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The weather and I are in agreement

I haven’t blogged at all this week because I’ve been fighting and losing a battle with a nasty cold all week. And by all week I mean ALL WEEK. It started with a little scratchy throat last Wednesday, was a full-blown cold by the next morning and has migrated from my head to my chest throughout the week. And it’s been nasty. I’ve had to throw all the cold pills at my disposal, a cough syrup with codeine to quench the rib-cracking cough, pots of tea with lemon and three boxes of Kleenex at it.

And the weather has been reflecting my mood. With overcast skies, a drizzly rain here and there and a FULL BLOWN snow warning with 10-20 centimeters expected tonight, spring has been waging its own war with the remnants of winter. And my daffodils just opened, and my tulips just came up, and my peas have just poked their first wee leaves out of the ground. I hope they’re as frost resistant as they say.



So that’s the scoop on the prairie – Calgary weather still sucks.

In other news, I’m really sad about the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill since I work in conventional oil and gas. (No oil sands and no offshore here). The confluence of events has resulted in a spill that seems poised to be the greatest environmental disaster in history. Since the Exxon-Valdez spill is still affecting the northern coast and has not gone anywhere despite the years of clean up efforts, it does not bode well for the Gulfs future.


What I’m curious about is why there isn’t a huge international relief effort being organized as we speak to attempt to clean up the insane mess that’s already there? As far as I know every country in the world has offered assistance, and I see the governor of Louisiana on TV proposing clean up measures that are going unanswered. Small fishermen that are placing their own boats in harm’s way are being turned away by the Coast Guard pretty much at gunpoint? What the hell? As far as I can tell while BP sorts out whatever solution to stop the leak every single willing person should be swarming the Gulf to try and minimize the damage.

So guys I’ll be back soon with something of interest, but until then I’ll be buried with my Kleenex in the nearest snow bank.

First spring drive

Our car’s lease had expired last August, and in an attempt to save money we shared one vehicle for the winter. This arrangement made sense since I prefer not to have much of a life in the cold, dark winter months, and I loved the ready made excuse as to why there’s no food in the house: ‘But honey, you’ve been working all weekend, and I can’t fly to the grocery store…’  Other than the odd weekend when James had to work and I got cabin fever it worked out very well.

But spring was in the air and the time for road trips was looming. We spend a large portion of summer weekends driving around – from exploring Alberta’s roads to longer drives to faraway places and the need for a car was becoming evident. Much searching and a bit of arguing ensued, and in the end I simply did what girlfriends have done since time immemorial, when presented with a car shopping spree – I gave James the ultimate authority and washed my hands on the whole affair.  I think I said ‘surprise me’ – hey it works on bartenders.  

Which is how I ended up with a slightly impractical but gorgeous ’98 BMW in our driveway. The car was much loved and well taken care of. The owner presented us with a three inch binder of maintenance records and detailed care instructions. It came with upgrades that you need to speak car to understand. There was talk of rims and suspensions and air intakes, and all I could care about is whether the heated seats work.

Shortly after we took her for an inaugural drive. We took the closest road out of town and headed west into Kananaskis country which deposits one in the mountains within thirty minutes of our house. While James was exploring the potential of his first V-8 engine and acquainted himself with the handling of the car, I distracted myself by taking pictures. Because Alberta does have some spectacular scenery and the weather in the mountains is so changeable that each photo looked like it came from a different era. It amused me to no end and was much more calming than glancing at the speedometer.  The weather kept changing from dark and stormy to sunny so much it was psychedelic.


The road points west:



Wheat fields and a mountain backdrop:



Approaching the rockies:



Sunshine peeking out:



Ski hill – it’s totally snowing at the top:




As we kept going the sun decided it’s going for round two and peeked out again:




And by the time we pulled over at a lake it was chased out by light clouds:



Right before it started to rain, and we ran back to the car:



And drove home watching the cloud/sun interplay the entire way:



But now that the car has had its first drive and we are both comfortable with it, it’s going to go on a slightly longer drive – we’re visiting my in-laws in BC this weekend, just over six hours away, and their house happens to be one of my most favorite places on the planet. Hope you have an awesome May long weekend everyone!





Rough week



Last week has not been a good one. My boyfriend injured his back at work and I had to pick up the slack on the homefront. You would think that with only two of us and a few cats there wouldn’t be THAT much work to do, but you’d be wrong. We had oodles of gardening chores planned and the brunt of them fell on me. I promptly did what any person with such options would do, and recruited my currently unemployed brother to do the heavy lifting.


Together we mowed and raked the grass, aerated (the manual way, read HARD), overseeded with Eco-Lawn (a grass that promises to be wonderful, can’t wait to find out), and dug a huge trench. All of the above translated to about six hours of backbreaking labor between the TWO of us. And I work out pretty consistently, people. I pay my dues in countless push-ups, partial chin-ups and many curls, dips and squats. And *I* almost threw my back out after raking for less than an hour.  Yes we have a corner lot, so a bit more square footage to cover, but much of my backyard is also a concrete pad which you’d think would offset the grass a bit. And we’re not even done yet – there’s still weeding to be done, and raspberries to plant, and tomatoes to take outside as they’re ready to be hardened off now, and all of this is suddenly my sole responsibility. Now, if we were talking laundry or vacuuming or something, I’d just do the bare minimum required to keep us afloat and wait for life to settle down before catching up, but gardening waits for nobody, so done it got. Of course the laundry, vacuuming and cooking also didn’t magically take a vacation, and the fact that I can’t handle some plants, cats, and a house is precisely the reason why the thought of having children terrifies me.


Oh and did I mention the BUGS? The first bugs of the season are always a unique and special thrill. I seem to become a bit desensitized by the end of each summer, to the point where seeing the odd wee insect no longer elicits terrified screams that scare the neighborhood children, but the first few times I see a spider, all bets are off. They might be good for my yard, but they’re certainly bad for my adrenal glands and vocal cords. And I have no idea what they’re eating in my organic (read: disorganized with weeds) yard, but whatever it is it’s doing their body good. That sucker below is about the size of my palm.


Work has been its own set of pleasures this week what with the new IT department handily installing some new anti-virus software that’s making all our programs run like a turtle on valium. Again, normally I’d take this with a grain of salt and wait for someone louder than me to complain until it got resolved (the office is FULL of candidates), but wasting half my life waiting for some app to open for a half an hour has been just adding to my joie de vivre. On that note, I keep hearing about all these ‘trends’ in the workplace, like lessee, working from home and getting compensated for the value delivered rather than the hours put in, but do I see any of them here? Nope.  All I see is if I finish my work early, I get more work. Not leaving early, not more money to stay, but more work. Guess what that motivates me to do? If you guessed something along surfing the net, congratulations. I’ll save this rant for another day though, lots more to say on this subject.



Warning: If you’re squeamish, stop reading now….


The only cool thing that’s come out of the last few days involves me spending three hours browsing the Body Worlds Exhibit that’s currently in Calgary at the Science Centre. It was interesting and disturbing in equal measures, and has given me much food for thought.  I’ve always had a strong interest in how our bodies work, but am incredibly not competent at handling actual injury and blood so have never wanted to pursue a medical career. The thought of seeing the inner workings of the body was fascinating to me, and off I went to spend a pleasant afternoon looking at skinned bodies and medical slices of organs.  I have never had any fear of death or dying (provided it’s not cruel and unusual of course), so I didn’t expect the odd mix of reverence and vague disgust I felt while being surrounded by flayed bodies.  I will certainly tell you that a career as a pathologist would be out. (Actually I’ve often wondered about people who work as pathologists. No matter how much you like to solve the mystery of someone’s death it’s a disturbing and often disgusting profession to be in. How do you get the smell out of your skin and hair at the end of the day? But I digress.)


The exhibit is an odd mixture of posed bodies with anatomical diagrams, slices and samples of various organs and their functions and pseudo-philosophical posters on the walls ruminating on everything from consciousness to the existence of a soul.  It definitely has some great points, the crystal clear workings of the organs, muscles, tendons and nerves that make up our bodies, the amazing depictions of what cancer actually looks like, or what smoking does to a lung (not as much as coal mining), and something that I found very impactful – a slice of an obese man. The visual of the layer of fat that surrounds his midsection is vivid enough, but it’s seeing how his internal organs are displaced and overtaken by body fat that was the strong visual to process.  The artistic and voyeuristic aspect of the exhibit is the part that’s harder to swallow. On one hand you have documented, consenting donors that offered their bodies for education. On the other hand you’re looking at human bodies, skinned, whimsically posed, often with odd bits of skin intact – the eyebrows, belly buttons, hair and there is some discomfort with that, no doubt about it.


I was surprised at how many young kids were there with their parents. Of course they handled it better than the adults did, showing true fascination for everything and asking pretty intelligent questions. Still I figured there was a minimum age in most parent’s head below which the exhibit would simply not be productive but tiring, like eight or something. I was wrong. In fact the cross-section of Calgary that made it there was pretty impressive – all ages, all genders, all types of people made their way to check out the workings of our bodies and ponder the contradiction between a dissection and a work of art.  If you think you can handle it – I’d recommend it.