2007-12-31

Just one more post

I can't end my first year of blogging on an odd number. So, here is post #40! Yeah, an exciting number isn't it? Well, the post may not be any more exciting.

My cousin Leah of The Goat's Lunch Pail, is to blame for my becoming aware of blogging. She inspired me (all unknowingly of course) to try it myself. I very quietly started on another blog site and whined and bitched. Once I got that out of my system and wrote a post that I thought would be worthy of sharing, I told my sister (she has managed 61 in less time than I). She in turn told cousin Leah. By this time I was getting very frustrated with the other site, so thought I might like to try it over here where other people might actually find me.

Lo and behold they did! They even seem to like what I write sometimes.

So, to all of my new found blog friends I would like to wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year! I will leave you with something to laugh at.



Kai - My Standard Poodle




Sibu wondering what Kai is guarding.



Kalon, a friends Siamese with Sibu at about two years.


Shadow, braver than Sibu, getting the bone in an unguarded moment.


Good Afternoon!

2007-12-29

Time speeds up

Or at least it seems to. We have all at some point in our lives noticed the phenomenon of this. After all, wasn't it just last month we were celebrating spring, how can it be New Years already? Well, maybe not spring, but you get the picture.

Remember as children, the year seemed to stretch forever, summer especially? You could hardly remember everything you did in the past year, you were able to do so much more than you can now.

You managed to get in skating and making snow forts having snow ball fights, making snow angels, then before you were tired of that, you got to see the snow melt away. Then you were anxiously awaiting clear roads so you could get your bike out and the freedom that gave you. You explored the trees across the road, down by the reservoir where you waited for the pussy willows to show up and looked for wild crocuses in the field.

Then there came summer! Wow, you could spend hours in the cool shade of the trees by the water, finding driftwood and the odd bottle or bottle cap. You could walk over to the swimming pool, the reservoir was dangerous, you didn't swim there because a neighbourhood child drowned there. If you didn't feel like either of those, the schoolyard was a couple blocks away and they had jungle gyms and monkey bars! The real ones, not these mamby pamby things kids play on nowadays! Nothing but good hard packed dirt if you fell! And boy was it hard!

If you had a quarter, you could walk to the corner store which was on the other side of the school yards and get a pop, then take the bottle back and with the refund and the change left over from the pop, you could buy candy.

At some point over the summer, the Wally Byam Caravan would pull into town and take over the two schoolyards! I don't know if I spelled the name correctly, I think so. It was a group of campers that traveled together and they would set up for a few days each summer and then be gone! They were mostly from the U.S. but I think there were a few from Canada as well. My Sister and I (as shy as we were) would go and look at all the different trailers and license plates from all the different states. We would marvel over the Airstreams, they were so shiny and pretty and we would even meet some people.

There was so much to do in summer, you looked for garter snakes in the field, we even found one once and where one had shed it's skin. You had to look for those stink bombs too! Sing silly songs and learn to call seagulls, make squeaky noises with the long grass and try to learn to whistle with your fingers.

Then the days would get shorter and colder and mom would take us shopping for school clothes and we would start school. You would help make your costume for hallow e'en and run around getting candy, quite often in snow, certainly in the cold. Then you would start in on making snow angles and forts and having snow ball fights. Help with decorating the house for Christmas and shopping and baking and getting out of the way for Mom and Dads big party! The party was held between Christmas and New Years and involved all the musicians Mom & Dad knew. My sister covered the party in more detail in her blog over at Bag Lady's Blather.

That was what a year used to be like, now it is more like:

Winter, grumble, grumble, hate cold.
Spring finally! Damn more snow! Start seeds, plant seeds.
Water plants, deadhead flowers, wish you had a house again.
Oh, was that summer, put away the outdoor furniture.
Winter, ugg Christmas crowds! I'm not ready! It is New Years!


So, how fast does the year change for you?

Happy New Year everyone, I hope it is all you want it to be and more.

Good Morning.

2007-12-25

Yeah! Leah's at home!

That's right folks - Leah (The Goat's Lunch Pail) is back at home as of last night! I only just read the email, so my apologies for not posting sooner.

She informs me that as soon as she has caught up on the blogs, she will be posting herself. Probably within a couple of days.

Merry Holidays all!

2007-12-23

Leah update

Hello all! I just got back from the hospital. Leah looks much better, and wants to go home! They stuck the camera down her throat to do the test and the next thing she knew she was back in her room. It sounds like they did not flat line her, but gave her a jolt anyway, which got everything back into rhythm.

They are keeping her over the weekend, as I think I already mentioned, to do a MRI on Monday. One of her nurses today indicated that tomorrow will be soooo busy, trying to squeeze 3 days worth of patients in on one day, that it may not happen until Thursday! He was going to check and make sure she was on the appointment list, not the wait list and let her know. He hadn't found out by the time I left, so we are all just to will hers to be the first MRI of the day, so that the results come back early and then she can get on home!

She thinks the MRI, is so they will have a base line, if this ever happens again and to see if it will tell them anymore about why this happened.

She has had lots of visitors bringing food so that she doesn't have to eat the hospital cardboard mystery meat, overcooked veggies & weak broth etc. and is very happy to hear the well wishes from all of you great bloggers.

I know she is looking forward to telling her tale herself (and will be much better at it than I) so I will leave it at that.

Thank you all for your good wishes for Leah and here's hoping you all have a healthy Merry Holiday!

Christmas Trees Past & Present






This first tree is what we did this year at my friends house. Minimal decorations, coloured lights, of course the angel and lots of tinsel!


















This is what the trees at her house usually look like. Minimal tinsel, coloured lights, lots of decorations, garland and of course and angel (this is from a few years ago).















This was my house about '96 I think, artificial tree, I always have a Star and it looks like this year I did a white theme.














This was my favorite tree, probably '97, I changed all the bulbs to red (what a pain) and made angels out of mom's old hankies, ribbon and small styrofoam balls. Filled in with a few other white decorations and beads and then used tons of baby's breath instead of tinsel.











Sorry for the quality of photos, I have never had anything but point & shoot cameras. You should be able to click and see them better than against this background though.

Well, I am off to visit Leah, I ran out of time yesterday, so I will post again tonight on how she is doing.

Merry Holidays to all.

2007-12-21

Won't be home for Christmas


By the looks of things, cousin Leah (of the Goat's Lunch Pail), will still be hospital Christmas day. That sucks big time! The Doctors want an MRI before they let her leave but it can't be done until after the weekend for some reason. Sure, do it on Christmas instead of the weekend!

I visited today, but she had not yet had her procedure done, it had been rescheduled for 2.00 p.m., so it was a short visit. I filled her in on blog-land and all the kind thoughts and wishes coming her way. She is so happy to get them and misses blogging very much.

When I got back home later in the afternoon, her husband had called and left a message telling me that everything had gone well. He was on his way to their home to pick up a few necessities of life and will be back in the morning.

Of course my ever-so-important job is weekends, but, I will still try to stop by and she how she is doing. I will of course keep you all informed as to progress. They moved her from a private to a semi-private last night, so I have to be more careful using my phone to access the web.

Good Evening All!

2007-12-20

Update on Cousin Leah


I just spent the afternoon today with Leah (The Goat's Lunch Pail). She is in good spirits and can't wait for her reboot. The Doctors still don't know why this happened, but she is breathing more normally now and so feels better. The top two areas of her heart are in arrhythmia and not pumping as they should be, but the bottom two are doing just fine. She has a test in the morning and if it is good they will try to reboot her, by flat lining her, then shocking her hopefully resetting her heart to have all four areas in a normal rhythm.

If all goes well, she should be back home by Saturday and will take great pleasure in posting all about the procedures and showing photos. I will be dropping by the hospital again tomorrow, so any more good wishes will be passed along then.

I read all of the good wishes posted on the various sites and she was very glad to receive them and can't wait to get back to blogging. She was going into withdrawal, so it is a good thing I got that new phone. And it has a camera!

Good evening all.

2007-12-19

Decorating - the post I meant to write

Decorating at our house has never occurred before the 15th of December. That is my Sister's birthday and being so close to Christmas it wasn't right to be decorated for the holidays while celebrating her birthday.

My urban family also doesn't decorate early, the Sunday before Christmas, or as in this year, the Sunday before that. EJ, would have a decorating party, inviting Aunts, friends and family to come and decorate and have supper and it was a lot of fun. Over the years, however, the parties have shrunk, through deaths and disagreements. These things happen.

This year so much has changed in everyones lives and the tree we picked out was not what we usually get, we decided to change things up a bit as far as decorating too.

This was the first year that we had picked up a tree that was wrapped, very nervous we were, as sometimes the trees don't look very good once they are unwrapped. (Sorry stuck a little Yoda in there!) The University of Alberta Forestry Programme has a tree lot, which is where we got the tree, the Forestry student told us it was a Douglas Fir. Douglas Firs have short needles and widely spaced branches for good ornament placement. When the tree arrived at EJ's house and the wrapping was cut off, they discovered it was in fact a Balsam Fir (the tag said so), it has short needles, but it is so full of branches that they are not really good for ornaments. And they are very pitchy trees - I don't think that is a word, but, I have never been so covered in pitch from putting up tree lights. (new LED lights this year)

So, this beautiful tree, is much fuller than normal meaning we need to find a new placement for it. Much discussion later, we rearrange furniture and place the tree, have supper, get the lights on and the Angel and by this time it is time for me to go home. I went back on Monday and we put on a few decorations and started the tinsel/icicle stuff and I will be going back today to finish the tinsel/icicle stuff.

This will be a very different tree from what normally gets done at her house, in fact it will be down right minimalistic. I will post a photo later if I am able and maybe some from years past for comparison.

So, do you decorate in the same manner year after year, adding new ornaments as you get them, but never changing the basic placement? Or do you mix it up every year? Do you have a theme tree that you change every few years? Real or artificial trees?

2007-12-17

Decorating


We have all discussed how awful it is that the retailers start decorating for the holidays the day after Halloween these days. So I won't go there. I find it equally silly that people decorate their houses in November as well. In the frozen north, yes, put up the lights when it is warm, but for heavens sake, you don't need to put out your lawn decorations yet! You certainly don't need to turn the lights ON until December at least. Well, it is your power bill I realize that, but it also pulls on the power grid. Making power for you to turn your lights on earlier, puts more pollutants into the air here in Alberta, in other provinces, it means using more water through the dams or putting more uranium into the nuclear plant. This goes for the whole world actually.

Alberta's Premier this year decided to not turn on the lights at the Legislature until 7.00 p.m. in an effort to reduce power usage. Last year, they changed all the lights over to LED to also save on electricity. I think this is a good effort to
show the population that you can still enjoy the season, but also show a little restraint. Of course, I am not sure how much of a dent it will really make in the power grid at this time of year, but someone has to lead the way.

In Edmonton, the power company, years ago, started something called Bright Lights. They set up lighted Christmas displays in one of the city parks, and charge a fee that goes (mostly) to the food bank and I think the Christmas Bureau (gifts to the less fortunate). They have big companies sponsor the various displays and it is truly amazing.




There is an area in the city where the residents got carried away trying to out-decorate each other, which has morphed into "Candy Cane Lane". Once again, the power company comes out and helps them get enough power to light all the displays (without setting off the breakers in the houses or blacking out part of the city). The residents now all cooperate in this - they pay their own power bills, (one home owner on the news one year indicated that it cost about $2000.00) but they also collect food for the food bank. It is an older neighbourhood, so the streets are quite narrow (especially with snow clogging them), so when traffic got so backed up that the city had to send out traffic cops, they decided to send buses instead. Your fee - donation to the food bank. You can also park nearby and walk through, again, bring food.

Now both of these serve the greater good, but at what expense? The ideas are probably practiced elsewhere as well, but when is someone going to realize that year round rolling brown outs are not what we are aiming for?




















The pictures are from a few years ago at the Bright Lights, the top one, moves, the elves throw gifts into the stocking, there is another balloon, they alternate lighting, Santa waves, the bear pulls a fish from the water, the moose doesn't do anything and I can't remember what Aladdin does, but he moves too. There are so many more displays, that even if I had good pictures of them I wouldn't have space to display them. It is really fascinating to walk through and see them all.

This is so not what I was
going to post today, but, oh well! No I am not a grinch, I love the displays.






2007-12-15

For my Sister on her 1/2 century

Happy Birthday!
Awesome Graphics at pYzam.com

I love you and wish we were closer.

Have a good day!

2007-12-14

'Tis the Season

To be baking! Alright, I know those aren't the words, but it is true nonetheless.

Mom made the best pie crusts in the world! She often bemoaned that fact that they were too flakey and wouldn't hold together. A bit of history is required here. Mom was the seventh daughter, I am thinking, by the time she came along, there were already too many cooks in the kitchen, so she never learned to cook at her mothers knee. Before she married our Dad, she says she made sandwiches and that was about it. Our Dad, was the seventh son (is there a pattern going on here? Yes, but that is another post, or maybe one my Sister will tackle) and he did learn to cook, I am not sure it was at his mothers knee, but he taught our mom some basics and the rest she learned by trial and error.

She got a lot of her recipes directly from the back of boxes, Tenderflake pie crusts, Shortbread from the Cornstarch box, you get the idea. Over the years Mom's talent grew as did her recipe collection, not many people can follow a recipe and have it turn out so well. I know this because everyone raved about Mom's pie crusts and cookies and cakes and squares and so on. They would then take the recipe and follow it and then next time they saw Mom would ask for her secret.

The first time I lived away from home, I thought it would be nice if I could make Shortbread cookies to bring home for Christmas, so phoned and got the recipe & secrets from Mom. So, here I am merrily mixing ingredients in my barely ever used bowl, with my hardly ever used wooden spoon, when SNAP! The damned handle on my wooden spoon broke! I called Mom. What else do you do when your spoon breaks in the batter? She told me not to worry, just pick out the wood pieces and use another spoon! So, I get all the tiny splinters out and grab another spoon (I am sure that Mom started making a batch at home to serve guests, but if she did, she never told me) and proceed to mix in the second last cup of flour. SNAP! Oh shit! So, I pick out the splinters yet again and decide it it time to use my bare hands. This was in the '80's folks, artificial nails a mile long!

Well, I got the cookies made. Mom had told me that the recipe made about 4 dozen cookies. I managed to make 90 cookies - that is 7 and a half dozen. The funny thing is to me they looked the same size as the ones Mom made. The following year I snapped another spoon and made 120 cookies. The year after that for my birthday, I was given a set of nylon/plastic spoons - I don't really know what they are made from, but they don't break and I still have them. I still manage between 80 and 100 cookies from this recipe too, I can't seem to make them any bigger.

I will tell you in my next post why this year I won't be baking.

Good afternoon all.

2007-12-12

When you eat your Smarties,

Do you eat the red ones Last?
Do you suck them very slowly ,
or crunch them very fast?

I can't remember the rest of the words, but I don't really need to now do I?

For our American friends, Smarties, in Canada (and the rest of the world actually) are a candy coated milk chocolate confection similar to m&m's made by Nestle's.

I am reminding everyone of the old jingle, simply because it was posted on (yes, you guessed it) Facebook. The discussion led to some interesting results.

Several people admitted to eating the red ones last, eating the colours in the order they are found in the rainbow, having to have even numbers within the colours, counting all of them and eating those colours with the most down to where they are all even then eating them in rainbow order or some other arbitrary order. I admit that I eat the red ones first, just to be contrary.

This package, by the way, seems to have been a little colour saturated, they look more burgundy than red. No, it is not just my crappy camera.

It was quite amusing to read the responses to what is essentially just a jingle. Did the obsession come from the jingle? Or did some advertising guru observe his kids saving the red ones for last?

They all taste exactly the same. Unless apparently you are in the UK, where the orange ones use orange flavoured chocolate. Of course I am referring to the original product not the revolting Sundae Flavoured type they came out with a few years ago.

The discussion also went on to describe some interesting methods of eating the candy. Most seem to suck it slowly, some to crunch, but a fair number indicated that they let them melt enough to soften the shell, then crack it in order to let the chocolate melt too.

So, did the jingle make you into a borderline OCD personality? Do you have to eat the colours in a certain order? Do you crunch?

Good evening all.

2007-12-11

Jigsaw Puzzles

We have a tradition in our family of doing Jigsaws over the Christmas Holidays. I don't know how or when this started being the youngest, but we have done it as long as I can remember.

We have over the years tried to top each other with who can find the hardest puzzle to do as well! This has resulted in sharpening of skills and some very wicked puzzles. Some of which, due to us children living in other cities, resulted in mom being the one left to finish the harder ones alone. Dad wasn't much for doing puzzles, but he kept us fed with turkey sandwiches and desserts and would come in occasionally, usually when we were stuck and just pick up a piece and put it where it belonged. Drove us nuts most of the time.

We have done puzzles that were insane: one was solid green and round; one was called Spilled Milk, came in a milk carton, had a wavy edge and eleven extra pieces - of course, was all white. We did a puzzle that was all holographic gold - no picture. We did Hay in a Needlestack, Zebras, polar bears in snow. So many, I will stop now, you get the idea.

One Christmas, a friend of Mom & Dad's (who is not a very good sport) thought he had found a puzzle that would keep us going for days. He was rather disappointed when a couple of hours later, we came out to the living room where they were visiting, with the puzzle finished to show it off. It was one of the Hallmark ones that hold together so well, so we were able to carry it out and show them - the one with the pretty marbles.

So, in the spirit of Christmas, I have posted a puzzle here (courtesy of Jig Zone) on the bottom of my blog. Average time was just over 12 minutes, I did it in under 9 - have fun! (I couldn't get it positioned elsewhere without covering my posts.)

2007-12-05

How do you...?

...all find the hours in a day to blog and read other peoples blogs and still work?

And then exercise on top of that? Do you all have Laptops? Or do you use your cell phones to access the blogs? Can you use your cell phones that way? (Mine is very old but still works, so maybe it is time to upgrade?)

I have been covering while the boss is away, so am working full time hours. Now, this job, is really not a busy job and would be even less so if it were actually computerized properly. The boss has just talked the owner into a computer and internet, but, not into any sort of property management program that would keep track of everything. I am in the process of trying to write a database (just a mickey mouse affair) to do some of the stuff we do by hand. Yes, you read that correctly - by hand!

So, I am getting paid minimum wage to do a job that any programmer would charge $30 - $40.00/hour for. I figure it serves two purposes, I brush up my skills (which are sadly out of shape) and it looks good on a resume. Not to mention, I am doing it at my own pace, if she wants me to rush, she can pay me appropriately!

That being said, I don't have time at work to surf and read blogs and post blogs, nor do I think that is an appropriate use of my time. If I were at a job far away from where I live and stayed over the lunch hour, then I would do those things on my breaks - maybe.

So, have I totally lost my time management skills, or is there some trick I am missing that you can let me in on? Any advice would be welcome.

Good evening all.