Monday, 31 May 2010

Departures

I've been living back at my parent's house since Friday, reliving glory days and watching movies with my sisters.  I'm sleeping in my old bedroom, except this time I have two cats fighting (as in literally fighting--claws, hissing, fur flying) to share the bed with me. 

Last night my family all gathered to have a farewell pizza party for me.  The Baby Canadian champagne flowed freely, the pizza's oozed with tomato sauce, cheese, and carby comfort, the hockey game blasted in the background, and laughter was the music we danced to.

At the end of the night (even though I swore I wouldn't) I cried as everyone drove away.  I'm lucky to have family that gathers to say bon voyage; lucky to have family who will drive hour(s) to say take care.

Tomorrow I will drive with Mom and Dad to Vancouver, where they will help me drag my (super-sized) luggage and cat crates through the airport.  And even though they don't really want to, they will give me that last little shove towards the Departures gate, which is really where the adventure begins.

So I have to thank my family, because without their steady encouragement I wouldn't be on the cusp of stepping so far out of my comfort zone I need a GPS just to navigate my life.

Love you guys, to Switzerland and back.

Now, who's going to be the first to visit? And when you come, please bring some Baby Canadian champagne, because I just don't think a $100 bottle of champagne could ever taste as good as that $9 bubbly brew.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to Goodwill It Goes

So I need you all to picture me right now cackling (yes, cackling) with laughter.  You see, after six long years I have finally gotten rid of a truly horrendous little furniture set.

It was Dan's faux-marble plastic coffee and side table set.  These tables had been with The Swiss since he first came to Canada many long years ago, and the thing to know about The Swiss is he develops a serious emotional attachment to any thing he has owned longer than a week.

Don't throw out that shirt that's full of holes and gives the world a peep-show of my pectorals.  I still wear it. 

Not anymore you don't.

Yes, I am that wife.  The mean little wife that wants to get rid of her husband's things.  But to be fair, I wouldn't get rid of these things if they were (dare I say) nice.

Oh, the gauntlet has been thrown.  I fully expect Dan to issue me a scathing comment.  But please understand, I don't tell you anything that hasn't already been discussed with The Swiss--numerous, numerous, times.

So about the coffee tables.  Dan knew they weren't going to be joining us on the move.  That's why he kissed them good-bye before he left for Switzerland.

Exhibit A:  Evidence of serious emotional attachment to inanimate objects.

Do you see what I'm up against?

The main reason I don't like the coffee table is because it's black, with white swirls in it to make it look like a marble finish.  Yes, we can all agree it was functional.  Clearly the above picture demonstrates its ability to hold the laptop, the tea mugs, and the remote control.  But it wasn't beautiful, or even pretty.  It wouldn't have even won the biggest slap in the face award offered at any beauty pagent--the Miss Congeniality award.

This coffee table was starting to show it's age and the plastic sides were starting to peel off.  But rather than chuck it at that point, Dan lovingly Scotch taped the little darling back together. 

We had a piece of furniture being held together with Scotch tape!! 

So I waited in the weeds.  I plotted.  I knew my day would come.  And it has, oh it has!

Exhibit B: Evidence of a cruel (but happy) wife who has orphaned her husband's proverbial heart.                                                            


Left alone, in the building lobby.  Abandoned, if you will.  That white sign says "FREE".

Exhibit C: Justification for the wife's cause.


It's peeling!  Peeling! 

So, that's the story of the coffee table and my long fought battle against the stubborn Swiss.

Now, I hope he still picks me up at the airport.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Creepin'

I don't know about anyone else out there, but sometimes I think that I am a magnet for creepy people, or those who are off their rocker.

And I don't really know why that is.  The inaugural blog post told the story of one of the strange encounters I've had, but on a recent shopping trip to The Bay, I was lucky enough to add another bullet point to my list of "Strange Encounters with the Socially Inept".

I needed to buy a suitcase, and my sisters weren't feeling like spending another hour with me in the luggage department as I wheeled every suitcase around, examined it's dimensions, and tried to determine if I really wanted to commit to bright purple luggage.  Basically, they abandoned me to my shopping and went off on their merry way.

So I'm left alone, to continue my happy hunting.  After considerable indecision, I've finally narrowed my selection down to a mammoth, crate sized, Samonsite suitcase in a very appealing green (with the just the slightest touch of gold) and a very sturdy and hard shelled Borderline bag, that was lipstick red. 

I've got the two bags side-by-side, reading the specs, when I see an elderly gentleman beelining it down the aisle, straight towards me.  I try to lug the suitcases out of the way, so he can get by easily, but he stops right in front of me and STARES. 

Looking for a suitcase?  He asks me casually as he straightens out his yellow sweater and polyester pants (he's also wearing black Velcro running shoes, and is most definitely in his late 70s). 

Yep.  Looking for a suitcase.  But I don't need any help thanks, I've got it.

Oh, I don't work here. Hahahaha...(hack, cough, emphysema-attack) hahaha....I' m just a customer too.  As he fidgets with his hearing aids.

Ooookkkaaayyyy.  Do you need to get by?  Sorry I am sort of hogging the aisle.

No.  Just carry on.

And then he just sort of lingers around.  Doesn't make a move to go anywhere.  Just stands in front of me, not even pretending to look at luggage; he looks at the ceiling, looks at his hands, glances at me a few times, and just basically stands around.

I ignore him and get back to my heavy decision that basically came down to green or red? Green or red?  One has such a nice shade of gold to it though.  Hmmm, what a hard decision.

Then the old guy interrupts: I have luggage for sale...at my house.

Cheese and Rice!  He's an old perv!  I straighten up, adjust my shirt in case his bifocaled eyes were trying to stare where they shouldn't be staring, and look right at him.

No thanks, I'll be buying my luggage here.

Are you sure, because I've got luggage just like this at my house.  And as he says this, he vaguely waves his hand about in the general direction OF THE ENTIRE DEPARTMENT.  Then he takes a pen out of his shirt pocket and starts writing down, what I can only assume, is his address.

No, I'm going to buy my suitcase here.

Are you sure about that.  I'd pay you, you know just to come and look...at what I've got.

What the FU-*@!!!  Is there anything about my appearance that suggests I resemble a lady of the night?  Do I look like a person that can be randomly propositioned in the middle of the day, in the middle of a department store, to be paid "to look at luggage" at someone's house?? 

I don't wear provocative clothing! In fact, my sisters believe that I'm just one sensible cardigan away from becoming a boring librarian.

Reefing up the Samonsite suitcase (going with green, definitely green!) I try to shoot him a "You nasty old man, get the hell out of my life and out of my way" angry look as I try to get around him.

So, you're not interested in the luggage?

Mister, I am not even interested in trying to dial 911 if you collapsed on your knees right in front of me. 

(Man I wish I had said that!)

So tell me, does this sort of thing happen to anyone else out there? Anyone?  If so, please let me know.  Because I'm starting to develop a serious complex.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Hey, What Do You Know?

About Switzerland.

In pictures, here's what I know about Switzerland:

(1) It's really pretty.

Like, super gorgeous....

 (2) They are sticklers for safety.


What do you mean I can't hike down from the Schilthorn in my Manolo Blahniks? 

What do you mean it's not safe to hike in heels?

Absurd!

But if it is that dangerous, I'm glad they posted this sign.  Otherwise, I would have hiked this terrain in my stilettos for sure.


(3) They are very environmentally conscious.

Your eyes do not deceive you.  This mountain hut is indeed solar powered.   

(4) You can get high enough to touch the sky.


(5) The language is confusing to the English speaker.

Furri Butte.  For real? Sounds uncomfortable.

(6)  It's impossible to get lost.


(7) The hiking is exceptional.


So as you an see, I don't yet know a lot about Switzerland.  Basically I've been a superficial tourist who's only into the pretty mountains and delicious cheese. 

(oh, oh, number 8 is they have AMAZING CHEESE.  I know all the non-cheese lovers out there just read that line and thought That girl needs to get a LIFE.  Cheese.  Who the [bleep] cares about cheese? But seriously, come on.  The most divine comfort food in the world is a pot of molten cheese with a hunk of hearty bread, just waiting to be dipped.  Your ass and hips are screaming "NO! For the love of god step away from the cheese."  But your tastebuds are whispering in your ear, "It tastes so good.  Just eat the whole pot of cheese and that loaf of bread.  Worry about it tomorrow.  Who cares.  Not you. Not right now."  Hmmm....I will definitely need to get a picture of number 8 considering I just devoted an entire parentheses paragraph to the topic.  Or you could just Google it.) 

But come May 31st (OMGonlytwoweeksawaycrazy!!!), I will throw off my tourist sunglasses and don my "I live here now" glasses.  I will be a good little journalist, and tell you all about it. And to be sure I'll have my camera ready, in case I come across some more Furri Butte's or other strange vernacular anomalies.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Cast of Characters: Part Vier

Aren't you glad I don't have anymore cats? Or a dog (though I really want one!), or a snake, or a parrot, or a skunk, or any other pet that would need a lengthy introduction?  Basically, without further ado, the final character requiring introduction is moi.

Just casually hanging out in a field of flowers.  Who doesn't?

The Bio:  What do you want to know about me?  Do you care that I was born in the year of the Rooster?  That I am a Leo?  That for two summers I worked on a ranch helping manage rodeo livestock, while living in fear of garden snakes and dead mice in irrigation pipes? How about this: as a child I suffered from a tragic mushroom hair cut--you all know what I'm talking about: floppy on top and shaved close to the neck in the back.  Basically, it's not a flattering look. On anyone. Particularly a 12 year old girl with "chipmunk cheeks". I showed up to grade 7, after Spring Break, sporting this follicle masterpiece and wearing a new pair of round (very, very round) purple glasses. So sad.  The only thing missing was a giant bulls eye pasted onto the back of my hyper-colour shirt. 

After I graduated high school (by this time the mushroom cut had long grown out, just FYI), I enrolled in university for my Bachelor of Arts degree.  During university I met The Swiss, and stupidly asked him if that funny lilt to his voice was a speech impediment. And the award for the Biggest Lack of Tact goes to me. An accent? An accent!  Oh my god.  I will never see this guy again.  I'm such an idiot!   Luckily he found my worldly ignorance charming, and we got along like nachos and cheese. Six years later we were married, and five months into the marriage we started planning the big Swiss move. 

The only other thing you need to know about me is I live in fear of one day going to the hairdresser, and having her cut my hair too short. Like grade 7 too short.  So I probably only visit the hairdresser twice a year. 

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Cast of Characters: Part Drei

Poppy


The Bio:  A little black and white cat that goes by the nicknames Poptart, Popstar, Poppy seed, and Poppy girl.  She also is the very definition of a scaredy-cat: wind, water, housecoats, and the rustle of a plastic grocery bag, all send her seeking refuge in the darkest corners of the shoe closet.

Dan and I got Poppy four years ago.  I was browsing the classifieds of the local newspaper, when I saw an add for free kittens!  The two sweetest sounding words in the English language.  So naturally I called the number and told the lady to reserve me a little girl kitten, and I'd be along that evening with my boyfriend to collect her.

That evening, Dan walked through the front door after having written his last exam ever as a university student.  Hurried congratulations were given as I ripped off his backpack, collected the car keys, and dragged him out the door telling him the best news in the world: free kittens!  One is ours!  Let's go!

As you can tell, The Swiss is an understanding fellow and only minimal protest was made.

We pulled up to the address that I was given, and looked at the house (and surrounding neighbourhood) and wondered where the hell we were.  It was a tad rundown and sketchy, to say the least.  Walking up to the house, every single window was blacked out with heavy dark sheets.  Is this a trick?  Are we walking into some sort of sick trap, meant to lure in cat lovers?  Obviously Dan felt the same, because he made me stand behind him when he rang the doorbell. 

When the lady opened the door (and after our eyes adjusted to the pitch darkness of her basement) I saw a woman who I can now say resembled that frail Dr. Abigail Tyler from the Fourth Kind: huge eyes, hollow cheeks, fried blond hair, and a very slight frame. 

She apologized for the thick carpeting of cat hair all over the place, but "the cats don't like the vacuum".  She apologized for the darkness of the house, but "the light is hard on the cat's eyes".  She led us into the living room, pointed to a couch where we could sit.  The couch was covered in stuffed animals, and nestled here and there were the kittens.  Dan picked one up, examined it for girly-bits, and determined "we'll take this one" while thinking, "let's get the hell of here".  But the lady said no, she had to pick the cat for us based on our personalities and vibe.

Bizarre.  Bizarre. Bizarre. Bizarre!

After we were grilled as to will the cat sleep with us, what's Cosmo like, and do we have a vacuum, she decided that little Pops (or as she called, her "the first one born") was the cat for us. 

As she handed Poppy to me, I realized that in my hurry to get out the door I'd forgotten the cat carrier.  So the lady took Poppy back and disappeared into the inky blackness.  Was this our cue to leave?  We stood up, just as the lady came back.  In her outstretched hand was a long denim purse that had been buttoned up, and the purse was squirming wildly and mewing. 

Thanking her very much, and trying to dodge the questions of "will you send me pictures", we practically sprinted from the house back to our car.

Opening the purse, we saw Poppy clearly for the first time: one blue eye and one green eye, a little cap of black, and a candy pink nose.  Clearly she was adorable, and we both knew she would be a sweet addition.

Driving away though, I was given very clear instructions from The Swiss:  "This is the last [bleep]ing add for free cats you ever respond to.  Deal?  That woman was [bleep]in' nuts."

Deal.


Friday, 14 May 2010

Cast of Characters Part Zwei

Cosmo

In between naps and crying at the door, I like to ponder the meaning of life.  For example, an ancient Cosmo-proverb states: Fear not flying from balcony to tree.  Fear the bird that does not welcome your arrival.

The Bio: A little five year old tabby who spent the first six weeks of his life living in the dusty and smelly world of an Alberta feedlot.  My aunt told me about the litter at her work, and how they were already eating solids and were litterbox trained.  Maybe just take a look Cait.  Hmmm....excellent idea, I will take a look.  So my uncle drove me out with my cousin so I could look at the kittens, but let's face it--we all knew I'd be getting one.  I was finally living in an apartment where I could at least sneak in a cat without anyone seeing, so I didn't think twice about taking him back over the Rockies with me. Pffft...no one will ever know I have a cat because they're so quiet. I'd like you all to meet Cosmo, the world's LOUDEST cat.

Having never had cats before, I remember thinking off on on for the first solid six months of his life: "I wonder when kittens start to walk without falling over every few steps?"  I just assumed that since he was a bit young when I got him, he missed the lesson when his mom taught him to walk in a straight line.  Nope.  Turns out he is just utterly, completely, and insanely, uncoordinated.  To this day he has a swagger in his step that can get a little out of control if he's had some catnip or Feline Greenies.

But my favourite story of little Cos has got to be from two years ago.  I was lying sick on the living room couch, and Dan was rushing around trying to get ready for a work meeting.  Right before leaving, Dan came and perched on the edge of the couch to give me a kiss goodbye and ask if I needed anything.  Right then, Cosmo jumped up onto the couch and made his way over to Dan; he hopped onto Dan's lap and then promptly SPEWED HIS DINNER all over Dan.  When he'd emptied his stomach (which only took five seconds, max) Cosmo hopped down and swaggered over to his water bowl to freshen up.

Dan and I stared at each other for a second, while trying to process what the hell just happened. Then I burst into laughter as Dan held his hands suspended in the air like a marionette doll and said, "Did that little shit only jump on the couch to barf on me? Why didn't he puke on you!"

Meanwhile Cosmo hopped back up on the couch with me, and snuggled in for a night of watching trashy reality t.v.

Just think, if that's my favourite Cosmo story (arguably, it's not Dan's) can you even imagine my least favourite Cosmo story?  Because let me assure you, it is a story of frustration and the story seems to cover a period of three years.  That's how long it took me to realize I did not adopt a cat--I adopted a fire that yearns to be wild.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Cast of Characters: Part Eins

So, in the off chance that a non-family member should read this blog, I suppose a few introductions are in order.

Over the next couple of days I'll introduce the folks that will be making an appearance.

The first headliner is...THE SWISS.

The Swiss aka Dan


The Bio:  The Swiss was (obviously) born in Switzerland, where he spent sixteen idyllic years being the indulged oldest son who excelled at soccer, track, badminton (apparently it IS a sport and you shouldn't say any different), downhill skiing, and mental arithmetic.  While there he learned to appreciate fine chocolate, extreme punctuality, and breakfasts that consist only of meat, bread, and yogurt.

He moved with his family to small town British Columbia, where he watched Independence Day repeatedly in an effort to learn English.  After high school graduation he moved away to attend university, where he met moi.

An irritating thing to note about The Swiss is that he is extremely photogenic--he even looks good in the grainy picture on the back his Costco card!--but he does not suit a hat.  Go figure.

To sum it up, he's all that and a bag of chips.

Stay tuned folks, because the next headline attraction is Cosmo the Curious.  One of the star performers in this three ring circus.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Hoarders Called

It is seriously hard having to go through all your belongings and try to decide "should I keep this track and field ribbon from grade three?" or "are these leg weights worthy of being dragged all the way across the ocean" or "who even listens to CDs anymore, I should chuck these on Dan's behalf so he doesn't have to make that hard decision."

(Incidentally, it is key when trying to pare down another's belongings that you not tell them about it.  I have been told by Dan that the CDs, all billion of them, are coming. OR ELSE.)

Dan and I decided that there's no point in putting anything in storage because (let's face it) we don't have really nice stuff yet.  And the few quality items we do have are going to go with us.

Getting ready for the movers.
Note the green chair that's loosing it's stuffing...not coming.
Note the sweet little black and white cat...coming.

But despite the fact we really didn't believe we had a lot, turns out we do (or rather, did);  over the past two months I have ruthlessly gone through bathroom cabinets (the cosmetic clutter alone took me a whole night!), kitchen cupboards, clothes, boxes of photos, shelves of linens, walls of pictures, and cupboards of clutter. 

I managed to pawn a few of my wares at the neighbourhood garage sale, and re-homed a few other things with my family.  I thought I was done! I was golden!  I was the Queen of Organization and Declutter!  Welcome to my kingdom of clean.

Then I had to start getting ready for the movers.  I had to start pulling things out of the tidy little hiding places I'd made for them.

And then I realized that I was just a few cat ornaments shy of being a collector.

And that Dan was just a few childhood t-shirts away from being able to open an ebay store.

Why yes I am ashamed and have no idea why I'm putting this photo on the Internet.

So if nothing else, this move has been a crash course in economics for me.  It has taught me the hard lesson that no matter how much I love the picnic plates decorated with tiny lemons, or how funny and ironic that beer mug is, I have to step away from the consumer madness and realize A) buying those plates still won't make me a picnic-er; and B) the funny and ironic beer mug always ends up looking trashy and lame when the shopping buzz has faded. 

So I need to walk away and think to myself,  "Would I really be willing to pay money to ship these across the ocean with me?" 

The answer is usually no.

Except for her, where the answer is always yes.

Who wouldn't take me to Switzerland--I'm adorable and awesome.  I'm adorably-awesome, you could say. 

Sunday, 9 May 2010

So it Begins

For awhile now I've been a sneaky little voyeur in the world of blogging. I've hidden behind my computer, armed with my mouse, clicking rapidly through people's words and lives.

Generally, I've loved what I've read.

I've loved the strange intimacy/narcissism that seems to go along with blogging - this online journal you want people to read; it's like leaving your diary open on the bus seat and waiting for the person next to you to start stealing glances.

Now let's face it, the above has totally never happened to me because I don't ride the bus, and I have a good reason - trust me.

It all started (and ended) way back in the winter of '02 when I couldn't afford to insure my car, and my parents behaved most cruelly by not letting me drive their car and flat out refused to act as my personal chauffeurs.

Because I was going to university and had paid good money to be there, I figured I had to keep showing up so the bus was my only option.

The first week and half was really good: I made it to class on time for a change, the bus was already heated when I got on, and I didn't need to pay attention to things like black ice and school children.

But in the words of Nelly Furtado 'all good things come to an end.'

There was this dude who rode the bus who gave off the loudest "I'm a creep, don't come near me" vibe I'd ever encountered. Anyhow, one morning I'm innocently minding my own business cramming in a little Pride & Prejudice for English Lit., when all of  a sudden I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck moving. I shake my head and continue reading...but my hair continues moving - weeiirrrdd.

I turn around and there's the creep with his chin propped up on the back of my seat and he's leaning so far forward he is mere centimeters--CENTIMETERS--from the back of my neck.  I looked at his pimply chin, green eyes, and made a mental note that he was a few hairs short of a uni brow, before he opened his mouth and said: "Your hair smells really good."  Before taking another big WHIFF.

"Oh, thanks.  Ha, ha...umm, I use Dove.  Okay, well.....I'm just gonna move...yeah, so...ha,ha, thaaannnkssss."

Can you believe my first reaction was to THANK him for sniffing my hair!

Anyhow, didn't take me long to prioritize "new shirt....or, save the money for car insurance and stop riding the bus with creepy-hair-sniffing-guy."

Yes, yes, we can all agree it was an isolated incident and I needed to woman-up and get over it.  But whatever, I didn't.

But guys, guess what:  riding the bus instead of driving a car is in my very near future (as in three weeks away!) because we're moving to Switzerland! A country with majestic alpine views, pastoral fields, clanging cowbells, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, and extremely efficient and accessible public transit.  Who needs cars?!  Not us!

Who knows if I'll encounter any hair-sniffers, but I promise to tell you about it if I do.

Otherwise friends and family, here's the blog that will keep you in the loop about our Swiss adventure.







Why yes I am the cutest little Pinocchio you ever did see.