Monday, 18 July 2016

Monday Musings


When it comes to blogging, I feel I’m so far behind I’ll never catch up.  My blog reader would suggest I’m about three or four days behind on most of the blogs I read, and that’s after reducing the number of blogs I read on a regular basis.  As for writing, I find I can just about manage a post a week with a Friday funny to add some levity to this hodgepodge of a blog.

 

Where, oh where, does the time go?  Frankly, I’d have to blame Facebook for a good portion of the time I waste.  I’ve gotten hooked on a couple of games, attempting to collect items and increase my point totals.  I swear, however, that I will never take part in the Pokemon Go craze.  For those who may not be aware, this is an app now available in Canada where one wanders about looking for hidden Pokemon.  How these creatures get to where they are going I have no idea, but it is next big thing in gaming…players trying to accumulate more Pokemon than their friends.  Apparently you can also “fight” the various creatures. 

 

It all sounds incredibly silly to me.  My son walked over to 7-11 last Friday evening about midnight and on his way home he passed the nearby church parking lot.  In the lot were 5 teens waving their cellphones around trying to capture a Pokemon.  Okay, at least they weren’t partying and causing damage.  But there were also three vehicles parked along the street with the drivers attending to their cellphones as well.  He stopped and asked one of the drivers if she had been playing the game as she drove…she said no, but she got a notification when she got close so pulled over.    Wow, nearly 1 a.m. and the thing to is drive around (or walk as the teens were doing) to play some silly game! *


*****

In addition to playing games, I did get a fair amount of yard work done this weekend, and prepped several meals for this week.  My outdoor sheds are built of wood and were overdue for a coat of rain repellant.  We’ve had sooo much rain in the past few weeks I’ve put off applying it as I didn’t want to trap the wet in the wood.  Finally, we had a stretch of reasonably sunny weather so Sunday morning I was outdoors by 8 a.m. splashing this stuff on the sheds.  It’s supposed to rain tomorrow so I’ll get to see how well it works.

 

I also cleaned up the volunteer catnip that is growing in the back yard.  That stuff will seed itself wherever and I’m sure that my neighbours will appreciate me ridding the neighbourhood of some of it.  I filled a wheelbarrow full of it, yikes!  I did strip the leaves from several plants and filled a plastic container.  I’ll let it dry and hopefully the cats will enjoy the nip through the rest of the year. 

 

The lawn also got mowed, I added fertilizer to my containers, and I put my patio tomato plants in the garbage bin after I pulled the fruit from them.  We had hail a week or so ago, the fruit was damaged, and the plants were turning black…I suspect from the significant amount of rain we’ve had. 

 

*****

The normal weekend chores were accomplished, vacuuming, laundry, floor washing, and clearing out the fridge of leftovers.  I immediately restocked it with fresh fruit and veg and did some meal prep for this week.  I have a pot of cauliflower soup, a pot of chili, a pasta salad in the fridge all packaged in small containers for easy retrieval, and a half dozen hamburger patties in the freezer for later this week or next weekend. 

 

The pasta salad is new to me.  I started with some penne, added in slices of cucumber, cherry tomato, celery, red onion, and feta.  The dressing was super easy, just olive oil and red wine vinegar with a bit of dried basil, garlic powder, dry mustard, and salt and pepper.  The recipe called for two cloves of garlic, which I was out of so I added a little more garlic powder to the dressing.   I added a bit of grated parmesan as well.  I let the salad marinate for nearly 24 hours, having it for my lunch today, and I can declare it very yummy!

 

I continued my task of going through the boxes left over from my daughter’s teaching days.  I’ve got another four (out of approximately 20 boxes) to go through yet.  I’ve narrowed it down to three boxes of empty binders – which D says will be donated to her office for donation to local charities and schools, two boxes of books, and one box of CD/DVD teaching materials and educational toys/games.    I’ll also suggest she find somewhere for these items to be donated.

 

****

Perhaps my time wasn’t as wasted as I initially thought.  But I do know that if I gave up even one of those games I’d have the time to read and comment on blogs, post more regularly, and gasp!, perhaps even get some exercise every day.  Hmmm….I’ll have to think about that.

 

I hope you have a marvelous week everyone!

 

*I had written several paragraphs on how the lack of connection between people is, in my opinion, resulting in the lack of empathy, misunderstandings, and intolerance.  But I thought that was too heavy a topic, and to be honest, it was making me feel sad so I deleted them.  I’m imitating Scarlett O’Hara…I’ll think of that tomorrow.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Random Monday Thoughts

Phew, it's been quite the day here in Southern Saskatchewan for weather.  The forecast of 100 millimeters (about 4 inches) of rain was supposed to come this morning.  While the city of Regina has been fortunate, other cities have not.


The hardest hit so far, is the city of Estevan about 2 hours south east of Regina.  The news agencies are reporting 130 mm. of rain, and the city has declared a state of emergency.  Shortly before 1 p.m. today we heard a couple of cracks of thunder, and then the downpour started.  The local weather site I watch indicates we only got 2.2 mm. of rain but to the west of us, the city of Moose Jaw got much more.  One of my staff got photos from his brother showing the water had collected to the running boards of his truck.  While the drains were open and operating fine, the system just could not keep up with the deluge.


It's now about 3:15 p.m. and looking out my window I see a patch of blue sky to the south east and heavy dark clouds to the south. The radar for our area indicates a slow moving weather front swirling in a counter clockwise manner.  It's definitely coming our way and is supposed to last for at least 24 hours or so.  Fingers crossed, there will be no hail and no funnel clouds either!


****
It was a relatively quiet weekend.  I started it early on Thursday evening when my friend K and I went to see a one-woman play at the Regina Fringe Festival, Diamond Girls.  The play follows three women from Saskatchewan who played baseball in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during the second world war.  One interesting fact - there were 65 Canadian women playing in the league and of these almost half hailed from our province. 


As we entered the venue, we were told to study the program.  Once the play started, it was evident why.  The actress differentiated between the characters with only a extra accessory, accent, or mannerism.  There were at least a dozen characters, and not once did I feel confused as to who she portrayed at that point.  It was clear that this league provided a real opportunity for these women, to earn income and to travel beyond the borders of their every day lives.  Mary (Bonnie) Baker of Regina was recruited on the promise of $100/week for the season.  Her character exclaimed, "I only make $75 a month working at the Army and Navy store".  Can you imagine what a difference that income must have made at the time?


The league was in existence from 1943-1954 and was the inspiration for the movie, A League of Their Own."  I've not seen the movie, but based on the snippets of information I gained from seeing the play, I think it's on my list of must sees.*


*****
Friday was errand day, while Saturday and Sunday were housework and just puttering days.  I got another few boxes cleared out of my daughter's school books.  No surprises in this batch though I pulled out some office supplies, alligator and paper clips, thumbtacks and a box of blank recipe cards.  No point in throwing that stuff out.  I also filled a box with empty binders.  D says she'll take them into her office as they donate binders to various schools in the city.


The most excitement all weekend is due to my next door neighbour having the contractors in to re-do her back yard.  I kept the curtains in the sun room, not only to keep it cool, but also so I could sneak a peek or two.  Most of the back yard had been dug up, with just a portion of the grass remaining.  There are stacks of pavers on the back deck so I'm assuming a good portion of the yard will be patio.  She also has a number of plants in pots waiting to be planted so there must be additional beds being put in as well.  With the rain today, I'm not sure how much progress will be made but I know I'll be checking out the window when I get home.  What a snoop I am!


*****
* I'm not much of a movie goer.  I've probably seen a half-dozen movies in the theatre in the last 10 years or so.  I will watch movies on television on occasion but even those are infrequent.  Even with the capability to pause a program throughout my attention span is too short! 


Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Shhhh....don't tell on me


It’s Thursday around noon (now 2:30); I’m at work and I have nothing much to do.  Days like this drag on and make me wish that retirement was closer.  One of my colleagues has 12 more wake-ups to go….that is, 12 more working days.  I decided to do the math and I’ve got a few more days than that.   Right now the estimate is 436.  Sigh….that seems so far away.  I like my marbles remaining approach to counting forward to retirement better; that count sits at 28.

 

Summer tends to be a quieter time in the office.  This week I have three of my nine staff away on vacation, while one more is off on a day’s vacation today.  My boss is out of the office as well for three weeks.  Since she is away the volume of e-mail has declined to a trickle even though she has one of my peers managing that part of her workload.  I suspect it is that the individual isn’t certain what needs to be forwarded, so come late July I expect my inbox will be filled.

 

Since my staff’s performance period ends in August, I could and probably should start working on their performance reviews.  Especially for the two who have extended leave planned for this summer.  On the other hand, these won’t go to the review committee before the end of October so there seems to be little point in putting in the effort this early.

 

The other task I could do relates to a trip I’ll be making to our Edmonton office in August.  I truly must learn to keep my big mouth shut.  Recently I made some comments, in writing no less, regarding my concerns about the work being provided to our office by the division that was centralized in Edmonton a couple of years ago.  Well, as a result of those comments and due to my experience in the division when we had a local team, I was selected by my boss’s boss to be one of two individuals to go to Edmonton to assist the division in understanding the differences in the Saskatchewan workload.  But the dates haven’t been set yet because management hasn’t agreed to allow this to happen.  So….I may as well wait on that.

 

I have started creating my notes for a presentation I’ll be making in Ottawa in September.  I only need to fill a ½ hour, including any questions and answers and put together a power point presentation.  Again, no rush, so I’m sitting here writing up a blog post instead.

 

Do you get the sense I’m a bit of a procrastinator?  Yeah, probably…but if I do it all now I’ll have the same problem in the upcoming weeks. 

 

Confession time:  what do I do when I’m bored at work?  Well, I’m bit of legal geek so I have a tendency to read court cases, law society reviews, or labour relations board decisions.  I started doing this when I first started working in government, when we still got the decisions in bound books a couple of times a year.  When I had down time I’d pick up a book and leaf through it looking for interesting or unusual cases.  Now, of course, all of the decisions are available on line so I've even been known to pull them up on my laptop at home and peruse the databases.  It can be more entertaining than housework. :)

 

Some of the information I read is useful to the work I do while the majority of it is simply interesting*.  I have determined though, I’d never, ever, ever want to be a lawyer or a judge.  I have my own sense of right and wrong and there are times when I look at a decision and think what were they thinking?   But I understand they must work within the limits of the law and more importantly they usually work with more information that what we hear in the media accounts.

 

Just prior to starting this post I was reading about write-up of a case where the sons and daughters were arguing that they were entitled to a greater percentage of their father’s estate because they had been subjected to corporal punishment (smacked with a belt) as children than his second wife.  His will stipulated they would share equally in a life insurance policy that would be payable after the death of his second wife, but were not entitled to a share of the property that the wife acquired from her own father’s estate.  The property had been put in joint names after she acquired the property thus they thought they should be entitled to a share of that property.  They didn’t win….but the judge did order the wife to continue to pay the premiums on the policy to ensure it would pay out on her death. 

 

*One of the most interesting cases I’ve read in a while was in the media for some time this spring.  A young boy died due to meningitis and his parents were charged for failing to provide the appropriate care.  That isn’t how the charges were written, but my understanding of it.  This is a case where there was significantly more information available to the court that was not published.  If you’re interested in reading it, the link is available at http://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abqb/doc/2016/2016abqb353/2016abqb353.html

If you have the luxury of time on your hands at work, how do you fill the time?

Monday, 4 July 2016

Late weekend wrap-up

I did get to the park on Canada Day (Friday) for the festivities.  That was the first and last time I will likely attend the local events.  I’m not a fan of crowds and while I was told it wasn’t nearly as crowded as the prior year, likely due to the threat of rain, there were still anxious moments where we had to maneuver through numerous people to get to where we wanted to be. 

I arrived earlier than planned, as I wasn’t certain how difficult finding parking in the area might be.  We were planning to meet near the boat launch at 11:45 so I spent a half hour wandering the park with my camera.  The dome of the legislative building has recently been re-clad and the covering removed.  I note there is still scaffolding to be removed along with the large crane.  Over the years the copper will tarnish and turn green as it was previously.





The main gardens, in front of the Legislative building leading down to the lake, are always lovely, but I found their theme a bit odd, with the choice of colors and the addition of various vegetables. 








I suspect as the plants mature there will be raids on the gardens. 













Unfortunately the beds east of the building are in terrible shape.  These are perennial gardens and while it appeared there had been some attempt to weed the beds, they are overgrown, and the grass is creeping in along the edges.  Despite the overgrowth these lilies were in full bloom and looking gorgeous!








It’s disappointing as these gardens are the backdrop to the Trafalgar fountain.  My friend’s C and N attended a wedding there last summer and said the wedding faced the lake instead of the gardens.  Mind you the fountain could use a good scrub too as the water is an unhealthy color of green.








On the way to our meeting place I ran into this gaggle of geese.  (and a few gulls  as well.)  They were much more accommodating to my passage than some of the crowds that day. ;)


After meeting my friends, we watched (and heard) the 21 gun salute from a safe vantage point.  From there we wandered to the main stage to listen to the dignitaries give their speeches and when those had finished watched a local Ukrainian dance troupe.  Their flexibility and strength is quite amazing!  A wander about the park was up next including a walk around to the opposite side of the lake to determine if there was a better vantage spot for watching the 21 gun salute. 

The crowds were getting quite a bit larger at this point and N had a flight at 6 p.m. so we decided to go for a late lunch/early supper at a nearby restaurant.  My friends were quite surprised to learn that although I’ve lived in this city for 30 years, I’d never been to this particular restaurant.  It’s been in operation longer than that, in fact, they used to have their Friday night dinners at this location back in the 70’s.  It’s too bad it is a small venue as the food was really good! 

Saturday and Sunday were pretty quiet days.  I got a bit of housework done, but not nearly as much as I ought to have as I didn’t sleep well either night.  I woke up early Saturday morning around 3 a.m. and wasn’t able to get back to sleep until close to 5. 

Then Saturday night around midnight we had a huge thunderstorm.  I was fast asleep when C woke me up….the last time we had a storm he had not and I was quite upset with him as I really do love to watch a thunderstorm.  We opened up the curtains in the sunroom and were treated to quite the light show!  There were definitely some close hits, the entire area we could see would light up like it was daylight and the crash of the thunder was close.  It even shook the house a couple of times.  Sami and Saku spent most of the time there with us, but when it got too much they headed into the house.  Sasha stayed on my bed the entire time.  I had gone in to check on him a couple of times as I know he doesn’t care for the noise. 

On Sunday I started going through the boxes from her time as a teacher my daughter had stacked in the back room of my basement for several years.  My son had moved them out to the main area when the renovations were done last year and I’ve been bugging her to come get them or dispose of them.  Well, after a year (actually it has been six years since we moved into this house) it’s pretty apparent neither of those will happen so I’ve taken it on myself to do something with the stuff.  I got through three boxes, sorting items to keep (mostly computer software and videos), recycling (all the paper and books) and garbage (old binders). 

Imagine my surprise when I found the second box, wasn’t school supplies, but was full of photos and other memorabilia.  Some of the items must have been from my clear out of mom and dad’s house in 2008 and the rest were photos and other items from when my children were young.  I sorted through the photos by subject and placed them in plastic bags. There is a bag for each of my children, my brother (and his family), my Dad, my mom, and a bag for other assorted relatives. 

It was certainly an unexpected trip down memory lane. Some of the photos I didn’t even recall seeing previously.  I took most of the stuff and placed them in the boxes I already maintain, one for mom and dad, and one for my children and me, of photos and other items.  Someday someone else will have to go through them and decide if they are worth keeping!  The other family photos I plan to send onto to my cousins as these will mean more to them. 

Speaking of cousins, I had dinner last Tuesday with J, a cousin on my father’s side of the family. Actually her father is my first cousin, but because Dad married late, I’m only two years older than J.  We had a wonderful visit, reminiscing and catching up on each other’s family gossip.  We both have sister-in-laws who sometimes do things that seem rather odd to us….enough said.  Although we don’t see other frequently, our conversations seem to start right up where we left off.

J was diagnosed with colon cancer a year ago, went through treatment and surgery, and was told there was no evidence of disease in December.  She and her twin sister took a Panama cruise to celebrate in January and she was able to return to work in early March.  Sadly, just seven weeks later at a check-up it was determined the cancer is back and has spread to her liver.  She’s done another round of chemo, and has more surgery booked for August 3. 

Despite her illness she looks good, having not lost any of her hair, and just slightly more pale than I recall from our last visit.  She joked that her friends tell her she’s the healthiest cancer patient they know.  She told me she’s given up on Weight Watchers…what’s the point and as I pointed out this way she’ll have something to lose.  I understand the prognosis isn’t great but she has lots of family support and a great attitude so I’m certainly hopeful she will be able to beat this awful disease.

On a happier note, happy July 4th (belated) to all of the readers from the United States of America!  I hope you had a wonderful day regardless of how you chose to celebrate.