Wednesday, November 23, 2011

first snow and clementines

We awoke to a winter wonderland this morning (as you can see by this photo I snapped with my phone this morning, there wasn't a lot on the ground).  I was sort of surprised by it but not as surprised at the dogs were.  As we were falling asleep last night, I could hear the beginning of freezing rain.  I hate freezing rain.  I fear ice in a big way.  I've often said that I don't fear death but I do fear falling on the ice and breaking a bone.  Big time.

Fortunately, through the night at some point, it had snowed.  Snow is my friend in the middle of an ice storm because it makes traction.  I'm less likely to fall ass over elbow with some snow on the ground!  It was actually quite beautiful in the backyard.  There were snow covered ice drips everywhere and it was raining when I let the dogs out.  Gracie was keen to go out but looked at me with a glare that said, "um, hello! Can't you do something about that?"  I knocked the layer of ice off of the doggie door for her and in the end she went out but she wasn't pleased about it.  Well, not the first time anyway.  When she realized that going out in the snow/rain meant getting rubbed with a fluffy towel everytime she came in, it became a bit of a game all morning.

I'm not exactly sad to see the snow (althought it's almost gone now).  I'm hoping that the mini freeze we experienced will help kill some of the nasty germs that are floating around.  Mark is just getting over a doozy of a cold which I've been able to so far (touch wood) avoid - for the most part.  The particular version of the cold he had started with an ache in his neck and stayed in his head.  He had a horrible cough and I've never in all of my life seen someone produce so much mucous.  Every night for 2 weeks he was up in the night, coughing up goo.  I didn't want that.  I was afraid that if I did, I'd end up with bronchitis again (which is what normally happens to me when I have a cold.

So far, lots of hand washing and extra doses of citrus fruit seem to be working for me.  Admittedly, yesterday, I felt really crappy all day.  I had a headache and was generally miserable and really thought I'd wake up this morning sick.  Lucky for me, I didn't. I just don't want to get sick.  No one ever does, I know, but things are really busy right now and I don't want to have to slow down for a cold.

Now, with any luck, I won't turn into a clementine orange.  How many do you have to actually eat before that happens anyway?

Monday, November 21, 2011

how early is too early

American thanksgiving is happening later this week and that always seems to signal the official start of the holiday season for our neighbours south of the border. For Canadians though, it's less strict, or at least it seems that way. Officially or unofficially, when is it too early to put your holiday decorations at home?

I know that some stores (Dollarama, I'm looking at you), had their Christmas stuff out when the Halloween decorations were still on the shelves. Home is different though, I can't figure out what the deal should be, probably because we never put our stuff up at the same time each year.

My feeling about it is, if the city has had it's Santa Claus parade, you're cool to start putting up your decorations, if you're so inclined. That's my unofficial signal anyway. In our town, the big parade happened this past Saturday evening. Where my folks live (just west of here), their parade was 2 weeks ago. I wouldn't think that the post-Santa Claus Parade "rule" would apply to them though, because their parade is before Rememberance Day.

Tricky huh? I read a bit about that this year too, about not starting into the Christmas celebrating until after November 11 - not an entirely bad idea if you ask me. We broke down and put up our outside lights yesterday. Not because it was the day after the Santa Claus Parade but more because it was around 15 degrees celsius in the sunshine here yesterday. On November 20, we put up Christmas lights in short sleeve tshirts and flip flops.

We're not the first folks in our neighbourhood to take advantage of the warm weather for decorating purposes. Over Thanksgiving weekend, when the temperatures soared to the mid-20's, a house around the corner from here well whole hog and hooked up (and actually turned on) their inflatable Christmas city. At that point, we hadn't even finished putting up our Halloween decorations. Maybe we were a little slack but I think that they were a smidgen keen with the helicopter Santa on their roof.

Maybe this year, I'm questioning the whole thing because the weather around here doesn't feel very wintery or christmassy, regardless of what the calendar says. Don't get me wrong though, I'm loving this weather and would happily give up shovelling this winter if I had to. I'm just not feeling the urge to pull out my Holiday Music Playlist quite yet.

Admittedly, the thing I like the most about Christmas is the lights. I wish we lived somewhere where it was cool have your whole house, covered in lights, all year long. We have strings of lights on our deck all year, partly because it lights up the yard for our dogs in the evenings and partly because both of us love them. This love of lights is also why, as soon as we tacked up the lights on the front of the house, I plugged them into a timer. Last night when they came on at dusk, I kept peeking out through the living room curtains to see them. They're very pretty!

Monday, October 17, 2011

So long Blissdom, Hello Florida!

Blissdom Canada Cards
Originally uploaded by Julep67
Last week, I wrote a post about my goals for the upcoming Blissdom Canada conference I was getting ready to attend. When I was writing my post, I was quite nervous. I wasn’t sure what to expect or if I’d fit in anywhere, given how spotty my blogging has been over the past few years. On Friday morning, upon arriving at the Toronto Hilton to register, the nerves disappeared and I jumped in with two feet.

Following the advice of those who’d gone before me, I introduced myself to as many people as I could and I handed out the neat little cards which had arrived just-in-time from Mabel's Labels. With the exception of one "commerce track" session, I attended all "arts track" sessions and absorbed a lot of information. Not everything I heard applied to me but I took some good notes and will be looking through them probably over the weekend. The collection of business cards I acquired also needs to be reviewed.

Overall, I’d say that I really got a lot out of the sessions and very much enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people. The whole weekend was very organized and I was impressed with how everything kept on schedule. The only blip in the whole weekend for me was the registration on Thursday afternoon. In the generated schedule I printed from the website, it indicated that registration was open until 7 p.m. I didn’t get checked into my hotel until 5:30 p.m. and by the time I got over to the Hilton to register it was around 6:30 p.m. and I'd missed them. I was pretty disappointed but was also pretty pooped (I'd been up at 4:30 a.m. as per usual that morning) so I took my sad butt back to the King Eddy, grabbed a sandwich at Tim Horton's, threw on a Marc Maron podcast and had an early night.

There were things which surprised me about the weekend and some that didn't. I was surprised by some of the elaborate booths/display areas that the very generous sponsors had. I wasn't surprised that a lot of what they were promoting didn't interest me (not being a "mommy blogger" I don't have a lot of need for toys or diapers – but I took them all the same and will be donating them). Being able to have a professional headshot done was a wonderful surprise and I’m very grateful to Corel for that. The biggest surprise of the weekend happened when we were about 20 minutes outside of Kingston. I noticed a tweet that said I'd won a trip to Florida courtesy of Chevrolet Canada and Visit Orlando. At first I didn't think it was true but I was in touch with them this morning and it is true. Over the next few days I think I will get all of the details about the prize. I am pretty excited about it if I'm honest.

At the moment, I feel like I'm still processing the weekend and I suspect that I'll have more to say about it in the coming days.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Twas the night before Blissdom Canada

It's been a bit of a whirlwind around here over the past few weeks. Sitting down right now, with a few minutes to reflect upon the last little while (while I wait for the washing machine to finish spinning) I can't even really pinpoint anything specific we did. There wasn't anything new or weird or strange or different going on, just more of the usual stuff I guess.

Work is very busy right now. It's been busy all year though. Ordinarily, during July and August, it slows down a bit but this year I didn`t notice that happening. When September hit, and things really ramped up around the office, part of me didn't feel very organized. If I'm honest, I still feel that way but after today, it feels much better than it did yesterday. I didn't realize how much I had missed not having a couple of weeks over the summer to get my head together and sort myself before the busy time hit us!

Recently, I was offered a second job. It isn't even a part-time job. It's more a quarterly thing. I'll be doing some proof reading for a magazine which is published quarterly. I've done some transcription for the editor in the past and really love working with him, he's awesome. Last week, I was expecting to get a few pages to start on and see how things go. The pages didn't arrive until yesterday and, what with trying to get ready to head out of town for a few days, I felt a little panicked about that too. One section is due tomorrow. I think I have it completed correctly. The rest of it will have to wait a few days until I'm back from my conference. I feel super accomplished to have gotten through the past couple of days in the office in addition to proofing pages in the evening. Oh, and it's a short work week!

So, the conference. When I wrote about it last month, I had every good intention of writing here more regularly. As you can see, that didn't happen. What did happen, in admidst the whirlwind, was I started to connect with some of the attendees via twitter. What a treat that has been. I haven't had a lot of time to spend on twitter but at least I feel like I know a little bit about some of the women who are attending.

I've learned a few things from already:

1. they are just as nervous about it as I am!
2. some of them are newbies to this as well!
3. everyone is super excited (me included)!

I'm still feeling like a bit of a poseur. I read a little post on the CBC website which referred to attendees as professionals. I'm not a professional at this by any definition but hopefully I can fake it for a couple of days!!

I have a little pile of stuff sitting in my office waiting to be packed up. Power cords, USB cables, gadets, print offs for stuff I'm attending, hotel confirmation... it's getting kind of big. I haven't actually sat down and made a list yet of what I need to bring with me but I guess that will happen when the laundry is in the dryer.

As far as clothes go, I have no idea what to bring. I want to be comfortable during the day but I'm not staying at the hotel where the conference is so I also want to be dressed appropriately for the evening events I'm going to. There is a big "red carpet" party tomorrow night which I am not yet certain I'll get to. My train doesn't get in until quite late in the afternoon. By the time I get to my hotel, check in and settle in a bit, I may not be able to get my registration stuff. I also realized that I probably didn't order enough "business" cards but I'll make due with what I have.

The small stuff shall not be sweated by me this weekend. My goals for the weekend are pretty simple:

1. have fun!
2. introduce myself to as many people as I can
3. get inspired to write here more often and not just stuff, but more interesting stuff.

Wow. I feel much better after having dumped that all out. Now, to get the laundry into the dryer and start on that to do list!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Jamey Rodemeyer and Troy Davis

I'm a bit pissed and really sad today. It's about two things:

1. I do not support the death penalty.

I was beyond sad this morning to awake to the news that the State of Georgia had killed Troy Davis, an innocent man. When we went to bed last night, we heard that his execution had been delayed "1 to 7 days" so we went to sleep, never thinking that they would actually kill last night. It's heartbreaking, for his family and supporters. Also, I think that the family of Mark MacPhail have not received justice because whoever murdered Officer MacPhail is still walking around free. Americans, you have to lose the death penalty. Your justice system gets it wrong too often for this to be a practical penalty - nevermind that killing people is just too messed up for words.

2. Mean people suck.

Yesterday I heard about Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14 year old boy who killed himself because of bullying. I hate that kids don't have any perspective.

Perspective comes with age and experience. I wish that kids like Jamey could understand that bullies are assholes. From what I have read about him and from what I saw in his "it gets better" video, he was a great kid with a lot to offer. I'm deeply saddened for him and his family that on Sunday, he decided that it wouldn't get any better for him. If only Jamey could have realized that his life would have been fabulous and that he was capable of all kinds of awesome things, maybe he wouldn't have killed himself.

Some days I think that overall, humans don't care enough about each other. Why is that? What's wrong with us?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

gorgeous gracie

gorgeous gracie
Originally uploaded by Julep67
So we had Gracie to the vet yesterday. Last Saturday, when we got home from the dog park, we noticed that one of her front legs was really swollen on the “wrist” joint (not 100% up on my dog anatomy – sorry!). This was the same leg she’d injured in 2009. At that time, she’d been diagnosed with soft tissue damage and was prescribed with some NSAIDs. At that time, after a few days, she’d stopped limping and seemed fine.
In March last year, she did the same thing to the same leg. She has a really bad habit of chasing the squirrels out of our yard. The squirrels don’t actually get into our yard, instead, the travel on top of the fence. To get their attention, Gracie will hurl her little body at the wooden fence and try to knock them off. Her system works pretty well and the travelling squirrels really boogie quickly by our yard.

Yesterday, after x-rays and 2 hours in the vet’s office (because they were busy – we had to wait almost 30 minutes past our appointment time), she was diagnosed with arthritis in the joint. Fortunately, it’s just in the one front leg and it doesn’t seem to be giving her any trouble (stoic girl that she is). Again, the vet gave us some NSAIDs, a prescription for shorter, more frequent walks and told us again that she needs to lose more weight. I’m also going to explore some vitamin supplements for her because I’m reading good things about them.
For most of 2011, we’ve been trying to help her lose weight. Both she and Sam had chubbed up a bit over the winter. In the spring, we started a more walking / eat better food regime which is working really well for Sammy but hasn’t had the same level of success with Gracie. She gained a lot of weight last year before Christmas when we were dog sitting Bella. While Bella was here, Gracie got really food aggressive and just plain old over ate. At first we didn’t notice it because she’s so furry. In January though, we noticed that she was sort of waddling and we cut back on the amount of food she was getting. In February, we switched from a big name “premium” dog food you could get at the grocery store to a higher quality food from a pet food store. We almost instantly noticed a difference in their energy levels, in their coats and they were pooping a lot less. This new food is made in Canada, with fresh ingredients and is quite high in protein.

Both dogs did lose some weight on it but Gracie still has a way to go. The Vet is pretty sure that with a little more weight loss and the shorter walks, she’ll probably not have too much trouble with the arthritis (which I discovered from reading yesterday is pretty common in dogs). I feel really bad that this has happened and that the poor thing has probably been having some pain with it. Fortunately, we now know what it is and are dealing with it. I have to say, I have a really bad habit of going to the worst possible place in my minds and had pretty much convinced myself that she had bone cancer. It was a relieved to find out that its arthritis.

Right now, she’s vegged out on the floor behind me. We’re listening to some Ella Fitzgerald and waiting to hear from the groomers that Sammy is ready to be picked up (they were both supposed to be groomed this morning but there is a stupid cold/flu bug going through PetSmart so we had to cancel one of them and Sam needed to get cleaned up more urgently than Gracie – she’ll get her hair did next weekend). Considering that she’s a herding girl and she’s only really content when we’re all herded together and she’s watching us, I think it’s kind of cute that we’re listening to “someone to watch over me."

Friday, September 16, 2011

faking it?

A few months ago, I either got an email or saw something via twitter about a blogger conference in Toronto. Now, I hear about blogger conferences all the time, the big ones in the states that some of the writers of my favourite blogs go to. I never considered going to one because, over the past few years anyway, I've not exactly been "blogging it up” and thought I’d feel out of place around actual, real bloggers.

Something about the Toronto conference intrigued me though so I looked into it. The location was certainly handy to me, the price was something I could actually afford and it was for women so it held a lot of appeal. When I attempted to register (only a couple of days after tickets went on sale), I found out that it was sold out. I decided to register for the waiting list. Figuring that I would never be offered a spot, I promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward to yesterday. I get an email from the conference letting me know that a spot has opened up and they will hold it for me for 48 hours. Panic quickly hit me. Could I still afford it? Would I be able to get away from work? Should I even go considering I’ve written maybe 3 posts this year? After discussing it with Mark, I thought I’d just jump in with both feet and sign up. So I did. This morning. Yikes!! It’s called Blissdom Canada 2011 and this is the 2nd year that they have held it.

If I’m honest, I miss writing here. I did pretty regularly for a long time and then just sort of stopped. I blame twitter and facebook. Once I found facebook (I think in 2006) and twitter (again, I think 2007 so a while ago), short status updates became so easy that I got lazy and ignored my blog.

Since that time, I moved it onto blogspot for my own sanity and ease of use. I thought it was easier, I’d be more inclined to write. This has not been the case so far. I’ve been doing this, or something like it, under this banner (if not this URL) since around 2000 (I think, it may have been 2001). My hope for the conference is that it’ll inspire me to get back at it. Maybe it’s working already, after all, I’m writing today. Yay, go me!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

first friends

Summer of 1968
Originally uploaded by Julep67
When you are the first born child in a family, your first real friends are your cousins. My first friend was my cousin Kathy Forbes. She was two years older than me and she was also the first born child in her family. Eventually, we would both become big sisters to younger brothers named Patrick.

I've been thinking about Kathy a lot this week. She passed away 3 years ago today, after a long, hard-fought battle with brain cancer. She was 43 years old.

This morning when I got up, I poured a coffee and started going through some photo albums my parents had put together for me a few years ago. I had a good time looking at the old family pictures of us kids. All of us look like kids, children and parents alike.

I scanned the first of what I expect will become many batches of photos from those albums and put them on flickr. I plan to share them with my cousins because I'm sure that some of them have either not been seen in a while or not seen at all by them.

In other news, today is Gracie's birthday. She's 4. Sam turns 4 on Monday. They got to have chicken for dinner and a fancy organic dog cookie for a treat earlier today. It's a dog life around here for sure.

Via Flickr:
me and my cousin Kathy, hanging at Grandma Forbes' house during the summer of 1968.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

not for me

I'm on vacation this week, home with the dogs. Mark will be off next week so this week I've been puttering around the house and doing some reading.

Just got back from a walk with the dogs and thought I'd put a movie on while I sorted out some papers in my office. "Eat Pray Love" was available on demand. Started to watch it, got about 9 minutes in before I had to shut it off. Admittedly, I have not read the book. I'm not big on things that have "pray" or "prayer" in the title (unless it's A Prayer for Owen Meany). I find that if I can't care about the main character in a movie after 5 minutes, I'm probably not going to stick with it. I gave this one 9 so that's four extra minutes. Generous of me huh?

Partly I blame documentaries. We've been watching a lot of them lately and after a spell of them, I find it tough to go back to movies. I may just have to put some music on while I sort and shred and declutter my mess of an office.

Hard to figure out how I will accomplish that without disturbing the dogs who are sleeping under my chair right now. They love a walk but they crash hard after it's over. I may just let them sleep for a little while before I dig in. Looks like it's going to rain today anyway, so I'm in no rush to get through it all.

Found this a few weeks ago. Forgot how awesome Fernwood Tonight had been. The added bonus of a young Tom Waits is extra fun.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Dirty Tricks in Kingston

Our federal election is on Monday. This election, our riding is actually in play and as a result, I have voted (we voted at the advance polls last weekend) strategically rather than the way I would have preferred to.

Things are getting REALLY nasty in our riding and I received the following email tonight about just how nasty it's getting. If you're in the Kingston & the Islands riding, or have friends and relatives here, please share this with them.

Received this tonight via email:

I am writing to warn you about a new and especially dirty political tactic that has already been used to target other Liberal candidates in various parts of Canada and is now being used against the Ted Hsu campaign here in Kingston. Residents are receiving rude phone calls, often in the middle of the night, by people fraudulently claiming to be working for our campaign. This is a classic Republican-style dirty trick that is obviously intended to anger those who would otherwise vote for Ted in the hope of turning them against him and/or discouraging them from voting. People who have been woken up by these calls report that they apparently originate from a call centre in the 701 area code in North Dakota, effectively putting them out of reach of Canadian law.

Kingston police have been notified, Elections Canada is already investigating previous incidents and our campaign co-manager, John Clements, has issued a media release. Since Monday is election day, however, it is likely that too few people will hear the truth about this outrage in time to offset the damage that has already been inflicted, and will likely continue over the weekend.

This is where you can make the difference. By forwarding this message to as many people as possible in your circle, you can enable them to direct their outrage against the perpetrators rather than Ted should they be or have been woken up in the middle of the night by such a call. It is clear that someone is paying this American call centre good money to disrupt Liberal campaigns here in Canada, money that Canadian law would require be declared as an election expense (but I would wager never will). In the absence of hard evidence, I won’t make unfounded accusations but also can’t ignore the obvious fact that it is the Liberal candidates in close Liberal-Conservative races who are being targeted in this way. You can draw your own conclusions.

As Liberals, we believe in democracy and respecting voters. We attack what we see as bad and unfounded policies, not people Sadly, our Conservative opponents have emulated their Republican mentors by importing nasty, divisive and very personal attack policies into Canada, which hurts our country, divides us and distracts from the very real challenges that we should be facing together. The Alicia Gordon campaign’s large attack ad in last Saturday’s Whig is a classic case in point in that it grossly distorts Ted’s positions by compiling out-of-context snippets from serious articles he wrote many years ago in an obvious attempt to mislead enough voters to serve their ends. Such cynical and manipulative tactics have thoroughly poisoned US politics, but are still being used because they fool enough of the people enough of the time. The only way to stop them becoming the norm here in Canada is for enough of us to reject those who employ them in the one way that really counts ... at the ballot box.

This is likely to be a close race and, sadly, the tactics discussed above could make a difference. The reality is that by the end of the day on Monday, either Ted Hsu or Alicia Gordon will be our next Member of Parliament. Now is the time to redouble your efforts to ensure that it’s Ted by getting everyone you know out to vote if they haven’t already done so, and by impressing on them the critical importance of voting for Ted.

Best regards,

Ron Hartling

President, Kingston and the Islands Federal Liberal Association

PS. If you receive one of these calls and have sufficient patience at whatever hour it occurs, I would appreciate your leading the caller on in conversation to elicit as much information as you can about who is calling, what they are representing themselves as and why, take copious notes and send those to me. By compiling more evidence, perhaps we can contribute to putting a stop to them.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

straighter than narrow

This past weekend, I got a text from my brother telling me that he was watching a Harry Nilsson documentary on Netflix. In short order, I found "Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)?" and we started to watch.

It was so good, a really lovely tribute to a completely under-appreciated artist. I was introduced to Harry Nilsson as a very little girl. We lived in a bungalow on Murray Place in Amherstview and shared our front porch with a very cool young couple named Mike and Jan. Mike was British and probably a bit of a hippy (this was the very early 1970's) and he introduced me to "The Point." Instantly, I fell in love with the song "Me and my Arrow" and would hum it for days. Much like the Beatles, Harry Nilsson was definitely a big part of the soundtrack of my early childhood.

Watching the movie, hearing all of those old wonderful songs again, made me realize just how big a part it was. I don't think any kid who grew up in the 1970's got out alive without singing about putting the "Lime in the Coconut" The current crew of little kids should probably listen to more Harry, he was a brilliant guy who was taken from us far too young.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

rest in peace Mr Rafferty

I meant to post this yesterday when I first heard about the death of Gerry Rafferty but the day got away from me before I could do it.

The song "Baker Street" always brings a particulary sweet childhood memory back to me whenever I hear it. I recall going on an errand with my dad in our 1974 Dodge Dart. I think we had to go Canadian Tire, the long-gone one down on Rideau Street. I was probably 10 or 11, it was either spring or summertime and I waited in the car while dad ran into the store. On this particular trip, he'd let me pick the radio station (which was a huge deal to me at the time) and he left the radio on for me while he was in the store. While he was gone, I remember both "Baker Street" playing on the radio and "Reminiscing" by the Little River Band. For whatever reason, hearing "Baker Street" always triggers something in my head and I'm back on Rideau Street, happily sitting in the Dodge Dart, waiting for my dad.

I was saddened to hear about Gerry Rafferty's death and about his struggles with alcohol. Thanks to you Mr Rafferty, for the music and the memories.