Monday, January 31, 2011


Bill, at a Mexican restaurant

Bill and I tend to visit restaurants for birthdays and anniversaries because we're very busy and/or cannot afford to do so outside of special occasions, but I think that's more acceptable.

Back in the day, when Dale was alive and working as a pipeline consultant, we ate out three to four nights per week. I was working as a store manager and often ended up staying past 7:00 pm, I'd come home, pick up Jamie and take her to the steakhouse, or the all day breakfast place. This ended briefly after Dale lost the consulting job, but began again once he started his own consulting firm.

Back then, it was nothing to spend $300 to $400 per week on supper; I can't tell you what that would have meant to my family two years ago (or last summer, for that matter) I suppose it's been a learning experience for us all.

Here's what I've learned personally;

1. While I truly enjoy buying leather handbags, they're at least $70 more than I'm comfortable spending and a helluva lot heavier. I'm not saying that I will always buy cheap vinyl bags, but for now I'm happy if I can get a good cross-body bag that is well made and has the look I'm going for.

2. I can buy all the high heeled shoes I want, but that doesn't mean that I'll have the energy to wear them on the weekends. Pile lined hiking boots and decent sneakers will get me through anything this year, including nights out at the dance club.

3. I no longer have my 50% clothing discount but I know the sales cycles at most stores and can find name brand jeans, khakis and blouses for $20, $13 and $15 respectively. I also shop bra sales and recently found one in purple lace (regular $49.99, now 50% off the last marked price of $39.99) At American Eagle, I found Bill two pairs of jeans that had been marked down to $14.99 a pair.

4. Even though I'm still gainfully employed, I go through the grocery store with a budget in mind. I buy meat in large quantities, separate it at home and store it in our 7 cubic foot freezer. I look for "buy 1, get 1 free" sales.

5. I'm getting my hair done in a salon again, but this time I'm going every six weeks instead of once a month.

6. Jamie gave me a Student Price Card, which gets me 10% off at lots of different places, including a large department store at the mall. I think I've saved at least $30 since I got it.

My biggest expense these days seems to be coffee. I make coffee at the office in the morning, but by afternoon when I go out to make my deliveries, I'm looking for iced coffee to get me through the afternoon. Most days, I spend another $6 on fast food. Bill and I were recently discussing this and want to make some changes, like making sandwhiches or subs or something to carry on the road. Seriously, our cholesterol will thank us.

Since I started this post, a bouquet of Edible Arrangements arrived from my office (love those fruit bouquets!) and Bill arrived with my birthday gift. Bye for now!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

letters to Dale

Dear Dale,

It's been awhile since I've felt like writing you, but so many things cross my mind while I'm working and driving around town; sometimes I make believe that you'll be visiting soon and I can catch you up.

Tomorrow is my birthday, I'll be forty-six years old. Hard to believe that I was thirty-seven when you died! To be honest, I feel like I'm still thirty-seven, so I guess that's good. Remember how we used to celebrate together? I'm not sure if I ever said that some years, I kind of resented you for letting me pick my own birthday to ignore (weren't we always broke on mine anyway?) I sometimes hoped you'd say "Let's celebrate on January 31st this year" but of course, this never happened. It might have, had you not faced those issues with alcohol, but that's a point I try not to dwell on.

I saw Shane last week - I almost didn't recognise him!I never thought he'd ever shave off that mustache, but he did. He doesn't look like the Marlborough Man anymore; to be honest he's starting to look a little old. I didn't speak to him - I didn't like him when you were alive and not much has changed.

Kerry Wagstaff left me a facebook message a few weeks ago, asking about all those Led Zeppelin CD's I offered him after you died. I almost fell over...seriously? You've been dead for more than eight years and he just remembered?! Did he think I still had them? He's a nice guy, but has not changed much since our high school days.

Al's dog Wiley died a few months back, but I remember thinking that you would know that, knowing how much you loved him (and all border collies in general) Yanno, Lucy is nine years old now and she is STILL spazzy for a border collie...but Mum & Jim love her and take care of her.

The city has grown to almost 100,000 people and you would hardly recognize it anymore. They closed down two nursing homes (the one by Bower Mall and the one in Lower Fairview) and built a monstrous new facility by the old duplex. Who knew we even had the space, but they're building in all kinds of forgotten places.

Jamie moved out six months ago to attend college (!!!) and I think that she has finally come to a place where she's accepted that you were sick and it wasn't really about her, but more about you. She hasn't seen her own dad since she was 17, and she has accepted Bill and I as her only parents. You'd be so proud of her!

Speaking of kids, Jamie is here today and brought her new Wii for us to try so I should go join them.



Friday, January 28, 2011

new beginnings

Em, trying on a Southern Belle costume at Superstore, 2009

I'm currently torn between feeling a sense of relief at work, and worry, because Marianne was dismissed from her duties this past Wednesday. I'm not very worried about her replacement, as much as I worry it'll take Marianne awhile to find another position. To be honest, I think that she's unable to handle a full time job due to her mental instability.

She demonstrates signs of Asperger's, but she has never mentioned anything other than a history of depression. However, her behaviour has already driven off her two brothers and I believe that she sometimes emotionally abuses her mother, and I'm not sure how well she's going to adjust with this latest setback.

Today I'm looking forward to my four day weekend, which began this morning. Just after I accepted my six month contract extension, I requested four days of unpaid leave, which will serve as a mini vacation as well as mental health time. A person needs that in this industry!

Bill and I might go dancing on Saturday, to celebrate my birthday on Monday. Also, I'm really looking forward to three days straight spent with him, because even though we work together, we hardly see each other.

Happy Friday!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

it was an ativan week

out my bedroom window

It's 2 °C today, which is tank top weather for us! Thank goodness, because we've been totally stressed out by our co-worker at the office and this weekend needed to be relaxing. We didn't want to shovel snow or be stuck inside due to harsh weather conditions.

As it turned out, we had time to clean the house before I left to take Devon, my friend from college math class last year, out to lunch for her birthday. After returning, I did some laundry and sat down to watch Season Two of True Blood. Today we were going to take my step-dad's birthday gift out to him but Bill is sick.

I believe he'll be laying down again in a moment.

I'm obsessed with work problems as usual, only this time it's not the new, young, arrogant boss from Dubai or customers treating me badly, it's the lack of organizational skills possessed by our OSA Specialist (obstructive sleep apnea) and while it's been an issue for awhile, it came to a head this past week.

The new boss had been putting the onus on me to keep Marianne organized but that has been a nightmare; I'm out of the office doing home deliveries on most afternoons. The new respiratory therapist is out doing assessments and that leaves Marianne on her own to trash the office.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that! We have a fitting room, which she keeps relatively uncluttered, but the counters in the open office space, the mask storage room and the lunch room have machines, accessories, empty boxes, files, used tubing, instruction manuals, pop cans, gum and other debris littered all over them.

The new RT and myself decided to clean on Monday, since Omar (our new boss) was due on Wednesday. It took the two of us three hours to get it done and the very next day she started dumping again. Each time we'd ask her to tidy she'd snap at us. One morning she realized I'd put the phone book where it belonged, and she muttered "for fuck's sakes!" and threw it back where she'd had it before. To be honest, I think she uses that space under the telephone holder to hide bags of chips. *sigh*

Anyway, the straw that broke the camel's back was Friday morning. I'd been out all day Thursday delivering, and the RT called me at home that evening to say she'd had to go in to get pediatric supplies for an overnight oximetry. While she was there she'd noticed that several boxes had been pulled out, as well as several masks, and they were all left out on the table we use to seal equipment after being disinfected. She said she'd left a note for Marianne, asking her to put these items back in their places because hadn't been able to use the table.

I know that Marianne found that note at 7:45 am because that's when I arrived. I waited until 9:00 to say something.

"Marianne," I began. "What's out on the sealing table?"

"Oh," she replied. "That's some stuff I need to deal with."

"Can you put them away until you need them?"

"No, I am not finished with them yet."

"But you're doing the bank deposit."

"I'll do it later."

"Sorry Marianne but I've been instructed to keep everything to standard and I must insist."

At that point she jumped up and stomped into the room, throwing the boxes on the shelf as she went and yelling at me. I don't remember what she said, but I do remember thinking OMG! Dale used to do this to me to get me to shut up and go away and then I was just mad for having to be exposed to that kind of crap. I did everytrhing I could to avoid that kind of abuse in the last eight years and I am not taking it from a lazy, middle aged woman who still lives at home and makes her widowed mother pay for all her bedroom renos. (I am still really mad, obviously)

I guess we'll see how things play out because I contacted Omar and HR in the afternoon, and Omar seemed pretty happy to have more documentation on her. I am torn between anger at being subjected to her mess and always having to clean up after her, guilt for knowing that I probably gave Omar the ammunition to have her terminated, and worry, because I do NOT want to take over any of her duties. I have enough of my own.

I hope that Jamie comes over later today. I have to pick up my contact lenses at Costco and she loves that place.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

good news

photo by Cindy Kassab

My work contract ended yesterday and my company extended it for another six months. It's been pretty frustrating, so it came as a HUGE surprise that they wanted to raise my hourly rate by $3.60.

BIGGEST raise I've ever received, and takes a bit of the sting out of the way that they've been handling my whole situation. Now I'm only $0.90 behind Bill, which has him chomping at the bit to get his air brakes course, which raises his rate by a couple dollars.

The snow has been driving us all crazy again this year, and my front lawn is completely covered by 18" - 24" drifts. Yesterday when I let Lola out the back door, she couldn't get down the stairs or across the lawn, so I had to shovel. First the deck, then the stairs, then a trail to the fence where our trash pick up box is, then another trail in a circle so that she could get her business done. It's hilarious watching her as she tries to maneauver through it all, lol.

Our family has been talking about music a lot lately, and we were just saying how Em's generation is the worst one since ours (in the 80's) where the music is disappointing as a whole; major synthesizers, lots of computer generated crap and lots of covers. To be honest, I don't listen to a lot of teen dance stuff anyway, but if someone like Jamie can't handle the new stuff, there must be something to it. Both she and Bill are on iTunes and Youtube every single day.

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

ice land

photo taken by Arnel, in Calgary, AB, this morning.

Thursday's +0° temps created havoc all over Alberta! Snow that had been mashed into the highways all winter was melted by late afternoon and the next day when it began to freeze, it was bad. Add to that ten cm. of blowing snow and highways were closed by noon yesterday.

That put a damper on the Saturday I had planned with Jamie, which was lunch, shopping and haircuts in a town about half an hour north of here, but we made do. After cancelling and rebooking my appointment, I got on the phone with a few places here in town to find something for Jamie.

The whole time, Jamie was sending me texts.

Cancelling?! Noooooo Mum! I NEED this haircut! *sob*

She comes by the drama naturally, lol.

Anyway, we got her into Magicuts, even though I wouldn't normally book a cut there. Not that I have anything against chains, it's just that I don't trust your average stylist with the kind of hair that I have (and passed onto Jamie.) When we arrived, there were two stylists already working on others and Jamie was passed to this middle aged man who took one look at her hair and said something like "oh, it's so thick I'd better do it dry," and went to work. Jamie thought he'd do a shampoo and style and hadn't washed her hair so when he said he was finished we were a little surprised. Rather than cause a scene we paid the $20 and went to the mall to book a shampoo and blow out, which cost me another $26.

I don't know why I am always surprised when we get terrible service, but we let it go and killed time in between by shopping the lingerie and houseware departments. I even bought a black cross-body bag, which is something new for me - but the fibro is doing a number on my forearms this winter.

Today we're working in the warehouse, but have to clear snow from the sidewalks, back yard and deck. After that, I think Bill is picking Jamie up so that the kids can go sliding.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, January 7, 2011

good-bye to this week

photo of Banff National Park by Ben Chase

Thankfully, I'm feeling a little better today. The last few days have been stressful (due to my new boss, who keeps reminding me that Jan. 15th is coming up, while accusing me of favouring Bill by wanting him to have Personal Protective Equipment)

Between having to justify wanting Bill to have lined steel toed boots, working on Sundays ("I will okay it this time but not again") and not being able to get any answers or supplies, I'm almost to the end of my rope. Seriously, since when did it become so hard to find a good paying, decent job with a decent supervisor?

I am so frustrated! Thank goodness we have a new Registered Respiratory Therapist. Her name is Corey and she started on Tuesday; she might be able to help a little. Still, I know that I will have to come to help Bill on Sunday without getting paid and shut up about it or else he'll make Bill stay every night for an extra 90 minutes and forget about my ever seeing him.

Tonight Emily has a babysitting gig so Bill and I have the house to ourselves and might take in a movie and then hopefully, go dancing afterwards. Dancing is just the exercise we need! It always makes things better. Then tomorrow, I'm taking Jamie for a haircut & lunch, as part of her Christmas gift.

I hope you all have a good weekend. Happy Friday!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

under the weather

painting by Doron Putka

I felt something coming on yesterday and it seems to be on the verge of a full fledged bug of some kind; sore throat, fever, bit of a cough. Nothing major yet, I hope the rest of the night takes care of it. I have one more day off before we return to work, and I want to enjoy it!

I've been sitting in the office while Bill works out in the cold warehouse, sorting oxygen cylinders for tomorrows pick up. I've got hot tea with local honey and a little box of chocolates left over from Christmas, and I'm as happy as can be. In a few moments, I'll be taking some hot chocolate out.

Did you all do anything for NYE? Bill and I stayed in, visited with his sister Cathy, then later watched a Modern Family marathon on TV and were passed out by 12:08. I was fine with that, lol.

Happy New Year!