Hello, again.

I took a little — well, more than a little — break from blogging, but I think I’m back.  

I’ve been thinking more and more about how good it sometimes felt to write and share on this platform and that maybe it’s time to give it another shot.

Instead of trying to ACCOMPLISH something with my space, I’m simply going to write what I feel like writing — good, bad, mundane, maudlin, pointless, fraught with emotion, full of despair — whatever it is at the moment is what will make it onto my cyber-page. 

It’s not going to be about how many hits I’ve got, or who’s checking in on me.  It’s just going to be about me and my need for words. 

So, there it is in black and white.  

Word.

LOL

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May 29th – June 3rd

Day 150 – 155 — Holy crap!  155 days!  Can’t lay claim to blogging for each and every one of them — which was my intended goal — but I am at least recounting them.

As you can no doubt tell by the sporadic way I’ve been posting, this is my REALLY busy time of the year.  It has been just insane lately, but the end is in sight.  I am counting the days, the hours, the minutes. . .

I think we’re finally going to get a break in our rainy, cloudy, cool weather.  I sure hope so, because I’ve got a pail of deck stain just burning a hole through the floor in my front hallway.  There are so many jobs I’m behind on right now that it gives me fits if I start thinking about them.  So, I don’t.  I just shelve them in the back of my mind and tell myself — you’ll get to it, don’t worry.  It’s not worth stressing about.

And, in truth, it’s not.  But I want things to get done so that I can just mellow out and relax.  Spend more than one night a week cooking a meal.  Sit on my deck and read a book with a cool beer beside me.

So, I haven’t really recounted what I did over the last 5 days.  It wasn’t much, believe me.  Just travel and meetings and getting ready for meetings.  But last night, I attended the retirement party for a dear friend and colleague.  Charlotte is truly one of a kind and she will be greatly missed.  The kids she loved and mentored and helped to educate owe her so much, but all she ever asked for was a smile and a desire to try.  I learned much from her over my ten years working together and I knew I could always count on her for a shoulder to lean on and a friendly face to talk to.  I miss my old school still, and seeing Charlotte retire brought that home again.  It also reaffirmed that times change, people move on and we all have to seek our own path.  I wish her well on wherever hers takes her.

Resisting

This is a post about how tired I am of being ripped off.  Specifically for television; for entertainment, really.

For a year we had a great deal on the cost of our cable, internet and phone through Shaw.  $67.95/month, plus taxes and long distance charges when incurred.  Rarely did our monthly bill go over 80 bucks.

Now, I knew it was going to go up after the year was finished, but imagine my shock and horror when the new bill came in.  $180, plus change.  More than $100/month increase!  I nearly fainted.

So, I asked my husband, who’s a great talker, to call and see if he could get us a better deal.  He couldn’t.  So, I decided to give it a go.  Afterall, I was the one who managed to get us the great deal we’d enjoyed for the past year.

Two wasted hours of my life later I had haggled my way to a whopping $14/month discount, agreed to pay 2/3’s of the cost of a new PVR (with FREE installation!!) and an added bonus of 6 months free long distance anywhere in North America.

I was so tired and worn out by the end that I simply didn’t care anymore.  However, I did tell the young man I’d dealt with that I wanted the name of the president of the company and his address.  He was a bit dumb-founded, said he’d never had such a request.  He promised to get the info for me, but when he came back he told me how I could go through the many steps of customer contact/feedback utilizing the website.  I thanked him and hung up.

Angry, I was determined to write the president/CEO of Shaw and tell him exactly what I thought of their customer service.

NOT, that we were treated poorly, with disrespect or anything like that.  It’s more a matter that customers, especially long-term customers — we’ve been with Shaw for over 23 years — are not valued.  Not in the least.

When I asked how it was that for 12 months the company could provide me with High Speed internet, Premier channel packages and home phone with 4 cent/minute long distance for the low price of $67.95, but that now that a year has passed that same package is worth nearly two and a half times as much, they would not answer me.

When I stated that I was not looking to have that fabulous deal last forever —  I am not stupid or unrealistic, I declared — I simply wanted to get the best deal I possibly could.  And, seeing that they were offering good deals to new customers could they not offer the same deals to me?

Well, no, I was told.  Shaw simply cannot afford to offer back-to-back deals like that, it’s not an effective way of doing business.  Well, I said, how effective a way to do business is it if your customers decide to leave and take their business elsewhere?

There are always choices, I was told.

So, we made a choice.  Or, rather, my husband did and I’m supporting him in it.  He called Shaw two days after my deal-making and told them they could keep their new PVR and that he was cancelling our cable.  They were a little flummoxed at first, but they quickly refunded the deposit I’d paid on the PVR and the disconnected our cable service IMMEDIATELY.

Guess that will teach us to resist.

It’s only been two nights without television, and other than the odd glance toward where it sits mutely in its corner, I haven’t missed it.  I do wonder how we’ll feel once ‘our’ shows are back on — The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Hell on Wheels, and Game of Thrones — but Tim assures me we can stream them all on the computer.

All this has made me think of how much we — thinking, feeling, intelligent — human beings are willing to pay in order to be entertained.

Way back when, when we first moved to Bon Accord our cable television cost us about $36/month.  The internet hadn’t been invented yet, so there was no cost for that.  The phone cost about $40/month.  We didn’t have cell phones.  It was pretty cheap, comparatively.

Slowly, as technology advanced, the phone company and the cable company started upping their rates.  It was for all the improvements they were making, don’t you know, so that we would have better reception, better selection, better choices.

Our monthly bills for entertainment creeped steadily upwards so that by November 2011, my bill for cable and internet had reached $145/month, my landline $65/month (with unlimited long-distance for $19.95/month), and our cell phones $100/month.  I called Shaw and asked them what they could do for me to keep me from switching to Telus.

They put together the great deal I enjoyed for a year.

Going back to my wasted two hours, the young man I was dealing with kindly pointed out to me just how preferentially Shaw had actually treated me, and that this showed just how much they really did care about their long-term customers.  In fact, he told me, Shaw had actually saved me over $1000 that year!

I nearly choked.  Excuse me, I said as politely as I possibly could, you can take that $1000 dollars and average it out over 23 years and then tell me how great a deal it was.  Don’t you dare try to make me feel guilty or look greedy because I am taking offense to the outrageous cost of having your services delivered to my home.

I don’t know when it became acceptable to pay $200 and more a month for things like television, internet and phones, but it’s not something I’m willing to accept.  This is entertainment, people.  Delivered to the masses through satellite dishes, fibre-optic lines and good old transmission signals.

We’re constantly being told how cost-effective and efficient these methods of delivery are, so why in the name of God are they so expensive?

I believe it’s simply because we’ve become a culture that needs to be entertained all the time.  We’re addicted to reality shows instead of reality, we prefer texting and face-booking one another rather than talking face-to-face, we’d rather spend family time in our living rooms huddled before our giant plasma /HD/3D televisions mesmerised by images of other people’s imaginations rather than pursuing or nurturing our own.  We have, for the most part, forgotten how to entertain ourselves.

I’ve been wondering lately why it is that I don’t have time to crochet or do crafts like I once did.  Why it is that it takes me forever to read a book.  How come I can’t seem to find the time to go for a walk in the evenings like I once did.

Well, the truth is because I now spend all that time either in front of my computer screen or in front of the television screen.  (Well, I used to, anyway.)  And, I admit, that if I could have all that for the cheap prices of yesterday I’d be more than happy to continue on watching and interneting.

Maybe Shaw did me a favour, maybe by charging so much they finally forced me to wake up and pay attention to how much of my life I was wasting in front of a flat screen.

Perhaps, resisting isn’t futile after all.

Day 3

The day’s not near to being officially over yet, but I know what I’m happy for already.  I made Pineapple-Lemon marmalade — and it’s delicious!  I can hardly wait to warm up a croissant for my breakfast tomorrow and have some of this lovely, golden marmalade on it.  Yumm!

Pineapple-Lemon Marmalade

Pineapple-Lemon Marmalade

Menial Chores, the luxury of

So, yesterday, I got up close and personal with my kitchen and bathroom floors.  For the first time in over 10 years I got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed them.

Now, don’t go thinking I’m some kind of slovenly pig — I do wash my floors quite regularly — at least once a week, but I usually do it with a mop.

My husband owns this horrible pair of black-soled shoes that leaves awful scuff marks whenever he tromps through the house with them on.  I’ve asked that he cease doing that, at least in those shoes, but, he’s a man and he forgets.  So, I’m forever stooping down to scrub them away and cursing him while I’m at it.

Yesterday, I decided it was high time to wash the floors and I noticed that there were scuff marks all over the place.  I would be stooping and cursing a lot, it seemed.

It would, I thought, be easier to just stay low to the floor.  Out came the mop bucket, a good rag, one of those miracle sponge thingys and a scrub brush — and a towel for my knees, which I didn’t think of getting until I was nearly half-way done.

I enjoyed the exercise.  Honestly.  While I was down there scrubbing away and wiping off the scuff marks I had a great conversation with myself.   I thought about the Christmas just past and how much I’d enjoyed myself, I envisioned my afternoon with friends and the movie we were going to see.  I mumbled and muttered away to myself about all kinds of little, forgettable things.  Yes, it took twice the amount of time it normally takes me to wash the floors, but, it was time well spent.

My floors are old.  They’re pushing 30, I believe, and need replacing in the worst way.  But, they’re going to have to last for a couple more years, at least.  I took my time while scrubbing and wiped the baseboards down, I dug into corners and scrubbed grimy spots under the cupboards. I was horrified to discover just how much hair I’d lost — my god, it was everywhere!

While I was down there I thought about how much use these floors have seen:  the years my son spent growing up here and the thousands of footsteps he’d taken upon them; the scrabble of our two dog’s nails upon them as we tossed balls or played catch-me! with them; the hushed footsteps of my husband and I as we traversed the cool linoleum on early mornings trying not to wake each other as we begin our days; the untold number of friends and family’s footsteps during visits and holidays; and now, the constant patter of my grandchildren’s small feet as they run and dash through the house whenever they’re over.

They are old floors, they are battle-scarred and worn, and as I washed and scrubbed and scoured I felt thankful that I had such wonderful floors.

Still, when I was done, when I stood up and slowly flexed my aching knees and stretched out my crooked back I took an appraising look at my handiwork and declared loudly that that was the last time I’d wash a floor on my hands and knees.  Ever.

Oh, and lovely memories or not, those floors gotta go.

My New Year Plan for 2013

Jar full of memories -- what will mine be?Image courtesy Google images.

Jar full of memories — what will mine be?
Image courtesy Google images.

Saw this neat idea on Facebook about creating a jar full of happy memories that you would then review at the end of the year.  It’s very simple:  you take a large, empty mason jar and every time something good happens in your life you write it down on a piece of paper and stick it in the jar.  On December 31st you open the jar and read all the wonderful things you experienced throughout the year.

I think this sounds like a terrific idea — sort of the daily affirmation thing (that I’ve kind of let slide lately).  But, what I’m going to do is use my blog as my jar and post my good things on here, and, I’m going to try and post something each day.

That’s 365 good things, one small post a day.  I think —  I hope — I can manage it.  Surely, there has to be at least one nice thing that happens each day.  This little experiment will prove it.

I sometimes find myself feeling very depressed and sorry for myself, but when I look back at my wonderful life I can see that really I have nothing to despair about.  Anything that bothers me is usually because I choose to let it bother me.  There is so much in my life that I have to be happy and grateful for that maybe by writing down one thing each day I will stay focused on that.

And so, with that little preamble, here goes.

Saturday Night

Just a very quick blog to state how very, very, very happy I am to be on Christmas break!  Finally!  Yay!

This is how I’m looking at it:  two whole friggin’ weeks of Friday nights!  Yahoo!

Am I happy?  You bet your sweet patootie!

To everyone who works in a school —  you know what I’m talkin’ about!

So, go do your happy dance!  Dance! Dance! Dance!

I feel like a loon and that’s the way I wanna feel!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, near the end of November

It’s hard to believe, but this month is nearly at an end.  December is a mere 5 days away.

December.

Christmas.

The longest night of the year.

The beginning of the depths of winter.

It has been an exceptionally rough Fall this year.  For me, anyway.  I’ve had what I think is more than my fair share of trials and tribulations.  That may sound like whining, but I’m being honest when I say it’s been a helluva long haul.  And it ain’t over yet.

Oh, no.  There’s still plenty coming my way.  Only now, I’ve managed to gain a modicum of perspective and I think I’ll manage to get myself through without too much trouble.  (That’s my fervent hope, anyway.)

I’ve had help from those nearest and dearest who have listened, talked, calmed and helped me see that it isn’t as bleak as I sometimes paint, and when I’ve felt that I’ve painted myself into a corner they’ve been there with the rags and the thinner to help show me the way out.  I truly am blessed.

Sometimes, it’s easy to lose your perspective.  Easy to give into the dark thoughts and fears that wait for the times when you’re feeling weak and vulnerable.  But, with perseverance and love and kindness, eventually you’ll see that all the good, joyful, wonderful bits that make life bearable are still there and that they can overcome your fears and insecurities.

I don’t know why, really, it was so hard for me this year.  Usually, I’m pretty tough.  I can take just about anything and bounce back ready to fight.  But this time around. . .

. . .I don’t know.  The fight seemed to go out of me.  I’m tired of fighting, I guess.  And that confused the hell out of me.  Because if I’m not ready to fight, then what am I to do?

I know what I want to do — and that is simply just to be.  I want to relax in the evenings and bake cookies if I feel like it.  I want to go out for leisurely strolls in the cold winter evenings, even though I hate the cold.

I want to curl up on the couch and read.  Pick up the crochet book and the yarn I bought.  I want to rearrange my bedroom.  I want to wander over and see what my grandkids are up to and then wander back home and have a hot cup of tea and go to bed.

But right now I’m not capable of any of that.  Right now I’m simply rallying.  Rallying my defences — physical, mental and emotional.  And that is taking a lot out of me.  Slowly, slowly I’m beginning to feel strong again, a little bit of the fight in me is showing through again.  It won’t, I don’t think, ever come fully back.  And that, I believe, is because I won’t let it.

It’s time for me to take care of me.  There’s only so much of yourself that you can give away before something inside you gives way.  It’s been a tough lesson, one I would have thought I was too old to learn.

Apparently I was wrong.

I’m hoping that my mind is a little clearer a little more free again and that one of these days I’ll start writing something besides these angsty, self-analysis posts.  Until then, thanks to everyone who has continued to check in on my meagre and sporadic offerings.

The glass half full — with cranberries!

Saturday morning

Just a little bit about being grateful —
Today
I am grateful for
My health
My family
My life;
I am grateful for
Fresh ground coffee
Irish cream to go with it
And time to enjoy it;
I am grateful for
Generosity
Optimism and
Spirit;
I am grateful
For words,
My love of them and
My ability to use them;
I am grateful for
Friends
Laughter
Love.

Labour Day Monday

Well, it’s Sept. 3rd, Labour Day 2012.  I am avoiding any kind of labour today.  It’s tough enough facing being back at work.

I think we’ll go to a movie this afternoon and then to our favourite pizza restaurant — Famoso’s.

It has turned out to be a very cool, wet and windy weekend.  so much for the forecast of beautiful, warm and sunny we were promised.  Saturday night was particularly crazy.  The wind was unbelievable.  Made me think that we were somehow getting some of the tail end of Hurricane Kirk.

Don’t know if that’s really possible this far North, but wow, those winds really came up fast.

Thank God today it’s sunny.  Still cool — only 13 degrees.  Technically, we’re still in summer, but we Albertan’s can tell, Fall has descended upon us.

Tim and I went for a bike ride this morning and it made me sad to see all the leaves littering the ground.  The fields are being harvested, the geese have started migrating.  The frogs aren’t croaking quite so loudly or frequently in the slough on the corner, and the calves are looking heavier and less gamboly as they graze in the fields.  I’ve started wondering where we’re going to spend Thanksgiving this year.  And planning our holiday for Spring Break.

My month is meted out in meetings and emails and once again, I’m living for the weekends.

And, as this is really, unofficially the last weekend of summer, I decided to just enjoy it, blustery though it was.

Tomorrow it’s kids in the hallways and coffee breaks and bagged lunches.

Labour.  Day.

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