October 31, 2005
Happy Hallowe'en!!!!!
Some photos from Hallowe'ens past. I am dressed up tonight too...as the Evil Queen from Sleeping Beauty. If I can get someone to snap my pic later, I'll post it.

As Aunt Jemima

I was so impressed with this costume until I got to a house and was called "a cute little boy". That finished me. I would not believe that it was actually a COMPLIMENT, and a fantastic costume that they couldn't even tell it was me. Ahh, the fun of being 10.

My big brother and his wife in 1983.

My Mother always made sure at least one of my brothers accompanied me on my trails through the neighbourhood. I never could understand until much later why many doors wouldn't open to us.
October 30, 2005
Which was first?

CaliValleyGirl recently posted about her memories of her first home computer, an Apple which he kept in an old refrigerator. Sounds a little funky, but go read it and it will make sense.

It made me think about our first home computer. Of course, my Dad had his 'business computer' which we were only sparingly allowed to use. It was an XT (eXtended Technology), with 640kb of memory and a 10MB hard drive. What I remember most was the monochrome orange and black screen of the monitor. I spent HOURS on that thing with a computer magazine learning Basic. If only I'd kept that talent up....but I was just a little too aware of my geekdom as a teenager so I let it go.

The next year though (1983 I believe), we got our first family computer. This was the one we were able to play games on as well as do office type work and was known as the Coleco Adam. I remember that Christmas well...seeing that HUGE 3 and a half foot long box under the tree, ripping it open to reveal the latest in computer technology.

The Adam didn't have an operating system, but came with little cassette tapes that held games, or programmes like SmartBASIC. There were some very cheezy little games like Root Beer Tapper - which you served Root Beer to customers. It also had 80KB of RAM, a daisy wheel printer (much like a typewriter but automated), and a video card capable of 16 (count 'em all!) colours. I spent absolutely hours typing out little coded programs from computer magazines of little coloured figures that would walk across the screen.

Not long after, I started babysitting for a family down the street. They had the absolute LATEST in technology, which included a modem. Just the mere thought of calling somewhere and playing a game through the telephone lines was far too amazing for my little 15-year old brain. I must have played Zork! for hours. Wait. I did. No wonder I didn't last long there as their sitter.

Soon after, I became less interested in the computer end of things and more in the teenage drama of high school. It wasn't until the internet truly came along and in 1995, I re-found my interest in computers and haven't looked back since.
Leaving the RE
With much consideration, I decided last night to leave the Red Ensign Brigade. It was a decision I did not take lightly and in fact, have been wrestling with myself over for quite a few months.

I joined the group several months ago and have been very proud to be part of this amazingly profound and patriotic Canadians. The idea of the group was and is simple. To strive for a better Canada where we once again can be proud of our leadership, and our stance on the international stage.

However, I found personally my own blogging has taken a much more personal twist, and I don't have the time to properly research and write articles I would hold worthy of this group. So I am bowing out.

I have made some very good friends through this group, and hope to continue my communications with them. As for the Red Ensign Brigade, I will continue to follow it and link information from it from time to time, but I believe they deserve a stronger membership than I was prepared to give them.

With that, though, I would like to link the most recent Red Ensign Standard #30. There are roughly 50 people in this group, and many that post several times a day. Every two weeks, one member writes and hosts the Standard, which typically links at least 2 posts from each active blog with commentary. Not a small task by any means.
Which Romance Movie?
"You must remember this, a kiss is still a
kiss". Your romance is Casablanca. A
classic story of love in trying times, chock
full of both cynicism and hope. You obviously
believe in true love, but you're also
constantly aware of practicality and societal
expectations. That's not always fun, but at
least it's realistic. Try not to let the Nazis
get you down too much.

What Romance Movie Best Represents Your Love Life?
brought to you by Quizilla
All Hallow's Eve

If I could get my act in gear this morning, I would decorate my house with the holiday paraphrenalia in my attic. But it's raining hard, and I'm less energetic than I want to be. So I think I may just fill up the gigantic bowl of candy and start trick-or-treating in my own house today instead.

A few links I'd like to point you in the direction of this morning:

There's a Witches Ball over at Girl On The Right. Some very interesting information the famed Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and a round up of very powerful posts from the group of women known as the Cotillion.

Rue's looking for just the right purse for the occasion. Can you help?

So it's Hallowe'en again. Samhain, for some. For me, it's a hybrid of both. I like to spend a little time remembering those who I've lost to the other side in the last year. It's kinda like my own little memorial day. But with chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

I am hoping to get up to the local museum/cannery this afternoon for a ghost tour. 111 years of history. It'll probably be hokey, but I'll be very interested to hear what they tell me about my neighbourhood that I don't already know.

Have you ever had a ghostly experience? I've had a couple. Both are very moving to me and have dispelled any doubt I have of their existence.

One happened when I was in the hospital in 2003. I was in the critical care ward and the lady beside me was much worse off than I was. When she passed, her family came in and stood around her and sang beautiful hymns and songs to her. She was of Asian decent, and the songs were lulling, calming Asian words that I thought were so touching. I turned to look, and saw two younger children, an old man and a middle-aged woman around her.

When the nurse came in later to tend to her, I mentioned how beautiful her family's ceremony was to witness. She looked at me oddly and said "No one has been here today."

Sure, one could say I was very ill myself, but it was extremely real and to me, was one of the most emotional, touching and heartfelt experiences I've ever been privileged to witness.
October 29, 2005
Our Little Ham, I mean Man

Upload Video at JussPress.com
October 25, 2005
I'm off to Chicago in the morning and likely will not be around the blogworld for a few days. Right now, it's just been a treat to pace and stress that I won't forget anything. It's been nearly 15 months since I travelled anywhere on a plane...a record for me and my travelling bug.

The bags are packed. I'm ready to go.
Got my Ipod loaded
And the laptop just so.

Ok, never said I was a poet.

Here's a few pictures from the pumpkin patch from the weekend to keep the place looking spiffy over the next couple days.

Ms. Thang and her pumpkin. Although I must refer to her as her new name - Werewolf. She has decided she is a werewolf, plain and simple. After crawling on all fours through the mud of the pumpkin patch, I asked her what she was doing. Rolling her eyes, she huffed 'I am a WEREWOLF!' as if I was the thickest person on the planet. So I told her werewolves only come out at night, and she shouldn't crawl in the dirt until the sun goes down. Her response? Screamed at the top of her lungs with the emotion and turmoil-filled voice of a teenager, 'I'M NOCTURNAL!!!!!!!!!!!' before she got up and stomped away from me.

Alex is very happy little guy. Just bring a camera out now and he is all giggles. And apparently, pumpkins are quite hilarious when you're 10 months old.

I changed my hair colour drastically over the weekend. Went from a dark blonde to this. It's very close to my natural (although what is natural, now that I'm going grey?) and I am getting used to it, but it's taking a bit. Hayley was explaining how corn works to me while we were waiting for the hayride to arrive. Did you know that werewolves only eat corn? Who knew? Unfortunately, this little werewolf had to be picked up and carried off when she decided to bare her teeth at the Pumpkin Princess who tried to take the corn away.
October 24, 2005
The Power of A Well-Planned Complaint
I met with the dentist today. It has now been two weeks since the debacle started, and while I still have some tenderness, it is mostly faded in the background.

At noon today, I had my meeting with the dentist and the owner. I had considered cancelling it about a couple hundred times over the weekend, convinced I should seek proper legal advice before going in. Then today arrived, and I didn't have a chance until it was too late to consider calling.

It went extremely well, and above my best expectations. I have been reimbursed in full for my expenses, and although they have not expressly said there was an error made, steps have been taken to ensure this does not happen again. What impressed me though is how thorough they were in researching the situation. Not only was a call made to my general doctor to discuss my health issues, but also they researched the type of diverticular disease that I have. On top of that, the dentists held a staff meeting with their crew to remind them that it is often easy to forget the focus on the individual's health, rather than the dentistry itself.

I am feeling very vindicated today.
October 23, 2005
A Walk In The Park
Yesterday, our Photography group went to my local park. I found it a lot more difficult, as this is an area I live only steps from. My challenge was to find things in a new light and capture the feeling of this place. I always find this area beautiful, and more than that, recharging for the soul. I have hundreds, if not thousands of pictures already, and often come up to this park in the evenings for it's calming force.

The area is home to a commercial fishing port. Growing up, it was the chief industry of the area and had been for generations. Now, it's a shell of what it once was. Once the largest commercial port on the West Coast, there are only a handful of boats in service now and the industry is fraught with government regulations. Protests on the river now seem to be more common that actual fishing. Even so, there is something quietly beautiful about seeing a fisherman's boat go out to sea.

This monument, a replica of a gillnetter's needle, was dedicated to those lost at sea. It may seem a calm area from the untrained eye, but it's very unpredictable. Just two years ago, a mile form here was the Cap Rouge II tragedy. A fisherman and his family coming into Steveston, and heavily laden with fish, capsized just past Sandheads (the area where the river hits the open water causing severe currents). The mother, two young children and two family members were drowned, leaving only the father alive. It caused a lot of controversy at the time, as Coast Guard regulations forbid the divers from entering the capsized boat. This, thankfully, has now been changed.

Just past the park is the 6th Avenue Pier, which was filled with boats reading for departure yesterday. The nets remind me of stories of my childhood and I remember my grandmother explaining how important the mending of the nets were. She would spend hours bent over the weaved rope, repairing any tears and rips for my grandfather's next trip out to sea.

This view looks down into Steveston proper. The beach isn't something you'd find on any 'best beach' list, but I love coming down here in the summer with a blanket and a good book watching the traffic on the arm of the Fraser. A few times a day, big freighters will navigate their way down with the help of Marine Pilots. The Fraser River is dredged a few times a year, as there is a lot of silt that ends up at the mouth. Often the large container ships must go through a narrow channel with less than 3 feet to spare from the keel to the bottom of the river. It's amazing that more don't get hung up on the sandbars. I think I can only remember one in recent memory, and that was plainly poor planning. It was a Tall Ship that politicians had set up to go at low tide.

This area is known as Scotch Pond. Home not only to a small fleet of fishing vessels, but also a myriad of animals. Yesterday, we saw evidence of trees taken down by beaver. There are more squrrels than one can count, and skunks, eagles, seals as well. There have also been sightings of coyotes here, but other than hearing them in the night, I've never seen one myself. I live on the other side of the trees in the far background.
October 22, 2005
How much is your blog worth?
Hat tip to Rebecca.

My blog is worth $46,856.82.
How much is your blog worth?

October 21, 2005
Been playing around with Photoshop online tutorials and took this picture of my grandparents walking down a Vancouver street, roughly in 1940....
And colourized it to turn into this...

My first attempt. I can see mistakes in it, but given that my mother's only comment was 'My Mother never had a green coat', it must be somewhat believable.
October 20, 2005
The last two days have been definitely better than I've had in a long time (knocking wood). I think this whole tooth thing has been colouring my health for a lot longer than I first realized and have found, once the healing started, all is much better. I have energy, a clear head and I'm even starting to feel back like my old self again.

Even still, I have a check up with the doctor tonight that's a little invasive so if anyone wants to spare some good vibes around 4:30pst I'd be very much appreciative.

Tonight, I will be going to see Andre Philippe Gagnon, a Canadian impressionist who apparently puts on quite a show. I had not heard of him before, but talking to people, sounds like it's very funny. One of his highlights is performing 'We Are The World' as a one-man show.

Photography class has been cancelled now for two weeks in a row (with the exception of the field trip) due to BC Teacher's Strike. Kids have been out of school now in what is effectively an illegal work stoppage. Education is considered an essential service in BC, but the teachers felt strongly they weren't being heard. So they walked out. The powers that be all the way up to Supreme Court have agreed the teachers must return to work before bargaining can begin, but it's at a stalemate it would seem. While I certainly understand the teachers have their issues and agree that there could definintely be improvements made (including basic necessities such as newer teaching tools and textbooks), I wholeheartedly disagree with the lawbreaking that is going on.

There is a reason education is an essential service. Children need not only education and structure, but also a safe place to go in the day. Many parents don't have the luxury of paying for childcare every day or taking the time off during the strike. The head of the teacher's organization has likened herself to Martin Luther King Jr., in her stance of breaking the law to stand up for an injustice. I fail to see the similarity.

Standing up for what you believe in is admirable and noble, without question. But if that brings you outside of the law, I'm less empathetic.
October 18, 2005
That time of year again...
The leaves are turning gorgeous shades of orange and red.

The stores are full of packages of small candies to hand out.

The pumpkin patches I drive by on my way to work are brimming with bright orange gourds.

The little ones are excitedly deciding what costumes to wear for the big event.

And it's time to start medicating the dog.

I live beside a park. A great park known for the favourite hangout for kids at night. And it's firecracker time. Sure, they're illegal here but there's never been a shortage. I had them when I was a teenager - hell, I might have even sold them, but that's a story for another day. That day long ago when I nearly was arrested trying to smuggle the firecrackers across the US border. Ahh, one day of my teenage years I do not want to live over again.

Last night, the cracks started. One here. Another one there. Then rapid succession of blowing up a whole pack of Mini-Mites.

Molly has always been a bit of a timid dog. Highstrung as well. Being a border collie, she's on alert for the littlest thing. Let me tell you, there is hardly a moment when I'm not reminded that a leaf has fallen off a tree, or grass might be growing in the field.

She's gotten better though with age and more used to life's little adventurous sounds. When we first moved in here, the foghorn would have her pacing all night long, but now 6 years later, she sleeps through it. The thunderstorms would have her whining in the corner as I coaxed her through it. Now at worst, she might let out a bark to let the world know she's not pleased.

But fireworks? Yeah, not a chance. I have tried most everything I can think of. It's hard to watch and it tears at me to see what she has to go through these two weeks of the year during Fireworks season. It turns into a crescendo the closer we get to October 31. And on Hallowe'en, I don't leave the house lest she become completely panic-striken and hurt herself.

She goes to daycare during the day at a local veterinarian's office. Yeah, some might think it's excessive but I think it's money well spent. Gives her more exercise than I could ever possibly do and gives her a place to socialize. When the vet saw how stressed she got the closer we came to Hallowe'en, he prescribed Valium. She can have up to 7, and it's the same as human valium - but apparently dogs metabolize it differently.

I give it to her sparingly. Not just because I don't want her doped up, but more because of the other side effect. Like any good little addict, as she comes down, she gets the 'Munchies'.

It's bad. She's been known to try and eat boiling pasta off the stove WHILE I'm still cooking it. She will eat until she gorges herself, if I'll let her. And if there isn't food around, she will eat whatever else. Paper, cardboard, even carpet. It's the Munchies, pure and simple.

I suspect, if she could speak, she look at me with glassed-over eyes and slur 'Dude, I need a Big Mac stat.'

Luckily, it's only a very short period during the year and as soon as November begins, the neighbourhood returns to the quiet, sleepy little fishing village. Good thing too, as I don't think Betty Ford runs a canine program.
Take a Letter
After my post yesterday, I decided to start jotting down some notes that I wanted in front of me when I called the dentist's office. I didn't want to stammer or sound less confident when I called.

But one thing led to another. My notes turned into sentences. My sentences paragraphs. Soon, I had a two page letter detailing the experiences of the last two years and how I am 'deeply concerned' that this was not caught earlier in August when I first complained.

I sat it aside and re-read it a couple hours later and was still fairly impressed. It was assertive, yet not aggressive. Then I sent it to a friend for proofreading. She came back with only a very minor grammar change and said it was 'well-written'.

So I sent it. I emailed the owner of the dental office.

Two hours later, I received a call from her assistant. Apparently, my letter hit the mark. I will be meeting with the owner and the dentist next Monday to discuss 'renumeration' and 'whatever it will take to make me feel comfortable again'. While I know I'm not amiss in my complaint, it felt very good to hear the apology from the dental office.

Fingers crossed, everything will go well on Monday and I will be able to move past this.

I am feeling much better today and the pain is minimal. Let's just hope this trend continues.
October 17, 2005
Red Ensign Standard #29
I was remiss last week, with all the drama, in pointing out the newest edition of the Red Ensign Standard hosted by Robot Guy.

The Red Ensign Brigade is a group of patriotic Canadian bloggers who aren't afraid of speaking their minds, nor envisioning a greater country for ourselves. There are roughly 50 blogs that fly the Red Ensign, which was the Canadian flag prior to 1965. Every 2 weeks (with the exception of a summer hiatus), one of the group hosts the Red Ensign Standard to showcase the best or most thought-provoking posts from each member.

I hosted back in April. It is no small task

Check out the latest standard. It's always a good read and an interesting perspective on the world.
Getting angry
While I'm still in quite a bit of discomfort, I am definitely improving. If only for the fact that I am now finding myself quite angry. Anger is always a good sign that I'm at least starting to think straight.

With that, I've decided - after talking to a few people in the dental industry - to seek legal advice. This is the second time in just over two years that something has gone seriously wrong in the dental chair. And this time, given my precarious work situation, may have had an impact on my job.

So I spent some time crafting a very detailed letter to the dentist explaining the situation from my point of view. The pain it has caused, as well as the anxiousness of not knowing if I will have another diverticular attack. The costs I have incurred over the last week is certianly not to be sneezed at, and I can only be thankful that I have good credit.

In the letter, I was very straightforward and polite. However, I am prepared to take it further if required. The sharp pain that I feel under my right eye has not gone away, although thankfully is a lot less severe than it was on my Meltdown day last Friday.

Thing is I have no idea what my next step is. The only times I've ever talked to a lawyer was during the aftermath of a car accident 20 years ago, and 10 years ago in a probate issue.

I've noticed a definite coolness from my boss this morning. Although he is cordial, I can't help but feel how disappointed he is. I've been sick for pretty much 2 months now and that does not look good for a new employee. I know if I was on his side, I certainly would not be impressed. I was frank with him this morning and explained the situation in depth, in hopes that he'd understand a lot of this is out of my control. I can only hope that's the case, but if not, so be it. I am sure I can find another job once I regain my health.

And with that, there's a tonne to do here today so I'm back to the grind.
October 15, 2005
Always A Bridesmaid
Sitting here tonight, I just realized my brother Bob was married 28 years ago today. He and his wife, Karen are still very much the newlyweds they were all those years ago. My family is very unique. I never realized it until I was much older, that they are the oddity as far as statistics go and I'm the one that's likely the more 'normal'. All 4 of my brothers were fortunate enough to meet their significant others by the time they were 18, if not far earlier. They married by their 20th birthday and are all still very much married and happy to their high school sweethearts. In fact, even my cousins followed that same route. There is only one divorce in 4 generations, and that was a 6-monther back in 1974 that is still talked about in whispers.

Then there's me. Never married. No one quite knows where I fit in and have long ago stopped asking when I will meet the 'right one'. They've given up. Thankfully, I haven't. For the longest time, I thought it was me that was strange. I was the black sheep. But now I realize it's the opposite.

I'm working on a slideshow for my parents for Christmas and thought I'd pull up a few of the photos from the big event that occured nearly 3 decades ago. October 15, 1977.

As you can see, I completely idolized my big brother. He is 14 years older than me, and I remember always thinking he was the absolutely coolest big brother anyone could ever have. Back in those days, he drove a yellow convertible 'vette. I still cringe a little bit about that car. In one of my 'creative' 6 year old moments, I decide to beautify it and drew flowers on the leather seats with a black marker. Thinking about that now, it's actually pretty amazing he talks to me at all!
I was 7 when they married. I was beyond the moon with excitement to be part of the wedding ceremony and was coached within an inch of my young life, not to squirm and to 'stand like a lady' during the service. I stood so ramrod straight that my knees locked and when we had to turn to walk back down the aisle, I tripped and fell. Thankfully, Karen's brother was able to grab me before I made too much of a fool of myself.

They were the most stylin' couple back then. Well, even now for that matter. Karen was so tiny - 5' nothing and so thin you'd swear she'd fade away if she stood sideways. The wedding took place in her parents' basement. Check out the great 70's styles in the background. My other brother - in the beige vest - in the background had just married his wife - in the navy dress, only 3 weeks before. Sandi, drinking the milk, was still 18 and didn't drink alcohol yet. Hence, the milk.

The dress that Karen wore is still talked about today. We were all so impressed with the debutante, southern belle attire, but we later found out she hated it. She couldn't walk through the doorways without help and she found it completely uncomfortable. A few years after the wedding, she threw it out.

They now have 2 kids, a son and a daughter. Their daughter is the one who married last May. The son is just barely out of his teens and still thinks like one. He's under the impression that if he spends enough money to go into bankruptcy, he'll just skip the country and live on some desert island somewhere. A little more growing up to do there, I think.

I've begun a photoblog. Not a lot there yet, but will work on it over the next little while. So far, it's just mostly pictures from this morning and a few oldies but goodies.

Check it out if you have the chance.
Movin' On Up
Well, 15 hours of sleep seems to have improved the situation. I'm still sore but am back at a manageable level.

Thank you all so much for your very, very kind words. Must say I could feel the air getting a little dusty in here when I read them. It means a lot to know I have such good friends reading this.

Other good news included my friend who was visiting from out of town came to visit me here. We were supposed to meet at the hotel he was staying in for dinner but when he called and found out I was in no shape to go anywhere, he wasted no time in coming by. We had a good catchup and while I always enjoy his company, more than a couple hours always reminds me why we are just friends. The man has no social skills and seemed to feel the need to spent part of his time here clipping his nails and spitting his chewing tobacco into an old Coke can. I'm proud that he and I could forge a friendship after a tumultuous 4 year relationship, but at the same time, it will never be more. Aside from poor manners, he never got the concept of my 'one at a time' dating rule, and saw nothing wrong with picking up whomever was at the ball field when he was playing.

He's getting an award today from Softball BC for his role in setting up a new team in the league that went on to win the Provincials. I'm proud of him for taking the initiative and instead of being part of the problem, being part of the solution.

In shopaholic news, I've also purchased the new Ipod - 60GB model. While I bought the Nano just three weeks ago, I thought this was a great little thing. I'm a bit peeved at Apple to bring this out less than a month later, but I guess that's marketing. I would never have bought the Nano had I known this was so close behind. But I'll have use for both. The larger one shows video, and apparently allows you to download television shows.

I spent the morning in the park with my Photography class. I didn't expect to be able to go, but woke up today and felt good enough to do a couple hours. Filled a full 512MB disk and took over 200 shots which I'll be playing around with this afternoon and will attempt to begin a photoblog of some sort.

But for now, it's time to take it easy for a bit again.
October 14, 2005
This whole experience...Root Canal The Sequel, and the subsequent bone infection is a lot more painful than I had anticipated. I'm not doin' so good, unfortunately. The pain is definitely a lot more intense than expected and while I usually pride myself on dealing with such, this time is not going so well.

I left work this morning. After feeling the tears well up in my eyes, and not being able to keep a straight thought in my head, I realized I was doing no favours to anyone by trying to work. And unfortunately, a well-intentioned remark from a concerned family member put me into a sobbing mess. At that point, I realized it was time to pull myself out of the situation for a bit.

So I'm home. Took another dose of pain pills and am going to crash now.

If I had any energy left at all, I would definitely rip a strip off this damned dentist and their poor workmanship that has cost me not only monetarily, but so much more. Having to leave work due to sickness again never looks good and I am so worried their patience will grow thin. And of course, I had a friend coming into town this weekend that I likely won't be able to see now.

As such, blogging will be light for a bit. And I am sorry for not commenting on your blogs as often as I usually do. This week has been character-building to say the least.
October 12, 2005
So I decided to bite the bullet. I signed up for NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month contest. The idea is deceptively simple. 50,000 words in November. All about quantity, not quality. It sounds like a good way to jump start myself into something more involved.

The funny part is when I began giving myself the permission to start writing seriously, I seemed to have opened up a flood gate. I have several ideas for stories and they just keep coming. However, I have very little confidence in myself.

I've been reading a book called 'The Courage To Write'. It helps me to understand that everyone has had that fear in the beginning.

But, the stories in my head are ones I believe deserve to be told. The characters, the events and the tales need to be brought to the surface. But how can I? Do I have what it takes?

Walking into a bookstore, all I can see on the shelves are days spent and hearts emptied by authors that have arrived before me. Is there anything left to say? These people are writers. I throw words together. But are my stories interesting at all?

Apprehension enters my heart. Books are long. Easily 200 pages. Can I possibly write that much? How did others do it? I recall Isabel Allende’s words when I attended her lecture – “I just lock myself away until I’m done.” Another author remarking – “You must want to write at the exclusion of everything else”.

I want that. I want to immerse myself in the tales that entertain my thoughts. The ones I share with my friends and family beg to be turned into written prose. They’ve spoken quietly of their wish for years, each year becoming stronger than the next. Now, I feel it’s their time. These words must become stories.

Courage is not easily found, but the battle begins with the first word.

Pluggin' along
As expected, I am not feeling very well today. It has been a little on the discomforting side, but I guess that's to be expected.

I came into work today for the 10am meeting, which ended up going a completely different direction than I thought. And from that moment on, my phone never stopped ringing nor my door unrevolving. I was completely exhausted by the end of the day.

Unfortunately, the news from my doctor didn't resolve my fears. After the serious incident in 2003 that nearly cost me my life from a dental appointment, I have been understandably cautious. By the time I ended up in hospital then, I had developed sepsis and very nearly did not make it. I don't say this lightly, and it's something that never leaves my mind. Since that time, I have definitely looked at life in a much more appreciative way. However, because of that situation, I am no longer able to take antibiotics. So when situations develop like this, it starts to cause a level of anxiety that I have difficulty controlling.

I called my doctor to get confirmation that I could take the antibiotics in this situation. I fully expected her to call me back and tell me to stop being melodramatic and overreacting. That did not happen. She agreed that I had no option but to take the prescription, but that it makes her very concerned. She has forwarded my file to the local hospital's emergency and given word to the Infectious Diseases doctor that I may have complications. I have his number and if at any time, I develop any of the symptoms I did in 2003, I must go to the nearest hospital immediately. Nothing like freaking me out just that little bit more.

So how easy was it to pop those pills? Knowing that they could cause me to develop life-threatening complications? Not so easy at all. It took me until nearly 3pm to gather the courage to take them and even then, I had them in my hand several times before I chickened out.

I really hate this feeling of everything always going wrong. Not to mention, most people have a very hard time accepting that I'm not some hypochondriac. This new job, of course, involves all new people who really just don't know how to take me. I was called 'Linus' today - 'A little black cloud hangs over your head all the time, doesn't it?' and by another person, a comment to the effect of 'Are you ever well?' Nothing like being kicked when you're down. I try to keep to myself as much as possible, and keep a smile on my face the rest of the time, but it's difficult. All I want to do is crawl into a hole and sleep for a week, but that's not a possibility.

Looking at the positive, these past few months of headaches may be directly related to this bone infection. Now that it's been taken care of, I can only hope that my health will greatly improve now.

I just have to remember that tomorrow will be a better day. And the one after that, better still.
October 11, 2005
Let the healing begin
I'm home. I'm frozen and still chipmunk-like. No, there will not be pictures.

The good news? Well, I guess in retrospect, it was all a lot better than I expected. The tooth had become seriously infected, and apparently the previous dentist did not complete the root canal. Something about a twisted canal, but I guess that dentist didn't feel like stretching his poor little fingers when he did it the first time.

The specialist, a lovely woman with a need for Elvis to be playing while she did her work, was able to redo and properly complete the root canal - all 5 canals, I might add and was able to save the tooth. The source of the infection was also removed, but given that it has been simmering for likely over a year, it will be a few days before we can tell if it's history or not. I am to start high doses of antibiotics but given my health issues, I am still waiting for approval from my doctor before I start. Even though the dentist did not mince words - "You have an active infection in the bone. It is not an option to skip antibiotics". However, as I have ended up in ICU due to negative reactions to antibiotics, I will wait for my own doctor to make that call.

The part that really annoys me...no, that pisses me off, is that this is the tooth I had a replaced crown in August. It was originally root canal-ed (it's a word!) in 1997 and the first dentist dude missed the 5th canal that time. Then when the crown cracked this summer, my present dentist did not see the improperly sealed canal. Even though, I showed signs of sensitivity and pain.

Unfortunately, one of the downfalls of chronic pain is that you experience pain every day. It's just a part of life and to some degree, you get used to it. My tolerance for pain tends to be fairly high as a result. So, for the second time in less than a year, I am reminded that by the time I feel severe pain, it is usually serious.

Of course, my dental insurance expired in August so not only is the crown I paid 50% for only two months ago gone, now I am on the hook for 100% of today's emergency root canal and the new (and THIRD) crown. $1400. Guess that's what happens when you just start getting a budget working and feel like you're getting ahead.


And this is the week they're evaluating a position for me in this company. It would be a custom-made position that would see me streamlining the processes and data management for all 7 plants. Something that is a very tedious, numbers-oriented job which I would thrive on. I can get lost in the numbers and love nothing more than straight analysis. Yeah, I know...I'm weird. Tomorrow at 10am, I have a meeting with the Plant Manager that is critical, and unmissable. Not cool at all.
Nothing is simple
Unfortunately, my experience in life has established that dentists are evil. Oh sure, they're nice people and mean well, but in the end, there is always something that goes wrong. A simple cavity turns into a root canal.

I had that dental work done last August and it's never felt right. Over the weekend, the pain got intense and I couldn't eat very easily. Then my right cheek puffed up like a chipmunk at harvest. Last night I couldn't sleep because of the discomfort.

So I went to the dentist an hour ago to have it checked out. Turns out there was an infection that has spread. The x-ray shows it going into the bone. Can I not have something simple? Ever? Or even just once? Queue a bunch of the dentists coming into the room to ooh and ahh over the xray, and now I'm booked into the dental specialist in the hospital in Vancouver for 4:15 today. They are hoping that they won't have to extract it. WTF is that? Ok, I'm worked up right now but I'm just so mad. And hurting. And grumpy.
Grumpy Old Men
So nothing has changed. He is still grumpy, still not feeling well and getting fed up with us asking him how he is all the time. The greyness hasn't gone and Dad still looks like he's been run over with a truck.

Nothing more can be done now until he wants it. He's always been stubborn that way!

Unfortunately, I'm a bit grumpy myself today. I've been up all night with a toothache. My right cheek is swollen and I look like a chipmunk. Hopefully, I can convince the Evil Dentist Queen to take me in on an emergency basis when they open in half an hour. After last week's 5 day migraine, I am really tired of feeling the pain. Ugh. Never bloody ends.

But in good news, I've been asked to go on a business conference to Chicago at the end of the month. I suspect it will be to discuss my long-term situation with this company - although I'm not entirely convinced it is where I want to be. However, I will hear them out. The unfortunate part is that it's October 27-29, which means I won't be able to take Ms. Thang and the gang to The Great Big Boo.

More later when the Tylenol kicks in.
October 10, 2005
Being thankful
The spread

My mom did a fantastic job, especially considering her health of late. We had an amazing turkey dinner with all the trimmings. She was proud of the veggies.

'You've had brocoflower, right?', she asked. The hybrid combo of broccoli and cauliflower tastes good but still makes one wonder what went into changing it.

'Well, tonight we get ORANGE brocoflower'. It tasted good, looked a little bizarre and just proves we're not on that whole organic bandwagon thing.

Alex gets his first turkey bone to chew on. Although he was much more interested in using it as a drumstick.

We all went around the table mentioning one thing we were thankful for. There is something about being surrounded by family though, that just makes us more appreciative for the every day. With my parents and my aunt in their 70s now, we know we are on precious time. None are in great health and it seems to get worse every day. My Mom's emphysema has worsened significantly this year, along with her osteoporosis. Her sister - my aunt - was diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica this week. It's an arthritic condition that affects the muscles, rather than the bones. Aunt J had a stroke last November, and living alone, she seems to be affected mentally as well as physically. I am going to work on getting her a computer, but I am a little concerned that I might have bitten off more than I can chew on that one.

All this over a crayon? Sibling rivalry begins early!

Unfortunately, our dinner didn't end so well. My Dad, who is our stalwart family patriarch and the one who never complains took sick during the meal. He suddenly went very grey and excused himself to bed.

Upon checking on him, he was very irritable and argumentative. I took my Aunt home soon after (being a retired nurse, she has the ingrained response to hover and think the worst when someone's ill) but came back to stay with my Mom.

He tried to get up later, but was unsteady on his feet and just really not himself. I asked him if he would like to go to the hospital but he refused for the moment. Just after midnight, he seemed to drift off into a more restful sleep and my Mom had settled enough that I went home. Haven't slept much and am very concerned this morning, but nothing has changed. He hasn't gotten worse, nor better but is still not wanting any more fuss. It's hard to explain - but this is entirely out of character for my father.

So today, I will stay close to the phone and hope that this is just a one-off odd occurrence.
The Cheesecake

I found this recipe a while back and it is the best cheesecake I've ever tasted. I wish I could remember where I found the recipe so I could properly give credit where credit is due, but unfortunately that part didn't make the print-out.

Considering I actually don't care for cheesecake, it says a lot for this one where I would happily eat the entire thing if I could.


Graham-Cracker Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup of melted butter
1/3 cup of sugar
3/4 tsp. salt

Stir together crust ingredients and press into 10" springform pan.

5 packages of cream cheese
2 cups of sugar
3 tbsp. flour
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to high (500F).

Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour with mixer until smooth. Add eggs and yolks one at a time, followed by vanilla. Beat on low until smooth and spatula down bowl between additions.

Pour over crust in springform pan. If it's full, make sure you put a pan underneath to catch drips. Fire is not fun.

Put in oven but WATCH carefully. Cook on high for 10-ish minutes until it puffs up a little bit and slightly browns. Once this happens, turn down oven temperature to 200F.

Cook at lower temp for approximately 1 hr 45 min. It will still be a little wobbly in the middle but mostly solid.

Once done, remove from oven and run a knife around the top edge to loosen. Let it sit until it cools. It should be chilled for a few hours before eating but I never have and it comes out fine.

For sauces, caramel and chocolate sauce (normally for ice cream) works well. So do fresh blueberries cooked with a little sugar and lemon juice.
October 09, 2005
Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm off to help with the preparations of the Thanksgiving feast. If you're celebrating today, Happy Thanksgiving. If you're not, Happy Sunday and sorry you have to go to work tomorrow!
October 05, 2005
The Great Big Boo

If anyone reading this blog doesn't realize the big (read: gigantic, huge, enormous) soft spot I have for my wee grandniece, ya haven't read enough.

Guess where we're going?

To the Great Big Boo - an indoor trick-or-treat party for the little ones. All the greats will be there - Dora, Snoopy AND Elmo. Not to mention the witches, vampires, princesses and even a werewolf.

That's especially important as Ms Thang believes she is a werewolf. Note to remember - 3 year olds shouldn't watch Harry Potter, lest they believe they are one of them.

This year's Hallowe'en festivities seem to have taken a new high. Hayley is now old enough to sort of 'get it'. On Saturday, she was like a kid on a car trip to Disneyland. 'Is it Hallowe'en now?'. No, we would tell her. And 5 minutes later, 'Can I trick or treat now?'. It went on all evening until we finally let her stand outside the door and knock. Thankfully, she hasn't quite the concept of leaving the yard without anyone with her!

So on October 29, Ms Thang, L'il Dude, their Mom and I will venture downtown to this show. I hope it's as good as it looks on the website.
The art of teaching
A derelict house I pass on my commute to work

I was very much looking forward to my course on photography. I'd been taking shots for years, but mostly pointing and clicking. The f/stop, shutter speed and the rest of the lingo were and still are Greek to me.

So far, the course has been a bit of a disappointment to me. I knew I'd be somewhat advanced, given that I'd been playing around with Photoshop and doing online tutorials for a few years. However, to take the Advanced course, you must take the the Intro first.

Last week, though, as we spent the first hour just learning how to take the batteries out of our cameras and opening a file on the computer, I knew I wasn't in the right place.

The teacher is an older man, who has had many years of photography experience. I have no doubt of his talent or knowledge of the subject. But as a teacher, the gentleman needs some retraining. I did some teaching at my last job, and found - surprisingly - I really enjoyed it. There is something very rewarding about helping another person learn a new skill. But there are some techniques for teaching adult students, and I've now become a bit biased when I notice someone who doesn't teach effectively.

Looking at this house, I wonder about the family who lived here.

In this class, the teacher has repeatedly 'dumbed down' his responses. He frequently sighs loudly at questions, and if we ask something that is a little more involved than the basic skills, his reply is undoubtedly 'I don't think you need to know that.', or some variation.

I've found, especially when coaching a person on computer skills, it's helpful to try and take the fear and mystery out of a computer program. Many people - especially the older generation - have a strong distrust of the technology and it's important not to add on to that. The computer isn't going to explode, self-destruct or burst into flames if you push the wrong button. At worst, you'll freeze the machine and need to reboot. At best, you'll have learned something new.

Who last painted that green stripe around the windows? Did they know the house would be abandoned?

Last night, in class, I was asked to demonstrate the steps in cropping, colouring and setting up a picture to print.

When it came time to display the photo, the finished size was 4" x 4".

A fellow student asked 'What if I want it to be 4" x 6"?'

The teacher's reply was 'Well, you can't do that.'

I corrected him, and said, while you can, the result wouldn't be too pleasing. The teacher interjected and said 'I don't want these people knowing that'.

A bit disappointed in his answer, I set up the photo to a 4" x 6" to show the class why it's not a good idea to change the scale of the photo. Instead of confused looks, the rest of the students seemed to understand that it was more a matter of 'shouldn't' rather than 'can't'.

I should mention, though, the teacher and I do get along rather well. He has asked me to help a few of the students and I know that if I am patient, I will learn from him. And I hope I'm not coming across in this post as a know-it-all prat. Certainly not that, but just that I can see room for improvement.

That'd be about right...
You speak eloquently and have seemingly read every book ever published. You are a fountain of
endless (sometimes useless) knowledge, and never fail to impress at a party.
What people love: You can answer almost any question people ask, and have thus been
nicknamed Jeeves.
What people hate: You constantly correct their grammar and insult their paperbacks.

What Kind of Elitist Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

That'd be about right. My most favourite room in my house is my library. Wall to wall books. I spent hours this weekend reorganizing my bookcases and it feels almost 'zen' in there right now. From a young child, I've always treasured books....and admired library rooms, with elegant wooden shelves. There's something that just feeds my OCD well in the works that line the each row.
October 04, 2005
I have always been phobic of spiders. Even just typing that word makes my skin crawl. But as I find myself getting older, instead of getting better, it gets worse.

I am often found while walking to my car in the morning, doing the 'pope walk'. I wave my arm in front of me in a screwed-up chest cross as I fight off any possible webs. Whether there are or not, the thought alone is enough for me to walk rather nervously in the morning.

One morning, I didn't. I walked right into a garden spider. I could see it hanging from the side of my hair, out of the corner of my eye. It's gangly orange legs giving me some sort of 8-legged salute in jest as I screamed, very unladylike around my carport. If that wasn't enough, once I became conscious of my surroundings again, I was greeted by some neighbours out walking their dog and staring at me like I had grown horns. People, did you not see the beast hanging off the side of my head? Even upon explaining, they seemed to not quite understand.

I have good reason. My brothers were full of practical jokes designed to drive their baby sister insane. On at least two occassions, I can remember them dropping monstrous wolf spiders on my head. Only later, when we were adults (or at least some of us were) they laughed and admitted it was in cold blood. They would feed these demons until they got to a decent size, collecting flies and the like in order to scare the neighbourhood girls. I was just their local prey.

When I was 6, a tarantula ran over my foot in California. I remember the feeling on my bare foot to this day and even typing this, I can feel the bile rising in my throat.

I try to rationalize. I tell myself it is only an insect with 8 legs. It's more scared of me than I am of it (yeah, right!). But when push comes to shove, and I'm faced with the real thing, primary fear takes over. It is not something controllable.

Only once was I able to overcome this. In Northern California, my cousin owns a large ranch. We had just been warned of the poisonous trap door spiders, and walking along, my friend accidently stepped on a nest. She has the same feeling as I do, and she froze. Fully. Completely froze. I had the presence of mind to push her away from things, and break her paralysis. But soon after, I began to shake. Like I said, this is not a controllable reaction.

Last night, I had to go to a friend's house to look after her cats while she's out of town. Thinking nothing of it, I had planned to go alone. My mother reminded me that I'd be going late and long after the sun set, and wanted to accompany me on my drive. I thought she was being silly, but in the end, decided it would be nice to have some company on the hour-plus drive.

Driving down the long driveway, I was struck at exactly how dark the house was. My friend lives in a very rural area, on 1/2 an acre of forested land. The key was hidden in the shed, and as I tried to climb up to the spot expected, I was faced with two of the largest brown beasts I'd seen in some time.

I felt truly nauseated. The cats were inside...I had no option but get that key, but to do it, I had to pass two spiders with spans over 3". Spiders that were none too pleased with my entry into their quiet neighbourhood and were running from one end of their webs to the other.

Telling myself to face my fear, I ducked and got the key. I did my duty, and now 24 hours later, I am still feeling squeamish. My mom described my reaction as one who had just seen a horrific car crash. I went from red, to white, to a pasty grey. Then the shaking started. All I remember is telling myself not to lose my dinner.

From what I gather, those without true phobias have no understanding of how traumatizing it can be. Hell, my brothers still laugh when I talk about it. A friend of mine takes delight (or maybe she truly doesn't realize) in telling stories about them, until I must leave the room.

The best part? I need to go back to check on the cats tomorrow night. It will be in the dark again, and well, I'll be bringing a big stick and Raid.
So sad
This story broke my heart.

An 11 year old girl committed suicide in Edmonton with her puppy's leash. The news article focusses on the fact that her father had just been arrested, but the line that got me was -

Her family says the final straw for Kathleen Beardy, who suffered teasing and bullying from neighbourhood youths, appears to have been when her puppy was taken by a group of neighbourhood boys on Saturday night.

"They told her they were going to keep the dog and they left. It was just a fat little puppy," said Katherine Beardy.

After the boys took her dog, she used its leash to end her life in a back lane.

Instead of blaming the police, what about these young punks that would do this to a distraught little girl?

Her death - which was witnessed by her best friend who tried in vain to cut her down from the tree
Then there is this little girl, who seeing her friend die, will never be the same.

A tragedy all around.
October 03, 2005
What does your birthday mean?
Your Birthdate: September 22

While sometimes employing unorthodox approaches, you are capable of handling large scale undertakings.
You assume great responsibility and work long and hard toward completion.
Often, especially in the early part of life, there is rigidity or stubbornness, and a tendency to repress feelings.

Idealistic, you work for the greater good with a good deal of inner strength and charisma.
An extremely capable organizer, but likely to paint with broad strokes rather than detail.
You are very aware and intuitive.
You are subject to a good deal of nervous tension.
October 02, 2005
I'm it.
Tagged by Rebecca, a meme I must.

5 things I plan to do before I die:
  1. Write a novel.
  2. Go to Ireland and Scotland.
  3. Drive across the continent.
  4. Become healthy and pain-free
  5. Find love.
5 things I can do:
  1. Global procurement
  2. Speed-reading
  3. Digital editing of video and photography
  4. Cook and bake for large (100+) groups. My SIL and I used to joke we could cater any funeral easily.
  5. Public speaking

5 things I cannot do:
  1. Sports or anything that requires coordination at all.
  2. Watch reality television
  3. Change a tire
  4. Eat spicy foods
  5. Debate
5 things that attract me to the opposite sex:
  1. Honesty
  2. Sense of humor
  3. Broad shoulders
  4. Above average intelligence, or at least someone with their own opinions
  5. Maturity

5 things I say most often:
  1. Yeah, not so much
  2. Molly, stop it
  3. I have a headache (or my knee hurts) - it's getting far too cliche actually
  4. Whatcha' doin'?
  5. No worries.

5 celebrity crushes:
  1. Viggo Mortensen
  2. Aidan Quinn
  3. Chris Meloni
  4. Julian McMahon
  5. LL Cool J

5 people to inflict this meme on (and no pressure - if you don't want to, no worries at all!):
Cool Single Mom
Stephie's Thoughts (come on, Steph - I miss you!)
Fried Green Tomatoes
Personal Cheerleading

All serious daring starts from within. - Eudora Welty

Last month, IndyTeresa wrote about buying a book called You Can Do It! It's the brainchild of Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, who was tragically killed on Flight 93 on September 11, 2001.

The concept is simple. Remember those Brownie and Guide Badges you worked towards when you were a little girl? Why not do it again? Why not work toward merit badges for grown-up girls? And this time, you won't have that mean little girl in your group that kicked your shins whenever the Brown Owl wasn't looking...or maybe that was just me.

I thought it sounded like a fantastic idea. The satisfaction you feel from setting a goal, working towards it and actually obtaining it can be immense. I used to be the person who said 'I wish I could to [...insert idea here...]' until one day I thought to myself 'What's stopping me?'

Since that epiphany, I have taught myself to create webpages, learn basic HTML, Photoshop and many other computer related tasks. Last year, I tried to teach myself how to sew, and well, that's a bit of work in progress but I will complete that by the end of the year. This fall, I'm working on writing short fiction stories and proper photography techniques.

Sometimes, pushing yourself brings you to places you never thought possible. It opens doors that you couldn't even see before, let alone imagine.

There are many badge ideas in this book to inspire and intimidate:
  • Activism
  • Getting Published
  • Quilting
  • Decorating
  • Gardening
  • Negotiating
  • Cooking
  • Breaking Bad Habits
And many more, including some blank ones for you to create your own.

It may be a fadd-ish idea on the surface, but there's a lot of promise. Often, it just takes that great little idea to build on something amazing.

Like the book says, Because it's high time your want-to-do list got as much attention as your to-do list.

Your Famous Blogger Twin is InstaPundit

Smart, well-informed, a true polymath
Don't be surprised if your blogging brings you fame as well!

I wouldn't really go there, as I suspect my little corner of the world is none-too-unique to be interesting to the masses. But these tests are addictive nonetheless.
October already?
There is nothing better than having a baby fall asleep in your arms.

I've spent most of the weekend over with my niece and I'm glad to say she's doing well. Not a happy puppy, mind you, but she'll be ok.

It amazes me how far this operation has come in 10 years. Granted, mine was a little more involved but at the same time, it's almost space-age. She was awake, under local anaesthetic, and while it didn't hurt, she could feel the pressure of the procedure. Scraping, cauterizing, and removal. The nurses were fantastic, talking to her throughout and keeping her calm. When it came time to complete the operation, her incision was closed without stitches. When she first told me that, I thought she was possibly not understanding it all, but was surprised to see a 3" scar on her wrist that looked completely healed only 6 hours after.

Of course, it has given her a lot of discomfort. It's very swollen and the first day she was unable to move her fingers at all, which made it very difficult to manage the baby. I had told her when she came home from the hospital to get the pain medication right away, but she tried to go without. However, by 9pm, I received a teary phonecall that she needed it.

Hayley is at an age where she is asking questions about everything. 'Mommy's doctor fixed her arm' wasn't enough for the precocious 3 1/2 year old. It was only when she was satisfied there was blood and juice, and cutting that she stopped asking.

By last night, Shan was improving and was able to hold Lex and pick him up. Her parents had returned from their vacation and it was time for me to come home. I'm tired but relieved she's ok.

However, now, I have a challenge. I haven't been reading Harry Potter 6, because I was into the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. But the girls have been threatening to tell me the plot twists if I don't finish. I'm on Page 250, and they've even gone as far as to tell me what page the BIG event happens. So today, on this rainy cloudy Sunday, I will complete their challenge so they can stop teasing me!

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.

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Turning thirty and a half
  • July 2004
  • November 2004
  • December 2004
  • January 2005
  • February 2005
  • March 2005
  • April 2005
  • May 2005
  • June 2005
  • July 2005
  • August 2005
  • September 2005
  • October 2005
  • November 2005
  • December 2005
  • January 2006

  • The WeatherPixie