Sunday, November 30, 2014

Caribbean Gala

The weekend was good. Enjoyable, memorable, some funny funny moments and the sadness was minimal. Though I would give a great deal to have some motivation, some pep, some inspiration and not feel so dang lazy. It'll come. If not then I'll read a lot of books! 

Anyhoo on Friday night I went to a "Caribbean Gala" put on by the hospitality students of Fanshawe College. A friend of mine works in that department and organized two tables for her family and friends. It was amazing - the large room was festively decorated and a steel drum band played for us. 

Can you imagine Christmas music played on these steel drums? Apparently it can be done!  I have to admit though that after an hour or two all the songs sounded the same and I would have been ok if they'd taken a break once in awhile!! Enough already!

The menu was SEVEN courses and that didn't count the appetizers!! I was full by the soup course (which followed the variety of caribbean breads, the Jamaican patties, the shrimp salad and preceded the main course and the two desserts!!)

This dessert was pineapple cake with coconut icecream topped by chocolate palm trees!

 ...followed by a side dish of one very cute kitten!!  Okay, just accept the fact that every post will contain at least one kitten picture!!

I did a little Christmas shopping on Saturday. Shoppers Drug Mart was offering more $$ per points spent this weekend so I paid only $32 for my bill of over $100, so that's Kazi's stocking completed. I'm pretty close to being finished my shopping for this year. Which is good news considering I have a dental appointment tomorrow and I no longer have benefits. December's money has to STRETCH a little further than usual.

Today we hiked along the Thames and came across an interesting, it's not a mushroom!

Erosion is taking its toll - yesterday this area was under water...

 ...and the usually gentle Thames is on full boil!!

This is a chapel near St. Peter's Seminary seen through the leafless trees- it made me think of England.

 It was a dark and dreary day, though very mild. Tomorrow it's back to 0c BUT sunshine is back in the forecast for the first time in at least a week! SUNSHINE!!! Wheeeeee! That'll perk us up!  Maybe I'm not sad, maybe I just have S. A. D. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Fighting the Slump

* Happy Thanksgiving to all of me American friends! I am thankful for each and every one of you!

Kazi and I are fighting the "slump" right now. Boo. Why does crap all seem to happen at once? Crap attracts more crap I guess.  You know all about my crap...I've been whining about it for almost a year. Yes, can you believe it? It's been almost a year since Voldemort left the scene of his crime. Has it gotten easier? Somewhat. But I feel a lot of the time like my feet are stuck in deep mud and it takes a lot of effort to take the next step. I feel LAZY but I know it's more of a depressed slump. It takes me a week to accomplish less than what I used to do in a day. But enough about me...

Last week Kazi got in a fender bender while she was leaving Chicago to drive back to London. I got a teary phone call and felt so helpless - I wanted to immediately rush to her aid but she was too far away. She wasn't hurt, thankfully, but she didn't know what to do! Eventually the friend who she had been visiting came to her aid and a police officer stopped, reports were made and the damage to her car was deemed minor enough that she  could continue her journey. Needless to say I was worried sick til she arrived home. The aftermath is still ongoing as we wait to for the car to get called in for repairs etc.

Walking the day after a major wind storm
As if that wasn't enough Kazi's boyfriend  ex-boyfriend has decided he doesn't want to work things out. She is looking at the breakup as an opportunity to do some things she has put off while in the relationship. Stuff like moving to Toronto or going back to Australia to work or travel.  She'll take some time to figure things out - I won't let her jump into something too quickly or she'll likely regret it. (EEK - I'm freaking out about Luna and Lily moving to Toronto!!!)
What's cuter than cuddly kittens?
 Awwww, lookit - Luna has her arm around Lily :)
Lily looks how I feel!
 I do lots of stuff to keep myself busy and the depression at bay but movement isn't always progress. The hiking is good though, I know that much is true:) But life seems like a mystery to me. I'm used to having a plan to follow - get up, go to work etc etc.  I'm not quite sure what my plan should be now and that's ok. Hopefully the answers will come. I'm doing a bit of yoga and meditation and the vibes from that are positive, like the hiking. (maybe the plan is to NOT have a plan - scary!)

The big news is that a date has been set for the installation of my new basement flooring. It's costing almost twice as much as I had hoped but I'm biting the bullet on that one. It's gotta get done. I've been working v e r y  s l o w l y  down there filling in nail holes in the walls and sanding. Today I'll wash the walls and I'll be ready to paint next week. Then when the floors are done I can start the process of UNPACKING the bins of stuff I was going to take to PEI and start making this place look like a home again. That will give me a more settled feeling I think. Getting my house in order will give me the peace of mind to pursue other least that's the hope.

Yesterday there was a fresh dusting of snow on our hike through Gibbons Park and up through the university. Two friends came with me but I ended up walking and talking with someone I hadn't talked to before. Peggy must be in her late 70's - she and her husband Ian joined the hiking club 17 years ago! So they've been retired for awhile. She is a bloody marvel! They hike Tuesdays and Thursdays, swim Mondays and Wednesdays, skate on Fridays, go to language classes, travel, are deeply interested in history and art and are just full of passion for life. Very inspiring. Talking to Peggy made me see that a person can be vital, energetic and full of life no matter what age they are. It was a real eye-opener.
Lots of trees were down due to the major windstorm we had earlier in the week. We had to make a few detours.

 It's good to have friends. It's a balancing act for me though - after being with friends I always need time to myself. A lot of people don't understand that.

University College - where I used to go for my English Lit classes years ago! I have hikes planned for Saturday and Sunday - being outside brings me peace. Well I'd better get going - my laptop charging cord isn't working so I'm using Kazi's - good thing we have the same computers! I'm going to see if I can find a cheap one on e-Bay!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Jane's Social Networking Adventures Part One

Now that I am single again and being the anti-social introvert that I am, putting myself "out there" is always sometimes an agonizing process. But if I don't want to turn into the crazy cat lady, which is tempting believe me, then I have to make the effort to be somewhat sociable. But...doing what...and with whom?

Don't get me wrong - I have a lot of fun with my kittens! Why, just 2 minutes ago I caught Lily carrying around a red twist tie in her mouth - she looked like she had a fu manchu moustache! We I had a good laugh together as I put it in the garbage.

So last night I went to a "games night" that takes place at a nearby elementary school once a month. Though it was touch and go throughout the day. My inner dialogue went something like this:

"you should go, you'll have fun"
"but I could stay here and watch something on Netflix"
"I won't know anybody"
"and you'll continue not to know anybody if you just stay home all the time"
"but what if I don't know how to play the games, what if I make stupid mistakes?"
"there's going to be PIZZA!"
"what if I walk in and everyone is playing a game and there's nowhere for me to sit?"
"it's a cheap night, $5.00 for pizza, a toonie for a 50/50 draw, and if you're not having fun you can always LEAVE!"
"I might have fun"
"I don't need more friends"
"yes, you do"
"what if nobody likes me?"
"what if they do?!"
"just try it once and see what it's like"...

I changed my mind about 100 times. And then I just got ready and went.

When I walked into the gym full of tables many games were already underway. I was greeted by 3 different people who showed me where to put my coat, where the washrooms were, where to sign up and pay for pizza and which table could use another player. Boom boom boom, just like that!

I knew a couple of people in the room as they are also in my hiking group so that helped. And when I joined into the game of "Hedbanz" where players wear a red head band it reminded me of this guy...

...Karnak! We had to place a card at the front of our headband and ask yes/no questions to figure out what, where or who we were! Believe me, sitting at a table full of people wearing red head bands breaks the ice quickly!

Then we played "Cranium" - which I love! - the highlight of which was when I had to sculpt an umbilical cord out of purple playdough! And my partner guessed it correctly - woo hoo! The last game we played, after gorging on pizza and chips and squares and pop, was "Balderdash". I've always loved that game since we used to play it as kids way back before it was a "real" game. We used to use dictionaries and either make up a meaning or write down the correct one of obscure words. Now it's become a real board game and we had a hilarious time, I killed myself laughing and we can't wait to play it again next time.

This morning I made myself go on a hike (in the rain) and it was fun reliving those hilarious moments with the two hikers who were also at the games night. And tonight I'm getting together with my oldest friend, Jules, to see the movie "Interstellar".  So that is one action-packed weekend. I will feel NO GUILT staying home with my feline friends during the upcoming week! Though, if the weather is decent, I will try to get out for hikes on Tuesday and Thursday :)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Life at Crabapple Landing...

...has been pretty quiet since I returned from my trip on October 3rd. The quiet lasted until October 4th when all hell broke loose!!


Yes, before I got my bags unpacked Kazi brought two fur babies into the family - the lovely Lily (Lillian when she's bad and she is definitely the leader in rascally adventures!) and big-eyed Luna who mews in a very soft squeaky voice when she's not sure where we are!

It was Pet Valu's "rescue adoption weekend" and Kazi went to six Pet Valu stores before selecting these 10 week old sisters. It was good timing for me as I was feeling a little shaky after my trip.  School was in but I was not and I was wondering "what's next"?

Since then I've sorted myself out somewhat  but life is still dominated by the fearsome pair! Progress has been made - they rarely if ever step into their water dish now before racing around the house or scrunch down in their litter box before attacking their sister's tail. Chewed up plants have been moved to top shelves, all chipped decorative items placed in bins and we keep bedroom and bathrooms doors shut.

 Treats are given for using the scratching post instead of the furniture (this is ongoing!!) and swats on the nose are given with a rolled up newspaper when they venture on the table or the counter.  They're learning...slowly.

Happily the little monsters take lots of naps and exude MEGA CUTENESS and CUDDLINESS making up for any misdemeanours.

They LOVE to play and their favourite toys include this stick with sparkly feathers on the end and balls of tinfoil and paper. Oh...and kleenex and toilet paper...but those are not allowed!! What a mess!

Awwwww - can we be your "forever" kitties??

I've had the habit  weakness over the years of selecting the "neediest" kittens, the one who stays at the back of the cage and seems afraid. So I'm not used to how FRIENDLY these two kittens are, especially Lily. Luna will curl up by herself in various locations but Lily noses her way into my lap constantly or into the narrow space beside me on my chair.

Lay down on the couch however and Luna is right there purring and giving kisses. It's hard to feel depressed with Lily and Luna in da house!!

 Right girls?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Ende

Just a few final snaps in Norwich. I finished out the day in the city centre exploring and shopping. I made a few purchases in the cathedral gift shop and then browsed a few stores - clothing stores, a toy store, book store, outdoor equipment stores...I bought Kazi a couple of things at Topshop but they are tucked away until Christmas. I really really really want to come back to Norwich again someday. There is a walk in the area that I'm considering...among many others :)

I miss you BBC!! I'm watching (again) all of the old Morse episodes on Netflix while riding my bike!

Although Norwich is a cathedral town there are many other imposing churches...

I found a little fish and chip shop- they put your choice of spices on your fries from a long list - best I had during my stay!
Oh, and I forgot the previous evening I ate at a Pizzahut and they were playing Shania Twain music - a rather surreal experience!

The open market place drew folks from all walks of life - I wish cities in Canada kept their city centres intact like Norwich - such a vibrant downtown experience.

I cut through a catholic church to get to another part of the market...

I wasn't the only one...

a quiet oasis in the middle of the hubbub!

...the ancient and the new(ish) joined together...

 The whole time I was away I felt a strong link to the past...

Shania Twain and now a cowboy singer? I had no idea that country music was alive and well in Norfolk County!

 Lloyds Bank - thriving as always...

Stately homes looming over the market....a church looming over the stately homes!

 The Royal Arcade - I explored the toy store on the right.

While checking the time of my bus back to Mulbarton I discovered an unusual bench!

My personal oasis! Right across the street from the bus stop - had a coffee, yogurt and berries and made use of their free wifi and washroom - just what i needed!

Waiting for the #37 one last time!

 A gorgeous sunset!

 But I need to stay focused! Don't want to get lost on my last night!

 Here's my road - no problems tonight!

 There's my crooked sign...

...for Brick Kiln Lane...

 ...and now I need to get packed one last time...goodbye Norwich! goodbye Mulbarton! Thank you to my host at the B&B for driving me to the train station in Norwich!

 ...back to the business of making connections - train to tube to a second tube to a second train to Gatwick Airport. A very handsome young man carried my suitcase up 2 flights of stairs :) bless him! While at Liverpool Station I went to my "secret" restaurant where I managed twice now to squeeze my luggage and myself into the tiny washroom stall (oh my!) and then sit at their outer counter area without being noticed (or having to order anything!)

 Gatwick is a great airport - everything is well marked - I loved their shuttle service. Press a button, the door opens like an elevator and onto the shuttle you go and get whisked away to your terminal!
The terminal was full of great shops - I purchased a little Paddington Bear for Kazi at Harrods.

 Waiting to board my plane to Iceland...

And ta da! I'm in Iceland! I listened to my iPod the entire flight as the young couple sitting next to me used the word "f-ck" continuously as a noun, verb and adjective!! Here I am enjoying a meal of a lettuce, tomato and egg sandwich, yogurt and cereal and a Viking beer! I made a few purchases at the Duty Free - Icelandic wool socks, a little green elfin creature, lots of chocolate. I ended up tossing the running shoes in my backpack into the garbage (the blister inducing ones) so that I'd have room for my few purchases.

The most amazing part about my trip home was flying over GREENLAND!!!!!!! 

 Followed by a fabulous sunset...

 As the sun was setting we flew over Newfoundland/Labrador and then....

 we flew over Anticosti Island in the St. Lawrence River (although 1.5 times larger than PEI it is home to only 200 or so people who care for and operate the many lighthouses. It is not a very hospitable place.)

That is the end of my photos. It was dark when I landed in Halifax and after a short wait I was on a plane to Toronto where I had to wait 2 hours for Robert Q to whisk me off to London. By this time it was close to 2am and my very lovely daughter picked me up at the Robert Q depot at 3:30am. I spent the next few days feeling jet lagged and disoriented and wondering...what's next?

I'll bring you up to date on my goings on since my return to "real life" in my next couple of posts.