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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Things to do for 2011 -April update

An update on my 2011 list. Not too many updates this time around, next month will be better!

1. Read More, nothing special, just reading.

2. Pay attention to my blog and post more - already started

3. Join BlogHer

4. Attend BlogHer 2011, wherever it is

5. Do what I need to do to get off one of my medications

6. Go to the Zoo - Spoke to a friend, we are going to go once the weather warms up.

7. Make a better attempt at brushing Gimli more than once a week

8. To achieve this, setup a grooming table in the laundry room - Started looking at grooming tables and reached out to a carpenter friend of mine.  Will be able to make a better decision in a few weeks.

9. Start expanding the list of meals that I can cook from memory

10. Start branching out and cooking different things, planning is key and laziness is no excuse

11. Eat more fruits and veggies

12. Cut my hair, and not just a trim either, goodbye long locks.- I did this!  See the post here: Hair today, gone tomorrow.

13. Get a 2nd corgi -Going to put out feelers in a few weeks!  The promise has me excited!

14. Learn to walk two of them properly

15. Improve Gimli’s recall

16. Make a Pooh Bear gingerbread house

17. See The Lion King stage show- bought tickets for June!

18. Continue with the No Complaint experiment - ongoing

19. Take more visits to The Arboretum and see our coyote friend again - Gimli and I went again today 4/30 now that the weather is better.  It was only for about 1/2 hour, but this is totally something I can see myself doing every week or every two weeks.

20. Get off my butt and be more active -I've totally lapsed on this one.  I plan to pick it up again in a few weeks.

21. Play with Gimli in the snow - went out with him in February when we had snow, had a great time romping and wrestling in the snow.

22. Try to make a snow ‘animal’

23. Get more sleep -My sleep has continued to suffer, so much so I woke up this morning and told Mike we needed to go look at pillows today.  We picked up new pillows and will try them out tonight!

24. Read Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection and apply it to myself

25. Woofstock? - Going in June.  YAY!

26. Parasailing @Castaway Cay - not happening as its cost prohibitive.

27. Discover local restaurants in my city

28. See the Tim Burton exhibit- Saw this 2/26.  I found myself wondering what other things Burton would have done if time and space warped and he met Walt Disney himself.

29. Go to the Animal mass with Jeannie

30. Make it to Trinidad to introduce Mike to the rest of my crazy family, hopefully I'll still be married by the time we return.

31. Go to the Winter Walk with your dog - Unfortunately, this was canceled due to a lack of attendees.  I am still on record and they've said they will try to hold it again in Feb/March etc, so we'll see.  If they choose to hold it again, I will definitely attend.

32. Start a new job - started Feb. 1st

33. Eat at a Summerlicious restaurant

34. Write a letter to Queen Elizabeth II for her birthday and include pictures of Gimli. -Sent it out before we went on vacation!

35. Lose anywhere from 5-10 lbs, I'm 122 lbs now.  Its deliberately vague as I'm really only striving to look better in my clothes.  I'm unsure if 5 or 10 lbs will do it, so starting off small. -working on it with eating better (cutting out a great deal of unhealthy food and doing Wii Fit.) I can already tell something's working, I now HAVE to wear a belt with jeans.

36. See Rammstein again - going to again in May when they return to Ontario!

37. Go to the Dog Jog- Went 3/27, had a great time!  See post here: First Annual Dog Jog

38. Stop playing that soul sucking MMO that Mike and I started together, but I've been left in the dust- Officially canceled my account.  Have uninstalled and surprisingly I don't feel any need to return to it.

39. Do the Toronto Zombie Walk and bring Gimli along with us.  I had aspirations of going in 2010, but it didn't happen.  I feel this year will be different and I'd like to do it!

40. Take a Photography class this year.

41. Speaking of photography, I was looking through my pictures tonight and I was saddened there aren't more pictures of Mike and I.  This needs to be rectified.

 42. Start going to the Spa to get regular massages, budget permitting of course.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hail Britannia!

I fell asleep somewhere between 10 and 11 pm last night.  I figured I wouldn't get much sleep and I was right.  I think I was up every hour or so, checking the time and wondering if I should get up now or try to go back to a fitful sleep of paranoia.

Finally, I woke around 4 am, took a shower and came downstairs.

Of course, I'm talking about William and Catherine's wedding.

I don't know if I would call myself a Royal watcher per se, but I do like to follow The Queen, especially and perhaps I'll start following William and Catherine from now on.

I suppose it all started when I was a child back in Trinidad and Queen Elizabeth II paid a state visit.  My dad took me out of school, we raced to a particular spot where he knew the royal motorcade would pass and we waited.  I climbed out of the car in my blue and white school uniform and waited until this car passed and I saw this smiling and waving woman pass by.

I also remember watching a simulcast when I was a child of Prince Charles and Lady Diana's wedding, since I was only a few months old at the time of their actual wedding, (do the math!), and I also remember Prince Andrew's and Sarah Ferguson's wedding.

Sadly, I remember hearing of Diana's death and watching the funeral.

However, today, is a happy day and I'm jealous happy for William and Catherine.  I feel they will be responsible for bringing the monarchy into step.  They will bridge the gap between The Queen's brand and form a brand more in tune with today's youth.


btw, have you seen Catherine's wedding dress and Pippa's dress?  I need to find a replica Pippa's dress, its beautiful!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Don't hit my dog with a mini-hockey stick!

Gimli and I were out on our evening walk the other day when we chanced to approach a toddler tottering around on the sidewalk carrying a mini-hockey stick.

Gimli, being a corgi of the cutest caliber, caught his eye and he started heading towards us waving around the hockey stick.

We moved to the other side of the sidewalk, closer to the street mainly to help Gimli realize not to jump all over the little boy, but the toddler kept advancing, his mother close in tow.

At this point, I'm thinking to myself, "you're going to hit my dog with that stick aren't you? Cuz that's what toddlers do with sticks and cute things, they hit them!"

The mother quickly shooed him away and we kept walking.

Then, we turned around to face the little toddler, who I might add was still brandishing the hockey stick, and I asked Gimli to wave.

Lo and behold, he did to the squeals of delight of the toddler.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a performing doggie!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nassau & Castaway Cay

Mike and I chose to sail on the 4 day Bahamian cruise, which was the same one we did last year.  Its a nice short cruise, but next time, we want to do a longer stay, most likely the 7 day ones to either the Eastern or Western Caribbean locations.

One of the things I wanted to do last year but couldn't was to get pictures of the ship arriving in the ports of call.  I'm glad to say we were able to get the pictures this year, albeit we had to wake up early, throw on some clothes and run up to deck 13!

The Bahamas is nice, but the ship docks in Nassau and you're limited in that you have to be back on the ship by 7pm or so.  Because we visited Atlantis last year, we chose to stay on the ship this time around.

This was a good idea because Mike was a good husband and surprised me with a hot stones massage in onboard spa - Senses!  I've never had a professional massage before and I must say I'm going to save my pennies to continue the massages now that we're back home.  I was very sore going into our vacation with a lower back ache that I'd had for weeks, but my masseuse was awesome and took out all the kinks.  I've you've never had a hot stones massage before, go get one!  Trust me, its definitely worth it!

The rest of the day, Mike and I spent exploring the ship and taking advantage of the interactive pictures on each deck to help find the missing 99 Dalmatian puppies!  To explain, on the ship there's a game for kids, but we did it anyway, called the "Midship Detective Agency".  To play the game, you're assigned a card and number, which you use at various interactive images around the ship to receive clues to figure out which Disney Villain stole the 99 puppies.  In our case, it was one of my favorite villains, the Evil Queen.  Mike thought it was going to be Cruella, but that would have been far too obvious.  Silly Mike!

The following day was our stop at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas.  We beelined for the adult section, Serenity Bay and we were lucky enough to get a hammock for us to use.

When we arrived at the beach, the tide was quite low, so much so that I waded out quite far and the water only came up to my knees and I'm 5 feet 4 inches.  I was first greeted by these tiny little fish looking for food at the water level, who I sent squirming away with my giant feet pounding away and as I waded further I came upon larger fish.

It was great fun to stand there and watch the larger fish swim around.  As I walked, they would swim away but once I stopped, they would slowly swim closer to me but they never got close enough to find out what I was.

We had a lovely lunch near Serenity Bay before Mike and I headed back to the ship.  On our way, we stopped off at the Post Office to send a postcard to ourselves at home, (it hasn't arrived yet), just so we could have a memento from Castaway Cay.  We ran out of time to do this last year and I'm glad we were able to take advantage of it this year.  I'm already planning for our next Castaway Cay visit by bringing an actual Disney related postcard with me, since the Post Office only had Bahamian related postcards.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Disney Dream a little Dream with me

I've been MIA for a while because we, Mike and I, have been on vacation!

We left on 4/9 to Orlando where we took the Disney Dream for a spin and then spent a few hectic and sweaty days at the parks.  Gimli got to stay with the in-laws and eat to his heart's content.  They say he lost weight, but they are just trying to justify the fact that Gimli appears to have eaten about 2 weeks worth of food in 10 days time.

This was our second time cruising with Disney, which makes us Silver Castaway Cay members.  It doesn't mean much really except that you get a cool gift in your room, which is Disney's way of thanking you for spending a couple thousand dollars in their direction - a tote bag and 2 reusable drinking containers and a Disney Cruise Line keychain, which I have already put onto my keys.  Sorry Mike, you snooze you lose!

We didn't plan on taking another cruise so soon after 2010, but Mike really wanted to see the Disney Dream, which is the newest and largest in their fleet.

She did not disappoint.  She's much larger than the Disney Wonder and much more modern than the Wonder and the Magic.  The atrium is magnificent and there are all these little details all over the ship that you can spend hours searching for them.  For example, I didn't see this til our last night, but in the railings on the grand staircase there are headshots of the original 6 characters - (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy & Pluto).

In the stateroom hallway carpets there is a picture of the world with the entire fleet at various stations.

In front of the Walt Disney theater, there are pictures on the ceiling.  The only way you'll see these is if you chance to look up, which I found myself doing so much of I'm sure people thought I was crazy.  Unfortunately, I only took two pictures - one of Robin Hood and the other of Hades, but trust me there are characters all around the ceiling.


The atrium's light fixture is comprised of only led lights and is a sight to behold.

For the rest of the week I'll have more pictures of the Dream and our adventures and I'll end with bonus shots of Gimli.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First Annual Dog Jog

On March 27th, Gimli and I went to the First Annual Dog Jog to benefit PetTrust.  This is an organization that provides support for the University's Vet School so the students are able to research rare illnesses and utilize up to date equipment/technology.  As much as I tease Mike about living in a "college town", I'm very glad there's a vet clinic a mere 15 minutes away just in case Gimli develops some strange illness etc.

Gimli doesn't get to play with other dogs very often and he LOVES playing with his doggie friends, so as you would expect, he becomes very excited when he sees other dogs.  We are working on this especially on walks.  Because we would be in the company of a great many dogs at the Dog Jog, Mike was a little apprehensive that I would be unable to control Gimli.

I was not scared in the least.  I had been working with Gimli for weeks before, keeping him focused on me on the walk and just asserting myself a la Cesar Millan.  I had made some progress and when Mike walked him when the snow melted he remarked there was a definite change in Gimli.  YAY!

On the day of the Jog, I woke early and took Gimli for a nice walk.  There was no one on the streets yet so it was quiet and calm.  I fed Gimli, I got ready and off we went.  We were running late, grrr, and I had to return to get my gloves, good thing I did as it was below freezing that morning!  I felt myself becoming agitated that we would be late and I sort of yelled at myself to calm down else I would go into the event in the wrong frame of mind.

I relaxed my shoulders, took a deep breath and we continued on.

We arrived at The Arboretum in time and quite early as there were only a handful of other people and dogs there.  Gimli saw the other dogs and started to get hyper.  Some of the Vet students saw Gimli, who was the only corgi and we all know how handsome he is, and they were all squealing at his cuteness!  Trust me, Gimli didn't mind this one bit.  My first test came when a female student came over to play with him and he was acting hyper.  I got him into a 'Down' and he relaxed and then I let them play.

"Hmmm, this is getting better," I thought to myself.

We had to wait as the swag packages were not yet ready, which was ok for me.  Gimli and I stood off to the side, I got him into a sit next to me and we people/dog watched.  There were all sorts of dogs!

Plenty of Golden Retrievers, a few Labs - chocolate and yellow, a few Pugs, some mixes, a Great Dane who Gimli took a liking to, a lovely calm Akita, some Shelties, some Puggles, some Beagles, a Basset Hound, a Saint Bernard and a couple Jack Russel Terriers.

As Gimli and I stood off to the side, I was able to get a reading off the dogs and their owners.  Most, maybe 90% of them were calm and assertive.  There were a few like me who were working on their calm assertiveness and then there were the ones who allowed their dogs to pull them everywhere.  One Puggle and the Jack Russel Terriers were behaving in this way.  I made a mental note to keep Gimli away from them because I knew their energy combined with Gimli's need to meet everyone would be a bad combination.

Finally, they announced the Signin desk was ready so we all lined up to check in and get our numbers.  I had a twinge of uncertainty as I had to line up with Gimli and other dogs but I dismissed it.  We got in line and slowly made our way forward.  To my surprise, Gimli did not pull, he didn't try to jump on the other people or dogs who were in line with us.  We got our number and this nice lady helped pin it onto my shirt.

We walked back to the car to drop off our goodie bag and on the way back, the owner of the Basset Hound remarked, "Finally another dog with short legs, gotta represent!"

We retreated off to the side again, but not as far as before.  By this time, people had the same idea that I did and started congregating closer to the starting position.  I allowed Gimli to meet other dogs here and he behaved.  I spoke to a few people about Gimli and Pembroke Welsh Corgis in general.  Suddenly, there was a piercing bay from a Beagle.  Gimli did his usual, 'Woof' and I gave him a correction and he settled down.  I didn't want him to freak out every time the Beagle bayed, which I figured would be all the time since there were so many other dogs!  Gimli then went back to the other dogs like nothing happened.

"Excellent," I thought like Mr. Burns.

We continued to wait and eventually I realized there was roughly 60-70 dogs in this area, all just hanging out with their owners and each other.  I've heard Cesar Millan speak on the power of the pack and the feeling of being in a pack before, but I never believed I would experience it for myself until that day.  It was overwhelming to be in the middle of it all, my dog being influenced by them all and behaving.  It made it easier on me to relax, which in turn helped Gimli to feel at ease.  I still don't know how to describe it, but that's as close as I can get.

At one point, I was looking off to the side, when the unmistakable sounds of a dog fight broke out.  I whipped my head around to the direction of the noise.  About 15 feet away with a bunch of people between us one of the aforementioned Puggle and Jack Russel Terriers were fighting.  This all happened in a matter of seconds, the owners were on it and separated them, then went their separate ways.  While this was going on, the dogs closest to the fight started barking, which I imagine was the dogs way of saying to the fighters, "Knock it off!".  Then, the most amazing thing happened.  The uncertainty of the fight and the barking started spreading outward in ripples as it affected the other dogs.  By the time it got to Gimli and I, I knew there was nothing to worry about, but I had to give Gimli some corrections so he would relax and not get caught up in that mess.  He quieted down quite quickly and things were back to normal.

Some minutes later, the organizers gave us the instructions.  The 5k runners without dogs were to go first, followed by the 5k runners/walkers with dogs.  Then, the 2k runners without dogs and finally the 2k runners/walkers with dogs were to go next.  We were in the last group.

We lined up, got into our heel position and off we went.  The sides of the paths were quite snowy so Gimli and I walked and pounced in the snow as we passed the slower moving people.  I remember looking down at Gimli to see him looking back at me with those big brown eyes full of life as we walked and I was elated!  I had wanted something like this to happen for so long, to bring him into a pack of dogs and be unafraid and it was finally here!

We continued on and stopped at a refreshment station.  I got some water and Gimli, being a corgi after all, had to drink from not one but both bowls of water! I guess he thought he would be missing out on the 2nd bowl, who knows!

Coming back, we passed these walkers and I heard them giggle at Gimli's wiggling butt.  Its a corgi trademark!

All too soon, our 2k walk ended.  I wanted to do more, but I don't think I could have done a 5k walk though, but its something to work up to!

Back at the event, Gimli and I shared an apple. The picture above is him waiting for his piece.  I don't think I've mentioned this before on the blog, but Gimli loves apples.  He knows what apples look like and the sound the crisper drawer makes in the fridge when I open it.  When he saw me grab an apple, he ran back to me and sat down.  The world melted away and it was just Gimli and I and our apple.  We shared as we usually do, much to the amusement of passersby.

There was a giveaway too at the event and wouldn't you know we won a new dog bed!  Gimli likes it already!  Its bigger than he is, but it looks just the right size for 2 little corgis to curl up in.... hmmm.....

When we came home, I couldn't stop raving to Mike about Gimli's behavior and how Cesar Millan has the right idea in terms of being in the right frame of mind and relaxed.

I struggled for a long time in finding my 'calm and assertive' voice because I always sounded angry.  Now I feel I have found my voice and Gimli and I will go far!

Monday, April 4, 2011

I want to fly away

I don't know when it started, but it had to have been when I was a child.  My guess is around the Lockerbie, Scotland tragedy.

I had been on plenty of flights before then and I experienced no troubles whatsoever.  After that tragedy, it all changed in my mind.  I became terrified that I would die in a plane crash. A big Boeing or a small Cessna or one of the sizes in between.  They are all the same in my mind.

99% of the time, I'm ok when preparing for a flight.  I try not to think about it, I utter my usual litany of prayers that I can recite like a robot and by the grace of God things turn out fine.  I sit during the security briefing trying to memorize the safety booklet, I remember where the exits are and try to come up with a plan to drag Mike and myself out of the plane if needed.  I force myself to remember to stay calm and think, if anything happens, instead of giving in to panic and freezing.  I wear comfy shoes, I wear clothes made of natural fibers like cotton.

Any noises made or turbulence sends my heart spinning until I feel the aircraft stabilize again.  I look at my watch a million times as if it will make the hands move faster.  If I'm exhausted I cannot sleep because what if something happens and I'm not coherent enough to make a life saving decision?  I can't get comfy in the seats, who can really?, but I can't relax. I prefer to read horror novels by Stephen King and HP Lovecraft et al because those are stories, they can't get me.

Do understand, I'm not scared of the act of flying, but the act of crashing and burning or vaporizing in the ocean.  This is why I cannot watch shows like Mayday on The Discovery Channel.  As a rule, if any movies or TV shows are set on a plane, I don't watch.  Except maybe Snakes on a Plane or AirForce One cuz Samuel L. Jackson and Harrison Ford are badass enough that I'd breathe easier if they were on a plane with me.

We are going on a plane very soon and to say I'm slowly losing my mind is an understatement.

It seems once I turned 30 I crossed some sort of barrier in my mind and now I'm paranoid of everything that brings me closer to death.  I'm scared of losing people and pets close to me, most of all myself.

Over the past few days we've heard of the troubles with SouthWest Airlines and I'm glad there were no injuries and that the airline is taking steps to correct the problems.  This does nothing to help alleviate my fears.

Sometimes I sit and say to myself that airline travel is one of the safest methods available.  There are so many flights each day around the world and days go by with no issues.  And I slowly calm down.  Then something jars me back to the fear, I won't cite examples lest they run through my mind, and I'm back to square 1 again.

I'm going to think positively and we'll get through it, some way, some how.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream

One of the lovely ladies I follow on Twitter and on the BlogRoll is the fantastic Karen Walrond aka Chookooloonks.  True story, I happened upon her blog, maybe 5 years ago(??), because she lived in Trinidad, (where I'm from originally), and at the time and I had Googled about a tsunami hitting the island.  She had written about it as her family had been at the beach that day. I've been hooked on her blog ever since.

She's an amazing photographer, some of her pictures blow me away, an author and an all around lovely person that I'd love to meet and then sit quietly in her presence someday if I ever make it to BlogHer.  She's one of the inspirations for my setting up this blog and my desire to take better pictures.

Yesterday on her blog, she wrote about a silly, (at the time), game she and her friend played to write down all the qualities she wanted in an ideal husband.  Skeptical, she did it but only half following the directions and lo and behold, she found her husband Marcus.

When I read the post his morning, I thought of Mike and I and how we met.

See, a long time ago, when I was a Sophomore in high school, I had the biggest crush on this guy who was a Senior at the time. He had no idea who I was, but I was convinced I was completely in love with him.  It didn't help that I would run into him all over campus, thus fueling my crush.  I should also note I didn't have any boyfriends during high school so this probably added to my liking of this boy.

Around this time, I started having strange dreams.  I should note, I was really into dream interpretation at this time and dream symbols etc.  In my dreams, there was always a man with brown hair and green eyes, but nothing else.  I couldn't remember his name or any facial features or the details of what we did, although in one dream we went to his parent's boat.  Naturally, I was convinced the dreams were about him.  Because after all, he had brown hair too, so it must be!

Time passed and the school year ended, he graduated and that was the last I saw of him.  I moved on.

I still kept those dreams in my head and would think of them once in a while, but they remained just silly dreams.

I got into another relationship, that person looked nothing like what I had dreamt of years before.  That relationship ended.

I was in school at the time, first term and not knowing anyone, and was full into my Goth phase, complete with black trenchcoat and all.  There was a guy who I'd glimpse every once in a while that caught my eye.  He had this amazing red hair, well what was left of it on the top as he had shaved the sides of his head.  He wore this black jacket and Dr. Martens boots with the pant legs tucked in.  He'd wheel around school in his clip on sunglasses and I thought he was the coolest thing!  After all he had to be, he had a Deceptacon sticker on the back of his car!

I found out later that he was in his last term, (what's with me and seniors???), but he was in a first term course because he never took it and needed the credit to graduate.  I started off stealing glances here and there at him, but I was too shy to actually strike up a conversation.  It took one of our teachers pairing us together on an assignment for us to actually start talking.

So what does this have to do with my dream?

Well, weeks later, the red hair dye had worn out to show Mike's true hair color - brown.  This was around the same time he told me about his parent's boat anchored at a marina in Northern Ontario.

Then it hit me, the dreams came flooding back.  Somehow the Universe knew what I needed and sent him to me.  We've been together ever since.