Saturday, 26 February 2011

Spring is in the air?

Not here, it isn't. At least not yet. Those of you who bemoan the fact that your daffodils are a bit slow coming up.... we still have several feet of snow piled everywhere!!! I spoke with LHB on the phone last night, and it was +23C where he was in South Carolina. At that time, it was -23C here.... *grumble, grumble*

It is -27C here right now, and with that 22 kph wind, it feels like -40C/F. It's the end of February already! We are well below seasonal norms right now.

However, Spring starts pushing a foot through the door tomorrow. Supposedly. The high is going to be -5C. Now that I can handle! I really want to be able to pack away the heavy clothes and pull out shorts and sandals.

Yeah, I know... wishful thinking! It will be months before I'll be dressed in that garb! Hope everyone else is warmer...

Friday, 25 February 2011


Did you know you can buy recycled paint? When I was at the local big box hardware/building supplies store a while back getting the stuff for my house's makeover, I was looking at a 5 gallon pail of paint and trying to decide on a neutral colour to paint every wall in the place. (Houses show and sell better when in neutral. Just don't leave your car that way unless you use the parking brake.) And as I wandered down the aisle, I saw more big buckets of paint, but the price was $40 less.

I had no idea they recycled paint. But for neutral tones, I think that is all I will buy in the future. There are various shades of beiges, browns and greens. It covers well, and looks very nice!

The painting is coming along well. I've finished the living room and foyer. Well, the walls at least. Have the trim to do. The next job is tackling the little main floor bathroom. Had a friend (plumber) cap off the water lines for me and rip out the old sink and vanity. I've got some repairs to do to the walls before painting, and will be putting down vinyl flooring as well, then he'll come back and install the new sink/vanity for me. All for the price of a home cooked meal! (Gotta love a guy who will work for food.)

After that, it will be the kitchen. All the cupboards will be painted white, and the walls the same neutral as everywhere else. Eventually I will have a new countertop installed but that will have to be done by professionals. I asked my plumber friend and he said although he's a handy guy, that's a little above his skill level. He will do the sink and faucet for me.

So things are coming along. I'll be ripping the carpet out of the livingroom soon as well and putting down laminate flooring. I've done that before and know how. Should be able to manage that mostly one armed. It's not that my right arm is completely useless, I just have to be careful what I do. Very careful. I think becoming an enforced southpaw has some advantages, though. When I do finally get this shoulder fixed, at least I will be fairly adept at using my left hand for a lot of things.

Just as an aside, winter has made a very big comeback. It is -30C right now, with a wind chill of -40C/F. That's just downright rude of Mother Nature... Last kick at the can, I suppose. In two days' time, it is supposed to be up to -7C! Perhaps she's menopausal....

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A state of flux

That pretty much describes my life right now. Fluxxed... flummoxed... whatever you want to call it.

A state of upheaval, changes, partings and beginnings.

I've had to make some very difficult decisions of late. Because life as a homeowner on a single income hasn't been an easy one, I came to the conclusion recently that I need to take stock and make some adjustments to allow for a future retirement above the poverty line. It's just too damned expensive for me to own a house by myself, and still try to pad the coffers of my retirement plan.

Sure, I'll get a pension, but it won't be a lot. And I will get the Canada Pension Plan bit too, but that is less than a lot so even added to the piddly pension, it still won't amount to much more than a hill of beans. And because all my hard earned moolah has been going to pay bills and keep the roof over my head, I've not been able to sock much away in my retirement savings plan. It is a paltry sum at the moment and given that I could potentially retire in 11 years, it needs all the help it can get!

So I started picking up overtime. I tried to get a minimum of 8 hours of OT per pay period, or more if possible. It was working, and I was handling it. A measly four hours tacked on to the usual 8 really isn't too hard to handle. I still had my days off, which I value highly, thankyouverymuch.

And then the shit hit the fan. Jan. 26th I injured my shoulder at work. I now have intense stabbing pain when I lift my arm. I am off work for who knows how long, as I wait for the Workers Compensation Board to get their act together and let me know if they are going to approve my claim. Because it looks like I will need a surgical repair job to get this arm working properly again. I can't work until it does. Hell, even getting in and out of my clothes is a pain. Literally.

Take the seemingly inconsequential Supraspinatus muscle and its tendon, which form part of the rotator cuff in the shoulder. This little thing runs along near the top of your scapula (shoulder blade) to the top of the humerus (upper arm bone) and is responsible for the lifting of your arm from 60 - 120 degrees. I now have a full thickness tear through mine, meaning it is literally almost pulled off the bone. Meaning, lifting my arm is virtually impossible. In fact, it can hurt so swiftly, it's like someone has driven a rather pointy knife down into my shoulder. It hurts like freakin' hell! Damn near dropped me to my knees when it happened. And of course, being my dominant arm, I tend to forget and make movements that cause me great discomfort.

So for the past month, I have seen doctors, had MRIs, talked with people at the WCB place, talked with one of the nurses at Staff Health where I work, and basically fretted about where my life is going right now. Because it seems like nowhere is where it is going at the moment. I am on hold.

And that includes my income. Until WCB decides if they will approve my claim, they won't pay me. The hospital isn't paying me because they assume WCB is doing that, and since I am not actually working for them, they have no reason to give me any money. Now, I've not had to deal with a WCB claim being help up like this in the past. It's always been approved right away with any work injury. So I had no idea I should have applied for Employment Insurance benefits right away as well. At least, when I finally did last Friday, they were very helpful and pushed my EI claim through right away (extreme hardship - no money to put food on the table) so I should be getting some money from them on Friday this week. Who knew there actually exists a government agency that can work expediently!!! I sure as hell didn't. But I am so very glad they did. Because I also had to go talk to the bank so that bills wouldn't go NSF and put me ever deeper in the hole.

I am truly hoping WCB comes through, because there is about a $1000 a month difference between WCB and EI benefits. WCB will pay 90% of my take home base wage, whereas EI pays 55% up to a max of $400 per week.

But the hardest parts of this whole thing are looking at selling my house, finding a new home for my dog and becoming a tenant once again. The biggest thing is finding a good home for my dog. I love her to bits but in all reality, I just can't keep her. And with the help of my older sister and one of her friend's daughters, I may have a lead on a very good home. I will be meeting the woman on Friday, when she comes over to meet Zoë. She had a Bullmastiff until about a month ago, when hers died of a heart attack. She has two other dogs at home, both Bullmastiff crosses, and is quite excited about meeting my girl. So that eases the heartache of this for me. Plus I will always be able to keep in touch and know how Zoë is doing.

I've been trying to paint and do a few cosmetics around the house to spruce it up for selling. I've discovered that I can paint left handed almost as good as I can right handed, although I do have some touching up on the ceiling and baseboards to do. And it is slower. Did you know white primer works really well for covering those 'oops' marks where the brush or roller touches the stipple ceiling? And since I am painting all the trim (around the doors and windows, as well as all the baseboards) white, I am not too concerned about the oops marks on those. They are going from grey to white anyway... a little 'sand' colour makes no never mind.

A friend who is a plumber by training (although he currently owns/runs a furniture manufacturing plant) came over today to cap off the water lines in the little half bath on the main floor, ripping out the (ugly) old (chipped and rusty) sink and vanity, and baring the walls for me to patch and paint. A new vanity/sink combo stands in its box, awaiting installation in the near future. I will have to fill the hole in the floor left my the old vanity (it was original and had been tiled around) and put new flooring down. But for the price of a couple of home cooked meals, he is more than happy to help me out. He lives on his own and tires of Hamburger Helper. So he works, we visit, I feed him, and it's a done deal. Can't ask for more than that!

I've been keeping my eye on the real estate market too, and it's looking pretty good here. Our Economy has weathered the recession quite well and is picking up nicely. I am hoping to get a bit more than what I paid for this thing almost 3 years ago. That will help me pay off my debts and have some money to stuff into my retirement stash.

I am hoping to have this part of the transition done before I have to have surgery on my shoulder. Because that is more than likely what has to happen. I need that tendon laced back onto the bone so I can lift my arm again. I've heard the recover is lengthy. Months long. So at this point, I have no idea of when I will be back at work. I am now trying to get the painting and minor repairs/renos done as quickly as I can so I can sell the house, get moved and settled into a new place, before I am incapacitated. Because I will be. I've read that you cannot use the arm for anything (including just simply raising it up) for about 6 weeks after the operation. And that means I won't be driving either, as my vehicle is a 5 speed.

Needless to say, I am feeling a bit under the gun at the moment. I keep looking at apartments for rent, trying to figure out where I can live and still keep the cats. There are a few options, but vacancy rates are low here. But at least there are new places being built that are pet friendly, so I should be okay. I hope. My arm should be okay with surgery. I hope. The dog should be okay at a new home. I hope. I should be able to avoid being completely destitute. I hope.

I am trying to remain hopeful. Not hopeless. Sometimes it is a toss up.

Thursday, 17 February 2011


photo by Greg Talecki

A blizzard has rolled into Manitoba this evening, possibly upping the snow levels to more than we need for another catastrophic flood in a couple of months. They are calling for 5 - 10 cm of new snow overnight but it's hard to tell just how much has come down so far because the winds are gusting up to 70 kph.

My yard is full of snow drifts again so I will have to enlist the help of the teenage boys next door to shovel it out. My shoulder isn't in any shape to allow me to do that. Thankfully, the storm is supposed to end by noon tomorrow.

I was out for dinner with some girlfriends at the local Olive Garden this evening, our usual hangout for soup, salad and breadsticks. Man, I love their breadsticks! Hot from the oven, with lots of garlicky butter on top. Even tastier when combined with great friends and good conversation.

The storm hadn't started yet when we got to the restaurant, but by the time we left, there had been freezing rain, which coated the entire car in a thin, hard crust of opaqueness, topped off with a layer of sticky white snow plastered over the entire passenger side. Brushing the snow off was easy, but the ice on the windows resisted all but the most vigorous and frantic scrapings to remove enough for safe driving.

(photog. unknown)

I am the only one of the bunch that actually lives in the city. The rest are country girls (I was once one of their number) and two didn't make it in at all. The other two who did had nerve wracking drives home through whiteout conditions in the dark. (See first photo, which was actually taken here in Winnipeg, but remove all traces of daylight.) No easy feat to stay on the road when you can't see anything more than 5 feet in any direction around you. One messaged me after she got home and said her normal 35 minute drive was two hours of white knuckle, headache inducing torture!

I live about a 10 minute drive from the restaurant, and it was a bit of a white knuckle drive for me... and I had the benefit of street lights and curbs to keep me on the straight and narrow home! Here's hoping this is the last storm of the season and that the spring melt is a long, slow one.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


A short while back, I noticed a blog spammer had found my blog and was leaving comments on older posts (like from a couple years ago). Over a few days, I noticed also that they were getting closer to the more recent ones, so I activated comment moderation.

And then completely forgot about it and couldn't understand why no one was leaving any comments on the last few posts!!! So this morning, I went to check settings to see if something was amiss.

And it was, but not with blogger... my memory was amiss. I didn't recall I had done this until I saw the long list of comments waiting to be approved! 

So I think I am now going to switch to word verification, because this is obviously too much work! And if I don't remember to look, no one will ever be commenting on here again.

Time to institute the KISS principle... keep it simple, stupid!!!

Sorry for the confusion, folks. :-\

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

There are times when the confusion reigns, when more questions than answers swirl through the consciousness of both. Circumstances complicated unintentionally by forces stronger than the two. Attraction not initially anticipated, but grows ever stronger with time. Endings, continuations, pauses, silences, words spilling from hearts torn, meetings, tears, touches, tenderness. It all engulfs with at times terrifying power the hearts that know. The ability to make that vital decision not materializing in any form; a decision made but not wanted... then not accepted by either. A willingness to seek assistance, a path to work through the brambles, to hopefully finally find the clearing where the two hearts can openly express what surges beneath. Time... it will take time... and must be accomplished for all hearts' survival.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts, and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place.

 What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS:     He said , 'Where am I, Cathy?'
ATTORNEY:  And why did that upset you?
WITNESS:     My name is Susan!

ATTORNEY:  What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS:     Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

ATTORNEY:  Are you sexually active?
WITNESS:     No, I just lie there.

ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
WITNESS:     Yes.
ATTORNEY:  And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS:     I forget.
ATTORNEY:  You forget?  Can you give us an example of something you forgot?

ATTORNEY:  Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
WITNESS:     We both do.
ATTORNEY:  Voodoo?
WITNESS:     We do..
ATTORNEY:  You do?
WITNESS:     Yes, voodoo.

ATTORNEY:  Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS:  Did you actually pass the bar exam?

ATTORNEY:  The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS:      He's 20, much like your IQ.

ATTORNEY:  Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS:     Are you shitting me?

ATTORNEY:  So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
WITNESS:     Yes.
ATTORNEY:  And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS:     Getting laid

ATTORNEY:  She had three children, right?
WITNESS:     Yes.
ATTORNEY:  How many were boys?
ATTORNEY:   Were there any girls?
WITNESS:      Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?

ATTORNEY:  How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS:     By death..
ATTORNEY:  And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS:     Take a guess.

ATTORNEY:  Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS:     He was about medium height and had a beard
ATTORNEY:  Was this a male or a female?
WITNESS:     Unless the Circus was in town I'm going with male.

ATTORNEY:  Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS:  No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

ATTORNEY:  Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS:     All of them ... The live ones put up too much of a fight.

ATTORNEY:  ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
WITNESS:     Oral ...

ATTORNEY:  Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS:     The autopsy started around 8:30 PM
ATTORNEY:  And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS:     If not, he was by the time I finished.

ATTORNEY:  Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS:     Are you qualified to ask that question?

And last:

ATTORNEY:  Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
WITNESS:     No.
ATTORNEY:  Did you check for blood pressure?
WITNESS:     No.
ATTORNEY:  Did you check for breathing?
WITNESS:     No.
ATTORNEY:  So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
WITNESS:     No.
ATTORNEY:  How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS:     Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY:  I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS:     Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

Canadian Misconceptions travel blogger Nicole Feenstra has a posting on her Meandering Musings blog that made me just about snort my hot chocolate out my nose. Perhaps some of my foreign followers have had some of these same questions regarding the Great White North? Well, read away and get your answers!

(Please note that while the questions are real, the answers are all in sarcastic fun.)

Canadians are an oft misinterpreted bunch. Plenty of people think we cuddle up to polar bears in igloos at night and in 2008, Australia even listed Canada as dangerous to visit.
The land down under’s travel advisory website suggested Aussies “exercise caution” when travelling to the great, white, avalanche-infested abyss known as Canada.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade lists snow, terrorism, ice and forest fires that can burst forth “at any time” as some of our many grave dangers.
Chile, Latvia and South Korea are all listed as being safer to visit than Canada.
This reminds me of an email a co-worker forwarded to our editorial team recently. These queries were made in light of the upcoming Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, and while the answers are sarcastic, the questions are very much real!
Q: I have never seen it warm on Canadian TV, so how do the plants grow? (England)
A. We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around and watch them die.
Q: Will I be able to see polar bears in the street? (USA)
A: Depends on how much you’ve been drinking.
Q: I want to walk from Vancouver to Toronto – can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it’s only four thousand miles, take lots of water.
Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Canada? (Sweden)
A: So it’s true what they say about Swedes.
Q: Are there any ATM’s (cash machines) in Canada? Can you send me a list of them in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Halifax? (England)
A: What, did your last slave die?
Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Canada? (USA)
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Ca-na-da is that big country to your north… oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Calgary. Come naked.
Q: Which direction is north in Canada? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we’ll send the rest of the directions.
Q: Can I bring cutlery into Canada? (England)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.
Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys’ Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-t ri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is…oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Vancouver and in Calgary, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.
Q: Do you have perfume in Canada? (Germany)
A: No, WE don’t stink.
Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Where can I sell it in Canada? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.
Q: Can you tell me the regions in British Columbia where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, gay nightclubs.
Q: Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada? (USA)
A: Only at Thanksgiving.
Q: Are there supermarkets in Toronto and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gathers. Milk is illegal.
Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Canada, but I forget its name. It’s a kind of big horse with horns. (USA)
A: It’s called a moose. They are tall and very violent, eating the brains of anyone walking close to them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.
Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you will have to learn it first.

Ceiling Cat

You know what sheet metal sounds like when you wiggle it? That wounka-wounka kind of noise?

I get to listen to that a lot here.

The cats can get up in the ceiling in the basement and wander around on top of the furnace duct work. Sometimes they run around and wrestle in there. At least, that is what I assume they are doing but I can't see them.

It resonates throughout the house, that noise; coming in to every room through the heating vent on the floor.

It's not often I catch one of them up there, but today I did.

Lila. Of course.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Birth Day

 I'm going to bet not too many people my age have a photo of themselves being born. Well, this is me arriving into this world, 53 years ago today. It was 7:25 in the evening. That's my dad in the back by the window. He was an avid photographer and convinced someone to snap this shot (plus one of me halfway out but that was a little too graphic). Given that he developed his own film in a makeshift darkroom in the bathroom, there was no worries about some photo shop censoring anything!

I have the telegram my dad sent to my mum's parents, announcing my birth.

It's pretty cool all the stuff my mum saved. All my report cards from school, little pictures I drew. For that, I am ever grateful. Things I was too young to remember much of are preserved in a big brown manila envelope.

So no big plans for the day yet. Other than taking the dog to the vet for her shots and buying a bathroom vanity and some paint. I'm going to see if I can paint left handed...

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Kitty Midnight Madness

The Winnipeg Humane Society is a wonderful place and they've come up with a funny and creative ad to get people to adopt cats. Local 2nd generation furniture store owner Andy Hill, who has followed in his father's footsteps with their Kern Hill Furniture store as well as the rapid-fire tv and radio ads, takes his style to the Humane Society's plea for adoptions. Even if you don't know who he is, or the history of the store and their ads, this is funny!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The hardest thing

Sometimes it is the hardest thing to do what you know is right for you, but is so not what you want.

Sometimes you must take action and it breaks your heart... but your heart knows, in the long run, it will be better for it.

Sometimes no matter how much you want something, it just isn't in the cards, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Just for Andrea

A crow is seen in front of the setting sun in Kimitsu, east of Tokyo on February 4, 2011.
Taken from (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

Thursday, 3 February 2011

We're all the same

"Bleed Red" - Ronnie Dunn

I'm a fan of some country music... not all by any means. But one voice that has always really appealed to me is that of Ronnie Dunn, formerly of the duo, Brook and Dunn. He's considered to have probably the best male voice in country music these days.

I've seen him in concert twice with Kix Brooks and can attest to the power of his voice. That man can sing! What you hear on a recording is exactly the same as in person. He's not one that needs the vocals tweaked and tuned to sound good. I've watched and heard him sing "Believe" on stage with only a microphone.... no band (initially - they all filtered back in later in the song) and just a spotlight. Gave me goosebumps then, and even the memory gives them to me now.

Brooks and Dunn dissolved this past August after a 20 year career. Ronnie is now putting out his first solo album and this song is the first release. I'm waiting for the rest... I'm sure they will be equally as good!

There's no video for this song yet, so click on the link above to listen. In these times of turmoil and tension, hatred and distrust, these words have meaning for all of us.

Lyrics - Bleed Red

Let’s say we’re sorry before it’s too late 
Give forgiveness a chance 
Turn the anger into water 
Let it slip through our hands
We all bleed red 
We all taste rain 
We all fall down lose our way 
We all say words we regret 
We all cry tears 
We all bleed red
If we’re fighting we’re both losing 
We’re just wasting our time 
Because my scars they are your scars 
And your world is mine 
You and I
We all bleed red 
We all taste rain 
We all fall down lose our way 
We all say words we regret 
We all cry tears 
We all bleed red 
Sometimes we’re strong 
Sometimes we’re weak 
Sometimes we’re hurt and it cuts deep 
We live this life breath to breath 
We’re all the same 
We all bleed red
Let’s say we’re sorry before it’s too late
We all bleed red 
We all taste rain 
We all fall down lose our way 
We all say words we regret 
We all cry tears 
We all bleed red 
Sometimes we’re strong 
Sometimes we’re weak 
Sometimes we’re hurt and it cuts deep 
We live this life breath to breath 
We’re all the same
We all bleed red

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The right idea

It is -31C outside right now, if you are sheltered from the wind.

If not, it feels like -42C.

Lila has the right idea...

Find a warm patch of sunshine and take a nap.