Friday, July 31, 2009

All aboard!

Last year when my niece came to visit, she wanted to go on a train. We rode on the O-train, which is part of Ottawa's transit system. She was thrilled.

When I found out she was coming to visit again this year, I asked Wanda to make reservations on the Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield steam train. This consists of a 1.5 hour trip from Hull to Wakefield, 2 hours in Wakefield, and 1.5 hours back.

Bella loved it. It was really well done - they brought around colouring papers & crayons for the kids, a face painter made the rounds, and musicians travelled through the cars. When we got there, we got to see the engine turning around, then there was a tour of the engine. After that, we had time to wander through the shops before returning.

There was a tour guide (in striped overalls) in each car. Everyone was very friendly, and Bella had a great time.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My day

I went to work this morning just in time to be laid off.

When I started this job two years ago, it was great. I learned a lot and really enjoyed it.

Over the last few months that has changed, to the point where I was already considering job hunting. (I was too lazy to do much job hunting, but the thought was there.)

This will give me the chance (& motivation) to focus on finding a job I can be enthusiastic about.

The added bonus? My niece is here, and I got to spend the afternoon swimming in the kid's pool at the sportsplex with her. It was fun - and now I am really, really tired.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My new hobby

Back in April, I made an appointment with my doctor for a checkup. She doesn't schedule that many per day, so my appointment was actually two days before I left for the cruise.

After I made the appointment (but before the actual appointment), my left eye started twitching. That was - odd. I resolved to mention it at the appointment.

While I was there, I also mentioned that one of my sisters had thyroid cancer, and thus my doctor spent a lot of time checking my thyroid.

I left with a requisition for a blood test and a thyroid ultrasound. I had the blood test done the day before I left on the cruise.

I went on the cruise, and came back to find out my doctor had called while I was away.

This, by the way, is never good news.

My bloodwork was low in a couple of things, but nothing that would explain the twitching. I started taking additional vitamins, recording all twitches, and went for the thyroid ultrasound.

Three days later, another call from my doctor. I have a 3 c.m. growth on my thyroid - they're scheduling a biopsy.

I went back for the followup last week. The eye twitches are happening on average 29 times a day. This is well outside the realm of normal - more specialists are in my future.

Keep in mind that except for the the twitching and an occasional ache in my neck, I feel perfectly fine - and the twitching is far less annoying now that I'm not recording all of them.

This week, I have no medical appointments. Yay!

So, to celebrate, I stubbed my toe this afternoon. I'm pretty sure it's broken.

Guess what I'm doing tomorrow? (I refuse to go to Emergency - I can't begin to imagine what the wait time would be for a critical issue like "I stubbed my toe".)

Monday, July 27, 2009

A bear magnet? You mean something that attracts bears?

Do I start every post with "I didn't mean to disappear"? It feels like I do.

I actually had thought about posting something on Friday, but I was too lazy.

Anyway, Friday at around 4:30 I was at work, and it started raining pretty hard. I didn't want to get soaked, but by 5:15 getting soaked was preferable to staying at work any longer, so I ran for the car. I was wearing capris, but the 4 inches of standing water between me & the car (along with the continued downpour) meant that I got soaked to the knees anyway.

Of course, by the time I was three blocks away, the sky was clear.

After I got home, I went to work on a project my niece volunteered me for.

You see, I made her a polar fleece bathrobe for her birthday in February. A couple of months later I was talking with her on the phone, and she said "Big A [my cousin's daughter] wants a bathrobe just like the one you made me."

Long story short, I volunteered to make bathrobes for my cousin's 2 kids so that Bella can give them as birthday gifts.

Bella is coming for a visit on Wednesday, so the bathrobes needed to get done.
I had finished one the week before, but I cut out most of the second one and sewed it on Friday. It only took 1.5 hours, which wasn't bad at all. Hopefully the girls will enjoy them.

In completely unrelated new, I went out to the car this morning, and I found 2 AAA batteries and a bear magnet on the front seats.

I have no idea where they are from. I asked Wanda about them (since she was the last one to drive the car) but she claims she has no idea. It is very odd.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Thanks to my friend Jennifer, I bought some amazing fruit fly traps. They don't get rid of 100% of them, but I don't get swarmed while going in to the bathroom anymore. (I really don't understand why fruit flies are so fond of my bathroom mirror.)

Anyway, for anyone who is interested, the trap consists of a small plastic jar with a screw-on top, and a horizontal tube that the fruit flies use to enter the trap. When you get the trap, you need to soak the lure in water for 15 seconds, then put it in the bottom of the jar. There is a sticky card as well - you remove the backing, fold it so that the sticky side faces the horizontal tube, and put it in the jar. Screw the lid back on, wait 12 hours or so, then laugh manically at the trapped fruit flies. (I checked it earlier than that, but, just as a watched pot never boils, a watched fruit fly trap never attracts fruit flies.)

They are made by Contech ( , and sold at Canadian tire.

This really wasn't intended to be a commercial, but I do like the fruit fly traps.

In other news, remember how I was supposed to start boxing again this week? The summer session got cancelled. No boxing until fall.

That gives me the following choices:
- pick up a class at the gym on Tuesdays
- remember that, while in theory I go to the gym on Thursdays, in practice I really don't, and just accept 3 days a week for the summer.

I think we all know which way I'm going to go.

In other news, I finally changed the second light bulb in my fridge.

While I was on my cruise, both light bulbs burnt out. Well, actually, the second light bulb burnt out. I didn't realize there were two until I went to change it, so the first one could have been burnt out for ages.

Anyway, the way my fridge is designed, there is a light bulb on each side. They are covered with a plastic cage - presumably to prevent you from breaking the bulb while putting something into or out of the fridge.

The cage on the right side fell out about 8 years ago. I wasn't able to figure out how to put it back in. It stayed on the top shelf of the fridge for a while. People would come over, mock me for not being able to put it back in, try to put it back, fail, and then stop mocking. Finally I gave up.

That bulb was easy to change, and I replaced that one as soon as I bought the bulbs.

The second bulb, however, was still covered by the cage, and I'm here to tell you that, if putting the cage back on is hard, removing it is equally hard. I tried to turn the bulb with the cage still in place, with limited success.

This morning I decided enough was enough - either I'd get the bulb changed, or I'd give up & put the new bulb away.

After a little maneuvering, I managed to remove the bulb with the cage intact. Yay!

I then grabbed the new bulb, went to put it in, and ... dropped it on the floor, where it shattered.

Luckily, this was before I bought groceries, so "light bulb" went on to the grocery list. (I lost the list before I got to the grocery store, but I remembered the bulb, so all was well.)

This time, I was more careful, and I finally succeeded. I hope these replacement bulbs last another 9 years so I don't have to do this anytime soon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Saskatoon season

I think I've mentioned before that I grew up in Saskatchewan. My grandparents lived on a farm, and we'd spend summers out there.

They had a big garden with a variety of vegetables, as well as strawberries and raspberries.

However, around this time of year, we'd go and pick one of the native fruits from that area - Saskatoon berries.

My grandmother wore a dress every day. Saskatoon picking day was pretty much the only day when she'd wear pants. We'd all put on old clothes, and pack ourselves into the van. We'd get to wherever the saskatoons were good that year. When we got there, we'd all pile out of the van. Everyone would tie a pail around her waist with an old tie, and we'd start picking.

We picked chokecherries on occasion as well - they are easy to pick because of how they grow on the branch. Saskatoons are not easy to pick - you have to pick each berry individually. Needless to say, we'd get bored quickly.

When we finished, we'd head home. At that point, the pails were half-filled with berries, and then filled with water. (This made it easier to pick out bad berries, as well as twigs and leaves). Once they were drained, my grandmother would put the berries on a tablecloth, and then "sort" them into containers. The sorting basically consisted of taking out all of the bad/unripe berries.

Saskatoons are small, purple berries. They look like small blueberries, but have a stronger taste.

Anyway, a few years ago I discovered a farm outside of Ottawa that sells saskatoons. It has become a part of my summer routine to make one or two trips out there.

Today I went out there after work and picked up some saskatoons.

There's really no point, this is just a rambling story.

Friday, July 10, 2009

This is really sad

So Iwent to the gym today. I didn't have a lot of time before class, so I changed, locked my locker, and headed off to get set up. I was doing a weight lifting class, and I ended up being a bit of a distance from anyone else.

In this class, everyone gets a step, which is used as a bench for chest presses and triceps. You also need a mat, a bar, and various weights for the bar. Since everyone has a step, the area behind the step becomes your own personal area for the class.

Half way through the warm-up track, a woman came in. She set her gym bag just to my right, and proceeded to get her weights. She then set up her bench about a foot to the right of my bench. There was about a foot to the right of her bench before another bench, as well (we'll call the person at that bench C). After all of this, she took off her flip flops and started to put on her shoes and socks.

There was a large space to my left, but I had no intention of moving over because 1) I was there first, and 2) if I moved over, the pole about 5 feet in front of me would block my view of the instructor. I hate to admit it, but #1 had more to do with it than #2. (She didn't ask me to move over, but I'm guessing she thought I would if she squeezed herself in.)

Anyway, the warm-up track finished and the next track (squats) started. This woman then picked up her bar, walked behind C, and stood in an empty space there for the squat track.

The next track was the chest track (on the bench), so she spent that track at her bench. After that was back/hamstrings - and she was back in the spot she'd used for squats. Triceps? Back at the bench. Biceps? Over in the other spot. By the lunge track, she had picked up her bench and moved over to the other spot (but left her mat behind).

I do not get it. Was she just unusually restless? Did she want to carry her weights an extra 20 feet every track so that she got that extra workout? Was she upset that I didn't move over for her?

Anyway, after class I went back to my locker.

As you may recall from yesterday, I was using my boxing lock. I bought it and my other (lost) lock at the same time, and they are identical except for the combination. In fact, the combinations are pretty close as well. After I packed up my bag, I went to put my lock in my bag ... and my lock is black.

I was looking at the right style of lock yesterday, but the wrong colour. I tried the plain, silver locks, not the black ones.

Unfortunately, I was at a different gym today, so I couldn't check the lost & found again, but guess what I'm doing on Monday?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

If my ears weren't attached to my head ...

I went to the gym on Monday. After the gym, I bought groceries. Since my gym is in a grocery store, this was not difficult (except for the fact that I was really hungry).

I didn't go to the gym on Tuesday. No real reason, it just hasn't been a part of my routine since I had Sparks on Tuesdays, and I start boxing on Tuesdays next week, so I just didn't make the effort to go.

Yesterday I went back to the gym. I got changed, tied my hair back, reached in my bag for my lock ... stopped, opened the zipper further and searched for my lock, took everything out of the bag, and finally reached the conclusion that my lock was gone. The most likely scenario is that I left it at the gym on Monday.

I was at the same gym location, so I asked at the front desk if anyone had turned in a lock. No luck.

I left my locker unlocked, since I had nothing much in it, and went to my class.

After the class, I sat down on the floor and went through the entire lost and found box. There were probably 20 locks there, but none was mine.

I have temporarily solved the problem by moving my boxing lock into my gym bag. This will work well all the way through next Monday. Tuesday, however, it will fall apart.

Looks like I need to buy a new lock.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Random stuff

  1. Quebec City is always enjoyable. I probably would have enjoyed the historical aspect more if I hadn't just gotten back from overseas. Still a good time, though.
  2. On my way home from work, I was stopped at a stop sign waiting to turn left at a T intersection (i.e from the vertical part of the T on to the horizontal part). A car (who did not have a stop sign) stopped to let me in. This happened twice (at two different intersections). In what alternate reality does this make sense? Don't make up your own traffic rules, people.
  3. I have a food intolerance to peppers. I don't go into anaphylactic shock or anything, but I do get sick. Anyway, on the way home from Quebec City, we stopped at a restaurant and I ordered a sandwich without peppers. Naturally, it came with peppers, so I sent it back. They then removed the peppers and sent it out to the table. Yes, I got mildly sick. If I were truly allergic, I don't think I'd ever eat in a restaurant. I should know by now not to order things that require changes to the "usual" ingredients.
  4. If your job involves taking pictures through a car window of a crying child whose father just died, you need to re-evaluate your life.
  5. While I was in Europe, my sister e-mailed me a link to this:
I think that's all for today.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

So, 400 years is old here?

This weekend I'm in Quebec City. We left on Thursday night, and stopped for the night once we got past Montreal. The hotel we stayed at was quite nice.

Friday morning we got up, went for breakfast, then resumed our trek.

We got to the hotel in Quebec City around 1:30. (It's not that it's that far, we just didn't finish breakfast until 11).

We checked in, then headed out to Old Quebec. It's about a 15 minute walk from our hotel.

If you haven't been to Quebec City before, here's a primer - it's all uphill. Anyway, we walked to Old Quebec, then started wandering around. We did some shopping/browsing, and had a small lunch. We wandered through the alley of artists.

Eventually, we ended up at the Chateau Frontenac (as you do).

By this point, we were tired, so we headed back to the hotel (via the scenic route). We grabbed some food, then relaxed for the evening.

This morning, we got up, ate our breakfast (which was included in our room rate), then headed back to Old Quebec. We split up for a few hours. I went down to lowertown and wandered through the shops (buying nothing except a beverage). After that, I climbed back up the stairs and went for lunch. Eventually, it was time for all of us to meet up again.

Just as we met, it started raining. We went in to the Chateau Frontenac, and made a reservation for a tour. Our tour time was about an hour away, so we stopped for some food. The tour was interesting, but not as good as it could have been. For one thing, our tour guide was in character as someone who was there when the hotel opened, and she spent a lot of time tittering.
It was still raining after the tour, but we went back to Lowertown. We grabbed a snack, went to Place Royal, and then got a cab back to the hotel.

And ... that's the trip. Tomorrow is just the drive home.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Burger & fries

Last week, I somehow ended up at the Bakerella website. I don't remember how, exactly, but I loved the burger and fries made out of cupcakes, sugar cookies, and brownies. When I made plans to get together with friends on the weekend, I knew I had to try them.

They turned out better than I expected. They are very sweet, so if I make them again, I'll just put the "lettuce" icing on the burger, and skip the ketchup and mustard.