Sunday, April 30, 2006

117 Marlow

My new house.

I walked by it today. I found a MUCH better route from my apartment to the house via the Millwood bridge over the DVP. Instead of the 2+ hour walk that I took Jaap on, it was about 1 hour.

There's another house for sale on our street. It's listed for about $10k more, so I wanted to see what it was all about.

It's got some nice features, I suppose, like a bigger backyard (ours has 2 parking spots in the back, which takes up some of the space). But I don't think it's as nice a place as ours.

I was talking to the real estate agent and he says he thinks the house is going to sell for much more than the listing. Of course, every agent wants to believe this, but I'm going to keep an eye on it. When I told him our sale price, he said we got a VERY good deal.

Yessss! We are so smart!
Only 2 more months til we move in!

Calgary ski trip photos - Sunshine

Originally uploaded by webgoddesscathy.
I finally got all of my ski trip photos up on Flickr.

The trip was Feb 25-Mar 5th this year and we got an awesome price on the flight to Calgary.

Jen, as usual, got us some great deals on things like hotels and coffee and lift tickets. So, all in all, the trip was pretty cheap.

We went to Fernie for the first time, but it was a total wash out - or should I say rain-out. It rained the entire time we were there. So all of my Fernie photos are indoors.

Kicking Horse kicked ass this year, although since it was only our second time out this year, it took me and mom couldn't take to much advantage of it. We did manage to get lost a little, though, when we attempted our first blue run at the end of the first day. That was pretty exciting.

Lake Louise was beautiful, although a little icy. The trails were well groomed and well marked, so it was easier for me and mom.

And Sunshine is always fun. Even when it's busy, it's not too bad. I graduated to doing jumps (vips and vaps) with Matt and Jen, shrieking every time.

To see all of the photos, you can click here.
And browse backwards. You'll go through the trip backwards this way.

Friday, April 28, 2006

This weekend, Alex and I will be heading to Home Depot to get some ideas for our kitchen reno.

We're going to be putting in a dishwasher and new countertop, after the floors are put down and we're still figuring out exactly what we want.

At the same time, we're considering a bigger reno. We're talking tearing down one wall to open it into the back room, closing off the access to the basement from the kitchen and moving the door to the front room instead (maybe a hidden door?) and then putting in more counter and cupboards where the door used to be.

This is big.
So we're going to be looking at quotes.

My real estate agent (whom I love) recommended checking out the Appraisal Institute of Canada. It tells you there that kitchens provide one of the highest payback potential.

This is good news, of course, because we actually WANT to renovate the kitchen. But the question remains: what TYPE of reno actually provides payback?

How do we know whether just doing a cheap reno would provide the most payback? Maybe most people would actually not like the wall being taken out! Or maybe this change would net us a HUGE payback because it made the kitchen so much more functional.

The advice I got from one person was to just do whatever I want for ME. I'm going to live in this house for about 5 years, so it should just make me happy. Good advice.

Problem is, I'm pretty OK with it now. It's fine. It's OK. It's better than what I have now and I love my apartment. I'd be happy with the cheap reno. Happy enough, anyway. But making the kitchen bigger and more integrated with the next room would maybe make me happier. Tough to know until it's done, but it seems like a nice idea.

Hence, my anxiety over the house situation grows. I need to figure out how to be calm about it, but let's keep in mind:
a) it's my first house
b) it is the first time I've ever contemplated this kind of reno
c) I've heard many horror stories

However, since the anxiety is making Alex crazy, I will endeavour to curb it somehow, and just focus on how exciting it may be to spend $10k on a reno that may or may not actually improve the kitchen.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

You know, I've been loving reading lately. I can't get enough of it.

I finished one book, "Love Monkey," on the weekend. A total chick-lit-type book but written from they guy's point of view. With an abrupt un-ending. Great mindless reading, though, that made me laugh (he has a conversation with his penis at one point and explains how, to a guy, women are like food: pizza is great and you're very happy to have it, but sometimes you just want steak, and you'll even settle for just food because at least then you won't go hungry).

Now I've just started a book about adventuring rodents. I hope that this one is bound for disney, because it's totally cute.

Previously, I read a sci-fi book called "The Shadows of Ombria" which was promising, but the ending didn't hold up for me.

I've also been watching more movies since I discovered the library. Last Friday I picked up "Gods and Monsters" and "Gosford Park" (I stopped at the "G"s).

"Gods and Monsters" was quite good, although it was odd to see Gandalf playing a gay man. He was really good, and I think he's gay in real life. The highlight, however, was Brendan Fraser's fine specimen of a body. The guy totally worked out for that role. Honestly, he looked much like a beautiful statue. It was quite awe-inspiring.

I didn't get around to "Gosford Park" until last night. I'm glad that I waited. That movie requires a lot of attention. There are a lot of characters to know and it gets confusing at times, especially when you can't really make out what they're saying. I think it may warrant another viewing, now that I've got all the names straight and at least part of the story under control. There's so much going on, it's multi-layered story. But worth it.

And aside from books and movies? Well, I'm still a web nerd and have been fooling around with a "wiki" for my trip to Halifax. It's a website that you create that other people can edit.

So go ahead. Go to the site, read about my plans. Make comments, make suggestions, add links. If you can think of something I should do in Halifax (or Nova Scotia in general) just edit the page and add it in.

It's the best way to be collaborative - it's like a website that everyone can share. I figured that since I'm planning this with Raye it kind of made sense to use this technology.

It's my first one. We'll see how it goes. Comments appreciated.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Ever get those days when all you wanna do is drink hot, frothy lattes in a cute, quiet cafe as you read a good novel? Or just slip on your jammies, slip an Oscar-nomination into the VCR (yes, I still have one) and eat chocolate chip cookies, fresh from the oven?

I am having one of those days.

Restless but unmotivated.

I did manage to get one important house-related task completed. I called for two home-insurance quotes. And last night, I worked out how much money I will have left over after the downpayment and closing costs. Turns out I will actually have something "left over" to spend on renovations!

Very exciting, but also a bit more nerve-wracking, as it's a huge amount of work to coordinate such things. I don't know this type of thing always makes me so uptight.

Anyway, so I was stressing a little bit about all the decisions that have to be made and how I don't relish making ANY of them, when Raye wrote me with plans for my upcoming maritime vacation!

I'm excited to see her. I'm excited to watch movies with her. And eat popcorn. And we're going to the theatre. I'm going to read books and walk around and drink yummy coffee. That's the plan, anyway.

And you know what? Right now that sounds SOOOoooo good!

One day I'm just going to go to the grocery store and buy a bunch of bad food, sit on the couch and watch bad movies, stuffing my face.

I can't wait.
Scott and Kat had their baby.

I'm so happy for them!

There's something wrong with me: I saw the pictures this morning and I got tears in my eyes.

Scott and Kat made a baby.

To date, I've made a few websites. Some meals and cakes. A few friends. I've never made anything quite that cool.

I've started worrying that I'll be in a high risk unfertile part of my life when I finally am able to think about having kids. And there's nothing I can do about that, unless I want to be the equivalent of a single mother.

I find it frustrating when I cannot make decisions for myself; when I have to wait for others to make a decision that affects my life so drastically. And I cannot help them make it.

It's a wonder that babies are ever born.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I do not like fighting.

I used to avoid fights at all cost. I would get upset and hold it in until I felt sick, choking on bitterness.

I still do this.

Only, now, I avoid fights when I'm upset about something or someone I ultimately don't care about a whole lot.

It seems a bit backwards, I suppose. But think about it: someone you don't care about probably isn't going to be in your life very much. Either you don't spend too much time with them already, or the time you do spend with them now is likely to end in the near future. In these cases, what's the point of causing needless friction in the short term?

On the other hand, there are those that you want in your life because you genuinely think they're worth it. You want to spend more time with them, but there's just this little (or big) niggly thing that eats at you.

If I don't address it, it will likely go on to bug me forever. Even worse, it will fester as I attempt to cover it up. And suddenly this relationship that you enjoy in the grand scheme of things, this person you depend on, becomes gangrenous and either you chop the whole arm off, so to speak, or die a slow, agonizing death of sepsis.

I don't want to live unhappily. I don't want to ignore an infection until it becomes unmanageable and the only way to fix it is to physically remove it.

So I've learned that it's better to fight sometimes.

But it doesn't make it easy. And I certainly wouldn't claim that I'm good at it. But if it does turn out to be unfixable, isn't it better to know sooner rather than later?

There is only one risk that makes me want to avoid a confrontation with someone I care about.

It's not that I might be wrong. I don't like being wrong, but it's a pretty acceptable outcome. At least I learn something, even if it is that I need to shut up or be more trusting.

It's not that someone will be so angry, they will stop liking me. While it sometimes delays the argument, if it bothers me enough I remember what they taught me in grade school: if they don't like me, then they weren't worth it. I know: it's not really as simple as all that. These are people with whom I have a very strong relationship. Usually, the history we have is enough to get us through even if they may be upset with me in the short term. I may have to be careful to make sure they understand that I still like THEM, but strong relationships bounce back.

At least, this is what I have learned over the past couple of years.

No, the biggest risk is to the other person: that I made them feel bad about themselves. And why is this the worst? Because I know the hurt I feel when someone I care about says, "I don't like this about you" or "I think your way is wrong." Because it feels like they're saying, "You should be more" or "You should know better." I know how discouraging that feels.

But I also know that sometimes I need to know when I'm not living up to the expectations of the people I respect. I know that I am the person I am today because other people with a strong sense of morality and what is valuable in this world taught me the difference between what's easy and what's right.

Would I have chosen to make the changes to myself that I have thus far if no one had ever challenged my position on a belief, or told me that my action was wrong?

It has taken me a long time to be able to fight. But I am, myself, a better person because of the conflicts that I've had. And while I struggle to figure out the best time to impart my views and the best framing for them and how to minimize the impact of my emotions on them, I realize that I would never get better at it if I didn't practice.

I hope that the people I love are patient with my attempts.

Friday, April 21, 2006

This morning on my way to work, I saw a cherry tree in bloom on someone's front lawn on a street I've never gone down before.

What a rare find (both the tree and the street).
It made my walk feel just a little more decadent.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I just did my taxes online and NetFiled them.

I totally feel like a woman of the 90s! (Yes, I know what year it is, but seriously, how long did it take me to get to this point?)

It was so easy that I was convinced that I did something wrong.

Here's what happened: I didn't get a tax package delivered to me. So I went to the post office to grab a tax pack. Took it home for the Easter weekend so that I could get my dad to help me. (The last time I did my taxes myself, I thought I owed money. I gave them to my dad to look over and he got me a sizeable return.)

Anyway, I finally got around to opening the package and reading through all the technical tax jargon. I think I worked on it for a couple of hours before I got to a point where they asked about charitable donations and I didn't have my receipts with me.


So I had to wait until I got home to find my electronic receipts on my computer (and request one from the Red Cross from when I made the disaster-relief donation).

Matt and Kendra had both told me they used uFile. They told me you can even just try it out and save your return to go back to later if you want or just use it to check your paper copy.

So I tried it out.

Easiest thing I've ever done.


My mom claims that she's clueless about taxes, but I know that even she could do it.

I think it took me about 1/2 an hour, and it only took that long because I kept reading stuff over and over to make sure I was doing it right. Because it just seemed too easy.

Finally, I was done, I checked it over. Based on recommendations from my dad and uFile, I decided NOT to put in my charitable donations this year, since you get a higher percentage back on amounts over $200. So I'll wait until next year when I have over $200-worth of donations.

Then I pulled the trigger.

Entered my credit card.
Clicked "yes" when they asked if I wanted to NetFile.
Downloaded the PDF to my desktop.
Clicked on the button that said "are you ready to submit to the government?"
Entered my SIN number.
Uploaded the file.

Yep, I'm done.

This is crazy.

Watch me sit here all proud until they come after me a couple months down the road with a reassessment notice.


Still, I'm done!
Beautiful day outside.
Nice walk to work.
Lovely dinner with Sarah last night.
Lunch with Jane yesterday.

So why do I feel so crappy?

* * *

OK, Allen has given me some chocolate. It's a happy day.

Seriously, Allen is likely the nicest person I know. I admire his ability to smile and keep cool in any stressful situation. And his South African accent always makes him sound so polite and proper.

Mostly, I admire his ability to give me chocolate when I need it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

It's so sad: after a long weekend of really great coffee (decaf espresso Starbucks beans ground fresh for each use, using my parents' espresso machine), work coffee is so thin and comparitively bitter.

Being a coffee snob is so limiting.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Home for Easter. The first long weekend of the summer (even though it's not summer yet).

I love having a place to hang out on long weekends. My parents' house is so quiet and relaxed. It's a real vacation from the city.

This weekend is especially great because Matt and Kendra and Will are all home as well.

So we all get to hang out, talk, watch Star Trek: TNG episodes, sew (OK, that's mostly just my mom), eat, cut down trees, go for walks, and I'm working on my taxes a little so that I can get some help from my dad. We visited my aunt and uncles, whom I don't get to see all that much. As usual, it was loud and animated and way too much food, but good times.

Now I should get back to my taxes or go pick out some material for my next quilt, or else get to that MoneySense magazine that I've been trying to get through before I leave tomorrow.

The hardest part about long weekends is that they're always over too soon.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I'm quite fascinated by the things I find on the internet. I go on these long journeys... so long that I often can't remember how I got to my destination, nor is my destination probably what I intended.

Tonight, I discovered that Technorati is crap. I mean, *I* find it unhelpful. It's supposed to be an "authority on what's going on in the world of blogs." It's a search engine of blogs.

OK, great. But you know what? OTHER search engines search blogs as well as all the other informatin on the web. And who REALLY cares whether the information you want is actually in what someone considers a "blog" or whether it's in a plain old-fashioned website?

I'll tell you what: *I* don't care.

It seems to be a bit of a make-work project capitalizing on the popularization of a term. (I do admit that the company I work for is also trying to capitalize on the term "blog" because it's hip and happening and our company is so on the cutting edge. We'll see if their so-called blog ever ends up publishing something.)

I digress. (This is much how my journeys go.)

Anyway, while trying to find something useful and different about Technorati and slowly realizing that it's much like when I found out that a "podcast" was just an audio file, I found something ELSE that was interesting.

The daily dose of imagery.

It's this guy who lives in Toronto and posts a photo every day. Most days the photo is of Toronto (downtown, mostly) but sometimes he posts great shots he took in England or of some random cool thing that happened into his day. The guy takes some gorgeous photos. And the navigation of his site is sweet simple.

I tried to figure out how to add this blog to my favourites and couldn't seem to do it. In trying however, I found another distraction...

... This site listed a top-10 list of blog faves. And he mentioned that this was his participation in a meme. So I now confess openly to all readers that I didn't know what a meme was.

So, I of course had to look it up so that I could stop being blog-retarded.

What did I find? What is a meme?

I found that the daily meme is an unending supply of blog fodder. It's a set of questions to post and it's usually a viral thing: one person posts and another person reads and posts a variation on their blog, and so on and so on...

Big whop. The memes are a little boring, if you ask me.
But now I know and can stop feeling dumb when a know-it-all talks smugly about how they participate in memes.

Now I can say, "Wow, you post questions on your blog. You're really hip all right. I guess you have trouble thinking of something to write all on your own."

And then of course that person will hate me, but I can't handle people thowing around their cool terminology and thinking they're so "web 2.0". (I should mention that I'm also starting to hate the term "web 2.0".)

What kind of a WebGoddess am I if I can't love the lingo and KNOW these new technologies and tools and customs and cultural/social Web fads?

You know, maybe that's the problem: I don't like fads very much.

Don't get me wrong: I appreciate a cool new idea. I like really good tools that help me do something. Flickr. Blogger or Wordpress (which is what I've been fooling around with at work and it's awesome).

But I really can't seem to find a soft spot in my heart for the haute code-ture applications that rely on hype and techno-speak to remain clique-cool.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I've been doing more reading about blogging today so that I'll be even more helpful when I explain to others at work how to write a corporate blog.

I'm writing up a bit of a training document for corporate blog writing (oxymoron?), although it feels really dumb to say "write conversationally, be concise, make it personal." I mean, anyone who's read a blog should know this, but I want to make sure that everyone understands.

I'm guilty of underestimating what people understand sometimes.

Anyway, in my research, I again happened on Technorati, which is a site that is a listing of blogs as well as a social spot for bloggers. I have NO idea why I've never set up a profile before, but here I go:

Technorati Profile

All this just so that I can set up a successful corporate blog.

It's hard to believe that I get to do something that I love so much and get paid for it.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Waterfall, Kaikura, NZ

Waterfall, Kaikura, NZ
Originally uploaded by webgoddesscathy.
During Jaap's "Last Supper" a few hours ago, I remembered my rafting trip with him in New Zealand.

I only reflected on it again because he's having some problems getting photos from an old travel-mate of his. I suddenly realized that I'd never really posted my rafting photos from the Kaikura in Rotorua. In fact, I totally called it when I posted them on Ofoto that it would take me at least a year to get them up on my site.

Well, it's been two. And they're not on my site, they're on Flikr.

They're low-res, so even those on lite-speed internet access will have no problem viewing them.

At least now I can post some damn photos in my New Zealand travel section.

PS: thanks to Jaap for inspiring me to do this update.

Jaap packs his bags

Jaap packs his bags
Originally uploaded by webgoddesscathy.
So the sad day came when Jaap had to leave Toronto.

After work, I met him at Cha Liu, an all-day dim sum shop near my aparment at Yonge and Eglinton. I finally introduced him to dim sum.

He said something that surprised me: he said he was sad to leave. He said he wasn't ready to leave yet.

When you're travelling and you stay in one place for a long time, you often can feel it when it's time to leave. You're ready to move on.

That's what happened with my when I left Sydney. I was done with it. Not so when I left Melbourne, however. So I guess I know how Jaap feels.

I thought that he didn't really like Toronto, but I guess I was wrong.

Although it's not the most beautiful city, he liked it because there were nice people here. And I'm not just flattering myself - he said it and I think he was talking about all of the people he met here.

It's quite something to know people in a city when you're a traveller. It makes it almost feel like home.

I hope that I was a good enough hostess that he will always have good memories of this city that I love. I hope I did it justice.

I hope he comes back to visit.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

9pm Sunday night.
Dinner: cookies 'n' cream ice cream.

Today's itinerary:
- Wake up with migraine, read my Wish magazine in bed.
- Make coffee.
- Finish reading magazine, this time on the couch (Jaap is awake).
- Eat yummy homemade granola.
- Make yummy smoothies.
- Check email.
- Shower.
- Dishes.
- Walk from current apartment to new house. Probably 2 hours of walking.
- Drop Jaap at subway station.
- Proceed to Europa bakery on the Danforth to eat custard tarts and horrible decaf coffee.
- Call everyone I've been meaning to call.
- Check out prices in my "new" neighbourhood IGA. Conclusion: expensive.
- Take subway home.
- Pick up groceries instead at Dominion (also expensive).
- Stop in at Chapters to read a kitchen book.
- Learn about countertop and sink pros/cons.
- Walk home.
- Talk to boyfriend about IKEA outing.
- Turn on Simon and Garfunkel. Sing.
- Eat cookies 'n' cream ice cream while blogging. And singing.
- Revel in the quiet.
- Psych myself for cleaning the bathroom.

I do love Sundays.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I am the queen of cheap entertainment.

Jaap is ending his year-long trip and he's running out of money. Actually, he's saving it for the big-bang 30-day jaunt across the States. Regardless, he doesn't want to be spending lots of money.

Me? Just bought a house and put down a sizeable deposit. I'm not really used to having to worry a lot about my bank balance. I've been saving for a house, so I've had a solid amount of cash in reserve for the past while. Not anymore!

So, cheap Cathy brought Jaap over to a friend's for dinner and dog-walking one night. Another night, she traipses him over to the Chapters to read magazines and then buys a carton of ice cream at Dominion to enjoy in the atmosphere of her own apartment. Finally, she decides to have Canadian movie night at home.

Problem is, movie stores don't carry VHS anymore. No, I don't have a DVD player (except on my computer). So then the chick at Blockbuster told me that I should check the Public Library.

Holy crap. I forgot about the library.

So I take out my ancient library card and scour their excellent website, looking for the sought-after tapes.

And guess what? FREE MOVIES! I love the library! I can't believe I forgot about it.

Of course I had to go get a new card, but that was laughably easy. And they were so pleasant and helpful.

I came home with Men With Brooms and The Hanging Garden. For free.

We only watched Hotty-Pretending-He-Can-Curl-But-YES-Please! The Hanging Garden can wait. It's not exactly a cheerful movie.

I wanted to also pick up Last Night, but of course the Mount Pleasant location (the only location with a copy within reasonable distance) closed at 6pm and I wouldn't get there in time. Poop. And it's closed on Sunday too.

Oh well. One can't complain about free.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Jaap is back in town and it's probably a good thing for me. This morning, he woke me up after I had slept in. Damn the changing of the clocks!

Last night, we visited Theresa and her baby, Ilana, and took her dog, Skookum, for a walk. It was nice to hear about motherhood and all that. Come to think of it, I didn't ask about the delivery at all, aside from asking what the C-section actually looks like.

I'd had a bit of a bad day yesterday; when I walked to work in the morning, I was beseiged by negative thoughts. I couldn't seem to help it. I kept telling myself to stop, but they kept sneaking back in...

"What if this happens? I'll be so upset if that happens - how can I prevent it? I'm really uncomfortable with this, what am I going to do about it?"

And so on. All centering on the house, really.

So when Alex called last night, all the fears came out. I'm sure it freaked him out a bit, but you know what? I'm so glad I talked to him. He was calm and reassuring and I feel so much better now.

As he said, no matter what happens, we'll work it out.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

117 Marlow - the house inspection

117Marlow - frontroom
Originally uploaded by webgoddesscathy.
Well, this about sums up how we feel about the house inspection.

Yes, there are a couple of things that they recommened we do: replace a window, fix some screens, do some touch-ups on the foundation, just to make sure it's protected from water, change the gutters, regrade the soil away from the house, so that rain doesn't collect around our house and cause water damage in the future.

Pretty minor stuff, in the grand scheme of things. All in all, they gave us an above average rating among similar houses.

We have a few plans of our own, though, for some other cosmetic changes: flooring, dishwasher, counter, deck.

Click here to see the rest of the pictures from the house inspection and a summary of our plans for the place.