For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Well wishes

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous year in 2006!

Friday, November 18, 2005

A lie repeated often enough...

...eventually will be perceived as truth.

Right now, anyone in Canada who doesn't know we're in election mode is either living in isolation, or in denial. Like all pre-election campaigns (official or not), the lies of our current government are already out in full force. With our PM first ridiculously admonishing the opposition parties for "politicking" (uhm.. excuse me, but you folks are politicians. Politicking is what you do!), then turning around and doing exactly the sort of manipulating he accuses them of doing, what else is new?

What alarms me is the fact that so many people still actually believe anything the Liberal party says, and that there are people who will actually vote for them. How can that possibly be? Here we have what has got to be the most corrupt government ever. It's proven beyond any doubt that they have acted illegally. They have stolen taxpayers dollars by the millions, and wasted billions more. They are utterly out of touch with ordinary Canadians, and display nothing but contempt for us. Yet they still have support. How can that be? All I can think of is that they just keep repeating their lies - and there are people out there who believe them.

One of the oft repeated lies is that Harper and the CPC are "scary." I actually had someone tell me that if the CPC ever came into power, they would set women's rights back to the dark ages. How is that even possible? It isn't, but that person was utterly convinced of this "truth."

Another lie that's being continually repeated is that voters don't want a Christmas election. Or that voters don't want to vote in the winter. (or the summer, either, apparently) After all these years of turning Christmas into a politically correct "winter holiday," banning the phrase "Merry Christmas" lest some other religious group be insulted, suddenly Christmas is so sacred, we can't have an election? Someone had better stop to smell just what it is they're shoveling. Everyone I've spoken to can hardly wait for an election. Personally, I'd hit the polling stations on Christmas Day in the middle of a blizzard, if that's what was needed to vote our current government out of office. Yet, because this lie is being repeated so often, people are actually thinking it matters. I read one letter to the editor today that astounded me. The writer blamed the opposition parties for the looming election (as if the Gomery Inquiry and two decades of Liberal corruption had nothing to do with it) and actually said that if he had to go out into the cold to vote, he would vote Liberal just to pay them (the opposition parties) a lesson. How idiotic can one get?

Right now, I just hope enough of these idiots choose to stay home rather then go out "into the cold" and vote Liberal. Then maybe - must maybe - this country can have a real government again.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Somebody won big!

Someone, somewhere in Alberta, is now $54.3 million richer.

Whenever I go online, I at least check out the headlines, and that's one that's been frequently updated today. Last I looked, they had it narrowed down to the town it was purchased in, but the winner has yet to come forward. I don't blame them (him? her?)! Can you imagine the media attention this person will get? Then all the leeches that will inevitably come out of the woodwork. This is the largest lottery jackpot in Canada's history (and it's tax free, too - in Canada, lottery winnings don't get taxed, though the interest earened on them in the bank is considerred taxable income). When I headed to the little store in our building to pick up some drinks last night, people were still coming in and buying tickets. The owner told me the lottery terminals actually shut down for an hour due to the incredible volume of purchases. In the last few hours before the cut off time for last night's draw, the estimated jackpot total of $40 million jumped $14.3 million. That's a lot of tickets! Even the lottery's website was overwhelmed by the number of people going online to check their numbers after the draw. Of course, we found that out by going online to check our own numbers. Hey, you can't win if you don't play! LOL

I must admit to being glad that the prize went to a Western province. Working at the gas station before moving here, one of my daily jobs was to restart the lottery terminal at 6 am. The very first thing that would print out the morning after a draw was how much was won and were. One thing I noticed was the winners were overwhelmingly from Ontario, followed by Quebec. It makes sense. Being the most populous provinces, the same percentage results in a significanly higher number of actual ticket sales. Still, we were always happy to see the rare times when a western or Atlantic province was listed instead. It's always nice to see the "underdog" win.

The media sure played along with the excitement as draw time came closer. Newspapers ran stories of "what you can buy with $40 million," showing multi-million dollar homes, luxury cars, and so on. A local radio station was giving away a lottery ticket for free every hour to callers.

Inevitably, there were also the "money can't buy you happiness" comments. These would be followed by stories of jackpot winners who blew their fortune and ended up miserable. The Manitoba man who committed suicide after loosing his $10 million dollar win was brought up, of course. How tacky!

Still others are saying that $40 million is "too much" money for any one person, and that it should be split up or whatever. Somehow, these people seem to think no one person "deserves" to have a lot of money - or should I say, more money than they themselves have. They sound a lot like all those letter writers telling the AB government what they should be doing with their surplus rather than sending $400 "prosperity checks" to every man woman and child in the province. After all, people might actually use the money to go out to dinner, buy drugs, or *gasp* not give it to their favourite charity. I wonder if they'd say the same thing if *they* were holding the winning ticket?

The reality is, however, that the majority of jackpot winners *don't* end up blowing their winnings while living high on the hog, then crashing and burning. When lotteries were first started, it was a problem often enough that the lottery corp. now offers the services of a financial planner to big winnder. The majority of the winners are, in fact, quite happy with their money. One interview I'd read (of a $4 million winner) told how at first, he did buy the large house and did some travelling, etc. After a while, though, he realized the house was too big for his needs, so he sold it and now lives in a smaller, more modest home. He's done the things he wanted to do, and now he lives a quiet, content life. He acknowledges being much happier after the win, what with not having to go to work anymore, not having to worry about bills, etc. This is the more common scenerio.

So, to our latest jackpot winner, I say congratulations! Enjoy your money, and don't let the naysayers make you feel guilty for not spending it on whatever pet cause they have. You have nothing to feel quilty about. Have fun!

Monday, October 24, 2005

why is it...

Today, the girls and I were out pretty much all day. The local home schoolers were meeting at a park and we made the trip out to see what was what. We had extra incentive as part of today's goal was for the teens to start organizing their own things, and my eldest, while technically not a teen, wanted to take part.

Now, we've been exploring where we live fairly thoroughly, but we've never gone out that way. I've discovered I *really* like having access to an LRT system. One train ride, one transfer, one helpful passenger giving us instructions on how to get to the park we needed to get to, and we were there. Thanks to the LRT and perfect connecting times to the bus, it wasn't *too* long, but it's still a bit of a trip. About 45 minutes. We left in the morning and got back just before evening.

Dh is a phone person. He loves talking on the phone. Me, I don't use the phone unless I actually need to call someone, and even then, I find things like email to be more efficient in actually connecting with people. Every morning, while my older daughter has her turn on the computer, Dh phones, and every morning, I'm wondering exactly what he was phoning *for.* He doesn't usually have a reason to phone, but he does anyways. Otherwise, if I'm online, we chat on MSN. This morning, he called twice, even though he knew we had to be ready and leave by a certain time. One of the calls was for him to debate outloud whether he should get me to pack his gym things and drop them off at his office on the way. Then he wanted me to send him some digital pics, etc. etc.

Now, if he needs me to get something done for him because he's at work and can't do it himself, fine. But why is it only one way? We all knew the girls and I would be home after him. He cracked jokes that we'd come home to find him playing Xbox and eating junk food. As we were on our way home, I called ahead to let him know we were enroute. He initially answered the phone very cheerfully and joked with me. Then I mentioned that the kids were telling me they were hungry and thirsty (not knowing how things were at the place we met, I didn't know to bring stuff and didn't have change for the vending machines). Well, his tone immediately dropped, and I knew his mood dropped with it. Right about then, the LRT went underground and I lost my cell phone signal and I wasn't able to call back.

When I got home, Dh was in bed. No food had prepared. He hadn't even gone into the fridge to find the sandwiches that were there. We did find the bowl of junk food he'd been eating while reading a book. As near as I can figure, my mentioning that we were hungry and thirsty depressed him enough to go to bed, which is how he deals with depressed feelings. So the girls and I had a light snack and I started on supper. We've been home for over 2 hours now, and he's still in bed. My eldest did try to go over and talk to him, wanting to tell him about the stuff she'd done, but soon left him to sleep.

So why is it okay for him to keep asking me to do all these things for him, no matter how inconvenient they might be, but just hinting that he do something for us - like feeding us - is asking too much?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Ok, I'm liking this!

One of the things to get used to again with apartment living is being able to hear all your neighbours all the time. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. Right now, as I write this, the girls and I are being treated to a live concert. On the first floor below us, there were some guys playing a guitar and singing. They have since been joined by someone playing conga drums. I've heard someone playing the congas before on another floor, but only vaguely through closed windows. Right now, they've got the windows open wide - I can't actually see them below us, so they're still inside the building - and it's been a real treat! These guys are pretty good.

You know, the more time goes by, the more I'm glad we made this move, stressful as it was to get to this point. I'm really liking it here.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Back again...

Another long time between posts, but that should be the last long break for a while. I *finally* have a computer desk, so I can actually type. Until now, the computer's been set up on boxes and bins - some of it rather precariously, I might add. Between the discomfort of using the computer as it was set up and the kids both wanting their own time on the machine, posting just wasn't happening.

Meanwhile, this desk is about the only real piece of furniture we've got, still! The family and I were going to do the rent-to-own thing to get some basic pieces. Just enough to make things a bit more comfortable, until we could save up to buy more cash-upfront. This is something we've done before about 17 years ago, when we were first starting out together, and we didn't expect any problems.

My God, how things have changed!

First of all, it's a lot more expensive than it used to be. Sure, rent-to-own cost more back when we did it last time, but it wasn't double, like it is now!!

That, however, wasn't what killed it for us. What did it was the application form. Now, this was one of those "no one turned down" deals - good credit, bad credit, everyone gets accepted. Which is what we needed, considering the ruin of our finances over the past 2 years. The form included the expected stuff - personal contact info, employment and income info, that sort of thing. Even the request for references wasn't unexpected. That at least 3 had to be family was a bit odd, but we could live with that. Then it got ridiculous.

Not only did they want the names of the references with contact information - a reasonable request - but they wanted to know what their occupations were, what their income was, who their employers were and contact info for their employers!! Excuse me??? Asking us that info, sure - we're the ones applying, after all. But to expect such detailed information about our families, too? Forget it! We'll keep sleeping on the floor, thank you very much! When the salesman came back to ask how we were doing, Dh told him (politely, I might add) just what we thought of the info they required, then tore the form up right in front of the guy. No way, no how are we going to give up our families personal information like that. Heck, I don't consider some of it any of *our* business, never mind theirs. I have no idea what the income is for *any* of my family members, nor to I want to.

So, we continue to make do. Dh and I at least have the futon mattress - the metal couch/bed frame is useless as it bent in a couple of spots in the first couple of months Dh used it. The girls have their own padded set up. During the day, the futon gets put back on the frame and we use it as a couch. We picked up a few folding chairs and that's about it. It's not the first time we've made do like this, but at least this time we know we'll be here in this apt. for about 2 years, and in our new city for even longer, so we can plan long term. The last time we went through this, we expected to be in the new city for only 6 months. We ended up being there for 2 years. Not fun!

The best thing for all this is that the car finally got reposessed. Yes, that is a good thing for us. We still don't know *why* it got reposessed. We'd made the arrangements and hadn't missed or been late for a payment since, so it was quite the surprise when Dh got a call from a sheriff. Then it gets really weird. The sheriff said he'd been looking for the car at Dh's home address and place of work. I think he had the home address correct, but the place of work was someplace none of us had ever heard of before. Then, Dh couldn't get through to the number given to him to find out why it was being reposessed, but really, we didn't care at that point. We'd told them to take the car the *last* time they threatened to reposes it, only to find out they were bluffing. Instead, Dh told the sheriff when and where he could get the car once we arrived.

When the day came, it was cleared out, the plates were off, and Dh was waiting for the sheriff to haul it away. It was probably the most peaceful rep job the guy's ever had. LOL He really didn't seem to know what to make of it. What he didn't know was that, between the inflated monthly car payments we were making, the cost of insurance, maintenance and the cost of fuel (and that's *before* the prices went freaky), loosing the car is freeing up almost $1000 a month! Since we now have rent, we really need that money. It'll go a long way to clearing up the last of our debts and getting us back on our feet. We can always get another car later on, if we need it. Until then, we have public transit, and that's good enough for us!

Friday, September 23, 2005

I'm Back!!

Finally! I'm online again!

Since my expected arrival in our new home was Sunday, my Dh made arrangements to have internet access ready for me on Monday. Only problem was - the modem didn't arrive. After making a few phone calls, he learned it got sent to his old address at the bachelor's apartment rather than the new apartment. When it still didn't show up, the IP arranged to send another one. Meanwhile, I got a call from the landlord's office today. They had the package that was sent to the wrong address. I wonder how long it's been sitting around before they got it? No matter.

At the moment, though, we still have no furniture, which means typing is incredibly uncomfortable right now, so I won't be making this a long post. I'll update on the trip out another time. For now, I just wanted to touch base.

Until next time, then...

Friday, September 16, 2005

one last post before we leave...

My phone is being disconnected sometime this afternoon, so I figured I'd make a quick post while I've got the chance! *L* Still, I shouldn't be gone long. Dh has arranged to have an internet connection set up on Monday, and we should arrive Sunday night. Sweet. :-D

This have been... exhasperating, frustrating, downright depressing... Ugh! The boxes I had sent came out to a mere 500 pounds - 1/2 of what I'd intended to send originally. Having moved those boxes and bins back and forth a few times, as well as the ones left behind, I figure I've easily got about 600 - 700 pounds waiting for a future date. And I'm still not done. It seems the more I get packed and sorted, the more I find! And I just don't know what to do with some of it. There are items that I want to bring along, but are oddly shaped and just won't fit in any of the boxes I've got left - at least nothing that I want to keep down to a decent weight! Then there's all the stuff I'm leaving that I still need to move out and put away, just so that I can clean the shelves they're in. It just feels so endless. I've made progress and there's really not much left to do, but it just *looks* like so much.

Well, ready or not, we're gone tomorrow. I hate to leave so much behind - it's just work for my parents - but I can't see myself getting it all done in time. Unfortunately, the kids are more hinderance than help. Getting them to help at all is hard enough, but I'm spending so much time explaining what they need to do (do I *really* need to tell them that they have to empty the drain tray before they can wash more dishes? Apparently so...), that I'm loosing time rather than gaining by having them "help." I can't really hold it against them, either. They're just as stressed by all this as I am.

Still, it's slowly getting done, and that's what's important.

Oh - gotta make some phone calls while I've still got a phone line, too. We're meeting family for brunch in the city on our way out, and we still haven't arranged where, yet!

So, the next time I post here, it'll be from out new home. Until then, take care!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Down to the wire...

Well, this is it. Approximately 12 hours from the time I'm typing this, a truck will arrive to pick up our boxes. I'm still packing (at least I will be, having just stopped for a few hours nap), but there is now a most definite light at the end of the tunnel. I just had to move a few boxes to see it.

The pile of stuff being left behind is definitely growing. Some thing are temporary - I have a sewing machine that I definitely don't want to get rid up, but just don't want to pack and ship. There's a growing pile of clothes for freecycling. I never did sell off the bulk of my furniture. I hope my parents will be able to enjoy at least some of it. I am constantly catching myself finding one more thing still on a wall, still in a shelf, hiding in a corner. Amazingly, I'm still finding piles of books to pack. I knew we had a lot of books, but I hadn't realized just how spread out they all were.

And then there are the last few things that won't be packed, but will go with us in the car. The computer. The bundle of boken, shinai and jo staffs. The sword. The badminton rackets. The golf clubs (my husband will have to share his caddy with his daughter, as there's no way I can fit two in there. We've got a big trunk, but not *that* big! *L*) Then there's the 3 bikes to go on a rack on the back - one of the very last things to be set up.

It's with relief that we were finally able to adopt out our rescued kitty to a sweet older couple from the city who's current cat is 15 yrs old and may not be in this world much longer.

My biggest concern right now is weight. My budget allows for 1000 pounds, and I don't have a scale. My little bathroom scale can barely handle me or the kids, never mind boxes and storage bins of the sizes we have. I'm hoping one of my brothers can come by with a truck and the old meat scale my parents have - that thing itself weighs about 200-300 pounds. It's on wheels and I was able to get it to the door of where it's stored (in the spare house in my parents' yard... gotta love country living. *L*) but we still need a truck, something to use for a ramp (we are NOT lugging that thing down stairs, then lifting it back up into a truck!) so we can wheel it directly into the truck, then directly into our house. Once I have that, I can weigh my boxes and if I do go over 1000 pounds, I'll have to decided which ones to leave behind. Ironically, it's the smallest boxes that concern me. Those, of course, are the ones with the heaviest items. Books. My FIL thought I was nuts when I told him we had two encyclopedia sets (that's not even counting the specialized sets). Don't we have the internet? He asks. Well, yes, but sometimes things are still easier and faster to look up in a book. Still, it looks like we might not have quite as many boxes as I thought. The fact that I'm using 4 large storage bins and a few other larger boxes probably made the biggest difference there. Most of the boxes I have are relatively small, and one of those bins would need probably 5 -6 boxes to pack the same things. Especially the odds-n-sots that would take up so much space while not allowing for very many other items to be packed with them. I still can't figure out what to do with our Spirit Shield. I don't think it'll fit in even our largest boxes. I hope I'll be able to get it into the trunk with the rest.

Meanwhile, I still have one last shift of work after this! It's the last night training my replacement, too. I really feel for the store. This guy is *not* ready, and the more time I spend with him, the more I think he won't ever *be* ready. He doesn't seem to have any short term memory, but won't use the notes I gave him where what he needs to do is spelled out step by step. After leaving my binder at work for him but forgetting to tell anyone why I'd left it, I came back to discover the store manager had photo-copied the whole thing. It seems she liked my notes so much, it's now going to be *the* book for staff to use. I found that rather funny.

Well, it's past 4:30 am. Time to get some food in me, then get back to work. The girls are still sleeping. Hopefully, I can be done before they wake up - at least with the stuff the truck will be picking up.

After that, it's count down time again. A couple of days to clean. One last pay check to pick up. One last family gathering to get to. We'll be on the road on the 17th.

I won't pack up the computer for a couple days yet. Since it's going in the trunk, I can keep it set up to talk to my husband on MSN while he's at work for a bit longer. Even he commented last night that we talk more now than we did when we were together. I pointed out that when we *are* together, we hardly ever talked at all. Real conversations were getting few and far between. He agreed that we need to keep that from happening again. We'll see. It's far too easy to get complacent.

Oh, I almost forgot. Once we're there - the car is going to be repossessed! We're still not sure what happened there. We'd made the arrangements and haven't missed a single payment since. No phone calls to worn us (or threaten us). Then out of the blue, my husband gets a phone call from a sheriff (yes, we do have those in Canada, but they're not the same thing as in the US). It seems he'd beed looking for the car but couldn't find it. Well, it being in another province might have something to do with that. My husband asked him why it was being repossessed, but of course, the sheriff didn't know. He gave my husband some toll free phone numbers to call, only they weren't any use to him - he got a recording saying the numbers couldn't be reached from where he was, so I assume they're in our home province. So my husband put a stop payment on the check he just wrote to the bank that's financing our car, called the sheriff back and told him when the car would be in our new city. The guy seemed pretty taken aback by our reaction to it, and actually told us to just call him early in the week I arrive with the girls, giving us a few days, at least, to settle in. I doubt he gets a lot of people who are so co-operative about getting their cars repossessed. Quite fankly, once we're in the city, we don't care anymore. We'll have access to public transit. Plus, if the bank is going to screw around with us like this - well, we don't play those games. They can have the car. We'll take the almost $1000 a month that will be freed up once we no longer have car payments, insurance payments, maintainance costs and, of course, gas to buy - not to mention the cost of a parking space at the apartment block we'll be living in. We like the car, but cars can be easily replaced. It's not worth the hassle. The move is stress enough, thank you very much.

Well, now I've really babbled on. It's almost 5 am. Got to go! I should be able to post at least one more time before the computer is dismantled and our phone line is closed. If not, then the next time I post will be from our new home.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Another dud...

Well, my second day of the sale was even worse than the first. I'm just amazed by how few people came out. I guess everyone was going to the festival or the beach or something. I've decided to just keep having them every weekend. I've got to get rid of this stuff, and I've got to raise more funds for the move, so I don't have much choice.

I've never particularily enjoyed having these things. I know people who hold garage sales every weekend of every summer - the troll other garage sales to pick up new stuff to sell at their own. It's a way of making some extra pocket money for them, rather than needing to get rid of excess and un-needed items. I doubt I'd have the patience for that. I couldn't put up with the idiots that often. :-P

The majority of people who come to these are nice enough, but you just have to wonder at the gaul of some others. I've had people show up the day before, expecting me to open my doors just for them. "I came all the way from X to be here..." they whine, even though X is only a 10 minute drive away. Funny, the people who came out from Y, which was almost an hour away, wheren't complaining.

Then there's the ones who ignore my signs saying that only the stuff in a certain area are available. This house has been used by my family for quite some time to store stuff, so some of the things in the room I'm using for the sale aren't mine to sell. I've also not finished sorting through things, while others are missing pieces I'm still looking for, etc. So I basically walled off an area with shelves and stuff an tried to make it at clear at possible that the stuff behind it isn't for sale.

Now, some people are making honest mistakes. They start digging around, then notice the signs or I tell them and they get kind of embarressed, apologise and start looking elsewhere. I've got no problem with that and pretty much expected it. No, what gets me are the people who litterally fight their way through the "wall" I created to get at the stuff behind it, and when I tell them that area isn't part of the sale, they make snide little comments about how it should be, or how it's "too bad" I haven't gone through them yet.

Message to people who do this... I may be moving and need to sell things, Folks, but that doesn't give you the right to tell me what I should be selling, or the right to start going through personal stuff and get offended when I tell you to stop. If you don't like it, don't buy anything. I'll happily give nice customers a bargain, but if you're an a$$hole, I'd rather not sell anything to you at all!

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Feeling wasted...

Well, yesterday was, pretty much, a bust. Hardly anyone showed up at my garage sale. I was hoping to take advantage of the long weekend crowds, but I guess everyone is just going to - and staying at - a nearby festival. Thousands come out for that and since we live only about 10 minutes away, I figured I'd see more people. Hopefully, today will be better. Either way, I'm going to have to have more sales if I want to get rid of this stuff and raise more money for the move.

My kids, meanwhile, got a chance to visit with some cousins we haven't seen in ages. My BIL came over to pick them up, showing up after 3. I was expecting him at about 1:30 :-S Ah, well. Once the kids were off, I went to bed and pretty much passed out. A couple hours later, the phone rings. In a sleep deprived delusion, I somehow thought it was time for me to get up, so I answered it. Bad mistake.

It was my mother.

First, she was all surprised that I was home. Turns out she'd swung by the house (yes, she *does* know I sleep during the day) and since I didn't answer, she assumed I wasn't home. Then she started giving me a hard time for being asleep rather than having the sale still open, since someone with a truck came by while she was there. Uhm... I do need to sleep, Mom, and if people can't be bothered to read the extremely clear and colourful signs I put up - making sure to highlight the times - then that's their problem. As it was, I still had occaisional people coming in while I was waiting for my BIL. I made $1.25 in the two hours I waited. :-P

Then she started giving me the third degree about what I was going to sell - making sure I wasn't going to sell the furniture she bought "for" us. Since we're moving, she wants them to stay. No problems there. Her "gifts" always come with very steep price tags, anyways.

Then the started going on about the kids, and why are my kids staying with my brother for the summer instead of me dropping them off at my in-laws when I go to work, etc. My kids are such a burden to them, you see, and they have to feed them ...

Somehow, she managed to cram all this crapp into a call less than 5 minutes long. She would have happily continued to tell me how useless and horrible I am for much longer, but I hung up on her.

I can't wait until we're out of there.

Of course, after that, I was too stressed to sleep. So I stayed up the last couple of hours before I went to the festival to meet my in-laws and the kids. At least that part was fun, but by the end of it, I was so tired, I probably shouldn't have been driving. I should have stayed up all night again, but I had to get some sleep. I ended up napping for longer than I should have, of course. Now, I'm just waiting until it's time to open up the front door and continue the sale. Then the kids are off in the afternoon and I'm back at work tonight. I really hope I'll be able to get some sleep this afternoon.

Reminder to self. Don't answer the phone. Don't answer the door.

Ah, well. Time to get back to reality, and the sounds of the cat trying to catch my daughter's betta fish through his jar aquarium. *L*

Saturday, July 30, 2005


I've got 4 hours.

Four hours before my first garage/moving sale. At this point, I am *so* glad I work nights, because if it weren't for tonight, there's no way I'd be ready in time.

Ok, I admit it. It's partly my fault. I procrastinated too much. Some of this could - and should - have been done earlier. Still, the sheer volume of stuff I have to go through is almost overwhelming, and there's no one to help.

Right now, it's the kids' stuff I'm going through, and that's what's doing me in. I'd given them their 2 large storage bins and told them to put in whatever they wanted to take on our move. Everything else is going to be garage saled.

Neither one filled their bin. I could probably put the two into one and still have room.

So, that leaves me with everything else. I don't often go into the"play room" - I hang my laundry in there and, these days, that's all I've had time to do. There are shelves and boxes of stuff, and I'm ready to scream right about now. I can't *believe* the sheer amount of *garbage* the kids have shoved into there! It seems that, whenever they'd had to clean up after themselves, they've mostly just tossed everything anywhere. So I'm finding used up paper, bits and pieces from crafting, broken toys, wrappers and remains and, strangely, hundreds of pennies. I could probably roll about $15 in pennies by the time I'm done. I've had to get a bucket just for them, pouring them in from boxes, baskets, jars - even the bottom of a kite's storage bag.

When I'm finished, all of it will probably fit into about 10 of the boxes I'm using for their stuff - and these are small boxes. Spread out all over and needing to be sorted, however, makes it look so much bigger!

I still have go bring out some of *my* stuff, too. Can't do that until their stuff is finished, though, just for the space. I've already got the big stuff - the exercise equipment, a couch, an armchair... there's still more, though.

It doesn't help that for the last couple of days, I've been in a lot of pain. I don't know what's going on. Both my arms have been just aching in the joints, including my fingers. I've got a headache. I *never* get headaches, unless I'm sick or seriously sleep derpived. I am somewhat sleep deprived, but not all that much. My knees and feet are threatening to give out on me, too, but there's nothing new about that.

For now, I'm just going to pop a few more pain killers, hope they actually help, and take a bit of a break.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Well meaning, blind arrogance

Yesterday I got to spend some time with my in-laws for a visit. Many years ago, they lived in the north African country of Mali, and even now I find myself hearing new stories of their time there. Their experiences there are high on my list of reasons why I have little faith in well meaning events such as the recent Live 8 concerts. I will also never donate money to any of the big charities.

Now I have yet another example of the pretensiousness and arrogance so many of us in developed nations have aquired. How easy it is to make assumptions! Many people, organizations and goverments offer their aid to African countries, believing that what they're doing is actually helping, yet they never even bothered to find out exactly what *kind* of help people actually needed! Yesterday's story was a prime example.

Mali is a French speaking country and my MIL speaks both French and English fluently. As a result, she was often called upon to act as an interpretor. One day, she was asked to interpret for a woman from England who's pet project seems to have been Meals On Wheels. She had come to Africa to share this wonderful project with the locals, and my MIL had the dubious pleasure of interpreting her speech. On and on she went about Meals on Wheels, how great it would be if they implemented this programme in their homeland, and how great it would be for their elderly to have meals delivered to them.

After the speech was over, my MIL approached the woman and pointed out to her that these people would have *no* idea what she was talking about. At first, the woman was rather insulted, so my MIL explained. Unlike us in our so-called developed nations, the people of Mali were not in the practise of hiding their elderly away into boxes, out of sight and out of mind. There were no Senior Centers. No "old folks homes." These people lived in extended families, and the idea that they would need some strangers to come around delivering meals to them was ludicrous. They had family to feed them, after all. Why would they need someone else to do it?

Can you imagine the confusion these local people must have felt while listening to this woman talk? Would they have been insulted that this foreign woman thought they didn't care for their own elders? Or what might their thoughts be of our own culture, to learn that elders would need such a programme to keep them from going hungry?

In our afluence, it's so easy to assume that what we have is what everyone else wants and needs. Maybe, every once in a while, we need to realize that we're the ones who could use the "help."

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

well, it's done, then...

Canada is now, with a vote of 158 to 133, officially the third country in the world to recognise same sex marriages.

The whole thing stinks.

Now, don't get me wrong. I actually believe the homosexual couples *should* have the same legal recognition heterosexual couples do. Civil marriage is a legal contract between two parties, and I see no reason why gay couples shouldn't have access to that contract. I think such legal recognition was necessary and long overdue.

No, that's not what bothers me.

Part of what bothers me is that what passed isn't the granting of equal rights to same sex partners. What passed is the redefinition of marriage in general. Whenever goverment or the law starts playing around with definitions of words, it sets alarm bells off in my head. Marriage means different things in different cultures. Such things are far more fluid than some are willing to accept. Changing a definition in law, however, destroys that fluidity. That concerns me. I am of the personal belief that, given a bit more time, the cultural definition of marriage in the general populace would have included same sex marriages. Until then, simply allowing for a civil contract equal to a marriage contract would have sufficed.

Another part of what bothers me is how it was done. It was forced through, with much manipulation and politikking, by a party that once swore that the definition of marriage was one man and one woman, and that they'd never change that. This same party has now forced its own members to vote against their constituants desires (the majority of Canadians were against the ruling, including people within the gay and lesbian community). Debate and dissention wasn't allowed, and anyone who was against the bill (including those who actually wanted same sex couples to have the same legal rights as opposite sex couples; they just didn't want the term "marriage" redefined) were called bigots and homophobes. I doubt the powers that be could care less about gays, heteros or anyone one other then themselves and their political power plays. I feel that the whole thing is just a game to them, and they're using the same sex issue as another marker to move on the board.

Then there's the religious angle. It's been promised that, should marrying a same sex couple go against a church's religious beliefs, or the religious beliefs of a marriage commisioner, they would not be forced to perform the ceremonies. Well, we know how true that promise turned out to be when several marriage commisioners were fired for refusing to perform same sex ceremonies because of their personal beliefs. It's only one step farther to try and force churches to perform same sex marriages. What concerns me greatly is that I've had people point blank tell that they believe churches *should* be forced to perform these ceremonies, and some groups have already called on the goverment to recind the tax-free status of churches if they refuse. Interestingly, only Christian churches, particularily Roman Catholics, have been targetted by these groups. First of all, not all Christian churches are against it. Second, other non-christian religions are equally, if not more, against recognition of same sex marriage, and will not perform the ceremonies.

Personally, I see civil marriages and religious marriages as two different things. I think that any couple should be able to have a legally recognised civil marriage, same sex or otherwise. I, however, feel that forcing religions to do the same is wrong.

Giving one group equal rights shouldn't come at the cost of infringing on the rights of another.

So how's the weather for ya?

Schedule change. A new co-worker having one last day of training, another co-working having her last day of work while training him, so I get a day off in the middle of my week. There's only ever 2 people working a shift, except for when a new person is training. I kind of like that. I don't mind having more co-workers, except that I've noticed that the more there are, the greater the internal politics becomes, and I don't play those games. Besides, the customers are a lot more fun. :-D

After a few sunny, rain free days, hopes were dashed by yet another severe thunderstorm a couple of nights ago. It started where we were at about 3:30 am - it had started raining well before that, but things really went crazy by then. One of our newspaper delivery people came in with our papers and ended up staying. She couldn't see to drive and was totally soaked just from getting from her car to the door she parked next to. Finally, after an hour, she left anyways, hoping she'd be able to finish her route. The rain wasn't coming down as hard as when she arrived, but it was still as heavy. We were "lucky."

The area only got a few inches total. Just a lot of flooded basements. The RM guys have been working all night, trying to pump the water out. It just doesn't have anywhere to go. Everything's saturated. I remembered seeing one farmer's field on the way to work where he'd cut his first hay. With how things are expected to be for the next while, I doubt it'll dry before it starts to rot. :-(

Still, we were rather fortunate. Other areas got worse floods than we did, plus flash floods, washed out roads - even a sink hole.

The fishermen are doing well, though. With all the extra water, the fish are hanging around the area longer than usual. The season is technically another week and a bit longer, but most years, they're done by now. I haven't been seeing as many of them because it's been still raining during my shifts, with just a few hardy crews were coming through. Hitting that lake during a storm is pretty dangerous, though. Between it's huge size (although the town I work in is located at a fairly narrow part of the lake, the opposite shore is just barely visible on a clear day) and shallowness, it's quite unpredictable. Throw in the waterspouts that occasionally happen, and it definitely makes life interesting!

This morning, we seemed to have missed yet another thunderstorm. I heard it go by to the south at about 4 am. I really feel for the people at the southern end of the province. They've got it much harder than where I'm living.

Forget "go west, young man." These days, it's "go north!"

Sunday, June 26, 2005

... as time flows and the winds blow...


Well, it's been a while. Strange. You'd think, with the kids gone and the house to myself, I'd have more time to write here. Nope. That's not how it's turning out.

When I get home from work, dh is at his office, so I go online to chat with him on MSN. Now, I've got about 4-5 hours between the time I get home and the time I need to get to bed. That *should* be lots of time spent doing things around the house. Instead, I find I'm spending most of that time talking to dh on MSN. Sure, I stop to make and eat supper and a few other things, but I still end up on my ass in front of the computer for far too long. Then I go to sleep. At 9 pm, as prearranged with dh, he phones me and we chat a bit more. Not too long. More to touch base and for his peace of mind. Then I'm off to work.

When I've got my nights off, the kids are here. I find I'm not doing much during the night because I don't want to make too much noise and wake them. Instead I...

yup. Spend too much time on the computer. *sigh* Well, except for the times when yet another thunderstorm blows threw and I shut everything down. We've been having a lot of those lately. Another one blew through this morning shortly after 4 am. I keep thinking the lone spruce tree behind our house is eventually going to end up on the ground. With the prevailing winds right now, if that happens, it'll land right about where we park our car. Hmmm. Either that or on the living room roof, which is also partly over the kids' current bedroom. Hmmm again. Were it my tree, I'd probably have cut it down by now and replaced with with something that doesn't grow quite so tall.

Meanwhile, I've learned that I'm *not* going to have a room mate after all. She's decided to move back to the city early, instead. That's probably for the best all around.

Work is going all right. I'm not making too many mistakes. *L* I must admit, though, this job shouldn't be as much hassle as it is. It's the paperwork thing. Cashiers should NOT be doing bookkeeping, to start with. Plus, some of it shouldn't need to be done at all. The problem is that they've got an old POS system that doesn't do half of what it should. I mean, there is *no* reason for there to be a seperate touch screen to handle credit and debit purshases, point redemtion, etc. And if people paying cash need a reciept (like many of the fishermen do), the till doesn't automatically print one out. Not only that, but the reciept it *does* print out doesn't have the info they need for their taxes. It has to be manually put through the touch screen so a seperate reciept can be printed out. It's a real time waster.

A lot of the info I have to keep track of seperately could - and should - be done far more efficiently by the computer system. Far too many man-hours is being wasted having cashiers do paperwork. It's innefficient, prone to errors, and in the long run, probably costs them a lot of $$.

Ah, well. It's only for the summer. :-P

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Oh, for crying out loud!

By now, pretty much everyone I know around here, and more than a few I don't, knows I'm working nights now. News travels fast in small towns, no matter how boring it is. *L*

Now, I don't expect other people to make exceptions just because I work nights. If the sun is shining, they're going to mow their lawns, drive their dirt bikes and atv's, talk loudly outside, and so on. HOWEVER... phoning me in the middle of the day is something else completely!

A few days ago, I got a call at about 2 in the afternoon. Having talked to my husband who mentioned that another employer had called me up about a position on the very day I was to start my new job (interrupting my attempt to sleep, of course, but they had no way of knowing that), she decided she would apply for that position. She and I used to do the same job - in fact, she was hired to replace me and I trained her - so what does she do? She phones me up shortly after 2 in the afternoon - KNOWING full well that I was in bed - to ask me questions about how to describe the position on the resume she's updating. I blearily answer the phone (yeah, I know - I could let the voice mail take it, but by the time that picks up, I'd be wide awake anyways. Besides, if someone's calling me that time of day, I sort of assume it's important). I answer her questions as best I can, squinting over at the clock and realizing I've only been asleep for an hour, then have to tell her that I'm falling asleep on her so I'd better go.

Great. That's it, then, right?

Of course not.

Today, shortly before 2:30 in the afternoon, the phone rings. My initial thought is that it's 9 pm, my husband in phoning, and why the heck didn't my alarm clock go off at 8:30 like it was supposed to? I become immediately disoriented by the female voice at the other end. Ah. It's her - squint at the clock. Yup - I've only been in bed for about an hour. The first thing she does is apologise for waking me up. Uh huh. So what's so important that she'd phone me?

Well, she's filling out the application form for that position I turned down and had some questions about our previous employer. Like how much we made an hour to start. After a couple of minutes, she thanks me and tells me she'll let me go back to sleep now.

Now, an interrupted sleep for me is worse than no sleep at all. Being a rare sunny day, *everyone* was mowing their lawns. Next door had the riding mower and push mower going at the same time. Having finally fallen asleep, I could have stayed asleep, but once that phone rang, all bets were off. After a frustrating hour of trying to get back to sleep but only becoming more wide awake and starting to get pretty steamed in the process (she *knew* she'd be waking me up but phoned anyways!), I finally get up. I call up my husband, expecting him to be out, so I wasn't surprised to get his voice mail. I leave a message asking him, the next time he spoke to her, to diplomatically point out to her that calling me at 2-3 in the afternoon is like me calling her at 1-2 am. Well, as soon as I get off the phone, it rings. My husband hadn't got to the phone fast enough, saw my number on call display, so he called back without having listened to my message. And why couldn't he answer the phone in time?

Because he'd gone for a nap. Great. Now I feel s***y for waking hime up.

So I tell him what happened, pointing out that by now, I'm the *last* person to tell her not to call me in the afternoon again. I may not care what she thinks, but I do consider her husband a good friend, and she's a friend of my husband, so I don't want them to suffer the inevitable fall out of any lack of diplomacy on my part. Then my husband, knowing full well by now how frustrated I am about not being able to get back to sleep (which, of course, keeps me awake even more) says...

"so I guess I shouldn't tell you that I'm going back to sleep right after this call."

Great. First, I feel crappy that I woke him up from his nap (considering his ongoing health issues), but I'm then reminded of the fact that he can fall asleep pretty much on demand. I couldn't tell if he was trying to be funny, or what! I think he clued in on that when my response was total silence. I simply couldn't think of a single thing to say. To be honest, I quite nearly hung up on him.

Fine, I cut the conversation short so that I can make another attempt at going back to sleep. Eventually, several hours later, I do fall asleep.

Only to be awakened at 8:30 pm - by the phone ringing. Who is it?

My husband.

It seems he was talking to another friend out here who's going to need to move out of her apartment RFN because the landlord has decided to take advantage of the tourist season and rent the place out on a weekly basis, so she's being evicted. She's looking for a place to stay and I've got lots of room, so he figured I could rent part of it out to her. He figured that a possible extra $300 a month (I guess he's already figured that part out for me?) was worth phoning me early. He seemed confused that I wasn't as excited about this as he was. He also seemed to think I'd jump on the idea right off the bat and say yes right away.

First of all, I'm groggy. I'm not going to make that sort of decision half asleep.

Second of all - she's got 2 dogs and a cat. I don't own this house. My parents do. My mother is already upset because I've got 2 cats. They won't be impressed if I taken in another personwith more animals. He *thinks* they're outside dogs, though. Oh, and she's willing to help me pack, too.

I told him I'd call him in the morning, after I get home from work but before I go and pick up the kids. He would like me to make a decision by then.

This is going to be a long night.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A productive day... I mean night

After 2 days (nights) at the new job, I'm on my second day off before heading back again tomorrow... uhm, later today. That's the most confusing part of working nights, I'm finding. My shift start at 11:30 pm and, as far as the computers and all those forms we have to fill out, if that 11:30 pm is a Monday, it's still Monday until the shift ends, even though it's really been Tuesday for all but 1/2 hour of my shift. So while I'm working tonight, it's really "tomorrow" since I've still got a day's sleep ahead of me. Since I'm also trying to co-ordinate when to be on the computer so I can talk to my husband or daughter through MSN, or figuring out when and how to get the kids to and from my brother's on my next "weekend" off, I finally put new blocks on my calendar that overlap the date blocks so that I can "see" my shifts where they're supposed to be, rather than looking at the calendar and thinking, "oh, no! I've got to go to work tomorrow and I'm still up at 4 am." Well of course I'm still up at 4 am. I don't go to bed until 1 pm!

I did manage to have a rather productive night. I got a piece of furniture moved out a the girls' old bedroom downstairs so, other than their old bunk bed that's going to be passed on to someone before we move, that room will have nothing but packed boxes stored in it. I even brought out a step ladder so I could dig around the shelf above the closet - because it's so high up, we never used it. We've been here a total of almost 4 years, with an almost 2 years spread in the middle where it was unoccupied for all but 3 months. I *don't* want to know how long that dessicated orange was up there! Or the pop cans, in brands we've never bought. *shudder*

Meanwhile, I got some more stuff sorted, moved and packed. I'm not pushing it too much yet. We've still got about 4 months, and I'll have a moving sale in 3 months, so it's more sorting than packing, still. Now that the girls will be staying at my brother's for most of the summer, it actually makes the job easier, in that I can pack stuff that I would normally keep out for them to use - like books, games, and so on.

One nice thing about being up all night is that I can stay online for as long as I want and not have to worry about tying up the phone line. One of my regular things is to read the Canadian online newspapers - particularily the columnists and letters to the editors (at least those papers that don't require paid subscriptions to view these areas). I like to read people's opinions about things. I like to know what they think and feel about issues. With that in mind, I sometimes check out one of the news forums at my main national news website. Every now and then, I'm tempted to post on one because I'd like to discuss some issue that's in the news and would like to hear other people's thoughts.

Then I read some of the posts already on the forum and promptly decided it's not worth it! I've noticed a tendancy for a small number of people, usually with just 2 or 3 main instigators of opposing opinions, that do nothing but post insults at each other. Isn't the point of a forum to intelligently disuss ideas, including opposing ones, so as to learn more about the subject at hand? Why post if all you're going to do is insult other people for disagreeing with you? Of course, the ones that are the worst offenders are inevitably the ones that seem the least knowledgable on the subject, and the most closed minded. It makes me wonder why they're even there. Does it somehow make them feel better to burst a bloodvessel "shouting" insults to another poster on a subjec that obviously makes their blood boil? I don't get it.

Ah, well. It's not like I've got a whole lot of time for stuff like that, anyways.

Another cup of tea, then it's back to sorting and packing.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Say what?

Well, my first day on the new job went well. You wouldn't believe how many finniky details and endless forms a gas station cashier has to keep track of. *L* My trainer seemed to know everyone on a first name basis, too.

My new place of employment is the *only* place that's open 24 hours in an area that includes several towns and at least 3, probably 5, municipalites. So things are pretty steady all night. There are also regular busy times, like when one of the local bars lets out and we find ourselves inundated with boistrous partons followed by worn out staff wondering "is that blood on my shirt" while talking about the big fight just at closing time.

Then at about 4 am, the fishermen start showing up. Some come in groups as the whole crew swings through, while others come by in pairs or individuals. They fill their trucks and jerry cans with gas, buy lots of coffee, smokes, and a few pops, Sobe's, and snacks before a long day of fishing in the fog.

Some of these guys have obviously been plying their trade their whole lives. Years of working the lake in all weather leaves it's mark, and it's one that seems to be universally worn with dignitiy. These people know this lake intimately - it's one of the most dangerous freshwater lakes in the world to be on when the weather turns bad. There were a few young men, too, just beginning to show the lake's mark on their faces, plus the odd fresh faced teenager, just beginning their love affair with the lake. The fishermen remind me of farmers, actually. The lake obviously has a hold on them as strong as the land has on those who work the fields - a hold I still feel myself, even though I've been off the farm for almost 20 years. Land or water, it works it's way into the soul, then shines agelessly through eyes crinkled from years of squinting through sun and storm, steady and strong under wind ravaged hair.

One particular fisherman came in alone and got some gas and smokes. Obviously another long time fisherman. I was working the till, chatting with him, while my trainer stood by, also chatting. As the person moved around, I caught some movement under his t-shirt and relized I was looking at the most well developed set of moobs I've ever seen. I mean, this guy was no G-up, but he definately swung and hung as low as I ever did before my surgery. You just don't expect to see that around a woman's waistline, never mind a man's! *L* No big deal. I handed him his change, wished him a good day, and off he went. My trainer, who had been talking to him, then made a comment about how "she always comes by this time of the day."

Say what??? "She?!?!" Now, I've seen some androgynous people before. I've had conversations with clients and still found myself wondering "was I talking to a feminine looking man or a masculine looking woman?" I had no such sense of abiguity here. I had no inkling that I was talking to anyone other than another weather beaten, middle aged man. You'd think, having seen the swing, I would have clued in, but nope. Not even a little.

Now that I think back, that could have been an incredibly embaressing moment. *L*

Friday, June 03, 2005

Starting over

Today's a day I seem to be starting over on many fronts.

In a few hours, I start a new job for the summer. I will be working nights, which is perfect for this night owl personality - except that I should be sleeping right now, and I can't. More on why, later.

I'm starting a new blog. The last one's gone. Blogging allows a certain level of anonyminity. I don't mind some people knowing who I am, but others - bye bye blog! Time to start over.

I'm going to be moving soon. It can't be soon enough. I just got a "visit" from my mother today. I found out she was here when I was awakened by a noise outside my window. She was "gardening" for me. She continued to wreak havoc outside the house, which doesn't look too hot right now, since a broken lawnmower and none I can borrow has meant the lawn still hasn't been cut this year at all. Then she came inside (she owns the house - it's not like I can keep her out) and went in to check the water in the basement, saw the mess down there and started calling me and my kids "lazy Indians" repeatedly (my husband is Metis, and to her, calling someone Indian is the worst of insults) before storming out, leaving me in tears and my kids thoroughly disjusted with her. I haven't been able to get more than about an hour's sleep since then. My husband is already gone with his new job and it'll be a few months before the girls and I can join him. I can hardly wait.

On learning about my new job and the hours I'll be keeping, some family members have asked/offered to have the girls stay with them during me "week," then bringing them home on my "weekends." They are being picked up tonight, so in a way, I'm starting over again as a "single." No husband, no kids. Just me and the cats! This is going to be so weird!

New job, soon new home in new province, and soon well away from the most toxic person I've ever known in my life - my own mother.

I like starting over.