Friday, August 29, 2008

Booked a Trip to Italy, Again

Kevin and I are going on vacation to Italy in less than 2 weeks and the adventures have already begun. The largest complication was the airline we're booked with went bankrupt yesterday. We're going to get our money back from the credit card company, and we managed to book a new flight and adjust our first hotel reservation accordingly, so hopefully that problem is resolved. You'd think this would be a pretty isolated incident but this is the 2nd time an airline has gone bankrupt on me after I booked a vacation. I shake my fist at you Canada 3000 and Zoom! Come on Air Transat, stay in business at least 4 more weeks. Oddly, Zoom sent us a reminder email confirming our flight the day before the bankruptcy, which included travel tips. For some reason, "book a flight with an airline that isn't bankrupt" didn't make their top 10.

The other complications have involved planning the details of the trip. Since neither of us have been to Italy before, we've been researching a lot of towns and sites on the Net. We've come across many helpful maps such as these:
Thanks Siena! I'm glad you clarified that location for us.

Many of the small bed & breakfast places do their best to create an English version of their website, but sometimes I'm suspicious of the really bad translation mistakes. For example, if a hotel claims to have "excellent mygiene", is this a simple error or are they really avoiding any promise of cleanliness? Kind of like selling someone "diamondelle" earrings. We don't have hygiene, but hey, we have mygiene, so close enough right? Trust us and send your credit card number now. Plus if you have to explicitly comment on hygiene, shouldn't that alone make me suspicious? If it's stated as a "feature", that in itself could be a bad sign.

If all goes according to the latest plan we'll be visiting Rome, Florence and some other places in Tuscany, Venice and Rimini, with hopefully a day trip to the Republic of San Marino.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Drinks and Babies (separate events)

Kevin and I went to the Cornerstone Bar and Grill in the Market with his curling team and their girlfriends for drinks on the weekend. Very nice patio weather! They stuck us on the back patio, further away from the street, supposedly because that's the only place they could fit a table of 6. But we all suspected it was because we weren't deemed pretty enough to be displayed in a prime location. Fellow curler Ian is going to watch our bunnies while we're traveling, so we also gave him a last chance to get out of it, while his fingers are all still in tact.

After drinks we stopped in to visit Felipe and Hanita to: a) get a tour of their new house, b) say Happy Birthday to Hanita, c) visit their new baby Sophia, and d) fix Felipe's bike. A lot of celebrations - especially the broken bike! My favourite picture of Sophia is shown here.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Last night Kevin and I went to see the Broadway musical Wicked. I wasn't a huge fan of the book despite my love for The Wizard of Oz - my all-time favourite movie, but the story was much better in musical form. The basic story line is the "untold story of the witches of Oz", when Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West are roommates in college. The Glinda role is very funny. She's really into boys and popularity. Little did Kevin know, I used her patented hair "toss-toss" move to win him over. The musical has been around since 2003 so I'm glad I finally got a chance to see it. Definitely recommended.

Walking back to the car after the show, I officially became an Ontarioan. August 21 - it only took 2 years and 22 days. This lady was pulling out into the street from a parking lot and yells out the window to us, "Where are we?" Kevin and I yell back in unison "Ottawa" and keep walking past. We didn't stop to help or even yell the street name afterwards. Am I still technically a Manitoban if I feel guilty about not helping? Kevin claims we were rude as a service to them, so they could learn to think for themselves. But he was raised in Toronto, for gosh sakes! Wicked.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Jenn and Hen Official at Last

Today was the big day. After 12 years together, Jenn and Henry finally got married! Jenn looked completely beautiful. She cried during the walk down the aisle but pulled it together for the rest of the ceremony. For the sake of her makeup, she said. The weather was perfect, although the un-air-conditioned church got pretty hot towards the end of the ceremony.

The reception was in the grand ballroom at the Royal Crown. There were about 400 people, which for Jenn and Hen, is limiting to only close family and friends. Hard to imagine since I only have 7 first cousins. Everything was done up in silver and fuchsia - I don't know how she convinced Henry to have so much pink, but I guess waiting 12 years wins you a few concessions. There were also an unprecedented 4 toasts to the bride, by the 2 matrons of honour and her 2 siblings.

For once, I caught the bouquet! Mainly because Jenn's sister Joanne told all the girls to pile on top of Jenn once she threw it, which left it lying on the ground. Prime pickings. I didn't even have to use my pointy elbows on anyone this time.

4 down, 2 to go.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I'm back in Winnipeg for the weekend! Kevin and I started the day stopping by IBM to visit Darin, his old boss/my parents' next door neighbour/our matchmaker. Quite the power combo of titles! Darin's team is made up of 2 other developers - Mike and Curtis, a.k.a. McLovin (see March 20, 2008). Mike and Curtis are also going to weddings this weekend and Curtis is having his own wedding the weekend after. I have a theory on why August beats June for wedding frequency in Winnipeg. If there are 2 things Winnipeggers love, they're good deals and Jeanne's cakes. I suspect the bakery's year-long supply of cookie bases expires in August, causing them to give special deals on wedding cakes, thus driving the popularity of weddings that month. That's one for Freakanomics to explore.

On the drive over, Kevin and I also did a stalking run past my old house on Braemar Ave. Sadly, the year and a half I put in to reshaping the bushes into perf
ect balls went to waste as the plants appear to be growing untamed now. I had also planted flowers with colours arranged in order of the spectrum. That's right - I have OCD tendencies. Don't tell me you've never separated your Smarties into colour groupings, counted out equal amounts for each group and then eaten them in the order they appear in the rainbow! I still ate the brown ones even though brown isn't in the spectrum, so this proves I'm normal! Any way, the spectrum pattern wasn't evident in the flower beds at all. Sigh. Kevin has forbidden a spectrum garden at the Ottawa house, claiming "random" is a pattern too.

After IBM, Kevin and I went to In Ferno's for lunch with my parents. I of course ordered the duck confit, but for some reason the server thought I meant the duck appetizer, so I got this tiny plate of potstickers. I pointed out the mistake and they managed to whip up the proper meal pretty fast. We got the appetizer for free. Duck appetizer, duck entreé... I tried to get a duck crème brûleé, but no luck.

Post lunch, we went to check out the 99 Pieces of Art on the Wall show at the cre8ery gallery, although 4 had been sold so they were down to 96 by the time we visited. After that, we did a walk around the Forks. We toured the Riverwalk, watched unhelmeted children injure themselves at the skate park (my mom's personal fave) and went through the Johnston Terminal. The new Manitoba display in the Johnston Terminal is pretty cool, although the ballet mannequin on display is clearly too fat to really be a dancer.

In the evening, Kevin and I went to Bellissmo for dinner, with Kevin's former curling buddy, Ian. I was still full of duck but managed to cram in most of a salad. To finish off the evening, we went to Flea Whiskey's for a few games of pool. I won a few games, but only 1 real win - the rest were scratches by the other player. In the end, Ian was declared Pool Champion of the Universe.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

National Gallery

Jenn and I went to the National Gallery today. There's a special exhibit on called The 1930's: The Making of the New Man, which shows the themes that were common in art leading up to and during World War II. Artists in the exhibit included Salvador Dalí, Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock. I really liked seeing the Kandinsky's. Many things in the exhibit were both awesome and disturbing at the same time.

So question to the parents in the audience - if you had a one-year-old, would bringing them to the art gallery for an afternoon seem like an appropriate activity? This guy was carrying his crying kid around for a good hour while we were in the exhibit and it was really annoying. Made me think of this quote from Family Guy:

Priest: Good morning everyone. A reading, from the letter of John, to the couple with the crying baby upstairs: "Obviously you hear your kid crying and you are trying to break him of some habit. But I got news for you, It's not working. I swear to God that if it doesn't stop, I will come up there and show him what real pain is." The word of the Lord.
Congregation: Praise be to God.

There's no way to see the entire gallery in 1 day, so the other sections we decided to visit were contemporary art, Inuit art and photography.

There isn't much of a choice around the airport, so we managed to get in a quick (and bad) dinner at Eastside Mario's before Jenn got on her flight back to Calgary.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sex and the City - Finally!

I've been dying to go see the Sex and the City movie, but all my scheming to make a friend in Ottawa and go see it with them hasn't worked out so far. I think they hear the desperation in my voice and slowly back away. Then they turn and run as fast as they can, far, far into the distance. "Come back! I haven't told you all my bunny stories yet!" Enter Calgary Jenn. She actually flew to Ottawa to go see the movie with me! Those WestJet employee flight benefits sure come in handy.

We of course started off the day with shopping in the Market. We hit all the standards including Workshop Studio (bunny necklace - but it's tasteful, I swear) and Trustfund (new jeans and a bicycle belt for Kevin). We also went to M.A.C. and I got a free lip gloss for recycling my empty containers.

After dinner with Kevin at MHK Sushi, Jenn and I headed to the cheap theatres to see Sex and the City. Ten weeks of waiting and it was everything I dreamed it would be. So shiny and expensive. I still hate Big. We ended the evening appropriately with cosmos.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Genie and Lynn Kicked out of Restaurant

Genie was back in Ottawa for a family visit, so we got together for dinner at Zuni Grill. Her cousins tried to thwart our plans by forcing her to eat a pre-dinner at their house and then giving directions that sent her driving in the opposite direction of the restaurant, but they couldn't keep her from the siren song of cocktails. We had a good visit with lots of laughs, and eventually got booted out so they could close the restaurant for the night. Good thing I'll see her again next weekend in Winnipeg!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lucky 13

Kevin's parents and granny stayed with us on the long weekend. They arrived on Saturday and we ended up putting on a family dinner for 13 - a new record for the Gay/Barn. We made it work with the dining table, a folding banquet table, plus 3 of us having a "picnic" with the 2 kids in the living room. It might be time to review that new IKEA catalogue for expandable dining tables.

For dessert, we got an awesome raspberry mousse cake from Swiss Pastries for a 3-way birthday celebration. Kevin also said he bought pink marzipan bunnies for "the girls". I excitedly asked if I was considered a girl, along with his nieces Stacey (3 years) and Diana (1 year). Yep, he bought 3 of them. Being a girl rocks.

We spent most of Sunday visiting and playing board games. Namely, Bananagrams and Blokus, our newest game. We declared the last game of Bananagrams would be for the "Champion of the World" title and Kevin's granny won. She cheats.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Hot Dogs in the Market

This guy and his dogs are my favourite performers in the Market. In between shows, the man wears a backpack/crate thing topped by a platform on his back, and his dogs perch there while he walks around. No one can resist a dog carrying a bucket in his mouth begging for change. With sunglasses on. And a jester hat. Times two. Say it with me, "Awwwww".