Monday, 29 June 2015

My weekend away - Part 2

We (my brother R and I) went to Alberta last weekend to help our older brother M celebrate his 65th birthday.  We also took took the opportunity to tease him (just a little bit) about being a dinosaur. :)

The drive to the B&B took about 7 hours; after we had unpacked we drove the 20-30 minutes to M and D's house for a short visit.  M was so excited to see us, he came rushing out the front door as we got out of our vehicle.  It's been nearly seven years since we've seen him (at Dad's funeral).  We didn't stay long as we were both tired but did some catching up.

The following morning, after our respective run/walk and a lovely breakfast we headed back over to the house.  D was just heading to the store with her sister and her mom, so M, R and I decided to go to Pigeon Lake to check out M's boat and take it out on the water.  On the way there the guys realized neither of them had fishing licences so it was just for fun.

When we arrived the guys set about readying the boat while I stayed on the dock taking photos.*

Once out on the water we saw many, many boats with fishermen looking  to catch walleye.  I was impressed by the dog as although he/she was interested in what was going on, it appeared to be content on the boat.

It's not a big lake so M took us around much of it.  When we turned back, though we realized the clouds were closing in and looked oh so dark.

M opened up the engine to try to stay ahead of the rain, but then something plugged the intake and we stopped when the engine started overheating.  He and R did something and cleared the blockage and we were on our way again in a very short time.  Phew, I was worried the two of them were going to have to paddle us back to shore.  We got a bit of rain on the way in, but I wasn't nearly as wet as I had been after my walk that morning.

By the time we made it back to the slip the rain was heading south but there was a bit of lightening around and not nearly as many boats were out on the water.

The drive to and from the lake was around an hour each way and we were out on the water for almost an hour.  By the time we got back to the house, it was beehive of activity....

Their newest pup, Cloe was in her kennel to keep her out of the way while D, her sister and mom put together the food for the party.  

Cloe is about 7 months and was adopted from a rescue.  She was found wandering the streets of a nearby community when she only a couple of months old. Cloe is very energetic and a sweet pup.

Mr. Mugs is the elder statesman.  They're not certain how old he is, he was thought to be about three when they adopted him and has been with them for over 10 years.

As my dad used to say, Mugs is deaf in one ear, and can't hear out of the other but his sense of smell is still keen.  He had no problem finding anything anyone dropped on the floor.

Before we ate, M and R played with the grandchildren.  After twisting the poor child up on the swing, R joined M to catch the baseball as the rest of the grandchildren practiced their swings.  (There are total of 8 grandchildren....lots of fun and activity!)

It had clouded over but just before we were about to eat the sun came out and it was absolutely beautiful.

There was lots of food; BBQ burgers and hotdogs, potato, marinated vegetable, and Caesar salad, bean dip, chips, and one went hungry!  (Not even Cloe who was obviously finding something in the grass).

After we'd eaten and finished the clean up from dinner, the clouds rolled back in again, it started to thunder and lightning, and a bit of rain fell.  We all headed indoors for birthday cake.

There were two cakes, both made by D's daughter C.  She's only taken two cake decorating classes but is obviously very talented and creative.

The cake on the left was signed by all the grandchildren...very special!

The cake below is very special too.  It depicts M on his boat, with Cloe and Mugs there too. M's favorite candy is licorice all-sorts so she used these to decorate the cake as well.  I can also tell you it was very yummy!

Later M opened his gifts, with some help from various grandchildren.  It was easy to tell he was a little overwhelmed by all the attention, but he so deserves the love...I might be a bit biased but I think he's a pretty special guy!

I grabbed this photo from my D's Facebook page.  It was taken the first evening we were there. (It's pretty easy to tell which one of us is the runner, isn't it?)

It was so wonderful to spend time with my brothers.  Before we left, the boys (I use that term loosely) were teasing me that I'd be next to reach senior status....I reminded them I still have 9 years to go.  I said I expect them to attend my party too.

It was a great weekend, despite the long drive and the uncertain weather.  I sure hope it won't be seven more years before we get together.  M and D said they wouldn't want to make the drive, but I reminded them Regina has an airport and R told them we'd be their Enterprise family and "we'll pick you up". Perhaps we've convinced them to make a trip out here soon.

When we left, we reminded M that at his age, he probably needed a nap.  He agreed. :)

*I did manage to trip over R's big foott and just about about fall into the water.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

My weekend away - Part 1

I know it's been a week since I was in Alberta, but I want to share some of the photos from our visit.
I'm starting with the lovely, if slightly rundown B&B we stayed at near Camrose, Alberta.

 The Haselwood Mill Bed and Breakfast is located at the original site of the Hazelwood Mill which (obviously) was in operation fro 1901-1964.

The house is in need of a coat of paint but was lovely inside.  The bottom level is primarily the owner's home, with one room set aside as a dining area for her guests.

Guests enter up the external stairway to the rooms and access the lower level down a flight of stairs inside.

This was my room.  Isn't it lovely?

To the left behind the door, was the door to the small bathroom, which contained a sink, toilet and shower.

We were so impressed because each of the four rooms had it's own bathroom.  We guessed each of the rooms was a little smaller than it would have been originally but having the private bathroom was such a treat.

This is the Hazelwood Mill building. The current owner has used it in the past as an antique store, but more recently it's been closed and much of the building taken over by the pigeons.

She let us in to see the space. Later R and I talked about what could be done with the space.  We think  that with some work, the building could be turned into more suites. But of course, we don't own's easy to dream when one doesn't have to pay for it.

The original beams might be dusty and show evidence of bird poop, but were in great shape for being 114 years old.

I fell in love with the old wringer washing machine.  It brought back so many memories.  I might have bought it, If only I had a place to put it!
Also on the property is old garage/diner.  The owner told us the previous owners had built it so the husband would have a place to rebuild motorcycles.

It was neat to see the old Texaco gas pump.  I didn't think to check to see what the price of gasoline was but I'm sure it was much less than today.
(No, the pump doesn't work).

Apparently, soon after building the garage, the wife decided to put in a small 50's style diner. It was so popular she expanded...into the space her husband was using for his motorcycle restoration.

I'm not sure where he went then.... I didn't think to ask.

R was really interested in the diner as he has an old train station on his property that he's been pondering how it might be turned into a small cafe.

Did I ever tell you he and his wife ran a B&B on their farm for several years?  They've been far too busy in the past few years with work and children, but R is looking to when he's able to retire.

This was place was so interesting, it even had the old time booths (my photo didn't turn out).  The owner told us she uses it to serve breakfast when the rooms are at capacity.

The following morning R and I were up early; he to go running and me to take a walk.

The house and mill are probably a half mile off the highway.  About half that distance is what must have been the old highway.  I walked out to it and turned right, and followed the old road to where it connected with the new highway about a mile or so away.

The railway tracks run alongside the old road.  I stopped to take a photo. As I was thinking, I wonder if the trains still use this track, I heard a train whistle behind me in the distance...the far distance.

As I walked along the road the sound of the train got closer and I stopped at an opening in the trees to see if I get a photo of it as it passed.I didn't think to count the cars, but it did take a bit of time to pass by.

Just before the main highway was a marsh.  There were lots of birds, but because it had rained the night before the shoulder was muddy and I nearly slipped as I tried to get closer to get a few shots. So I stood back at a safe distance. On his way back from his run, R saw my footprints and realized I'd been there.  (I'm pretty sure we were the only people out wandering about that morning).

Across the highway, the road meandered through the fields.  I walked as far as a curve about 1/4 mile in, but then turned around and headed back.  R went much further, and found the road took him around to the small community of Bittern Lake.

On the way back I stopped to check out the wild roses that grow in the ditches.  They are so pretty and smell just as sweet.

On the way back, I took what I thought might be a another path to the B&B through the bush just to the left of the railway tracks.

This turned out to be not a bright idea.  Because of the rain the night before the ground and grass were soaking wet.  My shoes were soon full of water and I was laughing because not only were my shoes and socks wet but the path was taking me further away from the B&B property.

 Eventually I turned around, and went back the way I'd come.  This is looking towards the mill.

I can imagine in the winter time this road could be impassable.  But it was a lovely place to walk with the wild flowers growing nearby and birds calling from the trees.

I must admit though I was glad to get back to the house so I get out of my wet footwear.  When R arrived about 20 minutes later, we were both laughing because he'd run the same path and was soaking wet too! Good thing we both brought extra shoes.

The owner told us she's had the property up for sale for nearly a year.  I'm not sure how long she's been there on her own, but she did say it's becoming more difficult to manage by herself.  I hope she's able to find someone to take it over, as it's such a lovely place and in a great location.  It's less than hour from Edmonton, but in a peaceful rural setting.  I know I'd be quite happy to stay there again.

Tomorrow, I'll share some of the photos from my brother's birthday.  We had such a wonderful visit!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Thankful Thursday

TGIT!  One more day of work and then I'm off for three days.  It's only Thursday morning but I'm already counting the hours until the days end.

It's been a crazy ass week with more twists and turns than normal.  It started Monday when one of my new hires decided to turn down the job.  In the same vein, on Tuesday I discovered another of the new hires was ineligible because he'd already accepted a job at a higher level in another department.  It would have been nice if the other area had let us know.  So back to the assessment results I went to make new offers to two other individuals. Both were so excited to hear from no worries that they will decide to turn it down.  Definitely a reason to be thankful.

Also on Monday, my friend and co-worker D called to say that her sister had passed away on Sunday.  Her sister S retired from our office less than 10 years ago, and although she'd had significant health concerns for many years, it was a shock.  She'd been in the hospital for several weeks; the family was preparing to help her move into a care facility, when she simply passed away.  While her death is a huge loss to her family and friends, S did not want to be dependent, so in some ways her sudden release from her pain is a blessing.

We had a meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discuss our upcoming move.  Our building is going to be renovated to the most recent retrofit guidelines called Workplace 2.0.  Basically we'll be living in cube farms, with about 30-45 square feet of space per workstation, slightly larger for supervisors like myself.  Storage in the cubicles will be very limited....since we have computers we're paperless, right?  For now, though we're being moved into space in our lower level.  It has the very old furniture we had when I first started here 17 years ago.  The space has a low ceiling and with dark blue cubicle walls that are 64" high, it's going to seem dark.  There are positives though...I'll have a window for the first time in years in the swing space and when the renovations are complete, it's going to seem so bright and open we'll probably have less complaints.

Yesterday, my boss was being his usual annoying self.  I won't get into it here but by the end of the day I'd had to work with his boss and her admin assistant to do work he ought to have done.  It's a well-known secret that he's about to's just a matter of when.  I pretty sure it's down to days rather than months and for that I'm thankful.  We're pretty sure we know who will be replacing him and that individual is known for being very capable and decisive.

Since this is Thursday morning, I'm not sure what today will bring.  But I know where I'll be tomorrow.  My younger brother R and I are heading to Alberta to help celebrate our older brother M's 65th birthday on Saturday.

Although we've got a 7 hour drive (each way), we'll be able to share the driving, and I know we'll have no trouble passing the time talking about his family, work, and mine.

It's been nearly 7 years since we've seen M (at our Dad's funeral in 2008) and I'm so excited about getting together with him and his family.  There is going to be lots of laughter...we gotta give the old dinosaur a hard time...lots of stories and reminiscing.

This is a photo of M when he was only 13 months old.  I would tell you his smile looks just the same.

I definitely have a lot to be thankful for...most of all for family and good friends.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Back to normal...or as normal as it gets

It's been awhile since I've managed to post anything except a cartoon or a short post.  I would venture to say this has been the busiest time for me over the past six weeks or so, both at home and at work.  It's Friday; I went out for dinner with friends this evening, and now I'm relaxing in the sun room, since it's cooled down considerably since this afternoon.

We've just had a lovely bit of rain come through.  Not enough that I won't need to water the containers tomorrow but enough that the air has that fresh earth smell, and in the sky to south I can see a bit of a rainbow.

We've been so dry this spring that even a brief shower is a treat.  I've got the windows open to let in the fresh television for me this evening, instead I'll listen to the radio and enjoy watching the sky.

I got back yesterday evening from a trip to Saskatoon.  I needed to be there for a meeting on Wednesday, but since I can work from there I went up for Monday through Thursday.  I think I mentioned a couple of weeks ago there are changes coming for me and now that it's official I can share what is happening.

When I got back from my cruise at the beginning of May, my boss's boss called the two of us into a meeting to announce that there would be two teams, one in Saskatoon and one in Regina.  In order for that to happen, we needed to bring on additional staff, and I was tasked with making that happen.  For those unfamiliar with government procedures, normally a hiring process would take 3-4 months to complete.  I was given six weeks because the training for the new staff is scheduled for the end of the month.

It wasn't easy and there were a couple of minor glitches but as of last Wednesday all the candidates were informed of those who were selected.  We still have to allow time for feedback to those who didn't make it but I'm not expecting a whole lot of requests.  I really wasn't sure it could happen but it all came together and we've got what appears to be two good teams.  The new supervisor and I met to discuss some of the transition that needs to occur and since she has limited experience both as a supervisor and with this program I've been asked to mentor her through the process.

Even though the hiring process is mostly complete I've still got some other things to do. There is more training required and I need to arrange for desks and the necessary equipment for some of the new staff but I'm pretty certain next week will be a little less hectic than this one proved to be.

What this all means for me is I won't be travelling as much....the cats will be very happy with that I think. The new staff will start working with me on the June 22nd and I will have six employees to get to know; meetings to be explain what the job will entail, requesting work for them (that's all managed out of another office), and working with them as they learn their new role.  I might have a bit of break next week, but after that it will get busy again.

While I was in Saskatoon, I was able to go for a walk one evening.  I'm not certain if you recall the photos I took of the pelicans last year, but I went to the weir hoping to see them again.

This year they weren't where I'd seen them the year before,  Instead they were south of the weir on a spit of land in the centre of the river.

I  was disappointed, albeit briefly as I thought I wouldn't be able to get any good photos of them. Then this one appeared flying over the weir towards me.

He or she was soon joined by another and the pair put on a show for me!

Here they were landing in the water nearby, and below they were about to take off, but then changed their minds and settled back into the water.  Aren't they both incredibly ugly and beautiful at the same time?

On the way back to the car, I spotted another family of  ducks.  The ducklings certainly stick close to mom, and she stayed between me and the babes, no matter which way I approached them.

If only human parents were as diligent.

Last weekend I started painting my fence around the yard.  I got both the east and west sides finished and a portion of the south side before I ran out of paint (solid stain).  The section that isn't painted is behind the shed and in the shady corner under the trees so if I don't finish it right away I doubt anyone (but me) will notice.  I picked up another gallon (far more than I'll need but I can do touch ups as needed) to finish it this weekend...unless we get lots of rain.

I've never really paid attention to the fence before...other than to notice that the paint was starting to I was really surprised when I realized how differently the sections were constructed.  The portion on the south side appears to have been built with rough lumber, perhaps even salvaged from pallets.  The fence boards are thin, still have bark on the sides and really soak up the paint.  There also seems to be a difference in the color as it is applied to the boards. Maybe it was only because I was running out of paint?  I guess I'll find out when I get the rest of the sections done.

Oh well, as my dad used to say, "A blind man riding by on horseback will never notice the difference".  :)  However it turns out, it will still look much improved over how it looked a week ago.

This weekend will be filled with the normal chores of laundry, vacuuming, and prepping food for the week ahead.  The first Rider pre-season football game is being televised on Saturday evening; they play the Edmonton Eskimos and the game is being played in Fort McMurray, Alberta.  I'll be watching the game, flipping the channel at commercial breaks to check in on the hockey game (Lightening/Blackhawks).  It's the fifth game of the final series and I'm rooting for Tampa Bay because Chicago beat my faves, the Anaheim Ducks.

It seems crazy to be watching football and hockey at the same time of the year! Especially when the hockey game is being played in the south and the football is in the north.

Enough of my blather.  I'm listening to the birds singing outside the window, with a cat curled up at my side, and enjoying the evening breeze.  I'll sleep well tonight and will post this in the morning.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!  Go Riders go!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Friday Funny

Well, I can't say that Facebook is the only reason I haven't been around, but I must admit when I did have time, I tended to scroll through the news feed, hit the like button, and maybe make a brief comment.

Blogging has been put on the back burner, even the cats have noticed. :)  But I do have a post planned for this weekend to get caught up on the happenings here and I'm  plan to get caught up on the reading....I'm only about 4 days behind. :(

See you soon!  Have a great weekend.