Tuesday, August 19, 2008

At the end of the day I need to know I did the right thing

That is one of those truisms that we all hear over and over again. That one, and others like Seize the Day, Live life to the fullest, Live like there is no tomorrow, and many others. They are smug, possibly even trite. But you know what???? There is merit in them all. Really and truly, at the end of the day YOU (and I) need to be able to look yourself in the mirror and say I did the right thing today. The right thing by all of the people in your life, your boss, your neighbor, strangers, and of course not least your family. Time is fleeting, you rarely get a second chance, and you do not know when all will come to an end. Live each day like it is your last, and in such a way that at the end of the day you know that you acted with dignity, honesty and integrity. And at the end of the day you can then look in the mirror and know, no matter how tough it was, that you did the right thing.

Dedicated to a very special friend, KD-G, and thank you for reminding me that no matter what load we struggle with, someone else's load is greater!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

June 29, 1985.....Happy Anniversary

Twenty three years ago we danced to Sea of Love by The Honeydrippers. We got married outdoors, on a warm sunny day. The bridesmaids wore mint green and carried umbrellas. My bouquet had an orchid, spiderplant and pink roses. The guys wore grey, Daryl's tux had tails.

Those years have gone by quickly and yet feel like there has never been anything else. We have always been together and always will be together. It was and is meant to be. There is such a sense of peace and comfort from that.

Those 23 years have been full of experiences, full of joy, sorrow, adventure. We've visited England, Austria, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, San Francisco, Vancouver, Seattle, Maui, Waikiki, Ixtapa, Saint Lucia, Punta Cana, Akumal, Las Vegas, New Brunswick, Halifax
We have three children, teenagers, young adults - ready to experience things on their own, ready to come to know who they are and who will bring them joy, peace, security, heartbreak (hopefully not too much).

Today is the Sunday of a long (4 day) weekend. It is hot out - probably 29C. We ate breakfast pastries on the patio, did some yard work, watched Spain win the Euro 2008 final, sat in the shade and are going out for dinner. What a great day to celebrate 23 wonderful years. So,toast, to many more. And to enjoying each and every moment along the way.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Peasant Farmer

My ancestors were farmers. Mom's family were peasant farmers from Germany, via Russia to Canada. They were settlers here on the prairie a century ago. Dad's family also has ties to farming and setting in Saskatchewan. I think its in the blood.

Yesterday, day one of the May long weekend, and the temprature is 29C. Amazing. 29C is a brilliant August day. The May long weekend is the traditional start to summer; the agreed to date at which it is safe to start gardening, and the first big camping weekend of the summer. 29C is lazy, suntanning, sipping frostys kind of weather.

So, despite the call of the local patio for a few cold ones, we stick to the plan to work in the yard. That's two weekends in a row for yardwork. Maybe we will get somewhere this year! This weekends task is to get a large vegetable garden cleaned and planted. The east side of the yardhas been very good to perennials, and to a few veggies that we have tried planting, but not so good for our raspberries. I believe the raspberries were planted far too close to the large aspens and got no nutrients. So we picked a patch further south and further west than the raspberries, marked it off with the former 'container'(sections of chain link fence), and prepped the soil. Our rototiller would not start, so we rented one from Home Depot. Not quite as powerful and not self propelled, but Daryl got the job done for me. I moved several raspberry canes into the garden, but hedged our bets by leaving several outside as well. The raspberries haven't really grown well and have yet to produce fruit. This spring, many more than usual seem to have sent out new suckers, so I am hopeful.

We planted 4 daylilies and 2 iris along the gravel path leading to the garden, and made a plan for the space between the garage and vegetable plot: the new garage will have a south door, and space for the lawn mower, bicycles and other seasonal things at that end. Therefore, we need to keep an access path for the lawn mower to reach the rest of the yard. We will plant another fruit tree (or trees) south of the exisitng apple. Clean out all of the scrub and dead wood on the east side. Replace the dead trees along the east with lilacs and conifers. The space behind the garage, up to the first apple, will be utility space but hopefully not a general junk yard. I think that we should have a small cement pad poured for the dog, dog house and dog run that starts behind the garage and allows him access to the front. He won't be content unless he can guard the front.

We mapped out the shape of the new patio and Daryl's wall. We've agreed to rebuilding the existing patio so that everything is level and there isn't a slope or steps between the portions. It will be a nice, large area and I am looking forward to the finished project.I can see finally hosting the garden parties I had hoped for when we moved here.

I finished planting my annuals but have alot of bulbs to get in yet. We bought two bags of lilies, a bag of iris (120 little bulbs) and a bag of glads at costco. I wasn't prepared for the quantities in each bag, and finding enough free space has been challenging.

I have red potatoes, red onion, white onion, beets, carrots, zucchini, peas, and multiple bags of lettuce seeds to get into the ground.It is currently raining, a nice gentle rain that will be great ofr what I planted yesterday, but would be better if I had all of my seeds in. The forecast is or it to stop by noon, so I will wait.

So my peasant roots really show when I can be happy as the proverbial pig when I spend a day working hard, and getting dirty. I really have a sense of accomplishment and a day well spent. I am a peasant farmer at heart.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Through the Looking Glass

That was the theme for Scona's class of 2008, the 100th graduating class of Strathcona High. Tonight was commencement, and the ceremony was well executed and classy. The key note speaker, Rudy Wiebe, was brilliant. Many positive messages about moving on, taking chances, growing up.

I was amazed at the names called that were in the GHL kindergarten class of 1995! Many of those kids have been in the same school all 13 years.

The ceremony was at the Jubilee, and the seats were assigned. I knew we were in the balcony but wasn't sure how removed from the stage that was. I guessed about which lens to bring, and decided on the 135mmf2. The 70 - 200 may have been a better choice - more reach. But as it was I think I ended up with lots of motion blur at f2, so 2.8 may not have been enough even with the stage lighting. CB agreed to hold still for a couple shots afterward. I missed some great photojournalistic moments. I really have much to learn on that front.

in any case, my first has graduated from high school. He approaches adulthood and all the rights and responsibilities there of. WOW. Time really does fly!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Great Weekend

This weekend had gardening, soccer, photography, family time and good weather. What else could any one ask for? I spent all day Friday, lots of Saturday and some of today gardening. The weather was mild and almost warm. I have a sense of accomplishment and a plan in mind for the next steps for the garden.
Alex's team played an exhibition game yesterday, so I shot that game. CBs first regular season game was today, so I shot some more today. I took garden shots today as well.
We had breaksfast with mom and dad and Rob today too. Dad's cooking has put 12 lb onto mom in 18 days - pretty damn good.

All in all a good weekend, folks!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Ahhh, JOY!

I spent all day in the garden.It was glorious. There is still enough to do that I can spend all day tomorrow in the garden too.
The sound of bird chatter is almost deafening here! I am so glad. It's really important to just be outside for a while, not rushing back and forth, but observing and listening. A robin marched along the planter after I had cleaned it up - oblivious to me, finding seeds and treasure. I saw at least a dozen species of bird in my yard today. Many squirrels too.

Today accomplishments:
The planter on the front veranda cleaned up and planted with pansies, nasturtium seeds and basil seeds. The whole works are edible, though I've never eaten pansies or nasturtiums.
The dog debris under the pine and around the front step has been cleaned up.
The new planters in the front yard have been weeded and inspected. Looks like most of the roses made it,some of the perennials(transplants from my yard better than new ones, it seems).
Daryl moved planter #1 and filled it with garden soil. I planted peas, carrots, beets and mesclun mix in it. Too much for the space but I'll deal with that later.

I weeded the new planter under the family room window. I absorbed alot of heat from the sun doing so, so decided that we needed to buy more tender plants for that location. If they are going to survive anywhere in this yard, i will be there. So we planned a trip to the garden center.

Marty the vac truck driver was here and told D that NGT has gone out of business again. Daryl was telling me this as he was backing the van off the drive, and for whatever reason, he backed into the car! Huge scrape along the passanger side of the car. Scrape on the back end of the van. A two-fer! Oh, heartbreak - the van has made it 18 months scratch free. The car is cursed. Maybe it's a good thing it didn't end up as the kids car. So, a call to the insurance company and off to Holes.

We bought some perennials, and a few annuals but prices are way up. Not surprisingly, since utilities and wages are way up.

Tomorrow, assuming I can move, I will finish cleaning the front drive and the back deck. Alex has soccer all day, including an exhibition game in the afternoon. CB has his first league game Sunday.

Next week will be very busy, with soccer, soccer, soccer, and Colin's grad.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Garden Time

Well, my favorite time of year is here. Tomorrow is a day off of work for me and my plan is to garden! All day long. I have a significant amount of clean up to do: a winters worth of dog debris, blown around garbage, dead plant matter. Then I have two large planters and a compost bin to get D to make for me. And then comes the fun stuff! I've just been reading NatureScape Alberta again, and can't wait to get out there and design and plant food gardens for me and for the critters that live nearby.
This winter, inspired by advice on dgrin, I've been eating a diet much higher in vegetables (especially raw) than ever before. I've had mixed results in terms of weight loss, but in general I have felt much better, especially wrt joint pain.I read Michael Pollan The Omnivores Dilema, and quite enjoyed it. He describes things about industrial farming that I 'knew' about, but really didn't think hard about. He makes a very strong case for growing ones own veggies. I've read other stats that claim that eliminating meat from your diet would reduce your carbon footprint by 25% and that growing your own veg reduces it by 20%. Don't know if those things are cumulative, but I think its worth doing. And gardening is fun!
Garden seasoon is very short here. I usually get stuck waiting for the May long to plant, and then encounter delays. And have had pretty mediocre results gardening here, without the ability to water at will. This year, I am going to risk planting before the magic frost free date and hopefully will get good results. We intend to buy a couple rain barrels so that should help with the water problem (maybe we will have services next summer!)
This summer I have big plans for garden design: veg gardens, flower gardens, the beginnings of an outdoor portrait studio, and features to attract birds, bugs, butterflies and bigger species in to the yard. Photo subject matter! I'll try to diarize the progress here, through words and photos! Fun, fun, fun.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Family and Friends

So I've been doing a bit of traveling for work. I've been to Boston twice, once in February and once in early April. I am very impressed with Boston and hope I can continue to visit. It is a beautiful, historic city with fantastic brain power. On my second trip I tried to arrange a shoot with locals, and ended up with something bigger an better. I met 12 other dgrinners in D.C. for a shoot on April 12th! What a great day!! I was graciously hosted by Christina, who had joined the preshoot trip last fall. We started early and met a whole bunch of grinners over the course of the day. Some we had known from the Montana shootout (schmoo & zwiebluemen, davev & katev, grimace & kendal), others were new to us(visualxpressions & cassisp, eorin1). It was one of the best days that I've had the pleasure of experiencing, and I hope that I can wrangle many more like that.

Last week I went to Vancouver on a course, then to Seattle area to visit a customer and friends and relations. Unlike the DC trip, this one had very little photography. It was about touching base, getting to be face to face, catching up, rekindling and building relationships. It was very, very good and really reinforced the message that, whether one is talking about business relationships or friendships old or new, nothing - absolutely nothing works as well as being together!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Progressive lenses (or embracing middle age)

I got my first set of progressives on Thursday and am still not quite adjusted to them. They are solving my recent eye sight problems, but getting used to the changing field of focus is a bit difficult. I cannot keep the whole width of my 21" monitor in focus at the same time - it requires turning my head. They do let me see small things close up - like the small print on labels, or the hairs on my chin!

When I was having my eyes examined, the optometrist asked me how I would feel about having progressive lenses, as I guess I could have gotten by for a while longer without. I told her that I was okay with having them if they would solve my vision issues. After all I am not afraid of aging!

Not nearly afraid of my getting old as I am melancholy about all of the things that are getting old with me!

Like my parents, and their health.

Like my kids, and the worries and stress that having teenagers brings: learning to drive, learning to drink (not at the same time as driving), learning to be independent, taking on responsibility, making decisions about their futures......where did the years go, and did we build a strong enough foundation for them to base their future on. Financially, emotionally, morally?

I am not afraid of aging, and actually looking forward to some of the events in the next years. Seizing the moment and not waiting 'to be old enough to retire' has actually become really important to me. Why is there an expectation that life will follow a certain course - that you must do things in order: go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, work to 60, retire and then embrace life and enjoy yourself. Why is their a mindset that one cannot be fulfilled by something other than a challenging career or that a challenging career must keep you tied down and centered?

I am not afraid of aging (or of progressive lenses). I am not afraid of change. I am not afraid of challenge. I am middle aged!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Moose Sighting

Fresh Snow. Commitment Free Weekend. Temps about 0C. A trip to Elk Island Park seemed in order. The dh agreed, and off we went. With the eastern end of the Anthony Henday open now, it is a very quick trip from here to the park - maybe 45 minutes.
We drove through the plains bison side of the park, spotting a few buffalo far off in the distance, and a lone coyote hunting. We decided to cross the road and go for a walk on the Wood Bison side. Got about ten steps along the path, and the dh says "It's a moose" in the calmest voice ever. There she was, about 30 feet away through some pretty thick aspen forest, just watching us. I got the shot of her, and tried to find a spot where there weren't as many trees between us. As I moved forward on the path I saw that she had a calf with her!

Amazing to see and share space with such an awesome animal. We spent about an hour in the woods, found many different footprints and several pieces of dung, but only came across another coyote in the distance.

A great way to spend an afternoon. The landscape is so bleak at this time of year, even with fresh snow cover, and especially under cloud covered skies. The next day was brilliantly sunny, but much, much colder.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Winter of my Discontent

So far 2008 has proceeded on a rocky path. After ringing the New Year in in Mexico, we have come home for

Bitter cold in January - I hate being cold! We had three or more weeks where the temp was below -20C greater than 80% of the hours. The first really cold day, I got the van stuck in the parking lot at work. I ran in to the building for help as I was pretty much blocking passage for other vehicles. As I was running to the building I smacked my hand on the post for the vehicle plug ins. Ended up with a huge haematoma, but I had full range of movement, so ignored it. A month later and it seems obvious that I broke the knuckle. I've been stuck twice more. I never get stuck, never have car problems. Til this winter.

It has finally warmed up - gorgeous day Friday - about plus 9C. Snow melting furiously. Reveals that my new, $20K roof, leaks! Absolutely flooded the front porch, small leak in the house, all at the peak. Now, this is the third set of 'leaks' we've had since the roof was replaced, the contractor had been here once to repair it too.

The fellow that was to become VP Business Development at work chose to take a different job, leaving us leaderless for even longer. An internal candidate has been appointed, and I am very uneasy with this. When I started this position the Sales department had 8 members. We are down to 3. When I decided to stay in this position last fall, it was because I really believed I could learn and grow under the current VPs direction. Imagine what a bombshell feeling I got when he shortly thereafter told me he was leaving. This is not the position I stayed for, not the great group of coworkers, and not the same leadership or mentorship.

And finally, the son has emphatically decided NOT to pursue opportunities at universities other than the U of A. He has absolutely no idea what he is giving up, and what he will never be able to have because of this decision, and my trying to persuade is having really negative results.

Today is day 4 of a 4 day weekend for me. I spent Friday running errands, buying exciting things like new laundry hampers, Saturday working on decluttering and laundry, yesterday more of the same, with a special 'flooded laundry room' to shake things up. Today it is finishing touches of housework, hopefully a trip out for some new work pants, and then a houseful of folks for a team meeting this p.m. How I wish I could write that I'd spent the 4 days putzing in the garden and taking photos! Or hiking in the mountains or at the ocean. But, I've got a sparkling clean laundry room.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

"Spring" Cleaning & the new buffet

We have started doing projects around the house again. Slowly, very slowly, but things are getting done. A couple of weekends ago, we put more shelves into the huge armoire in our room. This gave us both reason to empty our clothes out and sort through them - eliminated some, really need to go through again and eliminate more. Also need to do the same with my hanging closet.

That same weekend, we replaced one set of kitchen cupboards with drawers - IKEA kitchens are really wonderful for this - you can walk in to IKEA and out with replacement cabinets. Anyway, that led us to empty out the cupboard under the phone - three years worth of clutter and junk- and throw a bunch of it away. It also allowed me to put the massive amount of pens and pencils into a drawer and clean off one end of the kitchen counter.

I also did a total reorg on the linen cupboard in the main bath.

This weekend, we bought the new buffet and hutch for the kitchen. When we did the reno, we built a spot at the end of the kitchen to hold a specific piece of furniture - 18 inches deep, up to 6 feet long and as tall as 8 feet. I had that furniture piece in my mind from day one. This year, before Christmas, we found a Canadian furniture manufacturer that could custom build one to our size requirement. They have beautiful furniture, and the price seemed reasonable at $5K. So we thought about it, and set out to order it my last EDO. We ended up out in Sherwood Park and stopped at Costco because we couldn't get in to a restaurant for lunch! There, at Costco, was a buffet & hutch that matched our dimensions and was really similar to the design we had in mind. It did not have upper cabinet doors though. It also had a matching, counter height table of the right dimensions for our kitchen! And, amazingly, the buffet was $710. Not much of a decision, but still one worth thinking about. So, this weekend we set off to the Costco near us for the buffet. The price at the local Costco was $390! So for less than a tenth of the price of the custom made one, we have a hutch that fits perfectly into our spot, matches our kitchen well, hides the clutter that was being stored on a set of bookshelves in the 'interim' (if 3 1/2 yrs is interim). Beautiful. We now have a well organized kitchen, a nice peice of furniture and $4500 left for other projects! The bookcase has found a new life too, functioning as a bookcase in the office, replacing the credenza that had a wider footprint and less storage space.

Of course, this barely scratches the surface of cleaning, decluttering and projects that need doing. We could be on one of those H&G channel shows - either the reno disaster ones or the clean up your home ones!!!! But it is a great way to fill a bitterly cold winter weekend.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Winter, Still

Oh dear, it has been a long time since I said anything! We've had some interesting, busy days since Christmas. With Colin home the driving has increased exponentially. So have the food bills :-)

We spent the week of New Years at a resort on the Riviera Maya. Not our best vacation - had some cold weather, staff shortages at the resort that resulted in less than stellar service, and 6 of us with different points of view on what made a good day. However, I definitely want to return to that part of the world, and I definitely need another tropical vacation ASAP!!!!

The weather here has been outrageous and apparently will continue with severe cold snaps for the next two months! I am getting old and grumpy because I really hate the winter here and really wish I lived elsewhere during December - February, or more!

I have been in a major photographic slump, with no team photo work and no scenes that are photographable when I am not at work i.e in the dark!

I have been trying to eat according to the Eat to Live model of Dr. Fuhrman - mostly fruits and veg, very little meat, little oil...I have experienced a major decrease in joint pain in my hips and hands. I have a new complaint of pain in my shoulders but I think that has more to do with the ergonomics of my chair at work than anything else. When I pay attention to how I sit, its not so bad. I am not experiencing huge weight loss. I lost close to 10lb last summer, then plateaued for quite a while, then have lost a few more. Still have not lost 20, but then I am not rigorous to the plan. Daryl is such a wonderful cook and I cannot impose my choice too greatly onto him.

Have been spending lots of time dreaming about owning property in the Caribbean or Yucatan... lots of time dreaming about this. I love being Canadian but I don't love living in Canada right now.