Not Your Average Butcher

Fast Fact: The average butcher has 7.3 fingers. Actually, I made that up, but I have all 10 of my fingers, so that's saying something... or is it?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Very Few Have Hit the Mark

It’s update time!

It’s funny, we’ve been so busy with all of this house stuff, but it doesn’t feel like anything new has happened lately… it also feels like we’ll never be done with all of these meetings we have to go to and all of these decisions we have to make. I can’t wait until it’s over! I just want to sit back and watch my house get built… and then move in of course!

So far we’ve gone to see the door and window specialist and the cabinet-makers. We still have to go see the people for the plumbing and the tiles and carpets and some others that I just can’t think of right now!

As for work, I’m happy to report that I’ll be starting another contract on April 1st, this one will be for 3 months. While working on 3 month contracts isn’t ideal, I also know that it’s an easy way of avoiding having to publicly post the job opening and possibly have someone else get my job! I just don’t know how this is going to work with insurance and benefits and stuff. I’ll have to wait and see.

Oh, we also went to the Youth Action Montreal conference “Less Talk, More Action” on March 22nd, where David Suzuki and Al Gore were keynote speakers. It really is something to see a bunch of young people banding together in such an important cause, it really is inspiring! David Suzuki is an amazing speaker and so interesting to listen to and so knowledgeable, it’s no wonder he’s so widely respected. Al Gore was also really impressive to see. He stuck rather close to his traditional slide presentation which had obviously been updated to relate to our situation here in Canada. He even acknowledged Quebec as a driving force for environmental action in Canada, which is something all of us Quebecers can be proud of! Al Gore was also presented with an honourary degree from Concordia University, which is also pretty neat!

Hey, I also saw Stephen Harper that day too; it made for a lot of celebrities in one day! I also attended the Americana conference earlier in the same day. Oddly enough, Stephen Harper was the honourary president of this environmental conference and gave an invitation-only speech on the last day of the conference. Not only did I not have an invitation to his talk, I didn’t even have a pass for the conference! My pass was good for the tradeshow but would not allow me into the conference itself. Well, it wasn’t supposed to, anyway! I simply snuck in along with a bunch of my old coworkers from Ottawa. Getting into the Stephen Harper talk was pretty easy after that, we just went into the room before security started taking invitations at the door. So we got there really early and sat right up front. Forty-five minutes later Harper was announcing new initiatives for the environment including national regulations and projects that are closer to home than paying large sums of money to foreign countries (am I hearing another dig against Kyoto??). Anyway, it’s funny how the Harper administration has suddenly become so environment-conscious. Goes to show that what the people want the people will get!

Shall we continue with the politics? Yeah I know it’s not something I get in to often, but all of a sudden I’m immersed in it, so there you have it! Anyway, good on the Liberals for just squeaking by in the provincial elections, and good on the PQ for their poor showing. I don’t want to hear anything about referendums and sovereignty, especially now that I’m now a property owner. I really don’t feel like having to deal with my property value dropping significantly just because the PQ comes into power again. No thanks!

Ok, enough.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Our Hell is a Good Life

It's officially official! We bought a house! Actually, right now it's a $260,000 field of dirt because there's nothing there, yet! But someday it'll look a lot like the photo of the house I posted a couple entries ago.

We signed the mortgage agreement with National Bank yesterday evening and the groundbreaking for our brand new home in Vaudreuil should be in a couple of weeks. Our date of occupation is set for August 17th.

Anyway, I joined Facebook, which I'm really enjoying. What I love about it, is that you can post as many photos as you want, so I plan to take advantage of that. My plan is to take a photo of the house every time I go and visit and post it in an album on Facebook as a sort of time-line as the house progresses. I mean, we have to go out there every weekend anyway to supervise the construction and make sure nothing gets screwed up, so we might as well snap a few photos. And it's so much easier and quicker to upload photos to Facebook than it is to stick them here in the blog.

So we've already had one meeting with our real-estate agent representing the construction company to discuss some of the main construction options for the house. This included the heating system, where we want to knock down walls, deciding on whether or not we want air conditioning, central vacuum, deck, garage service door, etc. Anything that would have to actually be modified in the construction of the house itself. We have another meeting tomorrow to discuss other options (although I don't exactly know what those options are), a third meeting later on to decide on colours and patterns for floors, tiles, carpets, cabinets, bricks, roof tiles and soffits and fixtures such as handles, lighting and faucets. So much to decide!


Saturday, March 10, 2007

It's Very Funny 'Cuz I've Got Your F***ing Money

Alright alright alright. Shopping around for houses and going to appointmants with banks is a lot of work. I'm so glad it's almost over! Visiting houses isn't so bad, but the banks have really given us a run for our money, so to speak - har har har.

When Mike and I got our first pre-approval with CIBC, we were so excited because we managed to get such a fantastic rate (prime was 6.0% at the time and we managed to get an interest rate of 4.82% for 4 years). It was around that time we discovered a house from Construction Farand that we both absolutely love and no matter how many houses we visisted afterward, it was that model we kept going back to. Same house from the previous post, by the way. After talking to the real estate agent, we found out that we couldn't get financing through our bank of choice, because the construction company uses National and Royal Bank. So our fantastic rate was out the window; not worth a thing. That was a let-down, because all of the other banks were offering around 5.30%, which would have amounted in us paying an extra $2,250 during the term. What a waste!

So we went to Royal Bank. Our guy there was able to offer us a rate of 5.15% for 4 years. Better, but not close. We also had an appointment with National Bank, but since that bank is much smaller, we weren't expecting anything and decided to get pre-approved with Royal. It was only then we discovered that there was a limit of 120 days on the rate guarantee and there was no way out house could be ready by then.

Well, this was when we really started getting bummed out. It seemed like every time we made any progress, something would pop up to work against us and send us 3 steps backwards. And it's so stupid; we're model cleints with no debts, plenty of money for a down-payment and steady well-paying jobs. So why were the banks making it so difficult for us to finalize a mortgage rate? It didn't make any sense!

Seems we're finally making progress though. National Bank blew us away with a surprise offer for 5.04% over 7 years and $500 cash-back to put towards notarial fees... care to beat that Royal? We'll see who's got the best rate in the end. Pitting banks against each other is fun! We're so tired of running around and constantly negotiating: let someone else do the fighting now!


Monday, February 19, 2007

Bouscault 2 + 1

The house hunting is ON! We've been going to open houses for model homes for the past 3 weeks and we figure we've visited about 20 - 25 different model homes... and we've found one that we really like! I tried to find a floor plan of the house on the internet, but I unfortunately I couldn't find one. But I found some photos!

And some photos of the interior:

Entranceway and living room

Living room

View onto the second floor (what you don't see here is that directly behind where this photo was taken is a large family room constructed above the garage)


Master bedroom


So this house has 3 bedrooms, bathroom, powder room, family room, living room, kitchen, dining room and an unfinished basement.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

I Can Watch a Sunset On My Own

Yup, I'm still alive, not to worry. But wow, have a lot of things been happening! Actually, things have quieted down a lot since last weekend, which is good. And for the first time ever, I'm going to fake my way through this post and instead of actually writing everything down (again) I'm just going to copy and paste a couple of e-mails I sent out to some people in Ottawa. That way, I'll finally be done with regurgitating the same information over and over agagin!

January 30th:

Hi everybody!

I think it's about time I send out a general "all's well" from over here in Montreal. It really doesn't seem like just a week and a half ago that we said our last good-byes before I hauled my butt back to Montreal: so much has happened! I waved to all of you guys last night when I flew over Ottawa on my way back from Florida; see, I'm thinking about you!

Yup, last night I returned home from my very first cruise. It was... interesting. Mike and I went along with about 50 of his co-workers (and their husbands, wives, etc.) on a free 4 day cruise in the Bahamas. We spent a day in Nassau and it was rather nice; we took a tour through the city and visited Paradise Island. Next day we were supposed to visit Cococay for a day at the beach and some parasailing. As luck would have it, the weather was terrible and we weren't allowed on shore so we spent the whole day on the boat, inside where it wasn't horrifically windy. Big waste of a day. But we were there for free so we weren't complaining (much)! Despite the weather we still had fun but it was always incredibly busy with places to be, things to do and constantly running into Mike's coworkers. So next time, we'll definitely have to try a longer cruise, maybe it'll be more relaxing!

So now I'm back at work (regrettably without a tan) and I'm so glad it's a short week because I'm exhausted! The job is alright, it'll take some getting used to. Basically, I spend my days writing up this massive Phase II ESA for the Alert military base and Eureka on Ellesmere Island. 57 contaminated sites had previously been identified and I'm writing up little reports for each individual site to be integrated into the final report. I think it's going to get a little repetitive, but that's alright. The people here are pretty nice and I'm starting to get used to functioning in my second language. It's pretty relaxed here, I can come and go as I please, I can wear jeans and I share an office with my new coworker Josée. I was dreading the possibility of a stuffy fancy office environment where I would be stuck in a cubicle within a sea of cubicles. Not so. So I think I'm adjusting well!

Anyway, that's my news for now... I hope everything's going well for all of you! And now you have my new work address should you want to reach me.

Take care!

February 7th:

It's so nice to hear from you!

I can't make those lovely happy faces anymore, my computer at work is very old; only runs Windows 2000 and all of the Office programs are old versions too... seems the old version of Outlook isn't happy face friendly. Too bad! But I can do these ones :) it's something, right?!

By the way, did you get the update I sent everybody? Just wondering how much you already know (or don't know). Anyway, I've been so busy since I moved back to Montreal. I was very cranky for about 2 weeks because it was always go go go with no time to relax or even think. And just as I was getting really fed up I had to go on that cruise and I was cranky then too. Although I tried very hard to be happy, I was just to tired both physically and emotionally. But I'm better now, finally getting settled into my new situation...

The job is alright, it's not hugely exciting. I sit in my office all day writing my gigantic report and it can get pretty monotonous. I've made some aquaitances, but I wouldn't call them friends. It's hard to get to know people when you're locked up in an out of the way office all day. So I miss having people to talk to. But it hasn't even been 3 weeks, so I'll have to give it time.

As for the cruise, well it was kind of a bust; too much to do, a cancelled trip to Cococay, bad weather and the deck where our stateroom was smelled like dirty diapers, it was so gross. Somehow I managed to have fun though, we had some good laughs! The food and the service was excellent and we took a nice tour through Nassau. But it was stupid to come back from the Bahamas without a tan! Anyway, I figure I'll try the whole cruising thing again someday, but it will definitely have to be for a longer period of time. Three days is just not enough time to properly experience it, we had to pack in way too much during that time. And I'll try to be properly rested before I go!

Other than that, I've been driving around in my mom's car (woo hoo I can drive!) and Mike and I have started house hunting. We also have a bunch of appointments coming up soon with banks and mortgage brokers and all that fun stuff, because we're still not sure what we can afford.

Oh and next week I'll be going to Trenton to do some kind of training. I have no idea what it's for because nobody tells me anything! Oh well, it'll get me out of the office and into nice anglo Ontario for a couple of days!

You know, you popped into my head just yesterday! I had suddenly realized that I hadn't heard from you in a while (but I guess that's what happens when you're only working twice a week, huh?), so I was very happy to get your message this morning!

Okay, now I want to know what's new with you!

Ha ha this post took me all of 5 minutes to put together! You'd never guess just by looking at it!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Tonight Your Ghost Will Ask My Ghost

Wow ok, so much has happened in such a short period of time! Where do I start? Alright, how about the most exciting news? Let's start with that!

Congratulations to Dave and Kim!!!

These two got engaged on January 13th and I couldn't be more excited for them!

Alright, what's next? Let's continue with the Kim theme. Last Thursday, on my second to last day of work Kim e-mailed me to let me know that someone she knew from her office was looking to hire someone... and she passed the message on to me. Many e-mails and phone calls later, I had an interview for last Saturday afternoon... and I got the job! Well, anyone that reads this blog probably already knew that, but I'm writing this for myself, ha ha!

Anyway, starting Monday I will be a Technical Officer working at the Biotechnology Research Institute of the National Research Council... how professional does that sound?! I'm starting off on a 2 month contract and if everything works out I should be extended. To start, I'll mostly be writing up environmental scientific reports and cooler stuff will come along as I get acquainted with the department. So I'm pretty excited about being able to keep my foot in the Public Service door because that is where I want to stay!

And lastly, least exciting of all to everyone else, but pretty damn exciting to me; I got my new glasses! I can see again! I ventured to my optometrist's office on Monday (I trudged through the snowstorm and almost got run over by a rampaging snowplow). I told her about how the losers at Lenscrafters wouldn't even consider fixing my glasses and she told me "Oh yeah, I used to work there, they were just trying to get you to buy a whole new pair." Stupid Lenscrafters; what ever happened to customer service?

Well, with all of this exciting stuff happening, it's really kept me distracted from the dreaded end of my fabulous job at AAFC and the impending move back to chez mom and pop. It's really nice to have things to look forward to! Oh yeah... cruise in 8 days too! The excitement just doesn't end!


Monday, January 08, 2007

Happy New Year - You're Blind!

What a great way to start off the new year: fumbling around in a visual haze.

On January 2nd, my first day back at work, my glasses fell on the floor and broke. Just wonderful. I figure I had it coming, considering my bad habit of always putting my glasses on my head when they're not on my face. Mike said he was surprised it didn't happen earlier, since they often slipped off my head and fell to the floor whenever I wouls tilt my head up to give him a kiss. Okay so yeah, it was coming and perhaps I deserved it. But why on the first day back after the holidays?

Anyway, the logistics of getting my glasses replaced have become retardedly complicated. After the initial 'accident' I phoned my mom, who got in contact with my optometrist. Her office informed mom that my frames had been discontinued, so just replacing the frames wouldn't be possible. But they called back the next day to say that the designer's new model was the same as the old one, they just had new colours. Good enough for me, I thought; then I wouldn't have to pay for new lenses, just the new frames. So mom was nice enough to ship the 3 new frames to me in Ottawa. I chose some frames that I rather liked and kept them so I could bring them to Lenscrafters on the weekend (keep in mind I spent the whole week either without glasses, or with my glasses perched precariously on my nose - no moving, or else they'll fall off!). Anyway, I made my way to Lenscrafters (in the rain, of course) just to have them tell me that the new frames were, in fact, not the same shape as the old ones. Therefore, they wouldn't switch the lenses for me. Apparently this could be damaging for the eyes... but what do I know? All I knew was that I now had a useless set of frames that my mom kindly paid for, a useless pair of glasses that barely stay on my face, and two eyes that still can't see properly for at least another week. Wonderful. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper on Saturday.

Now, I have to get back in touch with my optometrist and see if they'll be willing to make my old lenses fit into the new frames. If not, I'll have to cough up $300 for a whole new pair of glasses. Because of course, I'm not insured.


Friday, January 05, 2007

For Your Entertainment

Okay, here are a few photos from Christmastime. While Mike and I made sure to take lots of photos with our new camera, we unfortunately only bought it on Boxing Day, so everything all of the photos I have are post-Chistmas. Oh well!

The Assest Management department Christmas party

Girls night!

Testing the egg nog on New Year's Eve

Spreading the joy of Piddle Paddle


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

It's Peanut-Butter Jelly Time!

Isn't amazing how quickly the holidays go by?? I was off for a week and a half and it felt like maybe... 4 days. And going back to work on January 2nd is tough stuff. I feel like I never even had a break! There was somewhere we had to be every single day of the holiday and we were perpetually busy. But you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way!

I guess Christmas this year was pretty standard, nothing out of the ordinary happened. But that's good, because that means it was great! Theoretically, this was the last year my family will be all together on Christmas morning, so we made it a good one! This was, however, my biggest Boxing Day ever: Mike and I bought ourselves a new digital camera (8 mega pixels, baby!) and our very own Christmas tree for next year, the first Christmas in our house together! So it was pretty exciting, these were our first purcahses together, which has, in a way, made this whole home-buying thing all the more real to me. It seems like things are finally moving along!

The only disappointing part about the holidays was that I never got a chance to drive! Throughout the whole week and a half off, I was either out, the weather was terrible or the car wasn't available. Sucks. But I'll get my chance when I move back to Montreal.

My time here in Ottawa is wrapping up pretty quickly. After this week I only have one week left at work. And the week after that is moving time. And the part I hate the most about moving is that I'll be back at my parents' house. The loss of independence is going to be really, really unpleasant; I felt it enough throughout the holidays. It's funny how quickly one can get used to being alone.

Anyway, when I have more time I'll post some photos from the holidays... the photos taken with our new digital camera!

In the meantime:

If you were there, you'll understand.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

I'll Be Home For Christmas

And the journey back to Montreal really wasn't that bad! I was afraid the bus station would be a complete nut-house, and it kind of was, but I ended up catching a bus after a short 10 minute wait, which is awesome! Actually, we might have been able to leave a little earlier, had it not been for the news lady trying to tape her story at the bus station. Several people in front of me in line, there was the news lady doing take after take in which she would walk through our line, spread her arms out and say something like "If you're trying to get home for the holidays, this is what you're up against." And then scene. The cameraman was standing on a bench, panning around the bus station for shots of the crowd. Anyway, we were delayed getting on the bus because the news lady evidently needed us in the crowd to illustrate her point! Had we all gotten on the bus, well there wouldn't have been much of a crowd!

So now that I'm home, my first task will be to wrap all the Christmas gifts I bought... that'll be a big job! Maybe I'll wait until after dinner...!