Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bit of a break...

Me?  Not in a very happy place lately. It seems that I've got a lot of things going on that I'd find difficult individually... added all up, and it's a bit more than I can handle.

Mostly, I've got issues at work that I'm struggling with.  It's not the new job.  Unfortunately, nothing with the new job has progressed, so I'm still in the old position and dealing with... stuff I can't talk about here.

There's the diet issue.  I've figured out that all the health problems I've been having are stemming from an intolerance for salt.  I've had to cut salt out of my diet as much as possible; which basically means that I've had to cut out anything that's premade or processed.  Canned foods, deli meats, cheeses, baked goods, sauces, dressings, condiments, pop, and even some bottled waters all have added salt.   It's gotten to the point that I can't eat anything that I don't make myself from fresh ingredients.  I didn't think I ate out very often,  but I've come to realize how much of my social life revolves around meeting friends at a restaurant or pub.  Not being able to eat out has been hard.

Then, there's the house stuff.  I finally went to a lawyer to discuss taking legal action against the guy who built the house.  I've paid out over $30000 in repairs for problems that resulted from the builder taking shortcuts or not doing as he should have done.  The lawyer very kindly explained my options; all of which are more likely to cost me money than to get the results I want.  I think that if there was some way the builder could be forced to be accountable, I'd probably take legal action, even if it cost me money.  However, there's no way to enforce court decisions or collect on the money that the court deems I'm owed without spending another boatload of money, on top of the legal fees.  In the end, I decided that I couldn't handle the additional stress or costs of taking this to court without a guaranteed outcome.  (To be clear, I have no doubt that I'd win; I just don't have any confidence that anything would come of it.)

At the lawyer's suggestion, I contacted the Canadian Home Builder's Association.  I wrote them a letter, listing all of the problems that I've had with the house, the actions (or lack thereof) taken by the builder, and what I've had to have repaired on my own.  They read my letter, and I'm told it was discussed in depth during a builder's council meeting.  Ultimately, though, they all agreed that the house hadn't been built properly, that I'd been horribly taken advantage of; but that nobody on the council was in a position to assist me.  "Sorry about your luck."

Finally, I'm fighting with the guy who did my roof.  In general, I'm happy with the job and think the roof looks good.  However, there are two spots that don't look right to me, where the rubber membrane is exposed and a weird kind of flashing that looks like duct tape is exposed.  I told the roofer, and his response was to say that it looks fine to him.  So, I told him exactly what doesn't look "fine" to me, and what I want him to do about it.  He responded with an explanation of the materials that he used.  Yesterday, I wrote him back an email to say that while I don't doubt that he used the best materials, they still look bad in some places.  I then went for a walk in a neighbourhood that has a number of tiled roofs like mine and confirmed that none of them have the same problems as what I'm seeing on my house.  I sent the roofer the addresses of some houses that I feel were done right, and asked him to compare those to my house.  We'll see what he says.  Back and forth, back and forth.

As I told a friend this morning, I'm sick and tired of being on the losing end of no-win arguments.  Other people are taking shortcuts, cheating, playing games or just plain lying; and I'm being told that I should sit back and take it because that's the way things are.  I don't want to take it anymore.

So, I'm crabby.  I'm a little beyond crabby, actually.  I'm stressed out and I've got a permanent case of the shakes.  Coming up with something positive to say, making fun of myself or finding little stories that might be amusing... that hasn't been very easy lately.  I never meant for this blog to be where I'd come to bitch and complain; but that's all I've got right now.  So, I'm going to take a little break for a while.  I need to regroup, and get my head on straight.   I'll be back when I'm a little more pleasant to be around.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Premier Week

My hips and I took one for the team this weekend, and watched about 15 hours straight of tv.  It was premier week last week, you see; and now is the time to determine what shows I'll follow for the rest of the year.

I've been feeling antsy lately, and haven't been able to really settle down and enjoy too much without my mind flitting hither and yon.  I've got a PVR, so everything was recorded ahead of time and could be paused or replayed as necessary.  I've gotta admit, though, that whether the mind is flitting around or not, I expect a show to hold my attention.  If it can't do that, it gets axed from my list.

I started off with last year's favorites: Criminal Minds, Glee, Grey's and Castle.  Then the gravity of the couch took hold and I spent the rest of the day in in a semi-comatose state.  I can't promise that I didn't drool, but I did form opinions.

Running Wilde failed out of the gate.  Not funny.  Turned it off & deleted after 5 minutes
The Event ...  I don't think I'm up for another show that nobody can tell what's actually going on.
Under Covers was lame.
Law and Order UK was a bit too dry for my taste.
The Whole Truth has good actors.  I think it's got potential, but they need to stop jumping around the timeline.
The Chase could be good, I think.  It's a bit formulated, but it's definitely worth another shot.

There were others, but I can't think of them now.   That must mean that they weren't very memorable.

See?   Think of all the time and fat cells I've just saved you.  I've narrowed the basic cable selection down to two or less new shows.

Oh, in other good news, I've read that one of the two reasons why I'm boycotting Dancing with the Stars this year has been kicked off already.  If ya'll could go about voting for off Michael Bolton, I could add that show back onto my watching list too.    Hopefully that happens before my imaginary boyfriend Maksim and his partner get the boot.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pandora's Box

Last spring, a few friends and I went out together and bought ourselves Pandora bracelets.  This told us a lot about each other.  Some of us couldn't bring ourselves to put charms of different colours or styles on our bracelets.  Some went for super-plain and some went for the ornate charms.  Some of us stopped after the initial purchase, and one has since filled her bracelet with charms.

Me?  I mixed and matched.  I chose different colours and styles, bought one plain charm, and a couple that are a little more ornate.  I've worn my bracelet almost every day; but I've come to realize that I never should have bought it.

For those who aren't familiar, Pandora bracelets are charm bracelets.  The charms are like beads that you thread onto the chain.  Some people have full Pandora bracelets but I was happy with my mostly empty one when I bought the first three charms.  It was a sale - buy three charms, get the bracelet for free. I intended to just stick with the three beads, and would have been happy with what I had.

(not my bracelet)

Except.  There are these threaded areas on the bracelets that break them into three sections. I'm assuming that they're there to hold the beads in place; but frankly, they mess with my chi.  I found for the first few weeks that the beads were twisting and threading themselves over to the outside sections, and it bothered me when they weren't all centered on the bracelet.  I spent so much time twisting and threading them back into the middle section that it became a huge distraction.  I ended up buying two clips to cover the threaded areas and prevent the beads from moving out of the center section.

This was perfect.  I had five pieces.  (My OCD makes me want to group everything in groups of three or five).  There were two semi-ornate, slightly coloured clips on the outside.  Beside each of those were two fairly colourful beads, and then a plain silver bead  in the center.  Life was good.

But then, I had the brilliant idea a few weeks ago that I needed a bead to celebrate my promotion.  I had a particular bead in mind, that has a specific meaning to me, but not to anyone else.  I waffled buying this new bead.  I don't really need it, I shouldn't spend the money... blah blah blah.  I went out bought it.

Now the bracelet's driving me nuts again.  I've got four beads (not five, not three) between the clips.  They are all different sizes and colours, and I can't find an order for them on the chain that works with my incessant need to establish a pattern.    I'm seriously thinking about setting the new bead aside in a jewelry box until I can justify buying another one to even out the patterns.

I think that's why they call them Pandora bracelets.  Once you start buying the beads, you can never stop.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


After five years, I'm proud to say that today I finally figured out how to pre-program my favorite radio stations on my car stereo.    Yes, I've really been turning the dial up and down all this time.  Actually, I've been listening to cds to avoid having to use the radio for this very reason.  Now, I've got easy access to four different radio stations at the touch of a button.

I've expanded my horizons.

Yes, I really do work in IT.

Luddites unite.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Farmer's Market Fun

On Friday evening, I drove up with Tallulah to Edmonton to hang out with my sister and her boys.  I don't get to see them nearly enough, but this trip has become something of an annual event for us.

Saturday morning, I got up early with my older nephew and let him think that he'd conned me into doing his paper route with him.  We delivered to over a hundred houses together, and had a great visit as we took turns running up to houses and leaving the papers in the mailboxes.

After that, we all went to watch my younger nephew play hockey.  I can hardly believe that hockey season has already started, but they were playing scrimmages to determine which level of team each kid should be on.  I was pretty impressed at the skill level of some of those kids, but something tells me my nephew won't have a career in hockey.  God Bless him, it appears that he has taken after his auntie Janice when it comes to sports.  For most of the game, he was the kid on the outskirts of the players, standing with his stick upside down, looking up and counting the banners that hang from the rafters.  

We also went to the farmer's market, which is one of my favorite things to do.  We parked a ways a way out, walked through a park to get to the market and then spent a few hours wandering around.

I love this statue; but I wish I had photo shop, so that I could clear away the clutter in the background of this shot.

There was a huge selection in locally grown produce and crafts.  I bought a buffalo horn walking stick for my nephew's upcoming birthday.  It's as ugly as sin, but I know he'll love it.  Then I stocked up on as much fresh produce as one person could possibly use.    Green beans, fresh beets, peas, yellow zucchini, corn and these funky tomatoes.

They're called zebra tomatoes.  A little chewier than most tomatoes, and quite a big sweeter.  Yum.

Today I set out to use some of it, and made a big pot of corn soup.    I started off with Pastor Ryan's recipe, but switched it up some.  I like that he cooks so much by scratch, and that he isn't so hung up on using the exact recipe.  I also thought it was brilliant to use the corn cobs to make stock.

I did like he said, and scraped the corn off of 8 cobs.  I added about  half a stick of butter (he used twice that), and baked it in the oven at 400 for about 45 minutes.  While that was baking, I broke the cobs in two, tossed  them into a pasta pot for easy staining, added 4 litres of water, a couple of whole garlic cloves, some spices (paprika, tumeric, fresh oragano and chives) and then  let it simmer for a couple of hours before mixing it with the corn.

Because I like soups to be pretty substantial, I cut up a leak and 4 small potatoes and chucked them in.  I let that simmer for about 20 minutes, and then used a submersible blender to chop/blend some of it together before adding a cup of half and half to the mix.  I think it's safe to say that it could very well be the best corn soup I've ever made.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Have I mentioned how much I hate Millwoods?

Millwoods is a town (small city?) south east of Edmonton. It's so close that the roads and everything just run together and you can't tell that you've left Edmonton and gone into Millwoods unless you know the area.

...or happen to notice how ass backwards the road system has become.

Back in 1993, when I moved to Edmonton, I considered a rental in Millwoods. I learned the hard way back then about their road system - never did find that place - and decided that I didn't want to live anywhere that was so confusing to get around.

At the core of it, Millwoods is based around two main ring roads; one around the city center, and one around the outskirts. What this means is that you'll be following a road going south, and with no warning or street change, you'll suddenly be going west. If you keep going again, you'll end up going north.

On top of that, there are lots of streets that wave back and forth in s curve after s curve. For somebody like me with zero sense of direction, it can get confusing fast.

All that's to say that I got lost today.  I started in Millwoods, and ended up near Fort Saskatewan (north east of the Edmonton).

I was visiting my sister and her boys north of Edmonton today and made a stop on the way out of town.  I was trying to get to a new-ish road that joins the highway, but was turned around so many times in Millwoods that I didn't realize I was going east instead of west (I was meaning to go south).  Before I knew it, I was on an overpass that went over a brand new freeway that wasn't there when I lived in Edmonton.  I mistook it for the main highway.  

Thinking I was going west, I turned north instead of south to go back, turned myself around a few times trying to find the "highway" and ended up on another highway entirely.  I kept driving, hoping to find a landmark or sign that would tell me where I was, had a few moments of panic and took a few more turns that I shouldn't have.  Before I knew it, I was good and lost.

I started at A, was aiming for a target south east of that, but ended up near B

Seriously, seriously lost.   Being on a rural highway, I couldn't even safely pull onto the shoulder to get my bearings... not that that would help because I don't have a map in my car.

 Luckily, I came across a liquor store that was set up in the middle of a field (which I was so relieved to find, I didn't even question WHY there was a liquor store in a field, miles away from civilization...)  I went in to ask for help,  gave serious thought to kick-starting my career as a drunk, and got directions back to the right highway.  (And I'm not ashamed to say that I whipped out my best Ontario accent and told the guy "I"m not from around here." so that I looked less like an idiot.)

Needless to say, the next time I'm Edmonton, I'm going to grit my teeth and take the same, busy roads that I'm used to, straight through the middle of the city.  They may have traffic up the ying yang and construction out the wazoo; but at least I know where they are and what direction they go.

I need a GPS.

And I will never again - as long as I live - take a shortcut through Millwoods.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Great news

A few months ago, the phone rang and a lady that I respect very much was on the other end. She offered me the job of my dreams. This is a job that takes everything that I love most about my current job and expands on it. I'd get to deal almost exclusively with the tasks that I love best, and leave behind the tasks that I don't particularly like. It sounded perfect. So perfect, in fact, that I somewhat non-committedly said that I'd be interested in the new job, thanked her and carried on with my day.

A few days later, I had to call her back and ask if the previous call had actually happened, or if I had imagined it. (It had.)

The hard part was that she asked me not to say anything to anybody. Both my current job and the new job are within the government, and the government does love it's red tape and paperwork. I had to wait weeks (a few months, actually) before approvals were given for the new role to be created; and for me to fill it.

Today, I got word that the role has officially been approved with me in it. It may take a few weeks before I am fully transitioned into the new job; but there is a light at the end of my culvert. My promotion is official.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Scary, humiliating, showing off and a challenge

Some freaks followed me the other night while I was walking the dogs.  It was after dark, and they stayed just far enough away so that I couldn't see details of their faces.  But the faster I went, the faster they went.  When I turned they turned.  

This went on for about 15 minutes.  I was just about to really freak out, and knock on the door of a guy I vaguely know from walking past his house all the time.  I deeked down the unlit alley to get to his house, but by the time I got there, I realized that I'd lost my tail.  I ended up reversing my route and going home the way I came, and made it home without any trouble.  Then, last night my friend Jen called and admitted that it had been her.  She had the daughter of some friends with her, and they called out multiple times; but I didn't hear.  She's been instructed to wear cow bells at all times from now on.

I woke up early today, before my alarm went off.  I'm very much not a morning person, but I managed to wobble my way to the loo, where I sat down and then started to nod off.  Quite suddenly, there was a horribly loud crack that just about scared the crap out of me.  If you can believe it, the toilet seat had cracked in half.   Let me tell you, that ain't great for the ego.  I know I'm over weight, but I'm not yet at the point where I pulverize toilet seats.  Either way, I'm so twisted that I cracked up and darned near fell over because I laughed so hard.  I knew at that point that the day was going to be in the shitter.  (Ba dum bum)

I made some progress on the house last week.  Aside from hanging out with the family, while I was on vacation, I stained the new closet doors for the spare room.  They're up now, and looking fine.  I'm a bit disturbed that they're so much lighter that the doors that were already there, but there's not much that I can do.   They're all pine wood, and I used stain from the same can as I did the other doors.  This wood is just lighter, I guess.  I'm hoping that the oil stain darkens over time, and that they match soon.

Either way, it's nice to finally have doors on that closet again.

I'm getting dangerously close to being finished all of the projects that I had planned for this house when I moved in.   No worries, though, because new ones seem to keep cropping up.  For example, after sleeping on the floor while the aunts and uncles were here, I've decided that I need to build a Murphy bed for the computer room.  That one's going to have to marinate for a while, but I'm hoping I'll be able to I figure it out.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Family Reunions aren't always awful

I had the best time with the family this weekend.  My aunts & uncles were in town, so my sister came down with her kids.  Even my brother, who is somewhat antisocial, came with his family.  We laughed, and laughed and laughed some more.

On Saturday, my mom made up a couple of big lasagnas for dinner.  I said I'd bring some bread, so I stopped at my favorite bakery.  I was going to pick up a couple of loaves of sour dough bread, but they were sold out.  They had a big sale on, so I could almost see why.  It was nearly impossible to resist - if you bought one loaf for $3.99, you could get the second for $3.98.

My uncle (a environmental consultant) almost has me convinced to get my Masters.  He and his wife have both been instructors at a distance university that I've been eyeballing.   They've got an Environment and Sustainability program that really calls my name.  I haven't done it because of finances and the time commitment; but when he tells me about the program and the instructors, I find it incredibly tempting.

My aunt and I have committed to seeing David in Florence together.   I've always wanted to see Italy, period.  She dreams of seeing David.  We might go to Greece too, but Italy is non-negotiable.  We have set a date, about two years from now, so that we can both save up and do it right.  Oct 2012 - we'll be there.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I have been looking forward to today for a long time.  Today is my aunt's 65th birthday.  I'd say that she's my favorite aunt, but her sister also holds that title.  Their brother (my uncle) is my favorite uncle.  That's everybody on my dad's side, so I'll just say that they are an amazing, fun family to have.  If I have any complaints about them, it's that they all live so far away.  They're spread out across the country, so we don't get to see each other often enough.  But today, they'll all be here.

As I said earlier, today is my aunt's birthday. She and her husband are driving across the country in their old VW van.  (This is an adventure in itself.  The van doesn't go over 65km/hr, so they have to take back roads; but they've been making the trip almost annually for a while now.)  I don't know if this is planned or not, but their schedule worked out so that they'd arrive here today.  My aunt thinks that they're only staying for the night and then moving on; but they'll be here a while.

She doesn't know this, but her brother and her sister are flying in from Ontario and BC to surprise her and celebrate her day, and to stay for the weekend.  My sister and her family will be coming down tomorrow as well.  It'll be a surprise family reunion, and I can't wait for it to start.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


According to the blogger stats tracker, the following are searches that people entered into google to find my little blog.

  • Baby Wild Animals 
  • Fur at Costco 
  • Are flies used to make ketchup?  
  • hansa stavenger 
  • luddites blogspot 
  • Phone number for where the fur flies 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

That's not what I meant.

I used to call myself granola.  I thought it summed up my beliefs in a somewhat self depreciating way, because as important as being green is to me, I don't presume to dictate what should be important to others.  (Except, I do think that being green should be more important to people... I just don't think it's my place to tell people how to live.)

Shortly after I met my friend Jen, she was over visiting.  Her bulldogs were still puppies then, and we used to let them rip with Tula in my back yard until they started flattening my gardens.  On one of those visits, Jen commented on my clothesline, which was newly installed.  I told her that I prefer to hang my laundry than to put it in the drier because I'm kind of granola.

Jen didn't say much then, but apparently she was somewhat disturbed by my declaration.  While I meant that I try to make environmentally friendly choices, Jen envisioned something else entirely.    She envisioned long skirts, Birkenstocks, going bra-less and a general lack of hair removal.   She mulled this over for a few weeks (remember - we didn't know each other very well then) but finally the thought of braided armpit hair became too much.

We were back in the yard again a few weeks later, watching the dogs rip around, when she suddenly burst out:  "Do you really not shave your legs?"  That probably should have been a red flag, but I didn't clue in.

I should point out here that shortly before that, I'd had a conversation with another friend about the benefits of using wax for hair removal. The fact  is,  I am a danger to myself with razors.  I used to cut myself all the time, and it got to the point where standing one-legged on a wet floor while holding a sharp blade to my skin didn't make sense.  I started waxing, and have had a standing monthly appointment with an aesthetician for years.  Super thin hair, no stubble - 'nuff said.

So, when Jen asked me out of the blue if I don't shave my legs, I answered honestly.  I told her that I don't shave my legs, and haven't for about ten years.  I was thinking of the conversation that I'd had earlier, and never considered the fact that she was being general (hair removal) while I was being very specific (shaving vs waxing).

That, my friends, is how rumours get started.

That's also why I now refer to myself as eco-conscious, and not granola.

Monday, September 6, 2010

cleaning tip

I'm on vacation this week.  Not really vacation, because my main focus is getting stuff done around the house, but I'm not going to the office and doing the work I'm paid to do.

Have you ever noticed how many of the obscure and less immediate jobs that you get done while procrastinating others that are more mundane?  I've actually gotten quite a bit done, but haven't been as successful on the whole cleaning of the house.  I hate housework, and I'm counting the days until I'm rich enough to hire myself a maid.

Until then, I'm stuck with it; and today I set out to get some of it done.  A few years ago, I started making efforts to use less chemicals in the house, and have been fairly successful.  Baking soda and vinegar go a long way towards getting the house clean.  Also,  I got a steamer last spring that heats up water to 130C and does a great job of steaming the dirt and crud away.

Where I haven't succeeded very well is the glass cleaner.  Orange oil (which I love but is holy crap expensive) and vinegar work in theory, but they always seem to leave behind a layer of smudge and yuck.  The truth is that more often and not, I've been falling back on chemical cleaners to get the glass clean and streak free.  I thought that the vinegar and orange oils were leaving the dirt behind, but I recently read that the film is actually left by the chemicals.  According to the article, a mixture of 95% water and 5% hydrogen peroxide will remove the film.  It says to use that mixture once, and then to use vinegar after that to get the windows really clean.

I tried it today, and it worked like a hot damn.  It worked so well that I actually didn't have to follow up with vinegar. I didn't measure when I made it.  I poured a big bowl of water, and then added a dollop of hydrogen peroxide.  I soaked a rag in it, then used it to wipe the windows and mirrors.  Then I used another rag to wipe it off.  There was no shining and polishing.  There was no scrubbing or going back to remove streaks.  I simply wiped it onto the glass and then wiped the glass dry.  Finger prints, smudges and dog snot were totally gone.  It's the easiest, cheapest way to clean that I've found yet.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I seem to be on a lucky streak, and if you know me well, you know this doesn't happen very often.

Yesterday, I went to an appreciation night hosted by a friend Jen, who sells Pampered Chef.  A few times a year, she invites a bunch of friends who have helped boost her sales by going to parties or having parties.  She always does a draw for prizes, and last night I cleaned house.  I don't usually win draws but last night I won three of the seven prizes.  At first, after I won the reusable bags and the bamboo serving spoons, I was a little disappointed.  The bags and spoons were nice, but they were the smaller of the prizes.  I figured that was it for me, and was a little sad that I wouldn't win the bigger prizes.  (I'm greedy that way.)  Then, imagine my surprise when my name was drawn for the grand prize, a stoneware deep dish pie pan.

There was a moment of guilt.  After all, there were a number of ladies in the room who hadn't won any prizes, and I'd won three - including the big one.  I started to suggest that I not take the bags or spoons (No way in heck was I giving up the stoneware) but then Jen told all the others that I'd donated the profits from the show I did in May, and they all agreed that I should keep the prizes.  So, I did.  Twist my rubber arm.

Himself will show you:
No worries, I'll be washing that pan before use.

My luck didn't end there, though.  Today, I went out at lunch in search of a new winter coat.  My winter coat has been very well used, and is starting to look it's age.  I figured I'd start looking around now in the hopes that I'd find something I like (and can afford) before the snow flies.

I didn't find a winter coat, but I did find an incredible sale.  I got a lightly lined Jones New York trench coat - regular $200 - for $26.  BOO-YAH!
It's pretty plain, but I can jazz it up with a scarf and accessories.  And, compared to my current coat, subdued might be a nice change.

Then came the best score, in my opinion.  I stopped off at my parents' place after work, and was telling them about my great find.  When my dad heard that I was looking for a winter coat, he dug deep in the back closet, pulled out a leather bomber coat and offered it to me.   It was my Granddad's coat, before he died.  My dad inherited it, but had never really worn it so he gave it to me.  It's too big, but I'll wear it with pride.  

(I'm 5'11", so a men's coat isn't as huge on me as it would be for most women.)

After that, I came home and went outside.  I felt a breeze as I was bending over, and realized that I'd ripped the seat of my pants.  My luck had run out.