Monday, September 29, 2014

Cheer in the rain

I was reading another blog where the author quoted a poet who said that "autumn was hard to take straight".  Sunflowers are meant to be enjoyed in the moment, taken straight. 

Even in the rain, sunflowers are the more cheerful flowers, aren't they? 

The very last of my flowers and the most showy of them all.  I'm not looking forward to winter quite yet, but I'm going to enjoy these happy signs of autumn.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


I have a confession to make.  Everytime my in-laws have an event, I feel put-upon.  I immediately feel all defensive and my mind starts to think of reasons why I can't attend, plan, help, or even approve the event. 

I don't even know why that is, but I think it's because they just do things differently than I grew up with.  Why is that wrong?  Of course it isn't.  My brain knows that, but first it has to go through it's usual thought cycle.  And I really have to start asking them to define the event.

Part of the problem is that it feels like I'm being dumped on unexpectedly.  If I had asked "what does a party mean to you?" before I agreed to go to the party, I wouldn't then feel surprised to find out that it means an all day commitment and I should bring a dinner with me.  I may have thought I should only bring a small gift and eat cake while visiting for a couple of hours. 

That example hasn't exactly happened, but it's just an example after all.

In this case, I don't even think they knew what they meant at first with this event.  This is new. 

Tomorrow we are interring my father-in-law's ashes. 

What's the protocol for that?  None of us have done this before.  Whatever any of us have grown up with, this is new.  Once upon a time, we were children who attended these things for relatives we hardly knew.  Now we have to define them, organize them, carry them out.  

And only I am thinking selfishly about me.  I don't want to bake.  I don't want to spend my Saturday in the country.  I'm busy and I'd like to start insulating my basement.  But this isn't about me.  It's about my mother-in-law and honouring her husband and his wishes. And it's about his many children who still grieve his absence.

It's a hard thing they are doing and I'm just thinking about me.  I'm terrible.  I'm doing so little.  I've planned so little, I'm preparing so little.  And I'm so ungrateful for the work that others are doing to make this happen.  

Who cares if the squares and cheese that I'd thought we would share after the short ceremony is now a full potluck meal?  That's not what I expected at the start.  Does it really matter?  So it's different than I expected.  If this is their family custom, or the way they want to pay tribute to their father, it's lovely     

And if I can provide a few squares and some flowers, then I'll be happy to share the time with them. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Pssshhh click

That was the sound of my favourite shoe.

Pssshhh click
Pssshhh click
Pssshhh click
Pssshhh click

It was like stepping on a teeny tiny whoopie cushion with every left step.


And then the sound of a tiny nail with the right.


Pssshhh click
Pssshhh click

More annoying to me than anyone else, I hope, but I love those shoes.  They were comfortable right from the store, as if I'd already worn them in.

Then this summer the sound changed.  I didn't know why the difference, but now they sound like really loud flip flops.  Still really comfortable, open toe, a good match for most of my summer work clothes.

So I wore them.  A lot.  And everyone could hear me coming down the hall for my morning coffee. And then again for my coffee refill.  And sometimes in the afternoon just one more time.

Flip flip flip flip flip

I had to change my route.  I was sure no one liked the sound and maybe I don't need everyone to know exactly how many cups of coffee I drink.   If I cut through the open area by the elevators, I could enter near the kitchen and just pass two admins instead of going down the long corridor of cubicles filled with employees.

Fine.  New route selected.  Fewer people bothered.  I still wore my favourite shoes and had my coffee.

This morning I discovered why my shoes didn't Pssshhh click anymore.

It was a different pair!  My other favourite shoes had been buried beneath the rain boots all summer and I've missed a whole season of wearing them.

They are red, not black.  I'm assuming they still Psshhh click, but it's raining today so I didn't wear them.   That's why I lifted the rubber boots out of the box in the first place.

Next year I'm going to Pssshhh click down the corrider and enjoy my red shoes.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


I'm glad I didn't have a phone with me.  Or an iPod.

Just a book and my picnic lunch.

I sat and ate my picnic in the park, listening to the leaves fall from the trees.  It's quiet and you'd miss the sound if you had anything else to distract you, but they do make soft sounds as they fall.

And obviously they make a sound as the multitude of walkers and joggers crunch down on them, releasing the scent of fall, mingling with the vanilla scent of the allysum growing in the huge planter beside me.

I love fall and I love Indian Summers even more.

Monday, September 22, 2014


I thought that ornamental crabapples served no purpose.  Besides being ornamental, of course.  And in truth, they are only really ornamental in the spring when in full bloom.

I just watched a squirrel for one hour run back and forth between the tree and his stockpile, carrying an apple in his teeth on every second lap.

For a squirrel, it isn't only ornamental.  It's winter food.  

Maybe it's even wine by the time he gets to it.  And that's a good thing.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I don't actually call myself a blogger anymore because it's just too sad to see this empty space. 

However, if you're following the blog, this may be the best place to tell you.

I got a job!

Not that I haven't been working every year of my life.  I've done all sorts of things in the last few years, including editing, formatting, designing corporate stationery, administration, invigilating (proctoring) exams, reception and writing notes. 

Lately it's added up to almost a full time job and it's all very interesting.  What other job lets you learn about house framing, stress management and coding in SQL all in one day?  And then watching over the writing of exams for an hour or two?  It's fun and every one of those tasks actually includes a whole lot more, but that's maybe a nice, simple way to describe my days.  I'm certainly not leaving this job due to the environment or the tasks or the great people around me. 

However, it isn't actually full-time.  It feels like full-time because I'm out of the house a lot.  But there are gaps between classes, or classes are cancelled and I don't have to be there.  Or students get sick and I can't attend classes without them, or they have a scheduled exam during which I am not there.  And school holidays (that don't coincide with my kids' school holidays) and summer holidays are all unpaid.

There are obviously positives to that too that I had to consider before accepting a full-time job.  I won't have those summer holidays anymore to play with and garden in.  I won't be able to buy groceries in the middle of the day between classes or sleep an extra hour because class isn't until 9:15.  And I'll miss the people.  And it feels good to provide a needed service to students.

But here's the thing.  I have teenagers.  Teenagers are expensive.  They eat as much as adults or more.  They use tons of water (but I'm glad they're clean now).  Their activities are more expensive.  We can't really afford teenagers on 1 1/2 income.   

But now I'll get paid more.  I know from semester to semester what my hours will be.  I'll get benefits to top up Yvon's benefits.  Holidays will be paid.  I'll be learning new things, challenged in new ways, meeting new people.    It shouldn't all be about money, and it isn't really.  There's always more, but the money does/should allow for a slightly different lifestyle for us.

So, the new job?  Back to Hewlett-Packard. I'll be working with a friend as his Project Administrator.  It's almost a government job, being located in their client's facilities, but hopefully has the attitudes and work ethic of still being a private corporation.  I know that some government jobs are great, but in my experience, I'd prefer to be in the private world.

Anyway, Easter Monday is my first official day.  You gotta like that it's also my first paid holiday of my new career.  So expect me to blog less because I'll be working more.

                                    (I know.  Blog less?  Less than what?)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Menu Planning

Okay.  I'll try to be back and present on the blog.  That was my longest absence yet.

I won't quite get you caught up in everything that's going on around here because it's a bit much, really.  And that kind of thinking stops me dead in my tracks and I won't write ever again.

Basically, I've been easing my way back into fulltime employment.  I'm not there yet, but it's threatening to happen in the new year.  Last November I started working a very casual job that quickly became not-so-casual.  This September it turned into a 20 hr/week  job which greatly cuts into my time spent on homemaking.  Part-time work sometimes doesn't make sense though.  Although it's only 20 hours a week, it means adding hours for travel and time for lunch every day and suddenly I find I'm away from home for 8 hours and only billing for 5. 

So an opportunity came up to apply for a fulltime job.  Maybe I wasn't ready, but it felt like it might have been a good fit.  I didn't get the job, but another one seems to be presenting itself right away which may work out better.  Anyway, we'll see what happens in the new year.

I've let some things in my life slip a bit.  Apples were picked and went bad.  Pears as well.  Swiss chard was left to freeze in the garden.   Kale as well.   A few leeks are also buried in the snow.  I missed my usual trip to the Okanagan for wine and fun, and I didn't can any peaches and only a bit of applesauce.

And I've only managed to watch Beth play one game of volleyball on her first-ever school team.  I hate that.  Way more than I regret not canning things.  I don't want to have to miss things that are important to the girls, especially while they still want me to watch.

I do realize that I can't do everything as if I wasn't working.  I'm really not beating myself up about it, but it is an adjustment. 

One of the things I've successfully been doing to help make things manageable is to plan my weekly meals.  Just the dinners. 

Once a week (Mondays), I sit down and try to watch a cooking show for inspiration.  Usually it's Rachel Ray's Week in a Day.  Then I plan my meals, go shopping and cook as much as I can for the week.  It doesn't eliminate the rush at dinner time totally, but it helps a whole lot.  It means that if I get home before Yvon, I can sit with the girls for a while and chat about our days, find out about homework or friends and keep in touch.   Dinner just needs reheating or a few things done to finish them.

For example, this was last week's menu.

       Potatoes, Corn,  Roast Pork Loin with apples (already in the freezer ready to go)

       Turkey bean casserole (So yummy - inspired by Rachel Ray)

       Gnocchi with creamy artichoke sauce (meh)

       Elk sausages, carrots and polenta (not everyone's favourite, but I love it)

Then when I had no ideas for Friday (and I don't  plan Saturday and Sunday), Alice filled in every blank day with "Sausage, sausage, sausage".  I guess I don't have to ask her what she likes for dinner anymore. We actually went out for dinner.  Which is precisely why I like to plan.  It's way to expensive to got out with 6 people (we had one friend with us) and means I worked all that day and only broke even.  What's the point of that? 

Lunches consist of leftovers, and weekends give us a chance to empty the fridge and have things like KD, scrambled eggs or pancakes.

One day last week (? maybe the week before) my neighbour called and asked if I wanted to grind fresh moose meat in his garage while he butchered one leg.  I went home with about ten packages of ground meat and stew meat.  Now I have to incorporate more game into our menus. 

This week's menu is:

      Curried chicken and veggies, coconut rice and gingerbread cake (brought to a monthly potluck dinner)

       Moose meat with BBQ sauce, stuffed potatoes and beans

      Moose shepherd's pie (I made an extra for my generous neighbour)

      Pasta with creamy shrimp sauce (I don't work Thursdays, so I didn't have to pre-make this)

     Shrimp and sprouts in rice wraps, ginger/soy dip

I've gone through phases of menu planning before, and just making the plan eases the stress of feeding my family every day.  Preparing as much as possible is helping that much more.

Is there anything you do that could help me even more?  As finals at school approach and my workload increases,  I may need as much help as I can get!