Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Turnabout is Fair Play

I'm back on my feet after having been less than well for three days. The new man was an absolute sweetheart, looking after both me and my kids as well as doing the cooking and cleaning.

This morning, unfortunately, he is the one not feeling so chipper. He's napping in one room and my youngest is in another, both with rummy tummies. So much for taking the kids to the local pool today for a swim during their Christmas vacation!

All I can say is thank goodness I'm back to my old self and able to care for them both.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Aussies on Ice

I took my kids skating at a nearby ice rink this evening. We had lots of fun, even though none of us is a fabulous skater. While circling the ice in pursuit of my boys, I saw a young couple holding hands while skating. The young lady, a Canadian, was a much better skater than her Australian sweetheart. At one point she dropped his hand to skate ahead, turn with her camera and take his photo.

"C'mon, honey, smile!" I heard her say to him.

His reply - in a thick Australian accent: "I can't skate and smile simultaneously!"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Starting Over

How frustrating. All I wanted to do was have my former husband's name removed from the utility bill that is addressed to the two of us each month.

For the last fifteen+ years I have taken care of the bills, making sure they are paid on time and in full each month without fail. Yet because those bills are in both our names, the primary account holder is automatically the man. The result: I do not have a credit history with these companies and in order to put the accounts in my name, I must close the original account and open a new account (for the same home), pay the new account fee, and then fill out umpteen forms to try and avoid having to pay a large "new account holder" deposit fee: $200 for the utility bill alone.

All I can say is thank goodness I always maintained a credit card in my name alone.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Are You Flossing?

It was that time again - time for the dental hygiene check-up with the friendly neighbourhood dentist's office. Things started off awkwardly: I had the fun task of informing the dental team that has looked after my family's teeth for years that my husband is now my former husband, after having walked out on me six months ago. He didn't bother informing them of his new address so his dental check-up reminders are being left on my answering machine.

The dental visit itself was fine, despite the disappointment of not getting a prize from the treasure drawer even though I'm still a member of the "no cavity club". I was informed, however, that I should get a mouthguard to wear nightly to prevent the teeth-clenching that occurs in my sleep. In the last six months the recession and wear from teeth-clenching has increased. It's stress-related, the dentist reassured me. At least it got me off the hook for not flossing as much as I should!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Multilingual Storytime?

Lately I've been working Sundays at the library, doing storytime for preschoolers. One Sunday I had a grand total of one child and her mother, and English was not their first language. Painful - trying to encourage a child to sing along when she is staring slack-jawed at you and you're not even sure if she understands 10% of what you're saying.

Last Sunday was a vast improvement. Nearly a dozen kids, parents in tow, traipsed into my storytime class. All it takes is one or two outgoing children to join in with me and then the whole group comes alive. We had a fantastic time reading stories, singing songs, jumping around like bunnies and being snapping turtles.

I also had the opportunity to view my storytime from another angle. My new fellow dropped in to observe. He is European and English is not his first language. Most of the rhymes and songs I did with the children were foreign to him and of course the books were vastly different from those of his childhood. A few things, however, seem to be universal. "I'm a Little Teapot" and "Head and Shoulders" are known in multiple languages. Now that I've taught him the Canadian winter version* of "Head and Shoulders", he promises to teach me the lyrics in three other languages.



For those of you who are interested, I made my own Canadianized and winterized version of "Head and Shoulders". (Please note: a winter hat is called a "toque" and it's pronounced "took" with a long "oo" as in "cool" or "pool", not a short "oo" like in "book". A parka is a warm winter coat.)


Toque and parka,
Snowpants, boots,
Snowpants, boots.

Toque and parka,
Snowpants, boots,
Snowpants, boots.

Scarf and mitts
And a bright red nose,

Toque and parka,
Snowpants, boots,
Snowpants, boots.

Small Miracles

The powers that be in the library system have delayed the roll-out of the new software until mid-February. I'm pleased, but I wonder: what happens to the people who took training back in September but haven't had a chance to practice or even see the software program for five months? Will we all need another round of training?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Jumping the Gun

Why does a company insist on having employee training for a new software program, then mention at least once every ten minutes during an entire day of training that the program has bugs and glitches and is still being worked on and is not in its final state?

Why not wait until the software has been customized for the company, have a pilot group test the program and provide feedback, then make final changes before rolling it out to all staff and providing relevant, accurate training?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Taking a Walk

My day job has been insanely busy lately. Today was a deadline for a huge project in the Human Resources department, one which required every employee of the company, in each office across the country, to submit paperwork to us. This has been widely known for more than two weeks, yet the bulk of the papers arrived today: the last possible day on which they could be submitted. Additionally, there are still more than 25% of the staff who have yet to submit their documents. You can guarantee that this 25% will also be complaining loudly when they have problems in a month's time because their paperwork was not submitted in time.

I have worked through my lunch every day this week - every day except today. On this, the busiest and craziest day I've ever had with my current job, when I had every intention of working through lunch yet again, I was invited by a colleague for a walk along the river for fifteen minutes. She knew how crazy my day was and convinced me that I would be better for a short break in the fresh air. How right she was!

Fifteen minutes on the footpath beside the river near our office: enjoying the sunshine, the fall colours in the trees, the teal green water with tiny whitecaps dancing in the breeze, the fresh clean un-air-conditioned air. I went back to my office with a bounce in my step and a smile on my face. My batteries were recharged and I pounced on that mountain of paperwork with renewed vigour.

Funny what a difference fifteen minutes can make.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Art

Recently I was fortunate enough to be invited to the gallery opening for a friend's most current works of art. Normally I'm more of a "traditional art" kind of girl and don't understand or appreciate most modern art. This time, I was pleasantly surprised. This lady used concrete as the medium in which to capture the enlarged images of tiny, transient objects. I was captivated by the series of dandelion seeds, in their wispy floating glory.

While it was hard to choose a favourite, I think I'd have to go with the series of coffee rings. There was something about the little splash on one side that had me wondering. Did the coffee drinker spill because the drink was too hot? Because he/she was laughing with a friend and put the cup down on the table with a thump? Perhaps the drink was cold, not hot - no one said it was coffee. Maybe it was a tall gin & tonic, sipped on a hot day out in the back garden, and the condensation dripped from the glass and pooled on the table.

I may not know a thing about modern art, but I do know when I have a fun afternoon.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pets: Gotta Love 'Em

Funny how when someone does something nasty to you, is petty and vindictive and makes you so angry you could just spit, giving a furry four-footed friend a pat and a cuddle makes things a bit better.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Animal Friends

I am currently dogsitting for a friend - a couple of big, friendly pooches that are great with my children and get along well with my dog and cats.

Last evening my daughter brought a friend over and the dogs, hearing the noise at the front door, bounded over to greet the newcomer.

"Are these your mum's dogs?" my daughter's friend asked.

"No," my daughter replied, "they're my mum's friend's."

"What?!" the other teen exclaimed. "Your mum's friends are dogs?"

I guess you can't hear an apostrophe.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sticking it Out

I have thought off and on over the summer about giving up my part-time job at the library. Working full-time plus raising four children on my own (every other week when they're not with their dad) plus three cats and a dog plus a new relationship with a very wonderful man plus a part-time library job is quite a lot to fit on my plate. However, I have such fun during my shifts at the library that it doesn't feel like work. Also, the bit of extra money makes a difference each month.

I have come to the conclusion that I'm not ready to resign. My supervisor was pleased to hear of my decision and has asked if I'd be willing to help out with the odd Sunday storytime. Of course I agreed - I absolutely adore doing the storytimes with the children. I should know my new shift schedule in a few weeks.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Just Doing My Job

Early on in my evening shift at the library, I helped an older gentleman with his requests. We didn't actually have the book he desired, but I found something else for him and we had a nice chat and a few laughs in the process.

Later, just before the library closed for the night, the same gentleman returned to the reference desk and presented me with a gift card for a local coffee shop: a thank you gift for my help. Frankly, I was stunned. I was just doing my job.

Thank you, sir, for your kindness and generosity.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Exceeds Expectations

Life since my ex left me has had its ups and downs, but lately things have been up, in general. There have been problems, like my 13-year-old daughter wanting to live with her dad (a decision fueled, I believe, by the fact that discipline in his house is considerably more lax than in mine) but I'll get through them in time.

My performance review at my full-time day job took place on Friday, August 8th. (08-08-08 if you're superstitious and believe in the Asian "lucky number 8".) My overall review rating was "exceeds expectations". I was thrilled.

This past month of my life has also exceeded expectations. I have met a wonderful man who understands the mess my world has been recently, yet he's interested in me anyway. He's not scared off by the existence of my four children: he has met them a number of times; they like him and he likes them. I'm sure my friends will think of him as the "rebound guy", following so closely on the heels of the dissolution of my marriage, but neither he nor I think of things that way. I warned him when I met him that I had enough baggage to fill a transatlantic airplane. His response? "When you're ready, I'll help you unload that airplane one bag at a time." My rating for him is, for obvious reasons, "exceeds expectations".

UPDATE: A photo taken by this wonderful man:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Words to Live By

Seen on the back of a dump truck while driving the other day:

"Do Not Push"

Monday, July 28, 2008

Summer Adventures

I was fortunate enough to join a friend on the weekend for a walk in the mountains with our dogs. Most of the time I take our amazing scenery for granted, but it's eye opening to see the landscape through the eyes of one who was not born in this country.

The one downside: my "city girl" of a pooch has a blister on her paw from the longer walk and rougher terrain than her usual jaunts.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Five Feet, Four People

The DNA results are back from the feet found off the west coast of Canada. Two of the feet match, meaning they are now only looking for four missing people.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Waiting

My garage door still isn't fixed. Thankfully it's summer and the weather is nice. If it were -30 with ice and snow, I wouldn't be quite so relaxed about having to park my van in the driveway.

The door guy has been, done some repairs and maintenance, and gone. We're waiting for a part so he can fix it. I'm hoping it will be done in the next day or two - we shall see.

UPDATE:
The door is fixed! I got the call at work today that my door man had been to the house and fixed the overhead garage door. He asked if it was OK if he didn't invoice me until next week as he doesn't have the exact cost of the part he picked up from his supplier. Hmmm, my door is fixed and I don't have to pay for it yet? Sounds good to me!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bested by a Machine

I have spent the last three hours fiddling with the settings on my overhead garage door opener without success. The mechanism thinks the floor is four inches above its existence in reality and when it doesn't meet resistance, stops and returns to its fully open position.

I've backed Moby (my big white whale of a van) into the driveway for fear that my twiddlings will break the motor and then I'll be stuck with not only a broken garage door, but also no access to my vehicle.

As much as it pains me, I've had to admit defeat and ask for help. My friend's son-in-law runs an overhead garage door company and I've put in a call for assistance. Of course, it's Sunday.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Humidity

On a drizzly, humid day, I resemble the love child of Shirley Temple and Gene Wilder.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Six Feet (and Counting?)

A sixth foot has been found on Canada's west coast. Another right foot (that's five right feet to one left, if you're keeping a tally) and this one appears to be in a sneaker that matches the left (fifth) foot that was found earlier this week.

UPDATE: The sixth foot was a hoax. Some sick puppy stuffed an animal foot in a sock with seaweed and put that in a sneaker.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Case of the Fifth Floating Foot

Yes, you guessed it, a fifth sneaker-shod foot has been found on the west coast of Canada. The surprise this time is that it is a left foot, not a right one. Here's a news article for those who want to read more.

If this is all very confusing to you, here are links to my other posts about the previous feet. No word yet if this foot is male or size 12.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I Hate Carpet

On Sunday night, the dog got into the cat treats and ate them all, along with part of the cardboard packaging. I woke up Monday morning to various puddles of dog vomit in my dining room and returned home to more after work on Monday evening. I cleaned them as best as I could with the limited time I had.

This evening I spent more than two hours with my rug shampooer, (yes, it's more cost-effective to own than rent when you have four children, three cats and a dog), cleaning the dining room carpet. I hate carpet!

For years I have wanted to remove the dining room carpet (and the kitchen linoleum) and replace it with tile. Unfortunately, money - or the lack thereof - has been the issue. If I had tile instead of carpet, the clean-up would have taken less than ten minutes rather than over two hours. Arrgh!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Friends

I have the best friends anyone could ever wish for.

Last night I got a call from an old and very dear friend I haven't seen in over a year. I was invited out for a drink at a local pub and I accepted. (I don't have the kids this week, so my time is somewhat free.) I was greeted with a big hug, encouraged to vent over the dissolution of my marriage and then expound on the joys of my new full-time job. Alas, the time to part came too soon, but when a girl has to get up and get to work on time, a girl has to go to bed on time too. I was not allowed to pay for my pint of Guinness (although I insisted that the next time will be my treat) and was sent on my way with another hug.

This evening I had just come back into the house after mowing the lawn - the rather overgrown lawn that has been loving the recent rain and that should have been mowed days ago - when the phone rang. It was my neighbour. She was about to step into their backyard hot tub and called to see if I would like to join her. This is the second time she has called with this offer and, like the first time, I couldn't say no. What a glorious evening, sitting in her hot tub with a big glass of ice water, chatting and looking out at all the flowering trees.

I am fortunate indeed.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Typos

I get irritated reading the news articles on a local news website. The constant switching of "affect" and "effect", "course" and "coarse", etc., astounds me. Does no one know how to spell any more? This evening there was an article about a long-toed salamander, but it was spelled "long toad salamander". Arrgh!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Smile of the Day

We've had a lot of rain in the last week. Now the sun has been out for a few days, the grass is green, the trees are in full leaf and spring flowers are everywhere. I think my favourites are the flowering ornamental plum trees, the blooms of which can range from pale pink to dark raspberry in colour.

Today in my travels I found myself alone in Moby the van, barrelling down the highway in the sunshine under a startlingly blue sky with the radio cranked and singing along to a song I remembered from when I was a teenager.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Book Review #5

I literally just finished reading the book A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz less than five minutes ago. It's a difficult book to describe. The back cover calls it "An irreverent comic adventure spanning three continents, about a father and son against each other and against the world."

It is philosophical, intellectual, irreverent, hilarious, and questions many of the ideals society holds dear. This is Australian Steve Toltz's first novel and I'm sure I'm not alone in hoping there are more to come. I shall leave you with a couple of quotes:

"...like most travelers, we had brought our preconceived notions with us on the journey and did not check them, as we should have, into immigration as hazardous materials best suited for quarantine."

and:

"I tried to go to sleep, and when I couldn't go there, I tried to get sleep to come to me. That didn't work either."

Friday, May 23, 2008

Right Foot, Right Foot, Right Foot, Right Foot, ...

Well, OK, the police aren't yet saying if the fourth foot found is a right foot. It was, however, found while still inside a running shoe, just like the other three feet found within the last year or so. This is getting weirder and weirder.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, the news article here explains that a severed human foot was found washed up on Canada's west coast, the fourth so far. I commented back in February about this bizarre situation when the third right foot was found. All feet were male, all were found still inside a running shoe, the first two were size 12, and the first three were right feet. I wonder if the latest one will continue the pattern.

UPDATE: Yes, the fourth foot found IS a right foot, still no word on if it was a size 12. The police, however, have stated that none of the feet have been "forcibly severed". Translation: each foot has separated from its body without human intervention, likely from decomposition and wave action while in the ocean. OK, but how did those four corpses wind up in the ocean in the first place? Shipwrecks? Misadventure? Murder?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Interesting Things

In order to get to know some of my new coworkers better, I joined in a river pathway clean-up project in my city as part of my new company's team. It was fun: a couple of hours picking up garbage and recyclables on a beautiful sunny day, followed by a barbecue and prizes. I didn't win a prize (I rarely do, Lady Luck and I are not well-acquainted) but I enjoyed the sunshine and making some new friends.

I didn't win the "most interesting find" unofficial competition, but my odd find did make me laugh. It was a pair of men's black boxer shorts printed with little red hearts. I also found 41 cents in change.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I Just Learned Something Else

I learned that a wee little spider (maybe 1 cm across, toe to toe, if spiders had toes, which I know they don't, but you know what I mean) is capable of withstanding a speed of 75 km/hr while perched on a windshield without slipping, sliding, or going to that great big spiderweb in the sky. That little fella just hunkered down and hung on. I wondered if the force of the wind had killed him, but upon returning to a stop he perked right up and scurried across my windshield and down the side of Moby (my big white whale of a van).

I wish I could find winter boots that grip the ice the same way those little spider legs gripped the glass.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I Just Learned Something

Note to self: when the cat on your lap is the one who likes to headbutt you when she wants a cuddle, do NOT attempt to take a sip of hot coffee.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Excuse Me While I Check My Bananas

Last week at the library, I had a telephone call at the reference desk from a lovely elderly lady. Her grandson had signed her up for a computer class and she was calling to confirm the date and time. She told me that this same grandson had gotten her all set up at home with a computer and internet connection and had shown her the basics, but he thought our computer class on setting up an email account would be beneficial.

At this point I was having trouble hearing the woman over the alarm bells going off in my head. I asked her a few more questions to determine how much she knew about computers and the internet. This sweet lady had difficulty understanding me until I realized that she thought the words "internet" and "email" were interchangeable.

In an attempt to help her understand the difference, I made the following analogy. "A banana is a fruit, but not all fruits are bananas. In the same way, email is a part of the internet, but there's more to the internet than just email." She laughed and laughed, had me repeat it so she could write it down, then thanked me and hung up. Damn! I had wanted to tell her that before she took our computer class on email, I think she should take one we offer for computer neophytes called "Eek, a Mouse!"

It's All About Me

Last night I decided to have for supper all the things I didn't usually make in the past because my ex didn't like them. Here's the menu:

Sole fillets sauteed in butter and seasonings
Ravioli with a broccoli and white cheddar filling
Lemon dill sauce (for both of the above)
garden salad with sliced tomatoes
Red wine (the last of the Tarapaca Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon)

I ate the above while sitting on my tiny back deck at my little bistro table, enjoying the beautiful warm evening. My ex doesn't like fish, cooked broccoli, dill, tomatoes, wine or eating outside. Funny how we can go for years doing things to please others and never giving consideration to pleasing ourselves.

I had a lovely meal, a lovely evening, and I'm definitely going to do something like this again!


Update: I've mowed and watered the lawn and am now caught up on outdoor chores. Next: vacuuming and dusting... tomorrow.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Finding Joy in Small Accomplishments

At lunchtime today, after the kids left to be with their dad for the weekend, I tackled one of the two jobs that used to be my spouse's: I took the Christmas lights down off the eaves of the house. Tomorrow I will take on the second job: I shall mow the lawn.

(For those of you who think it's odd to still have the Christmas lights up in May: where I live, there is often still a small patch of ice on the grass in the shade by my front door well into April. That ice is right where the ladder needs to be placed.)

I'm having a hard time thinking of any other household jobs that used to be his that I will now have to do for myself. Being on my own (so far!) hasn't been as difficult as I had expected.

It has been a lovely, peaceful day. I planted flowers in pots along my driveway, watered the flowerbeds, read a bit of my book, re-potted the tiny tomato plant my youngest son gave me for Mother's Day last weekend, and I plan to have my supper on my tiny back deck at my little bistro table with a glass of red wine. The temperature is +29 Celsius (84 F for any Americans out there) - warmer than usual for our spring. That's more of a summer temperature and I'm loving every minute of it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Dinner: Yum

The kids helped tidy the house while I prepared a Mother's Day supper for my parents. The menu:

Homemade multi-grain buns
Spinach salad with grapes, red onion and red pepper
Steamed fresh green beans
Chicken breasts and thighs baked in a homemade tomato sauce topped with two kinds of cheese
Sweet potato casserole topped with pecans

And for dessert:

Homemade coconut fudge brownies
Homemade vanilla ice cream
Sliced fresh strawberries

Accompanied by:

Tarapaca Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile
Coffee made from freshly ground beans

Everything came together beautifully and turned out well. The only slight hiccup was when one of my boys reached for a bun at the wrong time, bumping Grammy's hand as she was serving the sweet potato casserole. He got some of the very hot sweet potato on his hand but thankfully was only mildly burned. A couple of minutes under the cold water tap followed by a liberal smearing of goo from the aloe vera plant and his hand had only a small red spot to mark the incident.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Overheard

I overheard the following at the local swimming pool where a toddler sat with his mother, watching his daddy and older sister in a parented swimming class. The child had trouble pronouncing his "esses" and I knew what he meant, but it sounded so funny to hear him say:

"I want wimmin!"

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Neglect

I've been neglecting this blog lately. I'll try to be better. I wanted this blog to be about things that bring a smile to my face, not sad stuff. Unfortunately, it has been a sad week.

I'm now a single parent. My husband and I have separated and will be sharing custody. It's not what I wanted, but I didn't have a choice. We're determined to remain friendly for the kids' sakes, and to keep their best interests as our priority.

In order to ease the financial stress, I've taken a full-time job. I'll still work a shift every week or two at the library, but I'll now be working 40 hours a week at a regular day job so that I have my weekends and evenings free to be with the kids.

I'm very lucky to have a good group of supportive friends and my parents just a short drive away. In the past I've always prided myself on my self-sufficiency but I'm going to have to learn to ask for help when I need it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I'm Not the Star Attraction

At a recent library storytime, a little girl noticed the video setup as soon as she entered the room. "Are we having a movie today?" she gushed. When I responded in the affirmative, she squealed with delight.

After each story, song and fingerpuppet activity, she asked again, "Are we having the movie now?"

The poor kid. She looked so disappointed each time I said, "Not yet." When it was finally time for the movie (near the end of the storytime), she was literally bouncing, she was so excited.

At least I now know I rank somewhere below a six-minute video.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Things That Make Me Smile #2

While I was working at the library today, a familiar-looking lady approached the information desk. She told me that she and her family had just returned from a tropical vacation, one for which she prepared by coming to the library for travel books. I had helped her find a few books at that time and she now wanted to thank me. Apparently the books were very helpful. She had a great vacation and told me she'd think of her wonderful trip every time she saw me.

I laughed and said that every time I saw her, I'd be wishing I'd been on that trip with her.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'm a Nerd!


I am nerdier than 68% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!


Thanks to EE over at Backboards and Bandaids for the link to this quiz. I actually was afraid I'd score higher on the nerd-scale than I did.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Things That Make Me Smile #1



Many thanks to Cranky Prof over at Cranky Epistles for this. If anyone knows the original source, let me know so I can give credit where it's due.

Bill Watterson, we miss you.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Things I Don't Need to See #4

I sat down this evening to read a cookbook I had taken out of the library. (Yes, I read cookbooks like novels.) I was disgusted to find that more than a dozen pages had been cut out of the cookbook.

If you like the recipes that much, there are three options:
1. write out the recipes
2. photocopy the recipes
3. buy your own copy of the book
When did defacing a library book become an option?

Friends

I'm blessed with the best friends a girl could have. Two very dear friends of mine had flowers delivered to me at work on my birthday, then took me out for drinks in the evening despite a raging blizzard.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lunch

I was taken out for a birthday lunch today by my folks. How lovely. I don't think I've been out to a restaurant for lunch since they took me out for my birthday last year. How pathetic.

Things I Don't Need to See #3

It's 9:00 am on a weekday morning, I'm on the train headed downtown for a library course and a little old lady is sitting across from me. As the lady finishes eating her bun, we approach the next station. Reaching into her bag as she stands up to leave, she pulls out a mickey of vodka and takes a swig.

Pardon me?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tagged: My Six-Word Memoir

I've seen this meme on other blogs and was surprised to find myself tagged by SeaSpray. Here goes:



Tall; long reach: tough buying clothes


I'm not going to tag anyone. If you want to play, please consider this your invitation.

The rules
1. Write your own six word memoir.
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want.
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere
4. Tag at least five more blogs with links.
5. Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Happiness (#2) ...

... is having my internet service provider repair man show up ON TIME and replace my modem AT NO CHARGE.

Spelling

Loved this.




Thanks to Marko.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Frustration...

... is having to deal with internet connection problems at home for the past week.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Maybe It's Not Plugged In?

My cuss-o-meter isn't working. Blast. Or should I say damn?

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou

Things I Don't Need to Smell #1

When using a public computer at the library at a station with three other users (thanks to problems with the home computer), I really don't need to smell dirty, musty, damp, unwashed feet. I tried to ignore it but couldn't, then rifled through my purse until I found a stick of mint gum to chew. It helped, but I certainly didn't linger longer than it took to check my email.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Happiness...

... is a good book and a lapful of warm snoozing kitty.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Warm Fuzzies II

Last night, working at my usual library branch, I had a customer who required some help getting set up on one of the library computers. He was very kind and polite and I was happy to help him when he required assistance a few times throughout the evening.

Towards closing time, I noticed him waiting in line at the information desk. I was with another customer and assumed another staff member would be able to assist him. As I returned to the desk from the non-fiction section, I saw this man standing and chatting with two staff members but it seemed he was waiting for me. I jogged over and apologized for keeping him waiting, asking if I could help him further. (I thought that perhaps he wanted my help, since I had been the one assisting him earlier.) He smiled and said that no, he was finished for the night but wanted to thank me before leaving. He also stated that he has never been in another place of business where the employees take such pride in their work. Wow - what a sweet thing to say. But damn, why's the Big Boss never around to hear these things?

Perspective

Earlier this week I subbed at another branch of our public library. The branch at which I normally work is one of the busiest; this branch is smaller and quieter. I found it funny when, part-way through the evening, one of the regular staff members commented on how busy it was. I smiled and nodded, not wanting to disagree with her. Inside, however, I chuckled. Compared to what I'm used to, this was pleasant - enough customers to keep you occupied, but never a line-up of people waiting to ask questions, and I could count on one hand the number of times the phone rang during my shift.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm a Ham - Sandwich?




You Are a Ham Sandwich



You are quiet, understated, and a great comfort to all of your friends.

Over time, you have proven yourself as loyal and steadfast.

And you are by no means boring. You do well in any situation - from fancy to laid back.



Your best friend: The Turkey Sandwich



Your mortal enemy: The Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday Mayhem

1:30 am The Easter Bunny was up very late last night at our house, making sure the kids were truly asleep before putting out the chocolate and treats.

5:00 am I heard little footsteps going down the stairs to the main floor, checking to see that the Easter Bunny really did come. Thankfully, those little footsteps then came back upstairs and back into bed.

6:30 am The boys were awake without having to rely on the alarm clock they set the night before. They went downstairs to begin their sugar high. Almost teenage daughter was still asleep.

7:00 am The alarm clock which the boys set but didn't need went off, rousing me from a good snooze. I stumbled out of bed, plodded to the boys' room, shut off the alarm clock and then trudged down the stairs myself to say good morning and see what treats the Easter Bunny left. After wishing the boys a Happy Easter, I asked them if they'd mind if I went back to bed for a little bit. They didn't, so I did. Almost teenage daughter was still asleep.

8:15 am Everyone else was now up and the stereo was now on, so I rolled out of bed again and toddled back downstairs. Almost teenage daughter had made coffee (bless that girl!) and the kids had opened their Easter bags from Grandma. It was time to set up the bread machine to make batch one (multigrain) of buns for dinner with Grammy and Grandad later today. Then time to help the boys glue and paint their wooden vehicles from Grandma's Easter bags. Gotta love Grandma: she provides candy AND toys.

9:30 am The kids weren't hungry (surprise, surprise: they're full of candy and chocolate) but the adults were. Feeling lazy, we scrounged around and came up with scrambled egg dogs: scrambled eggs and shredded cheese in a hot dog bun. Surprisingly good.

10:00 am I was still waiting for the dough cycle on the bread machine to finish batch one so I decided to blog a bit and then get myself cleaned and prettied up in preparation for the Easter celebration with my family later today. The painting of the wooden vehicles was completed and they were set aside to dry.

11:00 am The dough cycle on the bread machine finished and I made the first batch of buns, placing them in a warmed oven to rise before setting up the bread machine for round two (whole wheat). The boys played with their freshly painted but now dry wooden vehicles with the television blaring in the background. (Explain to me again why we bought that stupid noise machine?) The kitchen table was still a mess with bowls of candy, paint-covered waxed paper, paints, paintbrushes, scissors, the waxed paper box and assorted other crap. Why am I the only one in the house that puts things away without being asked? Arrgh! The boys put their paint-covered pieces of waxed paper in the garbage (after I told them to) but managed to get paint on the outside of the garbage can. Arrgh! Of course, they didn't notice and tried to blame each other when I told them to clean it up.

11:45 am The first batch of buns were given an egg yolk wash, a sprinkling of rolled oats and placed in the oven to bake. The kitchen table was still a mess although I had put away my scissors and box of waxed paper. Hubby seemed to think the local bicycle shop would be open so he left with a couple of the kids to pick up replacement brake parts for oldest son's bicycle. Being Easter Sunday, I was skeptical and expected them to return shortly.

3:00 pm The buns were baked and batch two sat cooling on the wire rack. Hubby came home from his shopping trip - I got to say "I told you so" about the bicycle shop being closed, but the mall was open and the boys now have caps that make them look like little 1950's Cuban revolutionaries. It was time to change into some nicer duds and head to the folks' place for Easter dinner.

3:30 pm All aboard Moby (the great white whale of a van) - we're off to see the grandparents.

4:30 pm Supper was planned for six pm but that didn't stop the flow of appetizers. I asked if I could help with supper but was told no, just sit and relax. Love it!

6:00 pm All the guest arrived and chatted with drinks, then lined up and served ourselves buffet style. There was too much food to bring to the table, and too many guests for just one table. Yum!

8:00 pm The kids ran off to play after supper, leaving the adults to chat over coffee. it was time to round up our little monsters and get them home. The Easter Bunny had dropped off treats at the grandparents' house too, so we left with bags of goodies.

9:00 pm The kids were in bed (all except almost teenage daughter who had to carry on half a dozen MSN conversations simultaneously with her friends.)

11:00 pm All is quiet. The kitchen is a mess but I'll deal with that on Monday.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Good Deed for the Day

I donated blood today. I became a blood donor while in university and except for an eight-year hiatus during which I was trying to conceive, pregnant or nursing, I've made it a regular habit. It's only an hour of my time and one little poke in the arm every few months, yet that pint of blood could help save someone's life. I encourage all of you to donate blood, if you are physically able. I passed the 25 donations mark a while back and now that I'm over 30 donations, my next goal is 50 pints. It will take a few years to get there.

I'm also on the bone marrow transplant list. It's not something everyone is comfortable with doing, but I thought long and hard about it before deciding to register for the program. I've never been contacted other than providing the initial blood sample. Perhaps one day I'll be able to help someone in need.

UPDATE: Please check out Emru's website, http://www.healemru.com. Emru left a comment on this post - he's a leukemia patient hoping for a match from the bone marrow registry. The more people on the registry, the better the chances for people like Emru.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Putting His Money Where His Mouth Is

The BBC News website has an article announcing Terry Pratchett's donation to Alzheimer's research. Terry Pratchett, author of the intensely funny Discworld series in addition to numerous other excellent books, was recently diagnosed as having a rare early-onset form of Alzheimer's disease.

It bothered me to read that Pratchett is too young to be eligible for NHS coverage for the Alzheimer's drug Aricept. Thanks to the popularity of his Discworld series of novels, he can afford to pay for the drug out of his own pocket. Not many are so fortunate. (Fortunate to have the money, not fortunate to have the disease!)

The number of people suffering from dementia is comparable to the numbers with cancer, yet the amount spent yearly on research into finding a cure is less than 4% of what is spent on cancer research (11 pounds/year/dementia patient vs. 289 pounds/year/cancer patient). These are British statistics, but I would assume that the numbers are comparable in Canada, the United States and other countries.

Like other Alzheimer's patients facing the loss of their cognitive abilities, Pratchett is willing to try anything that offers him a chance. I loved this quote from the article:

The author told the conference he is prepared to go to extreme lengths in order to beat the disease. He said: "Personally, I'd eat the arse out of a dead mole if it offered a fighting chance."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Speed Demon

Yesterday morning I thought I had the day off work. As I sat in my jammies after getting the kids out the door and off to school, I pondered all the things I could do. I decided I would shovel out (a.k.a. "tidy") my craft room and sit down to do some quilting. I haven't sat at my sewing machine in quite a while, yet it's something I really enjoy.

Just as I was finishing my coffee, the phone rang. It was Big Boss at my library branch, asking if I could fill in for someone who had called in sick. "Sure," I replied. "What time do you need me?"

"Can you be here by ten?" she asked.

I glanced at my watch - it was 9:25 am. "Um, OK. See you in half an hour." Holy crap! I was still in my jammies with my hair sticking out in six different directions! I sprang off my chair and pelted up the stairs, slapped on some makeup, threw on some clothes, scrubbed my teeth and was out the door. Thank goodness I live less than a five-minute drive from work!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Everybody Needs a Friend

Tonight I realized once again how fortunate I am to have a good group of friends. Once a week some women in my neighbourhood gather for an evening of crafts, fun, food, friendship and laughter. Some weeks when Craft Night rolls around I don't feel much like going. Those are the weeks when I really need to go. I might be feeling stressed about problems or just tired from a busy day, but I always feel so much better after a few hours spent in such good company.

We are a very diverse group: some of us have young children, some have older children still at home, some are empty nesters, some are grandmothers. We range from devout churchgoers to devout atheists, technophiles to holistic naturopaths, yet we all get along and support eachother.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Lovely Weekend

While parts of our continent received a dump of snow this weekend, my little corner of the world experienced some lovely sunny weather. It was 12 Celsius (54 F) on Saturday when I met a group of friends for dinner at a restaurant. Nice enough to wear a skirt, short-sleeved top and sandals - with a light coat, of course!

I can't remember having a nicer meal. The restaurant was wonderful from start to finish. The coat-check man was friendly and polite, the maitre-d' was kind and accomodating (it must be frustrating for restaurant staff to put up with a group of a dozen women that arrive in dribs and drabs over the course of 20 minutes) and our waiter was simply fabulous. He was there when needed without being obtrusive, and everything was done to perfection. I ordered a whiskey sour, a drink I haven't had in years, and it was perfect. Just the right blend of rye whiskey, soda water, lemon and sugar. The house special that evening was strip loin steak and crab legs - YUM! I know it has been more than ten years since I've had crab, possibly more than fifteen. This was exquisite. I often find the vegetable accompaniment to restaurant meals is overdone, but not this time. My broccoli, carrots and mushrooms were cooked and hot and slightly crisp, not limp at all. I splurged and had a baked potato with all the trimmings too. I can't remember how many times I've ordered a steak "blue rare" in a restaurant and been disappointed when it arrives and is somewhere between medium-rare and medium. Not this time! I asked for blue-rare and that's exactly what I got. (Yes, I know I'm a freak. I like steak tartare as well.)

After such a wonderful meal, only about a third of us ordered dessert. Of course I was one of them. It was so hard to decide: pecan pie, chocolate fudge torte, tiramisu, Kahlua parfait, ... I finally settled on creme brulee since it's something I don't make at home. It, like everything else preceding it, was perfect. I felt like a little girl again, taking tiny pieces with the tip of my spoon, savouring the sweet syrup and silky custard and making it last as long as possible.

I go out for dinner with this group of friends once a year and we try a different restaurant every year. I think more than a few of us would like to return to this place again. We were very well cared for and were allowed to sit and chat and laugh for a long time after our actual meal was done. We didn't feel rushed at all, which has happened in other places that want us to leave so they can have another seating at our tables.

I didn't have to work on Sunday. It was a lovely, lazy day spent at home with the kids. We started with homemade Belgian waffles for breakfast. The kids had some friends over and much of the day was spent playing outside in the sunshine. Today is another beautiful warm day (the forecast high is 14C/57F) and I don't have to work until 5:30 pm. I'm off to get the week's groceries and then I plan to throw open all the windows and air out the house. I can hardly wait for spring!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Environmental Debate

Once again, it would appear that the ravings of environmentalists over our imminent demise are exaggerated. We have been told ad nauseum how horrible plastic shopping bags are for the environment. Here's an article which examines the other side of the coin.

Until reading this article, I hadn't known that plastic (polyethylene) shopping bags, made from ethylene pellets, are produced using ethylene gas which would otherwise be burned off as a waste product at natural gas plants. Another thing I learned is that the heavier "canvas-ey" bags touted by the tree huggers are still plastic, but are polypropylene which cannot be recycled as easily since it requires a higher temperature to melt.

On another (but still related) note, it bugs me that the recycling bins located at various places in my city will take paper, cans, glass and plastic milk jugs but will not take any other types of plastic. If I want to recycle my plastic, I need to pay a monthly fee to a recycling company which will send a truck 'round my house each week. I'm sorry, but I don't have the funds to pay for this service. As a result, my plastic ends up in the landfill. Arrgh.

Murphy's Law

I worked eleven days on (which sounds worse than it is - most of my shifts are only three to five hours) and then had five days off. On the afternoon of the fourth day off, after not having been called in to work even once, I invited my in-laws to drive into town and have tea with me on the morning of my fifth day off. Within minutes of my doing so, I received a call from the library asking me if I could work on that same morning. Arrrgh! I had to say no ('bye 'bye, money - sob!) but what can I do? I haven't seen my in-laws in quite awhile and they're not that good with last-minute changes of plan.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Balmy, Blustery and Bitterly Biting

Looking at the weather statistics for this area for the month of February, it was interesting to see just how crazy our temperatures can be. We ranged from a high of +14 Celsius (+57 F) to -30 C (-22 F) without considering windchill. If we factor windchill into the equation, the range is even greater: the low bottoms out at -45 C (-49 F).

I had considered titling this post with something witty using the word "swinging" since the temperature did just that, but I thought better of it. Who knows what kinds of weird hits I'd get with people using that as a search term!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Sad Day for Music Lovers

Jeff Healey, an amazing Canadian blues and jazz guitarist, has died of cancer at the age of 41.

I'm very sad. For the sake of his young family, I hope his newest album does well. It's set to be released in Europe in March and in North America in April.

My Obituary


Alas, poor Mr. Potatohead, my soulmate. We truly saw eye to eye.

Friday, February 29, 2008

I Survived!

I made it through yesterday and there were no casualties! The morning course downtown was great, and I made it with five minutes to spare despite the fact that the trains were delayed and the traffic was slow due to the snow & ice on the roads. There had been a car vs. train incident (the train won, of course) which closed one track and slowed things down considerably. Thankfully I had given myself an extra 20 minutes of traveling time (OCD to the rescue?) and wasn't late for the class.

The preschool storytime, my very first, went well. A couple of the younger kids spent their time playing, crawling under the display table and running around. They weren't too disruptive, though, and the other kids were very attentive. A few of the little cuties were very good about singing along and doing the hand motions with me, which encouraged the other more reticent children to join in as well. As I told one of our librarians afterwards, "It went well: no one cried, not even me!"

My probation review was a non-event. I was told that I'm doing a good job at the information desk and I'll have my official review in a couple of months. I'm no longer on probation and can put myself on the sub list to work at other branches if I wish. I think I may do that, but I'd like to see if I can just put myself on a list for the branches in my section of the city. Long commutes suck & I'd like to avoid that if possible.

The Hawaiian luau party at my sons' school was a blast. I had a chance to chat (shout over the music) to some friends I hadn't seen in awhile and the boys had fun running around and doing their versions of breakdancing to the music. We're very fortunate to have a professional DJ as a father of some kids in the school and he put on a great show. The music was great, the light show and video projection effects were dazzling and he has a real talent for getting people up and having fun. The limbo contest was hilarious. It was a late night for my boys, considering they had to get up for school in the morning, but they really enjoyed themselves. I did, too.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Big Day

It has been a busy week, and today is the big day of my big week. This morning I have another course - the second of the week - for which there was a pre-assignment and reading. This afternoon is my very first storytime program at the library. I think I'm ready. I've practised reading the stories, singing the songs and doing the activities. I should be nervous but so far I'm not. I don't know why. It will probably hit me when I'm on the train from the downtown library branch to my suburb branch. There I'll be, sitting quietly among strangers, when I'll start to sweat and shake and feel nauseated. Gawd, I hope not!

To top it off, I have my three-month review this afternoon as well. Wow, I've been at the information desk for three months already! Today I'll find out how my supervisors think I'm doing. Again, I feel like I should be nervous but I'm not. And again, it will probably hit me later - right before I walk into the office for my review, I expect my knees will be shaking and my fingers will be like little icicles.

As a reward for making it through the day, I get to take my boys to a school dance tonight. It has a Hawaiian luau theme. Since I was planning on wearing a sleeveless little dress printed with hibiscus flowers and jungley leaves, it came as no surprise to see that it snowed overnight. Hmmm, I'll have to re-think that one. Perhaps jeans and a tank top with an obnoxious Hawaiian shirt and a plastic lei. At least that way my legs won't freeze on the walk to the school and back!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Odd book titles

I came across this article about books with odd titles. You can actually vote for your favourite quirky title, which I intend to do later. Here, for your amusement, are the contenders this year:

-- "I Was Tortured by the Pygmy Love Queen" by Jasper McCutcheon;

-- "How to Write a How to Write Book" by Brian Paddock;

-- "Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues" by Catharine A. MacKinnon;

-- "Cheese Problems Solved" by P.L.H McSweeney;

-- "If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs" by Big Boom;

-- "People who Mattered in Southend and Beyond: From King Canute to Doctor Feelgood" by Dee Gordon.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Viewpoints

A number of years ago I was driving my van (Moby the big white whale) with my then three-year-old son in the back seat. It was extremely windy, what Winnie the Pooh would call a "very blustery day", and as we were stopped at a traffic light we could see the wind whipping the treetops back and forth. I was thinking of the unpleasant effects: would the chairs on the deck be blown away, would there be power outages from tree limbs landing on power lines, what would my hair look like as soon as I stepped outside the vehicle, and so on. At this point my son piped up from his carseat, "Look, Mummy, the trees are dancing!" I think I want to see the world through his eyes.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I Shoulda Been a Receptionist?

70 words

Speedtest



I think my typing speed might actually be a bit faster than 70 wpm. This was done on my little laptop with the tiny keys, and I'm used to typing on a full-sized keyboard. I might have to try again on the other computer.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Special Kind of Stupid

I worked at the library today, 10am - 2pm. Returning to the information desk after my lunch break, I found things to be busy. I jumped in and started helping people. As I walked back to the desk from the children's non-fiction section a little while (or what I thought was a little while) later, I glanced up at the clock. 2:25pm? Really? Oops - that takes a special kind of stupid. At least I was having fun ...

Comic Strips

I just added a Dilbert widget to my side bar. Dilbert is my favourite comic strip currently in production. Scott Adams is hilarious.

My all-time favourite comic strip ever is Calvin & Hobbes, but Bill Watterson retired it a number of years ago. It always amazed me that Watterson could portray a six-year-old so well without having children himself.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Another Cool Use for Stem Cells

The BBC News website posted an interesting article regarding the potential use of stem cells to mend shattered bone and damaged cartilage. This is still in the research stage and is a few years away from actual use, but exciting nonetheless. From reading the article, I understand that the researchers from Edinburgh University are currently using stem cells from bone marrow but hope to be able to culture bone-forming cells from blood which would eliminate the need for bone marrow extraction surgery. Very promising research and I hope to read more about this work in the coming months.

Things I Don't Need to See #2

I don't need to see a middle-aged man using a library computer (the one that is as far as it's possible to be from the staff at the information and check-out desks) to view pornography. Not only is this computer far from the desks, it's also right beside the program room where a children's storytime program had been held less than half an hour before.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Geckos in the OR

I stumbled across an interesting article today. Researchers have made a waterproof, biodegradable bandage that can be used internally in surgery. Inspired by the microscopic surface irregularites that make a gecko's toes "sticky" and allow it to defy gravity, American scientists have made a surface-patterned sugar-based glue on a biodegradable tape that can be used in the decidedly wet environment found inside the body. The paper has just been published. Hopefully we'll be hearing about its success in operating rooms in the near future.

Happy News

Last month I wrote about two friends who had both received scary news. One had a lump in his lymph node, another had a cancerous lump detected by mammogram. I'm very relieved to find that both surgeries had fantastic outcomes.

The friend with the lymph node lump was told the tumour was benign and he is back at home, perfectly healthy. The friend with breast cancer had a lumpectomy, is undergoing radiation and has an extremely good prognosis since her cancer was caught so early.

I'm very happy for both of them and for their friends and families.

Movie Night #2

I recently watched The Bourne Ultimatum, the third Bourne flick, and thought I should do a little movie review. The movie was OK, entertaining enough, but not great.

The power the CIA has in these Bourne movies is absurd. As if they could be monitoring ALL cellular phone conversations worldwide, and pick up the mention of the codeword "Blackbriar" by a London journalist. Please. That's just the start of the omnipotent CIA ridiculousness, but it's a good example.

Two things about this movie distracted me and hindered my suspension of disbelief, which needs to happen if I'm to accept plot holes and nonsense like that mentioned above.

The first: What was with the funky shaky camera crap? This was more than using odd camera angles, this was akin to the "novice with a handi-cam" a la Blair Witch Project. Sorry, it didn't work for me.

The second: Joan Allen (the actor playing the part of Pamela Landy, CIA agent) appears to be botoxed to hell and back again. The woman's face is so immobilized, she is completely incapable of any facial expression! Her forehead and eye area are totally wrinkle-free, as is her upper lip. Sure, she looks serene and smooth, but so does a mannequin. I liked her better in the second Bourne movie.

I've always thought Matt Damon was an odd choice of actor for the Jason Bourne role. When reading the Bourne books by Robert Ludlum, I felt that the Bourne character had to be older (by ten years or so) and more world-weary than the fresh-faced young Damon, particularly in the first movie, The Bourne Identity, which came out in 2002 when Damon was all of 31 (he must have been 29/30 during the filming). Damon's a good actor, but I just had a hard time finding him believable as Jason Bourne.

Now that I've slammed this movie I'm sure to be told off by someone else who loved it. I'm not saying it was awful - after all, I did sit through the entire thing - I'm just glad I didn't pay to see it. It was entertaining enough to keep me occupied while parked on the couch in my family room, but I'd have been disappointed had I paid nearly $20 Cdn to view it in a theatre.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Stating the Obvious

Red alert! A new study has found that driving while fatigued causes as many road collisions as driving drunk!

OK, so tell me something I didn't know. Like the amount of taxpayers' dollars that went into funding this so-called study.

Procrastinators Anonymous Meeting Postponed Until Tomorrow

I find myself harping at my kids to get their work done, whether it's chores or schoolwork, before playing. It frustrates me when they announce there is a school project due that they've known about for awhile but haven't begun, and then we have to scramble to finish it in time.

The silly part is that if I'm honest with myself, I see that I'm no different from them. Just last week I assessed the 'frig, determined that we had enough milk to last another day and decided to postpone grocery shopping until the following morning. Later that same afternoon, I received a phone call from work asking me if I could do a shift the next day. Needing the experience (and the money!), I said yes. By this time it was too late to get groceries before supper, which meant I had to do an evening grocery shop. I hate shopping for groceries in the evening: the produce is picked over, and the store and parking lot are full of tired, cranky people who have worked all day and now need to stock up on food for the next week.

Why do I do this to myself? Just like my kids, I don't seem to learn the lesson.

In an attempt to get out of this bad habit of procrastination, I plan to do some baking this afternoon. I'm responsible for the treats at my quilt guild meeting tomorrow evening. I have tomorrow off and I originally thought I'd bake then, but why not this afternoon? That way, I'll have tomorrow free if something else comes up (and it probably will).


Update: The cheesecake bars and coconut cherry slice are in the 'frig and ready for tomorrow's guild meeting. If I'm feeling ambitious I might make something chocolaty tomorrow.

So Much for Good Will to All

This nonsense drives me mental. I have no use for religion, and I feel vindicated in my views every time I read articles like this.

Who cares if a couple is heterosexual or homosexual? As long as those two people care about each other, why does the shape of their genitalia matter? It appears the Anglican Church of Canada pulled its figurative head out of its figurative ass long enough to realize that there's nothing wrong with same-sex unions, but now a number of parishes are separating because they are too narrow-minded to accept this. Arrgh.

Then again, why should a same-sex couple (or any couple for that matter) feel the need to have their union blessed by a religious group? I fail to comprehend that aspect as well.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Right Foot, Right Foot, Right Foot, Feet, Feet, Feet?

Silly me, I thought the Dr. Seuss Foot Book started with the line "Left foot, right foot, feet, feet, feet." Apparently I was wrong. Either that, or some other sick puppy has messed it up. It seems a few sneaker-shod feet have washed up on shore on some coastal B.C. islands. (B.C. = British Columbia, on Canada's "Left Coast".)

Just imagine: there you are, having a lovely morning walk along the shore of a pretty little island when you see a washed-up running shoe on the beach. Hmmm, you think. That's odd. Perhaps I'll wander over and have a look-see. Oh, there's still a foot in that shoe!

The part I find really odd is that these three feet have washed up separately, months apart, yet all three were clad in a running shoe, and all three were men's right feet, size 12. Is there some bizarre serial killer out there who has a thing for guys who wear running shoes and have size 12 feet?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ooh, I Want One!




Remember James Bond's car that could go underwater in The Spy Who Loved Me? Well, now for a paltry 750 000 British pounds (roughly $1.5 million Cdn) this can be yours! Here's the link to the article at the Brisbane Times.

Whale Tails and Muffin Tops

There's an interesting article at the Sydney Morning Herald about the recent publication of the annual New Word List. Yes, I'm nerdy and find stuff like this cool. I had a chuckle reading over the included glossary. My favourite WOTY (Word of the Year) contender has to be floordrobe: a typical adolescent's horizontal clothing storage system. I was a little disappointed to see that neither 'ho tag nor tramp stamp made the list: both terms refer to the lower back tattoos sometimes seen on young (or not-so-young) women.

Things I Don't Need to See #1

I don't need to see the abundant grey chest hair of a patron who must be well into his seventies. It's not 1970 anymore: the shirt undone nearly to the navel with the large gold medallion nestling in the silvery pectoral rug is gag-inducing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Good News and Bad News

The good news: I was asked to work more shifts at the library this week.

The bad news: I'm covering shifts for a coworker who is with a hospitalized family member.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More Silly Quizzes

Bonjour, I am Brigitte the invisible mechanic.




You Are Brigitte Bardot



Naturally sensual and beautiful

You're an exotic beauty who turns heads everywhere

You've got a look that's one of a kind






Your Superpower Should Be Invisibility



You are stealthy, complex, and creative.

You never face problems head on. Instead, you rely on your craftiness to get your way.

A mystery to others, you thrive on being a little misunderstood.

You happily work behind the scenes... because there's nothing better than a sneak attack!



Why you would be a good superhero: You're so sly, no one would notice... not even your best friends



Your biggest problem as a superhero: Missing out on all of the glory that visible superheroes get








You Should Be a Mechanic



You are logical, calm, and detail oriented.

You're rational when things are chaotic, and for you, reason always prevails.

And while you are guided by logic, you aren't a slave to it.

You're flexible when it counts. You are always open to being wrong.



You do best when you:



- Work with your hands

- Can use tools, machines, or equipment



You would also be a good architect or carpenter.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Faking or Not

You know your child isn't faking illness in order to avoid school when you tell him he must go to bed and he does. No playing with Lego, K'Nex or Bionicles; no TV or computer. Just bed.

Uh oh. I think he really is sick.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Book Review #4

Yes, another book review. By now it should be apparent that I'd much rather read than do such mundane tasks as vacuuming, dusting and cleaning bathrooms.

I've recently finished Beach Road by James Patterson and Peter De Jonge. I'm not sure how two people can write a book together (do they sit together and brainstorm, typing as they go? do they send drafts back and forth to each other, each person rewriting the other's work? do they take turns writing chapters?) but these two have done it very well. This is another murder mystery, one of my favourite genres. It takes place in the Hamptons, where a multiple murder occurs and a young black man, Dante Halleyville is accused of the crime. A local attorney, a personal friend of both the murdered men and Dante, takes the case and is ostracised by the white locals as a result.

I wouldn't call this book classic literature, but it's extremely entertaining and (in my opinion) well written. The surprise ending was definitely surprising, yet it works - I never guessed who the real killer was - and fits with the rest of the book. James Patterson has a reputation for writing best-selling thrillers. It's well-deserved. I'm not familiar with De Jonge but if this book is any indication, I should read more of his work. If you like suspense, I'd recommend this book.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Giants!

I don't think many people expected the Giants to win the Superbowl - wasn't the spread 13 points? What a close, exciting game. The Patriots had an amazing season, but just didn't have enough to win today. Methinks there'll be a wee bit of celebrating happening in the Manning household tonight.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Book Review #3

Based on a recommendation by Sam De Brito over at All Men Are Liars, I picked up No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. I must admit to a certain amount of skepticism: I had always assumed McCarthy's work wouldn't appeal to me. Boy, was I wrong!

It took a bit to actually get into the book. I was turned off initially by the grammatical bludgeoning given the English language by the sheriff. I got over it quickly. McCarthy writes the way this man would have spoken and it grows on you. Then there was the lack of dialogue punctuation. I don't think there's a quotation mark to be found in the entire book! I found it a little off-putting at first, but failed to notice it after a few chapters.

The story is modern: drugs, money, guns and death. The setting is current day Texas/Mexico but somehow it has the flavour of an old-time western movie. I've never been to southern Texas (I've never been to Texas at all) but I could feel the heat, the dryness, the dust. McCarthy's writing transports you into his world and a vivid one it is. When Llewelyn Moss finds the remains of a drug deal gone bad and walks away with millions in cash, I found myself cheering for him, wanting him to get himself and his young wife out of their run-down trailer and into a decent life. Sheriff Bell does his best to do right by the people in his county but somehow you can taste the futility.

The book didn't end the way I was expecting. I anticipated a disappointing Hollywood ending with things coming together and ending happily ever after. I was happy to be wrong. Some books are well-written but end poorly. Not so with No Country for Old Men. Well-written, start to finish.

A colleague noticed me reading this novel and recommended another by Cormac McCarthy: All the Pretty Horses. I may just have to pick that up soon. Thank goodness for the library, or my reading would bankrupt me!

The Tooth Fairy May Need to Write a Cheque

My daughter had dental surgery yesterday - six extractions performed under general anaesthesia - in preparation for orthodontic work. The poor kid has big teeth and a small jaw and the result is somewhat akin to a train wreck. At least she doesn't have to worry about having wisdom teeth extracted at an inconvenient time during her university education or early in her career when dental insurance doesn't cover much and she'd be responsible for footing the majority of the bill herself.

Things have changed since I had my wisdom teeth pulled. Back then, I was sent home with a prescription for painkillers and instructions to use a salt water rinse. That's it. Things have improved. Yesterday, the pharmacy delivered the prescriptions (no charge!) to the dental surgery so I didn't have to make an extra trip. (Loved that service - very nice!) There were three prescriptions: liquid Tylenol with codeine, liquid oral antibiotics, and an antibiotic rinse to be used in conjunction with salt water rinses. We were also sent home with a head sling: a soft stretchy fabric contraption that goes around the head from the chin to the top of the head, with an adjustable closure for a custom fit and pockets at the cheeks with gel ice packs for insertion in said pockets, plus extra ice packs to place in the freezer and alternate as needed. My daughter looked like she had a rag tied around her head, but what an effective device! It's nice to be able to ice the jaws without icing your fingers simultaneously. The dental surgeon himself telephoned our home in the early evening to check on the girl-child and answer any questions we might have. Wow. The guy charged us a small fortune (we'll wait and see what the insurance will cover) but his customer service is stellar.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Crafty

Today I had a shift at the library, off-desk. I spent three hours preparing crafts for an upcoming storytime where we will need to fill some time. I almost felt guilty about being paid to do the work, it was so much fun. It was like being in kindergarten all over again. I got to cut and paste, colour and cut. I even got paid for shopping at dollar stores yesterday when I gathered my supplies!

A couple of the crafts have tie-ins to some books that we will be doing, and my supervisors were pleased with what I had done. Woo hoo! I'll be sitting in on a short planning meeting early next week, then I'll get to be the "Craft Lady" at this special storytime next Thursday. It reminds me of helping in the classroom when my kids were in preschool, which is probably why I'm excited and looking forward to it, rather than being nervous.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Interview and Kevin's Hobbies

Another library course for me today, this one on The Customer Interview. Our public library prides itself in providing dazzling customer service and takes these things very seriously. In a nutshell: we at the information desk need to learn how to ask the right questions to draw out information from the customer in order to locate the right materials.

Here's an example. A customer comes to the desk and asks for books about flying. Taken at face value, one might assume the customer desires information regarding aircraft and take him to this area of the non-fiction section. After asking some open-ended questions to gain more insight, you might find out this customer is actually in need of medical books about jet lag and how to cope with it.

There are many instances where library staff are entrusted with the burden of providing sensitive information in a confidential manner. I'm surprised at how often someone will approach the information desk, look around to make sure no one else is within earshot, then drop their eyes and whisper "I need information about divorce/disease/sexuality/another delicate subject". Sometimes you feel more like a personal counselor than a library employee. Maintaining objectivity is imperative or you may find yourself surreptitiously wiping away tears as you show a customer the array of books about how to cope with a loved one's terminal cancer.

There were some funny (true!) examples in the class about how the customer's initial request can be light years away from their actual desire. "I'd like to know more about how to write cookbooks" was actually a request for Hutterite cookbooks. "What can I find out about castings" might lead you in the direction of medicine (casts for broken bones) or plays (casting calls) but it was really a desire to learn about sand-casted sculptures. "I'm looking for laser marbles" was from someone who wanted to read Les Miserables (that one cracked me up).

During this portion of the class, I had my own example to give. Last night at work, a young boy approached the information desk and asked me if we had anything on Kevin's Hobbies.

"Are you looking for music, a movie or a book?" I questioned the child.

He said it was a number of books. Being relatively new to this job, I initially thought this must be a series of children's books with a main character named Kevin and each book was an adventure based on one of Kevin's many hobbies. As I was turning to the computer to do a keyword search, something made me pause. I turned back to the boy and asked what kind of books Kevin's Hobbies are, and what they were about.

"Cartoons," replied the young lad.

I'm sure a light bulb actually flickered above my head for a moment. "Are these books about a six-year-old boy and his stuffed tiger?" I inquired. The boy nodded. "Hmmm, I think I know what you're looking for." I led the wee fellow to our collection of Calvin and Hobbes books by Bill Watterson and was gratified to see the grin spread across his face.


Weather update: As I was driving across the city to attend class this morning, the temperature was -31 C and with the wind chill felt like -45 C. Brrrrr!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Warm Fuzzies

A polite young man came into the library on this brutally cold evening to look for a few obscure items. I helped him search for a DVD. The library owns copies of this particular film, but our branch's copies were checked out and therefore unavailable. Since he needed it for tomorrow, requesting a copy from another branch (to be shipped to us, a two or three day prospect) wasn't an option. Next we tried to track down a couple of books, but either the library doesn't own these items or we had the titles or authors' names incorrect. I felt badly that I was unable to do much for him.

I showed this young man how to use other websites such as Google or Amazon to enhance his search, how to better use our online search on our library website (which he can do from home) and how to use resources such as NoveList on our E-Library. Finally, I showed him ways he can suggest book titles to our acquisitions department.

As he was leaving, the young man thanked me for my help and told me that every staff member he has ever dealt with in our branch has always been friendly and helpful. He said he'd like to commend us to our manager, but he couldn't give just one name: each and every one of us always goes that extra mile to assist him.

Wow. That gave me the warm fuzzies. Someone else might have complained because we didn't actually find a single book or DVD that was wanted. This fellow went away empty-handed but happy because he felt that we did our best to help, even though we weren't successful.

Add another tick to the "nice customer" column.

Hibernating

Current temperature: -33 C. With wind chill: -48 C

Expected high today: -29 C

When I go to work later today, I may use my coffee break to go start Moby the van and run it for 10 minutes. There aren't any plug-ins at our outdoor parking lot so I can't plug in the block heater. I drove the kids to school today. We live close to the school (less than ten minutes' walk), but skin freezes in under two minutes at this temperature.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Weather Update

The sound you hear is me, whimpering in the corner. The sound I hear is the wind howling around my house. A forecast update:

Today: Becoming cloudy. Periods of light snow and local blowing snow beginning late this morning. Wind southwest 20 km/h becoming north 30 gusting to 50 this morning. Temperature falling to minus 21 by evening. Wind chill minus 33.

Tonight: Light snow. Amount 2 cm. Wind north 30 km/h. Low minus 29. Extreme wind chill minus 41.

Monday: Cloudy with sunny periods and 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind north 20 km/h becoming light in the evening. High minus 27. Extreme wind chill minus 42.

Tuesday: Sunny. Low minus 34. High minus 25.

Wednesday: A mix of sun and cloud with 40 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 29. High minus 21.

Thursday: A mix of sun and cloud. Low minus 19. High minus 7.

January 27th Sunday evening update: the forecast is getting worse, not better. I want to hunker down and hibernate for the next few days, but I can't. Life must go on. The kids have school, I have work. Thank goodness this kind of deep freeze only happens a couple of times every winter, and it never lasts very long.

Yet Another Silly Quiz

This is funny. Red is my favourite colour, but I'm no conqueror of worlds! I found this at Addicted to MedBlogs.





Your Lucky Underwear Is Red



You're confident and bold, and your lucky red underwear will only make you more sure of yourself.

You have a great zest for life, and you tend to take on impossible goals - and succeed.



When it comes to love, it's hard for you to take the time to open up. You're too busy conquering the world.

So if you're looking for a little more romance, put on your red underpants. And see where their passion takes you!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Break out the Long Johns and Pass Me My Toque*

Take a look below at the five day forecast for this area. Now take another look, comparing today's high with Monday's forecast high temperature. Brrrrrrr! The funniest part: this is actually an improvement over yesterday's forecast, when the predicted low temperature for Monday night was -45 C (without considering the windchill)!

Forecast:

Today
High 3°C
Low -7°C

DetailsToday
26 January
Day: Cloudy with sunny periods. Wind west 40 km/h gusting to 60 becoming southwest 20 this afternoon. High plus 3.
Night: A few clouds. Wind southwest 20 km/h. Low minus 7.


Sunday
High -3°C
Low -17°C

DetailsSunday
27 January
Cloudy with sunny periods. Light snow beginning late in the day. Amount 2 cm. Wind southwest 20 km/h becoming north 30 gusting to 50 in the afternoon. High minus 3 with temperature falling to minus 17 in the evening. Wind chill minus 27.


Monday
High -25°C
Low -27°C

DetailsMonday
28 January
A mix of sun and cloud. Low minus 27. High minus 25.


Tuesday
High -24°C
Low -30°C

DetailsTuesday
29 January
A mix of sun and cloud with 60 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 30. High minus 24.


Wednesday
High -23°C
Low -28°C


*: Toque: noun, pronounced "took" with the "oo" sounding like "moon", NOT "book". A warm knit cap or hat worn on the head in cold weather, tugged down over one's ears in an attempt to prevent loss of body heat. A distinctly Canadian term.

Library Fine Amnesty

Today is "Read Away Your Fines" day at our library. What a zoo! The concept is that on this one weekend, you can register to read away your library card fines: $2.00 for every 15 minutes you read at the library, up to a maximum of $16.00/two hours. Some of the more amusing questions I was asked:

I don't have any overdue fines but I have charges for lost books. Can I read those away?
No

If I owe $2.50, can I read for 19 minutes instead of 30?
No

If I read for longer than I need to, will you credit my account and waive future fines?
No

If I read for longer than I need to, will you give me the extra money?
No

Can I register for the program and go read at home, then come back?
No

If my brother/mother/friend reads with me, can we read away $32 from my card?
No

Friday, January 25, 2008

Back off, Mama Bear!

A mum and daughter approached the information desk at the library. Mum asked for books on assertiveness for her daughter, just into her teens. I looked at the daughter and asked her a few questions, to try and get a better idea of exactly what she wanted. After each question, as the girl looked at me and started to reply, Mum jumped in and answered the question, cutting off her daughter entirely. This happened several times. I don't think it's the daughter that has the problem ...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Star Trek: the Librarian Scene

Woeful over at @ the Library posted this YouTube video. Thanks, Woeful - you put the smile back on my face.

Blah

Today has not been a good day. This blog is supposed to be about things that make me smile, but it was hard to smile today.

Two friends received bad news today. One was told he has a cancerous lump in a lymph node (I received the information third-hand so no details) and another found a lump in her breast via a mammogram. (The happy news here: it's small, stage one, and prognosis is good.) Then, this evening I decide to check the news headlines before going to bed and I find out that Heath Ledger is dead.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Movie Night

Last night I watched Letters From Iwo Jima, an amazing movie directed by Clint Eastwood. It is a companion film to Eastwood's Flags of our Fathers, also a gripping flick. I have to say that I'm not normally a war movie kind of gal, but these two shows are incredible.

I saw Flags of our Fathers a few weeks ago and it helped to have that movie fresh in my mind while watching Letters From Iwo Jima. The subject of both films is the battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. The first is told from the American perspective of the men who planted the American flag on Suribachi, and the second is from the Japanese perspective, in Japanese with English subtitles. The Japanese fought for their country knowing there were no supplies, no reinforcements, and death was virtually guaranteed. The futility of their situation is intense, particularly since the flashbacks for various soldiers into their pre-war lives creates such viewer sympathy.

I'd definitely recommend both these films. Watch Flags of our Fathers first. Then when you see where certain scenes also occur (but from the Japanese viewpoint) in Letters from Iwo Jima, you'll understand how they fit together.

Now I'm going to have to read the book - of course!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008

You Can't Please Everyone

When told that their request cannot be accommodated, people seem to fall into two distinct categories. In category one are the people who accept it (some with good grace and some with copious amounts of disgruntled grumbling or outright complaining, but they still accept it) and in category two are the people who think the rules shouldn't apply to them.

The people in category two can drive you bonkers if you let them. It doesn't matter to them if it's a business guideline or a government law or anything in between. They want what they want and won't accept "no".

We had two people at the library today that fell in category two. In both instances, they thought they'd get a different answer if they approached a different staff member. Thankfully all staff involved held firm and gave them the same answers for the same reasons.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Power of Mothers

The phone rang this evening at the library information desk. The lady calling had a rather odd request. Her daughter was coming to the library to meet a friend for a study session. Daughter had borrowed Mum's car (yes, she was of driving age) and Mum needed to pass a message to her girl. Nothing earth-shattering, just a message about an item left in the vehicle. I was given a name and description of both the woman's daughter and the friend said daughter was meeting, with a request to please track the girl down and relay the message.

Sure enough, I found the two girls tucked in a corner, studying. Approaching the one who matched the woman's description of her daughter, I said "Excuse me, Sally*?"

Sally looked up at me with a mixture of confusion, fear and horror. "Um, yes?" I could imagine the thoughts thundering through her head in quick succession: Who is this stranger and how does she know my name? She looks like she works here, am I in trouble for something? Oh, no, has something terrible happened to someone I know?

I quickly placated her by saying "It's nothing bad! I just have a message from your mum." I gave her the message and watched the tension drain away, leaving just the confusion.

"Uh, OK, thanks," responded Sally, "but how did you know how to find me?"

I laughed as I walked away, saying "Sally, we mothers know EVERYTHING!"


*: Not her real name, for obvious reasons.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Book Review #2

A few days ago I finished a book: The Bone Vault, a murder mystery by Linda Fairstein. I've never read any of her work before and picked up this book on a whim as I was passing the mystery novels at the library. It's not high-brow literature in the class of Nabokov, but it's a darned entertaining read.

Ms. Fairstein is a lawyer and worked for 25 years as a prosecutor of crimes of sexual assault and domestic violence. The main character in the book, Alexandra Cooper, has a similar job. The medical, forensic and police aspects of the book are well-researched and well-written, obviously because the author has an intimate knowledge of these subjects.

In the book, a body is discovered in a sarcophagus being shipped overseas from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Much of the book takes place in the Met or the American Museum of Natural History, both in New York City. This book encompasses a range of my interests: medical/forensic, art/museums, and a good murder mystery. The descriptions of the museums and their contents are fascinating, leaving me with a great desire to travel to New York and explore them for myself. The ending, while it neatly solves the murder and ties up the loose ends, didn't leave me feeling disappointed the way some murder mysteries do. (The Deus ex Machina-style endings wear thin after awhile, with the murderer voluntarily confessing and revealing details that weren't included earlier in the book.)

I would recommend this book, and I've also borrowed another of Ms. Fairstein's novels from the library. Any author that entices me to read more of his/her work deserves a recommendation in my opinion.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Name that Serial Killer

Considering that all the serial killers were American (and I'm not!), I think I did rather well. A sad commentary on my interest in the morbid...

NameThatSerialKiller.com
NameThatSerialKiller.com - Name That Serial Killer