Friday, 27 February 2015

Farewell my friend

Today, being Friday, I would normally find a funny cartoon or image from the internet to share with you.  But today is not a funny day.

Instead I want to tell you about someone very special.  You know those times when you meet someone and you know instantly you'd be friends, but because of distance or other circumstances that connection is limited by both time and opportunity.  S was one of those people in my life.

She and I work for the same organization; she in Winnipeg and I here in Regina.  Up until a few years ago, our paths would not have crossed. But when I became a supervisor, one of my "other assigned" responsibilities is to be involved in various hiring processes.  S is or rather was the advisor for these processes.

We first met about five years ago when I was new in my position and totally (and I mean completely) terrified of messing up a process because I knew very little.  S came to my rescue; she was available for all of my stupid questions and never made me feel like an idiot. She was expecting her first child at the time.  When the process was finally complete, she had given birth to her son and I sent an outfit to welcome him and to say thank you for all of her help.

Since that time I've been part of other processes and when S wasn't available to us, I missed her knowledge and expertise.  She was reassigned as advisor back to our office about six months ago and late last fall when I started another process to replace one of my staff, it was wonderful to work with her again.

We had numerous chats on the telephone and many e-mails.  It was as if we had never had a break in our conversations.  I was so excited for her when she told me she was expecting her second child.  The last e-mail I had from S was received on December 11.  I won't tell you what was in it, but it both made me laugh and reminded me that my work was appreciated.  That is the kind of person S was. I'm so thankful that I kept the e-mail and tucked it away in a personal folder to re-read on days when I feel less than inspired.

You see, yesterday we got an e-mail notification from S's boss that she had passed away in hospital on Wednesday afternoon.  She was surrounded by family and friends when she and her unborn child, a daughter, passed.  It was a shock to all of us who knew her in the Regina office.  It's heartbreaking to know that her family and especially her young son will be without her, and sad for us as we will miss her wisdom and her caring spirit.  I will miss her not only as a colleague but as a friend.  I only hope she knew how much she meant to me.

If you can please hug a friend today, or send a note or call someone far away. Life is not always fair and sometimes we don't get a second chance.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Another day, another evacuation

Something I missed out on while I was on my leave in January were two evacuations from our office building.  The first occurred the first day I was gone, the second just a week later.  In one instance, there was a pipe that burst in the room on the roof that holds the equipment.  It sent some sort of chemical through the vents dripping onto the carpet in one area of the fourth floor.  In the other, a water fountain sprung a leak flooding the front stairs.  In both cases, some or all of the staff were moved to space we currently rent at another building or sent home to work.

Yesterday we had our third evacuation in less than 2 months. The fire alarm went off at 7:40 a.m. and assuming it was a drill I left without my purse and cellphone.  (That'll never happen again).  It was pretty apparent when there were no firemen at the front door it wasn't a drill but by then it was too late as I would not have been allowed back upstairs.  The fire truck arrived, the firemen cleared the building, and the building maintenance and senior managers went up to check on the situation.  They discovered that a sprinkler head broke in the room on the roof (now referred to as the penthouse), causing the fire alarm to be set-off and flooding a good portion of the top two floors of our building.

We spent 20 minutes or so standing outside waiting for the all-clear before my manager came across the street to tell us to move into the near-by building.  After an hour we were allowed back into our building to pick up our laptops, some work, and any personal items before walking over to our other location to work for the day.  We were met by two of the managers there who directed staff to various floors and areas where space was available; either at an empty desk or to use one where the resident staff member was off yesterday.

Late in the day we were advised that a remediation company had been brought in to assess the damage and that we will not be able to return to our building until a full inspection is completed. (I've been through a basement flood in my old house and I would hope they wouldn't send us back in for at least a week)  Some workers were given the option to work at home because available workstations will be fewer tomorrow.

However, the one positive of the evacuations is that everyone is getting good at picking and moving at a moment's notice.  We've got the procedures down pat.

The building we occupy was renovated about 7 years ago, but to "save" money only the interior was renovated.  The heating and cooling systems were not upgraded, nor were the drafty metal clad windows replaced.  I believe the building was built in the mid-50's or 60's as a two-story building, and later two more floors were added.

This building is owned by the federal government.  To "save" money on space costs we've been told all of the staff in the rental space will be moving into our building.  We're moving toward something called Workplace 2.0.  Not to be confused with overcrowding in prison...but close.  A worker's cubicle is about 4.5 square meters and a supervisor's is slight larger.   If you want to learn more, see the link above though anything relating specifically to government fit-up standards is not available to the public.

The retrofit is supposed to start this summer and be complete by the end of 2017.  Of course, once we all occupy the same building we won't have somewhere else to go during an evacuation.  With the age of the building and its component parts I expect something like this will happen again.  But since I have no control, nor any influence on these decisions, I`ll just go with the flow (maybe literally) and continue to count down the months and days to freedom.

Have a great day, stay warm and dry!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Keeping memories alive

I don't generally follow trends or more frequently, I'm often one of the last to get on board.  For example, we didn't get a home internet connection until about 2001 or 2002 or thereabout.  I didn't understand the whole internet thing, and was a little afraid of it, and the impact it might have on my kids.  Now I can't imagine my life without it.

The same thing could be said about Facebook.  I joined just a few years ago mostly as a way to stay connected to my older brother.  Neither of us are particularly good at phoning one another (unless something is wrong) and I can't remember the last time I wrote an actual letter.  

Over the years my circle of friends has gotten large as I've connected with more cousins and friends who have moved away.  Because of our Facebook contact, when I went to B.C eighteen months ago, we took up where we'd left off, and it was as though the 40 years that had passed since we'd seen each other were mere months.

While I was in B.C. in January this year, my older brother M and his wife D were vacationing for the month in Palm Springs.  D posted a picture of M one day and cousin B commented how much he looked like our Grandpa Jack. (my mother's father)  That comment spurred many more comments as the cousins, M and I tired to recall when Grandpa had passed away and whether or not M really looked like him.

When I got home, I went looking through the old photo albums that were in Mom's home when she passed away. One of them was my grandma's or as we called her Nan.

  Unfortunately someone had been through the photo album and taken a number of photos out of it at some point, but there were a couple that I thought might be Grandpa. Very few of the photos were labeled so I had to guess.

In this photo I was I was certain this was Grandpa because as I remember him, he always wore a hat.
This one I wasn't as certain of, because there was no hat.  But in this photo I could clearly the resemblance between M and Grandpa.

I posted them to Facebook which of course generated a lot of conversation.  One of the cousins this was Grandpa Jack's brother, but M set us straight and said it was absolutely Grandpa.  The two worked together on a road when M was a teenager...he said he'd know that nose anywhere!
Today I posted this photo of Nan. It was obviously at the same time as the ones of Grandpa Jack.  She would have been in her early 60's at the time as it was taken in 1969.  There are no notes, but I believe they were visiting family in the Maritimes.

Sadly, she passed away just a few years later. Grandpa suffered a stroke in 1972 shortly before she passed away and after several more he was gone in 1976.

I was just a teenager when they both passed away so my memories of them aren't many and very hazy.  Sharing these photos have provided an opportunity to learn more from my older cousins and brother about them.

It's wonderful to have these few photos - I only wish that they had been labeled so as to make it easier to for us to be certain who is in the picture.  I know it has made me realize I'll have to take some time and label the photos in my albums.

Do you have old photos of family but you're not certain who exactly it might be?  Or did your parents and grandparents label them carefully?

Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Friday Funny

That may be why I'm a spectator and not a participant!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Catching up

It's pretty obvious I'm back to my routine...I don't seem to be able the time to catch up on either blog posting or reading.  It was so much easier not having to go work everyday!  Or if they'd just give me access at the office...not happening.

I got back to work last week and it was quiet.  Very few e-mails to read and respond to with no major (or even minor) issues to handle.  My back-up did a very capable job.  It just proves that I am dispensable and won't be missed when I retire.  Good to know!

Saturday we got our first major blizzard, with miserable cold temperatures as well.  The winds were howling at 70 km (about 35 mph).

This was taken mid-morning when the snow was just starting to come down and the wind was picking up. Take note of the planter near the pole.

This was taken late in the afternoon when the storm had pretty much blown over,

The wind blew the snow around and off the roof of the house, nearly burying the planter!

I'm so grateful I was not working and was able to stay indoors for the day.
This was the view from the front door.

It warmed up some Sunday, so I spent an hour digging out the walk and driveway.  I was using (note the past tense) a small electric shovel to begin with but the snow was drifted up to 12 inches in places and it was too much for it.  I burned the motor the rest had to be done by hand.

Great exercise but something I hope to not have to repeat many times more this winter

The rest of the weekend was spend doing the housework in between curling games.  The Canadian Scotties Tournament of Hearts (womens) is on this week and I'm glued to the television from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.  Except, of course, when I have to go to work.

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Weekend wrap-up

This is last day of freedom before I head back to work tomorrow.  I've finally got myself back into my "normal" sleeping pattern, in bed by 10:30 p.m. and up by 6 a.m.  Just in time!

It has been a wonderful five weeks, full of adventure, opportunities to try new things, to create new routines, as well as time to simply relax.  I feel rejuvenated - I hope that feeling lasts more than a few days.  Oh well, I'll pretend I'm Scarlett and worry about that later. :)

I woke up yesterday morning and thought to check to see if Mr. Bunny was around.  AND he was...with a friend!

I assume they are sitting as they are to keep out of the wind, but they look like bookends holding up the fence. (which needs painting!)
He looks very healthy and round. I'm not sure what they eat at this time of the year, perhaps my evergreen?

 Later on, I checked again and the second bunny was missing.  I took a look to see if he/she was in the back yard and there it was.

Neither seem nervous when they see me, perhaps they realize I'm no threat and of course, I'm inside so not close to them.

I got some more housework done yesterday, though I must admit I've not accomplished as much as I'd hoped when I got back from B.C.  In my dreams, I was going to scrub the entire house from top to bottom this week.  Ha!  I'm much too easily distracted by knitting or reading.  

Speaking of knitting, I finished my socks!  They are little wide in the foot but very comfy.  If I make another pair I'll be sure to reduce the stitches after I complete the heal turn since the leg and heel fit fine.

I had to finish the two projects I took with me, and I did...even if I didn't get the second sock finished until I got home.

Over the past few weeks I've eaten a lot of soup. This is not normal, at least for me.  I've never been a big fan, I like food I can pick up and eat.....soup certainly doesn't fit into that category.  But cooking for one, I found soup to be a quick and easy meal, whether I paired it with a sandwich or a salad.

My two favorites are Italian wedding soup and Fiesta vegetable both by Campbells©.  I love the little meatballs and spinach...I think it's spinach in the former, and the slight spiciness of the latter.  So yesterday I decided to make my own bean and vegetable soup.

I went to my favorite recipe website,, typed in black beans and vegetable soup and found a great recipe.  I read through some of the recent reviews and used those to help me modify the original.

Here's the recipe as I made it.
2 cups chicken stock
1 19 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 19 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 341 ml (about 11 oz.) can whole kernel corn
1/2 medium onion, diced
10 baby carrots sliced
2 gloves garlic chopped
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons chili powder (recipe called for cumin as well which I didn't have)
2-3 turns of the pepper mill

Heat oil in pot over medium heat, add carrots, onion and garlic and saute until onions are softened.  Add chicken stock, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder, cumin, and ground pepper.  Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 35 minutes.

To serve I added a bit of shredded cheese, but you could also add tortilla strips or sour cream or a bit of all three as a garnish.  OMG it's a good soup if I say so myself.  There were so many suggestions on how to change it up in the reviews; add beef or chicken or add more beans to make it more hearty or add different spices, peppers or hot sauce to increase the intensity.

Sorry, Campbells© I don't think I'll be buying this soup any longer...not when I can make my own!

That's it for me.  The rest of the day I'll be sitting in front of my television watching the provincial curling.  There are four provincials championships to be decided today!  I'm in heaven and the rest of the housework will have to wait.

Have a great week everyone!