Sunday, May 27, 2012

50th Anniversary

The community association in my neighbourhood turns 50 this year.  Yesterday, there was a parade throughout the community to kick off the celebration. The local groups (Scouts, Guides, the two schools, and various other organizations) were asked to participate, and so my Sparks got to march in the parade.

I cleaned out the Sparks box a couple of weeks ago, and one of the things I found was a stack of pages of Girl Guide stickers, so I cut them up so that they were one per sheet. We were following a vintage car in the parade, and I gave each girl a stack of stickers with instructions to run out and hand them to any kids they saw, as long as they could make it back to the group before we were too far ahead.

They loved it.  They must have run three times the parade route by the time we were done. We didn't have trouble keeping up with the car in front of it. In fact, there were a couple of times when I had to remind them to stop before they ran into the car.  The girls all were pleasantly surprised to see their parents (although ... I'm not sure why, what else were their parents going to do?), and they were super proud of themselves.

We were one of the first groups, so when we got to the end, we ducked into the parking lot and watched the rest of the parade come in. The Shriners were there, as was the RCMP marching band and a bunch of other local groups. There were clowns, who then did a little show for the Sparks. (One of the Sparks, upon seeing a clown - "I was in the parade".)

The girls' parents met us at the end of the route, and then everyone took part in the other activities. They had some games (like whacking a lever to try to get a plastic frog into a bucket) as well as inflatable slides and obstacle courses.

I left at 3, and when I came back at 6 (to work in the kitchen), two of my Sparks were still there.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I miss Tuesday garbage day

These days, Thursdays mean work, boxing, then house cleaning. It's the perfect day to do it, since garbage day is Friday.

Today was no different. I went to work, hung around an extra 45 minutes, then went to boxing. (You know it's hot when the coaches bring super soakers. We all looked like lobsters by the end. It's been 2 hours and my face is still red.)

After that, I came home, ate, and then took the garbage out.

Then I came back in the house, consulted the calendar to find out whether it's blue box or black box week, and discovered garbage day has been moved to Saturday.


I went back outside and brought the garbage cans (one can for garbage, one for yard waste, and the green bin) back to the house.

Friday is far too long after Monday for me to remember that last weekend was the long weekend.

The part that puzzles me is that they're clearly moving garbage day so that they don't have to pay the garbage collectors for working on the stat. holiday, but ... then they have to work on Saturday.  It must be cheaper to have them do that then to make them work the stat. - it's certainly not better for the workers.

I should ask my city councillor. I bet he'll be at the community anniversary celebration on Saturday.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Is it Monday yet?

You know, it seems like every Sunday night I say "I had so much more I wanted to get done today. I wish this were a long weekend."

This weekend is  long weekend and I have to say, I don't think I could survive this on a regular basis.

So far, I've:
  • Bought groceries
  • Bought bedding plants
  • Planted the vegetable garden
  • Planted the flower garden
  • Went to Lee Valley and bought shade cloth
  • Set up the shade cloth
  • Helped a friend with her air conditioner
  • Went down to the market
  • Went to IKEA (to pick up one thing - it took 20 minutes, which I thought was pretty good)
  • Turned on the outside water
  • Dug the hose out of the shed
  • Watered the vegetable garden
  • Fixed the wall in Wanda's room
  • Did laundry and hung it outside to dry
  • BBQed (3 times, which might be a record for a weekend)
Left on the list for tomorrow:
  • Fix the front door
  • Organize the craft supplies
  • Type up recipes
  • Cook something for lunches
  • BBQ the corn on the cob that I just realized is still in the fridge
  • Plant clover in the lawn
  • Pull grass out of the perennial gardens
  • Paint the downstairs bathroom door
  • Touch up the windowsill in my bedroom
  • Hang the pictures I took down three weeks ago (during the first paint session)
  • Paint the back step
To be clear, it's not like I've worked constantly - there has also been a reasonable amount of watching TV / playing wii / messing around on the internet. However, much like the week I took off, I'm going to be glad to go back to work to recover.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

And that will be $0

Many years ago, I bought some Tupperware containers.  I had six of one type and four of the other, and I use them to bring my lunch to work.

Before Christmas, I noticed that some of the lids were peeling, so I e-mailed Tupperware and explained I wanted to exchange them.  They put me in touch with one of their reps, so I e-mailed her and explained the situation.

She replied and asked me to call her.

I hate calling people - particularly people who work out of their home - but I called her. She told me she was going to order the replacements and they would be about 10 days - which would have been the last week in December.

I followed up in January.

And February.

And then I started asking around to find another rep.

A friend recommended one, so I e-mailed her (... and she asked me to call her) and eventually I met up with her and dumped what had turned into 5 dishes & lids in her lap.

That was about 2 weeks ago.

Today, she dropped by my workplace and gave me replacements.  Yay! (Somehow, she gave me 6 replacements, so I need to get on that.)

While this whole saga was going on, my laptop cord died.  That would have been back in January, because I bought a replacement - 3 year warranty - on January 16.

It died yesterday. I had visions of having to send it off to get a replacement and not being able to use the laptop for weeks. (That would mean no internet AND no Kobo ... unless I walked downstairs or used Wanda's laptop, which clearly would be too much to ask.)

I've started putting the receipt into the packaging when I bring something home so that I only have one thing to find, so today I hunted down the package and read the warranty information. It said, "Bring it back to the retailer", so off I went.  Ten minutes later, I had a replacement power cord.

It was a productive day. And my laptop is fully charged again.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Good fences

Last year, one of my neighbours started playing a radio - loudly.

Now, I don't mind occasional noise - you're having a party, for example - but this was every nice day.  I'd go outside and be forced to listen to their music. I'd come inside and, if there was a window open in the house, I'd be forced to listen to their music.

I like quiet, especially when I'm reading outside.

(It wasn't a teenager - I'm pretty sure the culprit was a man in his sixties.)

If it was the people on my left or my right, I would have walked over and said, "Hey, can you keep it down?" However, it was the people whose backyard meets mine - which means they live on a totally different street.  I never got to the point of walking over (but I did daydream about "accidentally" using the hose to water their entire yard until the radio shorted out).

Fall came, and I forgot about it, until last weekend.

That's right, it started again.

I decided to take the direct - albeit lazy - approach and yelled "Please turn the radio down" every time I was outside.

The next step in my plan was to walk over, follow the loud music to find the right house, then ask them to keep it down. (I also mused on twitter about blasting Barney's "I love you, you love me" back at them for a while, but sadly that would probably just escalate things.)

Yesterday and today? It was quiet.  I got to sit outside and read a book for the first time in 2 years.

Man, I hope this lasts.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Every spring and fall, there are camp clean-up days for the local Girl Guide camp.  I try to go if I can.

Today was one of those days.  I had to be there at 8:30 (In the morning, On a Saturday.),  so I got up and got ready.  When I got there, I was assigned to a site.

(The camp has 15 or so sites within it, so a bunch of groups can be up there at once.)

On our site, we had five things to do:
  1. Chop up felled trees and stack the logs in the woodshed.
  2. Fix the drain on the outdoor sink.
  3. Find and uncover the grey-water disposal pit.
  4. Fix the front steps to the building.
  5. Fix the back steps to the building.
  6. Fix the railing on the bridge to the next site.
Hmm, that's six things.  OK, we had six things to do.

We started with #6.

That task involved the following:
  • Tear down the current railing.
  • Pull out the nails from the old boards.
  • Cut 20 new posts.
  • Put notches in 20 new posts (4 got one notch, 16 got 2).
  • Attach 20 new posts.
  • Brace 20 new posts.
  • Add top rails.
  • Add lower rails.
 It took ... I'm not sure exactly because no one had a watch and cell phones don't work there, but I'd say it was about 5.5 hours.

About 5 hours in, I made a mistake.  I was sitting on the edge of the bridge, leaning out to attach a brace. I had the cordless drill (being used as a screwdriver) in my left hand and was holding the board with my right (dominant) hand.

The drill slipped.

I lost half the fingernail on my middle finger, and prompted a discussion about where the nearest first aid kit was.

It's nothing serious - just an annoyance - but it makes it tricky to type or drive. On the way home, I kept accidentally turning on the windshield wipers with the top of the gauze on my finger. It also prompted a stop at a drug store for those bandages that go over the tip of your finger, and for more gauze as I have already exhausted the entire supply in the house.

(I currently have gauze wrapped around the finger and taped down. I'm hoping to move to the bandages by Monday, when I have to type for work.)

But it's amusing to say "the drill slipped" when someone asks what happened to my finger.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


The Chateau Laurier is next to the Parliament Buildings.  It opened almost 100 years ago - a little later than expected because the man who commissioned it (Charles Melville Hays) was on the Titanic.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary, they have a special menu available on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until the end of May. Tonight, Wanda and I went down to the Chateau Laurier for the Titanic Dinner.

When we ordered, the first thing our waiter did was switch the order of our forks - because on the Titanic menu, the salad arrives after the main course.

The first course was Oyster a la Russe (Raspberry Point Oyster, Vodka Vinegarrette, Caviar). It was fine - mostly, it tasted onion-y.

The second course was Consomme Olga.  The waiter brought us soup bowls with a small pile of vegetables (glazed carrots & celery root).  She also brought a small metal teapot.  Once the bowls were on the table, she poured the beef broth from the teapot into the bowl.  The resulting soup was very tasty.

We had the choice of Beef Lili or Roast Duck. We both got the beef, and it was absolutely amazing.  I've never had beef that was that good. The beans, potatoes, and carrots were good as well, but the beef was definitely the best part.

Next was the roasted squab salad. (I didn't know what squab was at the time, but I googled it when I got home.) Even without knowing what squab is, I wasn't a huge fan, but the rest of the salad was very tasty.

Last was the dessert - Waldorf pudding, chocolate eclairs, and vanilla ice cream. The desserts were fine - not exceptional, but adequate.  The raspberry sauce the plate was decorated with was quite good, though.  I'm not really a dessert person, so I'm not the best person to judge.

It was expensive - $64 a person - but I really enjoyed it, and it was fun to do something out of the ordinary.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Conversation I Had While Painting

Wanda, concerned: "I heard ow ow ow ow ow?"
Me: "Yes, I ran into the top of my closet."

Me, explaining further: "It's on the floor."
Wanda, now totally confused: "So what I'm hearing is that the top of your closet is on the floor."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Things I did today

  • Moved most of the furniture out of my bedroom.
  • Went to the paint store.
  • Vacuumed.
  • Washed down the walls.
  • Found my paint tray and roller.
  • Painted the ceiling.
  • Thought "Oh, I can move the ladder with the paint on it."
  • Discovered I could not move the ladder with the paint on it.
  • Wiped up paint.
  • Figured out how to open the door when the handle has been removed ... while covered in paint.
  • Combed paint out of my hair.
  • Painted the ceiling again.
  • Painted the trim.
  • Returned excess bricks.
  • Bought new cordless phones.
  • Shoveled dirt.
  •  Painted the trim again.
  • Took three showers.
  • Sat down after shower #3 and discovered my entire forearm was blue.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The best birthday present ever

Today is my 40th birthday.

I didn't really have any plans. People kept asking me what I wanted to do, and I mostly shrugged. I wanted to get my raised gardens built, and that was taking my focus.

The before picture
The bricks were delivered Saturday morning. I totally would have taken pictures of the forklift delivering them, but I had left my camera in the house.  After that, I had a hair appointment, then I was meeting a friend for lunch, then we were going to move a piece of furniture she was giving me.

I wouldn't be able to really get started with the bricks until Sunday, but I was reluctantly willing to wait.

After we finally got the furniture loaded (it fit in my friend's Yaris better than in my Protege), my friend ran inside to get an ice cream cake because she had somewhere else to go that night, and we went to my place.

(I thought nothing of it, because I am very gullible.)

We got to my place, I went inside, and ... there was my mom, 2 of my sisters from Regina, my cousin from Woodstock, his wife, and their daughter and granddaughter from Ottawa.

I was a little surprised.

And then I went outside to finish moving the furniture. 

Sunday, we started on the raised garden beds, and my family started wishing they had told me they were coming. (If I'd known, I wouldn't have planned to do the gardens, but since that's what I was doing, I guilted them into helping.)

There was digging.
My sister, who is much better at leveling than I am.
 And leveling.

Bed #2. Not yet totally exhausted.
And digging.

My sister, wishing she had made other vacation plans.
And leveling.
It took 4 of us 7 hours and two trips to the hardware store, but we got it done.

And then I realized they look like wishing wells.

This would be when I realized they look like wishing wells.
There's still more to do - I need more dirt, I have leftover bricks to return and I'll probably put stepping stones between them - but it made a huge difference to have three more people helping.