It’s weird how things take on a new significance after the death of someone really close. Today is the second Sunday since Thomas died. I’m not feeling the same sharpness of grief that I was just a week ago. I don’t randomly burst into tears much, not in public anyway. I still feel worst when I go to bed and he’s not there, with his Kobo, reading some book or other. I miss him something fierce.
My oldest brother, one who I rarely talked to (but liked) has been calling regularly. He called daily in the first days after Thomas died. He wanted to make sure that I didn’t feel bereft of family. He’s an odd duck. He’s sweet though.
Boy continues to be a stalwart source of support. He frequently walks by my desk (it’s in the dining room) just to reconnect with me. Sometimes he’s on his way to the kitchen, but more often than not, he just comes out to see me. While I’m sure it’s for his own well being that he does this, the side effect is that I get to do the same. He’s such a sweet young man.
I’m doing laundry for the first time in many years. Boy and Thomas took it over and all I would do is fold. Today, when going out for coffee I found a huge ice buildup in the driver’s side wheel well. I tried knocking it off by kicking at it (using the sole of my foot) but that wasn’t moving it. Boy tried, but alas, he used his toe and managed to hurt it quite badly. So now I’m doing laundry on my own. Boy made sure to give me careful instructions as to how much soap and softener to use…ah, shit forgot the dryer sheet…the washer was done so I started another load, as well. It looks like it’ll be a trip to the doctor for Boy about his toe, if for nothing else, to make sure that infection doesn’t set in as the toe did bleed.
I downloaded ebook (as .pdf files) of Oh My Gods!. There are two omnibus books spanning 7 years of online publication. I very much enjoyed the comic and was very disappointed when the artist ceased creating it. Then, when I found it was being published in the omnibus format I was elated, until I saw the price…$100 for a single hard copy of it. You can imagine how thrilled I was to find a much more affordable format at $10 each. When I can afford to pay the treeware copy I shall, but for now, the digital will do. I did give serious thought to printing it out. I have a laser printer and it wouldn’t be that expensive, but the first book is over 300 pages, so I changed my mind. I might change it again. I”m a luddite when it comes to comics and I prefer having a paper copy to read. Anyway, if you like reading comics, are pagan/gay/snark friendly, you’d probably like this comic. To any Christian friends out there, yes, it does make fun of Christians, but only the can’t-think-for-themselves-fundimentalist types with no sense of humour. It also makes fun of pagans, so it’s even…there’s even a Reiki “master” in the mix.
I need to get a Pro account of my flickr again. I let it lapse late last year because we had no money and I didn’t want to put that on an already nearly maxed credit card. I want to access all my photos again. I’ll leave Bran’s up until I download all his photos that are there. Then I’ll cancel his membership. A friend told me about how Facebook will hold an account open “in memorium”. The account won’t be able to update, add new friends and the usual things that one does with their own account, but the wall will be available for people to post onto. That’ll be a nice thing. I’ll also leave his Tumblr account open. A few people have written of how they go there just to be with him again. If they find comfort in that, then who am I to deny them that?
One thing I am going to ask people to do, especially the men, is to take up his mantle of fighting against violence toward women and the racism that is woven deeply into our society. He was profoundly offended at the concept that, as a man, he was incapable of controlling himself when confronted with a woman who was dressed in certain ways, or said certain things. He was equally offended by the fact that he held a privileged position in society, not by merit, but by simply being a white male. Patrick Stewart is doing it, Thomas did it. The only difference between the two men is that Patrick has the media clout. Each man experienced the violence of their fathers. Each man took a stand against that kind of violence. Patrick has started Ring the Bell, a place to promise to help end violence against women, please, take some time out to make your promise, read the promises of other men, and take action yourself. I know that most men don’t think that beating and raping women is a good thing, but we do need more men to take up the cause, speak out, and act against the mindset that men can’t help themselves. And yes, this does include going on the slut walks and the take back the night walks. Please. For your daughters, your nieces, aunts, mothers, friends….please.
I haven’t posted in a very long time. Sorry. Chalk it up to me being lazy, really, really, really, lazy.
Let’s see, what have I been up to the past few months?
I spent time trying to get rid of various chinchilla babies that were born the Lucky (who got lucky) and Lola, the long suffering mom. Her first two litters weren’t litters, they were single babies. The next was two babies. After that she had 4. I think the four took the life out of her because she died this past Tuesday. I have no idea why, she wasn’t that old. But now I’m left with two female juveniles, one male and Lucky (who’s no longer as lucky as he once was). I’m going to get rid of the two females and keep the males. This way I won’t have interbreeding and I won’t have to worry about new babies.
My health, up to this past week, has been quite good. I haven’t been following the Paleo diet as I should and I’m struggling with wanting bread (a lot). I’ve also been eating sugars in the form of fancy shcmancy French vanilla coffee. I discovered recently that 7-Eleven does a sugar free French vanilla that’s quite tasty so I think I”ll be raiding their stores when I can afford to buy it. Over the last weekend I was feeling somewhat odd, itchy, throat, glands a little swollen…on Wednesday I was slammed with a throat so sore it was hard to swallow. I went home early that day and missed the next because of it. Today my nose started running. With luck this means that the cold is nearly run its course and I’ll be well again.
Work is going swimmingly. In July I’ll be taking over the counselor position. The current counselor is pregnant and she’ll be going on maternity leave (in Canada it’s a year long of paid maternity leave through the Employment Insurance program – so long as you’ve worked long enough). Well, technically, it’s less than a year with what’s called “parental leave” that the second spouse can take so long as the mother goes back to work. I think it’s 8 weeks of parental leave and 44 of maternity leave…Meh, it doesn’t matter. Either way I’m in the position for a year. She plans on returning so it’s a temporary thing.
I realized, this past while, that working with younger people has it’s draw back, especially if they’re your supervisors. I’m 52, 30 years older than either of them. This means barring them moving to other work, or being killed/crippled, I’m not going to advance in my present work place. This also means that I’ve been looking for, and applying to positions that I might qualify for at other places. Nothing has panned out, but I need something that pays more and offers me at least the hope of advancement. The worst of it is that I really do enjoy my job a whole lot. Though, yes, I’d rather win the lottery (who wouldn’t?) I don’t have issue going to work or being there and doing my job. Sometimes being middle aged sucks.
I’ve done some photography. Not a lot. Just some photos of a friend’s baby (Keller – who turned 4 weeks a day or two before the photos were taken). Here’s a couple that I processed (click on the image to see it at full size):
Keller snoozing on Thomas's chest.
Keller's feet, Thomas's thumb.
For a time I got into making jewelry again. I haven’t for a few weeks because I’ve been doing cross stitch instead. I have a few presents to make, including one for my boss’s wedding. I’m still not feeling hugely inspired, despite making bracelets and some earrings. I discovered that some findings (that’s what the bits and bobs are called) aren’t nickel free. Specifically they’re small horseshoe shaped wire guides that help keep wire from kinking and breaking. I used them to attach the stone bracelet bands to a watch face (they went around the strap posts). Sadly, I react to the metal in those so I have to find some other solution to that issue.
I’ve been doing crafts with a co-worker/friend lately. She’s mad into scrapbooking and seems to like having the time set aside specifically to help her actually get stuff done. She’s been on two holidays that she’s working on, one to the Eastern USA/Canada and the other to a Caribbean cruise she went to in January. She’s quite the social butterfly so she finds that if she doesn’t set aside specific time to work on her scrapbooks, she doesn’t get anything done. It looks like a fun hobby and, heaven knows, I’m tempted, but it’s one that involves “collecting” stuff. I’m not so much into that part. I mean, when I die, what would people do with my scrapbooks. They would have little meaning to anyone other than myself, or possibly Thomas or Boy. It’s not like anything I do is historic importance. So, despite loving the smell of the paper, and seeing the gluing, sticking, pens, cutting, and other adult kindergarten activities, I’ll stick to what I’m doing right now.
We’re hoping to move from our present location. I don’t know where in town we’ll go, but we want to get out of this place. What’ll probably happen is that we’ll go into an apartment. Somehow, having an impersonal corporate landlord is much preferable to this one. Sad, to say.
I have a “smart phone”, android platform, fun to play with, has little batter life, phone. We decided to drop the land line and each of us has our own smart phone. I can text and call anywhere in Canada at no extra cost with my plan. International calls and texts are extra. If you want my phone number send me an email. If I know who you are, I’ll send it to you.
Well, It’s coming up on 0300 and I have to be up to shower and then head over for craft time.
It’s Thursday in what is turning out to be an extremely long week. Tuesday night was hell on wheels. It was like the instant I sat down something else needed doing or someone else needed help. It was nuts. I’m pretty sure that, at work, most other people’s days were like that. The replacement cook is settling in ok. She had an extremely steep learning curve since the cook was concentrating on getting the big supper done and was of little help in terms of telling her locum a lot of valuable information. She’s doing well though and my co-worker and I are making sure that stats are kept up. I find her to be somewhat…irritating, but she’s only there for another week (sadly, next week I’m on days and have to be around her for nearly the whole of my shift). She likes to have company when she has coffee and I usually don’t have time or simply don’t want to.
Bran was out helping a friend with car stuff when he phoned home. He asked if I wanted to do dim sum with a friend on Sunday to celebrate our two birthdays. What? I’m going to say no? Hell no, I said yes! We’ll also be ordering for left overs as well. I really disliked going there and not having supper provided as well. It’s the one big carb feast that I’m willing to go whole hog on (yes, that’s a reference to me being a pig).
I’ve been enjoying my tablet a lot. The on/off switch is stupid though and I think the machine will have to go back. It turns off easily enough, but turning the damned thing on is a bit troublesome. That’s a problem and with a mechanical issue like a button it generally doesn’t get better, it gets worse. So after Bran finds the bill of sale I’m going to reset to factory defaults and we’ll exchange it for a new one. It’s also possible that it’s designed to not be easy to turn on to prevent accidental power usage. Maybe I’m just sensitive because of all the issues I had with my desktop when I first got it, and the notebook being a dud (the alternate monitor connection not working, the touch pad not turning off, etc), my old laptop sounding like a jet engine with bronchitis…you get the idea. I’ve just been experimenting and found that this is indeed the case. You have to press the on button for an extended period. So it looks like it’s not a dud after all. Maybe.
Last night one of the parole officers was in the building seeing his guys. One guy and his wife come by then (he’s a former resident). Last night they brought their 18 month old girl. What a cutie she is! She’s very imperious and demanding and doesn’t speak adult yet. So everything she says is baby-babble. You should see the look of utter contempt she gets when you don’t understand what she’s saying, very impressive indeed. Anyway, I downloaded an app called “Colourbaby” onto my tablet. It’s not the most convenient app because it’s hard to exit and stuff, but she adored it…for as long as an 18 month old baby has the attention span to adore something. It presents as a blank, black screen until you touch it. Wherever you touch the screen bright rainbow colours appear (like when you’d colour black over other colours and then use a pencil to scrape off the black crayon revealing the bright colours beneath). Not only that, but it would play musical notes as long as your finger is in contact with the screen. Sorry iPad users, it’s only available for Android right now. Her mom tried to find it for her iPhone and it wasn’t there. Oh, and I found a menu button that allows the parent to control more things including exiting the program. This prevents the baby (and it is for babies) from exiting accidentally and getting into other, more sensitive apps.
We’re going to the zoo again this weekend. I’m hoping it doesn’t snow. That would put a damper on things.
Bran read to me: “In Bakersfield CA it is illegal to have sex with the devil…without a condom.” So remember that next time you’re planning on seducing the one who has been promoted from mere cast out underling to comparable nemesis of the “great bearded white man in the sky” (said on the National Film Board video Goddess Remembered but I can’t remember the name of the woman who said it…Shakina Mountainwater or something like that).
Anyway, here’s a photo of one of the animals at the zoo:
Ok, so I’m not. I lied. I needed a title though, so there you are.
It’s been both busy and dead in my life, depending on how you look at things. Bran’s and my laptops have been slowly kicking the bucket for some time now. His is 8 years old (ancient in terms of computer technology) and though mine still worked the battery couldn’t be counted on for a long time if it was unplugged. So we decided to update ourselves and we each got a new desktop. We’ll keep the laptops for travelling though. Mine is an entry level gamer computer. Bran figured that would be a good choice since I’ve gotten more into photography and photo editing. His is similar but a slightly better version as they didn’t have one like mine made up already.
I was a touch disappointed in my computer when we brought it home. The first thing it did was lock up and then it took multiple hard boots (using the power button) to get it to the Windows desktop. I was less than whelmed. The last straw was when it locked up overnight (Monday to Tuesday). It went back into the shop. There I was told something that I have difficulty believing. I was told that some hardware has difficulty coping with some programs and will lock up. The two mentioned (because they were installed) were Adobe products and Sophos (my virus scan software). I’m sorry. Those programs were written specifically to work on PCs and Macs. My bullshit detector went off, big time. First, I need a virus scanner and Sophos is one I get all the bells and whistles to because I’m an alumna from the U of S. Second, what good is a computer that can’t deal with Adobe? I have need of Adobe reader and Adobe flash, and let’s not forget PhotoShop, right? I don’t want a computer that can’t handle those to programs.
Poor Bran, he was having difficulty holding his temper and looked like he was going to become one of those customers that get kicked out of the store. So I dealt with the guy handling the return. I told him that I was, despite my calm demeanour, quite unhappy about my very new computer locking up. I told him I wanted the computer fixed, if it was a hardware issue, or a new computer if they couldn’t find anything wrong. That’s where it was left. You see, when I pay nearly $1000 for anything I expect it to work and work well. The fact that we not only bought my computer but 3 24″ monitors as well as Bran’s computer (that was being built) made me more determined to get what I wanted as a good customer. On Thursday morning we got the call. According to the repair guys it was a bad ram stick. They fixed it and we went and picked up Bran’s computer that was completed. For the most part things are ok. It does appear to have an issue with my terabyte external drives. When they’re plugged in the computer doesn’t want to start up right. For now they’re unplugged while I’m not using them.
Work has been a whole lot less stupid busy. We have fewer people (due to people leaving on full parole). Crowded work is somewhat of a nightmare. Weekly reports were impossible to get done in one day without having a second staff on duty. Documentation took forever, especially with new people because they tend to be quite needy. Then there’s the added number of rooms that we have to check every few hours. Add to that drama created by having women and men in the same facility and you have a headache. Now we have two residents with health issues. The drama has increased significantly with the decreasing numbers, but the actors in that play are the same ones. Hopefully that doesn’t spread.
The weather has been up and down. Though temperatures have gone up into the mid to high 20s (70s-80s in Fahrenheit) it’s not been too horrible. Everything is green. How I missed green over the winter. There are flowers blooming all over the place. It’s rather pleasant. Yesterday was the first day we considered that the a/c would be a good thing in the window. I suspect that it was partly due to having 2 more desktops spewing hot air into the room. Fortunately it was cooler today. Right now there’s thunder thundering and lightning lightninging and rain is starting to rain.
I took pictures of the Pride parade last weekend. Bran and I went out late Saturday morning. I bought some rainbow stuff (actually it was Bran who paid for it because he was smart enough to bring cash), a couple of flags, rainbow shoe laces, etc. Today I lost the car flag because I was stupid and opened the window it was attached to and it blew away. $25 down the drain. We’ll have to go to the flag shop to get me a new one. I need to have something to separate me from all the other silver small SUV type trucks out there. Have you any idea how many there are that have similar shapes to the Ford Escape? Let’s just say a lot. Having a door flag means being able to find my auto in a parking lot filled with silver small SUV type trucks. I don’t have many photos processed yet. The ones I do have done are on my Flickr account (link in the right column).
Tomorrow is the tree planting that the funeral home does for those people who died in the previous year. I forgot to tell Boy before he made other plans to be with a friend that he isn’t often able to be with. This means it’s just Bran and I going. Since it’s at a little park near Moose Jaw (where I mostly grew up) Bran and I will be taking our cameras. We’ll probably arrive early and stay for a bit afterwards so we’ll be taking photos. I figure I’ll send these photos to the sibling, former sibling-in-law and the nieces. It will be my final farewell to Dad.
Speaking of nieces, my oldest niece is pregnant again, about to burst actually. She’s going to have another girl. She’s naming her Nadege Katherine. Poor niece is rather impatient for her pregnancy to be over. She’s been dropping vague hints like, “I can haz baby now?” and “37 weeks is full term” and the like.
One of our former residents died a couple of weeks back. It was a sudden death and we weren’t expecting it. He wasn’t someone we figured would live to a ripe old age, but no one expected it this soon. There are conflicting possibilities of the cause of death. The family says he had a stroke. The parole office manager (who has connections with the police – imagine that) heard that it was an overdose. It’s possible it was a combination of the two. Tough call with him because not long before he was suicidal. He was having enormous difficulty dealing with the death of his sister from stomach cancer. The saddest thing of all was that he had found someone to love, someone who accepted him for who he was, warts and all. He also had a job with a boss who seemed to understand his mental health issues and was quite generous in accommodating them. He was a real charmer, sweet loved children and wore his heart on his sleeve, but had the attention span of a ferret on meth. Really. His emotions could go up and down multiple times in the space of 5 minutes. I can’t count the number of times his PO would stir him up and the bosses would have to bring him down. He was finally revoked because he threatened a program worker. He was firmly convinced that she lied to him. He didn’t take dishonesty in others silently. When he was next released they sent him to Regina. All of his family is in Saskatoon and within an hour he had gone UAL (unlawfully at large). This was a huge DUH for us and for some reason, a surprise to Corrections. They found him in Saskatoon and then released him again 1 day before his WED (warrant expiry date). He finished his sentence in March this year. I’ll miss him.
I think that’s about it for monumental news from here. Oh, our landlord is selling the house. So far there have only been two potential buyers go through. I think there was another one just a few minutes ago. There was a half-ton truck that came down the street, reversed, sat there while the driver stared at the house and then slowly drove off. He had a truck like ours. I’m hoping the purchaser won’t want to live in one of the suites. Chances are they’d want ours and that would suck.
As you may have seen I created, deleted and recreated a photo blog. Since then I’ve been more diligent at posting photographs than I have been at writing here. I suppose that’s because it’s just easier to post a photo with a little description than it is to actually think of shit to write.
As you know (if you’ve been to my photo blog) Bran, Boy and Boy’s friend went to Edmonton, Albert last weekend. This weekend was pretty much for Boy but ended up being enjoyed by the entire group. A couple of months back I bought some really good tickets to Rammstein one of Boy’s all-time favourite bands. Based out of Germany the band took the name of Rammstein after a tragic accident at an air show when 70 people were killed after a mid-air collision of jets at an air show caused one jet to crash into the audience. Anyway, I find them to be repetitive and dull. Afterall, I don’t speak German. Boy, however thinks they’re the cat’s meow. The band doesn’t tour North America often. In fact, the last North American tour was around 10 years ago. Even more rarifying is that they played only 3 Canadian cities, Edmonton being one of them.
So I bought tickets, then I booked two hotel rooms. One room for Boy and his friend and one for Bran and I. We went up Friday, the day of the concert. The GPS was proven to be invaluable in keeping us from staying lost. The instructions were confusing at times, causing us to go the wrong way but eventually “recalculating” got us on the right track again and we got to our destinations. After we checked into the hotel (a relatively painless endeavour despite the cost) we drove off to find Fat Burger. That was when we discovered there is more than one Fat Burger in Edmonton. It took us to the downtown restaurant. We set the GPS to take us to Ikea (where the Fat Burger I’m familiar with is at) and off we went again, through downtown, past construction detours and eventually we were at the right place.
Silly me, I didn’t have my camera out for much of the trip up to Edmonton. But when we got to Elk Island National Park we pulled over and hauled out the photography equipment and I began snapping pictures. Yes, I have a lot of pictures. Some of them I took because I know that not all people on the internet live on the prairies. Imagine that!
What can I say about Fat Burger? Well, I can say it’s not a place I’d take any vegetarian friends. For them I’d try out the Mongolie Grill that apparently makes a phenomenal meal and is very vegetarian friendly. I haven’t eaten there though. Back to Fat Burger. Each person ordered a different burger. I got the Fat Burger with cheese, Bran got the mushroom with Swiss cheese, Boy got the old style cheddar bacon and his friend got the bbq burger. The only sound coming from our table was much nomming. Each of them declared that Fat Burger was the best they’d had.
After we were stuffed to the gills on burgers and fries, we headed back to the hotel. I was somewhat intrusive on the direction department, but Bran didn’t seem to be looking at the GPS when he was taking direction. The voice doing the directing is only 1/2 the equation with GPS. You have to look at the screen to see what’s up. I wasn’t so interfering when I had a camera in my hands.
We got back to the hotel with about 1/2 hour to spare before the guys were going to take a cab to Rexall Place for the concert. After they left I watched a movie or two, read, did crosswords and napped. They didn’t get back until nearly midnight, though Bran kept in touch so I knew they were safe. Apparently they started walking, looking for a cab, but in the wrong direction. So 25 blocks away from Rexall Place they finally got a cab and headed back. The boys were blissed out. They had their dream concert. Each bought some memorabilia. Friend got a t-shirt, Boy got a sippered bunny hug (hoodie to you non-Saskatchewan people) and a banner and Bran got a scarf, the only thing he was certain would fit. Throughout the rest of the weekend I was regaled with tales of how awesome the show was, critiques of the performances of the front bands compared to Rammstein and general teenager chattiness.
I took photos of as much as I could. I took photos after we got the cameras from the box in the trunk. I shot bison, farms, old farm buildings, signs, highway workers, the skyline of Edmonton as we approached the city, trains, cows (mostly Charolais and Angus), some elk, everything outside our hotel window, Bran, Boy, Boy’s friend, the streets of Edmonton, buildings, flags, lots of stuff in West Edmonton Mall, the sea lions they have there, more buildings, the North Saskatchewan River and river valley, the scenery when were were travelling to and from Edmonton, the giant decorated egg at Vegreville Alberta and more. You won’t see many of the photos because they’re hard to process. Taking photos from a moving vehicle means the photos will be grainy if much cropping is done. However I’ll try to make sure there are lots on my Flickr account. You’ll have to go to my photo blog (remember, the green button on the right that doesn’t match the other buttons – then click on a photo and you’ll be at my Flickr pages)
On Saturday, after eating a rather overpriced breakfast at the hotel, we all headed to West Edmonton Mall for a bit of shopping. Bran and I wandered around for a few hours while Boy and his friend did their shopping and saw a 3D movie. I bought some capri pants. I was wearing sweats and sweating I was. So I wore a pair of the capris out of the store. We stopped at a camera store and Bran geeked out with one of the staff there. He horrified/tempted me by asking about a large, expensive lens. The guy checked and one of their other stores in town had the lens in stock. I was tempted like you would not believe! It would mean that I could get close in shots of animals without disturbing them in any way…like the pelicans on the river. We didn’t get the lens because we needed to buy food for the family first and the store would be closed by the time we were done.
That night we found, by serendipity, a Chinese food buffet. It was pretty good, as far as buffets go. There was some lovely spicy stuff and some bland stuff. I was especially happy to see some veggie chow mien that was mostly bean sprouts. I like bean sprouts and it made a lovely accompaniment to the tasty spicy shrimp.
After that we dropped the boys off at the hotel, picked up our cameras and headed off to a downtown (by the river) park. That’s where I got the photo of the hare at the river bank. It’s also where I got a lovely clear shot of a marvelous bull dog. Alas, I had to take the photo of the dog against the sun so it’s washed out with light. The worst of it is that the dog is in perfect focus. Bummer. The mosquitoes became horrid and being as I’m an attractant to the little buggers we headed back to the hotel. Bran wanted to stay out longer, but once we got back to the hotel he realized that he was quite sore and tired and very glad to be back in our room. The boys informed us that there was no promised wireless internet, that the IT people were working on it and that they had no TV. Though we didn’t care it did get us $30 off their room.
On Sunday I woke early and took a nice shower. I was somewhat surprised to find myself running out of hot water by the end of it. One would think that a hotel with 14 floors wouldn’t allow that sort of thing to happen. But it was the end of my shower and I wasn’t too disturbed. I got dressed and played some DS (Brain Age 1 and 2). Bran woke sometime later. We spent time packing up and then the boys joined their stuff to ours on a cart. Of course Boy forgot one thing, his Rammstein bunny hug and had to go back for it while I was taking care of the bill.
From there we headed off to Ikea to look around. I was blissed out. It was a lot of fun to look at all the stuff. I would have stayed longer but Bran’s body isn’t what it used to be and he’d abused it a lot the past few days. So I did what I usually do on stores, I headed directly to where I wanted to be and looked only at the things I was thinking of purchasing. In the end we bought a dresser and chest of drawers (chiffonier) for our bedroom. I’m currently using a crap dining room hutch we purchased at Junk (pronounced yunk) and Bran’s dresser is too small. So Boy will get the dresser and our room will get rid of “stuff” that just has nowhere to go.
After Ikea we went back to Fat Burger for lunch before heading back to Saskatoon. I had the California burger (it involved an obscene amount of very delicious guacamole), Bran stuck with the mushroom and Swiss burger, Boy did the BBQ burger and his friend did the king supreme (or some such title). We also got milk shakes instead of soft drinks. They were quite yummy and I couldn’t finish mine. Then it was off to Tim Horton’s for some caffeine and out of town to home.
We stopped at one old homestead to take pictures. There was an old stone foundation, an old animal shed (we aren’t sure if it’s for sheep or if it was a cow shed) and an old house. The house had no windows and no doors. any paint that might have been on the siding was long since gone on all sides and the boards were all darkly stained with age. Surprisingly it had a basement foundation, though I think the access was through a floor door rather than a set of stairs, though I could be wrong on that since there appeared to be both.
The rest of the photos I took were while we were moving. We got back to town around 7, dropped off Boy’s friend and went to get gas and get the truck washed. The guys who filled the truck and washed the windshield were both rock fans and sounded deeply envious of Boy being able to take in the concert. Then we went to eat supper. After that it was home to pick up my truck and get it gassed up and washed.
After we got gas we went to the car wash. It’s one of those where you put in the code of your wash ticket and it hauls you through. The person ahead of me screwed up somehow and ended up hauling me through the wash. I followed the instructions about when to drive ahead and was trying to put in my code when the truck was hauled in behind the other vehicle. Talk about upsetting! We were on the verge of being run into the back of the car a few times. I put on the brakes to keep from piling in. Bran was wigged out and kept yelling at me. Let’s just say it wasn’t a stellar moment of marital communication. I went back around and made certain that I wasn’t going to get hauled through prematurely behind the car in front of me. I waited for the car wash door to close and then drove up. Happily the second time proved the charm and I drove out with a clean car. Bran thinks that the person in front of us drove through rather than letting the machine do the work and I was a victim of the machine thinking it had them.
When we got home Bran phoned Boy and Boy put Dutchess in his bedroom so we could unload the truck without her bolting out of the house. I unpacked some bags and then tried to catch up on blogs. Since I had to work on Monday morning that endeavour didn’t last too long and I went to bed.
Since we’ve been home things have gotten back to mostly normal. I was sick today with my guts being irritated. Though better I’m still finding myself controlling nausea and pain that makes me cringe and have to breath through. I hope I’m feeling better tomorrow.
Here is the first edited photo from my new K-7 Pentax. I have tons more photos to process, but I’m taking my time. I’m thinking of creating a photo blog to put them up. We’ll see. For now here’s my first edited photo. For the camera geeks out there
focal length 200.0 mm (35 mm equivalent: 300MM)
This week I was away for two days to Edmonton and Grand Cache, Alberta. We flew from Saskatoon International Airport (John Diefenbaker Airport) to Edmonton International Airport on Wednesday, February 23 (Bran’s 51st birthday). Our flight left at a fairly decent hour (about 10:45) instead of the usual before dawn flights. We arrived about 5 minutes before we left. Yeah, we went from one time zone to another. We picked up our car rental right after. Because we’d be going to Grand Cache we got a 4 wheel drive vehicle, a fairly recent Jeep Grand Cherokee.
I have to say I liked it a lot. It was reasonably comfortable, and had a few fun bells and whistles. Unlike our Volvo it had cup holders. That might seem a trivial thing, but when you don’t have cup holders you can’t even pick up a cup of coffee to take to work because there’s no place to put the damned thing while you drive. Of course it was automatic (being a rental they don’t generally have manual transmissions). The radio had a large screen where you could see what you were listening to. It had a hard drive where songs were stored (a lot of Eminem, Tupoc and other rappers). There was also a CD player behind the screen but we didn’t figure out how to work it. Not having CDs helped us not worry about that. There were controls set into the back of the steering wheel. Every function of the radio can be safely accessed without removing one’s hands from the wheel.
There were other controls that personalize the driving experience that could be accessed from buttons on the front of the steering wheel. My co-worker checked them out but didn’t set any of them. All in all it was a very nice drive in that vehicle. The one major drawback to the Jeep is that it doesn’t have great gas mileage. I know I shouldn’t expect that, but still.
The first place we went to was Edmonton Institute for Women (EIFW) in Edmonton proper. It’s a penitentiary that houses all security levels from minimum to maximum. They have a version of the men’s special handling unit (SHU). It’s very small though. There are three pods in the max house, each housing 6 to 8 women with one or two rooms double bunked. As with male prisons they have to be mindful of incompatibles, people who can’t be housed together because of conflicts. Only one pod is released for daily exercise and such at a time to prevent incidents. There is one woman that is up for Dangerous Offender status because of her propensity to try and take hostages. Thus far EIFW is the only women’s prison where she’s not successfully taken hostages.
The remainder of the population is held in houses around the main buildings. Each house has 8 to 10 bedrooms, a main common area and a kitchen. The women can either pool their weekly pay and buy groceries together or they can work individually. If they pool their money and purchases then they can get more and better groceries. It also allows each woman to keep more of her money for personal items. Once a month or so a volunteer goes out and purchases items for the women. They can get such things as hair dye, cosmetics, CDs, video games, etc. Also, unlike the men in a large male institution, the women are allowed to wear more in the way of street clothing. There is also a high needs (usually mental health) house called Hummingbird House. Women come and stay there for 4 months in an very supervised and intensively programmed environment. There is always a CX (guard) in the house and during the day there is a psychologist, social worker and program worker in house. This way the skills the women learn are always reinforced and they can be called to task immediately at times when they fail to use their new coping skills. This is more effective in halting unhealthy behaviours than waiting until the next day. It also helps avoid having volatile situations escalate.
After our tour there we began the 4 plus hours drive to Grand Cache. All I can say to this is that Alberta drivers are nuts. Really. The highway speed is 110 kph (68 mph). My co-worker was going 115 kph (71 mph) and a lot of the drivers were passing us as though we were driving at city speed. It was scary. This was on the Yellowhead highway #16 (the northern TransCanada). When we turned off the #16 and onto the #40 things changed somewhat. First off, it wasn’t a divided highway. Next the speed limit was 100 kph (62 mph). This highway was somewhat twisty and started the journey into the foothill mountains of the Rockies. There were sharper turns and twists, hills and dales and lots and lots of areas where passing wasn’t permitted. Add to that we were driving at dusk and night. Again, there were autos passing us at regular intervals. Not only personal vehicles but semi carrying full loads passed us. Many of those passing us did so in areas where passing wasn’t permitted and downright dangerous because we were going up a hill or there was a turn around a hill making it impossible to see if there was oncoming traffic. It was risky behaviour that had me thinking they were dying to get where they were going and weren’t averse to taking other people with them.
The hotel we stayed at was Best Western in Grand Cache. We arrived after sunset. They had two buildings, one for (I assume) longer term stays and the other for the hotel proper. Of course we went to the wrong building first. We finally checked in and got to eat. I had chicken Alfredo with broccoli. It was incredibly meh. The sauce was virtually flavourless and watery. The Caesar salad I had as an appetizer was good though. (I took a photo of it and of our lunch earlier in the day at Fatburger). That night I found out that we couldn’t close the curtains for privacy. They had sheers then over that they had curtains on short rods. This meant that a ground floor room was open to view to anyone who wanted to peek in. I know I’m no great beauty, but I do like to be concealed from the eyes of strangers when I’m changing clothes. It can also present a significant security issue. I shall be visiting their web site and making the suggestion that they offer full drapes that close all the way. Aside from the security issue, it means that sunshine cannot be shut out of a room if one needs to get some sleep in the day time. Non-functioning drapes are just stupid. I’ll be going to their website and leaving a comment or two about that.
After breakfast (scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, hash browns, toast and coffee) we went to the men’s prison. It’s situated down hill from town of Grand Cache in a valley. This is a medium-minimum institution. There we talked to all the institutional parole officers (IPOs) about our half-way house and the Reporting Centre program. Then we spoke to a prisoner who plans, and has been accepted at the house, to move to Saskatoon. This gives him familiar faces when he gets to our place. Then we talked to the inmate reps who represent all the prisoners and advocate for them within the institution. From there we went to the Pathways House. This is a program that focuses on Aboriginal prisoners who want to work on healing themselves from issues such as childhood abuse, alcohol and drug addictions and learning the ways of their cultures. It’s a fairly intensive program that prisoners have to prove themselves to get into. They work with Elders and help each other in their attempts to make sure they don’t keep repeating the patterns of behaviours that brought them to prison in the first place.
After that it was the long drive back to Edmonton. We went to West Edmonton Mall to shop around a bit and eat supper. My co-worker picked up a pair of sweats for her boyfriend and drooled over purses. I wasn’t able to buy anything with cash and didn’t want to use the credit card unnecessarily. That mall is impressive. I got thoroughly lost. Oddly enough we found a parking spot only two rows from an entrance. Go figure.
The flight home was on a different air line. We flew Air Canada Jazz to Edmonton. We would have flown home on Air Canada (the only direct flight) if they had more than one flight per day. We would have had to stay another night in Edmonton to do so. Instead we flew West Jet to Calgary and Calgary to Saskatoon. This flight was around 8:30 to Calgary then a wait until the flight from Calgary to Saskatoon. We arrived at nearly 1 am in Saskatoon. I took lots of photos on my trip but wasn’t able to on the flight home. I didn’t have a window seat and so wasn’t able to get night photos of landing in Saskatoon. I had two window hogs between me (on the aisle) and the window. That sucked. Flying kind of sucks. The seats are narrow and they aren’t very comfortable. By the time I got home my butt was in need of not sitting on hard surfaces. It was a great relief to get home.
As I mentioned before, I took lots of photos. The ones from the plane have a decided blue hue to them. That is what comes from taking photos of snow. Here’s the slide show of my adventures: Trip to Edmonton/Grand Cache
Last night at about 9:30 I was getting ready to head to bed. Alas, Bran had other ideas. His chest was bothering him and he was worried. That stands to reason considering he’d just had a heart attack 26 or so days previously. He complained of a heaviness in his chest that was odd. He wanted to head into the hospital. I tiredly agreed.
On our way out he asked which hospital we’d go to. I said RUH as it is where his cardiologist works out of, where the cath lab is and where he’d get the most prompt service (not that St. Paul’s wouldn’t give prompt service, but it would likely involve another ambulance ride from St. Paul’s to RUH to the cardiac ward anyway). So that’s where we went.
They hooked him up to the monitors, the vampires came along and sucked some blood and sprayed some nitro under his tongue. He had a chat with the resident on duty. The resident said that his heart enzymes were elevated, not as much as when he had the m.i. previously, but weren’t zero. He was concerned that with the previous stent blocking up and needing to be redone and with there being another artery that was fairly blocked that Bran was having another “event”. So in comes the cardiac resident. He looked at things, prescribed morphine and Gravol for the pain (the heaviness translated to pain on our drive over) and heparin in case to keep clots from forming. He said that though he had to speak to the senior cardiac fellow (fellow being a position, not just a guy who does cardiology) but that the likely hood of his being admitted to hospital was very high.
By this time it was after 1 am and I was dragging my ass (hard work, let me tell you). I needed to stay awake. I needed to be there while there was a possibility of Bran being sent home. After all, someone had to drive him back, right? At about 2:15 the news came back that Bran would be admitted to hospital and the cardiac resident would push to get Bran into the cath lab first thing in the morning considering his history and worries about the other artery being involved. I went out to the parking lot to go home.
Here’s where my adventure got to it’s pinnacle. It was bad enough that I had the stress of Bran being hospitalized again, but I had to try and find the cash exit of the parking lot. For the life of me I couldn’t find it. It’s a good thing that I had my credit card with me because I was trapped there. The only exit was the “Express Exit” which doesn’t take cash, nor does it take debit. Not only that, but even if I’d found the cash exit I wouldn’t have had enough money. That 4.5 hour session in ER cost $13.50. At night. The gouge you something fierce there. It was crazy. Anyway, I was finally on the road at 2:40. The time lapse from leaving ER to getting out of the parking lot was spent trying to find the exit to the parking lot. Poorly labelled, with construction going on blocking exits, and stupid arrangements of parking meant that 20 minutes was spent just getting out of a parking lot. Yeah, I’m that pathetic.
I got home, Tweeted and Facebooked the news and also texted the news to Boy. He was having a difficult enough time trying to sleep on his friend’s couch. This added to his inability to sleep. Poor kid. At least I managed to convey that he shouldn’t put too much effort into worrying (not that it would help anyway). Of course, being Boy he worried anyway and I was answering texts until 4 am.
The event was organized by two women at Parole, the supervisor of parole officers and one of the program workers. The host was the supervisor of Northern Saskatchewan parole. Also slated to speak was the head of the Saskatchewan Elizabeth Fry Society, a former prisoner who now works with women at the Prince Albert YWCA and with prisoners in the federal and provincial corrections systems. She was truly inspiring as she spoke of her life from a young child being taken from her parents to a residential school, to being given to a man she didn’t know by her mother, her abusive relationships with men and how she spiralled into a cycle of drug and alcohol abuse and prisons. She spoke with amazing candour about her attitudes of that time in her life and how, one day she decided to change and used the healing lodge in southern Saskatchewan to help herself make the changes she wanted.
Another speaker university professor, Colleen Dell who has done extensive research with women offenders (both provincial and federal) as well as working within the CSC system as a parole officer. She also was involved in the research that created as part of the end findings a song and video “From Stilettos to Moccasins”:
The final speaker was an Aboriginal woman who now works at the men’s healing lodge at Beardy’s First Nation. She spoke not just of the Creating Choices successes and challenges but how important the document and direction was to the healing of Aboriginal people and communities. Of course there was so much more that she spoke about and I wish my memory was better. Suffice it to say that she’s truly a treasure that I hope CSC is grateful to have.
All in all it was a very interesting day and despite having less than 3 hours sleep I managed to stay awake through the entire thing. That says a lot to not only my interest in the subject matter, but to the speakers themselves. We had lunch at the cafeteria at Wanuskewin (pronounced wan-us-kay-win). I had the three sisters soup (beans, squash and corn) with buffalo meat and a ham and cheese sandwich (that was today’s special) and my two co-workers had the buffalo burgers. They were less than happy to discover the burgers were cooked to medium rare. Neither like their meat to be pink (get your minds out of the gutters people). I’m waiting for the unfortunate side effects of the beans to take effect.
I took photos of the statuary, all except one of a medicine man wearing a white buffalo hide holding a buffalo skull aloft. I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture of that, but for some reason it felt wrong. So I went with my feelings and didn’t take a picture of it. Here they are:
So there you have it. That was my day. Now I await Boy to get home from the hospital after visiting his Dad. I was too tired to drive and rather grumpy. I made sure that most of the items Bran wanted were sent along with Boy so that at least Bran wouldn’t be bored (music, phone charger, something to read). Boy will be bringing home subs for us to eat and then I’ll be going to bed. Speaking of bed but has nothing to do with it. It’s murder and mayhem night. I’m going to turn the TV on and veg out.
Just some photos a video and a photo (for you to ponder in your dreams.
This is the end of the weir. The volume of water going over this man made devise is incredible. The currents are something else as well. The currents at the weir (also known as a low head dam) are very dangerous and meant to be avoided if you’re in the water. They are meant to keep river levels upstream relatively stable. There is a line of buoys upstream from the weir that boats and recreational water vehicles aren’t meant to go beyond.
Another weir shot, just down stream of the previous one. Notice the current in front.
The next two photos are of the pathway long the weir area of the river. It’s quite a pretty area.
This is Bran’s beard. Bran’s beard has a Marlo Thomas curl (remember the show That Girl?) though I don’t think the producers/directors and whoever styled her hair thought about beards. Maybe.
This is the video of the weir with commentary by Boy and me. Pay no attention to my chiding him. You all already know I don’t like to leave the house. It was fun yanking his chain though.
This is boy pinching Bran’s wenis. Get your minds out of the gutter and clit…I mean, click the link.
I was sick today with a nasty sinus headache. That happens when things have been wet too long. I woke up to sunshine and thought my face was going to blow up from my ears forward. I woke up later to a thunder shower. Then a couple of hours later the sun was shining again. Seriously. That’s enough with the rain. I’m growing mould.