Saturday, September 5, 2020

Dazed and Confused

This little fella had a close call - flew into our back window today and gave himself a bit of a head ache.

After about half an hour he recovered enough to fly off.  Probably needs some Advil! 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

AUGUST 24, 2020

Day 3373 of Working from Home
Though so very grateful to have job that I can do from home, the novelty has worn off. Big time. I want my office, my patch, my people. And my two perfectly aligned screens set upon my sit-stand desk.
Still loving the commute though.
Mascara habits remain remarkably in tact. You’ll no doubt be delighted to hear that I even continue to wear a bra and underwear though I understand for some folks, WFH is a game changer in the comfortable clothing dept.
Worky work is still being completed, projects still keep coming and though it may bore the pants off most people, I am constantly challenged on how to process pensions and benefits for people taking weird leaves, being laid off, and generally not sticking to or being able to stick to being a boring old full time employee. I like those folks, they keep the record-keeping things simple. But these are not simple times. And processing lay offs of some of our staff gives me a metaphorical slap upside the head to quit even thinking about complaining. It’s not me being laid off. For now.
The latest update on the health of the dog-shaped slippers is that she is not doing great but not quite at death’s door either so we keep going with a buffet of medications (and I know she’s not too bad yet because she reminds us when the pills are due as it means turkey slices). As long as that little stumpy tail still wags and she’s eating and drinking and happy for her very short walks, we keep going.
Our building site of a home is now mostly complete, kitchen renovations done, dust mostly gone and rather stylish new rooms have reappeared. Which means that rather than move my desk set-up every 3 days, my home office is now static in the dining room and my Zoom meetings feature some sexy new wallpaper as the backdrop. Not only did we swear we would never move again, we’re never painting or reno’ing again either. You heard it here first folks.
It’s been hot. Damn hot. Like, real summer weather, that by May I thought would never actually materialize. And so next year we need air con! But it’s nice to notice summer weather and get out into it every day, top up the tan and even if that means having lunch on the back deck, and with a wobbly bottom lip, bear witness to the guy that bought our old house rip out all my 12 years of gardening, flower beds and shrubs, and take the whole lot back to a square patch of grass. Sometimes moving round the corner is not the best idea, but I did cheekily ask him if I could rescue my blue iris’!
Still continue to plough through lots of tv. Looking forward to Mulan coming out, though the cartoon version is my favourite Disney movie so it’s gonna have to be really good.
Our bubble slowly expands. Dinner here and there with a select few.
Glad I do not now have school aged kids as I really don’t know what I would do in September, but hey, good luck everyone!
The virus continues in little pockets around us, masks are the new fashion statement for 2020, and I’m exhausted by conspiracy theories, but utterly entertained with an inexhaustible supply of bloody hilarious and witty memes. These are saving my sanity, one on-point barb at a time.
Visited a mall this week. Tons of parking spaces, woo hoo . Mask - check. Sanitize hands 16 times in half an hour - priceless.
Following US politics is too easy here as we are so close, and it’s like car-crash tv (or Twitter), but is safe to say it’s been a complete shit show and I just want the orange toddler in chief to go away now, please and thank you.
Fifth month of working from home has not resulted in weight loss, but amazingly, no gain either. Good ol’ Weight Watchers has been abandoned for now and gonna have a go at Noom. Which is essentially calorie counting with added psycho babble for the chubbily endowed.
Had lunch with my work gang today and it was just lovely.
Took a day trip to the mountains with Mr. M yesterday, had a wander, a mooch around Banff and Canmore and marvelled once again at the natural drama in our doorstep. Nicky, it’s a year since I was last there!
Absolutely no sign of returning to campus. I honestly wonder if it could be another year from now. Watch this heavily disinfected space.
Am being forced to take vacation days, which finally feel like a proper break this week. An odd day off here and there doesn’t work, and checking the laptop is too easy. Should be studying right now but it’s too sunny and I might have to pay to shift an exam as I have no brain capacity or inclination to hit the books. I’m doing a Certificate that is work related and I must be the slowest student ever. Might get it before I retire!
I want to go swimming. How quickly do you think the nose droplets from others are zapped by chlorine??
We all also want to visit the UK. Catch up with peeps. Give them a hug. Who knows when that will be an easy-ish option? Or affordable? Back in May I optimistically thought Xmas might work, but now I think not. All this vacation to use and nowhere to use it. For the record, I don’t just want to hug people in the UK. I wanna hug everyone!
How are you guys all doing?

 MAY 12, 2020

Captain's Log. Star date No Bloody Idea. Week 9 of Working From Home.
Have by now finely tuned the how-late-can-I-stay-in-bed-and-still-start-work-at-8am routine, and it's pretty damn funny to watch colleagues greet each other their good mornings through Microsoft Teams, while I am still languishing horizontally in my PJ's. Its 7.58 am by the way.
Surprisingly, I am still applying mascara daily. Some habits will never change.
Heated dog-shaped slippers became a bit sick a few weeks ago, and developed a cough. I momentarily diagnosed the dog with Covid-19, before taking her to the vet. Blew about $1,000 to learn she is actually in heart failure so her days are truly numbered and she has not only become adoringly needy, we have acquiesced to every nudge for affection and may in fact smother her to death before heart failure has a chance to take her. It could be a damn shame that she may pass away sporting a mummy's home-made, scissor-inspired doggy haircut. She looks, er, tufty.
Am living in a construction zone. I have no functioning kitchen, no flooring, no oven, a one ring burner and a long walk to the fridge. This was our decision of course, awesome timing and it's a first world problem, but we really need IKEA to open (or even answer their phones) so we can order a countertop. The dust tastes amazing.
Diet has been great. I have lost 15lbs. And by that I mean I have lost and gained the same 5 pounds three times. I get cocky and chuffed with myself at the lower point, and celebrate with an extra Twix or three. Then it takes 2 weeks to lose the same 5 lbs once again. Something tells me I havent quite mastered this, but I live trying. It's a routine unchanged by recent virus-related restrictions and something I have been battling for close on 25 years. I now have an official name for this now though - I call it fattening the curve.
Feel less productive working from home in some ways, but am doing odd hours now, and I know I am achieving a lot - and being in HR in the weirdest of times, we have never been busier. But it's not all been fun stuff either. Have been taking an actual lunch break and have ploughed through 5 seasons of Grand Designs Australia, and while plotting a fantastically long retirement trip to all the states, I can also now add another language to my skillset. S'truth mate. Have also spent odd hours catching up with my manager during evenings cos she does great chunks of her work between 8pm and 10.30pm. So basically my work days are all over the place.
Saving lots on gas/petrol and parking. Have only filled car once, and because it's a hybrid, it should be good for another 6 weeks. And gas has never been cheaper, which is decidedly annoying as you can't really drive anywhere to take advantage of it.
Spent more on food with 3 people constantly at home, and Twix bills can get pricey. Gas and electricity have also been higher though, because April forgot it was April when it should have been acknowledging it's own proximity to the season called Spring, but it kept bloody snowing. Take-out food was virtually non existent for many weeks, but recent kitchen upheaval may cause profits of local A&W's to plateau. Meal donations gladly accepted.
Daughter bought me thoughtful gift for Mothers Day, a very fancy and expensive face moisturizer and some eye serum thingy (no, I have no idea either).
But its for anti-aging. Really! But it smells fabulous and I figure if I can pull off a winning combo of knocking off 5 years and 15lbs at the same time, it will all be worth not slapping her about the head with a wet fish for being so cheeky.
My back is in bits. The old dining room chair versus adaptable office chair and a sit-stand desk do not compare. And I miss my two screens. Resorted to buying a yoga mat to resume back-stretching exercises each night. Feel like a walrus rolling around floor trying to navigate positions into which my body fears to go.
In a couple of weeks I will commence enforced vacation days. We are being directed to use up our accrued leave banks. This will be great timing, for there are many walls to paint, tiles to choose and gardens to preen. I even planted carrot seeds last week, with a seeding time of approx 10-14 days to sprout. I see nothing yet, so they had better get a wriggle on.
Have taken to meeting friends in parking lots with camping chairs, and mastered joint video supper time shenanigans. I go to the grocery store once a week and don't like to brag but I bought 12 loo rolls the other day. Sweet.
Rumour has it we could be working from home for many more months, maybe even into January. Must get new chair. And a working kitchen.
No time to chat, off to work again. Love to all. X
MARCH 18, 2020

DAY 1 “Working from Home"
Set alarm for 7.20am, just because…. Woo hoo, a lie-in.
Get up, have shower.
Try to decide whether to wear ‘nice’ clothes or comfy clothes. Mix and match. Decide on Nice Top in case, you know, video chat, and then leggings. Even manage to put on mascara.
Make cup of tea. Take dog out for quick walk.
Commute from the bedroom to the kitchen table, 5.2 seconds. I am still late for work.
Fire up computer and see about 8 messages from my team who were obviously on time for work.
Check lots of emails that have mysteriously appeared overnight, then remember that my manager was working the evening shift due to having babies at home who do not comply with 9-5 office hours.
Eat Weetabix at desk. Start replying to emails.
Make a cup of tea, and move laundry into dryer while kettle is boiling.
Use the dog under my feet as an impromptu pair of heated slippers.
Update some documents.
Fart about with Settings on laptop, where font is too small and the clock is 2 hours and 22 minutes ahead of me.
Random thought - through rations and portion control, and walking dog 3 times a day, I could lose weight while working from home. Devour a bag of chocolate mini eggs.
Steal the kitchen clock from wall and place on table beside computer because I cannot fix Settings on laptop and am paranoid I might miss the Team meeting at 1pm, even though it’s only 9.40am. However, the clock ‘ticks’ and is annoying me already.
Comfort Daughter Number Two (who is 20 by the way) who emerges from her bedroom and is sick. Not corona sick you understand, just pukey sick. Nice. Dog runs to sofa, for as many cuddles as possible, from anyone willing to partake.
Answer some emails. Turn up heating because the house does not know I am here and goes cold.
Is it lunchtime yet? No – it is 10.45. Oh dear. Make another cup of tea.
Read lots of documents. It must be lunchtime by now. Diet not going well. Try again tomorrow.
Take dog around the block.
Team meeting at 1pm and how lovely to see my gang on video. Try to sort out what a new normal might look like. Abnormal.
Make lists, try to find something suitable to use as a mouse mat. Not successful. Might need to go to Staples.
Put on heated dog-shaped slippers again – these are fun.
Answer a few more emails and desperately try to keep up with all the little red notifications on Microsoft Teams. Get confused.
Decide I don’t like where I have set up my office and will need to re-think the position and layout tomorrow. Especially as husband will be on night shifts and apparently I talk loudly on video. Must notify dog of new office location though.
Clock off just after 4.30pm and commute back to kitchen where I can make supper, like, on time. This beats getting home pooped at 5.45pm. Still answer lots of Team ‘pings’ during evening.
Take dog for 3rd trip around the block – she is as confused as my Fitbit. Weight loss - +1lb.

#WFH, #WorkingFromHome

Friday, September 27, 2019

Wildlife Crossings

About an hour west of Calgary is the gateway to Banff National Park.  The route to and through the park is eighty-three kilometers along the Trans-Canada Highway - a fast and furious road carrying millions of trucks, cars, motorbikes and cyclists each year; tourists and day-trippers, workers and holiday-makers - and a startling array of RV's, campers and fifth-wheelers!

Collisions between vehicles and wildlife can be fatal, on either side of the equation, but obviously the animals come out far worse than the metal beasts that mow them down.
By about 2014, there were six completed overpasses in place.  
These are 50m wide "bridges" over the highway and have cost millions of dollars to build.  They are finished like the surrounding natural habitat with earth, plants and trees.
It can take years for large wildlife to feel safe to utilise these crossings, but motion-detecting cameras prove they do work.  One issue is that the animal has to walk up the crossing area, and he cannot see what is on the other side and so, of course, is naturally very wary.  Modifications may be made in future years to try and address this.

There will also be 39 underpasses, many of which are already put to extensive use.  Over 200,000 crossings have been recorded involving bears, wolves, elk and cougars.
A motion-detector camera took footage of a gorgeous lynx using an overpass.  A rare sighting indeed.

Years ago, when we were at the Park Gate paying our annual park pass fee, we were given a CD to play in the car.  It was aimed at the kids, telling the story from the animals' point of view - simply, for drivers to just slow down - and using different silly voices for the different species.  My girls were about 8 and 10 at the time and enjoyed listening to the stories.

We must have played that flipping CD about 10 times and even now, I could recite back to you the bear's comments!
But the gift of the CD has made us all so much aware of the vast efforts (and expense) that Parks Canada, highway agencies and environmentalists have made to mitigate the deaths of wildlife along this increasingly busy corridor through one of the most beautiful drives in the world.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Kitchen renovation

Long post - lots of photos, and me showing off just a tiny bit.

Ahh, the kitchen is the heart of the home.  And I used to hate mine. 

It took 10 years of planning and preparing, and 8 weeks to complete a renovation.  

It might take another 10 years to pay for it!

Say goodbye to a dash of collapse, dysfunction and leakage.  B'Bye 90's golden oak.
Considerable fretting ensues, but the decision is made to remove the corner pantry.  These things hide a multitude of kitchen sins, but it turns out to be the best decision ever.

While the whole house is in such dusty disarray, let's remove several half/pony walls, move the lounge to a different room and create new dining room.  Let's create a new fireplace.  Oh, and let's steal a funky design from a show home!

Be sure to choose a talented kitchen designer who thinks like you do.  Who thinks through the placement of everything - where you turn, where you'll stand, where you will store.
Ask the designer to try and create a kitchen island in a really awkward angled room.  
"I would like a zig-zag, please?"
Template for a shit-load of granite.

Replace all flooring on the main floor.  Paint the stairs. Add to half walls in the entrance/lounge area and take them up to the ceiling.  Add wiring for new wall lights and for a wall-mounted tv.

Eat dust for 8 weeks.  Mmmm, yummy.

And then delight in the final new product.

Hello light and airy, the longest island ever, and add colourful LED lights (with 12 settings!) for the every-occasion party look.

Finally, bankrupt oneself with gorgeous new dining set.

At last - done!  And for about 15 minutes on a random Wednesday, my house looks like something out of a glossy magazine and I am smug and delighted.

Then reality bites.  We carry on living here, like a real family, and mess and untidiness ensues, but the functionality is fabulous.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Road Trip from Calgary to Vancouver

Mr. Frostbite and I took a road trip to Vancouver a couple of weeks ago.  We were taking Daughter Number One out there to go to School, so we hired a van and filled it with her random but essential belongings - like her bed, mattress, bookcase, a small sofa and numerous boxes of books! Due to an unusually early and unwelcome dump of snow in Calgary on October 2nd, we had been fretting about winter road conditions and lack of winter tyres on a rental vehicle, and how long it would take to drive just over 1000km across about four mountain ranges.

There was no need to worry in the end.  We somehow managed to pick THE most beautiful week of weather and had an amazing drive through spectacular country which was smack bang in the middle of an autumn colour frenzy.  I literally gasped about five times.

We were taking her car out there too, and while the three of us were supposed to swap around driving duties, she promptly fell asleep for many hours (nervous energy finally catching up I think) and my husband ended up doing the whole van journey on his own, while I drove her car and tried to listen to my music over her snoring!
The Alberta-British Columbia routes are simply stunning.
The central Shushwap Lake areas of BC were clear and gorgeous, and although it was October, you could almost be tempted to go for a swim.  Almost.
Vancouver was also showing off.  We had anticipated some of those grey west coast skies, but nope, we were served up more beautiful blue skies and lots of warm late Fall sunshine. 

And we popped down to a small coastal town called White Rock, which I suppose is really a suburb of the greater Vancouver area.
And all in all it was a gorgeous few days, which was good because it distracted me from bursting into tears as it finally became apparent that my baby has all grown up.
These photos are - all in all - very blue!