Monday, December 31, 2012


I hate the feeling of unease that comes the morning after having a bad dream. Last night I dreamt that my father died, and it has left me feeling very uneasy this morning. What bothered me the most during the dream was that he had told me a bunch of things "in case something happens" that I was supposed to remember, but that I couldn't and was so upset that I was afraid I'd never recall them.  Except for the dying part, the rest is pretty much accurate to "real life" in that he has told me a bunch of things, but because they are discussed in context of him leaving life some day, that part overwhelms my thoughts and I'm left not paying as close attention as I should.  As much as I hate to say it, I think I will have to make a point of sitting down with him again and actually writing things down instead of trying to rely on my memory, which is proven to not be very good.

I live with a lot of fear every day about my parents leaving. I can't even type that line without tearing up. Most days I just stuff it down and try to get on with my day, convincing myself that I can't predict the future and for the most part, I likely have many more years with them because they're both in decent health.  But I'm also too smart for my own good and know that tomorrow begins 2013, and none of us are immortal.  It was hard enough for me when my grandparents died.  I can't imagine a world without my parents, nor what my parents must go through not having their own parents around anymore.  My Dad doesn't have anyone left from his immediate family since my aunt passed in April. My mom refers to herself sometimes as an orphan, I know she misses her mother deeply and I can't imagine the pain that she must feel from that.

Today, after that dream, the fear seems crippling.  I'm crying at my desk again.  Maybe blogging wasn't such a good idea after all?  I'm better when I release emotion though; I'm not much good at keeping it in.  Just wish I didn't have to cry at work since I never know when someone will walk in.  Now I'm exhausted not only from the dream, but from the crying.

I have too much to do today to keep this up, so I will have to suck it up and move forward with my day.  Hopefully writing the words down will help me stop running through them repeatedly in my head.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Snow load

John and I spent this afternoon shoveling snow and damn near killing ourselves. Unfortunately, my Dad is enroute to FL and could not plow us out, so we were left to shovel. We were rescued by a neighbor with a snowblower, which is probably the only reason I didn't have to call an ambulance for John. This storm was just too much for us (John with arthritis, me with little strength) to handle with  shovels.  Some pics of our shoveling duties:

John clears a path with the snow scoop down our driveway to the street. It didn't drift as much here as other places.

A good foot of snow, though. Thankfully not wet and heavy, but still a struggle.

John's truck misses its old SoCal home

Snow had drifted around 3' high. It was halfway up my thighs as I walked around the truck.
Storms with this much snow are becoming more rare in SJ, but they do still happen.  With my Dad spending more time in FL, we're on our own to get our driveway cleared.  Today happened to be a non-working day, which meant we weren't having to juggle working with clearing, but that also meant it pretty much took over our day off, and now we're tired and useless (though I'm still powering through my laundry duties).  The way I see it, we have a few choices:
  1. Buy a snowblower.  Pro: will clean driveway with less back-breaking effort.  Cons: Limited place to store it since our garage is small and our barn far enough away from the main driveway to make it awkward. Also still involves standing out in snow for hours to clear.
  2. Learn how to plow and keep Dad's truck at our house when he's away.  Pro: Definitely easier to clear, we can sit in the comfort of the truck and push major amounts of snow out of the way with minimal physical effort.  Cons: We don't have as much experience as Dad and could break the truck, have an accident, wreck the lawn, etc.  Also limited parking arrangements -- would we store one of our vehicles at Dad's while we have his truck at our place?  Would we just park the plow truck in front of John's truck and play musical vehicles for a while?
  3. Move to a different house with a 2 car garage so at least we didn't have to dig a vehicle out during each storm.
  4. Move to a different house in a much warmer climate where snow is a novelty.
We have some thinking to do.  Already we've received tougher storms than last year, but at least we were plowed out for last week's storm.  We can't keep shoveling if we keep getting these amounts of snow, though. This storm was a lighter, fluffy snow.  I can only imagine how back-breaking it would have been had the snow been wet and heavy.

December photo a day: Day 30

Day 30 is "something that made you smile this year."  I looked back through my pics and found one from my trip up country on my birthday.  Only in Boiestown would you see a sign like this:

I wonder who won? I missed it by a day.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

December photo a day: Day 29

Today's photo is "hot," so I chose our toasty fire in the wood stove.

December photo a day: Day 28

Day 28 was "cold."  Our back deck, covered in snow, looked pretty cold last night.

December photo a day: Day 27

Day 27 was "how you relax."  One way is curling up on the couch with my hubby as we watch TV.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December photo a day: Day 26

Day 26 is "mess," which I think would have been more appropriate for yesterday. I do still have some mess leftover from some later gift unwrapping though.

Romy sneaks into my shot

December photo a day: Day 25

Day 25 is Christmas Day, and the photo is "lunchtime" -- whatever we were doing at lunchtime.  We were waiting for my Dad to come over, and Sapphire finally started using her Christmas present for its intended purpose. Previously Romy had been attacking her present, trying to get at the catnip attached to it.

December photo a day: Day 24

Day 24 was "tradition."  A new tradition that John and I have started together is to watch the Jesus and Santa lounge act from South Park.

"Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand"  "That's not a Christmas song." "There are like, 300 Jesus Christmas songs and only 4 Santa songs."

December photo a day: Day 23

Since Christmas hit, I've been running behind. Day 23 was: "Joy is __________."  I saw this nativity scene at my aunt's house, so I thought of Mary's joy at being the mother of Jesus.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

December photo a day: Day 22

Day 22 is "decoration," be it Christmas or otherwise. I decided to go traditional.

I bought this ornament at a store down the street when I lived uptown.

December photo a day: Day 21

Day 21 (which was a busy day and I didn't have time to post) is "tree." I've posted 2 pics of trees in a row, plus my Christmas tree already, so John suggested I post a pic I took back in September when I was in Tucson. I love saguaro cactus, so I visited Saguaro National Park and snapped some pics of my drive through (would have hiked had I more time and less rain).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December photo a day: Day 20

Day 20 is "weather". We're still recovering from yesterday's snowfall.

King Square (or King's Square, depending on which source you're using)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December photo a day: Day 19

Day 19 is "something that starts with 'S'."  In Canada, nearing winter, that's just too easy.  This is the view outside my office window today.

I didn't notice that tomorrow's theme is "weather" -- oh well.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December photo a day: Day 18

Day 18 is "something that makes you merry."  Christmas bows are always merry.

Monday, December 17, 2012

December photo a day: Day 17

Day 17 is "on the floor" -- look down and shoot something on the ground.  I looked down from my PC to see a waiting cat.

Good, you're home, pet me.

We don't know squat

The internet is making me angry again. Since the CT school shooting, many Canadians have taken to Facebook expounding on how much the US is a "gun culture". In a way it's amusing to see so many posts from Canadians about gun control in America, but mostly it's just really f****** annoying. You're not American, you don't live in that country, and you truly don't know what it's like. All you know is what the news, movies, TV, and social media tells you. So until you go and live there, I don't give a crap what you think. America doesn't need or want Canada's help.

This school shooting has affected many of my friends in deep ways. Some are parents, some teachers, some both. I can't fully understand how they relate to the incident because I am not a parent myself.  What I do know is that wallowing in sorrow for the victims, re-posting Morgan Freeman's fake words of wisdom, or flooding my feed with discussion over how shitty Americans and their guns are does not do anything at all to help the situation. You want to help? Go volunteer for a support organization. Stop watching the news and get out and do something to help people move past the tragedy. If you feel that strongly about gun control, then start a protest. At least then it would be a constructive use of your time and I wouldn't have to read about it in my feed.

I previously posted that you can't "un-invent" guns. There are plenty of gun laws on the books, but that doesn't matter to someone who obtains weapons on the black market. If someone wants to kill someone else, there are many tools and methods to do so. What we need are well-balanced citizens who know the difference between right and wrong, and who seek help for their problems instead of deciding that taking a gun to a school is the right solution.

I will have to go Facebook-dark for a while. I had wanted to see and discuss Christmas things, but most people in my feed have chosen to bash the country of which my husband is still a citizen and the country in which I will likely finish out my life. The US is hurting, but you can't let the actions of a few tarnish the goodness of the many.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December photo a day: Day 16

Day 16 is "something you made."  Today I made an apple pie as a thank you gift for a friend who lent me her sewing machine for the past 9 weeks. My machine is not portable, so in order to attend sewing class, I needed something I could carry around. She loves pie, so I think it was a good gift.  :D

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December photo a day: Day 15

Day 15 is "outdoors". I took this pic on our way to Calais. John said the clouds looked like ellipses.

It was a better angle when he first mentioned it, I was a bit late snapping.

December photo a day: Day 14

Day 14, which I am a day late taking and posting, is "something green". We put our tree in the house tonight, so here's our green tree with photo-bomb shaka from husband.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December photo a day: Day 13

Day 13's picture task is to take a picture of lights at night.  These are John's favorite lights, and since they didn't make it into Day 7, here they are for Day 13.

December photo a day: Day 12

I'm late with Day 12, which is a picture of a hat.  This is the hat my MIL knit for my birthday present. I've been wearing it daily and have received MANY compliments on it. I'm not very good a self-portraits, so I had to stand it up on a chair post. The cloche style suits me very well.

Free TV doesn't exist

Regarding this article and the comments below it.

The comments are amusing. Sure, you can cancel your cable subscription and stick with Netflix or downloading. But if everyone did that, then how will your favorite TV shows get the money to create programming?  Ad revenue generates the money needed to produce TV shows. All those commercials we're skipping through on our DVRs means that ad revenue has been decreasing.  With decreased ad revenue comes new methods of revenue generation.  Bones, which my husband watches, is particularly egregious in this department. It's like a mini-commercial in each episode, and it is glaringly obvious.  This week's episode of Gossip Girl hit me over the head with the new Windows 8 phone.  Way to take me out of the story by trying to sell me a crappy OS or a car I can't afford. 

Yes, the business model needs to change, and I wish they'd hurry up and make some forward progress. But you can't have everything for free. Paying for cable is one of the ways to keep new TV shows coming.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December photo a day: Day 11

Day 11 is "sweet". My mother made some shortbread cookies for her brother today, and gave us the leftovers.  Shortbread is my mom's specialty, so anytime someone else offers it to me, I have to be polite... but it's never as good as my mom's.  Hers will practically melt in your mouth.  As a kid, I didn't really like them as much. The older I get, the more I like them, and appreciate the skill it takes to do them now that I bake too.  I still haven't tackled these yet on my own, but I will have to get a lesson from her some day.

Christmas shortbread cookies

Monday, December 10, 2012

December photo a day: Day 10

Day 10 is "under" so I bring you "cat under table."

Sapphire wonders what the heck I'm doing

Sunday, December 09, 2012

December photo a day: Day 9

Day 9 is "out & about".  Today is my Dad's birthday, and also the day we went for our annual Christmas tree hunt.  Here's a shot of the area as I was searching for a tree.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

December photo a day: Day 8

Day 8 is "someone you love" -- that's an easy one.  Here's my hubby enjoying a nice steak.

Friday, December 07, 2012

December photo a day: Day 7

Day 7 is "stars". I'm too urban to get a good picture of the sky at night, but we did drive by a neighbor's house with a star on it.  We don't yet have our star lights hanging up for xmas.

December photo a day: Day 6

Missed uploading this last night.  Day 6 is "something from your country". I pick maple syrup.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

December photo a day: Day 5

Day 5 is themed "looking up," where you're supposed to get on the ground and take a photo from down low, looking up.  Since it's cold, dark, and wet outside, I opted for inside from the floor of my office.

My Snuffles collection, who, coincidentally, are also looking up.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

December photo a day: Day 4

Day 4 is "black & white".  This is actually a picture of a skirt.

Monday, December 03, 2012

December photo a day: Day 3

Day 3 is "something you held".  I held my finished sewing project, John's nightshirt.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

December photo a day: Day 2

Day 2's theme is "peace".  What better than two newly acquainted cats who have found a way to sleep peacefully together?

Romy (left) and Sapphire (right) enjoy a peaceful sleep.

December photo a day: Day 1

A friend posted a photo-a-day challenge for December, so I decided to take part.  Except I missed the first day because the subject was "8 o'clock" and I wasn't inspired, didn't remember to take a picture at 8am or pm, and taking a picture of a clock didn't seem all that great of an idea.  So I'll start with Dec 2nd instead.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Brightening my Christmas spirit

Christmas has become a lot of drudgery since I've grown up and am not a kid excited for Santa anymore.  I've complained in the past about shopping struggles, time constraints, and general malaise.  I went through those frustrations again yesterday as I wait for a few people to send me their Christmas wish lists so I can finish my shopping.  I even started to draft a complaint blog again about Christmas.  During my busy workday yesterday, I stopped by the lunchroom and looked at the local section of the newspaper.  This article was in it, and I suddenly have plans for Saturday:

Article © Saint John Telegraph Journal as published Nov 27 2012
I am beyond excited about going to this.  Part of it is going back to what feels like a simpler time, another part is due to my increased appreciation for historical items/lifestyle through my family photo project.  I have tons of cards and postcards from the early 20th century.  Being an old city and province, Saint John and NB should have lots to offer in the archives.  I can't wait to look at the Christmas things they'll have on display.

Another reason for my nostalgia is that like many, I still consider the archive building to be THE museum.  Since moving to Market Square, I have felt disconnected to the museum, but didn't have any particular reason to visit the archives.  One of the best outings we ever had during my school years was a Gr. 2 trip to this museum before Christmas. I don't remember exactly all that we did or saw, but I do remember singing Christmas songs and having really enjoyed it. It's one of those fuzzy memories that comes with an overall feeling of "best times ever".  I don't expect to be singing Christmas carols or re-enacting a childhood memory, but I can't wait to go back to THE museum and have a new and interesting Christmas experience.  This is just what I need to boost my Christmas spirit.

UPDATE: The event turned out to be somewhat disappointing. Most of what was offered were menus, letters, cards, and advertising.  While interesting, I had hoped for ornaments, pictures, and a bit more.  They had apple cider and cookies for us, and gave a quick tour of the archives and library areas.  In the end, I probably have a lot of similar items in my stash from Parkers Ridge.  It did give me an idea to use some of that stash for some decorating, though.  I also found out that they house a lot of NB vital statistics, which may come in handy for my family history/photo project.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Hard to Handle

They say God only gives you what he feels you can handle.  I’m not quite sure I believe this anymore. 


I know two people who seem to be repeatedly hit with devastating news.  One bad health diagnosis after another, and this person had their “fair share” a long, long time ago.  Another keeps getting rained on (both literally and figuratively) with health and home problems and it just doesn’t seem to stop.


I don’t even know what to say to them anymore.  I wish they would stop winning the Bad Luck Lottery.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sewing lessons

While I was in PA, my MIL and I had an impromptu sewing lesson and project.  Originally I had asked her for help picking a pattern to get ready for a class for which I had registered in mid-October, but we turned it into a mostly-complete apron.  Over the course of 24h we managed to get to the store, buy materials, and she taught me the basics needed to work on the project.  I ironed, cut, sewed, and stitched.  I still have some finishing touches to complete, but it’s 90% done.  I appreciated getting one-on-one instruction from her on something I hadn’t touched in over 20 years, not since jr. high.  I wouldn’t be going into class “cold.”

I went over to Fabricville on Sunday for supplies. I wanted to start from scratch on a different pattern, so I found one of the apron patterns we couldn’t find in PA.  One of the issues we had on the PA apron was that the material wasn’t wide enough to fit the pattern and I wanted to make sure I avoided that problem this time.  I sought some help making sure I had the right width of material, but the clerk wasn’t very helpful with a newbie.  She showed me the rows and rows of cottons and left me to decide: fine, I take a long time deciding anyway.  They didn’t have a clearly distinguished “sale table” so I ended up getting something that wasn’t the most expensive but wasn’t as cheap as I should have gotten for a beginner project.  When I said that I wanted to make sure I had enough width, thinking of how we were a bit short on the first apron, she steamrolled over me and said it was fine… well, ok, but an explanation of why it would be fine might have been nice.  Still being new, it didn’t occur to me that I could fold the material the other way and make it wider and just change what I was measuring against.  Ironically, my instructor later said that clerk was the best person to ask for help in the store. Uh, yeah, I think I’ll be avoiding her “help” in future visits.

[Aside: I'm not a fan of how Fabricville posts their pricing, and they pretty much push their loyalty card to the point where you feel like you're being ripped off if you don't get it. Fabricville is the only game in town anymore now that Wal-Mart is out of the fabric business.  I will have to spend more time at Mardens in Calais next time I want cheaper fabric.]

I washed and ironed my material and headed over to the school last night. I discovered my material was indeed not wide enough (GRRR!) and the instructor said, “no problem, we’ll just fold it this way instead, and not measure against the selvedge.”  Ok, why didn’t I think of that?  Guess that’s why I’m in a class, to learn.  What she didn’t tell me, and that my MIL did and made me do, was that I should have re-ironed my material and ironed the pattern.  I didn’t see until later that the instructor had set up an iron and it was ready to go, so I proceeded without re-ironing.  That was a mistake, but lesson learned.  I have some horribly crooked lines that I blame solely on lack of ironing.  I knew better; my fault.  I won’t make that mistake again (even though I hate to iron).

I managed to pin all of my pattern pieces, cut everything out, and start sewing the edge of the tie.  Given my crooked cut, that wasn’t as easy as my PA apron.  The pattern calls for bias tape, so I need to decide whether I want to proceed with learning to use that, or just do a regular hem.  Bias tape was one of the few things my MIL and I didn’t tackle.  Fabricville clerk wasn’t helpful with that either. I questioningly said the pattern called for it but I didn’t think I needed it?  She pretty much just gave me a blank half-smile as though she wasn't listening.  I may proceed with the bias tape just to get some practice with it.

I felt much better during my first class by knowing some basics already, and I think her tips and suggestions are very valuable.  I expected to hear the same tips from the instructor last night, who likely does know them, but given the unstructured environment of the class, did not pass them on.  Though an apron is "not important," I think I should treat it as such as a beginner in order to gain the skills for the future.  I am also a perfectionist, so I should have listened to my instincts about ironing at the beginning, and noticed there was an iron ready.  My MIL showed me how to measure against the edges for the non-fold items, and the instructor didn't focus on that being important, but I agree with my MIL on that one, plus I like to be exact (perhaps to a fault).  I was embarrassed to get out my measuring tape and to be exact, but maybe I should just do things the way I want to do them.  As I was pinning, I remembered my MIL's advice regarding notches, and to pin so that I wouldn't cut off the notches. I was happy to not screw that part up as it's apparently a common mistake.

My MIL had me use pinking shears because of how cotton frays at the edges.  She explained that pinking would stop that and make it much easier to work with.  When I went to purchase the shears at Fabricville, the clerk tried to talk me out of it due to the price ($40 seemed unreasonable, but it was the day before class and I couldn't source them online) and she said I didn't need them for that project.  I would need them if I was sewing PJs and the seams blah blah blah.  At that point I already decided I didn't like her advice and went ahead and splurged on the shears.  I was very glad I did when cutting last night.  They may have been expensive, but were so much more easy on my hand than the pair I used in PA.  My instructor commented that I was using them and it was a good idea, so I didn't have to finish the edges later.  Score another point for the MIL School of Sewing.  :)

I want to give a big thank you to my MIL for taking the time and effort to give me lessons during my PA vacation. Hopefully when she reads this post, she can see that I've kept [most of] her advice and will slap my own wrist regarding the ironing. The pinking shears I bought were Mundial, I think that was the brand she suggested?

So week 1 of 6 is done.  I'm not sure how much time I will have to work on the project at home, given the new cat adoption, book club book I need to finish, Zumba, Halloween decorating, laundry, general house cleaning, knitting, and doing something with my photo project. For someone who used to do nothing but sit on the couch and watch TV or read, I now have a lot more hobbies than I have time for.  Not sure if that is a good or bad thing, but at least no one can call me a couch potato.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Getting adjusted

When we adopted Romy a little over 3 years ago, it was my first experience at pet ownership.  I remember having crazy reactions to the situation, involving much crying and internal hysterics.  I'm going to have cat hair everywhere, he'll wreck all my stuff, I won't like having him around but will have to suffer through it because I made the commitment, etc.  Now I can't imagine my home life without him.  Though he is more attached to John than he is to me, he and I still have our routines.  He waits for me to get out of the shower so I can pet him.  I am the morning attention-giver, so he comes to me first for attention.  Romy has been an entertaining companion.  Had you asked me 4 years ago whether I'd be this happy having a cat, I don't think I would have said yes.

It was hard enough for me to adopt my first pet, so John didn't push me to get the standard 2 cats at the same time, to keep each other company, and to not have to deal with one encroaching on the other's domain.  We had discussed a second cat, one who could be more "my" cat, who might also be more of a lap cat.  I had been hoping Romy would be more cuddly with me than he is, so the thought of a loving lap cat to curl up with me when I read or watch TV is appealing.  We've visited the shelter numerous times, keeping our eyes open for "the" cat.  We developed a track record for visiting cats who had been in the shelter for a while and them being adopted soon thereafter. 

When we met Sapphire at the Pet Corral in May, we figured she would be adopted soon.  May turned to October and she was still there.  John wanted this to be my decision to get a second cat, and I felt bad that such a sweet, loving cat had been in the shelter system since Dec 2011 was still up for adoption in Oct 2012.  On Saturday morning, we went down and visited her one more time, and she was still the sweet, loving cat we kept taking out of the cage to visit.  We decided to adopt her and brought her home.

Over the course of 5 months, I had been thinking about her and wondering why she was still there.  John said "some people might call that a sign".  To be honest, I'm not sure she's "the" cat I envisioned, as I chose to adopt her more out of guilt/pity than a specific pull/feeling like I had with a cat I met who was not up for adoption.  But I was confident enough that she liked me, and that she seemed calm and loving enough that we could work with each other.

I have been freaking out ever since we actually got her home.  "Crap, what if Romy doesn't want to share his space, it's a lot to ask."  "What if after she is spayed she turns into a different cat that I won't like?"  "What if I don't end up loving her as much as Romy?"  "I don't know if she's a climber, or a scratcher, a marker, a shedder, untrainable to stay off tables, has furballs, etc etc"  I had all of the same concerns with Romy.  Romy has turned out to be a great cat, who is large and thus not a climber. We've managed his scratching tendencies quite well and he has not damaged anything significant.  We have trained him to stay off areas where we eat.  He doesn't seem to produce hairballs and shedding is reasonable.  Overall he's a great cat, so my brain says you can't get that lucky twice.  John says he doesn't have bad cats, period.  Still, I manage to flip out for the past two days.

We have read advice on integrating cats, so we John was prepared for the experience.  So far it's been going as well or possibly better than he expected.  I don't like the hissing and growling Romy was doing toward her, but they didn't have any fighting or attempted fighting.  I just feel guilty that I'm asking Romy to share his space with another cat and he doesn't really get a say in it.  If he could talk, I would listen.  ;)

I hope this works out ok and that I don't regret the decision.  I am calmer about it today than I have been the last 2 days.  I just need to give it time for everyone, including me, to adjust.  I'll consider it a win if the two cats can live in the same house and tolerate each other without marking territory.  Gravy would be if they actually liked to play together or curl up together, but I won't hold my breath.

Part of the reason why I am flipping out is because I take the commitment of cat guardian seriously. This cat will be with me for an average of 10 years. That's a long time.  I can't just return her to the store.  I have held off on adopting a second cat before because I wanted a foster arrangement to see if it would work out with Romy and with us, and if not, then it would be understood that we could take the cat back.  Given how overrun this area is with cats, though, that arrangement is not easy to find.  So if I wanted to give it a try, it's a permanent commitment right off the bat.  Not something that I have an easy time swallowing.

All indications are that this will work out ok.  Now if my stomach and nervous system would just believe that, it would be great.  I'll keep giving it time, and I'll be ok.  I have a cat who needs and wants a home, who is happy to be there, so now it's my turn to live up to my end of the bargain.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The world scares me

I think the older I get, the more scary the world is becoming.  I look around me and think about what I see, and I'm not sure I like what's going on out there.  I feel weighed down by the mistakes of humanity, which is one reason why I don't pay a lot of attention to the news.  Sometimes it gets mentally overwhelming.

Some days I feel like the invention of plastic was a huge mistake that is choking the planet.  Plastic washing up on beaches, plastic thrown away in landfills (more than what we're recycling), our reliance on plastic everywhere in our homes.  Humanity survived for thousands of years without plastic, but now we can't?  It seems sad.  I have always been angry at those who litter instead of just hanging onto a piece of garbage for a few more minutes until they reach a garbage can, but lately I am also reminded that garbage cans go to landfills.  At the rate we're going, the whole planet is becoming a landfill.  Many people simply do not care about it, either.  What are we going to do in the future if we plan on surviving as a race?  There have been movies which used this idea as a storyline (think Wall-E), and I don't think they're all that far off from the truth.  It scares the crap out of me.  Who has a plan to fix this?  Nobody.  One of many reasons why I don't think I want to bring a child into this world.

Blatant consumerism doesn't help.  I'll be the first to admit that I am a slave to that philosophy.  What I have done recently is try not to increase my "buy useless crap" quotient.  I've been trying to employ my friend's rules for puurchases: 1)  Do I need it?  2) Where will I put it/what will I get rid of to make room?  3) Can I afford it?  (not necessarily in that order).  Other times, I fail miserably because I want shiny new X.  I figure at least trying to improve my thought processes is better than never considering it, but maybe I'm wrong.

The spelling/grammar problem is getting increasingly worse to the point where I'm genuinely scared for how dumb North Americans will look in the near future. I was in a store yesterday where they were selling "mini-scrappers".  These were not small items that liked to fight, but were actually scrapers.  Another post on Facebook today from a friend who said "your not so bad."  This is a guy in the middle of university, a generally smart kid who should know better.  Those of us who do know better just end up getting flamed for making corrections. I guess the dumb will prevail, but that's not the kind of world I want to live in.  Auto-correct is the work of Satan.  Smart guy, Satan. He knew we'd just get lazy and ignore spelling and grammar rules, blindly accepting whatever the computer suggests to us as correct.  I wonder if kids are being taught that it is not absolute, but that you must also use common sense and the rules you were taught in school to apply as well?  I doubt it.  Sad.

[Is this post grammatically correct? No, I know it's not. Mistakes happen, but at least I know the difference between your and you're, and scrapper/scraper.  I have that knowledge and intelligence vs those who don't and should.]

Mobile phones scare me. That market has exploded to the point where they've become like a drug addiction.  Work in IT and you may have a different opinion.  Some days my phone is indispensable, other days I want to go somewhere with no cell service whatsoever and throw it into a river, because I'd probably be out enjoying nature instead.  Do I check my phone when others are around?  Yes, and I am sometimes ashamed of that.  If I attend an event, though, I make a concerted effort to not have my phone in front of me at all times.  I want to be in the moment, enjoying the company of humans.  Whatever is happening on FB or Twitter can be read later.

People in SJ need serious driving help. I'm starting to think everyone should be re-tested every 5-10 years.  Included should be a module on freeway driving.  Most SJers have never driven a freeway. If they had, they'd be better drivers.  I wouldn't have to anticipate braking in the left lane, people cutting me off, abnormal speed up & down, etc.

Mitt Romney and the Republican party scare me.  Democrats scare me too, but nowhere near as much as the Romney/Ryan ticket.  The guy actually said he didn't know why airplane windows don't open, and yet I have friends who practically insist that Obama is the devil. The USA needs serious help and bi-partisanship, but they just keep getting worse and worse. This is important to me because I assume I'll end up living there in the future.  I'm just not sure I'll want to if it keeps going down the crapper. They desperately need a revolution.

At the rate North America is going, we soon won't have anyone who wants to be a teacher anymore.  Teachers continually get low pay and disrespect.  Parents who expect school to raise their child.  Kids who don't see any value in an education. Pretty soon the drive to pass on knowledge and make a difference will be outweighed by the fact that you can't afford to live on that salary, and the mental drain of trying to keep the ship upright will be too much.  I have no idea how teachers do it without ending up in a mental institution.  It makes me want to cry.

These are some of the things on my mind lately.  They scare me, and often make me want to curl up into a ball and not deal with the outside world. That statement is closer to the literal truth than you probably imagine.  I'm trying to fight through it, but it's difficult.  I haven't yet mastered the art of living my own life and doing the best I can.  Sometimes I see where all of this is going and wonder why I'm here?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Gun blame

With every gun-related crime, such as the Aurora, CO shootings early this morning, a rash of organizations calling for more gun control usually ensues.  The tendency is to blame the weapon rather than the user.  “Well, if he didn’t have access to guns, he wouldn’t have hurt as many people.”  Possibly true, but if he wasn’t mentally disturbed in some way, he wouldn’t have used any weapon to hurt anyone.


Restricting guns further just punishes the rest of the population who respect weapons and use them responsibly.  People who use guns to inflict harm usually obtain them illegally.  They don’t normally walk in with their permit, go through the mandatory waiting period, and then go on a shooting rampage at a movie theatre.  What I’d like to know is how the CO shooter obtained an “AK-style” weapon. I assume he obtained it illegally, so in my opinion, the black market shares responsibility for that shooting.  What are we doing to combat the black market, underground weapons industry?  If this guy had come in to the theatre and started slicing people instead of shooting, would we be calling for knife control? [Guessing “knife control” has already happened somewhere, just don’t have time to research it.]


It all boils down to a simple concept: we can’t disinvent guns.  It’s as though anti-gun supporters think if we can restrict guns, then maybe we can reverse their invention and not have to worry about the problem.  Sorry, but we can’t go back in time.  We have to deal with the problem we’re dealt.  I don’t know what that answer is, but I’m not going to blame the gun for the crime of the person.



Side note: why is this the second mass-tragedy incident in CO in recent times?  Is it just a coincidence, or is there something wrong in Colorado?

Friday, June 22, 2012

2012 to date

2012 is almost halfway through. The year itself still seems like a futuristic number that is way off in the distance.  I remember writing 1983 on a workbook in school, which is now “a long time ago.”

2012 started off with my aunt not doing so well health-wise. She has complained of liver trouble for years, but never really showed deterioration in that respect.  At Christmas, she had started to gain fluid around her ankles.  By the end of February, she was quite jaundiced and unable to get around very much.  She passed away on April 22.  It happened so quickly that I’m still finding it hard to accept as reality some days.  At the funeral, her friends told me that she spoke of me, they knew who I was.  For someone with 6 grandchildren and some great-grandchildren, I find it odd that she would have spoken enough about me for it to be memorable.  John would probably say that yes, my aunt did think I was special.  I don’t disagree with that, I guess it’s just that I didn’t realize the magnitude.

I’m dealing with the loss as best I can. It’s tough not having that remaining connection to Nana, as well as the connection to a lady who had such a wonderful smile, big hugs, and lots of love.  I can’t think or talk too much about it or I start to cry.  So much knowledge, experience, intelligence is now gone because she passed away.  I have been learning to deal with death better than I have in the past, but I still can’t get over the “never able to speak to them again” factor.  So many times I’ve caught myself saying I should ask a grandparent or aunt about something, only to have it hit me again that they’re gone. It’s hard.  It makes me think about how my parents won’t be around forever, and then I get really upset.

Moving on…

One of the good things that came out of my aunt's illness was that it forced me to begin a family photo scanning project I had been meaning to get to for quite a while.  When we went to visit my aunt in February, she made sure I got my scanning done of the pictures from her library.  After multiple hours at her condo, with much appreciated help from John, we got everything from her pile that I wanted copies of scanned in and saved to Dropbox. I took some additional albums home with me, ones that had been my grandfather's, and finished those in March and April.  I borrowed my Dad's MFP for that project and it worked well.  Next fall/winter, when Dad is away and I can again borrow the MFP, I plan on tackling some of my own library.  It's been quite an experience, seeing photos of my grandparents and parents that I had never seen before. Having everything scanned in makes things very easy to access, and there are no worries over having to make copies or split up the originals.  Storing them on Dropbox means I don't have to worry about hard drive crashes.  It's been a learning experience, seeing the past in various stills: wishing some things were the same, glad others are different.

It’s hard to combat lethargy in the winter, but I had a couple of informal New Year’s resolutions this year.  One, to not leave dishes piled in the sink for too long.  Two, to be more active instead of huddling on the couch to avoid being cold.  I’m happy to report that I’ve been successful at both.  Dishes still pile up, but not for as long as they did in the past.  On the activity part, I started Zumba. I’ve tried many different ways to exercise without boredom, and this is the first one I’ve actually stuck with.  It’s fun, not too demanding, and unlike a dance class, I don’t have to perfect steps or practice.  I go for an hour twice a week, and so far my blood pressure has improved due to the aerobic activity (though this was never an issue for me in the past).  I also walk in the mornings on the treadmill, and walk outside at lunch provided it’s sunny and not winter.  This is probably the most active I’ve ever been in my life.  It hasn’t really translated into weight loss because I still have bad eating habits, but at least I am getting out and doing something I enjoy.

2012 has either been very kind to my friends, or totally kicked them in the ass.  I had quite a few friends move to bigger, nicer houses; a baby was born; a wedding; new jobs and career paths for others.  Then there are the friends who seemed to get the short end of the stick this year: one has cancer, another a rotten roof that cost $25k to fix, and another who reached a scary personal crossroads.  I want so much to wave that magic wand and fix things for them, but until I get some superpowers, I’ll have to help in other ways. 

2012 has yielded some changes for me at work, but sometimes I fear not enough… that’s all I can say about that.  I’m still wondering what I want to be when I grow up.  If I’ve [unconsciously] chosen this path of career over children, shouldn’t I be working toward making money for myself vs someone else?  Why aren’t I doing something I love, something I’m passionate about… but what would that be?  Starting to ask some questions I never thought I’d pose of myself, and some of the same questions I've been struggling with for a long time.  Work probably takes up 90% of my thought time, which probably explains why I feel so tired.

On the hobby front, I’m back in the swing of knitting after a long hiatus.  I think it was a good break. I’m trying now to focus on projects I actually want to do, with skill levels that aren’t too demanding.  I’m quite proud of the scarf I knit for John… despite it being wool and too itchy for him to wear.  I still need to try a wool soak and see if that makes any difference.  That’s what happens when you don’t pay attention to your husband saying “don’t make it out of wool, it’s too itchy.”  But it’s a nice-looking scarf, if I do say so myself.  Lately I’ve been working on some baby blankets. I knit one and sent it to my cousin in BC. I  am working on one for a pregnant lady at work.  I picked up more yarn last weekend, this time light purple, to knit up another blanket for another cousin.  After that, I may take a stab at some mittens.  I’ve shied away from knitting anything more for my nephews since the "sad sweater," but mittens are something that can be useful and you don’t have to worry about them as a fashion statement.

My goddaughter, who is also a first cousin, just graduated from high school this week. I had no doubt that she would achieve this, but I am still proud of her.  She looked so beautiful in her prom dress that it almost made me cry.  I can't wait to see her get through university (she's chosen science) and to see what she does next.

People ask me what's new with me, and I always reply: "not much."  I look at what's gone on so far this year, and it doesn't seem like much to me, but I've managed to write a long blog about it.  Guess I've been doing something with my time.