Thursday, November 30, 2006

As long as one keeps one's expectations in check...

So, today was the day where the Junior Achievement company I am involved with came to my workplace, to try to sell their products to our employees. All of the Ottawa JA companies were invited. This happens every year, and the last two years our companies did very well. This year turned out to be a wee bit disappointing... Our company only sold 2 products, for a total of 10$ in sales. Sigh... I am not much help in the marketing department, so I feel partially responsible for not reminding them of the importance of getting things done right and on time. Case in point, some of the achievers showed up wearing jeans. This is a fairly big no-no, as they're supposed to look professional. And they had all the training and documents reminding them of it. But I didn't remind them :(

Oh well, at least it gave them some motivation to make some changes, and maybe be a little better prepared for the next sales date. Time flies so fast, it's hard to believe that we're way past the mid-point of the program. Our sales in general are going fairly well, but our lackluster performance at group sales is certainly not a good sign.

I think I take this stuff way too seriously ;) I don't really care whether our company gets awarded company of the year or anything like that, but I would certainly like us to achieve full potential, and not miss opportunities because of fotgetfulness.

Monday will be a new day, and hopefully we iron out some of this stuff then...

Now it's on to volleyball (yay!).

Catch up with y'all later!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Weekend? What weekend?

And just like that, the weekend is over. I was really looking forward to a nice weekend (the weather was unseasonally nice), and to getting lots of things done. As it is, I am not sure where the time went. Well, when I think about it, we went to a concert where my choir (the Ottawa McGill Alumni Choir) sang a few songs on Friday night, I went to a dance show on Saturday night, and we had dinner with friends on Sunday afternoon. The rest of the time, I did a few batches of laundry (we were running behind), and a bit of cooking and cleaning. I guess the major accomplishment was replacing bulbs in the christmas lights that are installed on the barn. There were lots of burned out bulbs, and the top of the barn is over 40 feet tall, so this was a big job. But now we can have a fully-lit barn:

The Friday night concert went pretty well, it was quite a long show, with all sorts of performers. It put us into the Christmas spirit, since many of the songs were seasonal. I think we managed to sound pretty good (although my voice was at times squeaky, not being properly warmed up). We messed up in a few spots, but I don't think the audience noticed. We have three more performances before the break, so we'll get a chance to iron out those little issues.

On Saturday night, the show we went to was by a Belgian group called "C. de la B.", which is ostensibly a ballet troupe, but the performance was very modern, and so much more than just ballet. I was reading the biographies of the artists after the fact, and many of them have a circus background, which showed. There were many moments where we were shocked to see what these people were able to do with their bodies. I was mostly impressed with how accessible the whole show was - I am not usually one that "gets" dance shows all that well, but I actually felt all sorts of emotions that (I hope) the choreographer was trying to invoke. It was a very stirring, and at times even disturbing performance.

Hoping all our friends on the West Coast are somehow digging themselves out of the piles of snow! I can't believe the weather reports I'm seeing from out there!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Buy nothing day

So tomorrow is apparently the International Buy Nothing Day. I won't have time for shopping anyway, since I'll be at work all day and then singing in a concert with my choir, so it won't really be much of a stretch to not go into a store :) So I guess I will buy nothing on Saturday. I don't think I can stretch that to the whole weekend, because I suspect we will need some kind of food before Monday :) But I will try to not buy anything other than food all weekend.

On Saturday I am going to the NAC to see another ballet! Really looking forward to that.

Gotta go, hope to write a little more very soon!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Back to the grind...

Long time no post (or at least it feels like it). Another weekend is behind us... My folks were here and helped us re-build the wood pile. It's back to its former glory of around 7ft hight. Lots of work, but also lots of fun...

In other news, I have a bunch of pictures for you... Mama-cat had another litter (yes, I know, don't get me started, she's getting "the operation" this week). The neighbours called us over on the weekend to show us the 3 week old kittens. They are pretty cute (very fuzzy), although they still look so tiny and helpless... Unfortunately the lighting in the barn was pretty poor, so I didn't get too many good pictures (either they're washed out, blurry, or too dark to see anything...), but I can show you the few that worked out :)

There are five new kittens: one orange one (just like Mommy), one grey one, and two white ones (which we suspect is the colour of the Daddy-cat, as we've been seeing a white cat hanging around...). We now have to try and find homes for at least 6 cats... The neighbours certainly don't need 8 cats hanging around the barn :)

I also snapped a picture of one of the other kittens (I think this one is the boy-cat, Tim). The older siblings are getting so big, they're outgrowing the Mom. They need to visit the vet as well, otherwise they will soon be having their own litters... But they're becoming very friendly and they're as curious as ever, so they like to hang around people. Even when we were chopping wood, which causes a lot of loud banging noises, the girl-cat (Bits) came over and didn't seem bothered by any of the wood noises at all. Now on the other hand rustling leaves or grass gets her attention right away. Go figure :) I even managed to pick her up a few times - can she ever purr! But she's an independent cat, and jumps out of my arms after a minute or so :)

I also managed to snap a picture of our neighbour getting a kidss from his youngest horse. Isn't this cute? The picture is a little fuzzy, but it was the best I could do with the abysmal lighting (as far as photography is concerned anyway). I'll try to go over sometime this week, and snap some more pics so I can post them here. I need more kitten pictures for sure!

Aside from that, on Saturday we went over to our friend's place for the 20th annual Beaujolais Nouveau potluck. As always, it was an excellent evening, with awesome food and great company. After we got home, we played a few hands of bridge with my parents, to end the day with a bang (as usual, we lost, but I think we played fairly well).

It all made for a very busy weekend, but a very enjoyable one, with lots of time spent outside, great food and company.

And now it's back to the grind. I have to go chasing after a problem that seems to be really hard to reproduce, so I need to put my thinking cap on :)


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Found profound...

So today in my yoga class I had a flash of insight. I came up with a "profound" quality: compassion. It's not my highest quality, so I will not be using it when the instructor asks us to think of our "highest, most profound quality", but at least it tells me that there are qualities that I consider profound (as opposed to the shallow ones, like good sense of humour). From now on, my mission in yoga class is to come up with a new profound quality every time, until I find one that applies to me :) I like a good challenge!

On the good news side, had a chat with my manager yesterday again, and things are back to good :) He was surprised at my disappointment over the last meeting, as he thought he'd given me mostly positive feedback. And he agrees with MB (see comments at last Friday's post) that he needs to give me more visible/important work in the future ;) So I am feeling slightly better on that front as well.

Things are pretty busy at work this week, so I think my posts will be short and sparse!


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A new city

Well, it's a new day in the city of Ottawa. Yesterday we had the municipal elections, and we now have a new mayor: Larry O'Brien. He's a former high-tech CEO, which could be great news or terrible news. We'll just have to see.

I am happy to report that I voted in the elections, though we barely made it to the polls. My Junior Achievement meeting ended shortly before 7, and DH picked me up. We didn't have our voting cards, but figured we could just head to the voting place. Unfortunately they couldn't find our street there, so they sent us to another place, which was a bit closer to our street (but further from our house). They couldn't find us there either. So we ended up going home, finding our voting cards, and making it back to the first place (go figure), with something like 10 minutes to spare. Well, at least we did our civic duty :)

Today also marks the release of Stephan Moccio's new album "Exposure". I saw Stephan a few weeks ago, and really loved the music. I have the CD sampler (signed by the artist himself), but I will definitely be picking up the whole album as well. It's good, moody piano music. You can hear a sample on the website.

Aside from that, not much else is new. Our JA company is finally catching up. We doubled our total production yesterday, and things should go smoothly from now on. We also had 2 executives drop out, but two other students stood up to take over. So the company lives on, though in a slightly different format :)

That's it for the news today! Later!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Quiet weekend

Well, it's Monday, and the weekend is over. This was a quiet one, since DH was feeling quite a bit under the weather, which meant he slept half the weekend away. It also meant no work got done outside (most of the jobs that are left are two-person jobs). So we stayed inside the house, and I did some much overdue house cleaning. On Saturday we did manage to get out of the house for a few errands, and to go to a party hosted by a coworker of mine (it was a blast). On Sunday, we just stayed in all day.

The good news is that we finally started cutting the baseboards for the basement. They've been lying around the basement for almost 2 years now, just waiting to be cut, painted, and installed, and now we've almost completed step 1 (there's probably around 7 cuts left). Hopefully sometime later this month we can pick up a can of paint, so we can finish this job. It would be so nice if we could get it all done before the holidays! Not sure how realistic that is, though :)

Aside from that, last night we watched a movie (Catwoman - wouldn't recommend it), and of course our weekly installment of "Amazing Race" - it's down to 5 pairs now, and that's when it starts getting really exciting!

And now it's back to work. I have a pretty full plate today, but it's all stuff I like doing, so I expect the day to just fly by. Of course there's JA this afternoon (we finally have a
!), which makes the day even shorter :) And today is municipal elections day, hopefully I can get to the poles in time...


Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday blues...

Sigh... It's Friday, and you would think that is a good thing (what with the weekend being just around the corner and all). Instead, I seem to be all gloomy...

In our Yoga class, our instructor always asks us at the end to think of "the biggest, most profound quality" that we posess. We do this every session, twice a week, and usually I can come up with something (and it's not always the same quality). Today, I just drew a blank. For the first time in a year of yoga classes. I mean, I can think of qualities, maybe even come up with a most important one, but "profound"? I couldn't think of anything that I would qualify as profound...

Maybe I'm taking this a little too seriously (probably). Maybe I am still getting over my so-so performance review yesterday (very likely) - well, it's not like it was bad, just not as good as it could have been I suppose. Maybe I just need a swift kick in the behind so I get over myself (definitely!). Being depressed is definitely no fun :(

On the plus side, we're going over to a coworker's house tomorrow afternoon for a party. The Christmas related festivities are starting early this year :) That promises to be lots of fun, and it should at least get my off my gloomy couch...


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Musing in multiple dimensions...

So I was driving home last night, coming back from my choir practice, and I was thinking about blogging. Trying to figure out why I find it so useful. I mean, of course there's the whole aspect of keeping a record of what's going on in our life (cool), keeping friends and family up to date on what's up (very cool), and generally keeping in touch with people (very cool). But I realized there was an additional aspect to this, that's really beneficial to me. It's kind of weird, and it's possible that it onl makes sense at 9pm on a dirt road in the dark, but I'm going to try to explain it anyway.

I think writing in the blog forces me to linearize my thoughts. When I write here, I try to keep a certain flow, a logical progression of things. Which I believe is the easiest way to communicate something to others. Unfortunately, it looks to me like the thoughts in my head are multi-dimensional. It's like I have multiple processors in my head, all taking my thoughts in different directions. Which is why I tend to use (and abuse) parantheses all the time, just to capture a fleeting thought that's going in a completely different direction. It reminds me of my university days, when in conversations with my friend J-L, he would keep track of the nested parantheses that I introduced. I think he once got to 10 parantheses (or 10 different subjects, all originated from the same starting point). I would always close all the parantheses, and eventually bring all those separate thoughts to a conclusion, but I can imagine that kind of conversation may be a little hard for people to follow. Just because it makes sense in my head, doesn't mean it's interlocuter-friendly :)

So I am hoping that writing in the blog, being an exercise in thought linearization, will improve my conversational skills. Maybe it's wishful thinking, or maybe I'm simply a little crazy (I'm wondering if the description above makes sense to anyone else - I guess we'll see).

This concludes today's peek into my crazy brain :)

Take care!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Back to the wood pile

Yay! Yesterday in the mail we received a few chainsaw parts that I ordered online a few days ago. This is my first "real" online purchase, from a small company somewhere in OHIO. There are only two local places that sell Ryobi parts, both with very short hours, and when I actually dropped by, the guy working there was extremely patronizing. I suppose they don't get women showing up there very often... So instead of going through the whole rigamarole of trying to order parts locally, I just looked them up on the web. All I really needed was a little rubber cap for the oil tank - it's gotten worn out over the last year, and it kept falling off the chainsaw (hard to find a little thing like that in a mountain of sawdust). This part costs less than 3$ on the website, so I grabbed 4 of them, and a replacement chain as well, just in case. We should be good for a few years to come.

Which means we will probably get back to wood pile maintenance on the weekends. Since late September we've been burning wood as our only source of heat for the house. It's great because we don't have to run the oil furnace (which hasn't had its yearly maintenance done yet), but it also means that we're putting a dent into the stacked wood pile. We still have plenty of logs to process, though :) So as we burn the stacked wood, ideally we should be replacing it by cutting up and chopping the big logs. And now that the chainsaw is back in operation, we can do just that!

In other news, last night I went over to visit our friend with the twins. They are so cute!!! They're now crawling, and are learning to walk with support (like a coffe table, or preferably an adult whose hand you can hold on to). I think they vaguely remember me, as they seemed intrigued by my face, but it may just be wishful thinking :) I had a lot of fun playing with them (well, mostly E), walking, jumping and crawling on the floor. I have a feeling that their first words are coming soon, which is a good sign that they're adapting well!

That's it for updates for today. I'm about to go to my choir practice (Yay!)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Busy busy weekend

What a busy weekend... As you can see in the pictures, today we decided to clean out the loft in the barn. There was a thick layer of 5 year old hay all over the floor, and we'd been planning to get rid of it since we bought the house. But those things take time, I guess :) Even though they were predicting rain today, it turned out to be a fairly nice, pleasant day, so we figured this was our chance. Plus, for once there are no cars in the barn - the neighbour who usually stores his cars with us has taken them out for a few weeks.

So we suited up into our hazmat suits (we were covered head to toe, with eye protection and breathing masks). Since there always seems to be some mice in the barn, we just wanted to be safe. And we were really glad we did after the fact - the breathing masks were just filthy with grey-brown dust, and we would have breathed it all in otherwise. Yuck! Of course all that clothing and masks made us really hot and sweaty, and it wasn't very easy to breathe, but that's just the way it goes...

We made a lot of discoveries in the hay of the loft. Newspapers, plastic bags, abandoned hornets nests, weird old Halloween masks (?). We were raking everything out through the big opening at the front of the barn. Once thrown out, the hay ended up in a huge pile, that we carted out into the woods, one wheelbarrowful at a time. We were hoping to get everything done today, but unfortunately we only managed to do half of the loft. Hopefully, next weekend will be nice enough to continue the work (and maybe even finish it!). We've been talking about this for so long, it would be awesome to have it finally done.

But that's just the story of Sunday. Friday night and Saturday were just as busy, if not busier. Friday night we dropped by Home Depot to pick up an electric fireplace for the basement (no payment and no interest until 2008 - yahoo!). The thing came in two boxes, which we were hoping would fit in the wagon... Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, only one of them fit at a time. So DH had to go home with the one car (and one box), and come back with the other car to get me and the second box. Luckily we live fairly close to the store... Once we got both boxes home, we realized we weren't able to carry the big box up the stairs into the house (and then down the stairs into the basement). According to the figures on the box, it weighed 193lbs... No wonder we had trouble carrying it... Luckily DH suggested we open it then and there, and it turned out there were smaller boxes inside, much easier to carry... But after getting all the pieces into the basement, we were pooped, and just went to bed.

Saturday morning, we put the fireplace together. It turned out to be a pretty easy job, just 8 pieces and 20 screws. It's electric, so there is no chimney, and it has a granite top, which makes it look really sharp. We already placed a couch and a coffee table in front of it, and it creates a nice cozy corner in the big empty basement room. We've also tested that it will warm up the room pretty well (it can get a little chilly down there in the winter).

After the big assembly job, we had a quick lunch, and then I left the house to go meet some friends for coffee. We had a fantastic time catching up and having very interesting philosophical discussions. We talked about finding purpose and meaning in life, while at the same time staying true to oneself, and taking care of what matters most to us. It's a pretty vast topic, really, and we probably could have discussed it for days... Well, maybe not in a coffee shop ;)

After the get-together, I ran a few errands, then re-convened with friends for supper. I had sushi for the first time in my life (the real thing, raw fish and all). I wasn't too adventurous, and didn't touch the octopus, but the stuff that I had wasn't nearly as weird as I was worried it would be. In fact it tasted kind of nice. I guess I am finally growing up (when it comes to food anyway), and I can finally appreciate the more exotic cuisine. I used to always be very much a "meat and potatoes" kind of girl, but I am glad I can be a little more adventurous, at least from time to time.

After supper, we went to see a concert. We saw a young jazz singer by the name of Sophie Millman, performing songs from her self-titled debut CD. It was a very nice assortment of songs, Sophie has a great voice and lots of talent, and she's very beautiful to boot. But for me, the opening act stole the show. Just a guy with a piano, Stephane Moccio managed to capture my imagination and tug at my heartstrings with his haunting melodies and lively delivery. The anecdotes between the songs were great too. His debut CD is coming out on November 14, and I certainly plan on getting it.

Before I sign off, here's a picture that DH snapped of me, writing this blog:

'til next time!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thoughts about parenting

Yes, I know, I am not a parent, and I'm sure it's a lot different than anything I may imagine. But that doesn't prevent me from having some opinions on the subject (though I do try to keep most of them to myself). And sometimes I can't help but voice my thoughts :O Last night DH showed me an article that made both of us shake our heads in disbelief. The article was written by a teacher complaining about the current trend in the Ontario school system to force all the students to pass their class. In the particular case described in the article, the teacher recommended that a student who had missed 2/3 of the school year (and hence did not master the knowledge required) should repeat that grade. But the parents of the teenager insisted that repeating a class would be damaging to the kid's self-esteem, and he was allowed to pass to the next grade.

So basically, the message being sent to kids these days is "you can't do wrong - skip classes, ignore your homework, and if your parents love you enough, they will make sure you still make it to the next grade". Sometimes I have to wonder if people really think that self-esteem comes from having everything in the world handed to you? Somehow, I don't think it's that simple :)

So today DH sends me this gem of an insightful thought: it seems that a lot of parents nowadays justify their behaviour by saying "I want my kids to have the best/everything they can". But shouldn't we be focusing instead on "I want my kids to BE the best/everything they can be"? It would seem that those two goals are almost orthogonal in the way you would go about to accomplishing them. Not saying that either is easy, or obvious, but I think that DH really hit on something if not deep, then at least interesting to ponder.

After all, the saying doesn't go "Have all you can have!" :)