Sunday, December 28, 2014

And my niece's birthday quilt

This post and the last one explain why I've disappeared for the last two months.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Here is my Christmas gift for my sister Kathleen, who is always cold.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Where I've been

This is another "wow, I haven't updated in a month" update. Let's see if I can remember what I've been up to.

The pathfinders went to a glassblowing class. We did a birthday party package, and it was interesting, but I was hoping we'd be able to do more of it ourselves. (We picked the colours and blew the gass, but didn't gather or shape it).

The resulting ornament was really heavy.

Wanda went away for a weekend and I proceeded to do exactly what I would have done if she'd been here.

I went to Montreal to go Christmas shopping. Uncharacteristically, I bought a gift. (Don't worry, I'm not done.)

There were layoffs at work. Not me, at least not yet.

The pathfinders did a craft activity at a community event.

I took three days off work but still had no time to relax.

I went to a work Christmas party. 

I slipped on some ice and hurt my wrist (not seriously). I went to boxing anyway and, for added fun, forgot my shoes. I persevered.

Speaking of boxing, they've started added an exercise between every station. Two weeks ago, it was jumping split squats. I was sore for four days.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


It occurs to me that I never shared my Halloween costume here.

I went as Ursula the sea witch.

I made the costume myself. The tentacles were easy - long purple troubles sewn to bigger black triangles. The suckers on the tentacles were  straightforward but time consuming.

The necklace was clay painted hold.

And the eels were essentially a stuffed pillow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Typed on my phone

Almost two years ago, my mom gave me an iPad for Christmas.  I loved it. If you add up all the time I've spent using every other gift I've ever gotten and compared it to the time  I've spent using the iPad, the iPad would win.

So naturally, I flung it across the room and cracked the corner.

It still worked fine, so I kept using it. got a protection plan, and that plan expires in December.

Ten days ago, I took it in to get fixed.

I've been busy, so I haven't missed it as much as I thought I would, but I have noticed I have more free time, and I have a list of things I need to do when I get it back.

And the library books are piling up - I can read them on my phone, but its harder.

I hope it is back soon.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

As I've mentioned before, I do a weekly boxing training class. I've done it for eight years, and I'm never sore. Never.

I also go to the gym - usually three times a week. I'm rarely sore from that - although when we do a different strength training workout, I get a little sore.

So anyway, last Thursday I did the strength class as usual. On Friday at boxing,I noticed that my right shoulder was tight.

I then forgot about it until body toning on Monday, when it was still off. I decided it was time to do something about it, so I booked a massage for yesterday.

My shoulder is better, but I am so very sore. It hurts to lean back against a chair, or lie down, or move.

Apparently massages are my kyptonite.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

There have been a lot of sirens today

If you live in the world, you e probably heard that a soldier was murdered in Ottawa today, likely by the same person who then went into the Parliament Buildings.

I don't work downtown, really, but I'm both close to downtown and near the Queensway, and the first sign we had was one of my coworkers saying "there have been a lot of sirens today".

It turned out that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Much of downtown was under lockdown most of the day. We had updates from federal politicians ad provincial politicians and municipal politicians. The three police forces were all involved.

And now, almost twelve hours later, there's still a lot we don't know.

Two people died. Three were injured. Thousands were scared or worried. Hundreds were busy performing first aid or investigating or helping in some other way.

And, in the end, most of us made it home. Prayers for those who didn't.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


I haven't been sleeping all that well lately.

Part of the problem is that I'm having odd dreams, the kind that combine snippets of work with bits of the rest of my life into something that makes no sense at all. (Apparently a lot of people are having odd dreams lately - is it the weather?)

The other part is my night guard. I got a new one in February, and I'm finding it hard to use. If I manage to fall asleep with it I my mouth (which is rare) I wake up with it somewhere else. I think part of it started when I got the new one - the plastic took a while to taste in-plasticky. And then... It just never got better.

The problem is that I know I'm supposed to use it, so I wake myself up wondering where it is.

Since it's been more than six months, though, I'd better figure it out.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Meet the meat

Back in July, I ordered a quarter of beef from a local farmer. It was estimated to arrive in September.

Three weekends ago, I cleaned out the freezer in preparation. I found a steak from 2008, some Girl Guide cookies so old I didn't recognize the box, and lots of ice.

The weekend after I cleaned out the freezer, I picked up the meat.

Let me tell you, a quarter is a lot of meat. I filled up the chest freezer and put more meat in the fridge freezer. The day after picking up the meat, I opened the freezer and Wanda yelled "if you're not looking for meat, good luck!"

But ... It's so nice to be able to pull something out of the freezer. We've had stew and steak and a roast and ground beef. I will still buy chicken and pork, but we've got enough beef for a long time.

With a freezer full of meat and vegetables delivered every two weeks, grocery shopping should be minimal, as well. Which is good for everyone, because I go after boxing when I'm all sweaty and gross.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


A couple of nights ago, my brain decided it would enjoy waking up at midnight. And I mean wide awake, not groggy and likely to fall back asleep. 

Since I needed to get up in the morning, this didn't seem like a good idea. I'd heard somewhere that one of the things that can help you fall asleep is if you count backwards from 100. I decided to try it.

My eye is on fire! (Rubs eye)
Why is my wrist bent like that? It hurts. (Moves wrist)
Where was I? Oh, right.
Look at me! I've got the hang of it now.
Wait. 95? Didn't I already say that? I've been counting for a while. It's probably 85.
Wait, I was counting? Why did I stop? Why am I still awake?

Sunday, September 21, 2014


When I was sick in July, I joined Pinterest. (I couldn't do anything, so I figured I might as well spend time looking at things I couldn't do.)

It's a great place for ideas on how to repurpose things you no longer need, or to find recipes, or even for quotes and pictures.

And it has it's share of silly people - for example, the person who built a frame to cover her thermostat. There are several things wrong with that. The first one is that the average thermostat is out of the way and doesn't need to be covered.

The second thing is that by covering it, you're making it harder for it to measure the temperature I. The room, which is its whole reason for existing. Silly, silly people.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Lazing around

I've wanted more backyard furniture for a while, and once I bought the screen house, it was time.

I considered a bunch of options, and eventually decided to use the two pallets left over from the raised garden beds I made a couple of years ago. I started by building legs out of 2x4s, then I sanded down a pallet and painted everything.

I attached the legs to the pallet. This also gave me the advantage of being able to use the pallet as a workbench.

I added the frame for the back. (Did I mention that this was my first time using pocket holes?)

It took me a while to decide what I wanted to do for the back. Eventually I decided on 2x2s.

Then it was just a little paint and it was done.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tales from the backyard

It feels like my summer has consisted of being sick, being sick, having company, and being sick. Not my best summer, is what I'm saying. (Because of the multiple viruses, not because of the company - the company was awesome.)

I did manage to do a few things around the house, though.

First of all, I planted tomatoes. We're right in the midst of tomato season, and they're awesome. 


 One one side of the house is an area that traditionally has been filled with weeds. It also contained the wheelbarrow I found behind the shed. After looking at it, I decided it was trash, and got rid of it this year. Then I pulled the weeds, put down newspaper, and covered it with mulch. Hopefully that will keep the weeds down for a while.

The backyard faces south, and it's usually too hot to use, so I started thinking about getting a gazebo. They're expensive, though, and a lot of work, so while I'm deciding what I ultimately want to do back there, I bought an awesome umbrella.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The visit

My mom and my niece B came to visit about ten days ago, and this time they brought my cousin's two girls, Star and Sky.

They had barely arrived when Star managed to get a nail though her shoe into her foot. I got to call her parents and say "they arrived. Also, for no particular reason, has Star had a tetanus shot?"

Day two we went to a paint-your-own-pottery place,  then my cousin arrived from Toronto. We spent the rest of the day close to home. I believe this was the day B skinned her knee.

Day three we went downtown (some of us on the bus) and saw the changing of the guard, toured the Parliament Buildings, and went to the market. No injuries.

Monday was Calypso, even though it was cold. (No lines!) Star scaped the bottom of her toe just before we left. Oh, and Wanda hurt her feet and spent the next few days hobbling around.

Tuesday morning, Sky woke me up around two because her ear was hurting. I gave her a painkiller and sent her to bed. It was better In the morning, which was good, because it was activity day. We made marshmallow catapults, bouncy balls, doll blankets, and rain. We stuck skewers in ziplock bags of water, stood on eggs, and blew up balloons with nerds and soft drinks. Also, B's mother joined us for supper, as she was unexpectedly in Ottawa for work. I think this might be the day Star stubbed her toe on the grass.

Wednesday, we went shopping, then out for supper one last time before B's mother went home.

Thursday, we went out to Star and Sky's great aunt's cottage. A lot of their relatives from that side of the family came out, so they were able to meet them, and they got to go in the kayak and inflatable boat in between rain showers. Just for fun, Sky stubbed her toe badly enough that it had to be taped up. I don't know that it was broken, but I don't know it wasn't. (Her great aunt is a nurse, so she did the taping.)

Friday, we went ringette shopping, stopped at Black's rapids for a few minutes to walk over the locks, and Wanda got stung by a wasp. After that fun, we went to the museum of science and technology. I got all the girls passes to the Saskatchewan science center for Christmas, which meant they could get in for free here. They made water rockets, ran on the hamster wheel, stumbled thorough the crazy kitchen, and walked through the trains. We then stopped at Hog's Back park, where they climbed an awesome climbing tree and no one got hurt.

And then Friday night, my niece and Star went to the park and B banged her foot on a metal bar. She hopped home, and I put ice on it. After fifteen minutes, I took the ice off and told her to stand up. There was an audible pop and she screamed.

And then she said "Auntie Colette, my foot is going numb".

It turns out the line between "suck it up" and "we are going to the hospital now" is just past "my foot is going numb and I can't wiggle my toes". I googled the address of the children's hospital and piggy-backed her to the car as Sky said "I'm dizzy."

As we checked in, the person registering us out me as a contact on B's file, since B's mom was back home. I said "good, I'm her favourite auntie", and B said - as always - "nope, you're not even on the list". The woman registering us gave me a bit of a look, and we had to explain that this is normal.

Less than two hours later, the doctor explained that it was a sprain and should be better within a day. Frankly, I didn't believe him. (I was ok with the sprain part, but who has ever heard of a sprain healing in two days?)

Saturday morning, Sky again complained about being dizzy, so we were off to the medi-clinic to deal with her ear infection. B came with us, hopping all the way, and sometime while we were getting Sky's prescription filled, B's foot got better - not 100%, but enough that she could walk. Yay! (Also, apologies, CHEO doctor.)

We had a little time in the afternoon, so we headed to Brittania beach. Since there was a Muslim festival going on, we had to park a ways away and take the shuttle. Luckily, the shuttle was a double-decker bus, so that was fun.

Sunday we took the train to Montreal, where we walked through Old Montreal and went to that science center. B's foot was hurting, so we didn't get to see as much as we might have otherwise, but they enjoyed it.

Monday, we played glow-in-the-dark mini-golf, and then decided to go back to the beach. Sadly, that's when the thunder storm hit, so Wanda took the girls to a movie instead. (No one got hit by lightning.)

This morning, everyone packed, then we took the bus downtown to meet Wanda for lunch, because she went back to work today. After lunch, we had a bit of rest time before it was time to go. We were halfway to the airport when we realized B forgot her ipad. I dropped them off, and mom got them checked In and in the line for security while I raced home. I made it back and gave the ipad to mom, who made it through the line for security with minutes to spare.

I'd better be on the list now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fan of the fan

This weekend, I bought a new fan.

I know, the excitement never ends around here.

(Personally, I found it exciting that I was functional all weekend, but I understand other people are not as thrilled with that as I was.)

Anyway, I love the fan. It's my favourite thing. It's a tower fan, and it's quiet, which makes the timer function really handy so it isn't running 24/7.

I don't run the air conditioning during the day when I'm not here, so it's nice to come home and turn on the fan.

It even makes shredding less awful. I really need to start doing that every year or so. (I am currently shredding cheques with my old address on them. I moved 14 years ago.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I've had my blood pressure taken 14 times in the last three weeks

Two and a half weeks ago, I fainted in the shower. My first though was "something really bad has happened". My second thought was "I was in the middle of doing something, what was it?" My third thought was "wait ... Am I lying down in the shower?"

This is, apparently, a big deal.

I went to the doctor, and she ordered a bunch of tests (and ran me though six cycles of the blood pressure machine). I was banned from driving, as well.

I'd fainted on Sunday, and it didn't get in to the doctor until Wednesday. (Yes, I should probably have gone to the ER, but ... I didn't.)

On Thursday, I had book club, and I wasn't really feeling well, but I was tired, and I figured that's just how it goes.

On Friday, I went to work, and I lasted two hours. One of my coworkers drove me home. I spent the rest of the day resting.

For the next five days, I felt like someone had reached into my abdomen and squeezed my stomach every time I sat up or stood.

In the meantime, I had figured out that whatever was going on was something I'd caught. And I remembered that the three weekends immediately before getting sick, I had been outside. 

In Wednesday, I felt a little better so I went back to the doctor to make sure it wasn't West Nile or Lyme disease. The doctor agreed that it was a virus but didn't think additional testing was required.

 (Did I mention that I was off work last week? I was.)

For the next few days, I could sit up a little, but I had no energy.

On Sunday afternoon, I finally felt better.

I went back to the doctor today to confirm everything was ok. I had to leave early to catch all of the bus connections, so I didn't sleep well. The good news is that shre gave me the go-ahead to resume my normal activities.

The bad news is that the lack of sleep means today was not a good day.

Apparently, there's a nasty virus going around. But then I already knew that.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Canoe camp

This weekend was canoe camp. We travelled on the Rideau canal:

We left on Friday from Edmunds lock station and paddled to Kilmarnock.

Saturday morning, we got up and went through the lock on our way to Merrickville. It was a little cold and it rained on the way, but we persevered. By the time we got through all three locks in Merrickville, it was 4:30. The girls went off on a scavenger hunt in town.

Sunday morning, we were back on our way. We went through three more locks on our way to Burritts Rapids and arrived before one. By 2:30 we had everything packed up and the girls started to leave.

It was a good trip.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Uninvited guests

When Wanda and I went to Florida, we came back to find the garbage can tipped over and the garbage bag ripped open. Wanda cleaned it up and discovered that something had chewed a hole in the lid.

I decided to do nothing about it.

The garbage has been tipped over a couple of times since then, which is more than usual.

And then tonight I was walking into the backyard when I heard a rattling sound. I look over at the garbage can, which was beside the BBQ. The can was upright but the lid was on the ground.

I walked over and nestled inside was a young raccoon.

I might have yelped.

I think it's time to buy a new garbage can.

(The raccoon was annoyed at being asked to leave, but he left.)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Two down, one to go

I mentioned that my Pathfinders were in Toronto last weekend.

That wasn't the end of our year - just the beginning of the end. This weekend was canoe training- 9-5 both Saturday and Sunday. 

Naturally, I started getting a cold on Tuesday. By Friday afternoon, I was miserable. Yesterday morning I woke up feeling ok, but by noon I was not doing well. I mad a point of doing my canoe over canoe rescue yesterday in case I didn't make it back today. (The hardest part is getting back in the canoe, but I did it!) 

This morning I felt worse, but the cold medicine worked well and I survived. It even waited until I was on my way home to wear off, which was great.

Next week: canoe camp.

And then we are done.

I told my co-leader that if she calls me on the 21st and tells me I have to do something for pathfinders, I will cry.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A wild weekend

This weekend, my Pathfinders travelled to Toronto for a rally with 8000 other Girl Guides. We left on Friday and stayed at a camp about 75 minutes from our destination. 

I typically don't sleep well the first night,so I was awake at 4 when some local cows started mooing. One of them sounded odd, but I didn't think about it too much since it was 4 am.

I also heard the crows, but I missed the coyotes.

When we got up in the morning, we found out that we had been visited by a moose - which when you are awake, don't sound very much like cows.  And then one of the girls got up and said that when she went to the bathroom in the night, she saw a dog come out of the woods. Apparently, it looked like a husky.

Probably not a dog.

All in all, more wildlife than I'd expected for a trip to Toronto.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

This is my last free weekend until June 21.  The next three weekends are booked solid for Pathfinders.

It starts on Friday. We're getting on a bus and heading to Toronto for a province-wide rally all day Saturday. ("All day" means we leave the camp at 7 am and get back at 11 pm - it will be exhausting).

The next weekend is canoe training - 9-5 both Saturday and Sunday.

The weekend after that is canoe camp.

All of these are going to be good events, and I definitely want to  go to all of them, but man I wish there was a free weekend in there.

At one point, my manager was talking about us going to India on June 16 - i.e. the day after canoe camp - and I almost lost my mind. Luckily, that was moved to August.

I spent my last relaxing weekend finishing up the various house projects that I started before Easter. I hung blinds in the second bedroom, made another Roman blind, and put an empty bin downstairs. I even started getting organized for next weekend (although I'm not done by any means).

I also took apart a desk I made in high school.

I like it, but it takes up a lot of space. Wanda wanted the desk part, and it (finally) occurred to me that if I removed the sides, they could be used as separate book shelves.

Of course, it wasn't that easy. Each of the two sides had 2 casters, not four, so they wouldn't stand up without the middle section.  Thirty seconds after I realized that, I was on my way to Rona to buy 4 more casters.

Except, of course, I made the desk 25 years ago, and I suspect the casters were scavenged from somewhere by my dad, so they were even older. Rona had nothing the same size, so I removed 2 casters from one side and put 4 new casters on that side, then moved the 2 from that side onto the other side. Simple to do, and now most of the desk is downstairs (and one side remains upstairs).

It wasn't a super busy day, but I got a lot done.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wednesday Walk

As I've mentioned before, the gym at work has classes at noon. I usually do the classes, but I don't really like the Wednesday class. I used to go anyway, but I don't like it, so I stopped.

That doesn't mean I don't want a break, though, so now that it's (finally) nice, I've decided to start going for walks on Wednesdays.

Today I walked over to Dow's Lake to see the last of the tulips.

The pictures turned out better than expected, considering that I can hardly see my phone display in the sun. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The saga continues

Remember the table saga? 

After I got the desk together, I realized that the black futon from the other bedroom would look good in that room. It made sense, too - the newly painted room is bigger than the other room.

Except ... my mom is bringing my nieces and my cousin's two girls this summer. It makes sense to put the three girls in the bigger bedroom. But if I moved the futon, there would be no bed in the smaller room. I'm fine with the girls sleeping on air mattresses, but is didn't think my mom would appreciate it.

Ok, move the futon, and get another bed for the small room.

But before I could put a new bed in that room, I had to paint.


I spent a couple of nights painting, and then I went back to IKEA. I came home with a day bed. Wanda and I spent a couple of days putting it together.

Next I had to figure out the windows. When I painted the smaller bedroom, I took down some white blinds. They could go back up, so I started hanging the brackets.

One broke.

Did you know Home Depot sells extra brackets? Neither did they, but they helped me find them, anyway. I came home and hung the blinds, then decided to make roman blinds to go over them. I found these instructions:

I went out and bought fabric, and wood, and the rings for the back, but the fabric wasn't wide enough, so I decided to make a scalloped edge - something like this:

On Sunday, I started making the first set of blinds. At 6:30, I realized I didn't buy eyelet screws. Naturally, this was the day before the holiday.

Tonight I stopped on the way home to buy them, and I finished the first blind.

I can't decide if I like the soft look or if I want more structure on the next one.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A very productive weekend

There is a tree right beside my driveway. Over the years, it has gotten bigger, as trees do, until it reached a point where it was invading the driveway space. 

If I parked the car beside it, Wanda would complain that I parked her in a tree. It made mowing the lawn difficult as well.

Today I cut off the lower branches so that I can now walk under the tree.

Wanda came out and helped me cut up and bundle the branches for pickup. 

And as you can see, there's still a lot of tree left.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Something is afoot

A couple of weeks ago, I went to buy new runners. This is always a challenge. They need to be cross-trainers, not too heavy, with a relatively flat bottom. Oh, and they have to fit.

Let me back up a little.

When I was in grade seven, my mom bought me a pair of size eight runners so that I could grow into them. I never did. I remained size 7, and wore out those too big shoes. In fact, sometimes 6.5 worked just fine.

Anyway, when the salesperson asked what size I wore, I said 7. She suggested that she measure me, which she did. She came up with normal width, size 7.5.

Oddly, that's what happened last summer when I bought shoes for work, so when I ended up with 7.5s again, I actually started to wonder whether shoe companies had randomly changed their sizes.

And then I came home and put the new shoes beside the old ones. They are noticeably bigger.

I don't understand why they both fit.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

It started with a table

It started with a table. 

A few years ago, I decided to replace my kitchen table. I wanted a new one, and the chairs that came with the old table were wearing out.

I got the new table, but the charity that came to take the old table & chairs wouldn't take the table because one of the nuts that holds the top to the legs is seized, so the table is hard to transport.

I put the table in the former  spare room (which had been mostly empty since the bed was moved when Wanda moved in) and used it as a sewing table.

As you can see, it was hardly ideal for that purpose, and it takes up a lot of space. About a month ago, I decided it was time to get rid of it. I went online, and discovered that IKEA sells a shelf/desk combo that would be perfect.

Last week, I went and checked it out in person. The model had 8 compartments, but I was able to confirm the larger shelf (with 16 compartments) would work fine. I bought the pieces and brought it home.

That was Tuesday.

On Wednesday, it occurred to me that painting around the desk would be difficult. I'd either have to live with the paint that was on the walls, or paint before I put the desk together.

Since the boxes for the desk were sitting in the middle of the living room, there wasn't much room for procrastinating.  And we were about to go in to a long weekend where stores would be closed two out of three days.

I went on to the Benjamin Moore website and started looking at colours. I found a few I liked and started playing with their sample rooms. Specifically, I looked at how the colours looked on rooms with black furniture, since the desk I just bought was black. 

The winning colour was Tangelo, with French Vanilla trim. I bought the paint Thursday night.

Friday morning, I cleaned out the room and started to paint. I got two coats done on the ceiling and three on the trim (because the trim doesn't meet the ceiling, so I didn't need to wait for the ceiling to dry.)

Saturday morning I started on the walls. I got about 3/4 of a coat of primer done before Wanda got home from her exam. She helped me finish a second coat of primer and two of paint.

Today I cleaned up the newspaper and washed the floor, then I started on the desk. It was surprisingly easy to put together, although I did have to get Wanda to help me again.

I think the room looks pretty good.

Now all that's left is to put the rest of the stuff back in it.

Oh, and to get rid of that table.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Rag quilt

About a year and a half ago, my Pathfinders made pajamas.  There were some leftover flannel scraps, and I also made pajamas for a bunch of people that Christmas, so I had enough flannel that I needed to do something with it - but nothing big, because the pieces I had weren't big enough to do much with.

I decided to make a rag quilt.

First, I cut squares of flannel.  I also cut squares of polar fleece, because I had lots of scraps of that left from various projects.  I put one piece of fleece between two  pieces of flannel and sewed intersecting diagonal lines across the square. I kept the flannel the same on both sides for ease of assembly later.

I then assembled the squares into blocks of 4 squares.

Squares and blocks

I then cut the seams down, and assembled the blocks into rows. I had 6 rows of 5 blocks each.

I sewed the 6 rows together. Cue more seam trimming.

Quilt before binding

I couldn't leave the edge like that, but there was no way on earth I was going to trim it. My hand is bruised enough as it is. I decided to bind the edges.

A YouTube tutorial later, the binding was done. Here's the finished product from both sides.

Seam side down
Seam side up
Not bad for a bunch of fabric scraps.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Don't think about pink elephants

My boxing classes take place on the gallery above a pool run by the city. We all use the same change rooms.

Recently, two signs were posted in the change room. The first one prohibits the possession of any device capable of taking pictures, including cell phones.

You can imagine how well people comply with that one.

The second sign prohibits taking pictures in the change room. Despite the fact that it's much more reasonable, every time I see it, I want to take a picture of it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Smart Alec

I'm a bit of a smart alec at the gym.

(Please ignore the chorus of people saying I'm a smart alec anywhere.)

Three days a week, I have an instructor who finds it amusing. It's a very joke-y class in general, and having fun distracts us from how hard we are working.

During Tuesday's class, we ended with a foam roller stretch. They look like Nerf toys, but they are very serious. You sit/lie/roll on the roller to release muscle tension - and, if you're me, you spend most of the session trying not to fall off. The theory is that if you find a place that hurts more than usual, you concentrate your efforts on that muscle.

Yes, it's just as fun as it sounds.

Anyway, that's when this happened:
Instructor: "and, if you find a place that's uncomfortable, just stay there."
Me: "With all due respect, that's terrible life advice."

He laughed.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Today would have been my Gitrandma's 95th birthday. She died almost 20 years ago, on Christmas Eve.

(When I was a kid, my cousins and I used to sing "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer". We didn't sing it that year.)

This improperly-scanned picture was taken in September of 1994. Grandma was sick, but she was just beginning to notice symptoms. 

The picture was taken the day we celebrated my grandparents' 55th anniversary.

Earlier that year, I spent a week out at the farm with them. I helped them paint the kitchen and shampoo the carpets, and while I was there Grandma and I went through some of her old pictures.

There was one of her mother, who had moved to New York State in the 30s and ended up driving a bus. There were pictures of their old horses - Grandpa knew exactly what horses they were. There were her wedding pictures, and she told me that she and Grandpa got married in the afternoon even though they couldn't eat before hand (because at the time, you couldn't eat at all before receiving communion). They couldn't get married in the morning, because if they did they'd have to feed their guests two meals, and they couldn't afford to do that. She had several pictures - a few where they looked nice, and one where the wind was blowing her veil and dress around.

We were planning to get them a clock with family picture on it for their anniversary, so I stealthily pocketed some of the pictures. I wasn't stealthy enough, because every time I stole the nice wedding picture, she found it and took it back.

The clock has the windy picture on it.

It might have been that visit when I asked her whether she was born in the morning or the afternoon (because of the whole April Fool's thing). She didn't know - in her day, she said, kids didn't ask those questions.

Happy birthday, Grandma. No fooling.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The plumbing post

Last ... well, let's say last fall - water started backing up out of the floor drain every time I did laundry.

I solved it by wearing shoes.

Well, maybe "solved" isn't really the word.

In December, I finally called a plumber, but things didn't fall into place until January.  He came, and realized he needed a bigger cable to snake the pipe, so he had to come back again.

He arrived again near the end of January and snaked the pipe, but it didn't work.  He said that it felt like the pipe narrowed outside of the house and I should call the city.

I didn't.

You see, the city would need access to the main clean-out pipe, and the people who'd owned the house before me put a handy wall in front of the clean-out pipe.  The wall needed to be modified, and I had camp, and then I was away, and then a friend was in town, and I just didn't have time to deal with it.

I continued wearing shoes, as that was a much easier solution.

As I mentioned, I cut a hole in the wall on the weekend, so Monday I called the city. 

They asked if I was going to be home for the next three hours. I said no, and they said I needed to call when I was going to be home for 3 hours - and I could call after hours, because they work then.

Yesterday, I got home from work by 5 and called, and they suggested I call back today because it wasn't an emergency. (It wasn't an emergency on Monday, either.)  She gave me the extension of the right department so I didn't have to call the general line.  I don't blame the woman I talked to yesterday - I was totally fine with calling back, but it would have been nice to get better information the first time.

This morning, I called the extension she gave me at 7:30, because that's when she had told me they opened. They called back at 9:45. On the bright side, they had someone here by noon.

He experimented and determined that the issue wasn't outside of the house - it was inside.

Despite the going in circles, this was good news - digging up a pipe sounds expensive. Before he left, he explained what kind of equipment was needed to fix this - basically, it's a snake with a blade on the end.

(Um, plumbing snake, not a live snake. That would be both scary and ineffective.)

I emailed plumber #1 and he said he didn't have the right equipment. He suggested plumber #2. I called plumber #2. He arrived at 5:45 and left at 6:45.

It's fixed.

I'm totally doing laundry in my socks this weekend.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Getting things done

As much fun as the cruise was, there was one part I didn't enjoy.  The day after we were in Mexico, my sinuses went into overdrive.  The nasty side-effect was that I started coughing. It was a terrible-sounding cough - which is not fun when you're in public places.

Or any other time, really.

I got back and gave it a couple of weeks. It didn't improve.

I googled it, and found out that dairy can make it worse, so I cut out my morning yogurt. That was about 2.5 weeks ago.

Yesterday I started feeling better.  I can breathe normally, and I cough a lot less.

As a result, I got a lot done this weekend.  Nothing too exciting - cut a hole in a wall to get at the plumbing clean out (more on that later), put up some hooks that fell down in ... September, I think? Made buns. Flipped the mattress on my bed (and, coincidentally, found a sock in the pillow case I was taking off the bed and a dishcloth in the sheet I was putting on the bed).

Little things, mostly, that I haven't gotten around to doing in a while.

It was a good weekend.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Is anyone else obsessed with this missing plane?

To recap, on Friday Malaysian air traffic control lost track of a plane.

It's 5 days later, and no one knows where it is or what happened.

Here's what they know:
- There was, at one point, a plane
- It is not in the air right now
- There were no calls of distress between those two situations

Here's what they don't know:
- Where it was last detected
- Whether it crashed over water or land or not at all
- Whether it was intact when it stopped flying
- What country it was nearest when whatever happened happened
- What happened to the people on the plane

Crackpot theories (and a few that might be true):
- the plane randomly turned around and flew in the other direction for a while
- or not
- the plane was on fire
- the plane was hit by a meteorite
- or vaporized into nothing
- or is being held hostage somewhere unspecified
- the Malaysian government is covering up what happened
- the US government captured everything via its satellites, but doesn't want to share it because they'd have to admit what their satellites are capable of
- it might be terrorism
- but probably not

It seems like the world is too big to hide a plane that size, but, of course, it's not. There is a lot of water out there, and a lot of parts of the world aren't heavily populated. (Of course, if you were going to deliberately  hide a plane, I'd suggest a major airport. It would blend right in.)

The odds are that the plane crashed into the ocean, killing everyone on board - which is terrible, of course, but would be easier to accept if there was any sort of physical evidence to back it up.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Thoughts from the grocery store at 9:30 on a Friday night

There are a lot of people here.

And kids. Who brings a three year old to a grocery store at 9:30 at night? Way to ruin your Saturday.

And some of the shelves look like a starving army just went by. Although that wouldn't explain why they're out of vinegar. What would an army do with vinegar? Make little fake volcanos?

Why does the milk case alway smell like spoiled milk? Don't they ever clean it?

If you want your two year old to wear his mitts. You say "it's time to put on your mitts", not "do you want to wear your mitts?" 

So the only checkout is about to close, but the store is open 24 hours? How does that work?

I want bananas, but they're all the way down at the other end. ... I don't need them that badly.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Today is not my niece's birthday

Of course, yesterday wasn't, either.

But even though it's not her real birthday, I thought it was worth taking a look back at the last ten years.

The first time I ever flew with Miss B was when she was coming to visit me in Ottawa. I'd been in Brandon for my aunt and uncle's 50th anniversary, and B and her mom came back with me.

Here's a picture from that trip:

The first time she came to Ottawa.

She was 5 months old, and opinionated, and if she didn't approve of what was going on, she'd cry. Interestingly, she'd stop crying if you pointed a camera at her. (Yes, she's the first grandchild.)

"Come on! I can't go swimming by myself!"
The next time she came to visit me was about a year later. She couldn't talk yet, but she could make it very clear that she wanted to go to the beach. (We went to Andrew Haydon park, and when she saw the water, she started pointing and trying to take off her shoes.)

She kept coming to visit me (and Auntie Wanda, who she claims is her favourite), and it's amazing how much she's grown.

And then a couple of weeks ago, I took the second flight I've ever taken with her, and we went to Florida. Well, you've already heard that story.

Happy birthday, B. Welcome to double digits.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

So apparently there's this mouse....

Last week, I went on a Disney cruise.

My entire family went, actually. We all met in Toronto on Saturday and flew to Miami. We got in the night before the cruise, and spent the night at an airport hotel. Amazingly, we were across the street from the back of the airport, but I didn't hear any planes the entire time we were there.

On Sunday morning, we boarded the ship. We got on board around 12:30, and our rooms weren't ready until 1:30, so we went for lunch with all of our carry-on luggage. It was a relief when our rooms were ready.

There were seven of us between the two rooms, and luckily we had adjoining rooms, so we were able to visit freely.  There were a few differences from other ships I've been on.  First of all, there were two single beds (or one double bed) in each room. There was also a couch, which turned into a third bed, and a pull-down bunk for the fourth person in the room. A curtain divided the couch/upper bunk area from the other beds.  That meant the room was larger than some others I've been in.

The second difference was the bathroom. There were two in each room.  One had the toilet and a sink, and the second had a shower/bathtub and a sink. The other ships I've been in had one bathroom with a toilet, sink, and shower - no bathtub.

The third difference was the amount of storage in the room. There were lots of drawers and cupboards for clothes.

The rest of the ship had differences, too. there were four different kids clubs - 0-3, 3-11, 11-14, and 14-17, I think. That took up most of one deck. (My niece was in the 3-11 group - she went once, but didn't like it because there was no one her age.)

There were two theatres - one for live shows, and one for movies. (I saw Frozen and Saving Mr. Banks. Both were really well done.) There were three pools on deck 9 - a kids pool with waterslide, an adult-only pool, and a family pool (deeper than the kids pool) right beside the outdoor movie screen, which played older Disney movies. If they had designed the ship strictly to make my niece happy, they couldn't have done better than to create a place where she could watch movies and swim at the same time. (Sadly, Up was on at a time when I was unable to trick my niece into watching it.)

They also had a room specifically dedicated to board games, which allowed my niece to beat me at chess one morning.

And the final difference was that they had three sit-down restaurants, and we rotated between the three restaurants, keeping the same wait staff every night. 

We had the 8:15 dining time, which was late, but while other ships had the early dining watch the show while the late seating was eating, and then the late seating watch the show after that, Disney does the show for the late seating while the early seating is eating, and then reverses it later.

The other difference was, of course, the number of children on board. It definitely made for a different experience, and it was hard to find  place to sit quietly without going to an adult-only area.

I was surprised at how many activities started at 10 or 11 pm. I don't know how they were, because that is far too late for me. Even character appearances were happening after I was in bed.

(And on that note, the character appearances were a big part of the entertainment. Since I wasn't really interested in that, I missed the variety of activities found on other cruise lines.)

And back to the restaurant - the first night, I asked if there were peppers in the food I was ordering, and my waiter went into full allergy alert - which would be good if I were severely allergic, but trace amounts are fine, and it was a pain to have to pre-order my food for the next day every meal.

So anyway, we left Miami on Sunday. Monday was a day at sea, and Tuesday we went to Cozumel, Mexico.

Mayan Ruins, Cozumel
The thatched roof is to protect the ruins

We went to see some Mayan ruins.  They were interesting (as was our guide) but I wish I'd heard more stories about what the ruins might have been used for.  (He did share some, I just wanted more.)

After the ruins, we went to tequilla tasting, then the Discover Mexico Cultural Center. The tequilla tasting was interesting, but the cultural center was disappointing. I'm not sure whether it was that we passed through the building quickly en route to lunch, or whether there just wasn't much there.

They did do a demo of people swinging from ropes, but I don't know why they do that or what it is supposed to mean, unless it's a life insurance-selling scheme.

After our tour ended, we wandered through the shops of Cozumel. It's a bartering town, which I love, and I bought my niece a charm bracelet and a few other things.

 Wednesday we were at sea again, and Thursday we went to Disney's private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.

Four of us decided to do a kayaking expedition, which was fun (although it's a hard position to sit in for an extended period of time).

While we kayaked, the other three went to the beach, and we joined them after our expedition.

I may have gotten a little sunburned. Specifically, where my shoulders meet my neck, and the inside of one entire arm.  I don't know how or why.

Friday was the end of our cruise, and we decided to do a hop-on, hop-off tour with the ship. The big advantage was that they would store our luggage for us, so we wouldn't have to drag it through the city.

We did the city tour, but unfortunately didn't have time to do the beach tour as well. We made our way to the airport and checked in, only to find our flight was delayed.

And then we got on the plane, and listened as the pilot came on and explained that when the plane was refueled, they'd put the fuel in the wrong tanks, and the engine couldn't read the fuel level or use that fuel, so they had to transfer it. (Question: why would you put fuel tanks on a plane if the plane couldn't use any fuel in those tanks? Something isn't right there.)

We got into Toronto late.

In fact, we landed after our Ottawa flight took off, about 45 minutes before the Regina flight left. We made our way through customs and went to the Connections desk, only to find out that we'd all missed our flights.

The Regina group was given hotel rooms and replacement tickets for Sunday night (2 days later), and Wanda and I were given tickets for Saturday morning and told we could try to fly standby at 10 on Friday night if we wanted to.

My niece was devastated, and everyone started scrambling trying to make other arrangements..

Wanda and I went and got food with the vouchers we were given, and miraculously got seats on the Friday flight. We made it home around midnight - only about 17 hours after we got off the ship.

The Regina group got up Saturday morning to get back to the airport to try for standby flights. One of them made it only the first flight of the day, and the rest made it home late last night.