I have been busily attacking a long list and scribbling away at my Christmas cards this week. The numbers of cards dwindle a little each year as I try to be more sensible, economical and green and therefore send e-Cards and emails - but I know I love to receive cards so I do have a fondness for these little posted messages in December, despite the commerciality of it, the cost of postage and the sheer waste of paper!
But I am truly stuck on one particular card this year and seek some empathetic suggestions.
Some friends of ours in the UK lost their ten year old son last January so this will be their first Christmas without him, hotly followed by the anniversary of his death. I am literally lost for words (I know). I want to send something, write something, make contact again. My heart breaks for them when I think (frequently) how their lives have changed.
What to say? I have contemplated a letter as opposed to a card - I have thought about a special type of card - thinking that something smothered in Santa's or smiling reindeer would be (even more ) inappropriate. It's the elephant in the room. Their Christmas will be incredibly difficult - I don't think they will choose to ignore it as they have another child - and the mother does have her faith which has taken an almighty pounding this year, so I'm not sure Angels-on-High would say the right thing either.
They were quite good friends when we lived there - several BBQ's and school socials type of thing - but not heart-to-heart buddies. I have written twice since I heard what happened.
I do not know anyone else who has lost a child - somehow parents and partners are in a different category of grief, I'm not sure why really. I feel it totally inappropriate to even mention how we are getting on.
Thoughts gratefully appreciated fellow bloggers. I thank you.
And it's a "proper" job too - with regular hours and everything. They even throw in a salary!
Final details, start dates and the small print will follow in the next day or two - but an interview that I did last week (and which I thought was actually pretty tough) seems to have paid off, and they must have liked me. I had, of course, spent the whole evening thinking of all the answers I should have given to the questions, but I guess I maybe said something right afterall. Hurrah! (I really do dislike interviews and I think most people find it difficult to big-up themselves when put on the spot).
I can't tell you how pleased I am. I may have hinted at despondency over the past few months - you know, just mentioned it in passing kind of thing. I doubt you've picked up on it!! It's a tough old climate out there right now - so today, this just seems really sweet.
The job is an administration position within a college, and I may be about to embark on a fairly steep learning curve about Canadian education. It appears to offer everything I have been looking for - an interesting subject matter, lots of people contact, lots of different aspects to learn and apply - and most importantly of course, a desk! The location is fairly easy for me to get to, the campus seems very nice and staff I have met have all been lovely so far, with a positive, can-do attitude. Long may these first impressions continue.
This will be the first time juggling a full time "regular hours" type job with children - so that too may produce some interesting morning and afternoon routines. But I need this - we need this - and I hope we can all pull together and pull it off without too much hassle.
My hearty good wishes to anyone else still looking for work. Your time will come, I promise.
... well, sort of. It feels like it anyway. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp implement anyway.
I am like one of those early morning listeners to a local radio phone-in. You know the kind of small cheesy radio station where you can win 98 point 5 dollars - 'cos that is their FM band - or they might even go up to $985 if they are feeling flush and it's a really difficult question about Madonna, or Taylor Swift, or the New Moon movie. (They are also those radio stations that use up all the daft letters of the alphabet to make up their name - KXZY type of thing - be great in Scrabble)
Well, yesterday - I was like that early morning listener. I let out a wee restrained squeal of delight. I am in the money.
I was sorting out some bits and pieces in the bathroom and I wanted to put a washbag/vanity bag/whatever-bag-you-call-it into the washing machine. I carefully emptied it of odd bits of cotton wool, one rusty razor blade, some post-it notes (?) and one of those little sachets of face mask that I always take on holiday in the vain hope of somehow finding the time to relax long enough to treat my face to a mini spa day. It's only about 4 years old.
And in the zipped back pocket of the wash bag was a small white sealed envelope. I took it out then gasped with recognition. I ripped it open - and yep, it was full of crisp new Canadian dollar bills. Equalling one thousand and eighty dollars to be exact.
How does one find $1080 in a bathroom? It's a fair question. And don't be mean about my slovenly and infrequent vanity bag washing habits here.
When we first moved to Canada in May 2007, I brought $5,000 in cash to get us through the first few weeks of accommodation, car hire and incidentals while we sorted out bank accounts. I thoughtfully split it up all the money into small bundles and hid it all over our luggage - to be on the safe side you understand.
One week later we moved into our home and another week later my husband and I had a fleeting and mystified discussion about how quickly we had gone through all that money. And then the idea was gone, we dismissed it and moved on. Other things were more pressing.
Two and a half years later, and here is the lost (thought spent) cash. And wow, what timing. It certainly takes the load off my mind for the Christmas season. Things like this never happen to me. And as you can imagine inside a busy and financially-pressed family home, the whole lot was allocated and accounted for within about three nano-seconds.
And whilst not being able to quite contemplate early retirement and a villa in France on my one thousand dollars, I did momentarily entertain the idea of not telling my husband and just arriving home one afternoon with handfuls of essential new clothes. Only momentarily though.
Well, OK - it was more than a moment, if I'm honest - but hey, I did the right thing ..... didn't I?
The strippers returned last weekend - and once again attacked our lone mountain ash tree devouring all it's berries in a matter of minutes. Greedy, greedy fellas! They had obviously cased the joint, or simply remembered what a great party they had last year - in fact the whole neighbourhood produced rich pickings, and they gorged themselves silly, and then swooped in huge groups from one front lawn to the next.
And 20 minutes later they had completely disappeared. Probably off to pillage the next housing development somewhere. How do they migrate with such huge bellies?!
If I've checked the internet correctly, then I believe these are Bohemian Waxwings which seem native to Europe, Asia and North America and like to nest in coniferous forests.
And I liked the definition of their latin name - Bombycilla garrulus - which I have stolen from Wiki.
"The generic name Bombycilla (from Latin Bombyx [silk/silk moth] + cilla [tail] ) is a direct translation of the Swedish name "Sidensvans' - silk tail and refers to the silky soft plumage of the bird; the species name garrulus means 'noisy' or 'quarrelsome'. "
Lordy - I know a few Homo sapiens garrulus, that's for sure!
Oooh - I feel all bereft when I don't get the opportunity to have a quick catch up with all my on-line cyber friends and bloggers. But I have had a lovely day off today and thought it only polite and prudent to ask "How are you all"?
A day off what, you may ask? Well, a few days off my usual habits of sitting on my arse surfing the net and pondering what cuisine delight to muster up from the depths of my newly tiled kitchen, while lamenting at the lack of bank balance with which to buy said supper. I have momentarily entered the world of employment! Drum roll please. But just a little one.
Well - it is rather a shock to the system, I must admit, but I have been working for the past couple of weeks. I know - scary - dirty word, work! The temping agency that I signed up with a few weeks ago have been throwing days of employment at me, here and there. I am flitting in and out of the corporate world. And it feels weird. But nice weird, in a kind of "useful" way.
So I have been holding the admin fort at several companies these past three weeks, as the secretaries and receptionists of Calgary are dropping like proverbial H1N1 infected flies.
Da na! Me, to the rescue!
I have both hated and loved the early mornings. The 6am alarm call is a mighty rude awakening, but at the opposite end of each day, I am sleeping like a very dead log. As I have travelled from home each early morning, eastwards towards the city, I have been witness to some of the most amazing and breath-taking sun rises. And each day, of course, I forget to take a camera with me. D'oh! So just take my word for it that oranges, purples and reds are currently doing the rounds beautifully in Alberta these days.
Ah - commuting. I had forgotten about the masses of people that rush from one end of the city to the other in the pursuit of careers and remuneration. I had forgotten about the millions of vehicles clogging up the arteries of the city, and of the trains and buses filled to bursting point as human beings commence their ant-like coverage of the streets and pour out into little bustling lines of go-to attitudes. And I had forgotten all about stilettos. Yep - those pointy and ridiculously thin-heeled shoes that young females totter about offices wearing. I am sooooo out of fashion. May Trinny & Susannah, Stacey & Clinton smite me down.
And gadgets. C'mon people! What happened to a good old fashioned paperback as your commuting companion? You know the thing - you start on page one on a Monday morning, and you read it on and off all week, and then go and buy, borrow or steal another one?
(That's what I am reading at the moment)
I felt positively ancient, pathetic and invisible as I had neither white ipod earplugs stuffing up my hearing, nor was I able to text/email/surf on my Blackberry/funky phone/laptop for the 14 minutes that I sat upon the C-train. How did I cope? Well, actually, it was quite fun to just people watch and sky watch and traffic watch. I always was a nosey bugger.
It's a strange thing to walk into a new office and slip into someone else's space for a day or three. Sometimes people have a "Temps" crib sheet - what to do, what buttons to press and where the nearest coffee is located. Other offices - and bosses especially - are pretty clueless about what the absent employee actually does or where and how they do it. But I don't mind at all, in fact I think this could be a new career for me. A temp career being a temp! I'm good at assessing situations and needs quickly and I'm dead polite on a phone. What else do you need?
Anyway - so that is why I have been somewhat absent and lacking in uploading pretty pictures to my blog. I am currently studying the internal workings of some large establishments and employers with a view to getting me one of them thar jobs, after which I will be careful to leave a crib sheet for the temp for when I go off sick with H2N2 next year.
A beautiful, crisp and sunny morning here. Took the dogs out for a walk. The mountains were looking just stunning. I don't use the word "awesome", you understand, it's just not .... er .... British. However, "awesome" is very apt today and I shall allow it on this one occasion.
Instead of turning left and keeping to our usual and official pathways, we became hardened rebels and took a sneaky turn to the right instead, to wander onto the now closed-for-the-season golf course.
This is distinctly frowned upon, but in such a risky, frisky mood, we threw caution, and a tennis ball to the wind, and let the dogs loose. Smudge, the black dog, is somewhat obsessive over chasing balls, it must be said.
We received a sprinkling of snow last night - most of the greens seem to have been covered with a protective winter tarpaulin by now, so the dogs cannot do any damage anyway.
And to finish off, this little succulent caught my eye - it still looks pretty, even on 1st November with a snowy hair-do.