Sunday, 18 November 2007

On doing five classes* in one day, and teaching two back-to-back** the next

...to quote Super Dave Osborne, "I'm hurtin', Fuji. I'm hurtin' real bad."




* Saturday's awesome LMI Quarterly, in which I did:

8:30 - BodyAttack
10:00 - BodyCombat
11:30 -
BodyFlow
1:00 - (lunch/watched BodyPump - I'm not completely crazy)
3:00 -
BodyStep
4:45 -
BodyJam

** My usual Sunday:
11:00 -
BodyAttack
12:00 -
BodyJam

...and then a nap.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Wedding photos: found!











Incredible work/incredible art by Jessica Sims of













Here, Chris and I reflect soberly on the sanctity of marriage.




Our centrepieces, which each table got to name.
Pictured at left, though I can't be sure, is Ninja
(may he rest in peace).







Beautiful Jenny bolsters my courage for the long walk ahead.









Speaking of weddings, I finally downloaded shots from Jess' own wedding (also embarrassingly
late... sorry, Jess!)... here's my favourite:
I have absolutely no recollection of this part of the night.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Cats in the Hat!


Warning: Spoiler alert! For those of you that I haven't talked to in person or by phone lately, you may want to stop, pick up the phone and call me before reading this, so that I don't get the "you're telling me that you got engaged with an evite?" response that I may have received a few years ago.



Aaaand we're back.



To answer your many, many inquiries (ok, two), yes, we're renting out the condo, and yes, we're moving to a bigger place. To quash an obvious rumour, no, it's not because there will soon be three of us.




Chris has accepted a great job opportunity at the Suffield base in Medicine Hat. We spent the past week on a house-hunting trip (be vewwy vewwy quiet...), and after two days and 17 viewings, we were totally exhausted and had it narrowed down to four...then two... then we decided on a very cute, spacious (with guest rooms - no excuses to not come visit!) townhouse, that we may own in 25 years or so. We're also fairly sure that all ducks are in a line for me to get a new job there, too -- all in all, a very successful week! On the right, we celebrate the acceptance of our offer.




WHERE'S THIS HAT OF WHICH I SPEAK, you ask?




A little bit about Medicine Hat: sunniest city in Canada, population of about 60,000, and there's a Costco opening there in a few weeks! It's 3 hours from Calgary (Is and Danielle!) (and we can come pick you up there if you don't want to fly on the wee little scary plane, at left), 6 hours from Edmonton (Rob, Lynda, Ryan, Nouha, Mel, and Sue!) and 2 from Lethbridge (closest GoodLife)...and about 20 minutes from Saskatchewan (wheat)! We can DRIVE to Vancouver and Kelowna (Jenny and Chantal!), which is totally awesome.


It's apparently a wonderful place to live, with most of the people that move there for "a year or two" ending up staying forever... we'll see, of course.


Anyway, we're looking forward to the adventure starting shortly before Christmas, but I'm already sad (getting sniffy typing this) at the thought of leaving our many friends and my family here in Ottawa. We're hoping to have a big Ho-Ho-Houseleaving party before we go, but with the holiday season (and GREY CUP!!!! WOOOOHOOOO) fast approaching, it may be a challenge... but watch for the evite anyway!



As always, there are fun photos and captions posted on flickr: enjoy!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Condo photos

Wow, what a week! First wedding photos -- ok, wedding photO --, and now shots of our condo! Perhaps those of you living far away and reading this religiously (ie. twice a year) would like to see how the Huffinkarens live.





It's amazing how nice our home can look when we clean it up and de-clutter. Sometimes it just takes a dinner party to make us realize how happy we are here, and what a beautiful place this is to live.




In celebration of this fact, here are some photos of our Home Sweet Home, just for the sake of sharing...the gorgeous laminate flooring, the large windows, the huge master bedroom with walk-in closet and four-piece ensuite...




Seriously, though, guess what day it is today?







It's Shameless Self-Promotion Day!





... if you know of anyone who would like to rent a beautiful 2-bedroom condo in the Market area, ours will be available on January 1st... feel free to pass this on to friends, coworkers, etc. For an appointment, call me (you should already have my number!) or send me an email!

Description is below.


Fabulous Market location

2 blocks from Rideau Street / 1 block from route 3 bus stop

2 bedrooms, 2 full baths

Corner unit with large balcony

Large master bedroom has walk-in closet and 4-piece ensuite

Laundry in unit

Laminate flooring throughout

Pet-free, smoke-free home

Safe building with security gates

Includes underground parking space and remote, storage locker in basement

$1500/month

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Oh, alright already...



Here is a wedding photo. I have buckled under the pressure and have finally been browbeaten enough...

...but only enough to post one, since I will have to find where I put the beautiful ones Jess took... they took a road trip out to Mom and Dad's over the weekend, and I can't think where I put them right now.

This is one of my favourite candids, because it shows off a few things: First, my handsome prince. Second, the beautiful dress. And third, you can clearly see my love of cake.


Mmmm...cake.








The morning after: a trip out to Kemptville for a family brunch/gift opening. Here we are looking at the wedding quilt, a family tradition put in place for the sole purpose of making everyone cry. Just kidding. It's wonderful.







And finally, Trevor got into the action, too: the Kapow-mobile, forever changed...

I reiterate the promise that I will post further photos...eventually. Keep those emails a-coming!

Sunday, 23 September 2007

DG: A Weekend of Domesticking

DGK rides again!


This is written from one week in the future, I am very sad to say. I have no access to my blog from my new job. Or to my gmail account. Luckily, though, I am able to fill most of my work hours doing work, which is very novel to me, and kind of fun. For now.


But enough about that! What, you ask, has Karen-in-the-Kitchen been up to?


More than you could imagine, actually. I'm kicking myself for not photographing the Todd-and-Erin dinner of Friday night, in which I made a fantastic triple-veggie-cheese dip as an appetizer, chicken breasts stuffed with roasted peppers, zucchini, pesto, and mozzarella (His Huffness did the stuffing, but I did everything else, including the pesto, from scratch), roasted carrots, parsnips, and leeks; and Chris made this neat rice with pine nuts and spinach, which he also made for me on our 2nd official date (there was a bonus date between the first and the second, but we agreed that one doesn't count), in which he totally impressed me -- in fact, I was pretty sure that I'd marry him after that meal).



For dessert: individual molten lava cakes (another Donna Hay creation; buy the book), garnished with dark chocolate and raspberries, and looking pretty much like the photo from her book, right. I even impressed myself.





Until later that night, actually, when I slammed my thumb in a door, but then couldn't remember which door... mmm, wine. Lots and lots of mmm....wine.



Where was I?


Oh, yes. My weekend of domesticking.



Chris had to work all day Saturday, then had a mess dinner at night, so I thought I'd dedicate myself to practicing my new aerobics releases (they're awesome!!!) and cooking ahead for the freezer.




I give, for your consideration, a soup!




Saturday evening's first oeuvre is to the left. Rich and creamy (yet moderately low in fat), you see a velvety root vegetable soup with figs. Oven-roasted carrots, parsnips and rutabaga were pureed with some ginger, sauteed onion, a few figs and skim milk to create a delicious autumn taste. The finishing touch: a dollop of sour cream and some chopped figs as garnish. Magnifique! Chris has even approved it for the first course of Thanksgiving dinner next week.




Once this was cooling on the stove, I switched modes to Karen-the-Baker. I pulled out my Eat, Shrink and Be Merry cookbook, which I highly recommend. Not only is it full of puns and delicious, healthy food, but they promise to respond to every single email they receive. I checked it out for myself last year, when I made "Marla's Maple Pork" from their Crazy Plates; it was so good that I wrote them fan mail, and I got a response before the day was out! Incredible. Unsolicited sales pitch: for a taste of the background principles (and general silliness), click here. Then buy their books (available at all major book stores)!!! Ok, back to me. I made the Bran New World muffins. Yum again! However, a tip to fibre-challenged types: one a day is plenty.



Finally (it being a bit past 10 pm), I set to work prep-cooking. I trimmed the stew beef, cut up carrots, potatoes and onions, and mixed everything up in the slow-cooker, to be turned on, bright and early Sunday morning. Sunday morning I was neither; who am I kidding?

Anyhoo, I got up just before 10, plugged it in, added the tomato paste, beef broth, and bay leaf, and left it to do its thing till 6:30, when voila! A hearty meal of home-cooked stew, complete with whole wheat scratch biscuits.



My goodness, can it get any better?



Well, this Saturday, hungover, I made a beautiful chocolate brownie trifle for Nat-and-Mario's housewarming.




(But, you ask, how could you have constructed such a fabulous dessert with a nearly broken thumb, a pounding headache, and a queasy stomach?)




Easy, sez I. 'Twas but a trifle.

Last day on the job!

Saturday, September 22 was my one-year anniversary in the Public Service. Friday, September 21 was my last day at PCO. A new adventure starts Monday.

But, first things first: speakers on.

Good, now click here. You can do the walk if you want.

I enjoyed my last day at PCO immensely, aside from a few minor devastations. Friday dawned beautiful and sunny and warm -- surely a good omen -- and Chris and I slowly got ourselves out the door (I was well into my "what are they going to do, fire me?" mode), only slightly after 8 am.

We got to York and Byward when we saw the crowd; there were people on rooftops, in garages, and everywhere. Oh, that's right: Blue Rodeo was playing a street concert for Canada AM! From 6:30 am onward, they popped on and off the stage, playing some new songs. (http://www.ctv.ca/ - under "highlights - Blue Rodeo; I'm not sure how long it will be posted) We were standing just behind and to the left of the stage, when suddenly, Jim Cuddy walked up and stood two feet in front of us - very cool. There were a few hoots and hollers, but because the host wasn't yet finished interviewing Margaret Atwood (she was there too - how uber-Canadian can you get?), the production assistant shushed the crowd. They actually quieted down! Amazing. Jim was very friendly, posing for pictures and talked to the people in front of us (although I overheard the girls beside us taking a photo of his butt) - the most un-rockstarly rock star I've ever seen...I was impressed. We watched them play a beautiful new song (not one of the video clips, unfortunately), and then Chris and I moseyed on to work.

For a Friday, it wasn't too bad - they still expected me to work, for some reason (what the--), but I managed to slip out at lunch to complete the final step of the long, drawn-out, Huffification process - the new passport. I swung by the Cock and Lion patio on my way, to get Mat to guarantor-ee my gorgeous, gorgeous passport photos (kaff), and told him that I'd try to be back soon as I could, so save me some beer. As I had filled out my forms online again at Passport On-line*, I jumped to the front of the line, and got back to the patio just in time to watch him drain his glass. Boo. But whoa, it was quick -- and a much better experience than last time.

I had time to swing by the bank before deciding that I probably should go back to work, where I was put to work (gasp!) again. At 3, the farewell wine-and-cheese started, and this is where the smile started to freeze on my face.

In this case, Jeff and I were both leaving, so it was an extra big deal, with awesome snacks, a good assortment of wine, and two wrapped presents. It is custom for the Boss (nameless - you'll see why) to speak at every farewell. She started with me.

She described me as the "face of (department X)", as the first contact the public has, as an ambassador who gives the first impression of professionalism, helpfulness, and energy. It was a lovely speech for a departing receptionist, the one who answers the phones and greets visitors. How nice, I thought, followed by, does she even know what I DO around here? Apparently not.

This is the woman who looks right through me every time I give her a message, and doesn't even acknowledge that I've spoken. She is very charming and fit, a successful woman in her late fifties that everyone admires....but dear god, I swore then that I will NEVER be like her. I am quite sure that the soles of her stylish and very expensive shoes are marked by the many people she has stepped on, on her way up...but she probably didn't notice.

I know, I know, I sound bitter and angry. Really, she can't be that bad. After all, she gave me a warm and friendly smile when she shook my hand and handed me my farewell gift (a lovely globe paperweight, picked out by someone else).... and called me Vicky.

*I made another PSA about it at my class this morning - it's that fantastic. Seriously, saved me at least an hour - instead of waiting your turn in line, you get bumped to the next open window - awesome.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Adventures in Cooking: (Rat-a-too-ee) by Numbers

Becoming a DG (Domestic Goddess): the Quest continues
Last night's challenge was inspired by a totally fantastic Disney movie of the same name. The main difference between me and the chef from Ratatouille is that he's a clumsy redhead who has a Very Talented Rat on his head, controlling his cooking abilities, whereas I am just a clumsy redhead who WISHES she had a rat on her head... but I digress.

A little background on preparation, etc.
As I had a gym date with Meaghan after work yesterday, I knew I'd need to make a quick meal when I got home, since I also knew that SOMEONE would be cranky and hungry. We'll call this imaginary person "Fis".

I decided to start on Tuesday night, chopping and sorting all of my ingredients. Therefore, when Chris or I got home on Wednesday, we would just have to add the numbered baggies to the giant pot, and cook away! Also, it gave me something else to report to Chris on what I did all night, besides "my nails."

I peeled and chopped a medium eggplant and 2 unpeeled zucchinis into "1-inch cubes" (actually 2-inch rhomboids - my chopping needs work). They went into my "Ratatouille-by-Numbers Container #1". Three-quarters of a medium onion was chopped and put into baggie #2. After that, 2 red bell peppers were cut into (sorta) 1-inch (kinda) squares, as was one of those previously-mentioned one-clove garlics. They went into baggie #3. Everything went into the fridge, along with a baggie with two chicken breasts*. The big pot was put on the stove, with the salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaves, olive oil, and a can of diced tomatoes beside; everything was ready to go.

The creation of a culinary masterpiece
I got home at about 7:20 (Meg and I not only did shoulders and chest, but she also saved me from Creepy Gym Guy twice...then we needed a salad to wind down afterwards), and preheated our giant Mario Batali Italian Essentials 6 qt. Pot (thanks, Sean!) with a bit less than 1/4 cup olive oil, on high. In went the first baggie. For about 10 minutes, I stirred and flipped, until the zukes and eggplant were sort of golden. They were then removed, and the heat was reduced to medium-high.

Next, the onion baggie was emptied into the pot, with 2 more Tbs of oil (note that I didn't use the term "low fat" to describe this dish), and sautéed until it was translucent. Meanwhile, I chopped the chicken into wee bits, and added that, too. When the chicken was browned, I emptied baggie #3 in, and stirred the peppers and garlic around till they were soft.

In went the tomatoes (drained), with a few extra cherry tomatoes from Meg's garden, some thyme, a bay leaf, not enough salt** and pepper. Covered, the heat reduced to low, it simmered for 5 minutes. I added the eggplant and zucchini back in, stirred it up, and let the flavours meld for 20 minutes, then added the final touches: about 3 Tbs. finely chopped black olives and 1/4 cup of fresh basil from my garden. I ladled it into bowls, and served it...

The verdict
Very good! Chris would "ask for it again"! It's a beautiful dish with vibrant complementary colours, a great smell, and good texture, but would need more protein next time to boost the nutritional value. Also, I was so focused on the main dish that I neglected to add any carbs for the resident marathoner... next time, I'll make tea biscuits too.

This is an actual, unretouched photo of my ratatouille.




*Ratatouille is generally a vegetarian dish, a chunky, hearty, savoury vegetable stew, but hey, our household needs protein to maintain its MBQ (manly biceps quotient), so chicken had to be added, too.

**I consistently under-salt, which I contend is better than over-salting, but I hope to get to a happy medium at some point.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Murder, Mystery and Intrigue at Tina and Phil's cottage

The first cottage weekend of the summer (wait, isn't summer technically over?) was wonderful. Relaxing, easy and friendly, full of laughter and silly games - what a great time!

We took turns cooking in teams (in theory), ate like royalty, and maybe drank a wee bit as well. Friday night was punctuated by a barbecue, a campfire, and a poker game that everyone won (yay!), much to the disgust of the serious poker players. A 2 am bedtime was too early for Phil and Luther, who sat by the fire till 4 am.

Chris and I somehow dragged ourselves out of bed at 8:30 on Saturday morning to drive back to Ottawa for the day. (I had two classes to teach and a fishing vest (above right -- nice, eh?) to sew) (he had a football game and a day of Navy work.) With our costumes in tow, we drove the 45 minutes back again at the end of the day, just in time for Scrabble-for-money, more poker, and a murder...

The murder mystery kicked off before dinner (and karaoke). The photo slideshow (below; follow the link, then choose "view as slideshow" and click on the "i" for the play-by-play) really tells it the best.

http://www.flickr.com/gp/11228573@N07/56R81B

After the perp was unmasked, we went on to MORE poker (boys), Cranium (girls: Jess and I kicked Tina and Carilynn -- aka "the cheaters" -- butts), Outburst, then finally bed.

Sunday morning (11 still counts as morning) dawned bright, and Chef Christophe Encraque and his Sous-Chefs made some delicious french toast, maple bacon, and beans. We slowly, slowly got ourselves sorted out and ready to leave, but then a brilliant sun came out and we had to stay for another hour.

We took Tina home with us (how could we not? Look at that face!), stopping for poutine on the way home (thanks, Phil!), which was necessary and delicious, but definitely not a good food choice. Now that we know where their idyllic getaway is, we'll be sure to go again, as long as we're still allowed!

I'm hoping to be able to upload a video soon, but that blogger feature isn't working very well. For a teaser, however, the title of the video will be: "A little bit of karaoke makes the time fly by... especially when your militant ecologist friends aren't answering their cells."

Intrigued??? (Jer, this is where you make me an offer...)

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Adventures in Cooking: The Great Caper Caper

In my ongoing quest to epitomize Suzy Homemaker, I have been reaching for my cookbooks more and more often. My brief exposure to the Food network on motel cable has taught me that good chefs taste their food as they cook (so THAT's how they "season to taste"!) and that, more importantly, there are more interesting meals out there than grilled chicken and steamed veggies (I know! I was shocked too!)

Sunday's trip to the grocery store yielded some new ingredients. Turkey scallopini (which I think is Italian for "thinly sliced" (hey, I'm right!)) was on sale, so I thought, why not? We hadn't had Italian dressing, the easiest basic marinade ever, in the house for over a year. Wee little asparagi were well-priced, too, so I picked some of those up, as well. I had capers in the fridge from a previous foray into gourmet cookery à la Donna Hay. (Great cookbook from Ryan and Nouha!)

Back at home, I dropped the scallopini into a glass dish and drizzled in a bit of Italian dressing, turned to coat, then put it in the fridge. I ran out to the store to get a can of crushed tomatoes (I knew I forgot something), and rolled up my sleeves.

I sautéed half an onion and this really neat one-clove garlic (Chantal sent some home with me from Kelowna - it's very, very garlicky!) in some olive oil. I then added the can of crushed tomatoes and a splash of Tina's homemade wine (heh). It boiled for about 15 minutes, then I added a bay leaf, some oregano, ground pepper and a tablespoon or so of capers, and reduced it to a simmer. It sputtered away messily, spitting tomato bits onto my stove, walls, and floor for the next 45 minutes.

I put the giant pasta pot on to boil. Once the linguini was in and bubbling, I was in Go Mode*.

I used a close approximation of Mario Batali's roasted asparagus recipe (clip off the ends, toss with olive oil and salt, then roast for 10 minutes in a 500-degree oven), but made a few changes to the sauce (no hardboiled egg to mix in with the red wine vineger, olive oil, capers and green onion) and to the oven temperature, as I wanted to cook my (now breaded in "homemade" bread crumbs (I forgot those, too) with oregano, pepper and parmesan) scallopini at the same time (Chris is funny about frying stuff, so I decided to try to keep everything as low fat as possible) - so 450 it was.

To drink, I took the rest of Tina's wine, and mixed up what I fondly refer to as "Hooters Sangria" - wine, OJ and fizz (in this case, diet 7Up), plus a splash of Grand Marnier to classy it up a bit, and some ice.

Everything was ready at the same time. The linguini was drained and plated, then doused in the tomato-caper sauce and sprinkled with a bit of parmesan. The golden brown scallopini rested just beside the vibrant red sauce, and the dark green of the asparagi was sprinkled with the sauce for added texture. The asparagus had nice crispy ends, the flavours blended well together, and Chris toasted me with his crystal glass full of sangria.

Go me, I thought.



* Go Mode: For those that have ever watched me cook, this is the exact time that you do NOT want to watch me cook. If there is any kind of time limit or coordination of items involved, the kitchen is the wrong place to be for you; the adjoining room is also too close, in fact, and any comments, suggestions or "tips" should be kept to yourself. Consider yourself warned.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

An EXtravaganza of Random Strangers

Chris was in withdrawal from fair food (well, it has been a year), and I was in withdrawal from spinny rides (the vertigo and nausea had passed). I had put two David Wilcox songs on our "Rock Me Across Canada" mix, so it was serendipity that he would be playing at the Ex on Saturday.

Under a threatening sky, we arrived at the fairground at 4:30, leaving ourselves enough time to get thoroughly dizzy and disoriented on the rides, eat a wide variety of unhealthy fair fare, pet some goats, and still have time to get to the beer tent before the 8 pm show.

First stop: the food tent, not surprisingly. I had just polished off the last bit of wedding cake before we left home, so I was fine, but Mr. Huff was feeling peckish. He got quesadillas from a trailer, and I admired how fresh the server still looked, despite the 88% humidity. (I'm amazed at some people's unnatural resistance to frizz, red-facedness, and shininess.)

On to the spinny rides! We did three in a row, and my stomach was starting to tell me that it was a bad idea, so we switched to the cannonball drop, which is completely terrifying, and not fun at all (until next year). The sky darkened a little more. One more spinny ride, two fun houses, and the pirate ship (on any normal occasion, I would have put my fingers in my mouth to say it, but I was well aware of the EX-treme unhygienicness of the fairground). It started to rain a bit. Two more spinny rides, then I had to put my foot down with a splash.

To the petting zoo! I was lunging towards the donkeys, my arms outstretched, when Chris stopped me. Donkeys are also unhygienic, it seems, as are goats. The lemurs, though not pettable, put on a good show, and I was content to just watch, thought I REALLY wanted to pet that llama; he had excellent teeth. The sky had completely opened up at this point.

Back to the food tent! Chris' hamburger was ok, although he made a dubious poutine choice (with chicken and cream on top? what the -), and then we splashed off again, this time to the bumper cars, the reptile zoo, and finally the zipper.

We were ready for David. It was pouring rain now, and although we both had jacket-type things, neither had a hood or a hat. Also, our drinks were being watered down.

A voice called us over to a patio umbrella. "You can share with us," she said. A stranger, Micheline, introduced us to her companion, Dennis, and her daughter, Julie. Alfredo, apparently the original "owner" of the umbrella, was there too. We started to chat about how many times we had each seen David's show. The music started, and the rain continued to fall. To sum up, great show - he's consistently fabulous, and played as well as usual. But enough about him. Soon, two more guys were under the umbrella, too (Mike and Dave), and then two more (Matt and Bill). We ended up talking, dancing, and buying rounds.

We discovered that Alfredo and Chris had the same birthday and that his wife was an Aries like me; that Mike and I used to work out at the same gym; that Julie thought Matt was cute; that Bill and Chris had both worked in Yellowknife; and that Bill went to high school with my friend Jamie. The show wrapped up. Not wanting to end the evening so early (it was only 10), eight of us carried on to the Royal Oak for snacks and more drinks. Then, at 11, at Micheline's insistence, we hopped in cabs to go dancing at Caliente. Chris and I attempted a bit of salsa (that one lesson helped us a bit, but not enough), then sat back and watched some of the amazing talent on the floor.

It was such a random meeting of such different people, all connected in different ways. When we finally left, around 1:30, we traded emails, got business cards, and hugs. Will we ever see them again, I wonder?

Monday, 27 August 2007

Back on the Wagon Again...

Ok, so after a fantastico week -- hubby was away on Tuesday, which necessitated a Girls' Wine Night (TM), Thursday was a Chez Lucien extravaganza with Danielle, Friday was dinner at E18hteen with Kris and Marc, Saturday was a night at the Ex, "now with more booze!", and Sunday, well, it was almost a day of rest (for my liver), except for the sangria -- I have decided to take a break from drinking.

Until tonight, that is....it's Monday Night Martinis and Manicures at the Collection!






Restaurant Review/Personal Account of E18hteen
E18hteen is known as a nice restaurant. Everything I'd ever heard about it was upscale and classy. Great, I thought - it will be a good place to take Kris and Marc, our good-yet-evil friends who bought us about 40 lbs of chocolate and a bodyfat scale as a wedding present. We owed them a dinner, so decided to try it out.

The evening started well, in our living room: I made an olive and walnut tapenade and peaches, wrapped in prosciutto, drizzled with a balsamic reduction, both for the 2nd time this week. First, because if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and second, because they're both deeeeelicious and easy to make... and impressive, too! We opened the bottle of Shotfire Ridge, one of our discoveries Down Under, that Rob gave Chris for his birthday, to raves. Yum.

We walked to E18hteen, about an 8-minute journey. They were expecting us, and gave us a great table, both by a window and by a fireplace filled with candles - gorgeous touch, and worth replicating... if we ever have a place with a fireplace, I mean.

First impression: well, the service was slow...but very polite. Very, very, v e r y slow, though. The very polite waiter took his time coming over to fill our water glasses, and then even more time before he returned with menus.

When he returned for a third time, quite a while later, we each ordered a different dish: Kris ordered the black cod, Marc ordered the scallops, Chris had the surf-n-turf, and I ordered ostrich... mmm, ostrich... without the mushrooms, of course.

It took 30 minutes (from ordering) to see the very polite waiter again. He came back to tell us that they didn't have the wine we ordered, and another 15 after that to get a bottle of another one (some South African Shiraz - quite good). We skipped appetizers, since we'd done that at our place already, and also because we didn't expect the wait to be so long, but woo, it took forever to get food. The bread came just after the wine (now 45 minutes since we ordered), and lasted about 3 minutes - it was delicious, though, and the caramelized butter was a lovely touch.

The food arrived after about an hour, and the first thing I said when I saw mine was, "I asked for no mushrooms" (there were about 200 of them sitting smugly on top of my ostrich). The very polite waiter took it away, and I encouraged the others to start without me. They refused, saying that their food was too hot, anyway.


My large, flightless bird came back quickly, mushroom-less, which makes me wonder if they just rinsed it off and replated it, but either way, yum. Ostrich is a very lean red meat, and this one was perfectly tender, with a delicious sauce, "cherries gastrique" and swiss chard (low-carb, too!). Everyone loved, loved, loved their food...so was it worth the slow service? Undecided. Either way, though, all four plates were pretty much licked clean.

We decided to order dessert - we were fairly full, but the warm chocolate cake with caramel gelato and marshmallow sauce sounded way too good to pass up - one for each couple. We waited...and waited...another 30 minutes... and when it got there, we looked at the giant plates with the itty bitty pieces of cake in the middle (I could have circled it with my thumb and finger) and an itty bitty scoop of gelato on top, surrounded by a pool of marshmallow sauce. Again, deeeeelicious, but microscopic. And, not to pinch pennies, but for $12, I expect more than a mouthful!!!

The very polite waiter, sensing the growing dissention at the table, finally brought the bill, and said that because it took so long to arrive, he didn't charge us for the desserts ($24 for two bites? I should hope not!!!), which was nice and polite and considerate of him.


Overall: the food was incredible. Super-fantastic. Excellent at its poorest. Even the vegetables were amazing. The servers were polite and knowledgeable. However, as we had been prepared for a nice, leisurely meal, it was shocking to find how much more leisurely the meal was than could be considered acceptable. One of the party (guess which one?) termed it as "brutal". I can't imagine how uncomfortable it would have been if we had been struggling to make small
talk for two courses over three hours.

At least we had good company... and good food, eventually.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Say cheeeeeese!

There is a very fine line between eating enough cheese and eating too much cheese. Unfortunately, I have never just crossed that fine line. I usually go about two-pounds-of-cheese past that line, for example, about three bites into last night's WAAAAAAY too much cheese dinner... and keep going.


I had the delicious (and cheesariffic!) baked brie platter from Patty Bolands: a 4-inch wheel of brie, breaded with parmesan, and baked, accompanied by crisp bread, apples, and some pear chutney. It comes on a regular-sized dinner plate, beautifully presented, and thus masquerades as a reasonably-sized meal. With only about a bite left, however, I realized that I had eaten almost all of my reasonably-sized meal, but was actually a giant piece of cheese.


So good...

Hey, speaking of cheese, the latest collection of Huffintastic photos are now posted on flickr.com. Check them out, if you'd like!

Friday, 10 August 2007

My photos have moved...

Due to Yahoo Photos shutting down, I've picked up and moved over to Flickr...


http://flickr.com/photos/kapowfit


The "sets" (albums) are displayed on the right-hand side. Just click on one, choose the "view as slideshow" option (top right), then mouseover the photo - you should get a large "i" which will open up the comments section. (After all, you wouldn't want to look at the photos without my witty descriptions, would you?) (Of course you wouldn't!)


So far, 20 minutes into it, I'm impressed with the usability. I think the black background makes for a more vivid, dramatic setting, anyway.


Please let me know if you have problems accessing these! And YES, I'll work on getting the wedding photos posted sometime in the next 3 years... and the shots from our road trip, too.


Running update: I did my "favourite route" (see entry of June 19) on Tuesday night. Still hobbling today... nothing like easing back into it with a 6k run...

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Tuesday: I watched that damn dog run away for 8 days.

From the journal:

Saskatchewan, what I've seen from the highway, is a study in contrasts. A green, green field makes way for the pale yellow of the wheat, then a vibrant field of sunflowers, followed by barren earth. The fields are often dotted with rolls of hay. Tableaus of cows. And very, very often, a sudden marsh, full of reeds and cattails and ducks, pops up beside the road.

I've been trying to get a shot of the Saskatchewan flag; not the actual flag, but a bright green stretch of grass in the foreground of a golden wheat field. We're moving too fast, I think, but that theme is repeated over and over, under the biggest sky I've ever seen.

Flat, flat, and more flat. Just like Manitoba, but a slight variation on a theme. We kept driving along the TransCanada, heading for Medicine Hat. As resident Navigator/Alligator, navigation was a very easy task: "Get on the Queensway west. Stay on the same highway (it becomes the 1 in Manitoba) until you get to Calgary, then follow the signs to Edmonton."

Chris' trucker burn on his left arm and knee are darkening to a deep tan. I keep coming up with ideas on how to tan his other side to match, but the only feasible ideas (face the other way in the driver's seat) (let me drive all the way back) are just silly.

Shockingly, I stayed awake all the way across the country, except for one small nap on Tuesday... during which time Chris ate his leftover pizza and decided that if I wasn't hungry (conscious), then we wouldn't stop for lunch. We checked into the Medicine Hat Lodge (quite nice, amazing waterslide), and drove around the town for an hour or two. When we got back, I was all set for dinner, when I noticed that Chris was putting on his exercise gear. What the - ? I contented myself with grumbling, growling, and a handful of trail mix (with chocolate of course), before I disdained to join him in the gym. Dinner, finally, afterwards, was happily prefaced by $4-bellini-night.

One more day to go.

Monday: to Manitoba....and beyond!

Another late start from Kenora, punctuated by me locking the keys in the truck (Chris had a spare set) and followed by me splattering a protein shake all over the place. Luckily, I was laughing so hard in both cases that the death glares just bounced off of me. Heh.

Also, as I pointed out, we're an hour and a half AHEAD - we can just coast! Death glare.

The plan was to aim for the Saskatchewan border, then on to Regina. Imagine - 3 provinces in one day, after spending 3 days just trying to cross Ontario!

Journal entry:

Manitoba is flat. It's like the vegetation and geography got a memo that said, This is no longer northern Ontario. Conduct yourselves accordingly.

Within about 5 minutes of crossing the border, the Shield rocks disappeared. The lakes vanished. The trees shrank away from the highway, and the Deer Crossing
signs replaced the Night Danger-Moose signs. (Apparently, the moose also got the memo.) The highway straightened out so that I can see as far in front of me as I can behind me.


With this flatness and straightness has come a harshly-beating sun and a wildly-whipping wind. Still no bandanna at any truck stop, so I still sport quite the
rat's nest, with, as Chris said, apologies to the rats.

Actually, I finally scored a bandanna at a truck stop Somewhere in Manitoba. I asked at the counter, as I had been doing, and they found one in the back, faded from years of display, coated with dust. I soaked it till it was clean(er), and wrapped it around my head - heaven! It was cool, my hair was out of my face, I looked like a Road Warrior...


Saturday and Sunday: from Marathon to Kenora

Saturday started with pushups, lunges, and crunches - I pledged to stay somewhat active over the vacation - and an egg mcmuffin.

It was a long, but beautiful drive, rolling hills, rocks, and so much forestry! On almost every rock face, someone had stacked rocks, mostly into inukshuks. At first we didn't notice it - just one here or there, but then we realized that there was one on every large rock. My guess is that hitchhikers must do that, or very dedicated locals. Either way, it was very neat - a way to leave your mark without defacing the land.

We stopped for a quick wade in Lake Superior - the soft sand beach gave way to pebbles at the water's edge, and then back to fine sand after about three feet. Little minnows frolicked, and sandpipers ran along the shore... certainly not what I expected from northern Ontario.

We drove all the way to Marathon, on the northeastern shore of the lake. We got in just as it was dusking (Chris didn't want to risk running into a moose) (I really wanted to see a moose), and this time opted for a Travelodge, since somebody didn't want to sleep on an uncomfortable bed again. We had room service bring us some drinks, and we stayed up a bit too late watching the Food network.

The alarm (actually, every alarm we set) didn't go off, so we rolled out of bed around 9:30, and I did my Attack tracks again before we hit the road. We were aiming for Dryden, but if we made good time, we'd push on to Kenora.

From Sunday's journal:

Just leaving Marathon, the town in which Terry Fox was forced
to concede his heroic run, the scenery was still rugged and beautiful: lots
of rock faces, tall, forests, and the occasional view of a sparkling Lake
Superior beach. After Thunder Bay, however, it gets much less
stunning. The trees grow closer together, tall, weedy and
sickly. There were sometimes copses of trees or naked trunks; some of
the conifers were stained a rust colour, when they had needles at all.
This continued for three hours. Was it caused by the railroad?
The highway? A forest clear-cut then replanted poorly?

Then, outside of Dryden, the lush greenery returned.

We passed Eagle River. "Eagle River!" I exclaimed.

Chris didn't get it.

On the road... Friday

Well, the Huffintastic Cross-Country Adventure is over, and boy, what a ride! A 6-day ride, to be exact. Since there is very little to do over 6 days, once the necessary "look, a cow!" and "hay!" conversations have been exhausted, I had time to keep a journal and email back and forth with a few people.

Friday, we left directly from work - it was a great feeling just to jump in the truck and go...until we got stuck in the post-work traffic, but s'okay.

From my travel journal:
We drove past Petawawa at about 8, passing by Black Bear beach and campground. I hadn't thought about that place in a long time.

Between first and second year university, I went camping with Christine, a fun and adventurous girl who had just moved from Petawawa, and tall, gorgeous-with-long-blonde-hair Heather. We went camping at Black Bear campground on the weekend after Canada day, right beside the base.

We hung out on the beach during the day, and teased Adam for being so white that it hurt our eyes when he took off his shirt.

At night, we'd mix drinks and sit around the fire.

Entire Chicken Johnny, back when he was just Johnny, sat up with me one night in the landromat, trading his guitar back and forth.

Bottle-boob Jim would stare morosely at the bottom of his 2L coke bottle, and mourn the fact that he was down to only 3 "bottle boobs", which is what we all started calling the five bumps on the bottom of plastic bottles. He wandered off at some point, and was found in the adjoining campsite, passed out on a picnic table, on the other side of a skunk. We let him be.

And Mike and I climbed over a barbed-wire fence and all the way to the top of the Petawawa water tower, and sat there till the sun came up.

The water tower wasn't visible from the highway, but I kept craning my neck as we drove by, just in case.


We arrived in North Bay at about 10:30, checked into the Dolphin Motel (no dolphins in the bathtub, alas), and crossed the parking lot to the dubiously-named "Alkazar", which was apparently "a fun place to hang out with friends". Ok, we thought. We'll bite. Well, I've never gone out on the town in North Bay before, but I really hope that North Bay-ers would consider it a sketchy place. There were pool tables and horse races showing, with a bookie all set up in the corner, taking bets. Luckily, the game was on, and the bartender made me a fantastic Fuzzy Navel (I think?) that was mostly vodka and peach schnapps.

After one drink, we staggered back across the parking lot, Chris killed a spider for me, and we went to bed.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Attacked...

The Attack of the Killer Bluesfest is over! And not a minute too soon!
Great bands, good times, fun people, fairly clean portapotties, nice weather, but going out late that many nights in a row (and, with the exception of one cab ride*, walking home) is hard on people of my advanced age. Kaff.

Overall, we definitely got our money's worth from the full-festival pass. We saw: Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, George Thoroughgood, (night off for Margarita's engagement party), White Stripes, Final Fantasy, (night off), (stomach flu), Blue Rodeo, Metric, (night off for Harry Potter movie), and Sam Roberts/the Sunday Night Solid Gold Dance Party.

A few words about the Dance Party:

First, I would like to know why I wasn't called to be a backup dancer, since that is a gig that I would love. Perhaps they don't have my phone number? I can be reached through this blog. I'm available. Seriously.


Second, I would like to know why they bothered to keep playing after the Village People's set was done, because you cannot top that, so why even try? They opened with American Band, did Macho Man (Hey! Hey! Hey hey hey!), and finished with In the Navy (I called Chris at this point; he had gone home to study, but I'm sure he appreciated the call)... complete with punchy dance moves and semaphore flags! It was really, really, really great, and makes me smile just to think
about it. I'm sure that I had a goofy grin on my face the whole time, while I was bopping along (with excellent dance moves, I might add. Call me.).

I left right after they finished, and walked home, along Wellington, by myself. The Hill was all lit up with colours and images... it was gorgeous, and I found myself appreciating (again) how beautiful this city is, and how much there is to do. I'm definitely going to make a point of coming back to watch.

All the same, though, it's nice to go home, read a book, and go to bed. Aaaah.


*Friday night, after watching Metric at the River Stage and having several drinks, we went back to Sue and Liam's at about midnight and had some more drinks. There was a good number of us, and lots to talk about...and beer and vodka to drink. To sum up, we were overserved. The cab was a very smart choice. I had a grumbly bear in my house all day Saturday, not unlike the last time we went out with Sue and Liam on a Friday night... could there be a connection?

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Canada day update

(Canada Day update: got up, went to the gym, stopped by boutique GT for some festive buttons, hats, and flags, then made a pitcher of pretty lousy mojitos (later added sugar and vodka) and waited. Andrea stopped by at about 3, Chris (who was out for a run) and Sean joined us shortly after, and we started a 4-hour game of "President" that welcomed Jeremy and Jessica eventually, as well. Dinner was at Cornerstone - good, but the focus was still on the drinks at that point - and we made it up to a good fireworks-viewing spot at the top of Clarence just in time. Wow. Afterwards, we walked back to the condo, Chris dashed off to buy cake, and we closed down the night with some very, very loud karaoke in our living room. All in all, a good day.)

It's a marvellous night for a Bluesfest...

I am still in shock from the lineup at this year's Bluesfest. It's beyond ridiculous. It's incredibly cool. It's going to be my social life until July 15th, which is really, really cool. Not as cool as my neon-yellow Bluesfest wristband, but still fantastic. Actually, the LED lightup wine glasses you can buy there are pretty cool too; I'm planning to get one tonight.

Last night's headlining artist was Van Morrison. We unfortunately got to Lebreton Flats a bit after the set started, and thus, disappointingly, missed Moondance. The crowd ranged from the (forgive me) geriatrics, aka people old enough to actually know Van Morrison music, to the kids that only know him for Brown Eyed Girl; some of these whippersnappers cut in front of us at the beer tent, so I didn't and don't approve of their presence.


Van -- if I may call him Van -- sounded good. Great, in fact. Just like on the radio, very cool, very calm, and very mellow. To watch him, though, was just like watching him on tv. For such a great performance, there was one thing he wasn't doing, and that's performing. No crowd interaction, no encore, just up there doing his thing, not for us, but for himself.

Good for him, I sort of think.

Overall, the first night ran smoothly, as far as my "consumer's eye" could see... well, from this height, anyway (the height at which, some may note, it is silly to go to a concert... you might as well be standing in a crowd of people, staring at their backs, listening to a radio...). Good snacks (Chris approved the poutine), friendly volunteers, and a seamless transition from when Van left his stage to the less-than-a-minute-later when the next band started playing an amazing instrumental version of Led Zeppelin's ... um... song about Vikings and the land of the ice and snow... at the stage across the field. Well done!

Calling it a night at about 9:30 (kaff -- geriatrics!), we decided to not brave the transpo-bound hordes, and walked home hand-in-hand along the river, a quiet, moonlit, and very romantic spot. The temperature was perfect; it was a lovely end to a beautiful summer's night.

Well, almost the end. When we got home, I downloaded Moondance.

Oh, and the theme from Magnum P.I., too.

Friday, 29 June 2007

Should I stay or...

Canada Day is my favourite holiday, second only to Halloween (uh, hello, strangers giving you candy that you're allowed to eat? Score!).

This year, we seriously debated going away; most of our friends are heading off to cottages and things, or have "moved beyond" the downtown crush (ie. have kids and/or are expecting). Aside from having a class that I didn't sub out on Saturday (Attack at noon at Rideau - any takers?), one important factor stopped me from making those plans. No to camping, no to cottaging... I gotta be downtown.

I have spent only one Canada Day away from Ottawa since I moved here in '91. I went to a family reunion outside of Windsor. There is, of course, a road trip story involving my plucky little Snotmobile, a 12-hour drive (Snotty could barely break 100), and being woken up by the cops because they thought I was a dead body, but that's not important right now.

The preparations begin...this was taken Friday, June 29 at 12:35 pm.
I get to hear the sound checks from my office.
(check out the live Hillcam)


The important thing is that, once I got the police escort into town, where I found a GoodLife to shower at, there was nothing going on.

For some reason, in Amherstburg, there weren't 400,000 friendly, inebriated Canadians, faces painted, waving flags, hooting and hollering, and randomly breaking out into "Oh Canada". No high-fives, no boom-boom-sparkle-sparkle. No all-encompassing crush of humanity. No full-on, 100% this-is-what-Canada-is-about community spirit.

There were lots of "closed" signs in shop windows, however.

A lot of people say that they don't like the crowds; the press of people that surrounds them, everywhere they go. The long lineups for porta-potties, cold water, and restaurants that charge more that day than any other for a reduced menu. They don't like the store-bought firecrackers that go off every few minutes, or the open beer bottles being carried around. Or the pervasive smell of marijuana, and the fact that the cops don't do anything about it, if just for one day. They don't like making human chains to get them -- winding through a sea of other human chains -- from their prime fireworks-watching spot to wherever they left your car, or sardining themselves into the bus for a long -- and squished -- ride home, where they eventually pile out, sweaty and tired.

And I would never argue with them. They're completely entitled to their opinions.


I'll be on the hill.


Canada Day 2006. I am on the right.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Run, baby, run

I found a SuperCool site today, while I was reading the Star Tribune, from Minneapolis. For some reason I read this online paper as often as I can -- it's a window into another society, but one more similar to Ottawa than the other papers I read (Chicago Tribune and Miami Herald). Lots of gun crime, but of course, guns don't kill people; I keep forgetting.

And no, I don't read local newspapers very often. I suppose I should. In fact, I'll bookmark one now.

But, back to the SuperCool site.

http://www.goruneasy.com/ is a Reebok-sponsored site that allows you to enter your own running routes on an interactive map, plots the distance, and shares it with other runners in your area! Very neat! The bugs still need to be worked out: it's rather slow to load, and sometimes forgets what it's doing, mid-load, and also doesn't seem to have "distance in kilometres" as a setting, but I really like the idea.

My "favourite" run. (Quotes used because I haven't actually run since the last day in Sydney.)
(Oh, the shame.)

Monday, 18 June 2007

Oh, and before I forget

All honeymoon photos are posted here.

Browse through the slideshows at your own risk, and at your own pace!

Enjoy! (we sure did)

(and YES, wedding photos are coming, one day...)

Friday, 15 June 2007

Welcome to NowWhat, population me

If I could have lunch with any person, living or dead: Douglas Adams. Brilliant writer, amazing sense of humour, and apparently, he was full of joy for life, for adventure, right to the end.

One of his creations in the HHGG series (I forget which book) was NowWhat, a planet discovered and populated by a group of people, who, after crossing the universe for years and years, finally reached it. Then, these brave and dedicated space pioneers looked around the damp, dismal and depressing new world and said, "Now what?"

I feel for them.

Let's see: Graduate university. Get sensible job. Get married. Check, check, check. So where am I left? (Kids can wait a few (19?) more years.)

In NowWhat.

I see several options. The one that makes the most sense (ish) is to work on my career, and hard. Get training, get advanced, make connections, take over. But then, another part of me thinks, why? If we do have children eventually, I'll have to leave work (and be a taxpayer burden - I mean, more than I am already) for a year. Longer, if there is more than one childer involved. And why work to make yourself indispensable if you'll need to disappear from the workplace, one year at a time? (And land, depressingly, on ThenWhat, the planet one goes to once all life steps are completed?)

Or perhaps I should "turn Martha." I figure that Chris would embrace this option, too, except that he would be the victim of the decorating, scrapbooking, gourmeting, and napkin-folding... and the many, many disasters that I'm sure would ensue.

Take my "last chance," maybe, with fitness competitions? Go back to my chicken-and-veggies-and-train-till-it-hurts lifestyle? This, to me, is somehow the most attractive of my options. With each option, though, I have a feeling of marking time, marching in place (treading water/writing metaphors, so to speak) until the next big life change (aka a Baby) comes along.

This is probably just the post-wedding blues: nothing big coming up; bills to pay; loss of identity (Karen who?); sense of stasis; search for meaning; a sudden loss of direction... ah yes.

I know where I am now.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

A Huff by Any Other Name

Long time no update, I know. No more honeymoon photos have been sent, no wedding photos, nuttin.

I blame the G8 Summit, because, frankly, that's what's taken up all my time. In the two weeks after my month away, I earned 5 more days of vacation; that's how much overtime I did. The worst night went till 10, but we ordered pizza around 7:30, so that was ok. (Best Pizza Ever, by the way, but it could be due to the X-treme levels of starvation and stress, since I also had the Best Diet 7-Up Ever, too.)

I digress. The Summit is on, and my life has gotten quieter, if not easier.

What's in a name?

I just went across the street to claim a pair of pants from the dry cleaner. I had put them in for a broken zipper a few weeks ago, but was too busy to remember to pick them up. I went in today, they asked my name, and I said "Power", of course. She looks at the ticket and says, "But your ticket has you as an 'H'".

Oops.

Right.

The name change thing is taking a while to get used to. I guess my main difficulty is that I'm not officially official yet; that is, I don't have the certificate back from the province, which will allow me to change my driver's license, health card, banking info, etc. However, I'm fully Huffed at work - both emails, my pay info, phone, and building pass all have my new name. But if I ever have to produce TWO pieces of ID, I'm in trouble.

I sort of feel like a fraud, not one or the other.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Wine, wine, wine

Our three days in the Barossa went so fast. We flew to Adelaide, stayed one night (nothing really of interest during that first night, aside from a nice dinner and a nice bottle of wine), then took a cab to the rental car company. Did you know that it takes an hour to rent a car in Australia?

The drive from Adelaide to the Barossa was quick - an hour and a half on the highway, then following signs through wee little towns till we got to the street the B&B was on. Then another 10 minutes, driving up and down it until we found L'Anzerac. We had a beautiful little suite in a carriage house, with a fabulous spa bathtub - amazing breakfasts in the main house with Zepp (a super-cute, super-friendly little terrier with a limp). Quite the dining experience! Zepp -- short for Zeppelin -- would sit at Chris' feet and look longingly up at him, until his plate was empty, when he'd shift to look at me. Suddenly, there was a terrible, loud banging and rattling from the double doors behind us, like some large and frightening animal was trying to get in. When we walked over and looked out the window, we saw that it was just Lucy (the goosey) asking for bread crusts, which were kept in a container on the bar, just for her.

Anyhoo, I digress - by the time we drove up to the L'Anzerac, Trevor was waiting for us with his beautiful 1935 Auburn all ready to go.

We went to the Rockford winery first, to their small, rustic little cellar door, and tried the first of (hundreds? thousands?) many, many wines. They showed us the container into which we could spit (ha ha!) and tip out (no way!), which we disregarded completely.

We were knackered by lunch, obviously. And our teeth grew more and more empurpled as the day went on.

The two days of the tour were incredible - very dreamlike, very "this is how a honeymoon should be", and actually quite "this is how we should be living" as well. If only we had some marketable skills to bring to the Barossa! There doesn't seem to be a large seat of the Canadian Government there... yet.

Photos? You bet!

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Home again, home again, jiggety jog


Well, the honeymoon's over.

But what a month! We saw and did so much, and it all went by in a blink of an eye.


In more detail, here's what it feels like to travel so far away. It feels sort of like hell. Now, I'm fairly upbeat, love to sleep, and don't ever get claustrophobic. Now picture a cranky, fidgety little beast, sleep-deprived, with restless-legs syndrome, and desperate to get out of the tin can I've been trapped in for 20 hours!

I spent a lot of the time drifting in and out of consciousness, wondering what time it is (which is, of course, dependent on where you are at that time), when we eat next, how much longer it will be, how long I was asleep, etc. All this, PLUS mustering up a smile as often as I could, to say, "Happy Honeymoon" to the husband.

And then, we land in Sydney -- finally -- at about 5pm the next day (Ottawa time), or 7 am on Wednesday, really (ouch), and can't check into our hotel until about noon. We wander around a bit, discover that food (and especially water) are very expensive, and that Sydney, and Sydney-ites, are essentially no different from Canadians, and that's sort of irritating. Kind of like the Smurfs, when they drug Moony Smurf (Space Smurf? Star Smurf?) and put him in a fake rocket for a few hours, then take him to a crater and tell him he's on the moon. What is the point, I asked, of travelling for 27 hours, to a place that is, for all intents and purposes the same as home???

But luckily, a nap cured all of that, and we were able to get on with the rest of the vacation and have a great time.

The first crop of photos, from the first bit (flight and Sydney) are here.