Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Quiet Reservoir

I thought I would share this picture with you because it's one of my absolute favorites ,I took it in North Vancouver two years ago while on vacation with my boyfriend.

On another note, the finishing touches were put on my shower last night and I was able to rejoin my choir for our weekly summer mini-sessions after missing last Monday's due to the damaged pipe that was found under my shower. It feels so wonderful to have my apartment all to myself again and knowing that no contractors are going to be coming in and out and making a mess of it. I had to vacuum and sweep every night last week because of the mess they were making and on Saturday I washed all my floors and dusted all over, but it did feel wonderful to have my place all neat and tidy again after seeing all the construction dust build up over the week.

As for this coming weekend, I'm heading out to Toronto to visit my family and, of course, my boyfriend :o) I'm so looking forward to it, it's going to be so wonderful to get away for a bit and see them all. I'm leaving very early on Thursday morning and I'll be getting back on Sunday night, so I'll have to forgo my Skywatch Friday post this week. Sorry about that, but I'm not bringing my laptop with me on this trip since I won't be gone as long as last time and it would be more trouble than anything else. I'll be back for Skywatch next week though, no worries :o) That's how my blog gets most of its views, so I'd suffer from viewer withdrawal if I skipped TWO weeks of Skywatch :o)

On that note, I hope you all have a good Holiday tomorrow for all my fellow Canucks (YAY Canada Day!) and a great rest of the week!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Shower Woes

So, as I mentioned when I put up my Skywatch post on Thursday, I had a pretty insane week. Not because I was overloaded with work or anything like that, but because my shower was out of commission until Thursday night.

Everything started on Saturday when one of the contractors who redid my landlord's apartment on the first floor (I live in the semi-basement of a duplex) came over the demolish my old, leaky shower and install a new PVC shower. It was supposed to be a one day job, but when he started demolishing the shower, we discovered that the people who had built it, God knows when, hadn't put a waterproof lining between the shower and the walls. The whole thing was rotten, the tiles were peeling off like post-its off a pad, the plywood behind them was rotten and even worse, the plywood underneath the cement base of the shower was totally rotten as was the hardwood floor under that!!! Yes, my shower was a new breed of disgusting, so much so that the contractor only had time to do the demolishing on Saturday. At the end of the day we Tilexed the heck out my shower with mold killing Tilex and then he took one of my fans, plugged it in, sat it the hole where my shower had been and screwed a piece of cardboard in front of the shower space almost to the top of it to keep my cats out and then left the fan running so that the area would dry out, since that needed to happen before he could install the new shower. He left, saying he would come back on Monday to finish the job. So, on Saturday I called my grandmother to ask her if I could go shower at her place which is about a 25 minute walk from my place and on Sunday we had Fathers' Day dinner at my aunt and uncle's place, so I used their shower.

Monday rolled around and when I got home from work, the contractor was still here, working on replacing the drainage pipe for the shower. In order to do that, he had to make room for the new pipe and also connect it to the existing plumbing. He found a rather unpleasant surprise while doing this though, a pipe connected to my heating that had corroded and had been leaking for who knows how long...he had to stop working, call the landlord down to show him the problem and then see if a plumber could come in to fix the problem. No one was available that night, so he had to board up the hole in my floor where my shower base would eventually go and I had to call in to my choir and tell them that I wouldn't be able to make practice that night because I had to find some place to go and have my shower since my shower was still out of commission. I ended up reaching my father who came to get me to bring me to my grandparents' place and then he left me the keys to their apartment so I could keep going there until the problem was fixed. They had left on vacation for the week that same morning, so it was really the easiest thing to do and it made me feel at least marginally better that I wouldn't be inconveniencing anyone by dropping in every night to use their shower facilities.

So that gets us to Tuesday, day four of what was supposed to be a one day job. The landlord rang my doorbell at 8:20 A.M., just before I got changed to go to work. There I was, still standing in my boxers and tank top and kimono in front of my landlord and two plumbers. Great...Just the landlord I wouldn't have minded, he and his wife and I have all seen one another in our jammies before because we used to share the downstairs laundry room, but the plumbers were a bit much, especially since one of them looked to be about 65 years old. The Landlord looked kind of sheepish and apologized all over himself saying: 'I guess I should have called first'...Yup, that might have been an idea. Oh well, nothing to be done about that, I let them in and they looked things over and they basically came up with two options. Either the plumbers would be able to fix or replace my old cast iron heating pipe that had corroded through, or they would have to tear out all my radiators and then the landlord would have electric heating isntalled which would entail holes being drilled all over my ceiling to put the wiring for the heating through. I was not a happy camper about that possibility, nor was I too thrilled at the thought that even just to replace the pipe they might have to tear up a good sized area of my hardwood flooring. I left for work in a rather lamentable mood and remained in that state until I got a call from the landlord in the afternoon telling me that they'd been able to fix the pipe, hooray! The damage wasn't too bad either, they only had to punch a hole in the ceiling outside my front door and take up a small area of my floor just in front of my shower. The contractor had also had the time to put the base of my shower in, things were looking up!

Everything was looking good for the work to be finished on Wednesday, so I left for work without my shower kit thinking that I would finally be able to shower at home that night, but then I got a call from the landlord during the afternoon informing me that they'd had a very hard time getting the shower into my apartment. When it didn't fit through my front door, they'd tried getting it in through my front window and the side door that connects my apartment the stairwell of my landlord's place before finally having no choice but to take apart my front door to get it through. They had to take off the whole door frame on the left-hand side of my door and then rebuild it using a shelf from the garage and because of all this and because it was a Holiday here on Wednesday and they couldn't replace supplies they ran out of, they had to stop working short of finishing my shower. On top of all that my apartment was left a complete dust-covered mess because they'd had to saw the door frame off. I had to clean all of that up before walking to my grandparents' place and back again and finally getting home at 9:45 P.M. Happy I was not...

SO this brings us to Thursday, day six of the one day job. I wasn't going in to work that day because I had an 11:15 A.M. appointment out in the West-Island area of Montreal, but the contractor was coming in that day to supposedly finish my shower. I'd been treating the whole thing with an 'I'll believe it when I see it' attitude since Tuesday. So out I went and when I got home all tired and sticky from my long hot day of wandering around the Island on various appointments and riding in non-air conditioned buses, the contractor was still here. 'Oh God' I remember thinking, 'Please don't tell me I'm going to have to go back out in this heat (31 degrees Celsius with a humidex of 37) to shower at my grandparents' place!'. But no, I did not. The shower was in place, the plumbing was connected, but it wasn't siliconed and, darn it, the door didn't fit right and wouldn't close completely, but it was ready to be used. Thank God!!!

So the contractor was supposed to come back yesterday to fix the door and do the silicone, but he got held up at another job and wasn't able to make it. He therefore asked my landlord to come and put a shower curtain in for me to keep water from landing on the floor of my bedroom (which is where my shower is). So, this is what my shower looks like:

Yes, that's Magique sitting in front of the curtain. She loves hiding in there, especially since the curtain was put in this morning, and she actually slept in the shower for part of the night last night. I don't normally let her do that because I don't want cat hair getting in the drain, but since the door doesn't close...anyhow, at least it makes for a cute picture.

So there you have it! All should be done on Monday, but again, I'll believe it when I see it. One thing's for sure, I am never taking my shower for granted ever again...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Skywatch Friday

Phew, what a week! It seems like it will never end...I do have a good bit of fodder for a juicy blog post over the weekend or early next week though, so keep an eye out for that. For right now though, here is my Skywatch photo for this week, I took it from my seat in my aunt and uncle's backyard in the West Island area of Montreal during our Fathers' Day get-together last Sunday. What was interesting about the sky that day, was that the clouds were moving in a direction that normally indicates stormy weather approaching, it was exactly the kind of thing that my grandfather said would make him get off the lake while fishing. We were lucky though, we didn't get a drop of rain!

So that's it for Skywatch this week folks, be sure and check out all my fellow Skywatchers' posts here: http://skyley.blogspot.com/

As always, I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Skywatch Friday

Hi everyone!

It's already Skywatch Friday time again! I hope you all had a great week, I find they always go by so fast. So, I took my Skywatch photo for this week while I was shopping for a flower pot at Atwater Market last week (see my previous post for more shots of the market, etc.). I happened to look up when I stepped out into the alley between the flower stalls and the fruit and veggie stalls and I caught these clouds popping out and loved the way they looked between the strings of lamps. I thought 'Yay! I found my Skywatch shot for next week!' and snapped this picture :o) I hope you all enjoy it and that you enjoy hopping on over here: http://skyley.blogspot.com/ to see other Skywatch posts.

Have a wonderful, relaxing weekend!

Monday, June 15, 2009

My amazing weekend!

Hi all!

So, as I mentioned in my previous post, my boyfriend was in town this past weekend for his graduation ceremony and let me tell you, it was one of the most memorable weekends I have ever had. Words cannot express how happy we were to be able to celebrate the end of his studies together. It was a very long road for him (four years undergrad plus two of graduate school) and he worked incredibly hard, so I am, of course, immensely proud of him :o) The ceremony was held at the Basilica of St-Joseph's Oratory which was also very symbolic for us, because my boyfriend was a chorister in the boys' choir there for their full eight year program and it's also where we met. I trained him as a tour guide when he started working at the Oratory in the summer of 2004, decided pretty much from the get-go that he was the man for me and haven't left him alone since then ;o) Anyhow, tickets for the graduation ceremony were 35$ a piece, so we decided to forgo that formality since I could get a better seat for free up in the organ loft since I'm good friends with the organist at the Oratory. If you've never been to the Oratory and seen the pipe organ in the Basilica, here are a few shots of it:

It's a pretty impressive instrument as you can probably tell, it's got 5,811 pipes, most of which are inside the box spread over 117 ranks, or rows if you prefer and the largest pipe is 14 meters (46 ft) tall. They don't make them that big very often, but a big church calls for a big instrument. Anyhow, I was able to watch the entire convocation from up there, get some pretty good pictures and chat with organist while all 399 of the graduates that were not my significant other went up to get their diplomas :o)

After the graduation ceremony, my sweetie headed off to a wine-and-cheese evening with some of his buddies (he rejoined me later on in the evening) while I went out to dinner with some of our friends from work in Chinatown, one of our usual haunts. If you're ever in Montreal and want to give the food in Chinatown a try, I recommend Keung Kee restaurant. They have amazing fried tofu, shrimp cakes and a very interesting and tasty dessert: fried milk! Trust me about the milk, it's worth a try :o) Another great place we go to is the L2 bubble tea lounge. If you've never tried bubble tea, you really should! It's usually made with either green or jasmine tea , either straight up or mixed with milk. They then add a natural fruit flavor to it, I chose mango on Saturday, and they serve the drink to you either hot or cold with either plain or fruit flavored tapioca bubbles in it. Yum!
On Sunday after my boyfriend left to meet his brother and then take his train back to Toronto (a year and a half on the nose until that contract of his is up...we're counting down), I headed out to one of Montreal's many outdoor markets, Atwater Market. It's an amazing place with all kinds of fruit and vegetable famrers' stands as you can see from these photos:
But they also have a huge selection of annual and perennial flowers in the spring and summer, which is why I was there with my mom and one of our friends. Our friend needed some shade plants for her garden and I wanted a flower pot to put outside my apartment door. Here's a shot of the pot I chose as well as one or two others I took of the gardening stands.

So there you have it! With all of that packed into one weekend, I'm pretty tired out, I actually nearly slept through my alarm this morning! Oh well, I guess I'll just have to try and get to bed a bit early tonight to try and make up for it, but it's a good tired, a very good happy tired. I hope you all had a great weekend too and that you have a great week!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Man's Best Friend

Here's a fun 'weekendish' shot that I thought you guys would enjoy. I took it, once again, while on vacation in BC in 2007. My boyfriend and I had gone to try and catch some dragon boat races while in Vancouver, but we ended up being a day late and there were only a few practice boats out. We had fun taking pictures instead and I was able to catch this beautiful yellow lab out for a row with his owner. Don't you just love his big, soulful eyes? Animals may not be able to communicate verbally, but I often find that they can say more in one glance than many people can say in an entire conversation.

Have a great weekend and keep an eye out for new pictures next week. It's my boyfriend's graduation tomorrow and I have a few other things lined up as well, so you buys may get some nice treats :o)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Skywatch Friday

Hi all!

So, it's already time for another Skywatch post! Here's another shot that I took during my vacation in BC. What you can see in this picture is the Rocky Mountains in North Vancouver taken from the pedestrian walkway on Lion's Gate Bridge. I took this picture just as the sun was setting. I turned around and there were the mountains with this mist hanging over them and the sky was turning this gorgeous mix of pink and lavender, it truly was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. Coming from Eastern Canada I had never seen such huge mountains before (except the Alps, but that was from a plane, so it doesn't count ;o) ) so I took zillions of pictures of them while I was in Vancouver, expect to see more :o)

So there's my Skywatch post for this week, I hope you enjoyed and be sure to go and check out all my fellow Skywatchers' posts here: http://skyley.blogspot.com/

I hope you all had a great week and that you enjoy your weekend!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Magique up close and personal

It struck me that my Quinn had her own 'Up Close and Personal' post, but not Magique. So, here is Quinn's baby, Magique in all her cute, spunky, clowny glory. She is, by the way, much easier to photograph than Quinn because, as you can see, she likes posing for the camera and getting herself into cute, funny, photogenic situations.

Keep an eye out for my Skywatch post tomorrow night or Friday, and have a great end of the week!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

How to have your good mood ruined 101

So, normally I am a very cheerful person. I smile easily, laugh easily and tend to make other people smile and laugh easily. Today, however, this ability is simply beyond me or at least is has been for the pas two hours or so. Let's start at the beginning though.

While I was on vacation I noticed that I seemed to have a fleck of dust on my camera lens, or so I thought. It first turned up at the airport in Atlanta, so I took out my lens cleaning rag and rubbed away. It seems to go away, so I left it at that. However, it turned up again on the first day of my trip while I was taking sunset pictures out on the golf course with my grandfather. Oh, crap...I realized at that point that the problem was not as simple as a fleck of dust on my lens, this piece of dust was obviously INSIDE my camera! How in the heck did it get in there??? I wondered. My camera is a Canon PowerShot G7, the lens can't be removed or anything!!! That's when another facet of the seriousness of the problem hit me. My lens not being removable meant that the camera would have to be opened in order for the image captor, where this stupid piece of dust now very clearly was, the be cleaned. I already suspected that I would probably have to send my baby off to a Canon Service Center to be cared for, but I wasn't willing to resign myself to that possibility right off the bat. I therefore took my camera to a photography shop in Florida to see what they would tell me, but they wanted to ship it right off the bat without even looking at the problem. My next course of action was to show it to my boyfriend who is also an amateur photographer and knows more about cameras than I ever will (he's an engineer so he likes to know everything he can about how everything works), but he also tended to believe that I would have to ship it off. I knew he wouldn't tell me that unless he was pretty sure that was what was going to happen, so I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would have to kiss my camera goodbye for at least a week or two to get it fixed (there's a Canon center right here in Montreal). Then last night I was allowed one last glimmer of hope. There's an awesome photo shop in Montreal called L.L.Lozeau and I went on their website to poke around for a possible Father's Day gift for my dad and for the heck of it clicked on the camera repair button. Boom! image captor cleaning, 35$ for 72 hour service and 45$ for express 24 hour service. Awesome!!! So I left my apartment this morning in a great mood with my camera thinking they would be able to clean it for me, especially since they specialize in Canons, but I was brought back down to earth almost as soon as I gave my camera to the service attendant. He looked at it, saw the piece of dust when he shot a few pictures and said that he regretted to tell me that since my camera needed to be opened up to get at the captor that it would have to be sent off to Canon to be cleaned. Now here's the kicker: Lozeau would ship it off for 45$, it would take three weeks for Canon to diagnose the problem and then another three for them to fix it and it would probably cost somewhere around 120$ for that. I wanted to cry. A total of 165$ just to have a piece of dust taken off an image captor??? How do these people justify that??? I left the shop with my camera, completely disgruntled and discouraged. My next course of action is to take my camera to Canon myself (like heck I'm paying 45$ to have it shipped there, it's a half hour by public transit from my apartment!) and ask them myself how much it would cost. If they say 120$ I'll have to wait until next month to have it done and resign myself to not having a camera to use until then, at least not for daytime shots. A lot of you may be wondering why I don't just Photo Shop the dust out, but the reason is simple: I don't have Photo Shop because I can't afford the outrageous price for that either. I'd have to see if I can do it with the photo editing program that I do have, but I'd really rather just save myself the disappointment of taking pictures and then not being able to touch them up the way I want and having to put up with the horrible little fleck of dust, particularly since the next occasion when I really would need perfect pictures is my boyfriend's graduation next week. I may see if I can borrow my brother's or my father's camera for that, because I don't think I could do without pictures of that day.

So there you have it. Not many things can ruin my naturally cheerful disposition, but horrendously overpriced repair bills for my camera will do it. Who do these people think they are that they can charge over 100$ for cleaning an image captor? It must take all of 10 minutes to open up and clean a camera like mine. 120$...absolutely disgusting.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Skywatch Friday

It's already Skywatch Friday time again! Here's my pick for this week, a shot of rain clouds moving in over Okanagan lake in Kelowna taken from the top of Knox Mountain. My boyfriend and I made it down from there just before the rain started falling, phew!
I hope you all enjoy my Skywatch picture and that you enjoy checking out everyone else's here as well: http://skyley.blogspot.com/. Don't hesitate to have a look around the rest of my blog, it's essentially a photo blog so you just may find some other photos you like as well :o) Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 1, 2009

St-Joseph's Oratory at Night

Hi folks,

I know I've been rather quiet since I got back from my vacation last week and I do apologize for that. I had a very busy last week last week and I've also been and still am suffering from a mild case of the doldrums, which is a normal state of mind for me when I get back from a visit to my boyfriend's which is what capped off my vacation. We always have such a wonderful time together and we treasure every moment of our visits, but having to leave each other at the end our stolen weekends is always incredibly hard. I'm very thankful, as is my boyfriend, that he is only on a two year contract in Toronto and that our 500 km separation is only temporary, otherwise I would either pack up and move over there or he would never have accepted the job, no matter how much of an amazing offer it was.

Anyhow, back to business! My grandparents are on a visit to Canada from Florida (they are Canadians by birth by the way, they just moved down to sunny Florida when my grandfather retired a little over 10 years ago) and their first stop was here in Montreal last weekend. I was so touched that they came here just so they could see me sing in a concert with my choir. On Saturday night we went out for a bit of a drive and we stopped at St-Joseph' Oratory, my beautiful, unique workplace and I took a series of pictures of it all lit up. They have different colored lighting for it and on Saturday they brought out the red. If you'd like to know more about the Oratory I wrote another post about it when I first started blogging and you can also check out their website here: St-Joseph's Oratory . If ever you're in Montreal the Oratory is truly worth a visit, and I'm not just being partial here, we get people who come from as far as Taiwan and make a point of stopping in ;o)

Have a great week!