Saturday, 22 November 2014

Random Saturday

Where to start?  Well, since I'm from Saskatchewan and nearly every conversation around here starts with the weather I'll start there.  (Is that normal elsewhere or this just a Canadian thing?)

After a week or ten days - it seems forever - of below normal cold weather and snow, our  high yesterday was 7C (45F).  Not only was it a relief but it melted pretty much all the snow.  

Poor Mr. Bunny has nowhere to hide, but I bet he appreciates the warmer weather too.  From the look of him he's been eating well for the last few weeks - there is still a little green stuff around to nibble on to add to his store.

Unfortunately the warmer temps won't last long (at least long enough for me). We've got a chance of freezing rain this evening and forecast of 2 cms. of snow overnight.  

Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

At work, my mantra DLTBW* seems to be working for me.  Reminding myself that I have no control over the decisions that are made only my reaction to them has reduced my stress level significantly. The change in my attitude is noticeable enough that others have even remarked on it.  

My immediate boss still annoys me frequently as he often demonstrates the Peter Principle, "managers rise to the level of their incompetence".  He would annoy me less if he put a little effort into doing his job.  But he's less than two years from retirement so chances are that isn't going to happen.  Shrug, not my forest, not my fire.

Of course, part of the reason I'm a more relaxed likely has to do with the days ticking by bringing me closer to my trip to B.C.  

First though there is Christmas to plan and organize.   I have a tendency to purchase gifts throughout the year and tuck them away.  The other day I went through my closet and pulled everything out, made a list and found that I was more than half-way through my shopping.  Since then I've managed to pick up gifts for my staff, my son, and a friend and ordered books for my brother and his family on-line.  There are still some gift cards to purchase but I think my gift shopping is very nearly complete.

I've pulled a couple of bins from the basement storage to start the decorating process. My plan is to downsize a bit, anything that is worn out will be tossed, and items that I'm not as fond of any longer will be packed into a box for next spring's planned garage sale.  Or it will be donated to the Community Living charity for re-sale.

I'm not in any rush, the tree will wait until next weekend - it's something to do while the final football game of the season is underway.  Plus I need to clear out the cats' play area first.  They are just a little spoiled!

I'm still having some issues with my food intake.  I feel fine as long as I eat small, frequent meals but if I eat too much I pay for it.  Last night we were out for dinner and I took a chance and ate what would have been a normal meal for me; two chicken fingers with Caesar salad and a half slice of garlic toast. At four a.m. this morning I woke up in severe pain.  Lesson learned, I need to stick to less rich food and smaller portions.

This evening I'm off to the symphony with a friend. We'll be experiencing Prokofiev's Fifth - I'll be honest I have no idea who Prokofiev was, and I'm not generally a huge fan of classical music.  I had purchased a subscription for the Pops series and these tickets were complimentary.  We'll give it a try but I've told C if we aren't enjoying the music we'll leave at intermission and go for coffee and a visit.

It's been a pretty routine week for the most part.  The rest of the weekend will be spent getting housework done in between watching curling (hooray!) and football (Riders are out, boo!).  

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

*don't let the bastards win.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Random Sunday

Warning - whining ahead!

I'm certain I've said this before - I don't do sick well.  This week was a real test and I can't say I passed.  It started Sunday, with an upset stomach and sparing you the gory details by Wednesday I'd dropped 6 pounds.

I did go into work for a few hours on both Monday and Wednesday but by mid-morning I was feeling ill again so it was home and into bed.  Oh my, I slept a lot those days and nights

Finally on Wednesday I broke down and went to the see the doctor.  After a cursory exam, he told me it wasn't surgical, that he thought I had picked up a virus somewhere and it should be gone in 5-7 days. Then he sent me to the lab for tests and said he would call if anything was abnormal.  I've not heard anything so I assume all is well.

While I'm not 100% I have more energy and worked a full day on both Thursday and Friday.  My issue is eating, I'm not really hungry and when I do eat, within a few hours I start feeling off, with stomach pain and some nausea.  I've learned very quickly to eat very small and frequent meals.  I'm being careful what I eat, definitely nothing too spicy or acidic.

Winter is officially here.  We had small skiff of snow last week.  Then the temperatures dropped.
This morning it is -9C (16F) with windchills feeling like -19C (-2F).

This photo was from last week. The next was taken this morning.

Since I took the photo a half hour or so ago, the snow has mostly stopped and it seems the sun is trying to shine.

From the look of the street we got about a half-inch of snow, so I guess I'll be clearing the driveway at some point today.

(Only 48 more sleeps until January 3....just saying)

After a week of not getting anything done around the house I've been trying to catch up.  I've been packing away the fall decorations and pulling out the Christmas bins. I don't plan to get everything done this weekend but I'll get a start on it.

But this's football time!  This is the first week of the CFL playoffs and I'll be hanging out with the cats (at least until I yell!) on the couch.  GO RIDERS!

Have a great week everyone. Stay warm and dry!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Long time, no post

It's been awhile.  Not only have I not posted but I really haven't been reading blog posts this week.  I plan to rectify that today....the housework can wait!

So, what have I been up to, you ask?  I spent this past week in Saskatoon for work.  We had a full day of meetings, starting Tuesday and ending Wednesday.  I travelled with my friend and mentor C who was meeting another supervisor to mark exams for a process.  They have nearly 250 exams to mark....glad I'm not either of them.

I had a chance to talk to everyone in my group about their work.  One of the members has recently asked to be moved from the group.  Unfortunately he has to finish the work he was given and at the rate he's working it's going to be months rather than weeks.  I had planned to have a performance conversation with him while I was there but the timing didn't work out.  It's not the best option but I'll have to do it by telephone next week.  Sometimes I wish I wasn't me either.

On the personal front I went to the symphony last weekend.  I got convinced to purchase a subscription this year, for four of the pops series. I didn't think I'd like the classical music as much.  It turns out my friend K also has a subscription so I joined her and three of her friends for the evening.

We went to dinner at a local church fowl supper.  The food was fine but certainly not like the fowl suppers I recall as a child.  The turkey had been cooked and cut up in advance so was cold.  At the small town church we attended, the men carved the turkeys as people were served so at least it was warm.  The rest of the food was in slow cookers but nothing was really hot.

After dinner we headed to the symphony were except for two of the group, we all had seats in very different areas of the theatre.  The evening's performance was music from Motown.  There were three very talented singers who have experience on Broadway accompanied by the orchestra. I really enjoyed the evening.

Sunday I finally went out and cleared out the rest of the containers of the plants.  Almost everything was still blooming but were beginning to show signs of the colder temperatures.  This has to be the latest in the season I`ve every had nicotiana, mums, and snapdragons blooming.  But the weather has changed.  We're currently sitting just below freezing, with the forecast for much cooler temperatures later this week.  Tuesday's high is expected to be -10C (14F).

It would be great if the winter weather would hold off another few weeks, but I feel pretty fortunate that it has been a nice autumn and I'll get a break from winter in January. The long range forecast from the Farmer's Almanac would suggest the weather in Parksville will be in the normal range between -4C and +4C with below normal snowfall.  According to my cousin B, they rarely have snow that lasts more than a day.  Now I'm back to being happy I'm me again!

As Tuesday is Remembrance Day, I'll end with this image.

From the article, I quote, "Each of the 888,246 blooms in the artwork, "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red," represents a life lost in World War I -- one for each of the British and Colonial soldiers killed in the conflict which began 100 years ago."

It is an amazing tribute.  "Lest we forget".

Tuesday, 28 October 2014's a secret

Well, not entirely a secret as a few people at work are in the know.  (No, I did not win the lottery and can retire early - I wish!).

I've talked about our charitable campaign which kicked off at the end of September and will wind-up on Thursday.  We set a goal of $35,000 and 35% participation, both of which were significantly lower than last year and the year prior.  However, we knew we'd had a number of larger donors retire so wanted to set a goal we thought we had a hope of achieving.

AND we did!  Or at least we`ve reached one of our targets - the dollars, but not the participation but we`re closing in on that.  As of 4 p.m. today, we were at $36,600 plus with a participation rate of 30.4%.   When we add in the funds from events held throughout the year, we've reached $40,000.  Hurray!!!

We may not make our participation goal, but then we never really have.  We used to set 50% as a goal and except for the year where we created pledge forms for small donations of $2 or more (normally would be $10 plus) we`ve never come close to that number.

In previous years we were able to build hype by having fun events, like frozen turkey bowling, a not-so-amazing race, mini-golf tournaments, and even a carnival.  This is no longer permitted. Fun at work....omg sacrilege!!!  So as our campaigns have become more passive, the participation and the donations have decreased.  You wouldn't think that fun and donations would tie together but they do.

We were really worried this year, as one of the union groups has been without a contract for two years, while the other started bargaining last week.  Add in the major changes and the negative impact these have had on morale and we really thought we`d see a further decline.

Since I'm a bean counter I was doing some analysis on the number earlier today.  Almost two-thirds of those who pledged this year are new donors or have increased their pledge from last year.  Only a handful decreased their pledge which is incredible.  The average donation increased by nearly 10%!

What made the difference?  Is it possible, that despite the low morale, the issues surrounding the contract negotiations (and potential strike), and the lack of fun, that people are realizing we are still more fortunate than most?  For the most part we have job long as we do our jobs... and while our pay hasn't kept up recently with private sector wages we do have a good deal of flexibility (such as my up-coming leave).

I don't know though I do plan to ask for feedback. Perhaps I can identify that elusive factor that encourages people to give back so we can continue to grow our campaign and set loftier goals.  But regardless, the benefit of having reached our goal is the work that can be done by the various charities within our community.  Ultimately that is most important!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The countdown continues

It's been another busy week, which is a good thing as time certainly is flying by.  Did you realize it's now less than two months until Christmas?  AND after that, it's only an additional nine days until I fly out to Vancouver Island or the month?

One of my closest friends said to me the other day..."don't even try to tell me the countdown has anything to do with Christmas, it's all about your leave in January."  Uh...I have to admit there is a lot of truth in that!

We had another work function in Saskatoon this week, so I drove with a couple of our employees on Wednesday and back again Friday.  The program was good, and best of all most of my staff were able to attend so we spent a good couple of days together.  A few of us were able to get together for dinner the first evening without the rest of the group.  We went for Mexican food - if you're ever in Saskatoon, check out Las Palapas on Victoria.  The food, drinks and service were all very good!

On Thursday, several of us joined the rest of the managers and employees at the German Club.  We were a fairly large group and had reserved the dining room so we could wander between tables after we ate.  Certainly different food from the night before but also very good.  Later a few of us met in the hotel lounge for a couple of beer and to watch the end of the San Diego-Denver football game.

All in all, it was a good event for the employees to get to know one another and to hear the same message from management.  My boss put a bit of a damper on it for me, when he announced that I would be planning next year's event.  Little does he know, but I have no intention of planning an event for the employees.  I'll coordinate it but the ideas of what they want to hear/discuss/learn will have to come from them!

After getting back to Regina on late Friday afternoon, I ran a couple of errands before going to dinner with friends.  One of the couples who attend infrequently have a four-month old son.  He provided the entertainment at dinner, cooing and chewing on his fingers.  Though when he was ready to go home, he certainly made everyone aware!

Yesterday was furniture haul-away day. While the old stuff is only six or seven years old, Saku has done a real number on it.  (I recently got the cats a real scratching post - which Saku will use).

It also didn't really fit with the color scheme of this house, which is gray.  While gray is a neutral color, I never really liked the contrast.

A few weeks ago, I went out to see if I could find something new and reasonably priced.  I picked a couch and chair in contrasting colors that I would fit well in the living room, and best of all, could make payments without interest for a few months.

The junk removal guys were here by 10:30 in the morning and took the old stuff away.  The living room certainly looked bare!

The ottoman is still here - I'm going to try to recover it myself, because it is still in decent shape, and it will save me a little on costs.  

Ta da!  Here is the new furniture in place.  My son told me I did it backwards by having the couch upholstered in blue and the chair in gray, but I like it.  

The chair is much smaller than I remembered and although it fits Sasha and I, it isn't a good chair to work on the laptop from.  

So I'm at the dining room table instead.  That's probably not a bad thing, since I tend to spend a lot of time at the computer - maybe I'll get more housework done this way.

Speaking of housework, the list of chores are long and plenty.  I also need to get outside to take care of the last remaining containers and the leaves that have gathered.  Our forecast for later in the week (by Halloween) is that dreadful four letter word sNOw.  It probably won't last but the thought of it makes me shiver.

Is it any wonder I'm counting down the days until January 3rd.  That's 69 sleeps if you're wondering!

Have a great week everyone!