Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I guess I should have come on here yet again to apologize for disappearing into thin air. It seems that I have fallen into that bad routine of staying at work too late and then just going home and falling into bed.

In September, when I took a little break from work, I promised myself to not do that anymore. I just seem to get so lost in what I am doing that I don't realize what time it is and that everyone else is gone.

My blogging will commence again very shortly though.

I've signed up for a creative writing course which starts early January and I am hoping that I can use my blog to post some of the exercises or pieces that I may possibly write.

Just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

If you can't see the photo in the post below, try again later. I think there is a problem right now with blogger. I was unable to post a comment because the word verification picture is not showing up.

It's only a picture of my little girlie kitty cat - Molly.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Two-Timing Addict

I arrive home late from work after yet another long day.  I am bleary eyed as I pull into the garage and make my way up to the apartment.

Thankfully Mom has supper holding for me, so that my free time is not wasted on preparing a meal.

After a day of fielding questions, attending meetings, long drawn out conversations with peer on how to avert day-to-day disasters, I yearn for some mindless recreation.

I am entitled to that.  I work hard and I don't think I should feel guilty one little bit.

It's the obsession, that at times, causes me to question how far I will go to satisfy it? 

It already pushes me to rush through the daily small talk with Mom and Daughter, so that I can excuse myself and get down to what I really want to do.

Is that wrong?  Should I be seeking professional help?

It's not like the two strangers or my friend in Ottawa knew what was going on!  Discretion is something that is not used enough these days, it seems.  Nobody was hurt because of my addiction. 

In reality, because of this obsession and my ability to multi-task, I actually gave of myself to three different people and therefore, unselfishly made a difference in their day, plus satisfied my voracious craving all at the same time.

But the best part was that I actually won BOTH of the simultaneous backgammon games while maintaining a chat with Ottawa friend!

I'm proud!  That my friends is an example of multi-tasking at it's best.

But I cannot take all the credit for being a master of multi-tasking.  Some of it should go to the inferior chat option in the "XP Internet backgammon" game that allowed me to appear present by occasionally choosing varied text from a drop down menu.  Secretly though, I was really concentrating on the other game I was playing in Shockwave.  It has a normal chat feature that you can utilize in between the timed moves. 

My patient Ottawa friend, who I was chatting with in messenger, should also be thanked for waiting longer than normal for my responses...but truth be known, he was multi-tasking too.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Sucker is Born

Everyone has heard that saying "a sucker is born every minute".  Well on July 22, 1961 at the precise moment I was born, VOILA!!  Yes a sucker.

I am regarded as an intelligent individual at work and in my personal life but every now and then I experience what I refer to as my blonde moments and on Tues night it was no different.

Exhausted from working a twelve hour day I arrived home eager to grab a bite to eat and go to bed.  The first day back to work after a long weekend is brutal.  I am better off not having any vacation days or long weekends because returning to work kills me.  I end up having to make up for that day off by working extra long days for the next week.

My mother had my dinner ready to go and looked at me with scrutinizing eyes.  Mothers never stop being mothers.  She was checking to make sure her baby was ok.

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrnggg, brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrnnngg, brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrnnnnnng.

"Jezus it never fails. Every night, just as you are about to eat that damn phone rings. 

"Hello", my mothers voice automatically reverted to her phony telephone answering voice.

"Just a moment, please."

With one hand over the handset my mother warned me that it was just a telemarketer and that I should end the call as soon as possible so that I could eat my dinner.

"Hello.  This is Ms. Snow.  No there is no Mr..."

For twenty five minutes I listened to the gentleman with the Jamaican accent from New York explain that I had won a prize from a ballet that I had purportedly completed last Dec 18th, 2005.

I don't remember completing a ballet and he said the sponsor was the Marriott hotel.  Maybe I did.  How would I know.  It's difficult for me to remember what I did an hour ago.

My instinct was screaming that it was just a scam, to hang up, but my curiosity made me hang onto the phone and listen to him anyway while my dinner sat on the counter getting cold.

My mother was in a rage that I was letting her good cooking decay in favour of listening to a scam artist.  To display her dissatisfaction with my choice she continually walked in and out of the kitchen where I was standing with the receiver to my ear and ran the faucets, clanged pots, loudly complained about ignorant people phoning in the evening to sell crap and various other techniques deployed to encourage me to hang up.

When they didn't work, she resorted to yelling out loudly "Hang up the phone on the sucker.  He's just trying to rip you off.  How stupid can you be?"

It may have been her overt attempts to control the situation that led me to continue the conversation and waste more of my time, but each time she disrupted my train of thought with noise, I had to ask him to repeat the verbiage that I just lost and so it went on and on.

After twenty five minutes of this action, I had the directions in my hand of where to pick up my prize and his name and phone number.  My appointment would be just two days away at 7:00pm. 

I was a guaranteed winner of either a cruise of the Bahamas, completely paid all air, food, drink etc including the air fare from Toronto to Miami, a 60" Plasma TV,  a week at Hilton Head along with golf clubs, or a mini vacation which was accommodation only for a week in either Florida or Mexico.

I knew before I went that I would win the trip without the air. 

I really wanted the Plasma TV.  I had already argued with my mom and my daughter that I was going to give it to my friend, who had just spoken to me the week before about how he wanted to get a plasma TV and we even mentally rearranged his living room in order to give the optimum viewing angle. 

In my mind, it was fate.  Why would I have a conversation with someone about a Plasma TV and then within days of that conversation be advised that I had potentially won one.

I am always intrigued by the coincidences in life.  Plus I'm a romantic so the notion of this happening because it was meant to, ensured that I arrived at the location on the date and time that had been arranged and no matter how much I told myself it was a scam to sell me timesharing or something else; I could not stay away.

The conference room just off the lobby was filled with people sitting at tables talking to one another.  A gentleman announced that the presentation would begin in a few moments.  I was given a form to complete and told to wait until someone came to get me. 

Within seconds of handing my completed form in, a young woman came and called my name.  I stood up and she started to walk away from the conference room.  I was waiting for her to tell me to take a seat in the room and that I would be viewing an hour long presentation.

She did not.  Instead she advised me that because I was a guaranteed winner, I did not have to sit through the presentation but I could go to the Prize room to draw a ballet and see what I won.

I was impressed.  The guy on the phone kept telling me that I would not have to see a presentation and that all I had to do was draw a ballet and claim my prize.  Maybe he wasn't lying after all.

Ha!  Well he was.  I am sure that all the ballots in the cylinder were all the same prize.  The same as the prize I won, which was the Mini Vacation to Florida or Mexico without the air fare and with so many restrictions and rules that I can't even be bothered to complete my name and address on the front in order to get the prize.

So it's true.  A sucker is born every minute and I'm one of them!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Clapton - ized, Again!

I'm still glowing from the experience last night at the Eric Clapton/Robert Cray concert.  It was without a doubt, the absolute BEST concert that I have attended.

I think I may have said the same thing the last time I went to an Eric Clapton concert but this one was better than the last.  The thing that set this concert apart, in my own opinion, was the addition of Robert Cray and Derek Trucks. 

Imagine for a moment, the opportunity to see three of the greatest guitarists on one stage playing together.  It was mind-blowing.  Listening to live music is one of my favourite things to do. 

Yesterday afternoon, prior to leaving for the concert, I went onto Napster and purchased Eric Clapton's Back Home cd and Robert Cray's Twenty.  Jack and I played them on the way into the city.  It's a great way to get in the mood.

I'm actually listening to them again now, as I write this.

The Air Canada Centre was packed.  We were in section 302, row 1, seats 11 and 12, which was dead centre in that section.  It was far higher than what I would have liked, but I consider myself lucky to have gotten tickets.  I had been lax in checking upcoming concerts because financially, I felt that I couldn't afford to be going to too many concerts.  For that reason, I had been deleting my HOB concert newsletters.  I can't remember how I stumbled across it now, but it was quite by accident that I found out that Eric Clapton was coming to Toronto again. 

The tickets had already been on sale for a few weeks.  I was certain that I had missed the boat.  When the search came back with those tickets and I looked at the seating chart, I decided it wasn't that bad.  We were slightly to the right of centre stage in a balcony.

Binoculars would have been handy, however, I just kept changing my viewpoint from the stage to one of the large screens placed on either side.

The only negative part of attending a concert like that and being squeezed like sardines into the tight seats, is that you can't get up and dance. 

I gazed enviously at the fortunate people in the front row and wondered what kind of lifestyle they live.  How do you become a front row concert attendee?  Is it something that I will ever attain in my life earning the modest living that I do?  Probably not, but one can dream!

I'm still in shock over the fact that Derek Trucks was playing with them.  He is one of the best guitarists.  He absolutely puts me in a spell with his mind-numbing riffs.  I could listen to him all day long. 

Robert Cray is another long time favourite of mine, so the fact that I just had all three....wow.  That seems so inadequate.  WOW!  There isn't an adjective great enough to describe the sensation of watching three greats performing, and all three are definitely in their element.  They are so into playing the music they love that at times, I'm sure they are unaware of the thousands of fans looking at them adoringly. 

Again, I am looking at them enviously.  What an exciting life they must lead.  I'm sure there are aspects that are tedious, but to get on stage with people that you admire and play together, plus make tons of money doing something that you love, has to be wonderful.

Robert Cray opened the concert and held the audience in rapture with his smooth, subtle style that grabs hold of your attention and never lets go.  He had the whole venue riveted with his new "Soon To Be Number 1" hit called Twenty.  If you haven't heard it, try to find it so that you can listen to it in its entirety.  I am certain that this song has what it takes to be a classic such as Hotel California, Stairway To Heaven lore.  There is this wonderful riff that is absolutely addicting.  It had me hooked before he was halfway through the song. I was almost disappointed when he left the stage.  What?!  Disappointed that Eric Clapton was now going to start?  Well, yes.  For a moment, I was because I hadn't had enough of Cray.  I was elated to see that he joined Clapton on stage for a couple of other tunes including the encore which was Crossroads.  That was AWESOME!  I imagined that Clapton and Cray were both dueling each other for their souls, but both had lost because their love of music was too strong; the devil owned them both.

Eric Clapton proved over and over again that he is the master.  His age has not depleted his talent in any way.  As mesmerized as I can become when Derek was doing a solo, or Robert when Eric would ease in at the end of their solos; I couldn't help but feel that I was witnessing one of the greatest events in music history. 

I would highly recommend that you get tickets to see this concert when and if it lands in your neck of the woods!  You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Trailer Park Girls...

Deb and I are sitting at this lovely turquoise painted picnic table enjoying a rowdy game of Gin Rummy.

After calling my mother to get the rules of play, we dealt the cards and the laughter began.

I want to listen to Bob Marley but Debbie doesn't.  We have to find a common ground on the music or the afternoon sun and glow from the alcohol will be lost.

"When was the last time you sat outside at a picnic tableon a sunny Thursday afternoon playing cards?"

"Honestly Shel?  I can't even remember."

"Neither can I!  This is absolutely perfect!"

"Turn up the music when you're inside getting our drinks!"

We have settled on CCR.

The drink is Coconut Rum and Diet Fresca with Cherry - Superb!

It doesn't take long to go through half a bottle of rum.  I decide to finish the rest of my wine from last night.  Not too sure what the next drink will be but I'm thinking it will be Vodka and Diet Coke with Lime.

When Debbie's friend from work heard that we were contemplating on spending a couple of days in Southampton, she graciously offered her trailer in Sauble Beach which is just an 8 min drive down the highway from Southampton.  This has turned out to be a very inexpensive mini vacation.  Other than our food and beverages, the cost is only $10.00 per guest.

The trailer park is Carson's and it is very beautiful.  I'm surprised at how big the park is and pride of ownership is evident with the neatly manicured sites.  This isn't "The Trailer Park Boys".

Eight hands later, the score is 91 to 71 for me and Debbie has grown weary of the game.  We move to lawn chairs, which we position so that we are catching every ray of sunlight possible.

We are now listening to a jukebox CD that was sent to me from Mick in the UK as part of a music exchange with fellow bloggers last year, or was it the year before?  I can't remember now, but the music is perfect for this sunny afternoon.

I am completely satisfied with my life in this moment.  It's perfect.  The heat from the sun, good drink, wonderful music, what more could a person ask for?  I lean my head back against the back of the chair and close my eyes.  The sound of the wind blowing through the leaves transports me back to another time and place.  I'm laying on the hammock in my grandparent's yard sleeping on a sunny, summer afternoon.

I'm really happy that I made the decision to take two weeks off.  I was debating on whether I should or not because I did not have any concrete plans, but my body was telling me that I needed to escape the stress of everyday work life to recoup.

It's turned out to be a very relaxed yet interesting little break.  I've enjoyed trailer life, cottage life and time at home in between.

Now it's back to my normal routine except that I am making a promise to myself not to stay at work late everynight.  It's not good.  It doesn't get you anywhere and the only thing that I seem to get out of working so much are bigger bags under my eyes.


Here's a sunset from Sauble Beach. I've just returned from a mini vacation. Will update more soon!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Tit for Tat

Part of my morning battle into work each day comprises of a race around the block to the local Tim Horton's for my Extra Large Double Double.

I started to drive out of my way so that I would be on the right side of the road which allows me to make a right hand turn into the drive-thru line up.

This line up can sometimes snake its way down Caledonia.  The people attempting to join the cue from the left are quite simply, left out.  They usually have to opt to walk in because there isn't an easy way to turn left and bud into a line up half a block long.

I learned an alternative route soon after joining this office and every day I race off the 401, south on Dufferin to Orfus, West on Orfus to Caledonia, North on Caledonia to the line up for Tim Horton's.  Quick and simple, until earlier this week.

The entrance off Caledonia was closed for construction.  The only way in was to turn right on Bentworth (a street I pass on Dufferin to get to Orfus) and drive through the parking lot to the drive thru lane.

By the second day, of having to drive past the usual entrance to the second one, I had made a decision that the next day I would turn right on Bentworth and come in that way instead.

I chuckled to myself as I left my fellow racers on Dufferin.  Suckers.  They don't realize that they can't get in that way.  See ya there!

With a smirk still on my face, I pulled my car quickly onto the lot and around the corner of the building to find a line up out the original driveway, snaking down Caledonia.

Shit.  They fixed it.  Damn.  A day too late.  To make matters worse some bitch in an SUV must have realized by the look on my face what I had done and she laughed as if to say "Ha, ha!" as she pulled her vehicle closer to the one in front of her so I couldn't sneak in.

There was an older gentleman in the vehicle behind her though and he waved at me that I could go in front of him when there was movement in the line.

It warmed my heart to realize that there are some people out there still with some manners and compassion.

"$1.58 please."

"How much is the order for the man behind me?"


"I want to pay for the man's coffee behind me, how much is it?"

"Oh, I see. It's $1.20."

"Ok, here you go!"

I retrieved my coffee and sped off chuckling about what the man would think when he went to pay and was told, "No money, that lady pay for you!"

I believe that good deeds should be rewarded in some small way and he made my day!

Thank you Gentle Stranger!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Too Early

It can't be 4:30 a.m.  It feels like 8:00 a.m.  Maybe I should get up and blog for a bit and then go back to bed for a few winks before I have to get ready for work.

No, I'll lie here and try to relax.  Think of nothing and soon I'll be back to sleep.

Stop bugging me Molly.  This isn't the time for play, I'm supposed to be sleeping.  I only have 2 hours before I have to get up.

4:45 a.m.  1 hour and 45 min till wake time.  I can't believe how wide awake I am.  What time did I go to bed last night anyway?  It was at least 11:00 p.m. 

Why am I so wide awake.  I haven't been in bed long.  Usually I require a good 8 hours of sleep to feel this rested.

I should get up now.  Take a shower, have breakfast and go into work real early.

No, just lie still and stop thinking and soon you'll be back to sleep.

Think of something that is relaxing.  Visualize yourself lying on a sandy beach.  The crash of the waves in the background are lulling you to sleep.  Yeah, that feels great.  Feel that sun on my skin.  Ahhh, this is working.  Before long I'll be sleeping soundly and the additional hour and a half will do me the world of good.

When I get into work, I need to take care of that HR issue first thing.  Fax those documents before you even log on the computer.  Then make yourself scarce and work on the overtime.  I wonder if so and so is going to be back today.  If she doesn't show, make sure you take the files out of her workload and hand them out to the rest of the staff.

I better make sure that Mr. Funny deals with Miss Promises because that whole situation is driving me crazy.  Oh damn, I think we have a meeting this morning with Boss Man. 

5:08 a.m.  Shelly what the hell are you doing?  How did you end up from the sandy beach to thinking about work again.  Stop that. 

Get up and get ready for work.  You aren't even tired.  You can go into work early and take care of that paperwork before any of the staff get in.  No, I'm not going into work early dammit.  It feels like I just got home from the night before.

Why am I so wide awake?  What did I eat last night?  Did I have coffee before bed?  I wonder why coffee doesn't really affect me?  Maybe it does now and you just don't know.

Ok, just relax.  Stop thinking about work.  Think about something else.  Think about something relaxing...

5:30 a.m. Jeezus Cuhhhhrist.  This is NOT working.  I have to get up in another hour.  Maybe I'll stay in bed till 7:00.  I don't have to drive the daughter to work so no need to rush.  Piss on it.  I'll just take my time.  I just need to get back to sleep.

What was I dreaming about before I woke up?  What in the hell woke me up anyway?

8:00 a.m.  SHIT!  What day is it?  Where am I supposed to be?  Am I working today?  Why didn't my radio turn on?  DAMN IT. 

Instead of being totally early, now I'm late!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Summer Fun

Originally uploaded by Suzy Snow.
Doesn't this make you yearn to be a kid again?

Trying Something New

I'm always open to trying out new things so when MSN asked me if I was interested in changing my hotmail account to the new Windows Live version, I thought what the hell.  Might as well. 

I've already changed my yahoo account to a new beta version so why not Hotmail.

After I changed over, there was information about other Windows Live services and one of them was Windows Live Writer (Beta).  It allows me to create posts without being logged into blogger.  Once I am satisfied, I can then upload to my blog.

I'm thinking this might just inspire me to blog more. 

We'll see.  Of course, that totally means that Windows Live Writer will have to start going to my job each day and working the long hours that I have been for the past year or so. 

I'll let you know how it works out!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sugar and Spice and Everything...NICE?!?

I am not a nice person. I always thought I was but I was told today that I am not. I am crass. I think it is funny how we do not exactly see ourselves the way everyone else does. It is curious, is it not?

I must admit that my behaviour lately has not been very nice. I am blaming it on the heat. It could be hormones though. On the other hand, maybe I am stressed from too many late nights at work. Are you catching onto the pattern here? How I blame everything except myself? That is right. I operate that way. Never accept full responsibility for anything you do unless you are caught red handed. Even then, you can probably talk yourself out of a jam if you are a good talker.

I digress though. This was not going to be about me deflecting responsibility, but about my anger and me.

I am not sure, if I really have an underlying problem or if it is just the heat. I must add here that it has been incredibly hot in Toronto. Today was the hottest day this summer. It was 36 degrees Celsius but with the humidex, it felt like 47. Last night felt like the hottest night.

I work in air conditioning, drive in air conditioning and live in air conditioning, so I suppose the heat theory does not quite add up, except that I was outside when I lost my cool.

I worked late again. This is becoming a bad habit. Because of working late and being tired, I forgot to do two important tasks; go to the bank and get gas. I knew it was going to be an early start in the morning so I made a decision to go back out after eating something for supper.

My mother has been nervous ever since they announced on the news that a woman was recently raped and savagely beaten just down the block from our apartment building. Now whenever I go out, I have to hear about it. I have to listen to the “don’t come home late” lecture repeatedly.

I know she cares and that is not the problem, it is just that I feel as though I am a kid again. She insisted that Melissa go with me because by the time I started to head back out the door the sun had already fallen and it was dusk.

Melissa was not excited about going to the bank and getting gas but she could tell that my mom would not let go of it, so she grabbed her purse and out into the scary darkness we went.

The banking went smoothly. No hiccups, no robberies, we were in and out swiftly. Next, we did a quick shopping at Dominion. I thought I had been through a time warp back to the winter when I walked in and felt the blast of heat coming from the radiators in the vestibule. Beads of sweat started to pop out all over my face. I imagined that it was not noticeable and refrained from wiping them off.

The clerk at the checkout agreed with me about how stupid Dominion was for not having a good air conditioner.

“I HATE this place! The air conditioner hasn’t worked in two years!”

I moaned all the way to the car, which felt like a lot further away then when I walked into the store.

Melissa commented that I would not be a good candidate for a vacation in the Southern climes. Obviously, I cannot take the heat. She informed me that it really was not as bad as I was making it to be.

With our fudgesicles packed safely in the trunk, we scooted off to get the gas. I had noted earlier that the gas was 105.8 Cents per litre on my way home from work. Usually it will drop on a Monday or Tuesday evening and I was hoping that I would be fortuitous enough to save a penny or two.

The sign read 105.8. The station was not busy. I debated on driving around the city looking for a deal with my needle close to centering on E, but decided that I would play it safe and just buy it there. Pay full price. What the hell; its payday.

I pulled up to an empty pump and noticed a large post-it-note stuck on the outside warning that the debit was not operating. Another note was stuck on the next pump and the next. I continued around to the other side and was relieved to see there were no signs.

Expertly I opened my tank and stuck my debit card into the machine. Without waiting for the slow written instructions, I pushed the numbers deftly and pounced on the enter key as the words “push enter” began to appear on the LCD screen.

“Select grade to continue.”

I faltered for a half second as I debated internally on the merits of mid-blend over regular. Cheapness prevailed and I selected regular.

Nothing happened. I pushed it again, harder this time. Yet again, there was no response. The screen continued to read “select grade to continue.”

I repeated this sequence over and over again, each time selecting a different grade. It did not matter. The pump refused to give me cheap gas, gas that is slightly more expensive or gas that is significantly more expensive.

I turned toward the gas station where Mr. and Mrs. Gas Station Attendant were pretending to be busy looking after customers.

If only we could make eye contact, I am sure they would recognize the dilemma I was in and come out to assist.

Regardless of how hard I willed them to turn and look at me, they continued with their busy act and refused to turn. I was impressed with their strong will to resist my telepathic commands.

Not to be defeated, I resorted to pushing the “help” button.

“Calling cashier, please wait.”

I wondered what choice I had but to wait, however I was impressed with how polite the gas pump was.

Nothing happened. I did not hear a voice asking me if they could help and the “Calling cashier, please wait” message disappeared.

I pushed the help button again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And, well let’s suffice it to say that I am not entirely sure about how many times I actually did push the button. I was hoping that with every push of the button, that a loud ringing would occur inside the station where Mr. and Mrs. Gas Station Attendant were still pretending to be busy.

The beads of sweat that earlier had made my face glisten beautifully, had now formed small rivulets.

When the gas pump got tired of telling me to wait because it was calling the cashier, it simply cancelled my transaction. It had forced its hand. Now I either had to walk the 20 paces and confront Mr. and Mrs. Gas Station Attendant, or leave.

I marched into the station and demanded an explanation of why they had not answered my call for help.

“There is nothing wrong with the pump,” declared Mrs. Gas Station Attendant.

“How would you know that there is nothing wrong, when you never answered my call for help?”

“Because the screen says it is ok.”

“Well the screen is wrong because your piece of shit gas pump is broken.”

Mr. Gas Station Attendant abruptly interjected that I should have pushed the button for the intercom instead of using the help button. That way I would have been able to communicate with them.

“Then what the hell is the “help” button for?”

“I will be right out in a few minutes to assist you.”

“Forget it. I’ll take my business someplace else. Thank you so much for your GREAT customer service.”

I stormed out of the station and back to my car.

Melissa was killing herself laughing because she could tell by my face and my overly brisk walk that I was in a rage.

I explained the problem to her as I squealed off the lot and out onto the street.

A quick drive around the corner to the next gas station and I felt smug as I noted the price was a whole ½ cent cheaper.

I pulled deftly into the first available pump but stopped when I noticed a barricade of construction cones at the other end. It was confusing. Is it open or closed?

A young attendant was outside directing traffic on the lot and he yelled that it was ok, only that I would have to back out when I was finished.

Not a problem. I can do reverse. I actually reverse my car quite often when I am driving.

Just as I was stepping out of my vehicle, I heard a small beep and noticed a young man parked right behind my car. Apparently, he hadn’t noticed that I was prevented from moving up ahead by the row of cones. I ignored him. The attendant walked up to his window and spoke to him (explained the situation and the fact that he would have to back up so I could get out when I was done).

That last bit of instruction must have been too difficult for him to understand because he backed up a smidgen. Not nearly enough for a person to pull their car out and get it turned.

Again, I was not letting this irritate me. I had the entire evening and he was the one that would have to wait for me to get out of the way.

I finished my transaction at the gas pump. Printed a receipt for my record keeping (threw it casually into the back seat with the rest of the gas station receipts) and put the car into reverse.

I turned to look out my rear window and waited for Goofy to back up. He didn’t, so I didn’t. It was a classic standoff. The entire lot was full of cars by this time, all parked in different spots waiting to get at a pump. The thought did cross my mind that the attendant may have done a better job of managing how many cars he allowed onto the small lot, considering the room that was required for each of us to back up and turn around and exit by the one entrance.

Goofy backed up a little more. I backed up a little more. I still did not have clearance to turn my car around so I waited. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the attendant signalling me how to turn my wheels. I guess he figured that I was confused and did not know how to drive my car.

That was the breaking point.

“Don’t tell me how to fucking drive my car.”

“It’s not my fault. I didn’t do anything.”

“Yes you did. You are standing there motioning me on how to get out of here when I know perfectly well how to get out. Tell that asshole behind me to back up his fucking car so I can get out.”

Goofy heard me because he had his window open and he dutifully backed out of the way.

Again, I squealed off a gas station lot in a rage. I just needed to get home into the cool air again.

Melissa was questioning me about my mood as we sped home and I quickly informed her that it was not me, it was everyone else. It was all their fault. Anybody and everybody that had crossed my path was responsible for the murderous thoughts that were racing through my body at that very moment.

“I’ll tell you one thing Melissa. Your Nana does not need to worry about any rapist attempting anything with me because I would kill the fucker. He wouldn’t have a chance, the way I feel right now.”

The words were just escaping my lips when I noticed the police cars, fire truck and ambulance parked in the middle of the road, blocking my access to our building.

“I wonder what the Police would say about that,” Melissa snickered.

“Geezus…what is going on tonight?”

“I don’t know Mom, but I just want to go home.”

After taking a detour around the block, we made it safely into the garage, managed to park without incident and make our way back to our safe, cool apartment.

I went right to bed. Perhaps I was overtired.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

My Birthday Gift

Here is a picture of the beautiful bracelet my daughter gave me for my birthday. It's very sparkly and pretty! I just love it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Blues, Blues and more Blues

I have been away for a mini vacation to the Nation’s Capital, Ottawa, again. This time it was to go to the Ottawa Bluesfest for the first time.

I was browsing the internet in May to look for information on my new favourite musician, James Hunter and was lead down the cyber path to pulling out my credit card and purchasing two tickets to see Etta James in Ottawa last week.

I had heard about the Bluesfest before, now in its 13th year but had never made the decision to attend. When I purchased the tickets, I had no idea who I would take but I decided to ask my daughter if she would like to go. We had not been away together in years and I know that she enjoys Etta James so it seemed like the obvious choice.

Etta James has been a favourite artist of mine for a long time and I did not want to go to her concert with anyone that did not appreciate her music. My daughter was very excited about our trip and arranged for the time off work.

We stayed at the Ottawa Marriott, which is a lovely hotel, but it was a little too far away from the venue, which is held at Confederation Park. The best hotel, location wise, would have been the Lord Elgin, which was right across the street. I will know better next year.

The concert was fabulous. I was impressed with how appreciative the crowd was and there was quite a crowd. Melissa and I had VIP seats, three rows from the stage. We could see the sweat dropping off Etta’s face.

I am still in awe that I have finally been to see my idol. It still seems like a dream. One thing that was a big shock to me was how much weight she has lost. Etta James has always been a big woman but she was just a little tiny thing on the stage. Her voice is as big and full as it ever was and she blew us all away with the strength.

At the end of the show, while she sang her encore, tears started to roll down her cheek, she stopped singing, walked to the edge of the stage, stood for a few moments listening to the catcalls, and applause then turned suddenly and walked off the stage.

I do not think I will ever see her perform again. It seems to me that the weight loss is due to health issues and I hope I am wrong, but something tells me that I am not.

Other things that we did while in Ottawa were:
dined with my friend,
caught Dickie Betts performance the first night we were there,
shopped around the market in the sweltering temperatures,
my daughter tried on every pair of sandals in the Rideau Centre only to decide to wait until she was in Toronto again,
drove the wrong way on two one-way streets almost running head on into a UPS van and then had to do a big U-turn in the middle of the intersection and run a red light to get out of it,
my daughter had her picture taken with Jully Black after we watched her performance,
got lost on our way to lunch at a restaurant that I have been to several times before,
slept in both days,
sang along to great music during the 4+ hour drive there and home.

Etta James Ottawa Bluesfest 2006 "At Last"
Etta James Ottawa Bluesfest 2006 "I want to Ta Ta Ya Baby"

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Fit people can be dinks. No, they can be assholes. I wonder if I will turn into one when I lose the extra invisible person that I carry around with me each day.

This morning while I was out enjoying my Saturday morning walk I came upon a couple of men and a woman on bicycles heading in the opposite direction. The guy in the lead was complaining about a “fat woman with her two year old and stroller” who had impeded his progress one day because they didn’t jump out of his way. They were right in the middle of the wide trail. I caught a fragment of the woman empathizing with him before their conversation was lost in the wind “…and you were on your bike!”

It’s no wonder that people who are overweight refrain from joining fitness clubs or going out to popular walking/biking trails. Children are not the only ones who can be cruel. People at my age, can be so intolerable and insensitive to others, that it makes me sick.

You really have to have a thick skin and be very selfish in your desire to become healthy so that people like that do not make you want to hide yourself away in your home.

I guess he didn’t notice the big sign that instructs “slow walkers” to walk in the middle of the multi-use trail so that people who are flying through on their silent bikes will be able to go around them. Asshole!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Dreams of Fear, Flying and Work

Have you ever recalled a previous dream in a dream? With your previous dream perceived as reality in your current one. I know this is a little convoluted and possibly hard to understand what I am talking about so I will explain with an example of what I dreamt last night.

I have been dreaming of work non-stop lately. Possibly, from the overwhelming feelings that I have been experiencing lately, I am not sure but that is my best guess.

In my dream, we were refitting our offices with brand new desks, baffles, carpeting; the whole office transformed from dingy to an appealing space with lots of natural wood pieces (baffles included) and windows. The dividing walls of the cubicles had large glass panels to allow light to flow through the office. The wood finish was in a medium pine, not too blonde and not dark. It was a rich, warm tone.

During my dream, my boss (never seen before in real life) called a meeting in his small office. Rather than sitting behind the desk the boss had pulled a chair into the centre of the room and all the staff members had pulled chairs all around him reminding me of a schoolteacher with his students gathered near his feet. I didn’t see any room for a full size chair so I went into an adjacent waiting area and picked up a small wooden stool and found a spot amongst the rest of the staff members to sit and listen to my boss make his announcements or deliver whatever information was about to be shared.

He started to enquire about something that I was responsible for but had not finished which made me feel dreadfully embarrassed and panicky. In the end, it wasn’t as bad as I thought because inadvertently I had done whatever it was that was expected; I just hadn’t done it in the same way as it had previously been done and I had forgotten to copy certain individuals. So that was a relief.

During the meeting, I was staring out the window and I noticed a man in a business suit, briefcase in hand, floating from the sky, into the office building next door from the sky.

I joked asking my boss when we would be purchasing those individual jet packs for our daily commute to work. Everyone shouted how they would never use one because of fear of flying or heights. I then recounted how I had previously commuted to work via balloon (previous dream).

I recalled how I would hang onto this huge balloon and with the assistance of different strings would navigate myself to wherever I was going but the gale force winds one day did in fact take me miles and miles out of my way and made me nervous when I saw that I was headed toward large open waters. I was subsequently rescued by an airplane and brought safely home.

After waking up I realized that I had incorporated a previous dream (going to work by hand balloon) into a brand new dream.

I wonder what it is that the flying to work is signifying.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


I love the Sunday Star (Toronto Star). The Saturday edition used to be my favourite but now it’s the Sunday Star that gets my attention. The articles are interesting and have less to do with news and more to do with general interests, hence my infatuation.

This morning in the Ideas section there was an article: Warning: This Story Could Get You High. It was about the theory of Irving Biederman, professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California.

His theory shows the link between learning new things and the release of opioids during neural activity. The article further explains why we get bored with old songs, movies viewed too many times etc.

I was always proud of the fact that I love learning new things, but now I’m slightly embarrassed to realize that I’m just an addict. Who knew?!?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Young People Not Allowed!

One of the news broadcasts they were advertising yesterday for the Six O’clock slot was about a “seniors only” park. I missed the actual story but was intrigued by the little clip. It showed sprightly seniors standing/sitting around a fishing pond, each with pole in hand, casting aimlessly.

I told my mother that her generation is selfish. Hogging a park and making it out of bounds to youngun’s (anyone under 65) is selfish.

“Wait until your generation is my age! Then we’ll see who’s selfish.”

Maybe I’ll be happy to have a Seniors Only Park in a couple of years. I envisioned driving my mother to the park in the morning on my way to work.

“You have a fun day Mom. I’ll get you later.”

“Don’t leave me out here all night like you did the last time.”

Right, I did forget her that day. I was so distracted with my job and trying to pick up Melissa that I completely forgot about her. My sister didn’t help either when I called and asked her to pick Mom up.

“What?! No I can’t go get her. I’m busy. I have to pick up Matty. You know that. Geez Shelly, she’ll be ok. You can get her tomorrow.”

No maybe it won’t be any use to me. I can see it’s going to be more bother than it’s worth. She’ll just have to be happy in the apartment with the computer and television for entertainment.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Virtual No More

Ring, ring.



“Hi Jerry!”

“Uh Shelly, I’m just calling to tell you that we can’t make it.”

“You can’t?!?”

I then heard that unmistakable giggle and I knew he was teasing me, yet again. Jerry and Brenda were staying with Brenda’s family in St. Catharines, relatively close to my home in Mississauga, so we had made plans before their trip from Calgary to Missouri and then to St. Catharines that we would finally meet when they were in Ontario.

It was hard to believe that the day was finally here. I was excited. I have maintained a cyber relationship with Jerry for about four years. We first met on a message board that is now defunct. I was new to the message board concept and was surprised at how well you could forge friendships with people by reading their posts and responding etc.

Jerry was always good for a laugh. We added each other to our messengers to keep in contact and throughout the past four years we have chatted as well as talked on the phone. I was not nervous about finally seeing Jerry in the flesh because I felt as though I knew him very well after all the communication between us.

Brenda and Jerry took the bus from St. Catharines and would arrive downtown just past 11:00. I said I would be there when the bus arrived but true to my nature, I was late getting away from the apartment.

Destiny made me late; I would realize that later. It was 11:52am when I pulled into the parking lot on Gerrard across from the Delta Chelsea Hotel.

“What time do you park to? You park to 6:00?”

I wasn’t sure why the Indian parking attendant was asking me this. I glanced down at the sign that posted the rates and times.

He suddenly waved his hand in front of the sign.

“Don’t look there. Listen to me. What time you want to park?”

“Uhmm, I’m not sure.” I was stammering, not sure how to answer.

“It’s early. You park now. You get your car by 6:00pm. You go drive around for eight minutes, come back here because I’m nice guy, you park till 9:00pm.”

It was finally sinking in what he was trying to tell me. I quickly stole a glance at the sign with the rates and times and could see that if I parked before noon, it was a charge of $10.00 but I had to have my car out by 6:00pm. If you park at noon or later, the charge is $10.00 until 9:00pm.

This was most likely my best bet because I wasn’t sure of our plans for the day. I knew we were also meeting up with Pete (another cyber friend) and his family from Belleville, but they wouldn’t be arriving until later on in the afternoon.

“Ok, so I’ll drive around and come back in eight minutes.”

“That’s good choice ma’am. You come back here to park, cause I’m nice guy. I save you money. I don’t have to tell you this; I do because I’m nice guy.”

“Yes, I’ll come back. See you soon.”

I backed out of the parking lot and decided to go pick up Jerry and Brenda who were waiting at the Eaton’s Centre and then drive back to the parking lot. That should waste at least eight minutes.

I was able to secure a piece of the curb behind a Rav 4 that had their hazard lights on. Perfect. I wasn’t so worried about getting a ticket or being asked to move since I wasn’t the only one stopping here.

I couldn’t see Jerry and Brenda but thank god for cell phones. I was able to direct them right to my car. After explaining the parking dilemma I did a U-turn and got us on our way back to the parking lot.

Jerry looked exactly like his photo. I would have recognized him immediately.

It was almost surreal to have them sitting in my car, in Ontario, talking and laughing like it’s a commonplace occurrence.

We decided to go have lunch first and then we sort of hung around waiting for Pete and family to arrive. Unfortunately, when they got there, they were anxious to eat because they were hungry. We found another restaurant and visited while they ate.

Our weather has been basically cold and rainy for the past few weeks but Saturday was hot, sunny and humid. I swear that Jerry brought the Missouri weather here with him. I was happy that it wasn’t raining but I am not a lover of hot, sticky weather. I tried not to complain too much. If I did, they were all so polite that no one yelled at me to shut up.

After our second lunch, we walked up Yonge street and looked in Sam the Record Man’s, HMV and a poster store. Pete is a Beatle’s fanatic and he was hoping to find a new poster for his music room. He wanted the poster of the four lads standing in front of a door which is apparently the album cover of “Hey Jude”.

We were unlucky with our search, but we did get an opportunity to stand for long periods of time outside the shop in the hot, humid, weather while Peter and family hunted through the hundreds of posters inside.

I became a little nervous when I noticed that the pedestrians on the street were slowly evolving from tourists to gang members as the sun started to sink.

“I think we should call it a day and get going now.”

Everyone seemed ok with my suggestion. It had been a wonderful visit but the heat and humidity was starting to make us all feel weary.

I had suggested to Jerry and Brenda that they forget about their return bus ticket and allow me to drive them home so that I would be able to show them where I lived and we could extend our visit a little longer. They agreed after a brief familial debate.

My mom and Melissa enjoyed the opportunity to meet them and luckily for me, my sister showed up for a visit and agreed to come along for the ride so that I would have company on the way home.

It was exactly a one hour drive from my place, so after leaving here at 10:30pm, I dropped them off and was back at home by 12:30pm.

Acquisitions from HMV and Sam’s during the visit:

Ron Sexsmith - Time Being (Love this album!)
Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now (to replace my cd that I lost)
James Hunter - People Gonna Talk (I am in love. What a great album.)
Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins - Rabbit Furcoat (EXCELLENT!! They were playing this in Sam’s and I absolutely loved it. I just couldn’t leave without a copy for myself.)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Calling Softly


I could hear a male calling my name softly. He was very close to me. He did not respond to my reply.

When I realized I was still in bed, my eyes flew open.

There was nobody in the room. The apartment was quiet. Everyone was asleep.

Who was that? The voice did and did not sound familiar all at the same time. I don't recognize the voice, but when I heard it call my name I was not alarmed in any way and it seemed to be coming from someone that I know.

Falling back to sleep was almost impossible.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dream Job

I check myself out quickly in the mirror on the wall in the lady’s change room before heading downstairs to start my shift.

I hate wearing this stupid net. I look like an old lady. Stop blushing. Don’t be so nervous. It’ll be ok. Maybe Mrs. DQ will be working today instead of that old prick.

I almost collide with Mr. DQ as I step out of the change room. He is standing outside the door. I can feel my hair stand on the back of my neck and I quickly mutter a hello and run downstairs to the store front below.

He’s a miserable old prick and I don’t know why he makes me so nervous but he does.

I’m in my first week of training for the position that I had waited a long time to get. I bugged and bugged my parents to let me apply for a job at the local DQ and finally they agreed. My mother told me that I should just enjoy being a kid for as long as I could, but I wanted my own money to buy the clothes that I wanted to wear and this was the place that all the kids hung out at. What could be better than working at the local hangout?

My previous dreams about this job seem so silly in comparison to what it was really like to work here. There were so many things to remember; how much a small cone should weigh, how to make that perfect DQ curl, how much chocolate sauce to put on a hot fudge sundae, how to cut the bananas for the splits, the steps to make the Dilly Bars and Buster Bars; I wasn’t sure I would ever get it straight.

Something as simple as putting that finishing curl on top of the cone seemed an unsurmountable task. I would always start the cone-filling procedure with such optimism, but as the ice cream mounted higher and higher I would start to panic about how to slow it down and end it with the flair of the experienced DQ girl. My cones inevitably were thrown into the trash, too big, lopsided or short and squatty with no curl.

The owner stood beside me, her evil eyes burning a hole in the side of my head, her hot breath breezing over my flesh as she whispered orders to me through clenched teeth in her fake customer-friendly smile. I could feel the flush in my cheeks getting more intense as I went over the technique in my mind while I was filling the umpteenth cone, destined for failure.

I almost cried when she grabbed the cone from my hand and looked at the top of it with disgust, threw it on the scale and then immediately in the garbage because yet again I messed up on the weight and the finishing touch.

“Watch me!”, she hissed.

I turn to steal a quick glance at the customers to see if they are aware of my failure. Lucky for me they appear not to have noticed. I start to imagine ripping my apron off and telling Mr. And Mrs. DQ where they can shove their job and I can feel the flush in my cheeks start to dissipate.

“That will be $1.25 please.”

The torture is over and I’m taking the money for the cone. I feel confident with this part of the job. I’m good at taking money and making change. I’m in my element now. I can still feel eagle eyes watching my every move though and the feelings of inadequacy start to overpower my short-lived confidence.

“Go to the back and bring out a case of bananas. Better get another jug of chocolate sauce too.”

Thank god. I think I can handle this. I look at the clock hoping that my time is almost up but I’ve only just started my shift. I have another four hours to go. How am I ever going to be able to stand this until closing?

I take longer than need to gather the supplies just to get away from the scrutiny for a little while.

“Shelly! Come out here, we need those bananas. Where in the hell are you?”

Eyes down, cheeks burning once again, I hurry out to the front and as I pass pimple-faced Billy at the hamburger grill, I hear him snickering. I turn and give him the most nasty glare I can muster up. That little fruitcake is laughing at me. Bastard.

I look up as I get near the front counter and I almost drop the case of bananas on the floor because standing at the counter watching every move I make is my crush. His blue eyes are dancing with laughter as he says hello.

I want to tear the hair net off my head and apply fresh makeup, but it’s too late. He has seen me in my worst possible state. I’m a mess. I have bits of ice cream, chocolate, strawberry sauce and assorted other sweets plastered all over me.

Why did I think this was going to be a great place to work? I’m stuck behind this counter with a witch and warlock for bosses and my crush is out there free to chat up any of the available girls that are hanging out at the picnic tables in the parking lot.

I’m going to quit. I can’t take it.

The thought of giving my notice helped get me through to closing time. I would have to tell my parent’s first, but I am not prepared for their reaction.

“You don’t quit a job because it’s tough. You haven’t given yourself a chance to learn it yet. It’ll get better, you just wait and see.”

“But Mom I can’t work there . . .”

“You are NOT quitting.” “You wanted a job, and now you’ve got one.”

I did try. But it was not my destiny to be a DQ girl. I flooded the floor with Mr. Freezie liquid when the machine wouldn’t shut off; continually made cones, sundaes and parfaits too big; I could not make the curl on top of the cone no matter how hard I tried and I felt like a bull in a china shop on most days.

My way out came via another employee, the owner’s son to be exact. He was working with me again. It seemed to me like he was always working with me. He was a nice guy, older and I thought he was quite cute, but he had a girlfriend and I knew it was only a look but don’t touch kind of relationship that we had.

“Shelly, I’ll handle the register, you go out back and get some more cones, we’re getting low out here.”

“Oh ok.”

As I was walking back out front, I noticed Cute Guy putting the money from the customer in his pocket instead of the till.

“What are you doing?” I was indignant.

“Just mind your own business. This is how I get a little extra spending money from my parents.”

I knew then that I would get my parent’s blessings on quitting. If he always worked on the same shift as me and his parent’s started to notice that the money was short then who would they blame but me? My reputation was on the line. I could see a bleak future in my small hometown as I searched for jobs only to be turned down because nobody would want to hire a thief.

Suddenly I realized why the $50.00 bill was sitting on the edge of the sink in the ladies change room. I had noticed it on that very first day and my boss seemed irritated with me when I told her about it. She told me to shush and leave it alone. I thought that it belonged to a co-worker and that they had inadvertently forgotten it there.

After three or four days it finally disappeared and there was never a mention of it.

That was a test. They wanted to see if I would steal it. They must know someone at the store is stealing money and they have no idea that it is their very own son. They wouldn’t believe it either if it came down to my word against his.

It wasn’t hard to convince my parents that this was not the right job for me after telling of this newest incident. I was given permission to quit and I happily obliged by calling the DQ owners immediately.

They did not want me to work my notice period but said it was not necessary for me to come back.

It was a long time before I ever went back to the store as a customer. I no longer looked at it as the “coolest” place, because now I knew that dark secrets hide behind phony smiles.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Ottawa Part 2

My first night alone in the hotel was a little lonely, but I managed to enjoy a long walk with my neighbour across the hall and then a long soak in a lovely hot bath.

I've realized lately just how much I despise being on my own. Most people look forward to the peace and quiet and the opportunity to do whatever they want. I dread long periods of alone time and get antsy instead of restful.

I had made plans to catch up with my friend's Ana and John on the Friday night and we spent the evening in a bar called the Honest Lawyer which is located in the Market area. It was game 3 of the playoffs between Buffalo and the Senators. I must say that the Ottawa crowd certainly knows how to show support for their local Hockey team. There were quite a few Senator jerseys in the crowd and every goal was greeted with a deafening cheer.

The bar was packed to capacity and we decided to leave during the overtime. I was stunned that they ended up losing that game. It was 3-2 for Ottawa during the final moments and then Buffalo managed to get a goal. It still was one of the most aggravating games I've ever watched. Anyway, the food was good and the company was great even though I had come home that day from training with a huge tension headache. I layed down for a nap before Ana and John arrived and was semi refreshed when the phone rang signalling that they were downstairs.

Unfortunately, I was not up to a wild night of partying and I said goodnight to them around 10:00pm. I couldn't believe that I was turning my light out before midnight on a Friday night, but the training was really zapping every ounce of energy out of me.

The next day I had to myself and I spent it shopping at the Rideau Centre and relaxing and then Ana and I went to a bar called Tuscon's, where her friend's husband was playing in a blues band. The band is called Myer's Brothers and it was fabulous. We had a great time again, but it was another early night.

I bunked at Ana's and the next day we went to Home Depot and then Ana puttered in her garden while I watched. ;o) Her friend Annette invited us to her place for a BBQ Sunday evening and it was absolutely delicious.

The balance of the week flew by and I was very happy to see the end of it. I had quite enough of sleeping in a hotel room and not being able to cuddle with my kitty cat. I had heard from one of my calls home that Molly was missing me terribly, which made me feel even worse.

I decided on Wednesday that I needed to get home as soon as possible, so I changed my ticket to Friday return from Saturday. It was a good choice because I was able to be home for two days before going back to work yesterday.

Here are a few more pictures.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Ottawa Summary Part 1

I chose to take the train to Ottawa over the plane. It meant a 5-hour trip rather than an hour, but I figured that once you factor in getting to the airport early and the wait to go through security etc., that it would most likely work out to be the same. Besides the train station was a 10 min ride to the Hotel where the airport would have been a half hour trip.

The train was leaving at 9:30 and my sister picked me up at 8:00 am so that I could be there an hour prior to departure. I hadn’t slept much the night before because the Dell technician had made a visit to my place to replace my hard drive. I didn’t want to leave my mom and Melissa without access to a computer for two weeks, so I stayed up late installing programs and documents. It was close to 1:00am before I turned off the lights.

My plan was to sleep all the way to Ottawa and arrive refreshed and ready for training. I was one of the first people on the train because I had arrived so early at the station; I was the third person in line.

We did not have designated seats for this trip so I chose a cluster of four seats and hoped that I would not have anyone seating across from me. Within moments of settling into my seat, a young woman with a smile on her face sat next to me. She was very friendly and we ended up talking the entire way to Ottawa.

After an hour of chatting, I asked her why she was going to Ottawa and was surprised to hear that she was going for a job interview with my department. At the end of the trip, we exchanged information and I hope to hear from her about her interview. She is exactly the type of person any employer would want to have on staff, friendly, passionate and motivated.

I checked into the hotel at 2:30 pm and had nothing planned except rest because my mother and sister would be joining me around 11:00 pm. In spite of my lack of sleep, the train left me energized and the afternoon sun was beautiful. I decided to take a walk to see how far my training facility was from the hotel. The instructions that we had received was to take a taxi the first morning and they would provide us with bus information. I personally wanted to walk if it wasn’t too far because it would help me with my weight loss efforts.

Not long after I started my journey, I noticed a Loblaws grocery store and was happy to see that it hadn’t closed yet. When I checked my watch, it was already closing in on 5:00 pm and I know that most grocery stores close early on Sundays. I decided to abandon my original destination for this new one and grab some groceries so that my mom and sister could have something for breakfast or lunch while they were staying with me.

My suite was equipped with a full kitchen, a washer/dryer, living room and bedroom. My mother and sister would stay for four nights, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and leave on Thursday while I was in class. The hotel was only charging an additional $20.00 per person for their stay, which I thought was quite reasonable.
I gave them the bedroom, which was equipped with a queen bed, and I took the sofa bed for those first nights. My plan was that while I was in class, they could do the tourist thing and then in the evening we would enjoy a meal.

That is exactly how it worked out for the most part. My sister wanted me to partake in the Imax theatre one evening because they were showing a film about Greece. I have always wanted to see Greece so I agreed.

The theatre is located in the museum of Naturalization in Hull and to get there was not a real problem, although the cab driver had to take his sign off his cab, but getting back, I thought we would end up walking the entire distance because there were no taxis outside the museum.

We started to walk and when I saw a taxi going in the opposite direction, I waved to him. He had a passenger and just stared as he whizzed by. I resigned myself to the walk when he pulled up slowly beside us and stopped. He had dropped his passenger and turned around to look for us. Luckily, we hadn’t made it too far. It was really cold and windy that evening and I’m sure that I would not have enjoyed the trek once we were on the bridge back to Ottawa.

I was sad to say goodbye to my family on Thurs morning. The time had flown by so quickly and as irritating as it may have been when I was trying to fall asleep at night, my sister was wide-awake, and wishing to talk, I knew that it was going to be very lonely for the balance of my stay.

My evening meals would definitely be much quieter. It was usually a debate while we strolled through the Byward Market looking for a place that served something we all would like. I have a broader appreciation for different foods than my sister and mother. They appreciate a more bland culinary experience. The Market is a wonderful place to find a variety of different cafes and restaurants and many of them are on the Cajun/Seafood theme.

The first evening was a prime example. That was Monday night. I was tired from a full day of class and starving. They were very hungry from walking around all afternoon, so we did not want to venture too far and thought that we would be able to find something in the market easily.

I am not sure if it was the hunger that made the task too daunting or not, but after an hour of walking, we still had not come across a place that we could all agree on. My sister and mother did not really want to go into a pub type restaurant, but that is what most of the establishments were. I had a hard time convincing them that we would most likely find food to their taste in a pub.

In the end, we went into a restaurant that was located in the basement of a seafood restaurant called the Fish Market. We went to the Wine Cellar. The menu outside showed a larger amount of non-seafood assortments and in particular one item that caught my eye was the $12.00 fries with a strip loin steak on top.

My mom’s arthritis is getting worse and I was not sure if she was going to manage the steep stairs down to the restaurant. I was behind her and my sister who was supposed to be the safety net in front had abandoned her duty and ran ahead after the waiter to the table. She chose the seat at the back of a booth type of table. My mother slid in on the other side and the only seat left was a wooden armchair, which looked uncomfortable. I looked at the chair and made a comment that I was not sure if I would be able to sit on it for long because my back gets sore after awhile. Because I live with my mom, she is more in tune with my idiosyncrasies and caught on even before I had the words out of my mouth. She started to tell my sister to change seats with me but my sister did not understand what she wanted.

Therefore, my sister tried to maintain her spot while my mom moved closer and closer to her pushing her out of the way while I slid in beside my mom. Finally, my sister found herself ousted from her seat and standing where the chair was.

The entire time a table of two men next to us stopped talking to each other so that they could observe our spectacle. Debbie was pissed right off that we had made her move until I leaned over and told her that my ass was too big for the chair and my mother yelled out, "Yes, didn't you see it move when Shelly stood up?"

We all started to laugh so hard that I thought she was going to end up on the floor. The giddiness may have been a result of lack of sleep, lack of food or just being too tired to be angry, no matter what we had many of these types of moments and it made the three days with them very enjoyable for me.

Here are a few pictures that I took while I was there.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ottawa Bound, All Aboard!

I'm leaving on a "Train",
Don't know when I'll be back again...

Not true, I do. I'm leaving today for training (Work Related)in Ottawa. I'll be back on May 13th.

If I find access to the internet, you'll hear from me, if I don't...see you when I return!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Trish Romance Gallery

Isn't this one of the most beautiful houses you've ever seen? I recently visited the Trish Romance Gallery along with my mom and sister. The gallery is in her former home in the beautiful town of Niagara On The Lake.

It's a beautiful, quaint little town located near Niagara Falls. There are many reasons to visit again and one of them just happens to be the abundance of vineyards. I can't wait to go on a wine tasting tour this summer. Perhaps I should book a room at a local B & B.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Childhood Book

I spoke about my favourite book that I had as a child here, and I was asked by a reader for more information on the author etc.

I said I would provide the information as soon as I located the book. I knew I had it packed away somewhere safe, but where...

Yesterday by fluke, I opened up a box and voila, there it was. I was wrong on the title and that was probably why Christine was unable to locate it. The correct title is Isobel in the Land of the Pink Bears. I have scanned the book so that you can see what it looks like along with some of the pages, which demonstrate the wonderful illustrations. The illustrations were very instrumental in allowing me to imagine myself floating on a cloud with a little pink bear. As far as the author is concerned, it says on the inside cover "Story retold by Jane Carruth with pictures by Luce Lagarde, Odhams Books Limitied, London". Based on Gisele Sergene's story.

I hope you check back occasionally Christine because you didn't leave your email address for me to send this to you.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

View from top of the Hill

View from top of the Hill
Originally uploaded by Suzy Snow.
My Sister and I spent the afternoon walking in High Park, Toronto. This was the view from our resting spot at the top of the hill.

We were trying to figure out what would be the perfect flower to fill the Maple Leaf with. I said red petunias, my sister thinks red and orange begonias would be perfect.

I'm going to come back in the summer to see what it looks like.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Memory In The Making…

Have you ever realized that you just experienced one of the best times of your life? That the event that just transpired will become one of those special memories that will bring an instant smile whenever it comes to mind?

I had one just this past Monday night. It started out as a surprise call from my friend Jack about three weeks ago. He called to tell me that he had concert tickets and wondered if I would like to go with him. I said yes, of course I would.

He laughed and then asked me if I wanted to know who we would be seeing. Of course when I asked, I was told to guess. I couldn’t guess or would never have guessed that it would be Audience. After awhile of torturing me, he finally let me in on the news that he actually had tickets to dinner and a concert for this group that he had introduced me to four years ago. When he first played “House On The Hill” for me I instantly fell in love with the cd and the band. I was so disappointed when he told me that they were not together anymore and hadn’t been since the 70’s. I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of them during the height of their career. The songs on this particular cd remind me Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull all mixed together.

The weirdest thing about all this was that the day before he called with the news, I was listening to them in my car and thinking how great it would have been to be lucky enough to see them live when they were touring. I was sad that I had missed it because of ignorance. I missed seeing them, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and a few other favourite bands of mine, the latter had more to do with a lack of cash rather than ignorance.

For three weeks my excitement for this concert did not wane, which did worry me just a little. Sometimes when I am really excited or have high expectations for an event, I end up being disappointed. It has happened so often that prior to the concert I actually reminded myself just to have a good time and try not to expect too much. After all, this band has just reunited after 30 years and in 30 years people change. They grow older, their voices change. It couldn’t possibly be as good as the cd that I loved.

The venue was the Lula Lounge at Dundas and Dufferin. I knew from the web site that parking was only on the side streets so that was going to make it a little tricky. I planned on going down right from work. Jack had told me that the dinner seating was on a first come, first served basis and we wanted to be first in line. He was going to ride in with Alice and Peter.

I was fortunate to find a parking spot a block away on a little one way street. It was nice because it was off the beaten path and close to the club. Jack had instructed me to look for a bar where we could sit and enjoy a cocktail while we waited for the doors to open.

After parking my car, I took a stroll along Dundas looking for an appropriate spot. It’s not the best neighbourhood and the best thing I could come up with was a Portuguese Sports Bar.

I also walked around looking for a parking lot. The parking was only good until midnight where I had left my car and I really wasn’t sure what time the concert would be over. After walking around the block several times, I decided that I was parked in the best possible location and I was happy to see that there were a couple of other empty spots and if Alice hurried up, they could park right near me.

The spots were still there when they arrived and we strolled off to the Sports Bar. It was one of those places that is very stark. The furnishings were very plain but functional; a real man’s bar. I remarked to Alice as we walked into the joint that I felt like I was a cowboy strolling into the wrong Saloon. All eyes were on us as we entered, while we drank and when we left. I’m not so sure that they had ever seen women before. In fact, Alice and I were the only women in there.

During one of Jack's smoke breaks outside, he noticed some people entering Lula's and came rushing back in, yelling at us to hurry up and finish our drinks that the doors were open. It was just after 6:00pm. We had been told earlier that the doors wouldn’t open until 6:30pm. Jack and Peter made quick work of the pitcher of draft and we left the Portuguese men to enjoy their bar as they were before we had arrived.

There were two men posting some Audience posters outside Lula’s and as Jack reached for the door knob they quickly turned their attention to us and let us know that the club was not open yet.

“The doors don’t open until 7:00pm.”

We all looked at each other and all I could think was, damn another hour in that dump? The gentleman pointed across the road to a Bakery/Deli and suggested we could go have a coffee while we waited.

It seemed like a much better spot so we went across the street. Jack and I entered first, and I heard Jack laugh and say, “Audience?” to a couple seated in the window. They laughed and said, “of course!”

We walked over and they introduced themselves as Mike and Laura. It was like an instant friendship and within minutes they mentioned that they were from Meaford. I couldn’t believe it because Meaford is very close to my hometown of Collingwood.

Stories of how each person was originally introduced to Audience began and then Laura said that they had a strange story to tell about why they wanted to come to the concert.

The story starts in the early 70’s when she was 17 and lived in Winnipeg. She said that she called a cab one night and that Mike was the driver. She felt an immediate attraction to him even though he really didn’t pay much attention to her. There was something in his eyes and she just knew that he was someone that she should get to know. They never saw each other after that night until a few years ago, when she was at a function in Meaford where she currently lives. Mike was there and she recognized him as that taxi driver from long ago. She made her way over to where he stood and asked him if he ever drove Taxi in Winnipeg. It turns out that he did and then not long after they started to go out.

On their first date he told her that he was going to play a cd of one of his favourite bands that was not together and had not been together since the 70’s. They were a little obscure and she probably had never heard them before. As soon as the cd started to play, she recognized it and started to sing along. Audience had been one of her favourites too. So like us, they were really excited about the show. Mike told us that he had reserved one of the best tables in the club. Jack looked a little disappointed because we didn’t know that you could make a reservation. In fact, Alice was told that you couldn’t.

I noticed that people were starting to form small groups around the doors and suggested to the group that we should go over there so that we could be near the front of the line. Mike and Laura were game. Jack told Alice and Peter who were at the counter ordering a coffee that they should get it to go so that we could go get in line. They declined saying that they were going to stay there and drink it in the cafe. I didn't care. I was going to go stand in line even if I was there alone.

While the four of us waited for the doors to open, we started to chat up the bouncer, which in the end played in our favour. Even though we clearly were not the first or even the second people to line up, he liked us and let us in as a group after the first party of four. He told us that he wanted us to stick together which gave Mike a good idea. He said he was going to see if they could seat us altogether at one table.

The club was unable to accommodate that but they placed us at a table not too far away. As far as I was concerned, our seat was perfect and because Jack and I stood in line waiting for the doors to open, while Alice and Peter sat at the café drinking their coffee, we had the prime seats facing the stage.

The dinner portion was a fixed menu created by Chef Derek! See sample menu here. I enjoyed the Marinated Vegetable Salad, Filet of Chilean Salmon and Chocolate Mousse Cake to finish. It was one of the best meals that I have ever had. The presentation was fabulous and it was more than I could eat but I managed to taste everything.

The show started around 8:30pm with a funny guy. I can’t remember what his name was now; I knew I should have written it down. The memory is definitely slipping away from my ol’ noggin. Anyway Audience came out at 9:00 pm sharp and opened with Jackdaw! If I closed my eyes it was just like listening to my cd. Note for note was absolutely perfect! I could not believe that Howard Werth’s voice was absolutely perfect and the same. How is that possible after all this time?

They played continuously for two and a half hours straight, pulling tunes from 4 different albums. I can honestly say that there was not one song that I didn’t enjoy.

It was, like I said at the beginning, one of those special moments that will live on and on in my memory.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


My PC is now in recovery. Yes, Ms. Dell Dimension 3000 crashed and burned a week ago Monday, on February 13th, to be exact.

I was naturally devastated by this latest display of incompetence. First she crashed in December. I forgave her because she is relatively new to this job. She not only has to satisfy my high demands, but also looks after my daughter and mother. The poor thing was obviously stressed out and decided to crap out completely one day.

In a state of panic, I contacted her creators and they advised me on a quick and easy fix. I followed the instructions without question and before I knew it I had formatted her hard drive. That was supposed to fix her up like brand new. It appeared to work. Everything that she had been carrying around in her memory had been wiped clean. And although it was extremely upsetting to me, she appeared to be ok with it and was working like a charm.

That is until Monday Feb 13th. I’m not sure what it was that didn’t agree with her, but she somehow completely lost it. When I turned her on that evening, her windows XP was missing and the only thing that she would give me was a terse statement on a black screen. I knew it was bad. I couldn’t prompt her to display any other colour but black and white, no matter how many times I pressed her on and off switch.

I made another call to her creators at Dell. This time I was very frustrated. I kind of feel sorry for poor Sanjeev. He probably wished that he had passed that call for the next one. Actually, I wasn’t too hard on him. I know it’s not his fault that his creation is a little weaker than normal. The most frustrating thing is when they try to blame it on a virus or spy ware. Maybe it is one of those things; however, subsequent scans did not produce the culprit.

I told him that she was giving me warnings about two weeks prior. She was complaining about some driver. I couldn’t figure out what she was yakking about because as far as I knew, I hadn’t installed any new drivers. The driver roll back utility was fruitless to me. I felt that if I just left well enough alone, soon they would learn to get along with each other.

This is not the case. When a computer complains, you better pay attention. It seems that they will only try to tell you so many times and then if you haven’t done whatever it is that they want you to, then they just disappear. They pack up all their toys and go away.

I told Sanjeev, that this time I was not going to format her. I wanted to attempt the repair but to do that I needed the operating disc. That was something that they neglected to send to me when I purchased her brand new in September. Sanjeev had a reasonable explanation for this. They burn an image of the disc on the hard drive and provide you with an option to automatically format, therefore there is no need to send out the operating discs when they ship out the newer computers.

“But don’t you lose all of your saved documents when you format?”

“Yes you do, Shelly. Shelly, may I ask you a question, if I may?

“Yes, sure. What would you like to know?”

“Shelly, do you not make back up copies of your documents? Do you burn them on a cd or dvd?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Ohhhhh, I see Shelly. Ok, I’ll tell you what I am going to do for you then. I will send you out the discs for your computer. When you get them, I want you to call back and we will walk you through the next steps. If this does not work, then I am afraid you will have to format your drive and you will lose all of your documents.”

Sanjeev promised me that I would have the necessary discs within two days, three tops. I decided that waiting a few days was better than losing all of the MP3’s that I had spent hours ripping from my cd collection since my mishap in December. I made a promise to Della that when she was all fixed, I’d take the time that was needed to back her up.

It turns out that even though I still did not have the discs on Friday, it wasn’t Sanjeev’s fault. Purolator had decided not to deliver to my address on Thurs, claiming that my name was not in the directory and that I did not give them my buzzer code. My name is in the directory and I did give Sanjeev my buzzer code. How it did not end up in the delivery instructions is a mystery along with why Purolator decided to wait until an hour before closing on Saturday to contact me and advise that my package was at there store a couple of blocks away.

The long and the short of it is that I did get the discs, Dell did help me repair Della and she was working just tickety boo until tonight. Tonight she crapped out momentarily with a Blue Stop Error. I recognized it as one of the ones I had received before the black screen of death so I called her creators again.

The happy technician walked me through a reboot with the last known good configuration and then had me shut down and restart once more for good measure. After ensuring that I was able to get to the desktop and some applications he released the call.

He really didn’t seem interested in Della’s unstable history, although he did offer to speak to his manager when I wouldn’t shut up about it. I declined and opted to record a history of her performance myself and then I am going to decide if I should speak to a manager or wait for the next fainting attack.

She’s had a good going over with spybot search and destroy as well as McAfee and neither has produced any reason for this last incident.

Keep your fingers and toes crossed. I do not want to be sans computer again!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Hit With The Love Bug

We are in the middle of my least favourite month/season. Knowing how much I hate the dreary days of February and March, I did something different this year. I went out of my way to try to plan different things for most of February. I am busy most weekends.

This was one of the weekends that I didn’t have anything planned but two last minute opportunities have helped it pass quickly.

I went to a friend’s for dinner on Friday night, came home very late and slept in Saturday. Saturday afternoon I went to a “Stampin” party. It’s a party like Tupperware but they sell stamp products to make cards, scrapbooks, gift wrap etc. The host and hostess are co-workers from another office and it was great fun to get together with some people that I haven’t seen for a long time.

The best part of the afternoon though was meeting their daughters, Esme (short for Esmeralda) and Duchess. I spent the entire time being entertained by Esme, the smaller of the two black pugs, who showered me with licks all over my neck, face and hands before falling asleep with her small head on my knee.

I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. Maybe I don’t need a mate after all.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I was Tagged...Thank you EM3

Four jobs you have had in your life:
- Counter help at Dairy Queen
- Waitress
- Client Service Clerk for an Insurance Company (The Co-Operators)
- Payroll Clerk for Kaufmann Furniture (long before the doors closed)

Four movies you would watch over and over:
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
- American Graffiti
- A Christmas Carol
- Old Yeller

Four places you have lived:
- Collingwood
- Toronto
- Oshawa
- Pickering

Four TV shows you love to watch:
- Coronation Street
- C.S.I. Miami
- Saturday Night Live
- This Hour Has 22 Minutes

Four places you have been on holiday:
- Florida (Disney World)
- Niagara Falls
- Calgary
- Missouri

Four websites I visit daily (regularly when I’m online):
http://www.mikedahat.blogspot.com/ (Zen and the Art of Guitar Maintenance)
http://a-fresh-start.a-blog.org/ (A Fresh Start)
http://jonnybillericay.blogspot.com/ (Jonny B’s Private Secret Diary)
http://bromman.blogspot.com/ (Bromman)

Four of my favourite foods:
- French Fries
- Steak
- Fresh Bread right from the oven
- Dill Pickles

Four places I would rather be right now:
- on a beach in any country (that is safe) where the hot sun would feel good
- driving in my car
- at work so that I can get stuff done without interruption
- at a bar listening to a great live band with friends

Four bloggers I am tagging:
- Bromman
- Mikedahat
- Greavsie