Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Funny, they forgot to add "free West Side Shuttle™" and "must mow next door neighbor's lawn" to the ad... I'll have to mention that to them. :)
Saturday morning I slept in and was woken up by the doorbell. Still being in my PJs and bedhead, I didn't want to go to the door unless it was family. I took a peek out the blinds but didn't recognize who it was, so I didn't get the door. I got up to go to the bathroom and saw my lawn was a strange shade of green... hey, they re-sprayed this morning, that must have been who was at the door. And oh, they re-sprayed right over the mini-ditch of washout in my front yard. Great. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to fix it. I appreciate the fact that they addressed it so quickly, but really, does it make any sense to re-spray right over an area of washout? They actually could have easily sold me a fix on that. I would have paid them to dump some top soil in there and fill it in. They didn't bother to ask, and lost a sales opportunity.
Every day since then I have been spending an hour a day watering my "lawn" on top of working overtime at work. I go to work, come home, eat something, water the lawn, and go back to work. Last night I had the idea that hey, a sprinkler has a wider and farther reach that the spray nozzle, maybe that can cut down my watering time if I hold it and and spray the lawn. Yeah. Forgot to take into account the leaking part where the hose meets the sprinkler. I got sopping wet, took me just as long, and didn't do as good a job. Tonight it will be back to the spray nozzle for an hour before coming back in to work.
On Sunday I attempted to mow the part of the lawn that is actually the city's right-of-way. It's not like the city is going to come along and mow it, and it blends right in with my property, so I'm stuck with it. I have never mowed a lawn in my life. As of today, I still haven't. I took the lawn mower out of the garage, did what Dad told me to get it started, and nothing happened. It didn't even sputter... dead as a doornail. Later that day Dad called, and I mentioned I couldn't get the mower started. He asked about a couple of things, one of which was gas. I said yeah, you filled it up last fall and then I didn't use it after that. He said, "wait, didn't you winterize it?" Winterize?! How in hell am I supposed to know that?!?! Apparently there is some kind of additive I was supposed to put in the gas tank over the winter. Dad said it's likely toast, he'd come over and look at it but wouldn't promise me he could get it going. I told him I wasn't in any hurry. I can barely push the damn thing (not self-propelled), I have no idea how I'm going to mow my whole yard when the time comes.
So I may need to buy a new lawn mower. The first one was free, my stepmother didn't need it anymore, but I still didn't intend on screwing it up. I also need a weed whacker because the City sodded the ditch that runs through my yard, and that's about the only way to keep things under control there. Probably around $800 by the time I'm done, and then I still have to figure out how to find the time to do all of this mowing and weed whacking. And no, I don't want a neighborhood kid to come over and mow my lawn.
This really isn't what I wanted out of my yard. They hydroseeded in areas I specifically told them not to - beside the garage, right up against the rocks in the front yard - and that is making maintenance more difficult. When I bought the property, I also didn't know I'd have to contend with a ditch running through all of my property... I had dreams of making it user-friendly when it came to maintenance. Now it seems like it's one big giant pain in the ass.
I'm not sure what to do. John won't be here permanently this summer, not at the rate things are going, so I have to handle this myself. If my lawn mower is indeed toast, do I spend the money to get a new one, or do I consider paying a local company for lawn maintenance? If I buy a new lawn mower now, it will be here for a few years, and in the long run will cost less money. If I pay someone to come and mow, that money is gone after this summer with nothing to show for it, but I don't have to deal with any of this crap. The idea is certainly appealing.
Deciding to put in a lawn has been a big mistake. I should have stuck with the weeds and the dirt until I was ready to care for it (maybe never!) or I had someone living with me who wanted to do it. I just don't have the knowledge on my own about this stuff, and I'm tired of relying on help from other people... it's not their problem, it's mine. I have to admit, I am envious of those of you with husbands/significant others living with you to take care of this stuff. It's not John's fault that he's not here, we're doing as much as we can in trying to get him here. It's just really frustrating to me to have to deal with all of this in addition to laundry, meals, the floors I haven't mopped yet, the dirty carpet, the windows that need washing... I can't do everything. This is how I end up eating popcorn or chips for supper some nights.
During my trips to SoCal, John and I looked at the houses and neighborhoods as we drove by. We talked about the scarcity of houses that have their own yard - most neighborhoods have a shared common area, but the houses themselves are crammed together with no real yard of their own. I said at the time that I wouldn't like that, you'd have no private area to entertain, you couldn't have your own patio furniture and leave it outside, etc. What's the point of having a house in SoCal if you can't have your own space outside to enjoy it? The past couple of weeks have taught me that maybe that kind of living isn't as bad as I thought. No yard means little to no maintenance. The common area would be taken care of through a neighborhood association. Now I see.
In other areas of my life, things have been really busy. Work has picked up again and I have been working overtime this week to get things done. It's a safe bet that I will have to work one of the days this weekend as I am running out of time to replace expiring software. My to-do list is currently 30 items long, and I pray the phone doesn't ring to add to that.
Both of my grandfathers are dealing with the hospital. Grampy (Mum's dad) has been in since the end of March. They discovered a tumor in his throat and he had radiation treatments for it. He has a traech (sp?) still in his neck despite having finished the treatments as the doctors can't decide whether to take it out or not. With that still in his neck, he can't talk and make himself understood, and that is very frustrating to him - you can clearly see it on his face. His cancer is terminal, but he wanted the treatments to buy him more time. In addition to the cancer, though, he has heart problems, kidney problems, diabetes, other things I'm probably not remembering... when/if he gets out of the hospital, he won't be going home without full-time care.
My other grandfather (Dad's dad) had to go to the hospital on Thursday with blurred vision. His heart rate went down too low, so they brought him in for observation and talked about putting in a pacemaker. The decrease in heart rate was caused by a bad reaction to dye from a test last week, as well as a change in medication that he had last week. He caught a staph infection last year when he had his leg operated on, so anytime he's in the hospital you have to dress up in a gown, gloves & mask just to be able to visit, and it also means he can't exercise by walking the halls - he's confined to the room. He likes to keep the circulation going and walk around a bit, but being confined didn't help matters much. Yesterday the doctors finally came by to see him and let him go home. They decided his heartbeat was strong enough that he didn't need the pacemaker, have given him instructions for his family doctor regarding medication, and he got home last night. He's outside today tending to his garden and doing well. I'm glad that turned out ok.
My sister-in-law had surgery done on her neck on Monday. She came through it fine, my brother says she's not as mobile as they'd hoped, but they hope she'll go home from the hospital today. Unfortunately the hospital told her she would only get 2 days' notice before having the surgery, so they've been waiting for the call and finally got it on Saturday. At least now it's done, she can start recovering and move forward. Don't ask me exactly what the surgery had to do with on her neck as I can't seem to recall right now, I am having brain freeze.
Last but certainly not least, John has booked his flights for his next visit. He'll be arriving late on June 29th, and leaving again on July 11th. My brother might come home around the weekend of the 8th, but he's not sure. It depends on how my sister-in-law is doing and whether she feels like traveling. I still haven't introduced them to John, so I hope they are able to make it down for a visit. My nephew will also be with them at that time, he starts 3 weeks with his Dad on the Canada Day weekend.
It seems like I know a lot of people with health problems at the moment. My thoughts & prayers are with you, you know who you are. I'm very fortunate to be in good health myself. Gotta stay in shape to deal with this &^%*@! lawn.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
I unpacked it from the suitcase tonight, and much to my chagrin, the label said "Made in Hondouras". Somehow that just seems wrong. Lots of clothing is made outside of the US... but a 4th of July shirt made in Hondouras just doesn't exude Independence Day to me.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
In a lovely "welcome home" gesture, the gate on the b-pass lane of the Harbour Bridge decided to smash down on the roof of my car this morning on my drive to work. Left scratches. And no, I was paid up and didn't run the gate. It just decided it wanted to hurt me. GRRRRR!
Monday, May 22, 2006
On the last 2 trips I have flown in and out of LAX. Air Canada allows you to do web check-in from select US cities, LA being one of those. Since I am flying out of Orange County this time, I am flying United for part of the journey, and I wasn't able to do web check-in and had to stand in the giant line with a lot of other people. LAX does have that advantage, I can check in before leaving the apartment, and since Air Canada only flies to a few cities from LAX, the lines are not too long. Food for thought for next time. LAX is definitely cheaper, but is so much farther away from here compared to John Wayne Airport.
So, I find myself still here in SoCal this morning, with lots of time on my hands. I called Stew to let him know I wouldn't need to be picked up at the airport tonight. I also called and left a message for my boss. "Power failure at airport" sounds an awful lot like "dog ate my homework", but here's the brief story on the problem.
Not sure what I will do with the rest of my day now. I may go for a walk, as long as the rain stays away. There are dark clouds and it will shower on & off, but it looks bright at the same time, and is about 17C out.
As to the weekend that was, I arrived on the earlier-scheduled flight and John picked me up just after 4pm. John Wayne Airport is only about 2 miles from his office, and not far from his apartment either. We then headed straight for See's Candies, since we were very close to it, and I got a couple more boxes of Awesome Peanut Brittle Bar to bring back home with me. We made a stop at Vons grocery store to get some Grape Crush (in glass bottles) and a few other essentials. We headed back home and spent the evening in.
We also went across the street to Bed, Bath & Beyond to look for the shower curtain I was going to pick up for Jenn. They didn't have any at that store, but did have some at Yorba Linda, about 20min away. We got them to put it on hold and we'd pick it up on Sunday.
John somehow threw his back out on Saturday so I left him home to rest and went to church by myself. Masses here are frustrating. This weekend's mass was more like people reading the bible over kids acting out in a plain room that looks nothing like a church. I really didn't get anything out of that mass and ended up leaving after communion. Definitely miss that about home. I take our beautiful old church for granted and the fact that the mass I usually attend is mostly full of adults.
Saturday night we attempted to go see MI:III but strangely enough it was sold out. We ended up going to Target instead since we hadn't made it there earlier. We came back and stayed in for the night, watched Alias from the other night and had cheesecake for supper :)
Sunday we got up and decided it was likely more comfortable to sit together in a movie theatre than hang out on his uncomfortable couch, so we decided to hit 2 movies in one day. We went to the 11:30am showing of Da Vinci Code. Good movie, but they followed the book so closely that I basically sat through it saying, yeah, I know what's going to happen next. After that movie we headed over to Yorba Linda for the shower curtain, and also stopped at Petsmart and picked up a fountain-type water dish for Caly. So far she's confused by it, but hopefully she'll give it a try soon. We stopped for a burger and then headed to see MI:III. Fun movie, a bit cheesy in spots, but a good summer blockbuster movie. Don't know that I would bother watching it again, though.
We stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few more things, and John cooked us some steak for supper. I packed up what few things I had taken out since arriving and a few things I had bought. Didn't buy much on this trip, especially after having spent extra on the ticket change. Glad I did, though. Any extra time is worth it. Guess I have to thank the power failure for even more time :)
A view of the water and the Olympic Mountains. Seattle has been getting a lot more cruise ship traffic after having taken some away from Vancouver.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Yes, I know, I am incredibly behind in updating my blog. It's been a very hectic and busy trip. Even now I am typing this entry on my Blackberry as that seems to be the only time I have. They have wisely restricted my internet access in a training environment, although I would never be so rude as to play solitaire the whole day. It's just cramping my style when I need to check in with work.
I did make it downtown on Sunday with surprisingly little trouble. I only had directions from a couple of people and a small map. Having the Space Needle as a landmark and reference point really does help a lot, I must say. I got to the SciFi Museum, but they wouldn't allow pictures inside. So I saw Capt Kirk's chair, you'll just have to take my word for it. I never noticed the arms of his chair had wood on them. As to the rest of my downtown excursion, I will try to post some pics soon. I hate posting pics in Blogger... takes forever.
After I got back on Sunday night, I drove down to the offices where I'm having training so I knew where I'd be going in Monday morning traffic. Good thing I did as it wasn't the easiest to find. Managed to stay up until 11pm that night. The time change adjustment has been easier this time, I guess it comes with practice.
When I got up Sunday morning, I discovered my Blackberry wasn't working, and continued to not work during the rest of the day. Still wasn't working Monday morning when I got up, so I put a call in to my account manager at Aliant. She hooked me up with support, and late Monday night it started working again. Talk about feeling like you've lost your right arm, though. 2 days without it while also being away from home, and only having internet access at the hotel was a giant pain.
The biggest thing about Monday was finding out that the other class participants had decided class will end early tomorrow... Like 10am early. My flight out of here to SoCal was 7pm. I was pretty mad when I found this out, as I had specifically asked when class would end so that I could book the appropriate flight. Because I booked the flight with a travel agent, I had to go through her for any changes, which was a pain and no doubt added to my cost. The time difference of trying to get a hold of her just componded the problem. After a lot of thought and not wanting to hang around here all day when I could be with John, I decided to change my ticket. The bad news is that it ended up costing $360 *just to changeit* on top of the $185 originally for the ticket. OUCH. Love is expensive! But with how little I get to see him, any extra time is worth it. So I am now leaving tomorrow at 1:05pm, arriving at the airport 2 miles from John's office at 4pm, then we can have the whole evening together instead of arriving at 9:30pm. Feels a bit like buying time - I get 5.5h more if I pay $360. Luckily I also got an email this week that said my bonus cheque is waiting for me when I get home, so that most definitely helps.
Tuesday things became a little more normal. My Blackberry was back in action, but I was really feeling the suckiness of having to eat every meal alone in a restaurant. My classmates weren't very social and didn't invite me along with them (not to mention I was a little angry with them about the class change). Eating home alone is different than eating in a restaurant by yourself.
I have to say, the service out here is excellent. I've been to Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, even KFC, Subway and especially Wendy's, and all have had great or outstanding service. The guy working at Wendy's the other night could be in a commercial for them, I swear. Such a refreshing change from the crap we take at home. It's made me start thinking about not taking crap from wait staff anymore... I'm going to start thinking about speaking to the manager and complaining. It's so nice to go to a restaurant and have the server smile at you for a change. I've been leaving good tips because they've deserved it. I've never had the experience of waiting tables, so no, I don't know what it's like. What I do know is that, in general, you shouldn't be rude to others if you're having a bad day or hate your job. In my job I do deal with a lot of people, some I like and some I don't, but I still have to help them. There seem to be an awful lot of wait staff out there who like to take their problems out on their customers.
Wednesday after class we were all invited out to the head programmer's house for dinner. She lives with one of the account managers (for a brief time he was my acct mgr) at the same company. I have known them for a couple of years of going to the conferences but I had no idea they were a couple until now. They had two people staying with them for the weekend, clients but also friends. I had actually met them before at conferences as well.
The hostess has owned the house for approx 30 years and it is out in the country, so to speak. Not that far, really, just seems more country in comparison. The house was amazing. Not huge, but design-wise it was very different. Basically two round buildings put together. Patios and decks everywhere. The tallest trees I have ever seen, just amazing. Beautiful gardens too - they've done a lot of work to their land/yard.
Everything is so incredibly green here, so many trees and vegetation. Very environmentally conscious as well, lots of compost bins and I don't think I have seen a single piece of litter.
Back to the house. The outside walls on one side, including the master bedroom, were glass. There is so much greenery around, plus more land between houses so there is still privacy. A neat idea. Sort of sleeping under the stars.
We had a Southern cuisine menu, as the host was originally a Southerner. The hostess was originally from Oregon. We had pork tenderloin with bbq sauce, "corn stuff" (grits, corn and cheese), cornbread, steamed veggies, and salad. Yummy. We ate pretty late as they didn't have much time to begin preparing before we arrived. We left around 9pm after an enjoyable evening.
Now it is Thursday and I'm finishing this entry during class. They're covering a module that is not applocable to Canadian companies.
It's been a spectacular week for weather, abnormally hot. Today is slightly cooler at 24-25C. The past few days have been close to 30C. It's supposed to rain on the weekend but I will be gone by then.
Tonight I'll have to get packed up and ready to leave. We'll prob end class tomorrow around 10am so the others can catch their flight. Should leave me with lots of time to get to SeaTac, return the rental car, and go catch my flight. One more sleep, I can't wait!!
I'll try to get my pics from downtown up later tonight. I also want to get some pics of the trees. Maybe on my walk tonight after class. There is a cemetery I drove by the other day that looked more like a nice park, so I may go explore that tonight.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
I hate renting cars. They always play on your guilt regarding insurance and you wind up spending the rest of the trip worried you're going to smash the car up and have someone tell you "I told you so." I checked with my boss before I left and I am covered under the company's insurance, so I didn't take any. This of course made the agent say at least three times that I'd be held liable... thanks, I think I understand what declining insurance means. They did get me on the refueling option though. I took it so I wouldn't have to worry about gassing up near the airport. The day I leave will be tight time-wise. I get the feeling I shouldn't have chosen that option, but coming from Canada, where gas is priced per Litre, gallons don't mean anything to me. The price per gallon that they're charging on this option is not unreasonable, I knew enough to understand that, at least. I just don't know what the posted price at gas stations are right now in this area. I hate renting cars.
I managed to stay up until 10pm last night, and yet still woke up at 4:30am. I forced myself back asleep and got up around 6:45am to make it to 7:30am mass. I was a couple of minutes late and sat in a reserved pew, oops. At least mass was more normal than SoCal - a cantor & pianist. The cantor was very into her music, tapping her toes and smiling the whole time. They got me again with the Nicene Creed, which I muttered my way through... I'm going to have to bite the bullet and memorize that so I know it when I attend mass away from home.
Anyway, it is 9am and I want to begin exploring while I am still somewhat awake & conscious. Going to get some advice from the front desk, get myself a map, and head downtown. Picking through the tourist brochures, I noticed that the Science Fiction Museum is the home of Captain Kirk's command chair... I have a mission! But not a 5-year mission :) I also must hit the Pike Place Market. Anything else is gravy.
It's weird, but I am having the same reaction to here as John had the first time he arrived in SJ - it's so green! Way more green that I'd see at home, it's beautiful. The freeway drive from the airport to the hotel last night was beautiful.
I guess I'd better be off. Hope to have some pics to post here later.
Monday, May 08, 2006
The show was really great. Our seats -- if we had actually sat in them -- were in the front row of the second section on the floor. Not bad. However, social butterfly that the Jaybird is, at the Frederiction show he had met some ladies from Fortune 448 who had empty seats around them in the second row. He staked the seats out and we planned to make a break for it. Under careful instruction to not make eye contact with security, we owned our stolen seats and spent the whole show in the second row!!! Close enough to see the sweat!
Since there were 4 of us going to the show, and there are 4 letters in INXS, we all got together last weekend and made shirts to wear to the concert. Dan was "I", Jaybird was "N", Dre was "X", and I formed the head, er, I mean, I was "S". The shirts were a big hit with people walking by. A girl in the lineup for the bathroom turned to me and said "cool shirts". But even better than that, at least 2 of the band members saw us. Kirk in particular got a chuckle out of it, so that was pretty cool for us INXS-ophiles.
My only negative comments on the evening had to do with a couple of strange things JD did onstage. He did a graphic humping of the microphone & stand which I didn't think was all that necessary. Not something I needed to see. The other thing he did was annihilate some roses a fan had thrown onstage. Smashing them to bits is entertainment? Just those two things I thought were a bit unnecessary.
JD did seem really overwhelmed by the "hometown" crowd. He kept saying how great it was to be home, how he loved the support from Canada. During the latter part of the concert he even wore a shirt that said "Bluenoser". :)
The setlist was great, they played new as well as lots of old stuff. I thought JD did a great job with the old stuff. Certainly there is no replacing Hutch, but it was a nice balance between making it his own and not sounding completely different. Ending with Don't Change, as they are wont to do, was really awesome. We danced, we bounced, we sang, and man am I tired! But we had a great, great time.
A big shout out to the Jaybird, who got us the tickets in the first place through his fanclub membership, and then managed to get us in the second row. Wouldn't have been there without your help -- thanks!!!
As to the rest of my life during the past week, it's consisted mainly of being insanely busy at work. Thankfully today was a bit more sane, and I will be working hard the rest of the week in preparation for another week out of the office. I leave on Saturday for my training course in Kirkland, WA. The course itself doesn't begin until Monday, so I will have Sunday to explore Seattle on my own. I'm not a huge fan of doing a tour by myself, but I may relent and do a walking tour of the city for 1/2 day so I can see some of the major sights. The course runs Monday - Friday, then after class on Friday I hop a plane for SoCal. It can't come soon enough.
Hope to have a blog update soon.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
I'm also being scheduled to go to Louisiana for a couple of days, perhaps Arkansas on the end of that trip. I've also got my annual conference in September. Last year was Tucson, this year is Lexington, Kentucky. I can't say as that's a place I've always wanted to go, but it looks pretty. So with these 3 trips appearing on the schedule, I'm glad I decided on that luggage!