Friday, February 26, 2010

(insert witty title here)

Well, that was fun. We had a major project come to a head this week at the office, and at the same time I took on a new roll at work. I'd asked to be able to do it, but the learning curve was a bit more than I expected. Both actually went fairly smoothly, but I've had so much going on lately that my brain is dizzy. I am thankful to have a job, and I'm happiest when it keeps me busy; but I'm really glad that not all weeks are like this last one was.

In the meantime, the pets have had to learn to entertain themselves. Winter has discovered the bathtub. He tears across the house and dive-bombs into the tub (though the shower curtain, of course) and then proceeds to screech at the top of his lungs until somebody goes to play with him. In case you're curious, a cat and a poodle in a tub is as noisy as it seems. And yes, noise inside of a bathtub is amplified, really quite a lot.

The little dude is incredibly full of beans lately. He's been ripping around the house, playing chicken with the cat, playing chase with Tallulah, wrestling with me and being all around really, really happy to be alive. He's the kind of happy that makes you smile, just to be around. It'd be awesome if that was the way he always is, but mixed in with all these shenanigans have been a few nasty panic attacks. I'm torn on how to deal with them.

I took him off of his mood-mellowing pills after Christmas again. If I put him back on, I know that the panic attacks won't be nearly as bad. The problem is, I'm pretty sure that they'll stop him from being so happy. I'm no dog psychologist, but I think I'd rather take a few rough patches and still be able to feel really good sometimes, than to feel mellow all the time with no chance of feeling really, really happy.

Tallulah has discovered TV. Specifically, she has discovered watching Harry Potter on TV. I recorded one of the Harry Potter movies on Saturday night, and have been watching a bit of it every night. I typically have the TV on for background noise most of the time that I'm home, and she ignores it; but when I turn on Harry Potter she has been tuning in. She sits or lies down about three feet from the TV, cocks her head periodically, barks at the dementors and seems to really enjoy herself. Good thing, because we've still got almost 2 hours of it to watch. Tomorrow, my only plans are to spend the day in my pj's, reading a book and watching the boob tube.

Speaking of which, Moosepants found a really great solution to a problem for me today, and she has no idea how great her timing was. This is a problem that most people don't understand, but I'm really tall. My legs are really long, and it's hard for me to find pajama bottoms that are long enough. The ones that I've got now are 5 years old. At one point, they were a fuzzy flannel; but they've been worn & washed so much that they are super thin and almost see through. Even worse, Monday as I rolled out of bed I heard a rip and that was that. There's a wee breeze to them in the hind end, and there's a chance that I could be arrested for wearing them outside in the back yard.

Moosepants sent me a message to let me know that Eddie Bauer has a one day sale of 30% off of all of their Internet sales today. I went online, and for the first time ever, bought men's tall flannel pj bottoms. I hope they work.

Today was the first day this year that I've been able to hang my clothes outside on the line to dry. The sun's out. It's +10C outside, and the breeze is blowing. It's perfect weather for drying clothes (even if the snow is so high I had to fold some of the clothes in half to prevent them from dragging in it.)

Some people like to iron, some people like to vacuum. I like to hang clothes on the line. It's very soothing to me for some reason. It makes the whole laundry process seems like less of a chore. Even better that it's the earth friendly option, and saves money to boot.

And yes, I did change out of my breezy pajama bottoms before I went out to hang the laundry.

Monday, February 22, 2010


...crazy busy...

I hope to come up for air at the end of the week.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A lesson in Eh

With the Olympics in Canada, I'm hearing and seeing people from other countries trying out our sacred word: Eh.

It can be a versatile word; but dudes, you're getting it wrong.

Depending on context and tone, Eh has a bevy of purposes; but it almost always has a meaning.

With a sentence, it could mean:
  • Right? - It's cold out, eh?
  • Know what I mean? - We're at the bar, eh (where we're always at); and then...
  • Don't you think? - We should probably get back to work, eh?
  • Will you? - Pick up a loaf of bread and some milk on the way home, eh?
  • What do you think? We should paint this room blue, eh?
  • Seriously - Dude, you're driving like an idiot, eh.
  • Like I told you - Put that away, eh?

On it's own, it can mean:
  • Hey you!
  • What did you say?
  • Don't you think so?
  • WOW!!
  • What do you mean?
  • Seriously?
  • You're joking!!!??

Eh can make a sentence friendly and approachable. Or, with a different tone it can imply all sorts of attitude. It can ask a question, or make a statement. It can get somebody's attention, or conclude a conversation. What it's rarely used for is as a space filler.

You don't just tack it on to the end of a sentence for nothing, eh.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pet Sitter Conundrum

I have a bit of a conundrum

The pet sitter that I hired to care for my pets went MIA, and I haven't been able to track her down since I got back from my trip.

I started emailing her two days before I left San Diego, concerned that the fallout from the dude with a bomb would interfere with my ability to fly home in a timely manner. I asked her to respond to my email, and confirm whether or not she could care for the pets an extra night if I couldn't get home.

I emailed her the next day, and multiple times on the day I flew home. I will admit that should have had her phone number with me; but I really thought that an established pet sitting business (12 years in the field) would know the importance of reading and responding to emails on a daily basis.

Didn't hear from the pet sitter.

More emails were sent to the pet sitter, saying that if I don't get her confirmation that she'd be available, I'd assume that she was not and would have to struggle to make alternate arrangements but please email me either way so that I'd know. She didn't respond, so I frantically emailed local friends to ask if they could let the animals out and feed them.

Still didn't hear from the pet sitter.

My flight was delayed significantly, as expected. I missed the bus that would have taken me from the airport home, but could rebook on the next day's bus for no extra cost. (I've got a couple of friends in Calgary that I could have bunked with overnight.) When I didn't hear back from local friends right away - not surprisingly, considering the time of year - I felt that I had no choice but to book a non-refundable seat on the only other bus that would take me home that night.

Still didn't hear from the pet sitter.

I lost $45 on the previously booked ticket that I didn't use, and bought a $45 seat from another company. I also had to take a $50 taxi across Calgary to the bus depot.

I got home just after midnight. The pets appeared as though they'd been well taken care of. There was a note from the pet sitter, saying she'd had a great time taking care of them, that she'd been around late afternoon, and for me to please call her to let her know when I've gotten in safely.

I called, said that We Needed To Talk and asked her to please call back the next day. She didn't call back. Ever.

In late January, I called her and asked to inquire about an invoice. She emailed me back the next day to say that she was working on it, and I'd get the invoice soon.

I still don't have the invoice.

This is a pet sitter that came very highly recommended. As far as I can tell, she did a good job with taking care of the pets, but her communication is horrid. At this point, I have no plans to use her services again; but I'm wondering about the invoice.

Am ever going to get it?

At this point, I don't know if I should send her the cheque for what I think I owe her; send her a partial payment and tell her I'd deducted part of the expense for the bus fiasco; or stick my head in the sand and hope the invoice never arrives.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dinner tonight

I don't often post recipes, because most of mine come from cookbooks. I don't want to be accused of thieving or copycat writing, so I've generally limited my food related yapping to how I fixed recipes gone wrong.

Tonight, I'm posting a recipe. I didn't get this one from a book. I got the first part from a friend. I figure it probably started off in a book, but she probably tweaked it, then I tweaked, then I added to it some more to it. At this point, I'm going to call it my own.

First, I made what I call black bean salsa salad. I don't remember what it was originally called.

  • Two 15oz cans of drained and rinsed black beans.
  • two large tomatoes, cut up
  • 1.5 cups of cooked and cooled frozen corn.
  • 1/4 of a small red onion, diced (or more, if you want)
  • 1/2 a diced sweet pepper. I usually go with green for the colour. Red or yellow works too.
  • 1 avocado, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 chopped up jalapeno
  • 1 can of chopped chopped green chilies
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice (I've used lemon juice in a pinch... not quite as good.)
  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp of red wine vinegar
  • Ground black pepper to taste

That's the salad. It's a favorite of mine to go beside hamburgers or grilled chicken. On hot summer days, it makes a great meal on it's own. The problem is that the recipe is big; and as a single girl, I can only eat so much bean salad. I'm always looking for ways to mix it up.

Today, I roasted a pork tenderloin in the oven (375 for about a half hour), cut it into medallions and then poured a couple cups of the salad over them as a garnish.

You know what's even better than winging an unplanned dinner and having it work out?
There's enough left over for Healthy cold lunches for the next couple of days.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Drawing the line in the sand.

I don't dress to impress when I'm walking the dogs. I wear baggy sweats, a puffy purple coat.

When I garden, I can be found knee deep in dirt (and sometimes worse) in those same baggy sweats, or baggy shorts on hot days.

Painting, when possible, is done in the garage with the door open. My painting outfit consists of a t-shirt and sweat pants that I bought in 1993. Somehow, no matter how much weight I've gained, they're still baggy; but the pants have shrunk a good 3-4 inches. Those pants have seen me through painting 2 houses and everything in them; and they have the multicoloured splotches of dried paint to show for it.

On laundry day, it's not unheard of to find me outside hanging clothes on the line while wearing my pj's. (The fence is 6' high, but that doesn't mean that my neighbours don't have back decks.)

Knowing all that, maybe somebody can explain to me why I went two days without milk this weekend because I didn't have appropriate pants to wear. My laundry was either dirty or hanging to dry, so all I had was sweat pants, or plaid flannel pj bottoms to wear. For some reason, I couldn't bring myself to wear either of them to the Macs store down the road.

The mall, I can understand - but MACS?!? I'm not sure what caused the ingrained rule of not looking like a slob when going into public to kick in; but it was holding strong.

I wonder if I'd walked the dogs to the Macs store, and left them outside while I went in to get some milk, if I'd have been able to bring myself to do it while wearing my sweatpants?

Too bad I didn't think of that yesterday.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Serious Injury

The white dudes have this game they play, where Cotton gets revved up and running around the house at top speed. Winter jumps in and plants himself in Cotton's way, and they play chicken to see who moves or changes course first. This has resulted in many a good natured collision over the years, but never any injuries. Today, blood was drawn.

The littlest dude is being surprisingly stoic. He shook it off, and after getting cleaned up and swabbed with Neosporin, he went back down to the end of the hall to reenact his impression of a bowling ball.

Winter the cat is not accepting responsibility. He says his claws were only drawn to help him grip the carpet, and it's part of the game. He has requested, however, that the littlest dude take his turn at being the pin for once.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Burning question of the day

Does the new haircut make my head look big?

Does my big head make my legs look too skinny?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Excellent Adventure

I've been feeling a bit restless lately, so I took a road trip to spend a few hours in my old stomping grounds.

I miss Whyte Ave in Edmonton. It's a busy street not too far from the university, full of people from all walks of life and some really great stores. I woke up this morning, knowing that I needed to spend a few hours there, so off I went.

First, I went to The Wee Book Inn, which is the best used book store that I've found. It's got a huge selection, is very well organized and generally their books are in almost new state... only they cost less than half what you'd pay for new. I really miss having a good used book store nearby. If you order second hand books on line, you can often spend almost as much on shipping as you'd pay for the book itself. ... Which explains my addiction to Amazon.

Then I meandered down the the Plaid Giraffe, which is purse nirvana for me. It's got a lot of other stuff - jewelry, accessories and gifts too - but it's their purses that I love. I've still got a moratorium on new purses, though, so I didn't buy anything from them this time.

Wandering down a bit further, I discovered a new store, called The Wish List gift store. It's owned and operated by animal lovers, so has lots of pet related gifts and artsy supplies such as funky bowls and leashes/collars. It's not just pet stuff, though. As I leaned in to inspect a collar that I was contemplating for Tallulah, a framed picture caught my eye. I ended up buying it and taking it home.

It took a bit of thinking to decide where this should go. Some might deem it inappropriate to have in the public areas of the house, but I decided not to worry about them. I put it in the front foyer, on the wall opposite the front door. I'll consider it a forewarning. If you're offended, don't come in.

After that, I treated myself to a cobb salad for a late lunch, and then headed off to G & E Pharmacy, which is really more of a pet & animal supply store. They've got great prices that I bought 2 months' worth of supplies and saved $55 on what I'd pay locally.

Finally, I headed over to Ikea, which was total chaos, as usual. I had a couple of things in mind that I wanted, but didn't have much luck. I did find a big woven basket that looks like a crown, which had me convinced it would be perfect to hold the TP. (Get it - bathroom... throne... crown?!?) I managed to talk myself into not buying it, but now that I'm home I wish I did. Maybe next time.

And that was the end of my excellent adventure. Edmonton is quite a bit colder than it is here; and when the blowing snow started I worried about the roads. I'm going to go back again soon, though. When I first moved here, I went up every other week or so. That's maybe too much; but for the last few years I've only made a few trips a year. After today, I think I'll be doing it a lot more often.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My version of the truth

I don't snore. In fact I'm really very proud of the fact that I don't snore.

However, my membership in the non-snorers club was put into question earlier this week.

My recovery from surgery has taken longer than anybody expected. I'm a lot better, but I'm still pretty tired most of the time. My doctor wants to know why. He's wondering if there's something besides the anemia, and one of his theories is that I might have sleep apnea. In an attempt to rule that out, he asked me about one of the key symptoms... do I snore.

I said no; but he reminded me that I live alone. He said that my dogs are unlikely to fess up, and asked me to find more reliable collaboration. So, three friends (and recent house guests) got emails.

Did you hear me snore at night when you were here? Please tell me no.
Be honest. But say no.

This may be a true test of friendship, but they all said no. Maybe they didn't want to disappoint. Maybe they know me well enough to know how irrationally important it is to me to not be a snorer. I may never know for sure, but I'm choosing to believe them.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Hoar frost is a winter favorite for me. We don't get much of it in dry Alberta, so I figured I better take some pictures.

Then again, I think I've got some more frost like that inside my freezer.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Positive Reinforcement

I had been sucked in by the gravity of the couch, and was pinned down by the eight pound beast. I couldn't move. Winter came along and got too close to the glass of milk on the coffee table, and so I hissed.

This convinced Himself to leave my milk alone, but then Tallulah Belle Poodle felt the need to investigate. As she approached, Winter cursed her out with one of his nastier meows.

She sat in front of him, looking right into his face.

He threatened to whap her with a paw.

She leaned in and sniffed his nose.

He whapped her a few times in the face.

She leaned in and licked him with her whole tongue, from the tip of his nose, up over his face between the ears to the back of his head.

He lay down and started to purr.

Monday, February 8, 2010

More reasons why I'll be single forever

There's been a cold wind out there for a few days, so I've been bundling up to take the dogs out at night. Last night, when had only gotten about a block from home, I started to feel one of my socks slip down my ankle and wad up at the toe of my boot.

I tried to ignore it, but eventually had to do something about it. I grabbed onto a street sign, thinking that I'd take my foot out of my boot, pull up my sock and put my boot back on. Except, when I pulled my foot out of my boot, the sock stayed behind.


Did I mention that I was standing on packed snow that had melted and refrozen enough to be solid ice?

So, there I am - on a fairly busy street - hanging onto a street sign with one hand, holding on to Tula's leash with the other, trying to maintain my balance while standing on one foot on ice and flapping my other bare foot in the air. Of course, Tula picked that exact time to decide to chase the headlights of one of the cars that was going by. I gave up on the idea of getting my sock back on, grabbed it from my boot and stuffed my bare foot back in the boot.

The walk was OK after that. Cotton and I were inside of my big coat, which might make me look like the grape from Fruit of the Loom, but is really warm; and Tallulah is impervious to cold. I decided to go a little further than usual.

About 10 blocks from home, Tallulah reached up and tried to take my mitt. I don't like her to carry my down mitts, to I told her no. Then I told her no again, and again. Apparently, I've created a monster by letting her carry my gloves home. She really wanted something to carry.

I remembered my sock, which was still in my pocket, and gave it to her without thinking. Tula was in doggy heaven. Extra long walk and a dirty sock to carry home? It doesn't get much better for a poodle than that.

The human, however, quickly realized her lack of judgment. I imagined how we must look to other (normal) people, but I didn't have the heart to take the sock away. Instead, we slunk home through as many dark alleys as possible, avoiding the streetlights and praying that nobody noticed us... Me, with my purple grape winter coat, with one dog inside of my coat, and the other sporting shiny purple boots while carrying a dirty white sock in her mouth.

If that's not glamorous, I don't know what is.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Where I Rip My House Apart

It occurred to me the other day that my living room/great room is too cluttered with the new (larger) dining table.

I forgot to take a before picture. This is the best I've got.

It's been in the back of my mind that I should get rid of the love seat in my living room, so I decided to move things around. The love seat moved to the front foyer while I figured things out.

I moved the favorite chair to the other side of the room, where the loveseat used to be; and thought that was a pretty good layout.

This layout made me realize how very, very loud I had the TV when sat with it on my deaf side.
(Also: The next project will be to paint the banister)

This worked better for me. I could move around without feeling crowded.

But then I realized that nobody could watch TV, except the person sitting in the chair.

So, I moved everything around again:
With the couch here, two or three people can watch TV.
And The Dude can catch a sunbeam.

Contrary to popular belief, the chair isn't in the same place it started. I shifted it over a few feet, and turned it on an angle.

No, I didn't consider doing that before I started this whole mess.
...That mighta been a bit easier, eh?

I think this will probably be the layout for a while. The only problem with that is that it doesn't leave any room for side tables or some of my globes.

They all moved to the front foyer with the love seat, until I can con some sucker into coming over to help me schlep them down to the basement.

In the meantime, I decided to swap some of the side tables with the bedside tables in my spare room... and while I'm at it, I think my den is looking too cluttered lately. I figure I'll pare things down in there too.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Old Dog's New Tricks

Standard Poodles are retrievers, so it makes sense that Tula likes to carry things. Actually, she had a canvas bag that she carried for the first 3 or 4 years of her life while we were on walks. It started off as my bag, that I used to carry my keys, her dog license and a few plastic bags. Somehow, it ended up that she carried it around all the time; and it quickly became known as Tallulah's Purse.

I treated it as a reward - she could only carry the purse when she was behaving herself - but I think that she considered it a job. I think that carrying that purse gave her something to concentrate on, and it resulted in a definite improvement in behaviour. When she had that purse in her mouth, she walked on a loose leash, almost in a heal position beside me; and rarely stopped to stiff or pick anything up.

As Tula matured, her behaviour improved a lot; and it eventually got so that she didn't need to have her purse (job) to help her behave herself. As time went on, I used it less and less and then I eventually stopped altogether. That doesn't mean that she never carries things on her walks anymore, though. She likes to find and carry sticks along with her; or if it's a warm day in winter, I'll let her take one of the gloves off my hand and carry it home.

Lately, she's been reaching up about half way around most of our walks, and taking my glove. It's been warm enough out that I don't really need gloves, and I can always stick my hands in my pockets. More importantly, though, I love to watch the way she prances when she's got a prize to carry home. She's been taking my glove so often lately, that it's become a routine.

Something else that has changed lately is that Tula has been slowing down on our walks. I can't help but notice that by the time I'm 5 or 6 blocks from home, she's walking behind me instead of in front of me. And it seems like the closer we get to home, the slower she goes; and that's had me worried. She just turned seven, which makes her a senior citizen according to the vet, and I'm hyper aware that she's going to get old soon.

Already, I'm looking for the signs: are our walks too long? Are her joints bothering her? Am I pushing her too hard? (This when I'm finally starting to feel better, and am hoping to be able to start jogging again in a few weeks - I need my jogging partner!) The way she's been dragging behind at the end of our walks, I've been envisioning having to go to the vet and start up on what I was sure was going to become the overwhelming expense of caring for a geriatric dog.

I figured it out, though.

Last night, I refused to give her my glove and she walked home beside me with no hesitation at all. Tonight, I gave her my glove. She started to slow down when we turned toward home. After a block or two, when she had the leash fully extended behind me, I turned around and walked in a different direction. She sped up and walked beside me until I turned around again and started back toward home... then she slowed down again.

I think that Tula has caught on that I take the glove away from her when the walk is over. I think she's trying to prolong having the glove to carry, and she's doing that by slowing down and taking longer to get home. I think that my dog's not getting old, she's getting too smart for her own good. And I also think that I'm going to have to go to the Salvation Army and get her a glove of her own.

Happy Birthday, Tallulah!

Tallulah Belle Poodle turns seven today.

If you've read this blog for long, you'll know that I think pretty highly of Tallulah. In fact, I think she's pretty close to being the best dog ever; but it wasn't always this easy. When I look back and remember the horror stories, I can hardly believe that she's the same dog.

We've come a long way, Baby.

She went from this:

to this

With a whole lotta this in between:

Deep down, inside of that bundle of energy and curls, there lurked a great dog. It took a few years for her to grow into herself, but she's getting there now.

Thank goodness for that; because, frankly, I'm pretty impressed that I didn't break down along the way and shove her down the garborator... piece by curly black piece.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

On a very serious note...

I don't normally blog about political or ethical issues, but today I'm going to make an exception. I just read about this over at the "Bored Mommy" blog, and I want the women around me to be aware.

The gist of it is that, in Canada, it is standard practice for teaching hospitals to allow medical students to practice performing pelvic exams on non-consenting, unconscious women during or immediately after other surgical procedures.

Here's an article from the Globe and Mail about it. As somebody who recently underwent the sort of surgery discussed in the article, I am particularly upset. I've got an appointment with my surgeon next week and you can be sure that I'll be asking him about it. Because poking around in my nether's without my knowledge for the purpose of "practice" is nothing short of medical rape, in my opinion.

This is a secret that has to get out. It's a practice that has to stop. If you're a Canadian and you read this, please pass the message on to the women that you know.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Budget Blasters

I've been trying all January to get my budget under control.

Actually, my budget is quite impressive. It's got categories, subcategories and all sorts of columns that balance out at the bottom. (I didn't graduate with an accounting diploma for nothing.)

It's the spending that's the problem.

For the first few weeks, I mentally tallied what I was spending and wasn't very successful. $10 here, $15 there... $8 lunches most weekdays... the money was slipping away.

So, two weeks ago I bit the bullet and removed the MasterCard from my wallet. I decided to take $200 out of the bank each Sunday. The aim is to stay within $200/week. This includes everything except for mortgage, taxes, utilities or insurance. So, food, pet, cat, fun... everything else needs to fit within that budget. When the $200 for the week is gone, the spending has to stop. For me, this method works. I see the money in my wallet. I see the amount going down and I think twice before I spend more.

Is that cute pair of shoes really worth eating Rice Crispies for dinner every night this week? Questions like this will (hopefully) help me stay on track.

The first week in, I had $17 left. After the second week, I had $78 left over. This is good, because I then screwed up at the bank.

This week, I paid my bills, set aside enough for $200/week until the next pay day, and used the balance to pay down the house fund. Except, I was looking at January's calendar, not February. I missed counting a whole week - including a mortgage payment - before my next payday. I emptied the account without setting anything aside for that week.

I could borrow the money from another account, but I decided to see how far I can stretch a dollar. So, for the next couple of weeks, I've got $78.

And at lunch hour today, I went out and spent $42 on cat food.

Methinks this is going to be a tough couple of weeks.

Rice Crispies anyone?