Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Indulge Me

I have more tell you about Toronto, and I will probably sprinkle a little Swiss life over your computer screens one of these days, but today....*sigh*....I'm homesick.

It was bound to happen.

Switzerland is rolling out the white carpet, the air is frosty, the wine is warm and spiced, the cheese is molten, but today it's not home.

So you are all just going to have indulge me today as I tell you about one of the best parts of home: Tia.

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Sup?

For people who are new here, yeah that's right: today's post is about my dog. Maybe tomorrow it will be more interesting. But you'll never know unless you click back. You'll never know. Muhahaha.

And for people who've been here before, the the last time I mentioned Tia you might have all been left with a smelly impression of our resident hound. I just can't have that.

Tia used to be my Bup's dog, but then my Bup had a few health problems that meant he just couldn't give her all the exercise she really needed for a dog her size (uh, she actually weighs 112 lbs--I had to take her to the vet for a check-up while I was home. She is also not overweight for her size. She's just a beast.) so my Mom and Dad happily agreed to take Tia in.

Tia came into their lives shortly after our family dog, Kelly, had passed away at the ripe age of fifteen, and everyone who's had dogs--or pets for that matter--knows what a gaping hole is left by their absence. Kelly's passing was keenly felt by all my family (honestly, it was like loosing a sibling--we'd had her for FIFTEEN years), and Tia's rambunctious energy was welcome.

Here are a few quirks that I love about this dog.

1. She weighs 112 lbs, but I'm convinced she thinks she's a lap dog. She LOVES cuddling. Absolutely thrives on it. The closer she can be to you, the better. On one of the days I was suffering with the Plague/Malaria, I was lying down by the fire trying to snooze. I heard Tia's bear paws click-click-click on the hardwood floor upstairs, then I heard her bounding down the stairs to try and find me. When she found me by the fire she proceeded to run over and flop directly on top of me, barking and growl/groaning with contentment. I however, couldn't breathe.

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I'm am the most beautiful dog in the land.
However, I have a rare case of body dismorphia syndrome wherein I actually believe I am smaller than I really am.
I actually believe I am a tiny chihuahua, and my humans will never convince me otherwise.

2. My mom and dad have one of those wire head-scratcher thingamijs, and when I was home I took to  scratching Tia's head with it. So one night Meg and I are sitting on the couch watching television and I absentmindedly picked up the scratcher; Tia was lying on the floor but she lifted her head, saw me holding the scratcher, and got so excited that she proceeded (with tail wagging) to clumsily and enthusiastically climb onto the couch, throw herself into Meg's lap and try to curl herself into a tight little ball so we'd scratch her head. It was hilarious, and it really hurt.

3. She likes to be vacuumed. If you happen to be vacuuming, she will follow you around until you stop and run the vacuum hose up and down her back. Also hilarious.

4. Her tail should be classified as a dangerous weapon. She is actually taller than my parent's coffee table, and because Tia is always in a happy mood, her tail is constantly wagging; therefore, it is never a good idea to have candles, wine glasses, or anything breakable, resting on the coffee table because one wag of her tail clears the surface.

5. She snores. Like my god she needs one of those breathe easy strips to go across her nose. The first night I was home, I was just drifting off when I heard what I assumed to be the fridge motor dying a really loud and jolting death. I went upstairs to check things out, but nope the fridge wasn't broken--Tia was just snoring.

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How dare you tell people about my snoring.
I turn my back on you.

6. My parent's back yard can at times look like a stuffed animal's worst nightmare: there is cotton batting everywhere. There is nothing she loves more than getting a new (used) stuffed animal that she can tear apart in minutes. With one exception....

7. Teddy. For some unexplained reason, she will not hurt Teddy. She packs him around like he's her blankie, she sleeps with him, and she does not tear him to bits. When you walk through the front door, she runs to go find Teddy, then she brings his stinky, soggy, body to you like she's offering you the best gift in the world. Except she's not offering you Teddy because if you try to take him, she growls at you and runs away.

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I love Teddy, so don't even think of taking him from me.

8. Finally, she is tall enough to have clear access to whatever food happens to be left out on the kitchen counter. Not long ago my mom went into the kitchen to discover that over half a batch of her high-fibre-loaded-with-goodness-contained-spelt-flour-no-chocolate-chips-can't-imagine-they-tasted-good-uber-healthy muffins had disappeared--wrappers and all. Not a crumb remained.

All I have to say about that is: thank goodness for dogs--they'll eat anything.

Kidding, Mom! Kidding! I'm sure the muffins would have tasted good, but Tia just solved the problem of us having to discover that on our own.

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Who could stay mad at these faces?

For Christmas, Tia would like a new stuffie to destroy, preferably with a squeaker, and some bacon treats.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Yesterday Dan and I went into Bern for two reasons: (1) to go to the Munster and check out the Christmas market; and (2) to eat some street vendor food.

The mission was not only accomplished but it (A) also put me in the Christmas spirit (really not hard to do) and (B) it tasted delicious! In case you're wondering my street vendor fare of choice was a warm toscana hot dog in a crusty baguette with mayo and ketchup. So good.

But do you want to know the best part about yesterday was?

Well, it snowed.

And it snowed.

And it snowed!

Behold: SNOW.

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Quite nice!

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Decorative tree hung outside a window; awesome star; and the Christmas market.

Coming from Canada, you would think that I could care less about snow. Well, you'd be wrong. I love winter.

It snowed the entire day, and then last night around midnight or so Dan and I decided to go for a walk.

It was still snowing.

As we strolled around our village, we noticed that there were a whole bunch of tables set up, and then Dan saw a sign that said today--Sunday--there was to be a little street market.

I don't actually have pictures of the market, but I assure you I went. The reason I have no photos is because I was too busy stuffing my face with deep fried apple rings, slurping back hot spiced wine (*hic* delicious *hic*), and eating these dreamy little cakey lemon balls that were rolled in sugar.

Take it from my spiked glucose levels--I was at that street festival.

After we saw all there was to see, Dan and I went on a nice long walk through the snowy world and here are a few of my favourite pictures from today.

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"Two ladies walking and some partridges in a pear tree"

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You would not believe how photogenic this donkey was.
He totally worked it too--looking left and right.
I have approximately thirty seven pictures of him.
Approximately.

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Winter fairy tale wonderland....

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Look at us, loving the snow.

Tonight Dan lit the first advent candle and we had a raclette for dinner.

So basically what I'm saying is, bring your game face December because I'm ready for you.

Friday, 26 November 2010

T.O.

*Photo dilemma solved thanks to genius friend who is not as Internet deficient as I.*

I wanted to begin my recap of Toronto by listing funny facts about this metropolis; however, it appears there aren't any funny or fun facts about this great big city.

Wouldn't it have been a great ice breaker if my number one funny and fun fact is that Toronto is home to the most streaking related deaths, every year?

I consider this a plausible possible fact because Toronto does have national hockey, baseball, basketball and football teams, and everyone knows that people streak at major sporting events. Therefore, Toronto could be the home of the most streaking related deaths every year because the streakers, after running off the field/rink/court and out into the great big world, could die of hypothermia considering how frigid a Toronto winter can be. Surely I can't be the only one who thinks this makes perfect sense?

Alas, there were no funny or fun facts to be found. Instead, the City of Toronto website considers it interesting to tell me how many cubic metres of water are consumed yearly (why do I care about this?) or how many traffic lights there are (snore) or the fact that people who live in Toronto are called 'Torontonians' (duh, you're kidding?).

Therefore it is a very good thing that I personally got to spend time in this beautiful city to let you all know that it is MUCH more interesting than the official website leads you to believe. It's also very helpful if you happen to be staying with an awesome friend who has the inside scoop on her home city.

Awesome friend
 aka Sarah.

Sarah is a Torontonian, recently returned after having spent a number of years in little, decent-clothes-shopping-is-an-urban-myth, Kamloops.

I don't know how she did it, but after returning to Toronto Sarah was able to refrain from dropping to her knees and weeping tears of gratitude at the entrance to that spiritual mecca otherwise known as Anthropologie.

I was not so composed.

I mean, you guys, if any of you happen to dabble in and enjoy that high energy sport known as retail therapy, get your a$$ to Toronto. Your wallet will hate you, but your closet will love you.

And that's basically all I have to say about Toronto.

The End.

P.S. Okay, fine Sarah did actually manage to get me to see some Toronto sights other than the inside of an Anthropologie, or Banana Republic, or Roots, or Urban Outfitters, or MEC, or.... I could go on and on. The shopping you guys, the shopping!

Anyhow, the only expectation I had for Toronto is that I really wanted to see the CN Tower: that giant needle in the sky.

And it didn't disappoint.

When I first saw the tower Sarah and I were on the streetcar, right down by the water. I instantly got all touristy, and started exclaiming, "There it is! There it is! Photo op, photo op!" Then Sarah had to watch my back to make sure nobody shanked the tourist.

Kidding, kidding. Toronto was very safe.

(Except for this one time when I was waiting for Sarah to use the facilities in this mall that connected us to the subway system, and I was sitting in the food court and realized...this is sort of sketchy. There were only three operational food stands in that food court--the rest were closed down--and where I come from that means you're either in a struggling little town or you're in a weird neighbourhood. We were in downtown Toronto, so take your pick...)

Now even though the CN Tower doesn't dominate its sky in the same way the (shorter and wider) Eiffel Tower does, it is almost more impressive. I'm not sure how to describe this, so I can only say get to Paris, then Toronto, and do your own comparison. As Sarah and I meandered towards the giant tower I just kept uttering, wow. My vocabulary was completely stunted and that was really the only word I could use to describe how awesome it felt to see the CN Tower in person.

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Wow
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Super WOW.

Once inside, you can shop at the cheesy gift shop or you could be like me and get your photo taken with the Mountie Moose!
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Oh Canada, I love you.

Of course, once inside you probably actually want to just get up the tower and see the sights, which we did. And you better not have motion sickness, because we ascended something like 60 stories in under a minute. I felt queasy, but not as queasy as when we stood on the glass floor.
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Welcome to the terrifying psychological thriller known as The Glass Floor.
(side note: isn't Sarah crazy photogenic?)

When I heard about the glass floor, I was all "Bring it on bitch!" I did not think that I was going to be in least bit terrified because logically I knew that the floor is crazy thick, that it's a floor, and that lastly--it's a floor of supreme engineering. What's to be scared of?

Then I actually stood on the damn thing and all logic went right through the...floor, where I was convinced I too was going. It doesn't matter how much mental steeling you do, the act of standing on a glass floor and staring 350 metres down at the ant hill world below is f-cking terrifying.
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See!

My enthusiasm was briefly stalled until I made it back onto 'solid' ground. But I wouldn't say that my CN Tower psychological scare ended there. Oh no it didn't. You see, you can also walk the outside perimeter of the viewing platform. And when I say 'walk' I really mean 'get blown around by hurricane winds'.

Yeah. Scary. I think an entire layer of epidermis was ripped from face by that icy wind.

So to summarize, the CN Tower should be a ride at Disneyland: at first it appears all magical and makes you believe that dreams really do come true, but then you ascend the peak and you start shivering and crying because MICKEY LIED TO YOU: would the most magical place on earth rip a layer of skin off your face or have you believe you're going to fall to your death? I think not.

After descending, I had to enter the warm comforting arms of Mountain Equipment Co-op just regain some mental peace before we did more sight seeing.

To be continued....

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Call for Help!

Hey people who are Internet savvy!

I had every intention of doing my Toronto recap today, except Blogger told me I've maxed out my photo storage space on the Internet web album Picasa and it can't upload any new photos unless I buy more space.

So logical old me decided, 'well, why don't I just delete some old photos from the album to make more space.' Except, when you do this you delete the photos from your blog and I don't want to do that.

What do I do?

I would prefer to not buy more space, because come on: Blogger promotes itself as being FREE. It's the principle of the matter!

What do you do, peeps? What are your photo options? People who own their own domains, how are your photos stored? Do you have to buy photo space if you have your own domain?

All help appreciated so I can get on with showing you all how awesome Toronto is.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Be It Ever So Humble...

I am back in Switzerland and I'm delirious with jet lag.

The room is spinning people, IT'S SPINNING.

I landed yesterday morning at 6:00 a.m., and I made it back to the apartment about 9:30. But of course I just wouldn't be me if it did not take extreme physical effort on my part just to make it back to the apartment. At some point, between Toronto and Zurich, my suitcase lost a wheel. Then when I hit the Bern train station, the remaining wheel was all, "Oh hell NO. I did not sign on to be the only wheel responsible for this huge ass suitcase. I QUIT."

As a result, I had to drag my suitcase home.

To the orderly Swiss, I think I appeared to be something of a bag lady: greasy hair, dark circles under my eyes, dragging a busted up suitcase, and walking with a slight limp (side note: your cutest pair of boots do not make the most comfortable pair of travelling shoes, just FYI).

Next time I vow to pack lighter. To not get so carried away with buying used books that it requires two pieces of carry-on and maxing out my suitcase's weight restrictions (50lbs exactly!) just to get them all home.

I also vow to always wear appropriate travelling shoes and to keep my cellphone charged so that Dan will know when to meet me at the train station so he can deal with maneuvering my vacation impulse buys through the crowds.

Now where was I?

Oh yes. Jet lag. The spinning room. Green fairies. Purple fairies. No sleep. Puking cats.

This morning I was up too early, so I killed a couple of hours then called my family. After I hung up, I got the best 'welcome home' gift of all: I put my foot in my slipper and discovered it's full of crusty old cat puke.

Welcome home, Mother. This is what you get for being gone for so long. Now please clean up my water bowl, because I've decided to puke in there too, just for fun. HAHAHA, I'm the cutest evil genius in the world!

Here's a picture to remind me of gentler times. Well rested times. Times when I didn't have to deal with crusty slippers and chunky water bowls.


Toronto re-cap to come!

Just as soon as this room stops spinning...

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Where in the World...?

Am I right now?

I'm currently in Toronto!

I've been here since Friday, visiting my friend Sarah who just moved back here.

Yesterday I went up the CN Tower, and guess what?! I didn't know this, but when I'm 351 meters in the air, and standing on a glass bottomed floor, I'm really afraid of heights and feel a little pukey.

Who knew?

Off for more adventures today, and tomorrow I am winging my way back to Switzerland and to Dan and the cats.

Talk later, Lovelies.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Road Trippin'

I can't believe I forgot to detail the road trip there and back! It took Meg's comment on the last post to remind me.

So anyone else out there enjoy a good road trip? Long hours in the car with a full iPod and three great people makes for a really fun time. Meg, Ais, myself, and Meg's boyfriend Ryan all drove out together in Ryan's car.

For a chunk of the car ride I was trying to think up wedding games to play at the reception, except the moving car and the act of writing combined to leave me feeling really car sick. So sympathetic Ryan, after learning I was feeling queasy, took it upon himself to swerve all over the road and try and make me feel worse. Thanks Ryan! Lucky that didn't last very long.

Also, if there were any people who reported seeing weird flashing lights around 9:00 pm on November 11th on the number 2 highway going into Lethbridge, please don't fear--you weren't seeing a UFO. Rather you were witnessing a seat dance party happening inside a tiny Jetta, where the driver was quickly flashing on and off the interior car lights. It was a strobe effect. It was fun. Except for the part where I contemplated it might be unsafe.

Coming home, Ais and I travelled back with Mom and Dad and we saw one black bear, an elk, mountain sheep, and a lot of deer.

We also hit the first snow storm of the year as we were going through Roger's Pass.

Possibly the worst section of road on the entire drive, and definitely not a place you ever want to hit snowstorms.

As you can tell, we made it home safely.

Here's some pictures I took out of the car window.

 
  
These were taken when we were stopped because a semi was rolled into a ditch, blocking traffic.
Ais is wondering when we'll get moving; Ryan has his iPhone and doesn't care;
Meg is using this break to model her hat; I am looking apprehensive about having my picture taken.

 
 
 


Fin.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

White Wedding

I haven't been to a lot of weddings; in fact, I can count on one hand the number of weddings I've attended--and that includes my own. Therefore, when there is a wedding on the horizon I get very excited about it. I love to see the bride in her gown, I like to see how nervous the groom looks, and I especially love to partake in the open bar.

This was the third wedding that saw my family packing up the car and making the ten hour drive to southern Alberta. The last wedding we attended, well...let's just say my sisters and I weren't exactly on our best behaviour. In fact, we were probably the people that the bride's family whispered about and wondered what diseased branch of the family tree we fell from, and good grief here's hoping our lack of decorum isn't genetic. We don't remember a lot about that wedding, just the fact that it was our sweet grandfather who pushed us down the road to inebriation by mixing us doubles in the middle of the afternoon, before the ceremony even started.

Poor Dan, he had to deal with all of us that night: there was Meg lying in a heap on the hotel bathroom floor incensed that all she wanted was gelato from Italy and we couldn't provide; Aislinn who passed out in the back of the car around 10:00 pm--her head sticking out one door, her feet out the other; and then me, the individual who NEEDED Tim Horton's and was postive there was one 'just down the road', but a forty minute car ride later....yeah.

So I am so pleased to announce that we all redeemed ourselves beautifully this time around.

It was my cousin Bobbi who got married, and she and I have been buds since we were babes. I was really excited that she asked me to be her maid of honour, and it goes without saying she was a beautiful bride. Bobbi and Ryan were married in a church in Lethbridge, and I thought their vows were beautiful and really poignant; I did feel a bit misty to see my cousin--the girl who I rode horses with, who told me ghost stories, who is often my confidant--get up before her close family and friends and join hands with the person she loves and declare kinship, faithfulness, and friendship.

I haven't tracked down a lot of photos, but here's a few.

Bride and groom.
Groom is in the RCMP, in case you can't tell.

Me and my sisters, plus me and my mom.

The whole fam-damily.

As you can see, I don't have pictures of the entire wedding party.

After the ceremony was photos and we basically froze to death, but the stretch SUV complete with champagne helped to ease the chill. Then came dinner and the dancing portion of the evening, which was by far the best part of the whole day: we had a blast, and rolled into our rooms about 1 a.m.

Overall, it was a smooth ride and there was only one brief moment of panic during the entire day, and that was when we were thisclose to walking down the aisle, only to realize we'd forgotten the rings at the hotel. But my uncle sprang into action, he committed every traffic violation you can think of, and he had those rings picked up and delivered in six minutes flat. Say what you will about Albertans and their big trucks, but they can corner a Dodge Ram like nobody's business.

Cheers to your future Bobbi and Ryan, and since right about now you're on your tropical getaway I hope you're lounging on your beach chairs and getting a tan.