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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Kingston, Ontario Part 2

As promised, here are some more pictures from my journey to Kingston.

On the first day of my visit I managed to get into town in the early afternoon, so Stef and I took advantage of the sunshine and decided to explore the waterfront. It was beautiful! The wind was still and the angle of the sun was just right so that the water's surface perfectly reflected the sky. Stef and I were kicking ourselves that we only had our cell phones to take pictures with.

The next morning (after the visit to campus, the crepes, the parade, and all the other things described in my first post) we went back to explore the waterfront again. This time we were met by a very jolly looking dollar store Buddha. He was probably just something silly that students left out on a concrete post, but I thought he looked photogenic enough for a picture along the water.

We walked by city hall on the way to another park when we noticed a vintage sale. Stef and I checked it out and spotted lots of old records, jewelry and antiques. I thought these three pups were rather charming with their violins. They kind of reminded me of Snoopi!

The last place Stef took me was a much quieter park called Douglas Fluhrer Park. She wanted to show me a bench out on Molly Brant Point that she lovingly referred to as "the date bench". It was definitely a scenic location that would be wonderful for a casual date or a picnic. As we got to the point, the low water level revealed a secret that Stef didn't even know about.

The skeletal remains of two old schooners were visible in the low November tide. It was really interesting to see, and helped once again to solidify the old history of the city of Kingston. There were even several children's bikes in the water that had been colonized by hundreds of molluscs. 

 Since Douglas Fluhrer Park had less pedestrian traffic than the waterfront close to downtown, there were quite a few waterfowl in the area. Of course - having my new camera - this turned into a bird watching/photography session for me. I'd like to thank Stef for patiently waiting around while I was entertained with the ducks. 

This is a male and  female american wigeon. The shoreline was abundant with these guys. I've seen american wigeon before in Guelph, but never in such big groups. 

These two are male northern shovelers. This is actually the first time I've seen this duck before! There were three males relaxing just along the shoreline, but they were very timid when I started approaching. I stalked them for a while and was determined to get a good picture. Thank goodness I have a 26x zoom on my new camera! It definitely came in handy for this picture. 

Well, that's it for the pictures of my adventure with Stef. I look forward to going back to visit her soon! I'm sure I'll plan a trip for the winter - I can just imagine how beautiful the city will look with a fresh coat of snow.

Until my next post!

- Amanda

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Kingston, Ontario Part 1

So this past weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to visit my amazing friend, Stef. This visit was long overdue: Stef and I were both in Ottawa this summer and spent most of our time together, but she left this September to go to law school. I'm so proud of her and I was really excited to see where she was living and how she was liking Kingston. I have to say, she did a really good job leaving me with a good impression.

Kingston is such a gorgeous city, and you really get a sense of the history of the area by the architecture of the buildings and parks. Queen's University reminded me slightly of the University of Guelph, because the buildings on campus were very similar to some of Guelph's older buildings like Mills Hall and Johnston Hall.

Stef and I spent our time walking around much like we would do in Guelph and Ottawa. I seemed to have picked a great weekend to visit, because there were many things going on around the city. Here's some of the highlights:

Stef and I enjoyed some Tim Hortons while catching up in a park.

Stef posing by some of the buildings on campus. Guelphites - doesn't this look like our campus? There were even vines on some of the buildings! 

Stef kept telling me that I had to see the "Harry Potter Library Room." When we got in the elevator, she couldn't remember what floor it was. Coincidentally, the room was actually named the "Harry Potter" reading room so it was easy to find.  

One thing about Queen's that I liked was the abundance of student space. At Guelph we only have one library (if you exclude the OVC library), and in the past few years it's been really hard to find study space on campus. At Queen's there was a large library as you'd expect, but each program seemed to also have their own library for their students to study in. 

For supper, Stef and I found an adorable crepe and panini shop on Princess Street called the Geneva Crêpe BistroWe settled down there for some delicious food and maple lattes. It just so happened that the Santa Claus parade was taking place that night, so we got to watch the beginning of the parade from inside. 

After eating we went outside to watch the end of the parade. Kingston is hardcore when it comes to their parades! I couldn't believe how many companies had floats or cars. There were even some floats with bands playing, and a group of cheerleaders doing boosts!

I think the best part of the parade was the massive military tank that led the way for Santa himself. Nothing like a giant weapon wrapped in christmas lights to scream Christmas, right? What else can you expect from Kingston?  

The night was wonderful. Stef and I went back to her apartment after the parade ended, and we cuddled together to warm up and shared stories.

Part 2 and more pictures will be posted soon!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Post-Halloween Blues

So Halloween was last week, and I think I've been on a bit of a post-Halloween depression. Does such a thing exist? Because if it does, I would be a textbook case.

I love Halloween. I think it's my favorite celebration of the year. It's a time to dress up and be something you're not, eat candy, and get spooked. I also find it gives you something to look forward to as the weather gets darker, colder, and gloomier.

It's also a time when people with morbid fascinations can feel free to express them. I for one have a huge fascination with zombies and enjoy casual strolls through graveyards (you can ask a boy I dated once; I forced him into a graveyard on our first date).

This Halloween was amazing. It was my first time home for Halloween in four years, which meant I finally got to have trick or treaters again (they just don't come around students houses!). A coworker was kind enough to lend me some Halloween decorations that he had brought into the office, and I used them to completely revamp our usual Halloween setup.

This year we were one of the coolest houses on the block thanks to my coworker. We had the whole side of the house covered in cobwebs, an amazing skull displayed in a ritualized fashion in the front window (and back-lit by a blinking red strobe light), and best of all... we had a smoke machine! I hid the machine under a stool by the front door and passed the controller through the window so we could control the smoke from inside the house. We would turn it on whenever we spotted approaching trick or treaters. Pamela also dressed up as Ghostface and menacingly glared out of the front window.

Unfortunately we didn't get many trick or treaters since our neighborhood has a lot of mature families these days, but we still got a number of compliments on our decorations. Here are more pictures for you guys to enjoy:

For the inside of the house I kept things simple. I left the hallways dark so the strobe light and candles in the window would look as noticeable as possible from outside. Several candles were used to illuminate the front hallway so we could still hand out candy to kids. 

As some of you might remember, last year I had quite an ambitious Halloween costume of turning myself into a Fembot. Well, this year I was just as dedicated, except this time I wanted to make a costume that I could also wear to Comiccon next year. The final decision? Poison Ivy. 

It was a time-consuming project involving cutting lots of leaves, getting glued and burned, and enduring blisters. Perhaps I'll write another post later on the things I've learnt from the process in case someone else is interested in making their own Poison Ivy costume.

Now you might be wondering, "Amanda, who the hell is that scary cartoon man beside you?" I wouldn't blame you. Well, I went to a costume party this year and ran into someone at the party who was Two-Face, also a villain from Batman. We were both excited and wanted to get a picture with each other. However, I  have no idea who this kind gent was, so to protect his privacy I've pasted Two-Face's face into the photo.

Somehow I managed to go the whole night and completely forgot to get my friends to take a picture of just my costume, so unfortunately this is the best I have. No worries though, if I wear it to Comiccon as planned then I'll be sure to get a lot of pictures.

Well that's it for now, this is a long enough post...can you tell I love Halloween? How was Halloween for you guys? Anyone else pull off an impressive costume?

I hope it was a fun and safe night for everyone!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Back in Business

Got caught up on months of editing over the Thanksgiving long weekend. Here's a sneak peek of what's to come.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Goats!! (Canada Agriculture Museum)

Kevin came up to Ottawa to visit recently, and unfortunately he came at a time when I was looking for someone to come to the Canada Agriculture Museum with me. He was very sweet and allowed me to drag him out to the museum for a day of watching me pet animals. I'm not kidding; the poor guy had to stand around while I talked and babied everything with fur.

Okay, maybe I'm being a little too harsh. I do think he might have had a bit of fun. We got to play on some sun energy collectors and play with beekeeping equipment. We were also on a crazed hunt for bread the whole time. For some reason we really anticipated being able to buy fresh loaves of bread. We trekked the whole property - trying not to step on small children at times - and only managed to find samples of raisin bread.

Our hunger lead us to a farmer's stall right outside of the museum where we purchased some of the best strawberries I've ever tasted in my life (I usually hate strawberries). Although I can't speak for Kevin, I think it was a good day adventure. Just put me in any situation where I get to interact with goats and I'll be happy.

Just look at how happy I am. At this moment I was turning to Kevin and saying something along the lines of, "I want to keep it. Do you think we can steal it?" Retirement goal: tiny hobby farm with a couple of dorky goats.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Graduation Photos

As promised, here are some of the graduation photos that the guys and I got taken this past fall. We went to Anderson-Coats Photography, which is located in the University Center on campus. It was alright, pretty awkward at times as it's quite rushed and the photographer will say some weird things in an attempt to make you smile.

Regardless, it's really the outdoor shots that make it all worthwhile - especially in fall. Despite the fact that it was raining during our shoot (which I mentioned in a previous post), the outdoor group pictures turned out really well. Mind you, the poor photographer didn't really know what to do with us. A lot of the usual poses he has people do are oriented more towards girls, so a group of 4 guys and a girl was a little tough (note: the awkward pyramid picture below).

So final conclusion: I'd recommend the experience to people who are really looking for outdoor portraits and group shots. If you have a tight group of friends and want a good memory of your undergrad, I'd recommend considering it!

So here are the final shots. I'd like to thank Dave for buying the CD of unedited photos, two of which I've posted below.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Farewell to my Undergrad

Hey everyone!

I'm sorry for my absence for the past couple of months. To be honest, I was just putting off this blog post for awhile. I felt like it had to be written, but I was in denial. Hell, I'm still in denial.

My undergrad is officially over. It's very bittersweet: I had such an amazing time in Guelph and really became myself at school there, but the past two years of school were really draining for me. In the end, I managed to achieve my academic goals and got the grades I was aiming for (which means getting a Masters isn't out of the question), and I also met the most amazing group of people.

In fact, I've come along way from the girl I was four years ago. I'm less shy, and a lot more comfortable around groups of people. I also understand now how to properly study and learn, and I'm a much quicker learner.

There I am four years ago leaving home for Guelph. I was so anxious about meeting friends and whether I'd enjoy my program after dropping out of college. Fortunately it was the best decision I've ever made.

Since graduating I've only gone back to Guelph once for my convocation. I remember I wasn't thrilled at all with the thought of convocating. I was upset that I wouldn't be convocating with any of my friends, and I was also a bit disappointed that the Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree did not include any mention of our specializations. This annoyed me a bit, because I felt that my minors define me more as a student than just my degree alone. 

Regardless, I'm glad I went. Despite not having any friends there, it was a good way to close off this past part of my life. I'm really glad my parents were there and got to see it; they've been my biggest support through these past four years. I'm so grateful they continued to believe in me and shared the burdens when I was ever having a rough time.

Anyways, enough reflection! Here are some gorgeous pictures from my convocation:

The ceremony was hosted in the gorgeous War Memorial Hall on campus. Usually convocation at The University of Guelph is hosted in the Athletics Dome, but it was under construction this year. I definitely lucked out, because this is one of my favorite buildings on campus and it made for a much cozier ceremony.

For whatever reason, of all the pictures my dad took this was the only one that wasn't blurry. I wonder about my luck sometimes haha.

There I am walking back to my seat after getting my degree. I was the second last person of the final ceremony to get a degree. For some silly reason I was nervous about tripping and that it would be the last thing everyone remembered. (Thankfully that didn't happen, but there were some close calls with all the crazy heels some girls were wearing!)

And now some outdoor picture taken after the ceremony:
I didn't have any friends to take pictures with, but I at least got some pictures with my parents. Aren't we cute?

And here's your typical "jumping in front of Johnston Hall" picture.

What a wonderful 4 years it's been! I'm going to miss it so much. I'm already hoping for a chance to visit Guelph again soon. 

I'll stay in touch from now on, I promise! In fact, I still need to show you guys the final graduation pictures from when me and the boys went to the professional studio on campus. They're adorable. Next post!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Exploring Petrie Island

This is just a post to share some pictures from the latest hiking adventure Stef and I took. This time we wandered to Petrie Island, a city beach here in Ottawa. Though the public beach has a pretty controversial history (don't even get me started), there is a nice trail that explores some of the undeveloped areas of the island.

Stef and I went for our hike right at sunset, so it made for some gorgeous pictures I hope you all enjoy. We saw a record number of mammals for such a short walk including a raccoon family, a muskrat and countless skunks. However, our time getting back to the car was challenging because it had gotten dark and we had to stay clear of all the skunks walking about.  

I hope you're all well!

PS. Don't me and my Ottawa "girlfriend" look great together? Honestly, I'm so happy this girl is around this summer. I'd go stir crazy without her.