Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reflection of My 2010

Every year, just before New Year's, I like to take a bit of time to reflect on the year we're bidding farewell too. 2010 is definatelly a memorable year - for both good and bad reason. I got to experience a lot of new and facinating things with my time in Whistler for the Olympic and Paralympic games. I, unfortunatelly, met with loss as well this year too... So here goes my story of 2010, I hope you enjoy!  =o)

Near the end of January of this fine year, I was headed from Edmonton to Whistler to work security of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic games. In all it's highs and lows, my Olympic experience was quite a riot. The memories will stay with me forever, that's for sure. This was the first job that took me away from home and introduced me to camp life. Let me tell you, I had a whole new appreciation for what my Dad did for all those years. (He's a boilermaker who knows all too well about camp jobs and how much they SUCK!!!!) I can forgive the rooms the size of jail cells, complete with bunk beds and a roommate for all the other memories I have.

I met and worked with a world of new people while there. I worked with Canadians from coast to coast, Americans, a few Aussies and New Zealanders, and even a few British. I partied with the people I worked with and Athletes from varying European countries. I did my fair share of drinking, for our accommodations being a "dry" camp... I haven't punished my liver that bad in YEARS! I made a complete ass of myself a time or two, but I didn't suffer from a single hangover... Even though, by rights, I should have felt like complete crap the day after St Paddy's Day... I drank like I was Irish that night... (Another high point was when I met Trevor Linden, it was even better that it was quite by accident! That alone made my whole trip!) I felt the heart break of the passing of Nodar Kumaritashvili, who was only a few months older than a couple of my younger cousins. I remember the day the village of Whistler literally stood still in 5 minutes of silence for the Olympian. I was never more proud of the class everyone showed that day. (There wasn't even a baby crying or a dog barking to break the solemness of the moment.)

I was able to get away from Whistler a couple times and ventured to Squamish, Vancouver and Victoria. Day trips to Squamish's Wal-Mart helped break up the monotony of camp life... Vancouver trips allowed me to catch a glimpse into my father's childhood, as this is where I hear most of the stories from. (Boundary Road in particular for all those who are familiar with Vancouver.) Travelling to Vancouver also allowed me to visit my favorite Uncle in the whole wide world! Victoria, I fell down right in love with while I got the chance to go on a few days off. I don't know if it was the ferry (I'M ON A BOAT!) or the grandness of the Pacific Ocean, or the down right magical beauty of the City. I can't explain, or do the City justice, but it captured my heart and imagination. While falling in love with Victoria, I was also able to visit with a couple cousins and an Aunt that I haven't had much contact with over the last 15 or so years.

It's been ingrained in my mind, the day that the first Canadian won a gold medal on Home soil. I was so proud, even though I hate to admit it, I cried a little. February 15 - the day after Valentine's Day, Alexandre Bilodeau captured a little piece of history by keeping that Gold Medal in Men's Moguls on Canadian soil. I managed to catch the end of the third period when the Women's Hockey Team won the Gold in "Our sport". I was in Victoria when the Men's Hockey Team played the Gold Medal Game. I was so anxious and nervous, and to be honest didn't want to jinx them, and only was able to watch the last ten minutes of the third period. Yes - I did check in every so often prior to that last ten, and then overtime.... I sat on the edge of my seat and damn near wet my pants when Sid the Kid Crosby scored that "Golden Goal" cementing Canadians Hockey Gold Medal Sweep. (My post called "It's Back, And Betta Than Eva! - Hockey, Canada's Game tells more of my Olympic adventures as well.) Canada may not have won the most medals through the Whistler/Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, but our Athletes did set the precedent for the most Gold Medals won by a hosting Country of the Olympic Games.

With feet itching to get back home, I left Whistler after two months of work with a head full of memories. When I got back to Edmonton, the old bag of bones waiting for me at the other end was a sight for sore eyes. It took two months away from each other to realize what we'd been missing in each other... And it took less than a week for us to get back into the usual bicker/drive each other out of our respective minds routine. But I love him.

After Whistler, due to the Economy still being in the toilet, I spent four months living on EI/UI... The first couple weeks of being an un-employed BUM was alright. I got back into my Edmonton groove and got some stuff in order... After about a month I was out of my head with boredom. Luckily, I landed a job - albeit a dead end job - but it kept my bill collectors at bay and me out of trouble. During the four months at the dead ender - I reflected back on Whistler and how much I longed to be back in BC. This hit home - no pun intended - when we lost my Nana-face. This Christmas was the first without her. I still miss her and think I will until we meet again. This was one of the reasons I was so Grinchy this Christmas Season.

I've found my way back to BC, just not the destination I had planned. Rather than landing in Victoria, I'm back in my hometown of Vernon. (There is some regret there, post to follow - most likely tomorrow.) I'm back to being an unemployed bum, with an added touch of loser - as I'm living with my parents... Nothing against my parents, just what 29 year old do you know wants to live out in the boonies with their parents? Not many, unless your name is George Costanza! I hope things turn around so I can report happy things in the New Year, rather than spit hateful rants about life.

Can you believe 2010 is slowly creeping out and 2011 is on the horizon. Where did the year go??? It seems like I was waking up yesterday to board a plane to Whistler, but that was almost a year ago!

It's Not Always About Me! I wish you and yours a safe and happy New Year! Best wishes and looking forward to entertaining y'all in 2011!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Can You Hear Me NOW?? : The Cell Hell Game

*Cheesy TV commercial announcer voice*
This hateful, ranting post brought to you in part by (more like blamed on & caused by):

Telus Communications
Bell Mobility Canada

Some days... I hate technology... Don't get me wrong, the only time I hate it is when it's not working properly.... If the new millennium would've wiped out the Internet and other forms of technology, as we know it today... There may just have been an Armageddon... I digress, my dislike of the current moment - Cell Phones and Cell Providers... Highway Robbery!!!

My personal relationship with a Cell Phone started about 4 or so years ago... Other than phoning someone with a cell phone, I hadn't given a cell a real thought until I one time moved.... I called Telus, a land line/cell phone/cable/Internet provider to inform them of the moving coming up in about a week... They made note on my file... I called the day of my move to confirm the new address and that my land line would be changed over by days end. I was assured that it would be... It didn't happen that way... By days end, no service change. I called the next day from work and they assured me that it would be by the end of that day... This went on for two weeks, until I had enough of their "sorry for the inconvenience, we're changing our system over and this must be a glitch. Thank you for your patience, we're working on it." I cut my services completely.

It didn't end there......... Every month for six months, I would receive a statement from Telus telling me how much I owed them.... For a line that had been out of service... So, every month I would call Telus, explain the situation, spend 15 minutes on the phone and on "ignore" and figured by the end of the call it was taken care of... Finally, the situation was corrected and I haven't gone back to Telus since. The sad thing is, I have two Aunts that made careers at Telus. (My Mum and my Grandma's Sister were both Telephone Operators as well, long before Telus was around though.)

After cutting my land line service - and after the end of my shift at work - I b-lined down to the closest mall and invested in my first Cell phone. I had done some research and settled on Bell Mobility and chose the LG Chocolate. I was excited - I had finally stepped into the 21st century! Of course, as with every new gadget, or toy if you will, I fiddled and played with the dang thing... I was texting like a mad Woman... Once Facebook began to make it's appearances on the scene, I was checking the Facebook too!

As with every toy/gadget, the "newness" wore off.... No biggy though, I was still a Facebook Addict and the Chocolate Cell Phone was never far out of reach... The end of my Chocolate was one such Facebook Tragedy induced time. I was out with the then Boyfriend, and he came back to the table after shooting a game of pool... He decided he'd be a wise ass and snap my phone shut on me... As he did so, the force snapped the battery clip clean off... The only way to get the battery to stay on would be a piece of duct/electrical tape... Effing classy... So I went into Bell to see what they could do for me... By this time, I had been on contract with them for a year out of a three year term. They advised me that fixing the phone would be more expensive than just getting a new one Conveniently, I had a "$100 Credit" on my account and was able to use that towards a new phone...

I wound up taking a cheap Samsung flip phone in a cute shade of pink... After a week, that thrill had faded too. I guess the Chocolate wasn't the only phone that I had that was cursed... About a year after I got this phone, it started crapping out on me too! This was a battery issue, too! I would use my phone through out the day, knock the battery level back by half - then I'd toss it on the charger when I was heading to bed. (The cell dubbed as my alarm clock as well.) This particular phone's issue was - when I woke up in the morning, it would read at a full charge... But once I took it off the charger, it would start flashing "Low Battery" and turn it's self off due to having no juice left... Again, I went to Bell and I had a "$100 Dollar Credit" so I replaced my phone while in Whistler during the Olympics. This time I've got a cheap Nokia. I dropped it once resulting in a rock chip on the screen that much resembled a chip on the windshield of a car. Bell replaced the screen free of charge.

What leaves me perplexed though are the outrageous rates Cellular Providers are allowed to charge their clients these days! It's down right obscene! Don't get me wrong - Cells are convenient as hell, and not just for business people anymore. You can be tracked down where ever you are, call home to see if anyone needs anything, call for help if you have car trouble, call for directions if you don't have GPS and are lost, call out if the power/telephone line is dead, texting to avoid calling all together, check Facebook and email if you aren't around a computer and the list goes on...(I've already raged out about people driving while using their cells... So I'll be lazy and not do that again here.) I hang my head in shame when I admit to my own outrageous monthly price for these conveniences..... On average, my cell bill is between $80 and $100 a month depending on long distance use. That's $960 to $1200 a YEAR and that's not even a Blackberry! (The two months I was in Whistler cost me a combined $500... No word of a lie...)

I went in to Bell today to do a simple task... Change my Alberta number to a BC number instead. Less than a week til Christmas was not the right time to do this I discovered... The teeny-tiny little store was crawling with people and the staff were all busy. No problem, I respectfully waited my turn. I was politely served and within 15 minutes, I walked out of the store pleased that I had changed my address and had been assigned a BC number, for less $$$ than I was originally quoted. I called a couple people in town to let fill them in on the number change. To save on long distance, I attempted to text out of town people the news... Then I turned Scrooge-y very quickly... I couldn't send texts because I had no access to do so... I also couldn't check my beloved Facebook..

I reeled on my heals and headed back to Bell. I was told to try "Powering it down" (Fancy talk for turning my damn phone off.)... Done... Didn't work... Tried taking the battery and SIM card out and putting them back in... Didn't work... Then I was informed the number change could take from 20 minutes to 24 hours... Nice... Luckily, 3 hours after the number change, I was able to text and everything else was back to normal.... Well, the SIM card still reads my Albertan number - I hope that changes soon though! I guess I expected the switch to be instantaneous and was a little leery due to my Telus experience those years ago.

With all the advances in Cell Phone Technology, I want a Blackberry of some sort... I don't want the high tech IPhone or any other fancy shmancy high tech gadget... Just a Blackberry... I don't want to pay an arm and a leg for it either! I'd say even $50 a month would be more than reasonable for a cell bill.... Sorry, Bell Mobility Canada... I don't want to use your services anymore either. I realize Bell is the service provider and doesn't actually make the phones... But I've gotten two crappy phones through them so far. (Jury's still out on the third one, but it's coming up quickly on that year mark.) I've run into more rude customer service agents through Bell then I'd like to admit. (And no, I'm not one of "those" customers that may deserve a rude one every-so-often.) My average phone bill is ridiculous. (I'll give them the $500/2 months bill because I did use A LOT of long distance in that period of time.)

So here's the question I pose... Any advice on what cell providers to use? I refuse to go with Telus and I'm looking to get away from Bell. I'm thinking Rogers but have heard mixed reviews. I'm looking for a Company that's reasonably priced and has a reliable signal. I'm looking to switch to a Blackberry. I like the Pearl but have heard they're such crap to not even bother. I'm open to suggestions, so please feel free to do just that.

It's not always about me; I'm not the "only idiot with a cell phone."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Festivus for the Rest of Us!

While I'm not enjoying the Christmas season as I usually do, I'm not trashing it either.... I'm just not into it this year.... Usually I totally dive into the Festive Cheer of the Holidays by breaking out the Christmas decorations... By the time I unload the two or three rubber maids, it almost looks like Christmas vomited all over my living room. From a Christmas tree - usually with a story behind it - decked out in Holiday Style... To a foot and a half foot tall Santa, standing below the big screen TV... To a reindeer hanging on the front door bidding guests welcome... To a penguin cookie jar sitting on the coffee table, full of seasonal candy. This year, however... I'm a bit of a Grinch (you can find an ornament in one of the earlier mentioned Rubbermaid.)... a Scrooge if you will... But not really....

I hate to make another Seinfeld reference, but I think the nuts were onto something when they proposed "Happy Festivus for the rest of Us!" I was shocked when I googled the phrase to find out that it was much more than an idea from a crazy sitcom. While it may have been introduced on Seinfeld, the phrase "Happy Festivus for the Rest of Us" seems to have a far greater history than just a punchline to get a laugh. I'll sum it up for you, because you can do the work to find out more for yourself. "Happy Festivus" as explained by the "ever-truthful" and "respected" Wikipedia is "Celebrants of the holiday sometimes refer to it as "Festivus for the rest of us," a saying taken from the O'Keefe family traditions and popularized in the Seinfeld episode to describe Festivus as "another way" to celebrate the holiday season without participating in its pressures and commercialism." (And I'll explain the rest here shortly...)

DISCLAIMER: I'm not making any sort of Religious statement at all here, so no need to get up in arms. I have no issue with anyone, any religion or anything like that, so please don't take this as such. I may not be enjoying the holidays as much as I usually do, but I have no problem with anyone celebrating Christmas or Hanuka, or any other Celebrated Days.

This year's just a little different for me.... Being that I'm of the Unemployed Variety, the usual Christmas commercialism has really hit me in the face... And ya, it's because I can't afford to run out and buy a pile of gifts for my parents, brother, friends and other family... I'm sorry guys, I love ya... But I'm already up to my ass with debts in Student Loans and credit cards (one of which was recently used in fraudulent activities... Thanks you little wanks!!! I hope you don't even get a lump of coal for Christmas! JERKS!) I'm not going neck deep, just to buy my bro the wrong kind of socks or my Bestie something that'll be given to Value Village in 6 months....

I saw on the news, two nights ago I think it was, a story that made me want to cry... It was the usual heart-string tugging Christmas news story... But it gave me a little bit of hope in humanity. (Ya, I made myself gag there too... Sorry.) But it really did. It made me think of what Christmas and this time of season should be about... Helping less fortunate people out... It's not necessarily about them getting a hand out but a helping hand in the right direction.

The News that I was watching posted this link : on their website. So, after watching the news, I checked out that link. It'll take you to a site where you can find a list of shelters in varying US and Canadian cities... After you chose your city, it will give you a drop down menu for the local shelters. Once you've chosen your shelter, you will see a list of people who live in that shelter, a brief biography of that person, and their Christmas wish list.

Fortunately, Vernon was one of the cities listed on the site, and there are two shelters here in town. So, I checked out both shelters to see if I could help some how. My eyes, quite honestly, welled up at what I saw. Most peoples lists are things most of us take for granted... Most people just want to be in your prayers..... Others wanted basic things like a warm winter jacket, or boots... Some just wanted a pre-paid phone card so they could call home for Christmas... Others just wanted a book of transit tickets so they can look for work, or go see family over the holidays... Because who wants to walk or hitch hike when they have no proper jacket or boots?

My parents watched the news with me... I told them about what I had seen on the site... Dad and I wound up dropping off a couple coats down at the Men's Shelter. It was nice to know that stuff you may be "hoarding" can be given to someone who truly appreciates it... And may not get a Christmas present otherwise.

It's not always about me; So HAPPY FESTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US!!!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ain't No Rest for the Wicked?

This afternoon, while listening to the news on the radio, I heard something that makes my head want to explode... There was another report of a new born being thrown into a dumpster like yesterday's news. Now, what makes my head spin to the point of near explosion, is trying to understand and grasp the reasoning behind such an act......

Unfortunately, this isn't the first report of a trash baby and this makes me sad. (I'm sure I'm not the only one who has heard of the story of the girl giving birth in the bathroom, at her prom, then calmly walking out after placing her baby in the garbage.) Thankfully, I have never been in the situation where I had a baby then figured the only option was to place them in a trash receptacle.... So it is far out of my realm of reality to even imagine what exactly is going through these girls'/women's minds as they do so. Maybe they were in such utter shock they didn't know what else to do? Maybe they figure that their family would shun and cast them out. Perhaps they were street people that knew they couldn't handle having another mouth to feed. Whatever their reasoning is, I don't understand.

As I say, I've never been in such a position, so I don't understand. Sure there may be extenuating circumstances, but in my mind, it's murder. Anyone that can't understand after holding a newborn, and hearing them cry, that throwing them in a dumpster to die alone is wrong needs some form of help... I'm not saying lock them up and throw away the key by any means, maybe a life spent in a Mental Institution is where they belong. I've heard far too many stories of trash babies being found, so maybe it is a Mental Health Issue.

I'm not a doctor, nor am I a lawyer, psychologist or anyone who's opinion would be held up in a court of law... So these are just my random thoughts on the headlines... What I getting at though, is that the reports severely bother me. In a day and age where certain couples are still not able to conceive a child of their own.... There has to be other options, for the mothers of said garbage babies, to do something other than abandon their babies in a trash heap? Why wouldn't they think of dropping off a baby somewhere they could be found and given a chance to survive? Maybe the idea of a bundled up baby left in a basket on a church step is over romanticized... But the idea is better than a garbage can, I guarantee. How bout leaving a baby in a crowded hospital emergency room instead? It's warm, safer than the streets, and guaranteed some one's going to find them...

Some mothers may have a break with reality, I'm not denying that fact... Others though, a child is "just" an inconvenience and the dumpster is their cold hearted remedy. We hear of parents doing unspeakable things to their child for selfish motives. (Susan Smith springs to mind.) Either way, in this society, stories of dumpster babies shouldn't be so common place and accepted.

Yesterday, another child abuse issue caught my attention. The Graham James Saga has a new chapter on my mind. I posted an entry a little while ago about this twisted DIRT BAG.  I was watching Fifth Estate or a similar show about Graham James and his sick story... I was completely heartbroken that he had such a negative affect on so many young boys... I was down right DISGUSTED to learn that he was not only released from prison but was also granted a pardon by the Canadian Parole Board. (Trust me, not a proud moment as a Canadian.)

Due to a publication ban, I don't know the full story... What I do know is enough though... Against Crown Prosecutor's opposition, Graham James has been released on bail with several release conditions. (Such as giving up his passport and not being alone in the company of anyone under the age of 18.)  Someone like that, who has negatively affected more than one person, in my opinion should not be walking the streets anywhere... This guy is free to roam the streets of Montreal, however. This makes me sick to the very core of my being. I don't believe in vigilante justice, but I would cross the street to spit repeatedly in the face of this parasite. Mind you, that's easy for me to say... He didn't do anything to me other than make me violently ill at the very thought of him.

What I, genuinely, do not understand is how a judge can let a man like him free to roam the streets... Wouldn't it be safer for the general public to have James securely detained behind bars? Not that I give a bloody crap about him, but wouldn't it also be safer for him as well? It sickens me to know that he was released and pardoned the first time... Only for him to be able to roam the streets while out on bail for a second time.... It bothers me to know that he was allowed to live in Mexico as a free man... I pray, and I don't pray, that he didn't defile any child while down in Mexico....

It's a twisted world in which we live and I suppose it takes all kinds to make that world go round. I just can't wrap my head around anyone who can justify harming another person, other than in a case self defence. Ya, some days I'm sure we'd all love to flip our lid and just go ballistic... Point of the matter is, most of us don't.

It's not always about me; I just imagine crazy shit in my head... I don't actually DO it!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Pulling a George, BC Style

I'd like to start this post by apologizing for the lack of December Entries. A lot of what seems like nothing has kept me from posting. I will definitely attempt to go back to the old ways of posting almost every day. So let me tell you what's been holding me up over the past few weeks.

Two weeks ago, this past weekend, I made the journey from Edmonton, Alberta back to my home town of Vernon, BC. Finally deciding to make the move was not an easy decision to make by any means. I had made a life in Edmonton over the past seven and a half years. I had a routine down, I had friends, I knew the city pretty well, had a job - albeit a dead end job.... I know in the past I've cut Edmonton down by calling it Deadmonton, Hellberta.. I've bitched about the weather and how cold winters can be... I've crabbed about how the pot holes in the streets tend to swallow cars... I've mentioned that the streets are dirty long after snow disappeared.... I've not been a fan of Edmontonians that seem to mirror their cold weather. I needed a break from it all...

The trip from Edmonton to Vernon was fairly un-eventful. No accidents to report. The road conditions were clear for the most part - except at the summit where the plow made the road washboardy bumpy. We came across a few herds of Bighorn Sheep and only had to slow to a stop for one of those herds as they stretched across the road. There were sheep of varying ages, some with tiny baby horns to the full out majestic rounded horns of the elders of the herd. I was disappointed when I missed an amazing photo op.... The alpha male of the herd stood at the edge of the highway protecting his "sheep-le" that were behind him grazing. He reminded me of how Bambi's father was depicted in Bambi. The Bighorn Sheep were the memorable part of the trip, for the most part, except when we passed the Welcome to British Columbia sign signalling that I had made it back to where I belong. (A few pictures were posted here on my blog.)

So, let me tell you what I've traded my Albertan life in for.... Essentially, I am pulling a "George" from the TV show Seinfeld. While I'm not a short, portly, balding, unemployed man with glasses living in my parents' basement... I do bare two of the characteristics... I'm unemployed and living with my parents again... I moved out for the first time at the age of 19 and now, 10 years later - I feel like a George. In the harder economic times, I know I'm not the first person to move back in with my parents, but that bears little comfort for me. I won't rag though, I know some people don't have the option of family to fall back on. I'll try to put as positive a spin on it that I can.

I'm back in BC where I belong. I will be a BC girl until my ticket gets punched. Driving through the mountains, that the tall buildings of Edmonton seemed to cover the absence of, was the first thing that settled me back into BC life. Lakes were the second thing I missed. Lucky for me, my parents just moved into a lake front property right on Okanagan Lake. (Maybe this summer I'll attempt to find and wrestle the Ogopogo! Tee Hee.) The scenery is beautiful, the sunrises and sunsets on the lake... One morning the lake was steaming, it was quite a sight. I've been out on the deck at night and heard the coyotes yipping to each other. (At first I found it unsettling, it sounded like a bunch of people cheering.) Also while out on the deck at night, I saw a beaver's fat bum kind of waddle and splash into the lake. I watched him swim under the neighbours' dock, then back to ours then out into the lake back to his family. I've seen deer tracks in the snow of my parents' lawn as well as actual deer. My family is here, and God love 'em... We're going to drive each other mental! (But it's nice to have them around to drive me nuts!)

One of the downfalls is that I haven't been employed in about two and a half weeks.... Boredom mixed with feelings of guilt... Gnarly combination. Vernon is a smaller center and finding a job here, that doesn't include flipping burgers, is very competitive... You may have heard the line "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Vernon seems to be the epitome of that statement. I am more than qualified to push paper, but I haven't lived in Vernon for 10 or so years... So I really don't know anyone here, other than family of course. Most people that I was friends with in the area, have moved on to other areas of the country, so count that out.

My parents live out on the Okanagan Indian Reserve on the outskirts of Vernon's West side... That makes for a 25-35 minute drive from home to Vernon's actual city limits.... My parents both drive standard transmission cars... I've had a valid drivers licence since I was 16, and even took driving lessons at 16 on standards... Over the last 10 or so years, I have fallen out of practice... (So I've been practicing on the back roads and haven't stalled once! YAY ME!) So we go into town with a mission, like looking for work, restocking groceries, an appointment or visiting someone.... There are a few places I would love to snap pictures of to cure the boredom, but until I am comfortable behind the wheel, they'll have to wait.

So, that's what I've been up to while I've been neglectful of my blog. I didn't want to be whiny and drive anyone away from reading future posts. I promise I'll get back to my old jaded self and make an effort though!

It's not always about me; and I still cringe when I pass a loaded logging truck... I must be back in BC!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Imagine : 30 Years After the Loss of a Dreamer

"What happened here,
As the New York sunset disappeared?
I found an empty garden among the flagstones there.
Who lived here?
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot,
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop.
And now it all looks strange.
It's funny how one insect can damage so much grain.

And what's it for,
This little empty garden by the brownstone door?
And in the cracks along the sidewalk nothing grows no more.
Who lived here?
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot,
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop.
And we are so amazed! We're crippled and we're dazed....
A gardener like that one, no one can replace.

And I've been knocking, but no one answers.
And I've been knocking, most all the day.
Oh and I've been calling,oh hey, hey, Johnny!
Can't you come out to play?
And through their tears,
Some say he farmed his best in younger years.
But he'd have said that roots grow stronger, if only he could hear.
Who lived there?
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot,
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop.
Now we pray for rain, and with every drop that falls....
We hear, we hear your name.....

And I've been knocking, but no one answers.
And I've been knocking, most all the day.
Oh and I've been calling,oh hey, hey, Johnny!
Can't you come out to play,
In your empty garden?
Can't you come out to play, in your empty garden? "

~Empty Garden By Elton John
Written for John Lennon

My first introduction to John Lennon, that I remember, was when I was about 8. It was the first Christmas my Dad wasn't at home due to being gone on a job. Prior to his departure for work, Dad made a mixed tape for each my brother and I from LP's. On mine was a track called "Jealous Guy". A few years later, my younger brother became obsessed with The Beatles. For a solid period, all you'd hear out of his room was a Beatles tune blasting... I became so sick of The Beatles during that period of time. At least my bro came by it honestly, when The Beatles made their way to North America and made it big, my Mum was obsessed too. (I think her favorite was Paul McCartney though.)

John Lennon made the blasphemous comment that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. In the later years of his life, that's exactly what John Lennon reminded me of... A Modern Day Jesus. His facial hair, longer hair and message of peace - what other conclusion could I have come to? John Lennon was assassinated nine and a half months before I was born. Today marks the 30th anniversary of the day the world was robbed of a true legend. I wonder what the world would've been like if John Lennon hadn't been shot at the Dakota by a twisted fan. "Imagine."

I honestly wonder what the world would be like if John Lennon was still around. I'm not much for Self Centered Celebu-Nuts, but I think Mr Lennon would have been different. I think John - even if it was with Yoko Ono - would have used his celebrity for greater good of the world. I think he would have protested the war that the Americans are currently engaged in (and every War between his death and now.) I think he would have helped raise funds and would have been on the front lines to help the victims of natural disasters. (New Orleans or Haiti for example.) I wonder what social causes he would have supported.

I've never really been a huge Beatles fan, or even a John Lennon fan, for that matter. My preferences aside, the man was an icon. I wonder what collaborations he would have done with newer artists. Maybe Mr Lennon would have paired up with one of his children to do a track or two. I wonder if he would have gone into retirement and been a rare sight on city streets.

I'm no Lennon expert, he was gone for almost a year prior to my birth. I hadn't been bitten by the Beatles bug like some. I haven't read about, much less studied, John Lennon's life and times.... It is my opinion though, that when shots rang out 30 years ago today - the world was truly robbed of something special.

"Give Peace a Chance"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Canadian Rockies: Photos

Baby Mountain Sheep

Big and Small Mountain Sheep
Welcome to British Columbia, Canada

Thursday, November 25, 2010

FREEDOM!!!!?? : The Unemployment Apprehension Game

Well, here it is, my last day at work! I'm ecstatic! (And a little uneasy.) This job has, at least, afforded me the ability to pay most of my bills..... That's about it. This job has allowed me to do a few things that most jobs otherwise wouldn't. I get a little exercise a day, I deliver mail in a government building. I've gotten an inside look at how some government agencies function. (No - I'm not talking about the President/CEO of the Alberta Health Services eating a cookie either! Disgusting little man that he is.) I've been able to catch up on my book reading. (There are quite a few amusing ones out there.) As well as post to this blog and try to come up with something worth while reading... It's a dead end job, and I'm glad I've only spent just under four months at it. That being said, I still feel a tinge of guilt...

While I am happy that this chapter of my life is over, I still don't like the idea of being unemployed. Dead end job or not, I'd rather be working. Why? There are a few reasons... For example, I'm 29 and capable of working, and I was raised to be productive and not slack off... You know, do like your supposed to - support yourself and not live off of other people.... I feel guilty when I'm not working and being a positive, contributing member of society... I feel like I'm a drain on society when having to access and use the EI/UI system. As much as I enjoy the thought of eatting bon bons on the couch infront of the TV everyday, it gets boring suuuuuuuuuuper quickly... It's great for a week... Maybe two tops... But honestly, I get bored super quickly and I need something to do... You'd think I'd clean the house etc... But I won't... I don't live in a sty by any means... But I don't live in a sterile environment either.

Four months after my start date, I had no idea that I'd be quitting to relocate... If anything, I thought I'd be quitting because the job is boring, the pay sucks, or I was annoyed with the one co-worker enough due to his extreme laziness and far less than truthful behaviour. What ever the reason is for leaving, I still feel like a leech on "the system" and I haven't even left for the day yet, much less applied for the minuscule EI Benefits. I guess that's the point of the "Benefits" being so low, to try to kick start those lazies that don't have much ambition or drive. In the current economy, I hope I don't have to use the UI Services long... Depending on the length of non-work, I'd almost be inclined to apply to sling burgers and fries again... This is after being educated twice at the Post-Secondary Level and 10 years after the last time I had to flip burgers to make stuff happen. I guarantee, Fast Food is not the ideal position in the world... In my mind, it's still a cut above being an unemployed bum.

It's not always about me; but I do feel the need to work until I can't anymore...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ode To Edmonton: Farewell with the Possibility of Return

My moving to Edmonton in May of 2003 was a whirlwind affair. The guy I was seeing at the time mentioned his plan to move here for welding work, and I told him that he wasn't leaving BC without me. I sold my car to the boyfriend's brother, as I didn't think it would've passed the out of province inspection, and it gave me the cash needed to make the transition from BC to Alberta. The next day we packed up his "Twinkie" car and were on our way. I was an inexperienced 21 year old and left my parents a note telling them what I was in the process of doing.

I didn't really know much about Edmonton prior to moving here, I had never been to Edmonton before. I knew that my Dad's Aunt lived here... That this is where the Oilers played, and clearly at one point Gretzky and Messier had played here too... I had heard of the massive West Edmonton Mall, but obviously having never been here, I'd never been to the 6 block mall... As my seven and a half years in Edmonton wind down, I've found myself reflecting on my time here.

We're heading into what would've been my 8th winter here... Let me tell you, the winters here are something I'd like to forget but never will. Edmonton's the first and only place I've experienced such bitter cold in the later part of the year. (That's not to say I haven't experienced cold weather, just not like this.) Last year, Edmontonians were subjected to the second coldest place on the planet honors.... (I think we hit -50 or somewhere around there. Ya, it sucked serious toes man!) We were second only to a place in Siberia... (And that place knows how to rock the damn cold!) My first winter here it took some serious adjustment from what I was used to in BC. I grew up in Vernon, so I was used to snow and I'd seen maybe -20 to -25 that I remember... I called my Mum on her birthday at the end of October in 2003. I had to hang up with her so I could go have a hot shower to turn my purple feet back to a humanly colour. I won't sit here and say that I enjoy the winters here in Edmonton, but I'd have to say I've acclimatized.

The rest of the seasons in Edmonton aren't bad like the winters... The only qualm I have is with the City of Edmonton is in the Spring. The whole "joke" about "If you dont' like the weather in Alberta, wait five minutes" can be applied to Edmonton. I've seen snow under the most bizarre of circumstances... But why the hell does it take the City until May, even June, to clean the sand and crud off the streets after the bulk of the snow is gone in late March/early April? Edmonton could be one of the most beautiful Cities on the planet... But instead, with regret I say, Edmonton is a dirty city. Between the streets being dirty, and in dire need of repair, to the litter and homeless on every corner... Edmonton is just dirty. I know that other Cities and Towns have the same sort of problems with litter and homeless, but send out a street sweep already!

Edmontonians have perplexed me for the entire time I've been here... I've run into people here who were the nicest people in the world, and would bend over backwards to help you. Others are just so cold, fake, self serving and rude it makes you want to punch them in the face. Again, I realize there are people like this everywhere and its not solely an Edmonton issue. Just don't mention the shittiness of Eskimos or Oilers, that may get you a tongue lashing at the very least. (Actually, I remember being at a bar in Edmonton, and a guy with a blood shot eye that was almost swollen shut and an otherwise bruised and swollen face walked in for a beer.... The story went that he was down in a Calgary Bar to watch the Oilers Vs Flames game, he wearing an Oilers shirt and the Flames fans beat on him when he went out for a smoke. Maybe that says more about Calgary though?) One pay day, my first year here, I headed to the bank to deposit my cheque after my shift. It was winter, so it was dark earlier, and I walked out of the bank with a wallet full of $20's on my way to pay my rent... Some guy attempted to take my purse but I managed not to lose it. It wound up costing me a coffee for the guy, who just happened to be hungry... Bizarre to say the least!

All Edmonton/Edmontonian cutting down aside, if Edmonton was so bad - I guarantee you - I would not have stayed as long as I have. Edmonton has given me the resume I have. Just before I moved here I had just graduated from College and was raring to get into the working world. I papered the town, meaning Kelowna and Vernon, and got one call back saying "Thanks for your interest in our company, we'll keep you on file." Within a week of moving to Edmonton, I had a few interviews and was hired and working. Edmonton's economy, over the years I've been here, has allowed me to feed my job "A.D.D" in that if I got bored or frustrated at one job, it was easy enough to go out and find another. I have job hopped here, and it's given me a diverse set of skills and experience that I may not have otherwise had.

I've gone back to school here and graduated in April of 2009 from Grant MacEwan College. (Now Grant MacEwan University.) It was quite a trip to go back after 5 years of being out of school mode. The course I took introduced me to a wide variety of characters through my classmates. The time spent at Grant Mac was definitely a benchmark and a time in my life that I'll never forget. If I were anywhere other than Edmonton, I doubt I would have gone back to school... To be honest, I don't even know if the course I took is offered anywhere other than Grant MacEwan.... Makes it that much more memorable... Even if it is partially due to the student loans which are now in the repayment stages.

Being that Edmonton is one of Canada's more major centers, it opens up some events that I may not have otherwise enjoyed partaking in. I don't ever remember there being fireworks in Vernon for New Year's for example. As pathetic as it may be, I've never been to an Oilers game... It's a little ironic that I have been to an Eskimos game though... Edmonton is one of the festival capitals of Canada, and for that I'm grateful. Some festivals don't cost a dime and are a great way to kill an afternoon when broke. Others do cost but I've been told they are well worth the price of admission. My personal fave has always been the Heritage Festival. The Heritage Festival asks for donations to the food bank as admission, but it doesn't seem to be a mandatory admission. There are pavilions for different countries that feature food, clothing, dancing, art and basically anything you can think of to show off a particular country's culture. I can't explain it, I just know that I love it.

For all the crappy people I've met and had to deal with, I've met a few really cool people that I am now fortunate enough to call friends. Some I met through work, others school, and the most interesting are those I met quite by accident in a random event. Either way, these are the people I will miss and carry with me until the end of my days. My first friend in Edmonton was Missy. I had been talking to her for a couple years because she had emailed a boyfriend of mine and I knew she was the ex. So I laced into her telling her to move on and leave my boyfriend alone. It turns out, we now have the same ex - as he's no longer my boyfriend either - and we talk to each other, but not that ex. Anyhow, after a couple years of chatting, it took me moving to Edmonton to actually meet. She bailed my ass out a time or four. She moved back to BC years ago, unfortunately. Van, Ian and my other CFF friends managed to show me what it meant to work but how to have fun while doing it. The local hang out for some of the CFF crew was a bar called the H2O. I've only had "happy birthday" sung to me once, and it was from my H2O crew. This is also where I met my roommate called Candy Apple. No she's not a hooker, or a stripper, and yes - that's her real name. She and I had a riot living together...

Finally, the on again/off again guy in my life, Klaus. I actually met him while at work for CFF. He was, and still is, a driver for the company and I was an office worker. He always thought I only wrote the bad things about him, but he's also given me some good things to report too. He's bailed my ass out of situations it shouldn't have been in. He drove me to the Okanagan over the Labour Day long weekend last year, without me even having to ask. He's taken me camping numerous times, and actually - he's the first one to ever take me fishing. He's brought me home Christmas trees even though I know damn well he hates Christmas. (His birthday's Christmas Eve, and if that was your birthday - I think you'd probably hate Christmas too.) He's made me laugh (almost as much as he's made me cry) and I've don't ever doubt the fact that he loves me.

Now I've got what's left of today, and part of tomorrow, to endure before I can say I'm done with my current job... Trust me, this one was an easy one to quit... I've got about 3 and a half days left in Edmonton... Though I am guilty of calling this place Deadmonton, Hellberta, - Edmonton will always have a piece of my heart.

It's not always about me; I have a feeling I'll be back one day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dude! Bros Before Ho's!... Or Not!

I attempted to get this post going yesterday, but I just couldn't bring myself to do so. I've got the whole six year relationship heartbreak blues going on.... I took the extra day to think about what Bros before Ho's really meant. While contemplating yesterday, I looked up the female version of "Bros before ho's". I found that most women even use the same term as the men, as it has the same effect. There are a few female equivalents out there, though. "Chicks before Dicks",  "Lasses before Asses", "Sistas before Mistas/Sisters before Misters", "Venus before Penis", "Besties before Testes", "Friends before Mens", "Dolls before Balls", and the list can go on. All still boil down to "Bros before Ho's".....

When I first heard the term "Bros before Ho's" I really liked it. In my mind, the statement meant not letting a someone your dating/seeing etc come between you and your best friend/group of friends, because your friends would always have your six, long after your relationship would be over. Now though, I find the term "Bros before Ho's" a Bachelor/Bachelorette statement. Soon, you will understand why. I have a feeling I will be playing Devil's Advocate here, as I could debate both sides of the statement. Why? I used to like the gist of the thing, but now, I'm torn. I can't find a black and white answer, just a whole lotta static... But I can tell you, I am leaning towards not being a fan... The six year relationship can, and will, be used to debate both sides of "Bros before Ho's".

I remember in high school, ya I know I'm digging here, but it's still an example of both sides... So anyhow, in high school, I had two friends - one named Linda and the other Angelina (Yes, their names have been changed). Linda and Angelina were pretty close to being Best Friends. Linda finally got asked out by her ultimate crush of a life time, John. (Yes, his name is changed, too.) Linda and John were having a typical eighth grade romance until Angelina got in the way. Angelina guilt tripped Linda until Linda dumped John... What was Angelina's problem? She didn't have a boyfriend at the time... A few weeks after Linda and John broke up, Angelina found herself with a boyfriend. When Linda said something to Angelina about it, Angelina figured Linda was jealous... Linda chose "Bros before Ho's", but Angelina was just out right selfish and wanted both... In the end, Angelina moved away the following year and John and Linda never dated each other again.

My own story, with out getting overly personal here, goes a little like this.... I met the ex at work 6 and a half years ago. We had an on again/off again thing for the first four years... During our whole relationship, the ex would always put his friends before me. I, on the other hand, shot myself in the foot. I usually put him first, or I was depressed over our recent decision to be "off again" that I pushed the few friends I had away.

For the past two years, we've been on again. We moved in together and there didn't seem to be much issue... Other than I had alienated myself from all my friends and saw them once or twice a year. They all got tired of my excuses as to why I couldn't go out... Then they stopped calling as much and the invites out were few and far between. When I did go out to cut a little loose without him, he'd ask "Oh, going to see your other boyfriend are you??" And then he'd laugh hysterically.... Then he'd be calling..... "When are you coming home?" or nastier "I hope you're having fun! I hope it's worth it!" That further put the kybosh on any hope from a social life. (I know, it's a story of control here... That'll be coming in future posts.)

He, on the other hand, still kept his "Bro before Ho" routine. He'd always say yes to helping a friend out, but I felt like I had to beg him for a hand. He plays as a part of a pool league team, not just one - but two pool league teams... This year, instead of taking me out on my birthday... He played pool on one of those teams. Why? Because he was the captain of the team, it was the first night of league for the fall season... AND he couldn't let his "Bros" down and miss a game... OK, so I wasn't impressed, but I wasn't a "Ho" and let him go... He promised to make it up to me the following weekend... He didn't, he had to go down and play in a pool tournament at the local bar with his "Bros". Not impressed, he kept saying he'd make it up to me, never did. Two years before that, same thing... Instead of taking me out for my birthday, he had to go watch football with his friends at the bar... The weekend I had to fly back to BC for a family emergency, do you think he drove me to or picked me up from the airport? Nope... He took the Friday afternoon off, using the excuse that he had to drive me to the airport... Never did... That weekend was a year end pool tournament for the summer league... Couldn't let his team of "Bros" down, you realize... He called me early Sunday evening saying he just got back from the end of the pool tourney. I asked him if he was picking me up from the airport... He said no because his car was out of commission. He couldn't get a hold of his Mum to borrow her vehicle... He'd been "trying all day" to get a hold of his Mum... He doesn't have a cell phone, and he'd just gotten home from the pool tournament... Because he puts his "Bros" before his "Ho" and that's exactly why he's "SINGLE"!!!!!!!!!!!!

I guess my point is, that I've gotten over the whole idea of "Bros before Ho's". I hope there is more of a happy medium that can be reached. What if you always put "bros" first and miss out on the right girl/guy, you know, "THE ONE"? And if you always put the "ho" first, then your "bros" might not always be there...Good and true "bros" won't mind sharing you. And if you find out it's not the right "ho", your true "bros" will accept you back... (And then they'll probably harrass you after your broken heart has healed.) If it's the right "ho", he/she might not like your friends, but I'm sure he/she will allow you to go have a "bro night", as long as your friends don't cause you to do stupid/hurtful things. (Like a poker night with the guys, or a shopping trip with the girls...)

It's not always about me; I'm more of a loner... Don't get me wrong, I can be social and I've got "Bros"... I hope to find a "ho" again one day, too.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Illustrated & Otherwise Decorated People

Ever walk down the street, see some one and think to yourself, "What would possess a person to do that to themselves?" Don't be a fibber now! This question has been asked throughout the generations, and will continue to be asked until the end of Human Existence.

For example of the generational question, my Dad - back in the day - had long hair... We're talking long, hippy down to his waist hair... And it drove my Gramps nuts... Why? Because Gramps couldn't understand why anyone in their right mind "Would do that to themselves!" Now a days, it's Dad's turn to question today's fashions. (Particularly the "Gangsta" way of wearing your boxers majority on the outside of your jeans, and your jeans almost falling off... I don't even get that but... That's not the point.)

Well, hair and clothes can be changed, cut, dyed or whatever needs to be done... This post is about a little more permanent "possession" of self expression... I'm talking Tattoos and Piercings. (A little T&P if you will.) Some don't enjoy Tattoos or Piercings, period... They figure if "God" wanted them to have either/or, they would've been born with them. Other's just plain don't like either, it's just a gut reaction. Fair enough, that's their right and choice. Others associate Tats or Piercings with Tribal/Cultural meanings... Others with Gangs and Jail. Others yet with Bikers, Hookers/Sluts, or Sailors. General riff-raff basically. Whatever their opinion, they are entitled to it. Doesn't make them right or wrong.

The other side of this proverbial coin, are the Tattoo and Piercing enthusiasts. There is a reasonable expectation, for those who choose, to have the ability of self expression through Tattoos or Piercings. I'm a little more towards this end of the pole. My brother has/had both his ears pierced and his nose and tongue at one point too. I remember when I was about 13-14 years old, I came home from school one day to my parents asking "How do you like our tattoos?" They were freshly done and looked fake, so I didn't believe them at first... Until weeks later when they still hadn't "washed off." Now Dad's got two and Mum's got 4.  I, myself, am both Tattooed and Pierced.

I, currently, have four earrings in each ear (yes, grand total of 8) and have my nose pierced as well. My first piercing was in my ears at the age of 6. At one point I had my naval and tongue pierced too. My naval ring "migrated" out on it's own, and I had it removed as it was less than a pleasant experience. I'm a bit self conscious, and realize I'm a little pudgy... So I've never gotten it re-done... No one'd see it but me, and it hurt enough coming out the first time. My tongue ring lasted about 9 months. I played with it, for what seemed like every waking moment. I wore braces on my teeth for about a year and a half or so... I was worried that my teeth would go back crooked, or I'd wind up chipping a tooth... They were both fun at the time, but ultimately not for me. In the past, whenever I felt like I needed a little external pain... I got something pierced... It may strike you as a little bizarre, who wants pain - right? But I'm 100% perfectly honest with that statement. My piercing days are done though, I've had all the places I wanted pierced, pierced. If someone walks by with an eyebrow ring, or piercings not visible... That's their right, it's just not my bag.

As mentioned, I am tattooed as well. Currently, I've got three. I don't regret a single tat, they all tell a story. I got my first tattoo at the age of 20. It's the sign of Virgo, which is my Zodiac Sign. It's about the size of a toonie and is on the left side of my chest. (For those who have never seen a toonie, it's slightly bigger than a quarter.) I got this one done with a couple of friends in my college days in Trail, BC at a place called the Wolf's Den. I don't regret it, I just regret the placement of it. If I had it to do all over again, I'd get it done in a different spot.... And I'd make sure it didn't look like the initials of "MR". (I get that a lot, who's MR?) This one really didn't hurt much, but he must've hit a nerve in the middle of the "M", as it got my attention... It took maybe 45 minutes to do....

My second tattoo is on my right shoulder and is a little smaller than the size of an average drink coaster. I was about 24-25 when I had it done, and it was done here in Edmonton at a place called Divine. It's a fairy/elf sitting on a crescent moon giving the thumbs up. He's got clouds that form a castle behind him and butterflies and stars surrounding him as well. The story behind this one is a little long... Basically, it represents family. (That's why the elf guy is giving the thumbs up, in remembrance of my Grandpa.) This one took about an hour and a half, closer to two hours... I had a friend with me and by the end, I wanted to punch him out... This one hurt a little more. (Still worth it though.)

And finally, my third and favourite tattoo. This one is a "tramp stamp". (Tramp Stamp = a lower back tattoo.) It's a Celtic Maple Leaf with the words "Taylor Made" above it and "1981" below it. This one is amazing and I love it the most. Long story short, I'm Canadian first and foremost, but have a heavy history of Scottish Ancestry. My parents were married when I was conceived, and my last name is evidently Taylor... Hence "Taylor Made" and I was born in 1981.. Pretty basic, eh? This one hurt the least to be honest... It took about an hour and this time my Mummy came with me. This one I had done at Genesis Designs in Vernon, BC, evidently where my parents got all their tattoos done.

I am no where near being done with my tattooing.... In fact I've got an idea of my 4th tattoo, which I hope to get within 6 months of being back in BC.... And as part of that idea, I want the "MR" situation remedied so I can be completely happy with all my "Body Art". That being said, there are certain places I won't have tattooed as a girl... Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to these kinds of tattoos, I just wouldn't have them done to me. Firstly, "Sleeves". ("Sleeves" are where you have your whole arm tattooed.) I know quite a few people, including women, who have a sleeve... Or one in progress at least. They look awesome when their finished. It's just not for me. Anything on the face or neck... It doesn't have to be a Mike Tyson face tattoo, or the back of the neck or anything... Again, on other people = awesome. Me = Lame. Finally on the "Not for Me" roster = arm tattoos period. I wouldn't get one on my wrist, even on the inside of my wrist... Or on my bicep like my Dad's... Or on my forearm... Call me sexist/caught in the past, but to me - it's more of a "Manly" place to get tattooed.... Just like some people are weirded out by men having "Tramp Stamps". (I AM NOT DISSING ANYONE WHO HAS TATTOOS THERE! My point is, they're just not places I would have tattooed.)

So whether you look at Tattoos and piercings as a form of art and self expression... Or if you see them more as self mutilation and "disgusting"... That's your torch to bear... Some do flaunt their tattoos and piercings... Even if they do, look the other way if you don't like it... No one's making you look, get one or pay for someone else's. All three of my tattoos are easily covered... All I have to do to hide my 8 earrings is to wear my hair down... And half the time, most people don't even notice my nose ring... Unless the light hits it just right, or I actually point it out. If all you have to worry about is someone's tattoo/piercing habit, I think you're sitting pretty in the world.

It's not always about me; go out and be creative! (Or at least practice being tolerant of other people!)

Winter's Finally Found It's Way To Alberta... Permanently for the Season =0(

Mother Nature has taken leave from playing games.... She's turned her winter furnace on...... And I don't like it much... But She didn't ask my opinion, and never will... This is one of the perks of being Canadian, I guess... And the further North you go, it tends to get colder...

We had been spoiled by above seasonal temperatures... Granted they were just a few degrees over freezing, but hey, who am I kidding? I'll take it! There was a bit of a threat of snow just around Halloween.  Mother Nature has decided to get "back to normal", whatever Alberta considers to be normal this time of year. (All I can hear is that commercial, Get back to normal, whatever your normal is.) I could feel the cold weather coming in my knees... They started to ache about a week ago. The high temperatures are now below 0 degrees Celsius... The slick streets of rain soaked streets was a sign of what was to come, and what was to come arrived today in form of light snow... I think this is the beginning of the end, snow will most likely be here until the Spring Thaw. I hope the wind, and the wind chill factor it brings, keeps to a minimum this year!

I remember back in BC, cousins from Australia had made the long trek over seas for a Christmas Vacation. (Crazy, I know.) They were excited to experience snow, some for the first time. (Some of my Aussie cousins were born and partially raised here in Canada, so they had snow experience. The friend or two they brought over however, were the opposite. They were born and raised in Oz, and therefore snow was a treat for them to play in.) They waited... And waited... And waited... But the snow never came. They had to make the drive up to Silver Star Mountain, one of the local ski hills, to allow the snow first timers to actually see snow. It was one of a few "Green" Christmases I remember in Vernon... Although, I've got to be honest with you... They're more like "Brown" Christmases. Doesn't leave one very festive, I can tell you that.

I remember my first winter in Edmonton... I could have cried, almost on a daily basis. I was spoiled by being raised in the Interior of BC, where if you see -20 Celsius for a week straight it's considered cold. Well, Alberta cold is a little different from BC cold. Alberta cold is drier, and way colder than -20. I called my Mum on her birthday at the end of October. I had just gotten home from work, and I was freeeeeeeezing! I stripped off my boots and socks as I talked to her and told her I'd have to call her back, she asked why... I told her because my feet were purple and I wanted to go have a shower to make them the right colour again... She gave me motherly grief and told me I was living in Alberta now, I could wear more than one pair of socks.... I was though! At the time I was wearing three pairs of socks and boots that were supposedly rated to -25 Degrees... I've acclimatized since... The first couple weeks of the season always usually suck though!

There are reports of the treacherous QEII having cars slid off to the side already. (The QEII = Highway 2/Queen Elizabeth Highway that runs from Edmonton to Calgary.) I believe it, this highway scares the hell out of me, and for good reason. This time last year I was working in Leduc, considered a surrounding area of Edmonton, and I was on my way home from work and got cut off on the highway... Well, I had shit tires on there, hit ice and fish tailed into the ditch. I wound up writing off my car and losing the job. It's alright though, we hit seriously -50 last winter... We were the 2nd coldest place on the planet that day... Second only to a place in stinking Siberia! It didn't feel a degree over -30, but when it gets that cold, how are you going to regulate the difference? (Other than machinery starting not to wanna work!) I hate this time of year sometimes! (If it weren't for Christmas, I think I'd try to by pass the season totally.. I admire those who were smart enough to have homes down south for the shitty winter, and lake front property for the summer.)

I realize no one can control the weather. (Wouldn't that be some shit if we could, eh?) I know there are certain people who love this time of year... Whether it be for the skating, skiing, snowboarding etc... Or for the sheer fact they prefer the colder temperatures... I'm not one of those people... I can feel a drastic change of temperature coming through the aches in my knees... Because of my hooped knee situation, I'm not one for winter sports... Hell, I'm liable to fall on my ass on the way to the car and take myself out of commission for a week... I've done it before... And I can't take extreme temperatures... Hot or Cold.. What can we do though, except to accept it and prepare for it... Or we'll just be those annoying, bitch about the weather types... No one likes a whiner!

It's not always about me; if it were, snow would appear on the 23rd of December and bugger off on the 2nd of January! (Except on the ski slopes, I'll compromise with y'all there!) And there's no excuse for such cold weather! -15 tops!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Get Out of The Road!

Ever follow behind someone who has left their blinker on for 8 blocks? Ever been stuck behind someone, other than farm equipment, going 40 km/hour on the highway? Ever pull up to a red light to look over at the next car, only to find a little old blue haired granny? The type that you wonder if they can actually see over the steering wheel, without the aid of 6 telephone books? I don't mean to be rude or disrespectful to the elderly... (Elderly in my world is 65 to 70 years old +.) They've made it this far in life and probably have a million more stories than I will at their age...What I'm concerned about is their safety as well as the safety of others.

I'll use my grandparents as examples to show that I mean no harm or offence by this post... My Gramps, I really don't remember ever riding with him... (Ok I can remember once, when I was like 4... I had a fat bowl of Fruit Loops before he drove me home to my parents' place... All I remember was feeling like crap... Then barfing all over his car... To this day, 25 years later, I still can't handle the smell of Fruit Loops, let alone eating them.) But I imagine, being that he was on the road a lot for work, that he was a pretty good driver... I only remember one story of an accident with him behind the wheel... Don't remember if it was his fault or not... My Grandpa was a very cautious driver. I remember him saying, on more than one occasion, "There's right of way, then there's dead." I remember one time Grandma & Grandpa left my Aunt's house in Kelowna after a cousin's birthday party... We left about 15 to 20 minutes behind them and wound up passing them on the way home to Vernon. Like I said, he was a cautious driver. Maybe he ought to have been, he worked for the Department of Highways in BC. Just sayin'. My Nana has a similar story. We were headed to my Aunt's for Christmas, my cousins and I left about the same time as Nana. The cousins and I had to grab cigarettes and a couple odds and ends before heading out to the Aunt's.... On the way, we passed Nana, who was going about 30 KM/Hour... I remember waving like an idiot, but Nan didn't even notice... She had her hands on the wheel at 10 and 2, and was very focused on the road. Mind you we had a butt load of snow, and Nana was always a worried driver. Finally, my Grandma. I remember Grandma used to be a really good driver. She used to have to commute every day for work... But now that she's pushing 80, I won't ride with her if she's driving... She scares me that bad... And if you try to say something to her, she turns nasty... "I've been driving longer than you've been around! I don't need this from you!" So I stopped saying anything... I've also stopped riding with her. I still love her a LOT though... If I didn't, I probably wouldn't be worried.

 I know what I am about to suggest may be considered age-ist.... And maybe the thought is already in place... Maybe the elderly should have to take a road test from a certain age on... Kinda like 16 year olds have to do to get their licence.... Only the elderly would have to test to keep their licences. Remember, driving is a privilege not a right. I've worked in a government building, more specifically the building where Environment and Transportation is housed... I over heard a gentleman, maybe around 70-ish, talking with a driving examiner... This gentleman had written about 4 different tests, twice... So grand total 8 tests later, his licence was pulled... Why? Because he failed all 8 tests... He was disappointed, and maybe rightfully so... After driving of 55+ years, then being told you weren't allowed to any more would be hard to handle... That's a lot of freedom taken away. (As a transit bum, ya, that's a LOT of independence taken away.)

I realize that elderly people on pensions can't afford cabs, or a personal driver, or even those personal driver rental things you can do. (I know there's a company here in Edmonton called "Driving Miss Daisy" that is geared to elderly people... They take them to appointments, grocery shopping and other errands etc.) I know that if the elderly person isn't close to a bus route, that may not be an option either. If the elderly person, say my Grandma for example, loses or surrenders their licence, they should be able to depend on family for a ride etc. My Grandma has always been active and likes to walk, but lugging groceries home... Forget that noise! Grandma has 4 kids and soon to be 5 grand kids in the area... I'm sure one of the 9 can help out... I'm sure if Grandma called my Dad even and said "Ross, I need a ride to the doctors then the drug store... Can ya help me out?" I'm sure my Dad'd say "Ya Rena, deal.... What time's your appointment?"

My point here being, I respect the elderly and I worry about every one's safety... The elderly's eye sight may be deteriorating... You ever seen an older person without glasses? Their reaction time may not be as good as it used to be.... (Sometimes you have to explain a joke to Grandma twice before she gets it... Even though you know damn well you told her that same joke 5 years ago... And she got it the first time around back then.) They may get lost or confused easier.... Alzheimer's and Dementia tend to hit later on in life... (I realize that licences can be revoked... Usually if a letter is sent by a Doctor stating that the specific person shouldn't be driving anymore.) Some days when I did drive, I'd park the car and sometimes forget where... As harsh as it may seem, I think the elderly should have to road test after a certain age. It's for every one's best interest.... Driving is a privilege NOT a right... Could you imagine a little old lady or man dying in a car wreck while they were behind the wheel? Not fair, if you've made it that far in life... I hope they pass peacefully, not in terror...

It's not always about me; I hope I have sense enough to surrender my licence before I become an old lady who is hell on wheels!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget: A Walk to Rememberance Day

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields."

Today is a day set aside for us to remember those brave souls who have fallen on our behalf. I dare say that everyone has had War directly, or indirectly, affect their lives.

It wasn't until I was 20 that I was told that my Scottish Great~Great Grandfather fought in World War I. Unfortunately, he was one who forfeited his life for a greater cause. His Granddaughter (My Nana) went on to marry a military man in my Gramps. He was set to be deployed to Cyprus and the Congo, but wound up never having to go. (This was probably for the best for everyone... Nana and Gramps ultimately had 9 kids to care for!)

The tragedy that was World War II cemented my existence. Of my four grandparents, three were born right here in Canada. My Grandma was the unique one, she was born in Switzerland in the early 1930's. By the time my Grandma reached the age of 8, the rumblings of Nazi Germany were becoming more apparent to her Father. (My Great Grandfather.) He had been to Canada before and figured it would be a good place to move his family to.

I asked my Grandma what she could remember about her time in Switzerland. She remembered things being rationed. I guess Grandma didn't have much of a sweet tooth as squirrelled away her sugar rations... Maybe she used the sugar as leverage, as she mentioned that she would use it to bargain with her mother (my Great Grandmother) - for what I don't know... She was 8! She told me about the boat ride over to Canada and what a bizarre experience that was. I guess as my Great Grandparents Gysler were on the dock waiting to board the ship with their 4 children, a Nazi Soldier clicked his heels and gave "the Solute" and Great Grandpa refused to solute back at first. After a little convincing from his brother, Great Grandpa finally did solute back and then was able to embark on the journey to Canada with his family. Grandma says she  remembers people getting sea sick and throwing up over the sides of the ship and the ship was a little bit hard to get used to at first.

Once the family got to Canada, Grandma remembers going to a male relative's house. (I can't remember if Grandma said it was her Uncle or her Dad's Uncle or cousin... But it was a relative.) Grandma mentioned that she saw there were swastika's on the rain barrels. Though Great-Grandpa planned to briefly stay at this relative's, after such a sight - the plan had changed. The family settled into a Canadian life and the school aged kids began school, which was hard at first... Their first language was German, so they had the added difficulty of learning English first. Great Grandma and Grandpa rounded out their brood with two more kids after coming to Canada. (Grand total of 6 kids.) Grandma and her siblings became Canadian Citizens and went on to raise Canadian children and saw the likes of Canadian grandchildren. (We're onto the third generation of Swiss Canadians as some of those grand kids have kids now.) My Great Grandparents Gysler also became Canadian Citizens. After they passed away that's how they stayed as they were buried in Vernon, BC.

I briefly dated a Paramedic who was in the Armed Forces. We didn't get too serious and only dated a matter of a few months. I don't know if it was something I did, or the fact that he was preoccupied with his deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan - and rightfully so - but we didn't make it to his departure to the Middle East. Though we weren't longer together - I did breathe a sigh of relief when I heard that he had made it back to Canada safely after his tour of duty. I've even seen him once or twice since as well. No hard feelings... Maybe a few of gratitude... I always thought he had kind eyes, which is part of the reason I dated him in the first place.

I have recently heard of the White Poppy Campaign. This campaign encourages people to wear a White Poppy for a culture of Peace. Those associated with the campaign, wear a white poppy to symbolise "the belief that there are better ways to resolve conflicts than killing strangers". The poppies are really beautiful, and so is the idea... But the idea is also offensive and might see the Campaign getting sued by a Legion. Remembrance Day is a day of REMEMBERING those who have already lost their lives in order to protect our rights and freedoms. I'm all for World Peace and all that good stuff, but pick a different day to promote your ideas! I'd rather not see another war in my life time, but I know for a fact that Wars have happened in the past, so don't insult my intelligence.... And far above my intelligence are those who have perished in Wars past. We're supposed to remember to honour those fallen and hopefully never see another person die again.

I took a walk through St Joachim Cemetery today and thought about both the World Wars, Vietnam, Dessert Storm, and now in Afghanistan. I came to the hallowed ground where a monument stood dedicated to such souls. Around this monument, were the rows and rows of Military Graves. Some were of those who were lost in the Great Wars. (World War I &II) Some were those who had served Military Duty and were fortunate to return and live the rest of their years in a country they fought so hard to protect. I feel greatly indebted to these Fallen Fellows.

It's Not Always About Me; Thank you all you Military Personnel who make me proud to be Canadian! Today I wear my Poppy in Your Honour.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Grow Ups Vs Grow Downs

You know what they say, It takes all types to make the world go round. Two of those "types" are people that need to grow up already! and the other would be people who need to "grow down". Both groups can be equally as challenging to deal with or entertaining depending on how you look at it.... Either way, where would the world be with out either set of people??

We've all met at least one person in our lives that we've sat back and wondered if they've had a single day of fun in their whole lives... "Why so serious?" People like this need to lighten up, have a beer, or smile - I guarantee it won't crack your face... These types of people just need to "Grow Down". Life is a serious game, no question there, but no one gets out alive... So relax and have a few laughs and enjoy life a little bit before you go!

I've been accused of needing to Grow Down a time or two... I know how hard it is to put on a happy face if your stressed out, worried about something, have a deadline, or life's just taken a big giant crap on your head... You don't exactly feel like laughing and having a good time... (Maybe that's more a sign of Depression than the need to grow down?) Having to "Grow Down" is just about as hard as growing up some times... You can get caught in a rut, and it's just easier to stay in the mode. Or there are people who are so focused, know exactly what they want from life, and may not slow down to enjoy the journey... They're more concerned with the destination....

Grow Downs can be challenging to deal with due to perceived tension... This could be due to the lack of joking around perhaps? The Grow Down being too serious, if you will. I've known a few Grow Downs in my day... I've seen the Grow Downs getting toyed with... It's been a variety of people not working as quickly, or in the direction, as the Grow Down would like... This has known to get the "Downs" flustered... Also have seen people trying to joke with the "Downs" and the jokes get them spun out of shape as well.

On the other hand, I'm sure it's more likely that we've all met someone that we've wanted to smack up side the head.... "Why can't you act like an adult for once?" These are the people some wonder about... Have they taken responsibility for their lives? Do they always act like kids? There is a fine line between people joking around or having fun, as opposed to someone who genuinely needs to understand what it means to be a grown up/adult. It's OK to be immature, joke around, and have fun... As long as your priorities are in the right order.

Believe it or not, I've also been accused of needing to Grow Up as well... I still have 90% of the stuffed animals ever given to me... I enjoy the occasional cartoon... I like cute little things... I'm 29 and not 100% sure what I want out of live... I have an idea, and I also know what I don't want. I know some 15 year olds that know exactly how they want their lives to play out... Does that mean they need to Grow Down? My bills, since I've lived in Edmonton at least, have always been paid... I've usually worked since being here, and have made it on time... (I'll admit, there were times that I called in sick because I was too hungover to go in, and yes - that part I needed to grow up about... I'm happy to report that I have...)

Grow Ups can be fun... But they usually are more frustrating... Ever had a friend who was a kid in an adult's body? They can be fun when you need to go blow off steam... They will show you a good time, don't get me wrong... That being said, ever had a roommate that needed to grow up? You know, the ones that their half the rent is never on time... They never clean up after themselves... Turn off a light/TV etc after myself? Are you foolin' me? Frustrating... Worse yet, ever know anyone that still lives in their parent's basement... And they aren't enrolled in any post secondary educational institution... That haven't just lost a job or gotten out of a crappy relationship/situation... Did I forget to mention they're 30+? Frustrating....

I hope most people are a happy medium of the two... They know when to be a Grown Up... They know when to be a Grown Down... There's nothing wrong with having fun, there's also nothing wrong with being serious... As long as you can find a balance between the two polar opposites.

It's not always about me; I'm a little bit country... I'm a little bit rock & roll...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Familiar Distance: Family Taking the "Fun" Out of Dysfunctional

"Let me ask you this about this life we live
And let me try to swerve some of this attention you give
To them distant ass relatives over in Hampton and
If they really miss you so much
Why don't they just call you then?
If you wanted blood, would you still have love?
Or in fact does the blood make you think you have to love?
Look I probably love my family more then anybody here
But my homies are family too
Third cousins get outta here"

- Homies by ICP (Insane Clown Posse)

I've got family all over the place. My family stretches across most of Canada - predominantly in BC, but there's some in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec too... I've got some down in the US of A - in Texas, North Carolina, Maryland and a few other places as well. I've got family over seas - Australia, Norway, Switzerland and Scotland just to name a few. These are just the places I know about, I'm sure there are more blood relatives out there in various other places as well. Family is one of the most important things out there... But where do you draw the line when it comes to Family Loyalty?

Family dynamics have always perplexed me... I dig that certain people just don't get along, blood or not... My brother and I are the perfect example of that... If we were getting along, my parents thought something must be up... Guaranteed though, if someone did something to my brother... I'm 99% sure I'd want to kick their asses... There's an unwritten rule in my mind, I'm the only one allowed to talk shit about my brother, and I'm the only one allowed to stomp on him... It's my right as an older sister.  I'm sure my brother would agree from his side of the story, and say the same thing... He's the only one allowed to hate me and talk smack about me... The less we see of each other, the better. Siblings, still putting the "fun" in dysfunctional....

Parents... Yeah, some people hate their parents... (Some you can't blame, they've got reason to hate their parent(s) - others are just spoiled brats who dislike because their parent(s) had the gall to use the "N" word... as in NO - not the bad "N" word.) I've always had a decent enough relationship with my parents... I didn't always like them, but they never gave me reason to go all "Menendez" on them. Some days I'm sure they understood perfectly why some species ate their young. I still remember the day it dawned on me, "Hey, Mum and Dad aren't big, fat idiots after all." I'm sure they remember it too, or at least marked it on the calendar. Parents - the originals in putting the "fun" in dysfunctional.

Grandparents... Who can say a bad thing about their grandparents? Some can - I'm just not one of them... I knew all four of my grandparents... They were all cool... They'd get me all spun out on sugar... Slip me a couple bucks here and there.... Gave the rest of the family a place to meet up and visit... I think Grandparents invented the "fun" in dysfunctional.

Aunts, Uncles and first cousins... I was fortunate enough to have 8 biological aunts (2 sisters for Mum, 6 for Dad) and 3 biological Uncles (1 bro for Ma, and 2 for Dad). In all, I've got 20 cousins... Those 20 cousins produced 4 second cousins... There was never a shortage of kids to play with over the holidays - until we got older, moved away and didn't get home on the holidays. Aunts/Uncles/Cousins - the reason "fun" is in dysfunctional.

Anything other than my parents, younger brother, grandparents, and a few aunts, uncles and cousins.... My loyalties can't be counted upon. I know is sounds harsh, and I honestly wish nothing bad on the extended family.... I've just noticed some stuff over the years... Since my Grandpa passed away in 2001, I've noticed his family has become more withdrawn from our sector of the family. My family from Texas will come to Canada, and go to Vancouver Island where Grandpa's older brother and sister live.... Do you think they stop in the Okanagan to see my Grandma, Mum, Aunts, and Uncle? I don't recall hearing about that visit... These people are each other's Cousins/Aunts/Uncles/Nieces/Nephews. It's not like they are distant relatives that have never met. It aggravated me, I've come to terms that the "fun" isn't there....

My Dad has an Aunt who has lived in Edmonton for years. Since I moved here in May of 2003, I've seen her maybe 3 or 4 times... The only reason I did see her the 3 or 4 times is because when my parents came to visit me from BC, we went out for a few hours to visit her as well. If it weren't for my parents, I doubt I'd ever have seen her. My Mum's cousin's family live just outside of Edmonton... The Cousin's granddaughter was pregnant and they were going to come to Edmonton to do some shopping and made mention of meeting up for lunch or something... It never happened.... The cousin got sick and passed away suddenly and that was the end of that. Back in September, I did see my Grandpa's brother's granddaughter. (My 3rd cousin??? I'm not even sure how the labelling works...) At any rate, she's a sweet girl and brought her 6 month old son out to Edmonton to visit her Dad.... If it wasn't for Facebook, I doubt I would have seen them at all.... I noticed in her status that she was boarding a plane and was heading out this way... I asked if I would be getting to see her and her boy. It took her Mum pointing out the fact that I asked her on Facebook to get the ball rolling... Taking the "fun" out.

I don't mean to sound disrespectful, but if that's how they want to be - fine! Let them, I'd love to get to know them better, hang out and maybe become friends as well as family... More allies in this day and age, the better. If they aren't interested, there's not much I can do... Except turn close friends into family.... I've got a close friend that I call my sister. She's got one son that I refer to as my nephew and he calls me "Auntie Lauren". I've been "adopted" by her family and I consider them my 2nd family. I'd probably step up to bat for them faster then some of the people that I am blood related too.

What's my point... Sometimes I forget even... I guess what I'm trying to say is, you can't pick your family... You can pick your friends... And sometimes, your friends come before certain members of your family... Who you going to help move? Your best buddy in the whole wide world? Or your third cousin you haven't seen since y'all were 10 years old? Who you going to call to pick you up from work if your car breaks down? Best pal in the world? Or someone who won't come see you under any other circumstances?

It may sound like I'm bitter and promoting hate or resentment... But I guarantee I'm not. I've been bitten by the Genealogy bug and want to trace my family tree as far back as I can... I've even got family from Norway on my Facebook. When I was in Whistler working the Olympics, I managed to get a few days off in a row. I jammed to Vancouver and Victoria to see family. I saw my Dad's younger brother, his wife/my aunt, and both my cousins in Vancouver. I then went to Victoria, saw one of Dad's younger sisters and two of my cousins... I also went and saw my Grandpa's older sister and brother, that were mentioned earlier on, and one of Grandpa's younger sisters. I'm not a hater... I made the effort....

It's not always about me; is blood really thicker than water though?