag or a spokesperson for censorship, I know that kids are exposed to violence at such a young age these days, but all 3 of these books are basically non-stop violence. I guess I just recommend that all parents read the books before letting their kids read them so that they know what they are getting into. I found it kind of ironic that Collins was so vague about sex or any kind of sexual feelings between the heroine and her 2 admirers (and she was a total tease with those boys and led both of them on the entire series!) but blowing up soldiers into itty bitty pieces and slipping on their intestines was OK to write about. Violence = good. Sex = bad. Sounds a bit dodgy to me.

But like I said, I really enjoyed the first book a lot. The series was not at all what I expected which is something that I appreciated since the world seems to be stuck in vampire/zombie/schools of magic themed books, so these were a bit of a breath of fresh air compared to the rubbish I've been reading lately. I even cried a tiny bit at the end of book 3 which I was not expecting since I was trudging through that book just praying for the end to come since I found it very monotonous. Overall, I give the Hunger Games a thumbs up.

I expect to be as awesome as this
guy in no time. No problem!
I've been home for just over 2 weeks now and about 6 days in I started to panic over not having a job. Boredom wasn't my problem; my depleting bank account was. After the trip to Vancouver, buying textbooks, paying tuition, some school supplies, a few bills and some extras (like picture frames), I started to sweat a little at the idea of no income coming in. So with my shiny new printer, I printed off a resume and headed to town to the nearest bar/pub which is the Columbia River Hotel (or as all of you Trailites know it as, the Terra Nova). And surprisingly enough, they hired me on the spot! That was quite nice for the ego actually. I went in today for an official interview to meet the GM and get a tour of the place, but he said I would have my first shift this week. Not so good for my ego though, they're starting me on bar. Yikes! My entire bartending history involves pouring draft beer and making rum & cokes at Outriders. If someone were to ask me for a Slippery Nipple or Sex on the Beach, I'd probably just slap them across the face and ask them if their momma taught them to talk like that to a lady.

Seriously though, I have no idea what is in a Tom Collins or a Pina Colada. I was never much of a drinker so I had no interest in learning about mixed drinks. I'm about as useful behind the bar as a condom machine in the Vatican. So I searched the internet and a "Bartending for Dummies" kind of cheat sheet and came up with this little doozy. I am going to read it over a few times in hopes of something sticking in my maxed out brain so that I almost sort of know what I'm doing when I show up for my first day. Fingers crossed!

Tip of the Day: A Slipper Nipple is 1/2 oz Baileys Irish Cream and 1/2 oz Butterscotch Schnapps. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Into The Wild

Living in PEI was a tad strange because there are no large animals there. The largest land dwelling mammal is a coyote. No deer. No moose. No bears. Driving there is an experience that I never got used to because living in BC you have to constantly be on the lookout for deer and other animals on the roads. You're always driving in a state of tenseness because you're just waiting for something to pop out of the trees, stop dead in the centre of the road and stare wide-eyed at you while to either slam on the brakes or swerve. I was never able to fully relax while driving in PEI because I have lived my whole life being on high alert on animal inhabited highways. Sure there was the odd raccoon or skunk to worry about, but hitting one of those would never have the impact as a mule deer slamming over the hood of your Honda.

Whenever I talked about hiking in BC with people in PEI, I was always asked about the wild animals. Most of them assumed that animal attacks happened on a regular basis and that hiking up a mountain was incredibly dangerous. It seems lately that the most dangerous thing you can do around here is leave your door open for too long because a cougar might mosey on in. True story!

Splash in the woods!
This morning I was walking up the mountain behind Rivervale and even though there are tons of animal footprints (deer, elk, coyote and bears) plus their droppings to ensure their presence, I have never had a fear of running into a wild animal in the area. When I would tell people about this, they either didn't believe me or would think that I am crazy, but I don't think that I am either of the two. The mindset that I have always had about wild animals is that of the utmost respect. I am the one coming into their territory and I respect their space. I walk on through but never hang out too long. We grow up with these animals in our neighbourhoods and just kind of treat them as quick visitors who are nothing to get all excited about. There has never been a major animal attack in this area that I can remember. Plus I have always hiked with at least one dog with me so I feel secure knowing that she would give me some fair warning if something highly dangerous was lurking about in the bushes. Sure, once I had both Rizzo and Splash up the mountain with me and they walked right past a deer who was standing only 15 feet away from the trail, without even a twitch of their snouts...but I think they'd have my back if the time came. And I almost had heart failure this morning when a grouse came flying out from beside a tree when I was about 3 feet from it. Damn grouse. By far the most frightening things when hiking around here are the birds because they are so noisy and small! One tiny little bird in a twiggy tree can make such a ruckus that you assume that a giant bear is hiding in there.

Also, from the time we are little kids, we are also given so much information about what to do if you come across an animal that it is drilled into our brains for life. Like for example, if you come across a grizzly bear in the mountains, always curl up into a ball and cover your neck. No wait. Always try to become as large as you can and yell as loudly as possible. No that's no it either. When a grizzly bear approaches you, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction and try to make it uphill. No downhill. Hmmm. I'd better get a pamphlet on this subject.

And I take back what I said about not having fear of coming across a wild animal. If I ever came across a cougar I know that for about 4 seconds I would marvel in it's beauty, but then my heart would probably leap so high into my chest that I would lose consciousness from the lack of oxygen.