Our Fake Family

Today is post-call day 2/3 in 6 days. I am glad I don’t stem from the day and age that everyone did regular 1 in 2 or 3 call. It is painful. Even the cardiologist I am on service with thinks it is crazy.

Last night was a bit rough. Not Gen Surg rough, but 2h of sleep rough.

But then, I get to come home to my lovely family. Patrick, the cat dog and our apartment house in the middle of a snowstorm. We are dog sitting for one of the other residents in our program and tonight because we like the dog and because the weather is suboptimal for three trips to the dog’s house, we are having a sleep over.

I kind of feel like the song “Let It Snow” is relevant.

I had a nice post-call nap and we are settled in for an evening of books, movies and Scrabble. I am even wearing my sweet new PJs from Patrick’s sister. All in our pretend house with our pretend dog. All we need is a pretend baby (although baby may hamper my sleep).


Also, we found this gem… A snowman either building, kissing, or as I prefer beheadding another snowman.

Simple days like this make life great (I only hope it rains a bunch again to take the snow all way before we have to leave in the morning).

Holly Jolly Christmas

We had a delightful Christmas at home.

And now it is time to go back to work tomorrow… By myself… Covering Cardiology… Look out world.

Nothing better than diving in head first.

The whole time was a big reminder of how blessed we are to have wonderful family and friends.

I feel like we need a vacation from the vacation because we spent so much of it with people.   We did manage to fit in pretty much all of our usual holiday traditions in half the time (lights with my parents, brunch with Patrick’s family, Christmas dinners with both families and all of the grandparents, M family potluck, church, Christmas Eve church, festivities with the kids, Christmas party with the friends, girls’ time, latte dates).  In fact, I think we spent as much time with our families as we would any other holiday.  A bit less time with friends, but still some good quality time.  The only thing I missed was the team Nuc Med hangout and cupcakes with my med school friends… But, you can’t do it all every time, I suppose.

Bonus to it all was a sunny drive in both directions (a win this time of year).

And we came home to a house covered in catnip and shredded paper thanks to Jeter’s mad redecorating skills.

Merry belated Christmas and Merry Boxing Day!

Christmas at the Market

Today, I went to the City Market with the Child for vanilla snowflake lattes and a stroll. I felt like a tourist because it has been ages since I have been there.

The Market is a classic city locale. The roof is the hull of a boat and they go all out festive. Today, there was even a man dressed in period clothing wearing Dickens.

It feels like Christmas!




Merry Christmas Vacation

Christmas vacation is officially here!

It even started a bit early for me.

You see, yesterday was academic half day (aka physics time).  It was also my second (but, when you factor in that the first day doesn’t start until 2pm, it was really more my first) day of cardiology.  So, of course I was running late trying to tie up loose ends and failing at not looking like a total idiot.

By the time I had signed over to the on call person on my team, it was time for physics.  Problem: I was at another hospital.  Solution: I ran.

Okay, reality check… I actually ran for all of 30 seconds, maybe a minute, then remembered I am still a bit weak from the whole gastro thing, rather out of shape secondary to this whole residency taking away my gym time and it is winter and my asthma was not having it (not to mention I can’t run on the best of days).  I then powerwalked the rest of the way to the hospital.  Only to get a text from my junior physics counterpart (because, of course there are only two of us in the class) that there was no class today.

So, there I was sweaty, hungry and a touch woozy at the physics department.  I ate lunch and then came to an amazing epiphany… I was in protected time until 5.  That meant that I was actually off kind of early for my 6 days of glorious vacation.

I mentally frolicked home… In my head, I kind of looked like this (but vacation was the only source of my bliss… Not Viagra).

I cleaned the house (Jeter supervised).  I cooked for the potluck we were going to that night (Jeter also supervised).  I packed for home (he supervised that too).

So now, as we hide our tree from the cat so as to avoid him causing further destruction while we are away (on an aside, we had a mini fake bet last night that he would take the tree out last night despite us having gifts around it… Well, I thought he would, Patrick was more trusting.  The tree was still standing.  Shocking.  It, however was missing bits this morning), I continue to rejoice.  There is just something delightful about going home for the holidays.  And about having holidays.   Oh, and the fact that my parents have a fabulous white tree.IMG_0009

Even if I do need to start reading about cardiology, so as to avoid looking like an idiot when I get back (especially because I will be the ONLY housestaff on for a week), this shall be a Merry Christmas and a Merry Vacation!

Rain On My Parade

Sometimes a person can do some silly things.  And those silly things can bring great joy (and dampness).

This was one of those days.

I worked today.

In the morning it snowed.

Image via flickr.com.

I regretted not wearing socks with my shoes.  I am not generally a huge snow fan, but it was looking a lot like Christmas (*cue song here).  And it was all pretty and wintery outside.

Then, it stopped snowing.  That was even better… I could walk home, hopefully before it changed completely to rain.

3 kids came in with lacerations.  All of them were received playing outside on the playground during lunch at school… Promising.  That meant kids were outside.  That meant it wasn’t raining and it couldn’t be that wet out.  The walk home won’t suck that much after all.

I finally get out of work after sewing up hole in face number three (bonus… none of the kids slapped me today).  I start to walk towards the exit when I see it… The water.  Everywhere.  It is raining.  Not just raining.  It is pouring.  Mammals were falling from the sky.  And it is windy and hovering just above freezing.

Pretty much what I saw when I looked out the window. And a bit what it felt like… Except cold. Image from nashvillescene.com.

I am wearing a wool peacoat.  No hood.  Old flats… No socks, but a potential leak.

Epic fail.

I contemplate hiding out in the library at work.  I do have a giant presentation to prep for.  But wait… I have no memory stick and all but two of the papers I printed are at home.

I weigh out the options.

25 minute walk… I will freeze and drown.

Taxi… $7.00 to drive 5 minutes.  Not bad, but really, I am kind of cheap.

Bus… There is a stop near our building and near the hospital.  Timing will be about the same.  I won’t melt from a few minutes outside.  Seems like a happy medium.

I check the schedule and start walking.  The bus was on time (I was amazed at this after my experiences at our prior home).  But, by the time I got to the stop I was drenched.  I was literally dripping.  My shoes were squishing and I was cold, but at least not frozen.

At first I sat on the bus kind of bitter.  For 5 more dollars, I could have taken a taxi.  But, then I was a mother wrangling a kid away from a puddle walking down the street.  I remembered how fun that was and decided to look at the bright side.

This looks so fun. And it is. So long as you don’t mind being soggy. Image from creativecoolcatcontemplations.blogspot.com.

I am an adult, on my own, soaking wet, with another brief walk in the rain ahead.  I could be bitter and cold, or I could embrace the weather and my already soaked feet.

So, I embraced the weather.  On the way home (don’t kill me, Mom), I splashed through every puddle.  I mentally frolicked (we live downtown, so I can’t do something too ridiculous like actually frollick, at least not without the partnership of another person).  I sang the song below to myself because it seemed appropriate at the moment (not aloud, that would get me committed).

I did this all the while wearing a wool peacoat, dress pants and carrying a brown leather messenger bag and patterned lunch box.  I am like a child-working adult fusion.

By the time I got to the building (one minute at the most), I was really no soggier than I was before, but I was pretty happy feeling, despite my drowned rat appearance.

Me minus the life preserver.Image from blogs.cornell.edu.

Me minus the life preserver.
Image from blogs.cornell.edu.

The cat drank the water I dumped out of my shoes (true story).  I had to change pants and dry off.

It confirmed again that I really should invest in some rain boots, but like a coat with a hood, there is an astute probability I wouldn’t have them when I needed them.

But, it was a strangely satisfying experience overall.

Funny how life works sometimes (this may be an indicator I still need to correct my schedule after the weekend or that I have been spending far too much time with children).

Sheila’s Brush?

Trisha, Patrick and Jag, meet Sheila’s Brush.

Yesterday, we had an appointment to take Jag, our beloved 8 year old (car) to get her winter boots taken off, and get a check/up and such (for more explanation on why Jag is called Jag refer to the post here).  Jag did great and we somehow managed to come out not significantly poorer than when we went in… Always a good day.

Anyway, when Patrick dropped him off, the guy at the garage kindly pointed out that we are to have a snowstorm tomorrow (today).  Despite this and remembering that the last two years we haven’t had our winter tires off until mid-May because we waited until the April rush, we opted to get Jag’s shoes changed and hope for the best.

**On a completely unrelated note, when I was picking Jag up, the guy at the garage who is fascinated with the fact that our car has so much mileage asked if we were going to have a party when we reach 300,000km.  I said probably.  I told Patrick this.  He thinks it is a great idea.**

Alright, back to the main story…

So, last night at small group, we watched for the snow to start (which it did at approximately 11pm) and discussed the pending “Snowmegeddon” as we call it.  This year, we have had a few storms that were so-called “Snowmegeddons,” but most kind of turned out to be not much of anything.  There should be a qualifier that “not much of anything” is still definitely something.  But, perhaps this would be a big Snowmegeddon… And almost in April.  We got strangely excited, the sick people we are.

All of this late March/early April snow is not unusual.  One year, we had two late March snow days.  There is always a good April storm or two.  Snow keeps falling from time to time until at least May.  One year, I remember there being a couple centimeters the last week in May.  Ugh.

One of our friends is from Florida and she was telling us how she used to pray that God would send them snow.  I think He listened… He just waited a few years until she moved.  Too funny.  Especially when as soon as the snow started, she bolted out to go home before it accumulated at all.

Out our front door this morning. Oh, how delightful.

Nonetheless, leave it to us to get our tires off (yes, by choice) before the snow is over.   It has just been that kind of winter.  We also got our winter tires on the day after the first giant snowstorm.   Epic fail.  At least we are fairly well adjusted to winter driving.  Unfortunately, we live in the middle of a hill.

So, what is with the Sheila’s Brush thing?  Well, I was trying to check the weather online and I found this article on The Weather Network.  Apparently Sheila’s Brush is a winter storm that traditionally falls on St. Patrick’s day (but can fall on other days in early spring) that is supposed to sweep away the rest of winter.  I sure hope it does.  But, being realistic, I think we still have a bit of winter to go.  Just not quite as much as we are getting in one giant heap here.

It sometimes seems frustrating the weather we get on this blasted island.  Everyone else is starting to get sunshine and warmth and we get a small blizzard.  But, on the bright side, it is generally really beautiful.  And friendly.  And unique.  I think it makes up for the disgusting weather.

Out one of our kitchen windows. The beauty of living in a basement apartment in this lovely land.

Plus, the weather always gives you something to talk about.  When you live in the city that was deemed to have the worst weather in the country, it has to be of some sort of benefit.

So, enjoy your sunshine.  We will be possibly going sledding later today.  And I have to try to make my way out to get a hair cut (sounds ridiculous, but it will be SO worth it).  The beauty of snow days is that when there is nowhere you really have to be, you have no choice but to relax and have a bit of fun (minus the shoveling).

Iceberg dead ahead!

Today, Patrick and I took a friend that Patrick made at International Christmas out to lunch (at Cora’s… How Canadian of us).  More on that part of the adventure another time.  While there, we were admiring the view of the harbour and Signal Hill and we discovered that he had never been up to Signal Hill before.  Well, one thing one cannot miss when in town is Signal Hill, so we decided to take him up.

It was a unseasonably beautiful day… Not in temperature.  I lost feeling in my hands almost instantly upon exiting the car.  And the wind was, as usual, blow you off the edge of the cliff if you’re not careful.  But, it was sunny and clear.  

We were in for a special treat.  A few icebergs from last year have recently floated their way near the harbour and were visible from Signal Hill.  Usually this only happens in late summer, so this is a pretty big deal.  Plus, most of the really good ones are usually seen from other parts of the island.  But somehow, a few have floated down near enough that they can be seen from a place that I usually consider the most beautiful in the city.

The icebergs were very small, especially at surface level, but that doesn’t change how amazing they are.  These icebergs made a massive journey from the north.  They have been steadily shrinking.  And yet they are here.  And they are interesting to see, even though at face level they weren’t.  You see, most of the iceberg is under water.  Much like people, we only see the surface, but things go much deeper than that.  And they come from a long history that we often can’t even really imagine.

Icebergs! Woot!

Wee berg.

Despite the cold, the beautiful scenery gave me hope for spring and reminded me of the beauty that comes from a mix of nature and history.  I am glad we got to share it with our new friend from far away.

Buh buh buh bennie and the jets… And a curling iron.

I had one of those mornings this morning.   And it involves an amazing Elton John classic.

I decided (somewhat stupidly) to curl my hair.  Now, I like my hair curled.  I do not like to make the effort to curl my hair.  I, however, was embracing my vacation and decided that where I had nowhere to be and nothing better to do, I would curl my hair.

My parents were out, so I turned up my iTunes, put on some classics and got to work.

I have freakishly thick hair.  Quite lovely, but it makes for a tough curl.  So, it takes a while.  And I get bored and distracted.

At one point I began using the curling iron as a microphone.  And dancing around badly.  Until I burnt a finger and tripped.

Okay, really I carried on after all of that happening.

Then, the song “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John came on.  Now, that is a great song.  Something about the beat that makes it ridiculously fun to sing and dance along to.  Plus, after watching 27 Dresses, the song has a new entertainment value when I remember the famed scene.   Cracks me up every time.  Even when I was listening to the song alone in the airport on my iPod.

All that to say that I am glad nobody was home or witnessed that action.  Except God.  And He is used to my antics.  He created me to be that way.  Or at least lets me be that way.

It was stormy out here today.  Everyone is claiming I brought the weather from where Patrick is.  I have hardly been there long enough to have done that.  The stormy weather definitely put a damper on the hair.  And the winter carnival festivities.  But more on those another time.  At least I get to enjoy the Habs-Leafs game on my parents’ giant TV.

What songs do you love to rock out to?

Snow days and other S-words

Today is a snow day… For Patrick.  Actually, the university is closed, so if I were working this week and not on call, it would be one for me too.  But, I am already on pre-CaRMS tour vacation, so that is a moot point.

Growing up, snow days were inevitable and produced much excitement and angst.  When I was a kid, I was such a big geek/school-lover, I would be crushed by having to stay home from school because of the snow.  It wasn’t until high school I embraced the beauty of the snow day.  There are few snow days remaining for me.  Once residency hits, no more of that.  Patrick, however, as a teacher, will likely savor the beauty of snow days for the rest of his working life.  Lucky guy.

Snow days are put in place so that we are protected from hitting the roads when things are especially treacherous.  They also act as lovely mini vacations.  Until you have to shovel.  Shoveling is not so much of a time… It is exercise.  But it is also cold and wet.  And you have to do it multiple times because Mr. Plowman never seems to coordinate with your shoveling and driving schedule.  But nonetheless, a day with no obligatory work… Unless you work from home, or work at a job (like 90% of the population) where you work regardless of snow.   For some, like us today, snow days are little winter Sabbaths.

Patrick has a snow day routine, which involves things like sleeping in, reading in bed and not showering until after the driveway is shoveled.  I don’t have much of a routine aside from sleeping in (not as long as Patrick, as I will inevitably get a migraine that would counteract snow day bliss).  We often watch TV or movies, read books and I try to catch up on work (either of the school or house variety).

Today’s snow day is a bit of a blessing in disguise (okay, not much of a surprise) because I leave tomorrow for the cross-Canada road trip adventure.  We get to spend the day together and enjoy each other’s company a bit more than we would if he were working.  How delightful.  I just hope it stops snowing early enough that we can still pull off small group tonight.  And get the shoveling done before dark.

We had soup for lunch.  Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup.  The kind that can throw you into congestive heart failure due to the sodium content.  At least we are having hummus and pitas with it…. The box suggested it.  I went with it.

Now, for some other wonderful things that start with S…

Supper.  I cooked some delights of the Indian variety the other night for supper.  I thought I should share.   This was my first time cooking with coconut milk… And experience I intend to repeat.  Also, these two dishes and some rice made enough food for supper, lunch the next day and a perfect frozen lunch in a tupperware container.  My kind of meal.

Chickpeas in Coconut Milk:

  • 2 cups peeled potatoes cut into 2cm pieces.
  • A cup hot water
  • 1 can of chickpeas, well rinsed
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  1. Put potatoes and hot water in saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook covered until potatoes are soft.  Add the chickpeas and cook uncovered for another 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the coconut milk and salt and simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring often until brown.  Then, add the coriander, turmeric and chili powder.  Cook while stirring for another 30 seconds.
  4. Mix the oil and spice mixture with the chickpea mixture.
  5. Simmer for 5 minutes, then serve.

    Chickpeas in Coconut Milk.

Mushroom Bhaji:

  • One package (250-300g) mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp dried chilies
  • 2 tsp garlic puree
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (you can also substitute ketchup for a slightly sweeter taste)
  • 3 tbsp hot water
  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan.  Add onion and chilies and cook until soft, then add garlic.  Cook until mixture is brown.
  2. Add the cumin, coriander and chili powder to the mixture and cook, stirring often for 1 minute.
  3. Add the mushrooms, tomato paste and hot water and mix well.  Reduce heat to low and cover for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir and cook uncovered until sauce reaches desired consistency, then serve.

    Not the most aesthetically pleasing picture, but nonetheless this mushroom dish was the perfect blend of spices and mushroom-y goodness.

(Fake) Starbucks.  It was a stretch to get an S out of that one… Actually, I tried to make my own latte yesterday with coffee, nuked milk and my milk frother.  It was a good approximation, though not as good as having one with actual expresso.

Best part about fake Starbucks... Getting to use my own pretty mug. And it is significantly cheaper.

Shows.  Thanks to the snow day, Patrick and I will watch a bit of TV.  Currently, the only show I need to catch up on is Grey’s Anatomy.  And only the episode from last night.  This whole being on vacation thing has minimized my TV catch-up requirements.  I have actually watched some things on time.  Bizarre.  On another note, yes, I watch Grey’s.   How stereotypical of me.  I have watched it since the beginning.  I get rage when it is too unrealistic.  But I am attached to the characters, as sad as it is.

Songs.  This blog is actually titled after a line from a Relient K song (one of Patrick’s favorite bands ever).  The song is all about long distance relationships and getting through difficult times and changes.  We often sing it in the car (well, we… er I… sing a lot of things in the car).  It has always resonated with me because I always look back at what is done and what we got through and conclude that things are going to get better.  It also reminds me of how God is along with us on the whole  journey.  New things come up, but it is my bit of optimism.  Thus, the title of the blog.  

What are some of your favorite snow day activities?

New Years… Up too late and making irrational life changes

I am not an especially festive person, though the number of posts I wrote about Christmas may make one think otherwise.  Celebrating the New Year is no real exception to this.  Why have an epic party to celebrate a date in which our calendar changes.  It is just a date that was picked by someone based on the moons or something ridiculous like that.  Definitely a festivity as silly and cheesy as Valentine’s Day.  Plus, you are forced to stay up way past your bedtime and make noise at midnight.  Then there is the kissing at midnight… ugh.

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in.  A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.  ~Bill Vaughan

The start of the New Year is the prototypical “I am going to change myself” time of year.  Everyone seems to be coming up with something new to do or try.  There are a billion ads on TV about weight loss and exercise programs.  I am going to have to crowd my way into the gym when I choose to show up because the population increased by over 50% with people who will disappear again by mid-February.

Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits.  ~Author Unknown

Its not that I am against self-improvement.  And one of the best ways is to have a determined date of change.  And accountability.  New Years resolutions give you that.  But why do them if they won’t stick.  And why January 1?  I much prefer random days like… December 13, for instance.  Or perhaps June 11, my Birthday.  Nonetheless all of this resolution talk gets me thinking.  Today, the message in church was about changes in the new year (well, sort of).   The pastor spoke on three main themes for the new year being store up, stir up and step up.

  1. Store up:  Jesus was an efficient guy.  He didn’t waste things.  See John 6:12.  There are things that have happened to us in the last year that we can value and look back on as learning point
  2. Stir up: Refer to Timothy 1:6.  Paul was giving Timothy a pep talk.  We have a purpose in our life.  We need to remind ourselves of that purpose.  Don’t get too comfortable.
  3. Step up: Be ready for action.  We have to be willing to act on things and not just what we do in public, but also in private.  We need to act on what is important and maintain focus.

These are lovely baselines for life changes.  Think about how the changes are honoring to God, not just yourself.

I am not setting any resolutions… I am anti-resolution.  Well, sort of.  But, over the course of this year I have a few plans.  One is to get tighter with God.  To really know Him, not only through reading my Bible more (this past year I finally read the thing concurrently and entirely, pretty exciting), but through prayer and quality time.  Another is to better serve others in my work by learning more and doing more.  Growing in my career.  Growing in my relationships.  All that stereotypical stuff.  But for real.  In other stereotypical things… I have some structured goals that I want achieve, but they aren’t exactly new.  I, of course want to be healthier and go to the gym more often than not (goal… twice per week minimum), maybe read more fun books (one per month minimum), try to write regularly (once per week).  I guess I know I can’t do all of those things.  At least not without God first and without serving others by an extent of the other things.  Basically I just want to grow and what comes of it will come hopefully, but not always meeting my little goals along the way.

Down with resolutions… Despite having made some… Sort of.