Monday, March 31, 2008


... 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?


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, 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.