Wednesday, November 28, 2012


There's a job that I've wanted for what seems like forever.  Truth is, I have felt as though this was, in large part, the job I was doing even before I moved into my current position; but the powers that be have always said it was not.    They have classified me at a lower level, which has always irked... not just that I have been paid for less, but more that I know I can do more.  I want my work to be the best of my abilities, and also I want it to be recognized as such.

For a while, I've been torn because of my classification.  I've known that my work exceeded my job description, and therefore the recognition that I got for it.  This bothered me.  I couldn't resign myself to only work at a lower level to match the classification, but have been unhappy not to be recognized for the quality of work that I do.   Although I enjoy my job and am extremely happy with the team I get to work with, there has been a distinct lack of job satisfaction as a result.

While I was in Italy, there was a posting for the job I wanted.  The job posting opened and closed while I was away.    Thankfully, my boss already had my resume, and added my name to the list of candidates.    A few days after being back from holidays, she informed me that I would be interviewed in two days' time.  She came to my house.  We sat at my dining room table.  I wore jeans because my old clothes don't fit, and I didn't have sufficient time to get anything new.  Our director called in and participated remotely.

We started off with a question that was intended to be light and fluffy.  I misinterpreted, and answered with something quite deep and profound.  There were technical questions that I could have answered better.  There was one question that I answered well enough that my boss wrote down my response in order to quote it later.  Somehow (I think) I managed not to babble, which is what I tend to do when I get nervous.  In closing, the director suggested that I consider working for another leg of her team, because she thought it was the sort of work I'd really quite enjoy, and also she thought the variety would do me good.  Considering that and the fact that there were 25 applicants, I wasn't very optimistic by the end.

Friday, I got the happy news that I got the job.  I haven't been able to say anything until today, when the announcement was made, but I've been wanting to jump for joy.  It'll be a challenge for sure.  While the work is with the same team, and there are many responsibilities that I am familiar with, I am a little worried now that there is so much for me to learn that maybe I don't even know what I don't know.  But,  I'll have a good coach in my boss and I'm looking forward to the challenge.  This is MY job; the one I have pictured myself in, almost before I started my current (old) position a few years ago.  I can hardly wait to get started.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I Am a Farmer Now

I have a worm farm.  Yep, I've gone over the deep end.

My theory is that worm farming is the only sort of farming I can do without developing any sort of attachment to the livestock.

Also, their poop is worth its weight in gold.  And they eat garbage.

It seemed like a whole lotta gain for very little effort.  And so, I brought home a worm tower, and a container full of red wigglers.  They'll be living in the basement as soon as their bedding (some of which was outside in the compost bin) warms up.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

He's not really allowed to do this...

... but it's laundry day, so I let him.

Plus,  his moans, groans and grunts as he does it crack me up.  (You have to turn up to volume to hear them)

If anybody knows if he's doing this to pick up my scent, or if he's trying to claim my side of the bed as his own by rubbing his own scent all over it, please let me know.  It's something that I've been debating for quite a few years.

ps - pardon his eyes.  I was finally getting the weeping under control, but the new meds seem to have messed them up all over again.  The trade off is that they seem to be working, so I guess this is something we'll have to live with.

Friday, November 23, 2012


David is the reason why we went to Italy.  It's been on Ginny's bucket list to see him for most of her life.  He was pretty magnificent - Ginny gasped when she saw him for the first time.  We circled him many times to admire the artistry, and he's an amazing piece of work.  While I don't know that seeing him would have been worth the entire trip alone (don't get me wrong - the trip itself was fantastic) he was the the starting point.

Technically, David is in Florence, but we started to see bits of him in Venice, then Bologna, and then all over Florence.   More and more in each city.  Specifically, I'm talking about his penis.  It was everywhere.  There were aprons with it, tshirts, boxers, briefs and even panties with it strategically placed.  There were posters of it, and books.  There were even calendars that contained 12 pictures of it from various angles.

Frankly, I'm not sure that I understand the appeal.  There were statues of nude men all over the country, and I can't say that his junk stood out as being all that impressive.

I will say one thing for him, though:   David has a mighty fine ass.

No - I didn't take that picture.  I bought the postcard.
Frankly, if a poster had been available, I probably would have bought that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I had another post that I've been meaning to put up for a few days, but I can't get my scanner to work so it'll have to wait.  In the meantime, I'll tell you about Istanbul.

I haven't said much about Istanbul here, or anywhere else, really.  It's not that I didn't like it (I did - very much!);  I think I was in a state of system overload by the time I arrived there.  I think that maybe just observing and taking it all in was about all I could do.  Plus, my cousin (who lives there), as well as an uncle and another aunt (who arranged to visit at the same time as us) were there and we were busy having a mini family reunion.  Where I took 300-400 pictures a day in Italy, I probably took... 20 pictures in the four days in Istanbul.

My general impression of the city was good, but limited.  It's a huge city, spanning two continents and housing 15 million people, so I only saw a very small portion of it. 

From what I did see, I can tell you it's crowded.  We went down a few streets that were so packed full, it was like being in an overcrowded subway car, only everybody was walking this way and that.  And yet, at the same time, people were respectful.  While we'd had to be extra diligent to avoid pick pockets in Italy, theft was not a concern in Istanbul.  In fact, my uncle forgot his bag on a crowded boat, and when he went back later to get it, somebody was standing at the entrance, holding it and waiting for the owner to come back.  Nothing was missing inside, and according to my cousin, that is the norm.

One morning, Ginny and I got up early and were window shopping on the street near our hotel while we waited for my cousin to join us.  A shop keeper came outside and served us coffee.  We explained that we had no plans to buy from him, but he didn't seem to care.  Even then, when I said thank you but no (I don't drink coffee) he went to the back of the store and made me hot apple cider.

Food was delicious and fresh... and cheap.  Five of us could have a good meal for 40 Turkish Euro (about $25).  We frequently went somewhere to get a drink or snack and ended up eating a full meal.  Many days, we ended up eating 4 or 5 meals.  Most meals consisted of platters, with fresh cheese, eggs, tomatoes, cucumber and bread with fresh honey or homemade jam.  Fish is pretty common in Turkey, but I am severely allergic to it (to the point that I can't be near it).... when we did have meat, it was usually in the form of meatballs or kabobs, and only a very small portion of the meal.

There are cats everywhere.  So many, that after a while you barely notice them.  Walking down a street, you'll likely pass at least 4 or 5.   Turks don't have pet cats, but the community as a whole takes care of them.  Bowls of food and water are left out in front of many homes and shops.  The cats are stray, but most of them are very friendly.  Cats approach tourists on the street to be pet.  One cat, after getting a couple of scritches from us, jumped onto the table where we'd just been served breakfast on the patio.  (We lifted him down before he was shooed away.  Cats are tolerated there, but that may have been pushing his luck.)

The call to prayer is amazing to experience.  Five time a day, it is piped out over the city through the loud systems at the various mosques.  I was primarily in the tourist area of town, so I didn't see much of a reaction to it, but there was still something magical about hearing it overhead.

The weather is great.  It was ~25C and clear every day that we were there, which is pretty much normal.  As Canadians, we have a general expectation that when the weather is good, you have to go outside an enjoy it.  My cousin, who has lived there for three years, said she still has to squash that urge, because it's pretty much nice out every day.

Some random pictures...


Birds on a Wire (made me smile)

The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque from another angle

These lights were everywhere. I so badly wanted to bring some home, but held my ground.  
Now I'm glad I did - not so sure they'd have gone with my decor.

Just beautiful.  The entire structure was tiled.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ikea, You're Messing With Me

I've had the same dishes for about 15 years.  They were cheap dishes that I picked up with the intension to replace them with something "nice" before long.  15 years ago.  While they do the job, they're oversized, and the colour/pattern hasn't ever gone with my decor.

A little over a year ago, I found some potential replacements at Ikea.  They maybe aren't the "good" dishes that I had in mind, but I like them.  They're a much better (smaller) size than the old ones, they don't have pattern that I'll get sick of, and the colours are perfect.  When I saw them, they were available in sets of 4.  There was blue, brown and cream... I wanted a set of each.  I've been mulling over them ever since.  Except, the last couple of times I went to Ikea, the blue dishes haven't been available in sets, only individually.   I was worried that they'd be discontinued and I'd lose my chance.

So, I decided to get them.  Then I promptly realized that the bowls in the brown set aren't quite the same shape as the bowls in the cream set or the individual blue ones.  I put the brown set back and bought individual brown dishes.  I then checked and double checked the bowls and the diameters of the plates to make sure they matched.  This was no small feat - Ikea has about 8 different but very similar shapes of solid coloured dishes, many in very close but not quite the same shades and tones.    There were three shades of brown, for the record.

To complicate matters, I realized that the cream set contained 6 of each dish (I only wanted 4).  The cream dishes were of course not available individually, and it was way cheaper to buy the set.  So, I came home with 4 blue, 4 brown and 6 cream plates and bowls, 4 each of pasta bowls, and 2 each of mugs.  (I don't generally drink hot drinks.)

Here's the problem: I obsess over details.  I'm pretty darned sure I have OCD.

So, two things:

I have 4 each of two colours of the plates and bowls, and 6 in another colour.  That bothers me, but I think I can get past it by hiding two each of the cream ones.

What I don't know if I can get past is this:


The bowls and the lunch plates match, but the dinner plates from the cream set are a different shape.

So, now I need to decide if I want to return them, let it drive me nuts or inquire about the appropriate medication to help me deal with things like this.  (I'm joking about the drugs... kind of.) 

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Doorbell...

...won't stop ringing.  Every single day, somebody is at the door, asking me to sponsor them in a walkathon, donate bottles or purchase some sort of worthless crap.  It used to be bad, but it's gotten out of control.  So, I finally broke down and bought a "No Soliciting" sign.  I didn't want to do it - I don't want to deface my house with all sorts of signs - but it was becoming a problem.

If somebody wanted to mow my lawn, shovel my walk, pick up dog poop or do something useful in exchange for my money, I'd probably give them a chance.  But,

I've chosen and donated to my preferred charity.

I don't buy junk off of random salespeople

And, I'm sorry, but I don't feel any need to financially support your child's school, trip abroad or sports activities.  I know that children can be expensive, but I chose not to have children.  A large chunk of my property taxes go towards the local schools, so that's my contribution to the youth of society, as far as I'm concerned.  And it's a lot.

So, long story short, I broke down and got a No Soliciting sign.  I put it on the wall beside the front door, directly above the doorbell.

So, why is my doorbell still ringing every day???  I don't want to be rude, but lately I've been succumbing to opening the door, interrupting the sob stories and sales pitches by pointing to the sign and closing the door.

I know, I could not open the door at all, but the dogs get 30 seconds to go berserk when the doorbell rings.   It's not long, but it's enough to make it clear we're home... if they didn't already know because I work in a desk that's looking directly into the front window beside the door all day.  I would feel weird to sit there - know they know I'm there - and not respond.

I've decided that I need to get a front door intercom.  I don't need video, but I want to talk to people - tell them to go away - without opening the door.   I'm not sure where I'll get it (they don't seem to be very popular around here) I really need to get on that.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Venice B&B

Our first stop on the trip was Venice.  I don't think either of us knew what to expect, but it was pretty grand.  We arrived after 27 hours of travel for me (21 for Ginny).  After leaving the airport, we caught a water taxi to the San Marco square, and followed the directions to the bed and breakfast we'd chosen.

Keeping in mind that there aren't "roads" in this area, most of the streets are fairly narrow.  So, we walked down a narrow street until we came to the mosaic on the ground, and turned left down an even narrower alley with garbage piled beside some of the doors.  About half way down, we came to an iron gate and rang the bell.  We were buzzed in, climbed a flight of steps.  We weren't sure what to expect after this - I had fairly low expectations - but it was nice.  The place was newly renovated, much more modern than I'd expect and really quite comfortable.

If you ever find yourself in Venice, I'd recommend staying at the 3C B&B.

The street you start on to get there... took this picture on the last day.  
The 'table' on right is actually a raised walkway put together by workmen overnight, because of the flooding caused by high tide on the last day.

The narrow, a little bit eery (until you get used to it) alley you turn down

The iron gate where you get buzzed in.

I forgot to take a picture of the stairs.  

Awkward pics of the room.  There were so many details, I didn't know where to focus.

The little foyer at the entrance - washroom (which was fancier than any biffy I've ever had) was to the left.

Cool ceiling beams, exposed brick walls and concrete floor

Window - no screens in Italy, but there were shutters we could close to block out noise.  
We were only one story up, so we could lean over to see the activity below.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Ginny and I, who haven't seen each other for a few years, met in Toronto and flew together to Venice.  There, at the end of the first day, we changed into pjs and got ready to go to sleep.

That's when we discovered this:

We both have excellent taste in nail polish.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Getting Back into the Groove

I seem to have lost my blogging Mojo.  I'm having trouble thinking of what to say, and the ideas I do come up with don't seem worthy.  So, I've decided to post whatever comes to mind, in an effort to post more often and hopefully get back into the groove.

I didn't see many dogs in Italy.  From what I've heard, it's not all that common for people there to have them as pets; although it is becoming more popular.  Luckily, I didn't see many strays there either.  So, I was surprised to come upon two loose(ish) dogs in Florence.  I zeroed in right away on two labs who had been leashed together, as soon as we walked into the piazza.

They looked well fed, but there were no tags, and no apparent owner nearby.  I stopped and looked for quite a while, but I seemed to be the only one who showed any interest in them.  That upset me.  I'm the type of person to stops for loose dogs, looks for tags and tries to get them home; but there wasn't much I could do in Italy.  Even if I did know who to call, I didn't speak the language.    But, who would tie two dogs together and then abandon them???

I hesitantly left the dogs behind, and went with Ginny to get our gelato.  As we sat there having our treat, I looked across the piazza and saw the most wonderful thing... a group of apparent travellers and their dogs.  The labs very clearly belonged with them.   One lady in particular seemed to be their owner.  I don't know where she'd been, but she was back, and she clearly loved them.

At first I just watched, but when I saw the yellow lab jump up on the bench and slurp her from chin to forehead, then curl up in a ball beside her, I got out my telephoto lens and took some shots as I found spaces between the crowds.  None of these resonate with the pure devotion that I saw that day, but they do give a hint.

And this guy has his own suitcase, which he jumped into as soon as it was opened.

Funny - I didn't notice the graffiti at the time.  If I did, I didn't remember it.  I must have been too busy looking up and around at the amazing architecture.

And one final picture, which Ginny took...

It may not be apparently in this photo, but we were impressed with the serving sizes over there.    You pretty much got two scoops, whether you wanted them or not... we eventually stopped fighting it.  But, those bowls, which were fairly ubiquitous, were about 1/2 a cup in size, and were never packed full.  The scoops were each about half the size of what we'd expect if we bought an ice cream around here, but they were more than enough.  That might be yet another reason why we rarely, if ever, came upon an overweight Italian.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Somehow, Italy seems like more fun.

I've been home for about a week and a half now and things are getting back to normal.  I still have no sense of time, which is evidenced in my having missed putting out the garbage on garbage day twice now.  I've also been going to bed insanely early, and waking up about 4:00am, so for the last couple of days I've been relying on the caffeine in diet coke to keep me up past 9:00.

Alberta has been hit with a doozy of a snow storm. I've spent the week absolutely freezing, which I thought was psychosomatic because of the cold outside.  Last night, I remembered that I'd changed the batteries in the programable thermostat at 5:00am on Monday (when it's usually pretty cool in here).  I remembered being surprised that the temperature immediately showed as being 21C but I wasn't alert enough to think more of it.  So, after being freezing for a week, I finally caught on and reset the thermostat.  Right away, it showed that it was 17.5C  in here, not 21C as it'd said earlier and started warming up. It's good to know that I'm not losing my mind.

Back to the snow storm, I was supposed to go to Edmonton today but can't because of the snow.  Edmonton got 31cm in a day, and they're still digging out.  Around here, I think we got that much, but it was spread out over three days so that I had to shovel eight times... which is maybe a good thing because I can't jog in this weather and need to get my exercise somehow.   I'm also going to Zumba this afternoon - this time with shoes - and am not yet convinced that it won't kill me.  I'm pretty sure that my jeans feel tighter now than they did while I was on vacation.  Whodda thunk that I'd manage to spend three weeks in the land of pizza and pasta - lose weight while there - and then come home and pack on the pounds?

In other news, which isn't very good, I just came back from a vet appointment with Cotton.  He's been coughing a lot and losing weight.  He's had a heart murmur for a while now, but it looks like it's progressed to the beginnings of heart failure.  The vet hopes that, having caught it early, we can turn things around with the right medication.  I really hope she's right.

I promised Ginny that I'd keep a daily diary of our trip to Italy.  She did one too, and wants to combine them together.  I did well for a while, and then stopped writing sometime around Sorrento.  I really need to finish that up, and finish going through and cleaning up all the pictures I took.  Don't be surprised if I post after the fact entires about some of the places we visited.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I've been home for a couple of days.  What an amazing vacation.   The trip back was long, though - we got up at 3:00am in Istanbul, and 28 hours (three flights) later I arrived in Calgary.   I can't sleep in airplanes, so I got a hotel for the night in Calgary.  Even then, it was 2:00am before I got in and managed to catch about 4 hours sleep before my dad came to pick me up.

I'm not sure if I picked up a flu bug or if it was a mistake to brush my teeth using tap water in Turkey, but whatever it is hit me during a layover in Paris.   I haven't managed to kick it yet.  Nosebleeds started yesterday, I assume from the dry air after being spoiled with the humidity over there.

I went to bed at 2:30pm on the day I got home, and slept until 4:00am.  Yesterday, I slept through Halloween (poo!) when I went to bed at 5:30 and slept 12 hours.  I'm trying to stay up until 9 tonight, in an effort to get back to a normal schedule.