Sunday, July 31, 2011

I want...

...a macro lens

Right before the sun went down last night, I spent about fifteen minutes following this little guy around the lamb's ears with my camera.  He was very tolerant, but I think I could have done him a lot more justice with a better lens.

Too bad camera gear won't be in the budget any time soon.

For the record, I've got two bee's nests in my yard.  We coexist quite happily, and I often prune or deadhead the same plants where they are collecting pollen.  I've never been stung.  (The fuzzy bees are less territorial, and so unlikely to attack.)  I actually took a class on urban bee keeping last winter, which I found absolutely fascinating.    Unfortunately, finances reared its ugly head and stopped me from going any further with it.  So, I enjoy the bees who came to my yard on their own and encourage them to stay by trying to have something blooming for them all summer long.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Storm Clouds

Some storm clouds from yesterday's excitement.  In about 20 minutes, it went from a clear sky to this, and the temperature dropped 15C before it came down in sheets for another 20 minutes.

In Quebec, I learned a very charming turn of phrase to describe the kind of rain that we got after these clouds blew in:

Il pleut comme un vache espagnol qui piss.  My spelling and grammer might not be 100%... it's been almost 20 years, but that roughly translates to "It's raining like a pissing Spanish cow."

No, I don't know if Spanish cows pee harder than others; but regardless, you should get out of the way.

My dad's house, about 15 minutes away, was hammered long and hard with golfball sized hail, but luckily that didn't make it over here.  My car is still parked outside because all the flooding has meant that the cleanup crew hasn't been back to take everything from the garage back to the basement.  If I'd have had to submit another insurance claim because my car was damaged in the hail, I'd have been miffed.

And then, as fast as it arrived,  it passed.

And the beasts went back to their sun beams.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Where the Wild Things Are

I love to play in the dirt and commune with the worms, and lately I could use the stress relief.   It's been an entire month since I've been able to get outside and work in the gardens.  Between torrential rains, floods, sickness and life in general, the gardens had to take a back seat for a while.  So, when the sun came out today, you know where I went.

Nothing in the gardens had been pruned, weeded or deadheaded for so long, they were starting to look like a jungle.  Some plants were beyond the point of no return.  Some had to be whacked way back so that they'll fill in and bloom again, but I think I have things (mostly) under control now.

All of these pics are of the same garden, because the other one had to be cut back so drastically.

Tonight, I tackle the back yard.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Big V and Little V

Big V upon arrival.  She'd just woken up, and was a little stunned at first.

It wasn't long before she settled in, and she and the giraffe made some yummy carrot water and cat soup for us all.

 Look at that smile!

Little V!  I got to hold her for most of the night, which made me very happy but made for limited picture taking abilities.

The only restriction that I was given was to not break her.  Which is pretty darned reasonable, but harder than it seems.   She hasn't grown any bones yet, so she flops around a lot.

And I spent the first hour or so trying to straighten her out, until I finally clued in that the zipper on her onesie was sewn on diagonally across her body.  

Then we both relaxed, hung out and had some carrot water.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I had visitors today.  Two very well behaved little girls came  with their mama to hang out for a while.  I took loads of pictures, but forgot to ask again if I'm allowed to post them.  I hope she'll say yes, but until then, this is all that I can show you.

Ruffled Bums Make Me Smile.

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's about time.

It was a long time coming, but Tallulah Belle Poodle finally got her new collar.

The old was was pretty ratty.  People were saying that her mama doesn't love her because she dresses her in rags.  Not true.  I just couldn't find a collar that was worthy of my girl.

I feel pretty strongly that dogs' collars have to suite them, and reinforce their personalities.  Sure, they could wear plain nylon collars every day, but I equate that to women wearing granny panties.   I've always thought of a good quality collar with embellishment to reflect the dog's personality as being the same as a woman wearing sexy lingerie.  Chances are, very few will notice, but it makes the dog (or the woman) feel good about herself. 

Tallulah needed something that declared her as a fabulous female from a distance.  I think this one does the trick.  It's maybe not as flamboyant as I originally planned, but it's fun, classic and a little unusual... kind of like her.

I think she likes it.

Cotton, on the other hand, sat on the sidelines and mocked her.    He's been wearing the same Harley Davidson collar for eight years, and he thinks that spikes are way better than silly purple heart studs any day.

It shows everybody how tough he is.

As if they couldn't see that already.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What a Waste

This is going to sound like I'm whining... maybe I am but I'm really torn.

On one hand, I've been really impressed with the crew that the insurance company sent out.  Heck - I was even impressed that the insurance company did the hiring... I thought I had to find/hire them.  They arrived the next day, after the insurance adjuster was out, and they worked really hard.   It sounds like they'll be here every day for the next week or so.  It's a big job, and I'm happy that I don't have to do it. That's not what's bothering me.

What bugs me is the waste.  They're throwing everything out, even things I had thought to save.  A metal filing cabinet, which I'd cleaned and dried (they say it will rust).  Two steamer trunks, luggage, purses and bags that I think can be cleaned.  They're making zero effort to clean things, and are saying that they'll be stained or mildewed.  I went down a few times to see them at work.  I explained that I'm granola that way, and that so much waste bothers me.  I even offered to try to clean some things to see if they can be salvaged.  They very politely told me to leave things alone.  3/4 of what I set aside to be salvaged has been thrown in the garbage pile, or already taken to the dump.

Not to worry, though.  My insurance policy covers the replacement value of everything that's been damaged.

I'm also bothered to see such financial waste.  While I do like nice stuff, I'm all about the deals.  I shop sales and try to get as much for my money as I can.  Chances of replacing things that I bought on the cheap earlier for the same price is slim to none.  The Liz Claiborne luggage set that I got from Winners will cost me at least double what they cost the first time around, because chances are that Winners won't have Liz Claiborne luggage again.  (I'm not stuck to a name brands per se, but for things like luggage that you really don't want coming off the airplane in 3 pieces, I tend to go with brands that I trust.)

Then there's the things that I've had for 20+ years... Steamer trunks, which cost me about $40 each in university now cost about $300 each.  The Ikea furniture that put me through college is now triple the cost.  I don't feel comfortable spending all that money, even if it isn't my own.  It feels like I'm taking advantage.

The insurance lady kept saying that I need to get need and want out of my head.  When I said that I don't need most of these things, she reminded me that if I owned them, I must have wanted them; and insurance isn't about need or want.  She keeps reminding me that I've paid into insurance for years, so I should take advantage of the assistance that they'll give me.  That's what it feels like - taking advantage.

On the flip side, I'm afraid not to replace these things.  I could ask insurance to pay a settlement for what they deem items to be worth.  They've said very clearly that the settlement for items will be significantly less than what I would have to pay to replace them.  So, I don't know what to do.  Much of the "stuff" that was damaged was in the basement because I wasn't using it.   I used to be all about the "stuff".  I surrounded myself with things, and bought indiscriminately so I had a lot more than I needed.

But, the more environmentally aware that I've become, the more I've realized that excessive consumerism is a waste.  It hasn't been easy, but I've tried really hard to only buy what I need, or at least what I'll use.  So, do I let it go and hope I don't need (or want) it down the road... knowing that if I do, it'll come out of my pocket?   Or, should I do like everybody else seems to think I should do, and go to town shopping for thousands of dollars in stuff that I'm not even sure I'll use?

Friday, July 22, 2011


In summary, yesterday sucked.

Let me tell you about my day...

It started with me sleeping in, and being late to drop off the dogs for their monthly grooming.  Despite having foregone my morning shower, I was an hour late.  For a groomer who has a waiting list for her "accepted clients" of about a month... she fires clients for a lot less.   Thankfully, when she saw how sick I was (have I mentioned that I've had laryngitis for about a week?!?) , and heard my story of the great house flood, she let my tardiness slip.

Then I went home to try to get a hold of the insurance company, who had not returned my calls in over 24 hours.  Then, when I finally did get a hold of somebody, she said that the exact same thing had happened in her house just a few years ago, and that from my description, she was quite sure that the water had seeped in through the foundation and floor.  Also, she was very sorry to have to tell me this, but insurance companies don't pay when water seeps through the walls and floor.  I raised something of a stink, pointed out that our houses are NOT the same, and that I do in fact have weeping tile around my house and - hey - the dang streets were underwater; maybe the storm sewers backed up?!?  She begrudgingly agreed not to close my claim until after an adjuster came out with a contractor.

It should be noted here that I have very little confidence in the title of "contractor".   After all, a "contractor" built my house.  Around here, it doesn't take anything to be certified as a contractor, so any hack can claim to be one.  Having the insurance company send out a "contractor" as some form of authority to determine if my house had in fact flooded did not impress or reassure me.

I then dialed into a meeting at work, which I expected to take 15 minutes.  It took over an hour, which made me late to pick up Cotton at the groomer.  I was so late that I thought I'd be able to pick up both dogs, but unfortunately I could not.  So, I picked up the Dude, went to the bank, and then headed home and tried to have a shower.  There was no hot water.  I figured that the water must have blown out the pilot light on the hot water tank.  I could probably figure out how to restart it, but I didn't have time.  I turned back around and drove downtown again to pick up Tallulah.  

Got Tallulah.  By that time, it was rush hour.  Granted, rush hour around here is nothing like the big city, but it's annoying.  Especially when the direct route home is shut down for construction, so you have to drive 10km out of your way.   For the sixth time that day.   Even more annoying when you realize that you've got a flat tire.  And, oh yeah, your roadside assistance on your car expired a while back because you've had it for more than five years.  Should'a bought a AAA membership.

I managed to limp home with the flaccid tire, realizing that I'd now be housebound until I could get it fixed.  BUT.  I was home.  I could go restart the hot water tank, and have my shower.  All I wanted to do was to stand in a steaming hot shower for about 15 minutes and forget about everything else.  So, I grabbed the hot water tank manual and started to read the instructions for restarting it.  Right there in black and white, it said NOT to restart the pilot light if it had shut off due to water.  So, I called a plumber.  Then I called another plumber.  Nobody was available for at least a few days.    And I'd be looking at at least $100 for the call.  So, I called some friends.  Then I called my parents.  Nobody was home to let me use their shower.

That's when I sat down and had good long (loud) cry.  I can deal with floods.  I can deal with corporate red tape.  I can handle being sick.  I can handle frustrating road construction, detours and even flat tires.   But not being able to take the shower that I'd been looking forward to all day; that was too much.

All that said, I have to say that things are looking up.  A friend of a friend told me about a handyman that she knows.  I called him, and he came out right away.  It took a fair bit of fiddling, but he got the hot water tank working.  Then we started talking and when he heard about my day, he told me I needed something good to happen, and he waved his fee.  I have a new hero.  And a new handyman.

Today, the insurance adjuster came out with her "contractor".  They determined unequivocally that the house had flooded due to overflowed storm sewers, and that insurance will pay to repair the damage.  They'll have a crew here tomorrow morning to start the cleanup.

And the tire shop fixed my flat.  For Free.  They said that when it came time to replace my tires (years down the road, with my low mileage), they hope I buy from them.  I will.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A poem

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear.

Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.

So, Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't fuzzy, was he?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Canadian's Always Talk About the Weather

Our tendency to talk about the weather is one Canadian stereotype that I'll accept.  It's true.  That's because it's usually something worthy of discussion.  Like yesterday's storm, that brought in over an inch of rain in less than a half hour.

My most excellent boss gave me the remainder of the week off so that I can get the basement cleaned up.     (Also, kudos to the ever-cool co-worker who is picking up the slack while I'm away.)   Truth is, I haven't made a lot of progress yet.  I think I'm still in a state of shock - and I'm overwhelmed.  Do I start filling garbage cans, or should I do as some suggested and get a dumpster delivered to take everything away?  Unfortunately, as much as I prefer not to take things to the dump, there isn't a choice in this case.  The water wasn't clean rain water - it was full of silt.

Anything electronic or upholstered is destroyed, as well as hundreds of books that are out of print.  I think that's what I'm most upset about.  Except for the wood and tools (drills, miter saws, sanders, nail gun, air compressor... you get the idea) that insurance will pay for, most of what was in the basement was there because I wasn't using it regularly.  It's stuff that I can get along without, if I need to.  But, the books can't be replaced.

Another problem is finding stuff.  Anything that didn't have significant weight floated around.  The unfinished basement, with only the stairs in the center, didn't leave a lot of barriers.  Anything that didn't float away was moved last night as we tried to save as much as we could, and get rid of as much water as we could.

Anyway, I came upstairs between my many blind and stunned turns around the basement this afternoon, and was drawn to the sound of another storm blowing in.  It poured again.  The streets filled with water again.  For about 15 minutes, I rotated between watching at the window and running downstairs for signs of more leaking - there was none.  There was, however, a lot of hail.

I took these pictures through the window so they aren't as clear as they could be.




Also, that chair is out there to motivate me to paint it.  When I decide on a colour, I will.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Am I allowed to swear in here?

Useless Sump Pump

Over the last year, I've spent over $3000 water proofing this basement.


Hey You!

Yeah, you.  Rub my belly, please.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My day with the boys

I was in Edmonton yesterday, and spent the day with my nephews.  First, we went to the farmer's market.

All this came from local organic farms.

Then I took the nephews to the Street Performers Festival.  I got a wee bit of a sunburn.

It was hot enough that I let them talk me into buying them each $5 non-alcoholic margaritas (AKA Slushies).

Really, they just wanted the funky cups that the drinks came in.

Then we stopped off at a workshop where the boys got juggling lessons.  That was the highlight of the day.

Neither has mastered it quite yet, but they're both absolutely sure that they will be experts momentarily.    
(Carma - I showed them your video when we got home and now they want to be just like you and your son.)

The boys and their parents are moving to British Columbia next week.  I'm going to miss them.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Things I Know to be True - first edition

That slow person that blocks your way as you try to enter the grocery store?  It doesn't matter how long you're there, how many other people are in the store or how many times you switch your route.  That person will be in your way until you check out and leave the store.  In fact, they'll likely be in the check out line ahead of you.  They'll use coupons.  And pay with a cheque.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Tallulah Belle Poodle is not impressed.  The bike has been dusted off.  The tires have been repaired, the Springer is attached.  

There isn't much in life that Tallulah isn't willing to try.  In fact, she tried the Springer at first, and loved it.  She barked at me as we rode, egging me on to go faster.  Most of the time, I could barely peddle fast enough to keep up with her.  And then, I had an accident of stupidity.  I got off the bike, and left her attached.  She pulled it, the bike fell on her.  She tried to scramble out of the way, and the bike followed.  It was all very traumatic and scary.

That was about 4 years ago.  I spent a few summers after that, working with her and trying to prove to her that the bike won't hurt her anymore.  We got her to the point that she wasn't traumatized when I hooked her up.  She'd eat bits garlic sausage when I passed them to her and I even caught her at moments with her pompom tail stuck straight up.  Then, we took a break for a few years because I wasn't feeling well.

We're starting at square one again.  Even though the bike is a scary instrument of poodle torture that must be avoided at all costs, I was a meanie last night and took her out for about a half hour.  Offers of cheese were refused, but after about 5-10 minutes she stopped looking like she was being abused.   That's not to say that she enjoyed herself - she just didn't hate it as much as she thought she would.

Tonight, we tried again.  She made it clear to me that she was unhappy, so we came home after 15 minutes.    I'm going to keep trying though.  She loved it once, and I hope to teach her to love it again.  I think I'm going to have to up the anti though.  I think I'm going to have to replace the cheddar cheese with some kobasa.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Change in the Wind

Something that's been a big problem for me lately that I haven't really talked about here is that my allergies are off the chart.  It's making it very hard for me to work, and since I can control my environment better at home than I can at the office, I am going to start to work from home at least half time.  (Isn't my boss great?)

I worked from home Friday afternoon, and one thing's for sure...


I'm going to have to implement some new house rules.

Especially since this is where he was, ten minutes after I shut down for the day.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dog Lovers

This is my favorite picture, ever.  I like it better than anything I've seen published, or taken myself.   
It's of our dog Looloo, and my older sister.  


Looloo's the dog that got us started early on as dog lovers. 

I always kind of thought that my sister and I were a little extreme in our love for our pets.  They are family to us, but  to so many others, dogs are just animals.  I really do feel that people who don't "get" our connection with animals are missing out; but at the same time, I've always thought people who do get it are part of a minority.  Last night, I may have been proven wrong.

A group of us went out for dinner, and when we came home we could hear the children in a house nearby wailing like banshees.  We soon learned that one of their dogs had gotten out of the yard and was missing.  My friend and I always take our dogs out after dinner anyway, so we took the long route, down back alleys and over to a nearby farmers field, watching for the missing dog and asking anybody we encountered if they'd seen her.  It made me quite proud of the neighbourood to see how many people dropped what they were doing and joined the search.  Some people didn't even know the family, but they wanted to help.  Two hours later, I reluctantly gave up on the search and headed home to bed.  I went to sleep to the sound of the young girl outside, calling her dog's name.  

Imagine the devastation of  losing your dog like that.  It's such an upsetting thought, but could happen so easily.  We all open the back doors and let the dogs outside.  Very few of us think to check our gates to make sure that they are closed; even fewer stay outside to supervise the dogs.   But, when you look outside an hour later to realize that your dog is long gone, your heart sinks.  I've felt that feeling before when my dogs have gotten out of my yard (before I had a dog pen), and remember it well.   I had a rough night last night, just imagining how upset that family must feel - especially the young boy who knows that he forgot to close the gate, and already blamed himself.  Or the mom, whose husband was out of town, and who had to keep herself together while calming her children and trying to coordinate the search.  Honestly, just the thought of it makes me choke up.

Happily, all this worry was for naught.  When I woke up this morning and checked my emails, I found a message that had been sent out - Tikani is home.  Their next door neighbours caught site of her at 1:30am, and managed to lure her home with a trail of cheese by 2:00.  Somehow, I don't think the family objected to the early morning wake up.  Kudos to the neighbours.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Start Saving Now

I pride myself on the Christmas presents that I give my nephews.  They don't get gift certificates from me - they get something personal that I know they'll love.   I'd like to say I put a lot of thought into it, but really I usually luck out and come upon the perfect presents.  When that happens, I buy them and save them up... often for 6-8 months.

The thing is, I'm one of *those* aunts.   I get them educational games or something that gets them outside being active.  I don't get them dull or boring gifts - just something that I think will benefit their growth.  I've given them snow shoes, hiking sticks made of buffalo horns, or ant farms.   Oh yeah.  I've also started a collection for each of them of wind up pooping toys too, and add to it regularly.  They are boys, after all.  Either way, I get them really cool gifts.  Even better (for me), I've always managed to keep the cost to $50 or under.

This year, however, I think I might have to go over budget.

Check these out.  Watch the video.  Don't you think pre-teen boys would love those???

I think it's a good thing that I've got 6 months until Christmas, and I better start saving now.
(Also, I hope they don't read this blog.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Blogger ate my last post.

Not sure what happened, but the entry I did earlier tonight is gone. (Update - I found it and added a link)  It's not in the archives but curiously, it's still there in my stats.

I took too long to write to redo, so I'll leave you with a photo from the archives instead.

This was The Dude back when he was young and brave...  He's a whole different dog today.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

For the first time ever...

I got big juicy strawberries from my garden - before the robins wrecked them. This was a great surprise, because usually the robins come along when I'm not looking, take a bite out of each berry and leave the rest to rot.  This year, I got there first.

Then I went across the road, and stole some more from my neighbour's garden.

Mine were better.

(The neighbours are on vacation, and said I could help myself while they are gone.)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Canada Day!

Over on Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, I got the fantabulous idea to paint little Canadian flags on my toes.

I bought the red nail polish.

I bought the white nail polish pen, to assist with the drawing of the little tiny Maple Leaves on my toes.

Can you say FAIL?

Granted, yesterday was not one of my most steady days, but I encountered some difficulties.
I had a wee case of the shakes.

For the record, the red on top of my foot came from the hem of my pants when I tried to walk before my toes were dry.    I'm not that bad.

But.  It was bad enough that I decided I needed some help.  I went down the road to "Lovely Nails", where the truly lovely vietnamese ladies there had a good giggle at my expense and then cleaned me up.  I knew I must have been a mess, because they let me soak in their wonderful foot bath jet machine thingy for a good half an hour.  Then I got a foot massage, and then they convinced me that a good pedicure should last a month - and that Canada Day will be over soon.

We went for purple instead of red.

And they stayed within the lines.