Thursday, 27 December 2012

Second Merlin Rant

Please Note: Anyone who has not yet seen the MERLIN series finale, this rant/review is full of major spoilers.

As previously mentioned, what had drawn me to the show in the first place was it's magical charm. It followed the adventures of King Arthur and his friend/servant/wizard Merlin. There were a few episodes here and there that I didn't enjoy, but it was overall enjoyable. In the end, it was the series finale that took the prize in being the worse episode ever.

The scene that shocked me the most in the entire series was when Mordred had betrayed Merlin and revealed to Morgana that Merlin was Emrys. As soon as he (Mordred) said, "It is Merlin!" I let out a loud gasp, put my hand over my mouth and began anxiously waiting for the epic battle in the finale. I don't know why it surprised me when I already know how the legend of King Arthur ends. Arthur is destined to be betrayed and killed by the hands of his noble knight, Mordred. And of course, Morgana would have had to find out about Emrys one way or another.

With everything going the way it was, there were a few things I wanted to know: How will Arthur find out about Merlin's secret? Will Mordred and/or Morgana die? Was Arthur actually going to die, or would they change the end on a high note? Considering that they changed so much of the legend already, there was a shred of hope in me for a happy ending.

So the episode starts off with old Merlin striking his staff, and instantaneously killing Morgana's evil army. Within ten minutes into the episode, the "epic battle" has come to an end. I was expecting Merlin to use his Dragonlord magic and bring in his Great Dragon friend to join in the fun, but Kilgharrah doesn't show up until the end. (I'll get to that in a bit.)

After most of the army has died, Mordred comes up from behind and stabs Arthur in the back (very artistically, I may add.) Arthur then turns around and stabs and kills Mordred. Old Merlin finds Arthur and begins his mission to save his friend.

Of course, everyone was waiting for the big reveal to see how Arthur finds out about Merlin's secret. In my head, I thought it would be Merlin getting caught using his magic. But instead, it ends up being a very sad Merlin crying and saying "I am a sorcerer. I have magic." Which then leads to Merthur (Merlin/Arthur) going through the whole episode fighting like a married couple. Arthur is able to witness a few of Merlin's magic tricks, but it's very rushed and gives him little time to react to the big secret he just discovered.

Meanwhile, Sir Gwaine and Sir Percival are on a mission to find Morgana, and in the process, she succeeds in killing Gwaine. As if Sir Lancelot and Sir Elyan just wasn't enough of Camelot's knights being killed by Morgana, they just had to kill Gwaine.

Finally, Morgana meets Merlin and Arthur in the woods, which leads to her death. She gets stabbed in the chest by Merlin. Morgana is unable to die from any mortal blade, but Merlin's sword (like Morgana's) is forged in a dragon's breath. After all the wrath Morgana released on Camelot, I thought she got a very quick and easy death.

Merlin is still persistent on his mission to take Arthur to the lake of Avalon, where he hopes to restore his battle wound and prevent him from dying. Merlin and Arthur's horses get scared away, so he finally summons Kilgharrah for some assistance to fly them to Avalon. When they finally reach the lake, The Great Dragon reveals to Merlin there is no way Arthur can be saved, he is dying and even the most powerful wizard can do nothing to change that. The Great Dragon tells Merlin that Arthur will arise once again.

Arthur's death scene was the only thing I liked. It was emotional and it really showed how much Merlin always meant to Arthur, even thought he'd often tease him and give him a hard time. Merlin and Arthur both end up fulfilling their destinies, and the scene goes back to Camelot where Lady Gweneviere is the successor to the kingdom of Camelot. I don't understand how exactly they knew Arthur died? Merlin had Arthur's funeral all by himself at Avalon, and there was no way of him sending word back to Camelot. I thought Kilgharra and Merlin would have took Arthur's body back to Camelot, so Gwen could have seen her husband one last time. As if that wasn't bad enough, you suddenly see a truck driving by and a modern day old Merlin (looking like a hobo) walking down the street, peering out to the lake of Avalon, the end. I didn't understand the last scene at first, but after doing a bit of research, I found out it indicated Merlin has been waiting all those years for his friend Arthur to arise, so he can serve him once again.

It was a terrible way to end the series. The whole charm of the show was that it was set in medieval times, and the fact that they ended the series in modern day just ruined everything. I couldn't believe that is what it was all leading up to.

Whether it is a book, movie or TV show I find it really unsatisfying when the story is amazing through out and then they rob you of a good ending. I don't know what the writers were trying to pull, but that was an epic fail.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012


There are just a handful of TV shows I watch, BBC's Merlin being amongst the few. The series has been on for five years, and I can't express how much I love this show and here's why. Those who follow my other blog know how much I love wizards and magic, and that's what Merlin brought to the table. The story of Merlin and Arthur is set in the medieval days when magic is outlawed in the city of Camelot. Merlin becomes Arthur's head servant, forcing himself to hide his magic powers from his King/friend all these years. I have a soft spot for stories set in the medieval times. I just find something fantastical about castles, sword fights, knights and magic. I also found the series was relatively family oriented. The story lines were clean, and the overall message of the show was to believe in yourself and stand up for what you believe in. The legend of King Arthur has been retold many times, in many different versions, and this was no exception. 
Last night, the show all came to an end with it's series finale. The ending was rather unsatisfying. I don't want to give too much away (in case someone is watching, or wishes to watch.) However, I will say this: It was all leading up to a great battle with King Arthur and his knights fighting the evil Lady Morgana. I expected a whole lot more to happen during the battle and I thought everything was very rushed. As previously mentioned, one of the reasons I watched the show was because of it's magical charm. The very last scene of the episode took all of that away for me. I was expecting to get a bit teary eyed because it's all over, but instead I was scratching my head and asking myself, "Um... what just happened?"

The writer's did such a fantastic job of keeping the story line interesting through out the entire series, but it almost felt like there was no thought whatsoever put into the end. It's a shame Merlin is not real and can't cast a spell to make me forget that awful end to such a great story.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Diary of 2 Cats: Kitten Edition (part 6)

I think I'll have to rename my upcoming posts, considering Tiger is not a kitten anymore! I thought I recorded his vet updates but it turns out I didn't. The last time we took him to the (second) vet office, there was a different vet on duty. This was roughly about two months ago. I was kind of frustrated that we weren't seeing the same vet again but it actually worked out in my favour in the end. So this would be the third vet whose examining Tiger.

This third vet we saw ended up being the most helpful compared to the previous two. He did a thorough test of Tiger by putting a green dye in both his eyes. When the dye leaked out through his right nostril but not his left, the doctor declared there is a blockage between the left nose and eye canal. He explained to us this is a chronic condition which can possibly be fixed by steroids (which we bought and used. But it did no good.) He then said if the steroids don't work, there is a small procedure you can get done which will implant an opening into his tear duct. However, he very clearly stated there's still no guarantee this condition will clear and it'll cost us an arm and a leg.

It turns out as long as he's eating, drinking, playing and is not showing any pain or discomfort towards his eye infection, it's nothing to worry about. It'll certainly be annoying to constantly have to clean the leakage from his eye on a regular basis but the vet said it will annoy us more then it'll annoy him and I think my little Tiger is worth the extra mile =).

On a side note: I noticed Pepper's behaviour is much naughtier then Tiger's, which I find pretty ironic! Pepper is the one constantly attempting to open all my kitchen cabinets and scratch up the furniture while Tiger runs away with a single spray of water. My theory is since we got Tiger as a kitten, he was easier to train. We missed Pepper's kittenhood so perhaps he was already set in his naughty ways!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Puppy Mills

We've all heard it a million times. Never get an animal from a pet store because the animal you are adopting is most likely a product of a puppy mill. Puppy mills are notorious for their cruelty and neglect towards their animals. Animals are often housed in tiny cages with sharp wiring on the bottom which leads to injured paw pads. Many have even been known not to provide their animals with proper food or water and many animals are often left to starve to death. It is a horrific living condition for these sweet creatures. It is a business, that's all it is. These animals are used to mass produce animals so the breeder can make a profit. A YouTube video even showed a breeder forcing two rabbits to mate when the female was clearly trying to run away.

On the contrary, it is important to note in the city of Toronto many pet stores have affiliations with local shelters and non-profit organizations like Toronto Cat Rescue. That's not to say that NONE of their animals come from such breeding facilities. However, it's still a step in the right direction.

Many pet stores will host as a temporary location for adoptathons. Furthermore, some pet shops have affiliations with local shelters. They transport the animals from the shelter to the pet store to give the animal more exposure. There ARE reputable breeders out there who treat their animals with love and care.

However, it is simply a matter of doing your homework. Although you may feel you are doing a good thing by taking a pet home, keep in mind it could have a dirty little secret.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Miscellaneous Updates

I've been feeling really busy and overwhelmed lately. Last month, I was busy with family visiting from out of town. We ended up going out a lot for lunches, dinners and such. This month has been relatively quiet, aside from weekend social activities. The first weekend, my family got together for a Thanksgiving potluck. Although we don't celebrate it, we did have turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and the whole nine yards. The weekend following, my husband and I decided to go to Go For Tea for Bubble Tea late at night. Mind you, I love me my flavoured teas and coffees. This time, I tried honeydew pearl milk tea which was divine. On a side note, I've discovered the bubble tea place at my local mall to be quite tasty as well. But the ambiance is not as good as Go For Tea (a gorgeous modern tea house which specializes in Chinese food and many bubble tea flavours.)

Last weekend, we got together with family (again) for Eid. This week has been quiet so far, aside from mild affects of Hurricane Sandy making it's way to parts of Toronto. Thank God we were not affected at all, we still have our power. But I know some neighbourhoods did lose it for nearly twenty four hours.

I've been trying to make some changes in my life. I'm thinking of doing the unthinkable and going back to school soon. There is no saying when, but it's something I truly want. My research indicates it is not that cheap (as most of already know)! I have a passion for cooking and baking and wish to get into culinary school. I want to learn how to cook the kind of professional food they cook on the Food Network.

Also, I'm currently part of two book clubs but have decided to drop one of them. It is just becoming overwhelming always having to read a book for book club, it feels almost like a chore. I love reading and don't want this to take that away from me. I decided to leave the library one (my other one is one I started with friends.) It was a tough decision to make. I love being a part of both of them, but I think it's for the best.

Cat Update: We recently got Pepper microchipped. Tiger was already chipped from the day we adopted him. We just felt like it was the responsible thing to do.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Birthday Lunch

I had my "Golden Birthday" last Thursday, as I turned 27 on the 27th (of September.) In my opinion, it was a special birthday. This is something that will only happen once in a lifetime. I normally do not do anything special on my birthday. But this year, I decided to celebrate. Originally, I wanted to meet my friends at a restaurant downtown. I called them on Monday evening, asking how early I need to place a reservation for the weekend and the lady on the phone said, at least two days. I called back on Wednesday to make my reservation but was told that the weekend was fully booked due to Nuit Blanche. Furthermore, she said for a weekend reservation I should have called a week before!!! I complained to her and told her I did call on Monday and was told I could still place a reservation. If I had known at that time, I would have just placed my reservation right then and there. Anyways, I had to change my location a few days before the lunch to a nearby restaurant. I was disappointed at first, but it turned out fine in the end. I still enjoyed myself.

I expected eight of my friends to come, but three cancelled at the last minute. I tried not to let it get to me and I just enjoyed the day with the people who did come. We had a lovely lunch and some of us went for a walk by a nearby water fountain after lunch. I got a few really nice presents from some of the guests (which I really didn't expect.)

The last birthday I had celebrated before this was my thirteenth. I remember my three best friends had invited me over to one of their houses for dinner the night of my big day. I didn't expect it to be a party, I thought we'd just hang out. As I arrived to my friends house, I realized there was food and presents! So it was somewhat of a surprise party! I got a make up set and some little decoration pieces. The girls did a little makeover on me after we ate. It was loads of fun. I don't know why I haven't done my birthday since. My parents normally get me a cake, but this was the first time after many years I did something. I'm glad I did and I had a wonderful time with my loved ones.

On another note: We took Tiger to another vet for a second opinion. He's gone through more tests and medications and his eye infection is still there. Plus the vet wasn't able to give us any answers. I've come to the conclusion it's a chronic thing. I've done all I can to help him with it, I don't know what else I can do.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Friendship Has No Boundaries

Today we observed the thirteenth fast of Ramadan. So far, it's going good. The first day was hard, then my body got used to it. We've been breaking our fast with dates, fruit salad, yogurt shakes, and of course regular dinners such as baryani, pasta, meatloaf, etc.

I have a friend I made in my building a few years back. She is a devout Christian who goes to church every night. I ran into her this afternoon and she gave me a nice surprise. She gave me a headscarf as a Ramadan gift and it really put a smile on my face. I'm so lucky to have such great friends. I've never let religious beliefs come in the way of my relationships. My best friend is also Christian and I clearly remember her giving me Christmas presents as kids, meanwhile I would give her eid presents. One holiday, Christmas and Eid had fallen around the same time and we exchanged holiday gifts. I remember her giving me a necklace and I gave her chocolates. Friendship really has no boundaries, in my humble opinion. 

Thursday, 19 July 2012


Our holy month of Ramadan is starting tomorrow. We will be fasting everyday for an entire month. We will be eating in the morning before sunrise and will not be able to eat, drink or have sexual intercourse until after sunset. Growing up, I never understood the true meaning of Ramadan. As an adult, I now look at it on a much deeper level. One of the first things people ask me when I tell them I'm fasting is "Wow. Don't you get hungry? It can't be healthy to eat nothing all day." Yes, I do get hungry. That's natural. But we fast for a much more spiritual reason. Fasting gives us some insight to how some other people around the world live. Many people cannot afford to eat everyday and only eat a few times a week, maybe even less. Fasting teaches us compassion and reminds us that there are people out there who are not as lucky as us. It allows us to understand what they are going through. Furthermore, it makes us grateful for the things that we have. All Muslims are required to fast in the month of Ramadan. However, there are a few exceptions. Children under the age of puberty, pregnant women, breastfeedig women, menstrating women, a traveler, and someone who is ill are excempt from fasting. People traditionally break their fasts with treats such as samosas, dates, fruit salad, milkshakes and such. At the end of the month, we celebrate Eid. In the morning, we go for special Eid prayers at our local mosque which follows with the Eid day festivities. Eid is celebrated with family and friends. People wear nice clothes and often do gift exchange. Sometimes people give children money which is called "Eidi." A part of me is really exciting about fasting and I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Happy Ramadan.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Diary of 2 Cats: Kitten Edition (Part 5)

Due to Internet issues, I didn't get the chance to blog too much in the last month. But here I am again. Tiger and Pepper are now living together in mild peace and harmony. We brought them together a little over three weeks ago. Tiger's URI is gone but his eye infection is still there. The vet said it could either just be healing very slowly or it's chronic. He also said, he's been on antibiotics for 2 weeks now so it's probably not contagious to Pepper anymore so we decided to bring them together and just let them deal with each other. As suspected, upon their first official face-to-face meeting, Tiger pounced Pepper from behind and Pepper turned around and body slammed him to the floor. I was worried at first, then I noticed Pepper was holding him down and forcefully licking/grooming him. I read online this is a way for them to put their scent on each other. Not much has changed since. They've learned to co-exist and have the occasional cat fights. And by occasional, I mean several times through out the day. They each take turns body slamming each other at first and it eventually evolves into grooming. Although they don't "cuddle" with one another, they eat next to each other, and they'll sleep next to each other sometimes. Just the other day, They were each sleeping on opposite corners of the bed. Then Tiger got up in the middle of his nap and went to sleep right next to his friend. It was quite sweet. I slowly brought them into one litter box and now they even eat out of the same bowls. We have a water fountain which only Pepper would drink out of at first. Tiger was scared of the moving water and would usually just paw at it and run away, so I would leave out a separate bowl for him. But just last week, he started using the fountain. I even captured a cute video of both of them drinking at the same time. Part of me thinks that Tiger is a little bit of a bully. Pepper wants to play with Tiget but whenever Tiger has a toy in his mouth, he growls and sometimes hisses because he doesn't want to share! I want Pepper was stay active and healthy so I tried to close the door and play with Pepper alone with a string, ball, etc. but he kept running towards the door because he wanted to play with Tiger! There was one time when Pepper was chewing on a rubber ducky (lying down on his back) and as soon as he left it on the ground for a second, Tiger snatched it away and ran off! What a guy! Aside from their brawls, they are getting along and they seem to like each other. I think they are more like brothers. They like each other but have the occasional arguments and misunderstandings.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Diary of 2 Cats: Kitten Edition (Part 4)

Tiger had to go back to the vet, as his upper respiratory infection and eye infection haven't completely gone away. In retrospect, they have improved. But we're waiting for a fully recovery before both cats can start living together. Pepper did sneak into the bedroom a couple of times without us noticing. We are really careful about making sure none of the two cats escape, but he was smart and sneaky!

Both times, Pepper just walked around the room smelling things, trying to steal Tiger's food and just doing his own thing. The first time they came together, Tiger attacked Pepper and Pepper wasn't having any of it. He attacked back. There was lots of biting, scratching, wrangling eachother's necks but no hissing or growling. The second time, Tiger attacked Pepper from behind. At first, Pepper did not react. He was being very gentle and patient. He took the abuse for a few moments, until he got annoyed and fought back. I know it'll take a few tries before they start living together in peace in harmony.

Right now, we are more worried about Tiger feeling better. He's been sick for far too long, and we really want him to be healthy. The vet did say it's tricky for kittens since they do have weaker immune systems. I am just doing my best in medicating him and hoping for the best. The medicating part has gotten harder. He's grown and has gotten stronger over the last few weeks. It's harder to catch him and force the syringe down his throat now. I tried locking him in the bathroom earlier this morning, but as soon as I opened the door with his antibiotics, he quickly bolted under the bed. He's gotten smarter, now he knows it's coming. I blackmail him with his toys and treats.

Just trying to stay positive and be patient.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Diary of 2 Cats: Kitten Edition (Part 3)

Unfortunately, we haven't been able to do too many cat meet-and-greets in the last few days. Tiger's been sneezing out mucus and is still recovering from an eye infection, so we decided to hold off the meetings until after he's completely better. We didn't want to risk Pepper catching anything from him.

The good news is, Tiger survived his first visit to the vet's office! He meowed a little bit on his way out of the apartment, but by the time we got there, he was pretty relaxed. He nearly fell asleep in his carrier a couple of times. The vet gave us some medication (for his sneezing) and an ointment (for his eye infection). Let me tell you, trying to force feed a kitten his medication, is like playing a game of tug of war twice a day! (Three times, if you include trying to force his eye open, and putting the ointment on it.) It's ridiculous, but it has to be done. I really hope it will pay off in the long run, and he recovers soon enough. I'm waiting for the day my two kitties can come together and coexist.

They still keep playing together through the door crack. It's so cute to watch, and it keeps me hopeful. However, I think I was wrong about Pepper being the dominating cat. Pepper is now just being curious, but the few times we did bring the cats together, Tiger was the one who kept pawing at Pepper every time he walked by. So, the tiny, cute, adorable little kitten could end up being the boss! One of my main concerns was having two male cats in the same house, I didn't want Pepper to start spraying. Thank God, I didn't get any of that. He's behaving, and for the most part, doing his own thing, going about his day, minding his own business.

Tiger is very cuddly. He loves cuddling right up to our faces and sleeping on our chest(s.) I'm a little reluctant to let him do this right now, since he's already sneezed on us a few times. (Gross, I know...)

In a way, we have the best of both worlds. One nice, gentle cat who is not very cuddly and one super cuddly cat who is a bit of a fighter.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Twenty Pounds Down, Twenty To Go.

I gained a lot of weight over the last several years. I always wanted to lose it off, but struggled to do so, until now. In the last six months or so, I managed to lose close to twenty pounds. The heaviest I've ever been was 183 pounds. When I stepped on the scale and saw that number, I thought to myself: I'm just seventeen pounds away from 200, I better do something about it, and I better do it fast.

I've been pretty good overall, and I'm following all the rules. I drink a lot of water through out the day, including a large glass of water before every meal (this technique is supposed to help fill you up, forcing you to eat less. Meanwhile, also keeping you hydrated.) I haven't taken anything out of my diet, I am eating anything and everything, but the trick is portion control. I'm using measuring cups and measuring spoons all day long to make sure I don't go over the recommended serving size. I'm consuming fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so I do allow myself to have dessert every now and then. But when I do, I'll only have a little to satisfy my craving. I've replaced drinking fruit juices, with drinking more herbal teas (green teas, fruit teas, etc.) When eating out, I'll have part of my meal, and take the rest home in a doggy bag to eat the next day.

I will say this, as much as I try to work out everyday, I do sometimes get lazy. I'm supposed to go to the gym for a one hour workout everyday, but some days I skip and end up only working out once or twice a week. I do weekly swimming, which I think is also helping.

It took a long time to gain the weight, so I know it will take another several months before I lose the next twenty pounds. I know it will be tough, and I will have to work for it. It's important for me to believe in myself and have will power. Instead of thinking I still have twenty pounds to go, I should remind myself I am already halfway there!

Diary of 2 Cats: Kitten Edition (Part 2)

Pepper and Tiger had their first face-to-face introduction yesterday morning. They've seen each other through the door cracks, but this time we had them both in the same room. We kept Tiger in the carrier, and let Pepper walk around the room and explore. He sniffed around Tiger's toys, litter box, and even stole some food from his bowl! Pepper gave some mild hissing and growling. He especially seemed to growl when he smelled the litter box. I suspect he wasn't too thrilled to smell the urine of another feline. He hung around the room for about five minutes, and then he left on his own. Pepper's very gentle, but my husband and I still supervised the entire meeting. We wanted to make sure he didn't claw the kitten through the carrier. I don't think he would, but we still wanted to be careful. Now that Pepper is the bigger (and older) cat, he is dominating. Besides, this is his apartment, how dare another cat come into his territory.

We're going to try out another meet and greet later today, and do so once everyday for about a week, and take it from there. I know some of my friends and family are saying that having two cats live in the same house can sometimes take up to three months, but I feel like having them in separate rooms can really help the process go a lot quicker.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Diary of 2 Cats: Kitten Edition (Part 1)

In the last few weeks, Pepper has been sneezing a lot, so we took him to the vet a few days ago. I was a bit concerned and thought he might have caught a flu of some sort. The vet said everything is fine, he's healthy, and the sneezing is most likely an environmental thing (dry hair, and such.) Aside from the fact that Pepper was due for his annual check up, another reason I wanted to get him check out was to make sure he would be healthy enough to be around another cat. Even though we had that little fiasco with Blackjack, we were still interested in trying out another cat (with a different personality.) The vet suggested a male kitten would be our best bet, as female cats are surprisingly more territorial, and the male-to-male bond can develop quicker amongst felines.

So, my husband and I went to the shelter to see some cats the next day. There was a gorgeous Siamese cat we wanted, but she did not do well with other cats, so we knew that wouldn't work for us. We went again a couple of days later and saw a cute little kitten available for adoption. I know kittens do tend to get adopted really quickly, so I knew if I wanted him, I needed to take him right away. So here we are again, with two cats. Just as before, the two cats are in completely separate rooms. Pepper is outside in the living room, with some new toys, a new litter box, and new gourmet food. (Just because we got a new kitty, doesn't mean Pepper doesn't deserve to be equally as spoiled.)

The kitten is a brown tabby whom we named Tiger, because he's vicious like a tiger. ;) It's been years since I've been around kittens, lately I've had more experience with adult cats. I thought Pepper was a hyper naughty cat, but he's nothing compared to this new little Tiger! Tiger gave me a hard time sleeping. He kept trying to attack my hands and feet at night and wanted to play. When he gets tired and sleepy, he gets super cuddly. He'll walk all over my legs, tummy, chest, neck, even my face for a little attention. He has the loudest purr, even louder than Pepper's. My husband had his heart set on another noisy cat who meows a lot, but Pepper is still the noisiest, most vocal cat in this apartment.

Tiger keeps sticking his paws out from under the door (wanting to play with Pepper, I think) but, Pepper is getting kind of annoyed. Pepper will smack the tiny kitten paws, then he'll give a little hiss and a growl. As my research indicated, both cats have to be in separate rooms for a week or two before they are introduced face to face, and it will be our responsibility to watch over them and slowly get them used to each other. I feel a bit more confident about Tiger, then I did about Blackjack. Anytime Pepper hisses and growls, Tiger does not respond. I think that will show Pepper that the new kitten is not a threat to him. Keeping my fingers crossed here! I'm being very persistent and stubborn, and not giving up on the idea of having two cats!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

How my Cell Phone Taught me a Valuable Life Lesson

I got a new cell phone a couple of months ago, and I've already dropped it several times. I've been meaning to buy a cover for it since, but just hadn't gotten around to it. So, I finally went looking for one yesterday. I found a phone stall which sold really nice ones. I thought some of them were too expensive, so I decided to keep looking around. I managed to find some at the Dollar Store, so I gave it a try. When I tried to put it on my phone, the holes did not match up with the volume buttons, or the power switch! Plus, the stupid cover managed to put scratches on my brand new phone! I tried to settle for less, and I got burned.

I used to treat life the same way. When things were not going quite the way I wanted, I would give up and just accept life for what it was. But, it didn't have to be that way. Things can go from being unsatisfying to extraordinary, but it's all about ME. If  I want things to go my way and I want to be happy, then I should take the initiative and do something about it. This is not about cell phones, this is about never settling when things just aren't good enough. It is important to know that wanting something my way does not make me selfish. It just means I want to be happy, and why shouldn't I be happy? I deserve happiness just as much as the next person. Settling for less will just get you burned in the end.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Working Vs. "Working"

I've been volunteering at various organizations for years now. (Schools, libraries, large events, etc.) Many people do not understand why I volunteer. People have said things to me like, "Why do you keep volunteering? You should work." or, "You've been volunteering with them for so long now, tell them you demand pay now." and even, "Can't you take the day off once in a while? It's so tedious to always go there. It's not like you're getting paid" As cliche as it sounds, I find the experience of volunteering to be quite rewarding. I used to volunteer at the library for two years. I've always loved reading, writing and any sort of literature. Furthermore, the library is one of my favourite places in the world. Even though I was not an employee, it felt great to know I was contributing to an organization I care so much about.

Growing up, I had two dream jobs:

Dream 1. To be a veterinarian
Dream 2. To be a best selling author

I decided very early on to give up dream 1. As soon as I found out being a vet meant you have to be good at math, and you'll have animals dying on your table, I didn't think I could handle it. (Dream 2 is still in the works). My reasons for wanting to be a vet was because I love animals, and I like to think of myself as an animal activist. I've always wanted to do something to help them. What could be more rewarding then helping someone who is unable to help themselves? Although I never succeed in that dream, I did start volunteering at a local animal shelter a couple of months ago. Our duties as a volunteer are to spend time with the animals, cuddle with them, play with them, and give them companionship. I do not get paid for what I do...I get something better; love from the animals. They show appreciation by cuddling up to you, purring at you, barking at you, and occasionally rubbing all over you. Had I become a a vet my goal would be the same as my goal as an animal shelter volunteer; doing something which benefits the animals.

I think it is important for people to see the bigger picture. Life is not all about money. Sometimes just the experience and knowing you did something good to help someone can be payment enough.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Diary of 2 Black Cats: Part 5 (final)

So, unfortunately it didn't go as great as I had anticipated. I really wanted to give it minimum one full week (seven days) but on the fifth day, Pepper began "marking his territory" by scratching up the bedroom door all day and all night. Although he is neutered, I had read/heard that with 2 male cats being in the same house, that scratching can potentially turn into spraying. I really did not want to risk it, so Blackjack was sent back last night.

I didn't think I'd say this, but I actually missed my first night away from Blackjack. He was only here for five days so I didn't think I'd bonded with him so quickly. But he really liked me, and I guess I returned the love without even knowing it. He followed me around the room, he cuddled up in my lap, and he slept with me. Pepper is very affectionate and friendly, but he is not cuddly. He will not sit/sleep in my lap, so it was nice to have a temporary lap-cat. Pepper is thrilled (to say the least) to have his place back. After Blackjack was gone and I opened up the room again, he sniffed around a bit, and then ran around the apartment creating havoc (as he often does!)

I guess it is for the best. Blackjack and Pepper are both attention seeking cat. I feel like Pepper was willing to share that affection with another cat, but Blackjack was not. Whenever I was giving Blackjack any attention, he was happy. But, when I gave Pepper any attention, all hell broke loose. That is when Blackjack began hissing at Pepper (I think out of jealousy.) Blackjack wanted all the attention all to himself!

Pepper is a very nice, talkative, affectionate cat. He's very playful, and wants to be played with at least two or three times a day. He plays "fetch" with paper balls. He hangs out with us, sleeps on our head at night, follows us around everywhere, and rubs on our legs. He is pretty gentle (for the most part), and is great with children. And by "great with children", I mean he runs away when there are kids around and minds his own business! ;) The only time he'll claw or bite is when he's playing with is, never out of aggression. Our favourite feature about him is that he is a noisy cat. He meows day and night, for absolutely no reason at all. Many people find his meowing annoying, but my husband and I find it endearing. When he's not meowing, we try to force "meows" out of him! The only flaw he has is that he will not sit in my lap.

Blackjack is not much of a meower, he's a quieter cat compared to Pepper. He is very friendly and affectionate (once he gets to know you.) He is a bit more calm and relaxed than Pepper. Although, he also loves to play "fetch" with a rolled up paper ball!  If you want someone you can spend an afternoon with, Blackjack is the perfect lap-cat! He's fallen asleep in my lap for hours, and I found his purrs to be very therapeutic. If you get cold easily, do not fear. He will cuddle up to you and keep you warm at night.

As you can see, both cats have great personalities, they just clashed. Who would have thought cats are just as different from one another as humans!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Diary of 2 Black Cats: Part 4

So, unfortunately, the two cats did not bond as I had hoped. Pepper is very curious, he keeps wanting to go into the room and play with the other kitty. But, Blackjack keeps hissing and growling and wants to be left alone. My theory is that Blackjack feels like he can intimidate Pepper because he's a bigger cat (taller, longer, etc.) I wanted to give it a week, but Blackjack has not been accepting of Pepper. Our ultimate goal was to find a second cat who was a good companion for Pepper, and we want Pepper to feel comfortable and safe in his home. After all, he was here first. This is his house. So, Blackjack will be returned in the next few days.

Blackjack is a nice cat on his own. Whenever I went into the room to spend some time with him, he was very affectionate and friendly. He would give out a meek "mew" every now and then, and rub all over my leg. When I sat down, he would come cuddle in lap and fall asleep. He's been sleeping right next to me at night. Last night he actually slept ON me, on my stomach. He also slept on the pillow for the half the night (which is actually Pepper's spot lol.) He's a good cat, so hopefully he finds a good new home.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Diary of 2 Black Cats: Part 3

Pepper has generally been very accepting of the new kitty. He keeps wanting to go in to the room and see what's going on. But as soon as Blackjack sees Pepper, he hisses and growls and scares Pepper away. My initial concern would be for Pepper to be comfortable with kitty #2. At this point, I'm starting to lose confidence. Blackjack was very sweet when I met him at his previous house, but he doesn't seem to like being in a house with other cats. He seems to be a bit of a bully to the resident cat. Which is strange, since Pepper was here first. Blackjack is bigger in size, so maybe he feels he has the right to intimidate Pepper.

I was really hopeful and wanted it to work out. I wanted to give it a week, but from what I'm seeing so far, it doesn't seem like these two cats can coexist. Pepper is normally very friendly and sociable, but with Blackjack around, he's being timid and running behind the furniture. In complete honesty, I love Pepper's personality, and do not want him to change. It's a shame it's not working out.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Diary of 2 Black Cats: Part 2

Pepper was meowing and scratching at the door for almost half of the night. Furthermore, he attempted to open it by pawing at the doorknob. I'm not sure if it was out of curiosity, or it he was scratching as a sign of "marking his territory." My husband and I decided to give it a shot, and let them have their first face to face interaction. I held Pepper in my arms and took him into the room, and allowed him and Blackjack to look at each other for a bit. So far, there was no hissing, growling, just staring at one another out of curiosity.

Then, later this afternoon, I decided to spend some time with Blackjack in the room. He was being affectionate, by rubbing on me and walking on my lap a bit. He didn't try to paw me this time, so I started feeling a bit more positive. Then I opened the door to leave the room, and he began hissing at Pepper again. (No hissing from Pepper today though. In fact, he ran away from the door, and behind the sofa.) I distinctly remember my friend telling me Blackjack gets jealous when she holds kids, so it could be a case of jealousy that I'm giving Pepper attention. I started getting hopeful this morning that both kitties are slowly getting used to one another, but I guess it could go either way at this point

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Diary of 2 Black Cats: Part 1

Let me start from the beginning. On March 15th, 2010, my husband called me up to tell me he found a lost cat outside of a Tim Hortons. He bought some milk and a bun from Tim's and tried to feed the cat (but he would not eat.) The cat looked clean, and was very friendly, so he decided to bring him home and gave him a place to stay. He dropped kitty off at home with me, and rushed to the closest 24 hour grocery store to get him some cat food and kitty litter for the night. Little did we know, this cat will find a permanent place to stay in our home and in our hearts. <3

We figured, he's so clean, he must belong to someone. We put up ads in the neighbourhood hubby found him, as well as Craigslist, Kijiji and on the Humane Society website. A few people had called, claiming to have lost a black cat, but their description did not suit him. We noticed he kept shaking his head and scratching his ears, so we took him the vet a few days later. It turns out, he had ear mites, so the vet treated him, and also let us know this cat was unneutered, so it's very likely he's a stray. Furthermore, he checked kitty for a chip and he did not have one. We gave it a few more weeks, but at this point, nobody had called, so we decided to keep him, and took him back to the vet for his vaccines and to get him fixed.

After a couple of months, I decided to officially name him "Pepper" (several months after that, he got unofficially named to "Timbit." So, we call him one or the other...but mostly Pepper.) Pepper's kept us good company over the last two years. He's a very vocal cat who is gentle in nature. He spends all of his time hanging around in whatever room we are in. He watches TV with us, eats dinner with us, and sleeps with us (and by "sleeps with us", I mean he sleeps on the top half of my/hubby's pillow, while we sleep on the bottom!) He is far more dependent compared to other cats. He hates when we leave the apartment, and meows at the door like there's no tomorrow when we're leaving. On the contrary, he also greets us with endless meows when we walk back in.

A few months back, my husband said he wanted to bring a second cat home (a kitten.) We'd been shopping around some shelters and websites to see if any cat was suitable to bring home for Pepper. The animal shelter I volunteer at had many cats which I started bonding with, but a few of them had come with disclaimers stating "not good with other cats" or "not good with kids." So, those cats were out of the question.

Then just a couple of weeks ago, one of my friends (who's moving out of the country) told me she's looking for a new home for her cat, and asked me if I'd be able to take him in. I told her I'd test it out for a week or so, and see how the two cats bond. Although my husband and I are comfortable having a second cat at home, Pepper is the one who gets the final vote! So, kitty #2 (Blackjack) came "home" last night. I've set up each of the cats in separate rooms, with their own food bowls, water dishes and litter boxes. There was a bit of hissing from each side, but overall, the cats have been doing their own thing. Any time I open the bedroom door, Pepper keeps running up with me to see what's going on in there, and Blackjack is usually the one hissing from the inside.

I have my fingers crossed that the cats will eventually be okay. All the books/magazines/websites say that some cats bond really quickly (within a week), for other cats it takes a few months, and other cats don't bond at all. It just depends on the personality of each cat. My main concern was, these are both male cats, I really really did not want any spraying cats in my apartment! Knock on wood... no spraying so far! Just mild hissing, and I had Blackjack paw me a few times (out of stress and fear.) My hubby really had his heart set on a kitten, not another adult cat. In retrospect, kittens can easily find homes. Even at the shelter, one of the questions I hear ever so often is "where are all the kittens?!" Adult cats generally do take longer to get adopted out, because everyone wants the cute babies. So, I think we are doing a good thing for Blackjack. I'm very hopeful that these cats will learn to coexist.

But, we will have to keep in mind... when a baby comes along, we'll need a bigger place for 2 cats and a child!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Gratitude Journal

I learned an important lesson from Miss Oprah Winfrey during Lifeclass. Keep a "gratitude journal." Write in it everyday about the things in your life you are grateful for. It could be anything. Something big, something small, just something you are thankful for. There will be times in our lives when things go wrong, we are sad, angry and unhappy. However, they can never compare to the things we take for granted. I haven't started my gratitude journal yet, but I plan on keeping one. 

I remember visiting my local library last summer, and I wasn't having a very good day. I was angry and hurt about something that had happened earlier that week. Just then, I saw one of the librarians (a young man, probably in his 30's) walking to a quiet corner in the library. He sat down on one of my chairs, and instantly started praying. Oh yeah, did I mention he was using a walker, because he had trouble walking? He had lost his ability to walk, yet he was still gracious enough to speak to God, and show Him how much he loved Him. At that very moment, I could not help but feel ashamed. When was the last time I thanked God for providing me with food, shelter and a fully functioning body? Never. Sometimes we forget how lucky we really are.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Crossing Things off my "List"

I was talking to one of my girlfriends the other day about things I've always wanted in my life, and one of my biggest dreams came to mind: I've always wanted to write a book. I don't have a plot idea, I don't know who I want my audience to be, I just know I want to write. I've always loved literature, and writing has been my passion. The first thing I said to her is, "I know it's not impossible, but my dream is big." To which she replied, "Dreams are supposed to be big."

At that moment, I remembered some of the things I learned at Lifeclass, which really impacted me. Tony Robbins stated, (paraphrased) "Decisions are our destiny. Do something significant, and don't make excuses." The only one who's stopping me from being great is myself. I've made excuses not to move forward, I've stayed in the past, stayed bitter, and sacrifice my happiness. The only one who truly has the power to make me happy and successful is ME. Bishop T.D. Jakes gave the room a reality check with humour and a no non-sense approach to life. He said, it's normal when life is full of chaos. This is what helps us grow as human beings and move on from what went wrong. My favourite metaphor Bishop T.D. Jakes used was comparing chickens to eagles. Chickens stay in their coop all day long, but eagles spread their wings and fly. People who are afraid to experience failure, hide away in their "coops" and never try great things. Meanwhile, those who follow their dreams see their failures as another step closer to their success.

Don't be a chicken in an eagle's world. Be an eagle, spread your wings and fly.

Monday, 16 April 2012

A Day Full of Positivity.

I started my day by attending Oprah's lifeclass in the morning. The show had special guest speakers Deepak Chopra, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Iyanla Vanzant, and last but not least, Tony Robbins. It was a very motivational and inspiration day of seminars on how to be yourself, love yourself, and be proud of yourself. My personal favourite was Tony Robbins. He was so full of energy, which instantly leaked out into the audience. His message was to accept life's challenges, and don't make excuses for yourself. The show went on till afternoon, with no breaks in between. It was fantastic, to say the least.

The weather was gorgeous today. It was the perfect weather to have lunch at the waterfront, so that's just what I did after the show. First, I walked along the boardwalk for a bit, and checked out some of the photography they had on their outdoor display. Afterwards, I did nothing. I just sat their, and enjoyed the view of the water. I did exactly what I learned at Lifeclass: I did not contemplate on yesterday, I did not worry about tomorrow: I lived in the moment. I savoured it and I enjoyed it.

After I was done taking in the fabulous view, I noticed a large building by the lakefront with large animal silhouettes displayed along the sides. As I looked closer, I noticed banners with "Paws Way" written in large, bold letters. I thought Paws Way sounded familiar, but I wasn't exactly sure what it was, so I decided to check it out. It turned out to be an amazing place dedicated to pets. They offer free (and paid) classes for cats and dogs, have a library with animal books, a small store which sells pet products (such as dog leashes, collars, pet clothes, etc.) But what struck me the most was their great Pet Hall of Fame they had way at the back of the facility. It was several walls consisting of Animal Heroes with their head shots, and stories about how they saved their humans. I absolutely love going on a video marathon of watching pet hero stories on youtube, so you can just imagine how excited this wall of fame made me. Imagine: A whole facility dedicated to animals. Furthermore; animal heroes, who've put their lives at risk to save the people they love unconditionally. On a sadder note, they also had a memorial wall, where people can write little messages to their deceased pet and hang it up on a bulletin board. Needless to say, I wrote a note for my late kitty who passed away this passed January (2012.) Amazing... there's no other word I can use to describe it. Just amazing.

All in all, I had a beautiful day.

PS, if you get a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Oprah live, I strongly advise you to do it!

Friday, 13 April 2012

What do you want to do before you die?

So, I've been (amateur) blogging for a couple of years now. One of my blogs is about literary arts, while the other is about culinary arts. (2 of my passions in life). This is a different kind of blog: I wanted to start blogging about ME.

I have always thought of myself as a fairly philosophical thinker. I love finding out why and how things are made, and I always look at things from a much deeper perspective. I like watching movies, and thinking about how a scene is made, I like learning what inspires an author to write his/her best selling novel, and I like learning new recipes, just to name a few.

Lately, I have been looking at LIFE in a different way. I've often asked myself such questions as, "what's the meaning of life?", or "what is my purpose of being here?" Even though I haven't truly answered any of these questions yet... Yesterday, I asked myself another question: "What do I want to do before I die?"

This question was inspired by such movies, TV shows, and books I've watched/read, as The Five People you Meet in Heaven, Yes Man, The Buried Life, and Pay it Forward.

The Buried Life is a TV show (which aired on MTV) about four friends who have a list of 100 things they want to do before they die. In each episode, they try to cross of one of those things. Meanwhile, they also help a complete stranger cross something off of their list. The premise of the show is just so inspiring, and beautiful.

This lead me to start making my own list. I haven't put anything too crazy on my list, but there are many things I want to do, which I've never done. I don't want to share my entire list online (it's very personal to me) but some of the things include bungee jumping, visiting certain countries, eating duck meat, and eating escargot.

 I like to think of myself as a very adventurous person. I love trying new things, and I am open to having new experiences in life. I try to embrace life, and am afraid of very few things.

One of my biggest fears in life is drowning. I have faced this fear and started taking swimming lessons, which is something I've wanted to do every since I was a child.

We are only given one life, the best way to live it, is to live it to it's full potential. So as yourself this... "Am I more afraid living, then I am of dying?"