Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Quilting for Lazy People

Today I thought I'd walk you through the process I go through when I make a quilt.  You can get quilt patterns in lots of places, but I usually don't. I like to start with graph paper, and work on that way what design I want to use. 

Once I have the pattern figured out, I pick out fabrics. I like colour, so I often use a bunch of colours in a single quilt.  

For this quilt, I used a pattern involving triangles.  I started with 4" squares, then cut them in half diagonally. I used 2 fabrics per block.

This pattern used 8 triangles (or 4 of the original squares) of each fabric. 

I matched one triangle of the first fabric to a triangle of the other fabric, then sewed them together along the long edge.

I move from one to the next one without cutting the thread, so they all end up in a chain rather like a sausage. (I hate cutting threads.)
Once I have the triangles sewn into squares, I arrange them to make sure I like the pattern.  Do I want to do blocks like this:

Or like this?
(Of course, there are other options as well.) Anyway, I chose the second one, and then I flipped one square over the other so that I could sew them together.  That created two strips of 4 triangles each, which I sewed together to make a square.

 When I had all the squares done, I laid them out on the fabric I'd chosen to go between them to find an arrangement I liked. (When I'm using a lot of different colours, I like to have one consistent fabric to tie them together.)

I then ripped 2" strips of the yellow fabric. I started with the middle section, because i had the big panel piece to work around.

Of course, I'm not super exact about how I cut and sew the blocks, so they're not all exactly the same size. That's OK - the yellow hides all of that.

Once I had the top completely done, I layered it with the batting and the flannel back piece. I like to have the batting a little bigger than the top, and the backing a little bigger than the batting.

Pin, being careful to catch all three layers (and not the bedspread it's lying on):
Once it's all pinned, flip it over to make sure the flannel back is lying flat - you don't want to have any folds.

If it's flat, it's time to start quilting.

My plan was to quilt down the yellow strips.

When I was done, I flipped it over again to make sure there were no folds.  Sadly, there were, so I had to rip out that seam and sew it again.  (I rip seams while watching Downton Abbey. I'm totally hooked, but I'm late to the party so I have no one to talk about it with.I just finished season 2.)

Once it was all quilted, the only piece left was the edge  This is where the larger back came in handy.  I folded the edge over once, then again until it overlapped the top (so that the edge is finished):

When I got to the corner, I folded it as I would if I were gift-wrapping a box:
And then again:

I then sewed around the entire edge to secure it, and here's the finished product:

This was a more complicated pattern, so it took about 5 hours from start to finish. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Back in July, I hurt my foot. (I was sitting on a stool, and my foot slipped. The top of my foot slammed into the rung of the chair. It was bruised, but I could walk without any pain, so I didn't worry about it.

And then, a month later, I helped a friend put together 13 bookcases. After that, it started hurting when I walked. I got it checked out, and the verdict was that it probably wasn't broken, but even if it was, they'd just treat it with a tight shoe. I started wearing an ankle brace that supported the middle of my foot, and whenever I wore proper shoes, I used some arch supports that made it possible for me to walk without pain.

And then it snowed, and I had to move the arch supports from my boots to my shoes (and back again) every day. I decided I needed another pair of arch supports.

I have high arches, so I wasn't able to find any commercial supports, and had to look into orthotics. I made an appointment and went in for the assessment, and one of the things she said was that my left shoulder dips down when I walk.

Normally I carry everything on my right shoulder, so I decided to try carrying things on my left shoulder, 

It turns out my left shoulder is not up to the job. My purse, laptop bag, gym bag, whatever I'm carrying, is constantly dropping to my forearm.

It's comical, really. One or more bags starts dropping, and I start waving my arms around, looking, I'm sure, like I'm fighting invisible ghosts. And then one drops, and the rest follow, and I'm suddenly carrying everything on my forearm, with my laptop bag dragging on the ground.

Force of habit is a powerful thing.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Girl Guides of Canada asked on Facebook "Should parents buy their daughter's Guider a holiday gift or wait until the end of the year?" Obviously, neither is required or expected - and, I'd argue, neither is a particularly good way to show appreciation. If you want to show appreciation, here's what you can do.

Drop your daughter off on time. No, not ten minutes early - at that point, I'm trying to get organized, and I don't want to entertain you or your daughter. Not even if she's really excited to be there, or you have somewhere else to be. I need a few minutes to get my head together and figure out what I forgot.

Pick up on time. If you're early, wait outside - don't disrupt the entire group. And don't be late - I want to go home and eat, because I probably didn't have time after work. (Obviously, things happen, but more than once a year is too often.)

If you have something you want to talk about, either talk to me after the meeting, or call/email a day or two before the meeting. Leaving me a message at two on the day of the meeting may not even get to me until I get home.

If you owe us money, pay promptly. I don't volunteer because I like being a bill collector.

Respect the deadlines. If camp forms/cookie orders/permission slips are due on a certain date, don't show up two weeks later with them. 

Help where you can. Be the person who volunteers when we need a hand, and then follow through without needing a reminder.

Get your daughter there. When she isn't allowed to come because she's grounded or you dont feel like driving her, it's a hassle - we've bought supplies we don't need, or she won't be ready to do the next part of whatever we're working on so we have to spend extra time catching her up. She'll miss some due to illness or other commitments - don't add to it if you don't have to.

Show her that you're proud of her. I see girls achieve amazing things every year, and it's sad when their parents don't recognize that.

That's what I want for Chrjstmas. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why I'm not here

Back in June. I came up with a great idea for a Christmas gift I could make. I bought materials and, after my company left in July, got right to work.

I've been working on it ever since, and ... it's getting there, but it's not done yet.

The problem with projects like this is that I get overly ambitious, and not only do I want to do the first project, but whenever I see a project that is easier, I think "oh, I could totally do that". And the. I start the second (easy) project, and the first project sits, and then the whole cycle repeats itself.

So no, I'm not done, although I did do two easy projects tonight.

I love that fabric.

Anyway, so I have tons of projects on the go, which naturally means that I've been more sociable than usual lately. In the last week, I've gone to book club, Pathfinders, boxing, lunch with old friends, lunch with current coworkers, and a trivia night that was a fundraiser for local Ranger group, who are planning a trip to Europe. (Next trivia fundraiser is Feb. 8 - I definitely recommend it.)

Oh yeah, I also should figure out if the dishwasher is fixable or whether it really is trying to become a floor washer.

And I want to put the tree up this weekend.

Yes, I work well when I have a deadline - can you tell?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Crumbling down

Yesterday, I got home from work and thought "man, I forgot how cold the tile floors get in the winter".

Then I sat around for a while, and decided to check the thermostat. It was 11.5 C. The thermostat was set at 19. I could hear the furnace working, but there was no heat coming out of the vents.

I turned the heat off and on. No luck.

I went downstairs and turned the switch on and off. No luck.

I called the furnace company, and was debating whether to have them come out after hours. I checked the thermostats again. It was 12 C. That was odd, but I attributed it to the fact that I'd just finished cooking. I decided it could wait until morning.

I went to take the garbage out, and couldn't get the back door open - the knob turned, but the door wouldn't open. I initially thought the door had swelled enough to stick, but after a few minutes, I realized that the handle was turning, but it wasn't actually doing anything. 

I went and got a screwdriver so I could take the handle off. I got the inside knob off, then walked around the house to take the outside handle off. The problem was that I couldn't get the middle of the knob - the part that holds it in the door - wasn't moving. I stuffed a rag in the open hole for insulation and went to bed.

When I got up, it was 10 C. I called right away, and was told someone would be here between 10 and noon. He got here a little after 10' and it was 9.5 C. (If the house loses heat at that rate, I figure it broke no later than Monday.)

It took him a little while to figure out that the problem was a blocked vent - it was keeping the fan from blowing air onto an sensor. He pulled out a piece of wire and got the vent open.

It still didn't work.

He went outside to check the gas meter - walking all around the house, because the back doorknob was just a rag-stuffed hole - then came in and turned the switch off and on again. This time it worked.

The house started heating up, and there was much rejoicing - especially since it was under warranty.

Tonight, I took another stab at the doorknob. It took three screwdrivers, a pliers, and a mallet, but I finally got the door open. After that, it didn't take long to get the old knob out and the new one in.

Now there just the floor-flooding dishwasher to deal with.

(The sad part is that I was fine without heat overnight, but if it had been the Internet that was broken, I wouldn't have been so calm.)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pre-Teen Book Club

Anyone who follows me on twitter is aware that I joined a book club earlier this year. It's fun, and it's pushing me to read books I otherwise wouldn't. The only issue is that I never remember to start the books more than two days in advance.

A couple of months ago, I became aware that my niece had pretty much stopped reading. She was an early reader, but somewhere along the way, she stopped.

Since I am her bossiest auntie, I decided we should have our own book club.

I let her pick the first book (Geronimo Stilton) and we had our first meeting.

I got to pick the second one (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe). Again she finished it before I did. (Actually, she finished it before I started - as usual, I didn't start right away. I read fast, and I wanted to remember it when we talked about it.)

It's her turn again, and we're reading Ever After High.

I wonder how long it will be before I can make her read From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Every time I have a cold, I wish I also had a recliner.

Things that are uncomfortable:
- sitting up
- lying down
- closing my eyes
- keeping my eyes open
- thinking
- sleeping

Things I have cancelled or skipped due to illness:
- lunch with the gang from the big telecom company
- book club
- boxing (probably)
- strength class
- circuit class
- work

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Today I made a ghost. I started with a roll of wire fencing, six feet long.

(FYI, real chicken wire would be easier to work with- this was harder to bend and cut because there were so many pieces of wire.)

The roll was three feet wide, so I started by building the skirt. I cut an appropriate length, then joined the two edges together and crumpled the top.

I did the same for the torso, and joined the two pieces together. 

I made one arm, then found something to help me shape the head.

I attached the head and had two pieces of wire left - enough for an arm, and the piece I cut off the head. (It's the neck in the picture above.)

I added the second arm, and then used the last piece to make hair.

And there she is.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Wednesday is circuit class at the gym. In July, the instructir changed, and every single time I've gone to class since then, I have tried to convince the instructor that we needed a nap station,

Today, I walked into the gym and one of the other regulars said "you're going to like today's class". 

I walked into the group fitness room to see that five of the eight stations were:
- nap station
- breathing
- easy walk
- sit down and relax
- skip this station

We all laughed ... until we found out what they really were.

Still, it was well done.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The car is fine (but my brain is broken)

The old car had keyless entry, but at some point over the past 13 years, the remote had broken off the keyring, so I carried it separately.

Here's how every trip in the new car has gone:
  1. Walk towards car, use key fob to unlock the vehicle.
  2. Open the back and put bags, etc. inside, keeping keys in hand.
  3. Reach into pocket to get the key fob to unlock the door.
  4. Remember the key fob is in my hand, and the door is already unlocked.
  5. Get into driver's seat.
  6. Drive to desination.
  7. Turn off lights.
  8. Remember the car has automatic lights, and turn them back to "auto" position.
  9. Reach down to pop the trunk.
  10. Remember there is no trunk.
  11. Wonder what side the gas tank is on. Decide to check immediately upon getting out of the car.
  12. Get out of car.
  13. Use the key fob to lock the car.
  14. Go to the back to get bag out. 
  15. Realize it's locked. 
  16. Unlock the car.
  17. Get bag.
  18. Lock the car.
 I can't wait until I need to get gas, because I still have no idea where the gas tank is.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Today, I got rid of my 13 year old car.

I cleared out years of poppies from above the sun visor. (Why? What do you do with them?) I took the tiles from my kitchen reno out of the trunk. I even emptied the maps out if the door pockets.

This car has made numerous trips to Montreal, and has been to Quebec City, Toronto, and Niagara Falls. And during one not-so-good year, it also went to Philadelphia, Gettysburg, and New York City (twice).

It's the car I couldn't find in the airport parking lot at midnight the first time my niece came to visit me, and the car we were in a few years later when she announced "if my mom was here, she'd say that guy is a dumbass." 

That is the car CAA came to unlock on the camping trip where I gave in to complaints about how paranoid I was about my keys and let someone else unlock the trunk.

There's a scratch on the hood, and one of my former coworkers helpfully demonstrated how it could have happened by rolling across the hood pretending he had a box in his hands. (It was actually from digging it out of the snow.)

It has a parking sticker in the window from when I worked at the formerly big telecom company, and a dent in the side from some drunk idiot at Wanda's work.

It's the car we triumphantly fit Wanda's new ikea shelf into, right before we realized there was no longer room for Wanda.

I drove home from my last day at four jobs in that car, and drove to my first day at four jobs as well.

The first time I went to boxing, it was in that car, and the last time I went to Irish dancing was in that car. (I really need to sell those shoes.)

That car has hauled camping equipment, bags of soil, bikes, and dozens of boxes of cookies. 

It was a good car.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Where I've been

Remember this? A week and a half after my car stopped in the middle of the road, the check engine light came on.


It was time to start car shopping.

I've been saying for about a year that I want a Mazda 5. No, it's not the SUV or the cute little lime green car - it's the shrunken minivan that looks kind of like a station wagon.

A couple of weeks ago - on a Tuesday night, immediately before 2 days where I worked from 3 am to noon, and three days before Pathfinder camp - I dragged Wanda out to a Mazda dealership. We both drove a Mazda 5, and the salesman ran some numbers (that came in at $6000 more than I got from going to their website to price it out). He came down to a final number that was only $2000 more, and I walked away.

And then I had no time to do anything about it, due to the crazy work hours and Pathfinder camp.

(Camp was lovely, BTW - we managed to pick the nice weekend in between 2 rainy weekends, and the wandering bear we were warned about must have moved on.)

I was off last week, and one of the things I wanted to do was go car shopping.  (Actually, the list of things I wanted to do but didn't do could fill a ... well, a list. It's on my fridge.)

On Friday, I decided I should do something so that I didn't waste the entire week, and I went to one used car dealership.

I pick up my new car on Tuesday.

Yes, it's a Mazda 5.

Friday, September 20, 2013


I've mentioned before that I wear a nightguard. Even though I'm so weird about not putting it in my mouth until I'm lying down and ready to go to sleep, if I wake up in the middle of the night and it's not in my mouth (because I fell asleep before I was ready, or because I took it out in my sleep), I have to put it in in order to go back to sleep.

So when I woke up at 2 a.m. this morning and didn't know where it was, the first thing I did was reach out my arm to see if it was on the edge of the bed.

The second thing I did was knock it onto the floor. I turned on the light and didn't see it, so I got up and moved the bed slightly ... and knocked the plugs for the light and the clock radio out of the wall.

FYI, it's dark at 2 a.m.

I managed to get the light plugged in again, but the clock radio just didn't cooperate. The plug was a little bent, so I tried bending it back with my fingers.

No luck.

I got up, found a pliers, and straightened the plug.

Still no luck.

I had two choices:
1) Figure out how to plug in the alarm clock, or
2) Get my cell phone and figure out how to set an alarm on it.

I picked up the alarm clock and went into the kitchen, where at least the plug-ins are high enough to keep me from having to bend over. The plug didn't work.

That's when I figured out it was upside down. I flipped it around, and it worked in the kitchen, and in the bedroom.

I cleaned my nightguard and went back to sleep.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

How was your day?

Yesterday morning, I started the car and noticed that a light was on.

A red light. Specifically the battery light.

I've mentioned before that I have underground parking at work, and I have seen tow trucks trying to get cars out of the second level (where I usually park) before. It's not a pretty sight, so I made a point of parking on the first level.

And backing in.

I called and made an appointment to bring the car in today, and then hoped for the best. 

I had boxing last night, so I left early (in case the car didn't start). It started.

It started after boxing, too. 

And this morning, it started again. I started driving to the garage.

Half way there, the radio turned itself off. (Yes, I probably should have turned it off earlier - I didn't think of it.) 

When I was a few blocks away, the speedometer started waving like crazy, and the airbag light started  flashing. The signal lights started seeming ... drowsy, too.

By this point, I was very, very close.

More specifically, I was at the red pin, and I was going to the green pin. The only thing in between was a strip mall. 

And a red light.

The car stalled. 

Luckily, two bystanders pushed me out of the turning lane, and CAA was fast.

Monday, September 2, 2013

More goats than you'd usually see in a museum

Several months ago - May? June? - Lynn had a contest to give away family passes to the Museum of Agriculture. She had, if I remember correctly, 10 passes, and all you had to do was leave a comment to enter.

I'd never actually been to the museum, so I left a comment, and I won! (OK, the odds were good, but it was still exciting.)

On Saturday, I went to the museum with my friend and her 2 kids.

It was the perfect day for it - nice, but not too hot, and the forecasted rain meant that it wasn't terribly busy.
We got there around 10:30, and we started by checking out the horses, which were outside. They gave us a map and schedule of demonstrations, so at 11, we made our way to the "meet the donkey" session - which was, as it turned out, right by the goats. My friends daughter loves goats, and she was thrilled to watch them as we waited for the donkey. The donkey demo was interesting, and we got to pet her after the talk. 

We walked through the Learning Center, then went to the 11:30 Amazing Worms talk. The kids didn't want to hold the worms, but they enjoyed pumping water and looking through Energy Park.

Energy Park is also next to the playground, so we spent some time there before the Butter Making demo at noon. The kitchen where the butter making demo is is right by exhibits on tractors and bees, so we looked through those before heading out to the "Artifacts in Action" demo, where we saw how they size eggs and ground wheat into flour. By this point, we were starting to get hungry, so we re-visited the places the kids wanted to spend more time in, and then left.  

It was an excellent way to spend a Saturday - and, since it's a long weekend, there were still two weekend days left!

Thanks, Lynn!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lightning fingers

Yesterday, I ate a peach.

Well, several, actually. They were really good.

And then one of my eyes got scratchy, which is typical of allergies (which have been really bad this year). Not unusual, except when I went to rub it, it was like my fingers were giving me mild electrical shocks every time I touched my face.

I thought it would improve overnight, but it took an allergy pill this morning to make it stop.

Very weird.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Yesterday, I got together with some friends for lunch. I brought dessert.

I starte with a basic sugar cookie recipe and a foot cookie cutter from Bulk Barn.

I baked the cookes, flipping every second row so that I had both left and right feet. Then I made butter icing.

I iced each cookie, then cut gummy worms in half.  I cut each half worm lengthwise, leaving just a bit connected at one end, then attached them to the cookies to make flip flops.

I tried a couple with mini jujubes, but that didn't work well. I also tried sour worms, but they were smaller and harder to work with.

I think the cookies turned out well.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


For a while now, I've heard about yoga on Parliament Hill. I thought it sounded interesting, but I don't work downtown, so it was logistically difficult.

I do work by Dow's Lake, so when I heard there were free yoga classes at lunch on Tuesdays during the summer, I decided to check it out.

I've done a lot of exercise classes - belly dance, boxing, strength training of various types, fencing, yoga, aerobics, core class, and spinning, to name a few, and yet every time I go to a class for the first time, I get anxious. I worry that I'll have the wrong day or time or I won't actually be signed up. 

So this morning, I was debating the wisdom of going, and was using my still sore neck as an excuse.

And then I told myself I was being ridiculous and that the worst thing that could happen was that I'd have a 20 minute walk in the sun without doing yoga, and I went to class.

I really liked it - which surprised me, given my general discomfort with yoga and my sore neck and wrist. It was a beautiful day, and the instructor was good at explaining the moves, and it was a nice day. Oh, and the "relaxation" at the end was super short, which I liked because my mind wanders a lot during that part if a yoga class.  I might even go back next week.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A pain in the neck

On Tuesday, I noticed that my neck was stiff. It was strange - I hadn't done anything - but sometimes that happens, and I figured it would get better.

By Friday, it was better, and I was looking forward to the long weekend.

Friday night, my neck hurt so much I couldn't sleep.

Yesterday, I tried hot packs and slow movements. I even resorted to painkillers, which don't work for me, in the hopes that that anti-inflammatory part would do something.

It hurts when I'm sitting up, and when I'm lying down. It hurts (a lot) when I move from lying down to standing up. It hurts when I bend over to pick something up, when I tilt my head back, and when I try to turn my head from side to side.  (It doesn't hurt when I tilt my chin forward, which is how it would hurt if it were meningitis, so that's good.) Basically, I'm like a newborn baby whose neck is not strong enough to support her head.

It's clearly muscular - staying in one position causes it to stiffen up, and it loosens up with movement.

Last night, I started the night sitting up. After a couple of hours sleep in that position, I went into the bedroom and tried lying down. I actually got some sleep that way.

And today? It's a little better.

Still, not a fun way to spend a long weekend.

Do not try this at home.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Slipping away

It's Saturday, 2:47 p.m., that part of the weekend where it still feels like there's tons of time left, but before I know it it'll be Sunday night and I'll be putting my laundry away and packing my lunches for the week.

It's that part of summer, too. It's not even the August long weekend yet - there's tons of time to get outside and enjoy the summer.

The clock is ticking on summer, though.

I have so much I want to do, and I'd better get moving.

Unfortunately, much of what I want to do is actually work - trim the hedges before the front walk completely disappears, cut off some of the lower branches on the tree that is trying to eat the driveway, take a canoe course, do a canoe camping trip.

So far, I've gotten as far as making a to-do list.

I also want to lie outside and read a book (but I usually read on my iPad these days, and that's backlit, so doesn't work well outside, so I'd need to move a book to my kobo or, you know, read a book made of paper).

I have stuff to do around the house - and while I could do it during the rest of the year, once September hits I'll be back in boxing and Pathfinders and time will just disappear.

Time to go look for a book I can read outside.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I have the house to myself again!

At the end of June, my sister Camille came to visit.
She stayed for almost 2 weeks.

We had a good time - we went to Jersey Boys and Bluesfest, took day trips to Montreal and Carleton Place, went downtown for Canada Day, on walks around the neighbourhood, and drove out into the country to buy saskatoon berries.

She left last Monday.

On Tuesday, my mom and my niece came to visit.

Wednesday morning we got up bright and early to take the train to Toronto. (Via was having an awesome sale.) It took us 3.5 hours to get there.

We checked into the Fairmont. My niece was thrilled - apparently, Selena Gomez stayed there, although I have no idea how B knew that.

Once we dropped the bags in the room, we took the subway to Yorkdale Mall to go to the Rainforest Cafe. (Were Toronto subway cars always open so that you can walk the length of the train as it's moving, or is that new?)

We ate lunch, then went back downtown and walked around a little. We went to the CN Tower, and B and Wanda went to the top. (I was too cheap to go - it was something like $34.)

Then we met my cousin for supper, and B and I had the following conversation.

B: I want to go swimming at the hotel. Auntie Wanda can come with me.
Me: I don't think Wanda brought her bathing suit.
B: Then Grandma can come.
Me: I don't think Grandma wants to go swimming today.
B: Then I'm all out of options.

B and I left the others at the restaurant and went swimming.

The next morning, we all got up and took public transportation to the zoo. It took 2 subway lines and a bus and took a while, but it  was very straightforward.

We saw the pandas first - I'd heard stories of 2 hour lines - and didn't have to wait long at all.

B, Wanda, and the back of a panda
After the pandas, we saw the other animals in that area (including kangaroos and the komodo dragon), then went back to the main gate to catch the zoomobile.

We took the zoomobile over to the Africa section and saw giraffes, a hippo, white lions, and ostriches. We stopped for lunch, then went back to the main gate again. We took the zoomobile through the whole zoo (note to moms - if your kid doesn't want to say "choo choo" every time the zoomobile starts moving, you don't have to do it yourself). The zoomobile actually goes through a few cages, which allowed us to see some animals we wouldn't have seen otherwise.

By that time, we were tired, so we made the trek back downtown, went for supper, and picked up our bags for the return trip.

Friday was a quiet day, since we were all tired, but we did do a few science experiments.
The vinegar and baking soda rocket

By Saturday, we were ready to leave the house again. We went to Despicable Me 2 (the first one was better, but it was still good) and even went for a walk in the woods which was the worst idea ever.

As you can see, my niece had a terrible time.
She had fun. And if she hadn't had to go to the bathroom, we would have stayed longer.

 Sunday, we went to Brittania beach. Again, I was the one who got to go swimming with her. We went out to the end of the swimming area, and I had the task of picking her up and throwing her in the water.

To be clear, she's almost as tall as I am - the top of her head is just under my nose - and solid. Which is why the following conversation happened:

B: Throw me farther!
Me: Um.
B: Weaking! Weakling! You're a weakling!
Me: You're not as small as you used to be.
B: Look at that guy! He knows how to throw.
Me: Um.
B: This is why you're not my favourite auntie.

And Monday, we went to Calypso. Yes, the day before the report of dozens of safety violations was released.

We actually went on very few slides - it was hot, and the water-to-standing-in-line ratio was low for the slides - but we went on the Jungle Run many times, and on the new Kongo Expedition a few times. (Lines were long for that one in the early afternoon, but it got better around 5.) On the Kongo Expedition, you lie in a tube and the river carries you past a bunch of things (elephants, buckets, etc.) that dump water on you. There's an indoor part in the dark, as well. Near the end, you go into a wave pool area which takes you past more opportunities to get wet. It's fun, and the only downside is the wave pool part - if you end up trapped behind a bunch of people hanging on to each other's tubes, you're going to get stuck.

And yes, we got a little sunburn.

Me: B, go to bed.
Me: One.
B: You're scary.
Me: If you think I'm scary now, just wait until I get to three. Two.
B: If you don't want to get to three, just stop counting.

Yes, she's a bit of a smart alec.

All in all, it was a fun visit.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Update on the mouse saga

On Wednesday, Wanda went out to mow the lawn. I'd warned her about the yogurt container, and this conversation occurred after she'd mowed the lawn.

Wanda: The yogurt container is empty.
Me: Oh, you checked?
Wanda: It was on it's side.
Me: I put it on its side. I was trying to reunite the babies with their mother, not preserve them for future use.
Wanda: Well, it's empty. I checked.

I assume the mouse family is living happily ever after. Hopefully not in the lawn mower.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The lawn still needs mowing

It's Wanda's job to mow the lawn.  Usually, she does it without being prompted, but she hasn't gotten to it for over a week. After she left for work today, I went out to do some gardening and noticed that the lawn was getting excessively long, so I decided to mow it. I took off my gardening gloves and pulled the lawn mower out of the shed.

My lawn mower has a button to prime it, but I find it more effective to just turn the whole machine on its side for 10 seconds or so. I did that, then noticed the lawn mower bag wasn't properly attached.

(That wasn't a surprise - we don't normally leave the bag attached when we put the lawn mower away.)

I picked up the bag and a mouse ran out and hid under the bush.

I picked up the bag from where it had fallen when I screamed and jumped back, and tipped it to make sure there were no other mice in it.

Then I looked at the grass and noticed the two baby mice.

I couldn't leave them unprotected - particularly since I was about to mow the lawn - so I put the gardening gloves on and put them into a yogurt container, which I then put under the bush in the hopes that the mother mouse would find them.

I attached the bag, started the lawn mower, and ... it started to rain.

The lawn still needs mowing.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Best Laid Plans

I'm on vacation as of Thursday.

Last week, I was running around like crazy trying to get everything done.  However, my brain moved into vacation mode yesterday, so today I was more of the mind that what gets done, gets done, and the rest will wait.

This morning managed to be hot, humid, and overcast. We had thunderstorms last night, but that didn't get rid of the humidity - it was still really hot when I left for work.

The air conditioning in my car isn't working, so it was a hot & sticky drive in.  Work was warmer than usual, as well - it takes the heating and cooling system a while to adjust to temperature fluctuations, and no one was in on the weekend.

I took off my sweater for a few minutes until I cooled off, then started my day. 

At 9 the power went out.

A few seconds afterwards, I heard the generators start up and the emergency lighting came on.  (I'm on the 9th floor. Those generators are loud.)

When the power goes out like that, I always expect it to go on before too long, but that didn't happen. After about 5 minutes, we started opening our docked laptops so we could work.  (Our monitors were dead, but the laptops still had batteries.) My plan was to work until my battery had about 30 minutes left, then go home. I didn't really want to do that because I wanted to go to the gym, but I couldn't really justify sticking around just to go to the gym class - especially since the gym didn't have power, either.

The computers worked, but the water cooler didn't. And the guy who stocks the kitchen on Monday didn't show up - my guess is he didn't want to carry three carts of beverages/snacks up 9 flights of stairs.

The power came back on at 10:15.

At 12, I went to the gym, only to discover that the power was back, but the a/c wasn't. It was hot.  And humid.

Luckily for me, I am used to exercising in those conditions, since I box above a pool, but it still wasn't much fun.

When I left work, it was dark, but dry.

By the time I got to the Queensway, it was starting to rain.  For the next 20 minutes, we went from the first sprinkling of rain to harder rain to a full-out thundershower, and back again.

When I parked in my driveway, it had almost stopped.

What a weird day.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

This past weekend was my first entirely free weekend since April.

I'm an introvert. I need recharging time, and I hadn't realized how wiped I was until it was Saturday night and not only had i not done anything, I had no intentions of starting to do anything.

It was an awesome weekend, even though I didn't even step outside if I didn't need to do so.

And then the week started.

Yesterday, Wanda had a belly dance show.  I'm glad I went, but it meant I didn't get home until close to 10.

And today I realized I have book club on Thursday, which would probably go better if I actually had started reading the book.

Or knew what the title was.

Or had any expectation of reading it tomorrow.

What can I say, it's been a busy month.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Windy City

As I mentioned earlier, Wanda and I went to Chicago this weekend.  Neither of us had ever been there, and we both wanted to go.

Dinner, far too late on Thursday. You pick your protein, sauce, and pasta/rice, then fill a big bowl with vegetables. They cook it and bring it to you.
We didn't do much on Thursday night - just checked into the hotel and went for dinner. We stayed at the Drake Hotel. As I mentioned yesterday, we booked it as part of a package. I was quite excited about it, because years ago, I read a mystery novel. I have no idea what book it was, but at some point they found a bible from the Drake Hotel, which led them to Chicago. 
One of the elevators at the Drake, complete with couch

We took the subway from the airport to the hotel - there was a little bit of a walk from the subway station, but we found the hotel with no issues. 

Because it's an older hotel, the hallways are sometimes narrower than you'd find in a newer building.

And that firescape? Rickety metal on the outside of the building. Well, maybe not rickety, but definitely outside.

The room was nice, though, and I was very happy with the hotel. 

We'd bought the Go Chicago card, which was awesome. It gave us a tour of the city (one per day - we choose the hop-on, hop-off tour), and one water tour per day, as well as admission to a bunch of attractions.

On Friday morning, we got up and headed for the place where we could catch the tour. It was quite a walk, and we stopped for breakfast on the way.

Friday breakfast - excellent bagels & juice
We  got on the first tour of the day - which started at 10 - and stayed with the tour until Navy Pier. At Navy Pier, we got off and looked around. We bought a few souvenirs, then went on an Architectural River Tour. 

Navy Pier
There's an interesting phenomenon going on in Chicago - when you go into a tourist attraction (like the river cruise, or to the top of Sears/Willis tower, or whatever), they take your picture in hopes that you will buy it afterwards. It's kind of like being on a cruise ship all the time.

The tour was amazing, and we enjoyed hearing about the history of the city and the buildings. Highly recommended.

After the tour, we went for lunch at Navy Pier.
We tried places until we found one with reasonable wait times.  Food was decent, too. You order and pay and they bring the food to you as it is ready.
As part of our Go Chicago card, we each got a voucher for 5 ride tickets. We went on the Ferris wheel, which was fun unless I looked down. I'm not great with heights.

We weren't really interested in any of the other rides, so we got back on the bus and went to Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower). We went up to the observation deck (also included in the Go Chicago card) and Wanda went out on the glass-floored ledge while I remained on solid ground.

When we finished there, we considered getting back on the bus, but the wait as long enough that we decided to walk.  By the time we got back to the hotel, I was pretty miserable. My feet had been bothering me all day, and the amount of walking we had done didn't make things better. We rested for a while, then walked over to Panera, as well as by Holy Name Cathedral, which is the setting for some other books I love. (Also, I just found out that the author died on May 29, and I'm wondering how I missed that earlier.)
Wanda's choice, a favourite from when she lived in Boston.
That was enough for one day. 

Saturday morning, we got going earlier. We took the subway to Shedd Aquarium, where we got to skip the line for ticket since, yes, admission was included with our Go Chicago card.

We wandered through the aquarium, and by the time we were done, the tour was running again, so we got back on the bus. We went back to Navy Pier.

I wanted to do a segway tour, but Wanda was afraid she'd get hurt, so we had a quick hotdog lunch and did a skyline tour on the lake.

When we were done, we took the bus back to the water tower (which was close to our hotel) and quickly looked inside the mall. We didn't stay long, and started walking toward our hotel. We passed John Hancock Center and decided to go up to that observatory as well (also included in our Go Chicago cards). Unlike Sears Tower, this observation deck went all the way around. We took some pictures and then finally went back to our hotel to rest.

Saturday night was the Darren Criss concert, which was the reason we picked this particular weekend to go to Chicago. Wanda was really excited about it, and I was hoping my feet didn't fall off, since it was standing-room only.

We ate at the Cheesecake Factory (which was a poor experience) on our way, then made our way to the concert. The concert started at 7:30, with the doors opening at 6:30. We got there at 5:50, and the line was already across the bridge - which was a block away from the venue.

It was a good concert - even though my feet were so sore I really didn't know if I'd make it back to the hotel - and Wanda really enjoyed it.

When we got back to the hotel, Wanda packed and I moaned about my feet. It* was a good ending to our trip, because Sunday morning we left for home..

* The concert, not the whining.