Sunday, December 28, 2008

Festive Fiascos


Current Mood: Really sluggish....

Current Song: Happy Holidays from the Simpsons

Well, it's been a bit of a gong show getting the turkey dinner out and on to the table. Seriously, not even funny what's been happening the last few days. For one, it snowed like it was going out of fashion. It's the type of thing that we're not used to dealing with here on the lower mainland and it caused all manner of havoc.
One small example of that was turkey dinner. We prepared it with much forethought. there was strategic planning around the turkey and all of the fixings (I was in charge of pouring the ice-water...they don't trust me around these parts to do anything remotely helpful. Mind you, I'm an excellent cook, but not when Queen Bossies are in the kitchen). In any case, the dinner was set to occur Friday at 3 PM. Our family made it about a block down from our house, and got stuck in the snow. Due to the fact that there were two grandmothers in the car, they couldn't very well hike the block. So we were stuck with a 15lb turkey and many fixings.
The dinner didn't happen yesterday either. So it's today, with 2 day old turkey. I don't even want to look at it. In the first place, i'm not a big "meat" person...let alone large poultry. In any case, we'll suck it up and make the best of it.
Making the turkey itself was a chore. We don't eat bland food around here, so there are enough spices in that turkey to set your eyes on fire. It was in the oven forever. And because we washed it more thoroughly than anything, around hour 3, an area of warm pressure developed over the turkey and it was liquid bonanza. With fear of over fire, we were switching this and that to try to keep the whole thing from exploding. The kitchen looked like a scene from ER.

Needless to say, it's been a massive chore. But there has been a bit of boxing day shopping in the course (mind you that almost didn't happen because of the slush that now reaches your calves). SIGH!

This is why i don't celebrate. Too much hassle...and for what? I'm glad that holiday season is coming to an end. We need some semblance of normalcy around here, that is not punctuated by giant poultry and too much sugar.

Well, this is the last blog of the year (I'm spending a couple of days out and I won't write until the new year). In honour, I've done a small Meme, summarizing the year: I call it 40 Things of 2008

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
Graduated with an MA and visited Paris, Did a blogathon and hung at out Pubs a lot (I don't drink, but it's good fun to be with friends)
2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any so I won't be keeping them or making them for next year. I find them too pointless. Though I would like to continue on my training as a powerbitch
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not that I can remember...and if they did, I guess their baby just wasn't that important to me :P
4. Did anyone close to you die?
All depends on your definition of close
5. What countries did you visit?
France and UK, and parts of Canada
6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
- A job I absolutely love
7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory?
- July 18th - the deadline for my MA thesis
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Again, the MA thesis
9. What was your biggest failure?
I don't think there were any major failures because I didn't take many risks
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nope, just a bad ear infection...thank god
11. What was the best thing you bought?
I didn't buy it, but the Nikon D40 camera that i got as a grad present...forever amusing
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
MAISers for powering through, my sister for her very busy schedule...
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
I can't say much in this arena, but at some points, maturity is the best method of handling things and we need to be vigilant of people's boundaries. That's all.
14. Where did most of your money go?
- school fees, a sad but very true statement.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The national choir I was a great opportunity to sing with a talented group of people, and to travel. Also Blogathon, which was a lot of fun to do and I got to make some great contacts.
16. What song/album will always remind you of 2008?
Viva La Vida, hands down
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
happier or sadder? happier
thinner or fatter? the same, surprisingly
richer or poorer? Materially, about the same (I'm very careful with money) and in every other aspect, richer.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Written for fun
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
checked facebook....seriously...this is sick
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
probably with family, and a big dinner, which didn't happen
21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
- mum, and HJ...but I'm not a phone person
22. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Not so much my thing...
23. What do you not want to carry with you to the New year?
Risk aversion. I want to take more risks next year, so when I'm 50 I'm not regretting my life.
24. What was your favourite TV program?
Greys and the various others. I recently got into Corrie Street
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? not really...i do from time to time reprioritize certain's not really their fault...
26. What was the best book(s) you read?
Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb and the Memory keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards...both amazing books...
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
- Ryan Scott
28. What did you want and get?
Almost everything...i have been lucky to get whatever I wanted in time...this year was no different...
29. What did you want and not get?
My dream job...but all in time...that's the focus for next year
30. What were your favourite films of this year?
- Wow, I soo don't remember...I think Get Smart was good....other than that, I don't remember what I saw....oh yes, Atonement
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 26, and as usual, I asked for no fuss...then i went to london the following day....oh yes, and for some reason I cried...
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
immeasurably? hmmm...nothing...everything is good the way it was
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
The usual....classic...pretty monochromatic....longer hair this year
34. What kept you sane?
- My many new friends, and blogging...and singing and family
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Strombo of course...
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Hm....I don't think there was one particular one...but the US elections were fascinating to watch...also the many shocking horrible atrocities that I view as part of my life's work...
37. Who did you miss?
I've gotten over missing people in the old sense. I think the most important people in your life are around you when you need them. Anyone that really deserves to be missed is there.
38. Who was the best new person you met?
All of the MAISers who bring incredible skill, talent and humour to everything they do...
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Everything happens in time....when it's your time, things happen for you. You just gotta wait it out...
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?
"Change is gonna come" by Seal

Alright, my dears. Have a good safe New Year and we shall be talking in 2009 :) Ciao!

Monday, December 22, 2008

'Tis The Season Blah Blah


Current Mood: Sneezy (another mini-cold coming on. woke up feeling not so hot)

Current Song: That Christmas Theme Song from "Merry Christmas Charlie Brown"
You know that it's officially christmas when Zoyah has managed to drag you into the abyss that is the kitchen never to be let out again, in an exercise she calls "Christmas Baking". We'd been baking for days this last week. DAYS! Mind you everything turned out just the way it should: delicious and fatty. So really, it's all good. I was in charge of all difficult things including smashing the candy canes for the peppermint bark, and also breaking up the bark (which hurt my wrist). I am also in charge every year of making butter tarts. thanks to a recipe from an old coworker Jill, they turn out predictably the same every year. Not a change to be had at all. However, because I was so helpful, Zoyah now owes me two cheescakes and her first-born. Also related to the jubilee related favours that I did for her.

As you might all know, we have one christmas enthusiast in the house, so all things center around her activities and such. The tree has also been put up for now. It gets busier every year. This year it has lights on it as well. It's very nice.

I for one, am not a christmas fan. I think it's too much fuss for something that technically I don't even celebrate. It's also too much money on a good day. Sigh. Oh well. You do what you can for those you love.
In other news, it's snowed about 20 cm since yesterday. Another big system coming in for wednesday. Not sure how that turkey-related festivities will go. I also hate being the man of the house (I need a husband out of convenience really. To dig me out of snow and to reach the top shelves for me). I will shortly be banished out into the tundra in order to dig my civic out of the snow and clean up the side of the house. But on the bright side, I really don't have to work out today and I'll have stellar arms this week (painful, but stellar).

Pictures below. One of the baking bonanza that ensued and the other of a stylized christmas shot. Baking includes (from top left and clockwise): Sugar cookies, Leibkuchen, Butter Tarts, Peppermint Bark, Chocolate chip zuccini cupcakes, Almond Jam bars, Butterscotch Bars. Will be writing last blog of the year sometime next week. Until then, happy snow cake and egg nog everyone!
PS: to those of you who like to comment on the blog, please do so in the comments section. you don't need to email me. I still read the comments :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Paris 2008 Adventures


Current Mood: Revelling

Current Song: I love Paris in the Springtime (by no coincidence!)

So I've been back from Paris for a couple of days now. It's actually very nice to be home, with the craziness and the hubbub of that city. I did say that I would give a play by play on it, so here goes....go get yourself a cup of tea and settle in for the blog of the century!

The Flight Over the Atlantic

I had to first go to Calgary to pick up my aunt and cousin. From Calgary we departed for Montreal at 5 on a very chilly morning...very very chilly. It wasn't all that bad. It was about a 4 hour flight over. The 7 hour layover was okay, but the additional 5 hour delay did not make me happy. I was just about ready to catch the next flight over to Vancouver. Why the delay? It turns out that a giant ice storm hit montreal bringing with it, at first, snow, and then rain. This meant that the cargo carriers outside couldn't manouever their way over to our plane to load the luggage. This took nearly 4 hours to do. After that, the plane had to be de-iced, which took another while because the combination of solutions did nothing. We finally left Montreal when we should have been landing in Paris. It was long. And hard. Made harder by the fact that we had dinner at sometime around dawn...which is not a good time to be eating neon red chicken and rice (yuck).

When we landed at CDG, we got our bags and headed to the cabs to get to our hotel. The driver had no idea where our hotel was and asked me if I had a map or directions. At this point, I was quite agitated. We finally just ended up taking the train.

Having been on the road for about 2 days I was looking forward to taking a nice bath. Much to my dismay our room was the size of a closet. Compounded by the fact that there was no phone, the jubilee celebrations were the following day and I was dead tired, I nearly started to cry. We decided we'd stay at the hole in the wall for about 2 days and transfer over to a decent hotel for the rest of our visit. It was a hard 2 days.

The Jubilee Celebrations

We got ready early in the morning and set out to a buffet breakfast nearby. If you ever go to France, take plenty of money because Paris is expensive! Also, eat your fill in may as well make it a worthwhile trip. A nice family from Avignon gave us a ride to the Paris Nord Exhibition Centre where the jubilee was being held. We were supposed to meet family from London there, but after about an hour and a half, we decided we'd just see them later since they hadn't shown yet. We headed for the already long lineup and stood waiting to be ushered in. The whole process of getting into the hall was exhausting. I felt like cattle. But in the end, we got in just fine, and settled into our spots. I went off for a little walk and ran into HJ (at this moment, it was the highlight of my trip). Whilst walking back to my spot, I saw that my aunts had found eachother...warm hugs all around...and the excitement grew. We sat through waiting for HH to show up. To our surprise, he brought his entire family...a complete treat! The celebrations continued into the night.

Sight Seeing Day 1: The Eiffel Tower...So This is It, Eh?

Day 3, we packed up our things and moved to a decent hotel, the Novotel in Le Bourget...which was not all that expensive, but came with soap...and a phone...imagine! the luxuries! We set out on the bus and then on the RER to get to Champs Elysees. We had lunch at the McDonalds filled with Ismailis. I treated myself to a Mocha from McCafe, a small separate part of the McDonalds that sells gourmet coffee and dessert (an idea, I think, we need to import). Check out the lemon tarts pic!

We took a lovely walk down the Champs and also took pictures in front of the Arc De Triomphe, which is beautiful. In our wonder at where the Eiffel tower was, we asked some nice french ladies to point us kindly in the direction, which they did (well, they told me, since I was the only one that spoke french in the 8 family members present). We took the metro to Trocadero and walked past the Museum of Man (Musee De L'Homme) and lo and behold there was the Eiffel Tower. Forgive me for saying this, but it's a bit of a disappointment. All I could think is, So that's it eh? For those ever headed in the direction of France, there is so much more to see....go see the Eiffel Tower, but don't make it the highlight of your visit. France is absolutely beautiful in its own regard; a metal tower is the least of those representations of beauty.

We also took an hour long boat ride down the Seine river. It was my drive by shooting type of tourism since I knew I wouldn't have enough time to see much of what we saw on this tour. I caught quick glimpses of sights like the Obelisk, the Notre Dame, the Louvre and the many palaces and bridges that dot the Parisian cityscape. Thank god for quick shutter speeds!
We said goodbye to our family from London at the end of the day and had dinner at the hotel (which came with restaurant). Fresh bread, a salad and some fries...good times...we settled into bed after that...a good night's sleep finally falling on us.

Salgirah Khushiali
This day was dedicated to the birthday of the Aga Khan so we spent a good chunk of it at the Exhibition Hall, eating, watching movies, dancing. I met a cute boy from Houston. He was impressed by me, and more by the fact that I could speak english fluently I think. A look of utter relief graced his face when I said "I'm well, how are you?" rather than "Pardon-moi?" Who can blame him? The language barrier is significant for the best of us. It was a long day, and I kept running into Vancouverites, which was rather nice. Having pieces of home is always pleasant.

Sightseeing Day 2

This day was a slower and longer sightseeing day. We headed over to the Opera area of Paris. As we left the Metro, I turned around to see the opulent and stunning Academie de la Musique. This building in itself is a masterpiece. Picture included! We toured around the Opera area, heading toward Lafayette Galleries...which makes Harrods look miniscule and insignificant. The three story christmas tree inside of the Lafayette was some indication of the calibre of product available. We came face to face with Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Burberry and so many more. It was a little bit of an overload quite frankly. We then headed over to the Palais Royale and the Louvre. I did of course, get a picture outside the famous pyramids built by IM Pei. How Da Vinci of me. It's a fantastic building and I will have to make a trip down again to go inside. there just is never enough time when you've got 2 days to view an entire civilisation. But now I have something to look forward to. After another visit to the Champs Elysees, we headed home to pack.

Au Revoir, Paris!

We headed back to the balmy -17 degree temperatures of Calgary after a short stop in Toronto. To my irritation, the following day I missed my flight back to Vancouver. Luckily I caught the next one...and good thing too, because it just crapped snow on us and most flights out of Calgary were cancelled or delayed.

Things I've learned from Paris.

I like things timely. I like to be on time and I like to get as much as I can out of my trips. Life is too short to dilly dally sometimes because you never know what will happen tomorrow.

I've tempered my expectations. I'm pretty good at it. It keeps me from not being so disappointed. Case in point: the Eiffel tower. sure it's nice, but meh.

My french sucks. I could get around, ask for directions, order meals and ask if they had a garbage can, but we need to get cracking on those french lessons in some formal way. It's a handy thing to have, so I might as well get on it.

There really is no place like home. After a total of 4 days on the plane, I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw us approaching Vancouver international. This was the first time I actually thought "I'm home." Most of you know that I've moved a lot in my life. Now I finally feel like I have roots.
There is no cap on the number of pounds a pigeon can weigh. You think the pigeons in Trafalgar square are fat. Well, just to wait. You can use the pigeons in paris as public transit. Forget buying a day pass, just strap yourself onto the pigeon and get going!

You can never have enough croissants. Ask the pouch I've developed. He'll tell you.

Well that's it for now. Enjoy the photos. A small sampling of course...and those of you who are my facebook friends, you can see the rest. Well, that's it for me! I shall write again soon. Take care of yourselves out there in the snow!

Friday, December 5, 2008

I, For One, Wish To Partake!


Current Mood: Pretty phlegmy and hacky (I know those aren't words...Prorogue shouldn't be either)

Current Song: Migrations by Nitin Sawhney

Remember that time I said I would blog if something interesting ever happened? Well something did. I am going to Paris in 4 days. That's right, the one in France. I'm accompanying my aunt for the last leg of the Aga Khan's visit and will be there for about a week. It happened very fast and I spent practically all of tuesday and wednesday trying to secure flights and places to stay and researching how far we are from what and how much everything costs. Europe is expensive. But then again, you only have one life so you might as well live it, n'est ce pas?
I fly to Calgary on monday and then to Paris tuesday. I get back on the 16th. It'll be interesting. I'm hoping good things come out of it.
I keep thinking it's highly undeserved though on my end. Here I am, having accomplished not so much, and suddenly I'm going on vacation.

Speaking of accomplishments, I did end up getting bound copies of my thesis this week! wee! I'm not going to read it though partly because it makes me very sad that I'm not there anymore. Partly because I'm afraid I'm going to find a typo and embarrass myself. The dedication page made my mother tear up. It was either that or the awful red coloured shell that it has...ew....

So you've probably heard that our country is going to hit a wall if you don't live here. Parliament has been "prorogued" meaning suspended until January. This delays the nonconfidence vote and the possibility of a coalition government. I could swear these are things that should be happened in emerging democracies with autocratic roots. What the hell is going on? Might as well declare Marshall Law. Good grief. Well, at least the system is stumbling along something close to functionality. Mind you this is not a good time to be squabbling, given the impending financial blowup. On the plus side, gas is now cheaper! Start your engines everyone! vroom!

Okay, enough of this nonsense. I have to start packing, or at least pretend to look for things that I have to take along on the trip. Passport ...check. Flat iron...check. Sense of adventure...check!
I shall try and blog again before I actually leave on Monday....but if not, expect a full rundown when i get back. and of course, pictures :)
Au revoir mes amis.