Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And now for something completely different

If you remember the Muppet Show, you know why this is funny:

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Ancestral Pile

We don't do Christmas presents in our family. It simplifies things remarkably. I'm enough of a Scrooge to have extended that policy to my entire network of friends as well.

Sometimes, though, if there's an event, or the perfect gift, we break the rule.

This falls into the "perfect gift" category:

Aerial photos of the farm. Taken in late July, just as the canola is starting to bloom. The first photo is the view from the east, and the second is the view from the north.
I am blown away. I don't think I had ever told my mother that I'd hoped to have a copy of all the aerial photos taken throughout the years in a progression.

I suspect she's digging for the older photos right now.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I am steamed. Really, truly steamed.

I just got a heads up on a Yahoo news story about the possibility of re-opening the abortion debate.

The Honourable Member for Winnipeg South, Rod Bruinooge is reportedly the head of a secret parliamentary committee that appears to be aiming to criminalize abortion.

That is wrong.

A woman should never, ever be required to carry a fetus to term, if she is unwilling or unable. I don't care if the woman in question is 17 or 57. If she doesn't want it, or is unable to care for it, or is the victim of unspeakable violence, a woman should not have to risk her life to bear a child she does not want or is unable to care for.

Period. End of discussion.

If I were pregnant, and felt that termination was my only (and right) choice, I would want to have the procedure in a safe environment.

Criminalizing abortion will not end abortion. It will just send abortion procedures and providers underground or south of the border. Mr. Bruinooge, you've got some 'splaining to do. You can expect my letter shortly.

Either abortion remains legal, or you (and I mean you, Mr. Bruinooge) can bear the next unwanted baby that comes around. Then, maybe (and that's a big maybe) you can tell me what to do with my body.

And... the holiday obligations are over.

I spent the afternoon with my grandparents.

Seeing how much joy they got from sitting around and yakking with me for a couple hours makes me think that it is something I should do more often. Really, it wasn't really that much time out of my life, to drive an hour down the road and make two old fogies insanely happy. It's the rest of the family that drives me crazy. I actually like my grandparents.

And did we ever talk. We talked about the gang problem in the inner city, violence in Africa, how I'm doing at work, the differences in accounting designations, knitting, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and acoustics, how Anglican services are strange but nice (they are soooo not Anglican, and neither am I), how Christmas was nice because they had holopchi and borscht, not turkey and dressing. We talked about their children (one of whom is my mother), plans for their funerals, genealogy. We talked about just about everything.

They spent a great deal of time talking about how interesting it was that my brothers are such engaged fathers. They were baffled by seeing a father jump up and take his two-year-old daughter to the bathroom when she yelled "PEE!" at the top of her lungs (it would be terrible to get the Dora panties dirty, doncha know).

I told my grandparents that I expected no less of my brothers.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Oi! Christmas!

Me: You know, I have a problem with Christmas. It's meaning has been completely perverted. If you give a gift, in the true sense of the word, it's freely given. No obligation.

Dad: You're right. You know, I was doing...(a job, on a thing that I don't understand) and I was talking to this nice young fellow (whose expertise is also a thing that I don't understand) and he gave me this doohickey.... and then he asked me to make some other doohickey (by the way, my dad is a blacksmith, and a damn fine one) and I told him that was a fair exchange. The fellow said no. I gave you a gift. I want to pay you for the doohickeys.

Me: Dad. You just received a gift. You don't value yourself enough. You are a good man. You are deserving of gifts.

Dad: Oh, well, I just like to work hard...

Me: Dad. Shut Up. You deserve a gift.

Dad: Oh.

Yes. Dad. You deserve gifts. You are a good man. You are the best man in my life. Don't sell yourself short. Please.


Me: And guess what? Jesus was probably black!

Dad: Yeah, and honestly, being born in a stable was a blessing! That was divine intervention. It was quiet, without the drink and the gambling, and nice clean straw is better than whatever passed for a bed in the day.

Aaaw Dad. I agree that Jesus was a pretty cool guy. No argument on the hygiene either. That's a pretty sweet perspective. Makes me want to believe.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Yule

From all of us at Chez Peepee.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Playing host to Flat Stanley

Have you heard about Flat Stanley? It's a story about a kid who gets squished, somehow, and realizes that he can fit into an envelope, and decides to travel the world.

I don't know this story (I remember a story about sentient brown wrapping paper), but when one of my Ravelry peeps put the call out for destinations, I responded. Here's a diary of how Flat Stanley and I spent our Saturday (frankly, it was nice to have company).

Flat Stanley was disgustingly under-dressed, but Saturday was a nice day - only -16C, with the wind chill making it -33C. That's the nicest day we've had for a week, here in WinterPeg.

We started off at Portage and Main, a well-known landmark. It is the windiest corner, well, anywhere as far as I know. What makes it special is that this corner was immortalized in a song (Prairie Wind) written by Randy Bachman and performed by Neil Young (there's sound, so be warned when you click those links):

And as you can see, it was windy.

Stanley was unimpressed that this famous intersection is not pedestrian-friendly. We had to go underground to cross the street.

Then Stanley decided that he was under-caffeinated, so we stopped at the Canadian landmark that is on every god-damn corner, and got ourselves a coffee.

I took pity on poor Stanley, and we spent a few moments indoors. We checked out the statue of Timothy Eaton (and rubbed his toe for good luck, as is tradition):

Sadly, though, it was back outdoors, down Memorial Boulevard to have his photo taken in front of the Manitoba Legislative Building. He very kindly included me in the photo:

At that point, I looked at my watch, and realized we were going to be late for my shift at the yarn shop. So, we hoofed it down the road.

Stanley was not impressed with what a country girl like me considers a nice stroll:

He was all “fuck that shit, I’m not getting out of this bag, lady, you enjoy yourself.” So, I did:

I took pity on him for a moment, but then made him get out of my bag to have his picture taken in front of the oldest curling club in Winnipeg. Curling is an adults-only sport if there ever was one – until recently, smoking and drinking were allowed on the ice. Sadly, I never got the hang of it.

He was much more comfortable in the yarn shop. He warmed up with the Freedom Wool and Malabrigo worsted:

After my shift, we flew home, and relaxed for a bit. With wine and a smoke:

Stanley is a mooch. He was bumming smokes the whole time.

But, soon, it was time to head off to the pub(s).

We ran into Santa:

And a naughty Santa he was! He spanked me, because apparently, I have not been a good girl. Seemed to be good buds with Stan, too.

And we found some buddies:

Well, Stanley and I got home about 3:30 AM, and needless to say, the two of us were useless Sunday. But, we had a wonderful time with all my peeps!
I think I need some downtime. I don’t think I can handle the pace when Stanley’s around.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What recession?

Good news:

I received my bonus today. It is much larger than expected (actually, I didn't expect one at all).

Bad news:

No raise, and I am "management" and therefore earning at a level where a cost of living raise isn't warranted. Cool. No biggie. I'd lose it all to tax and increased pension contributions anyway.

More good news:

Boss Man wants to pay all my education costs, even the university program I didn't get into and the repeat courses. Given the associated tax deductions, I'll probably come out ahead.


So, all this money is seriously burning a hole in my pocket. All the things I've wanted or needed over the past couple months can happen.

Such as:

  • Ipod (though the existing one has recovered, with the exception of the back light)
  • Work shoes
  • Bras (sometimes, being a girl sucks. Underwear is expensive, and the girls are getting to the age where they need a little help)
  • SAD lamp
  • Lighter winter coat (for, you know, the not-quite-so-miserable days)
  • Freezer

Or, I could just clear my overdraft. Which is probably what I will do. Sigh. I really would prefer yarn, books and CDs. Or go to Sock Summit 2009.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I just got off the phone. I spent 35 minutes talking to my assistant from the job from hell.

Ten (yes, 10!) people have left in the past month. More have lodged formal complaints about a certain manager that prompted me to make my own career move, more than a year ago.

Incompetent people are being promoted. Talented people have left.

Boss Lady is retiring early, sacrificing valuable pension contributions, in order to escape the toxicity.

I'm sending Jr. all my HR contacts in the morning. Everyone deserves fruitful, rewarding work, in a workplace that is healthy. My girl doesn't have that now.

If I was hiring, she'd come and work for me.

Construction Inc. is a very, very good place to be. Wouldn't trade it for anything right now, even though the walk from the bus stop in -40C weather is not pleasant.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You asked for it!

As I was leaving knit night tonight, I stuck the unfinished jug (well, to be more accurate, tetra-pak (so sue me! It's lighter!)) of white wine in my bag and said something to the effect of, "See ya later! I'll be drinking this when I get home!"

I was running out the door when I heard, "I hope you blog about it!"


Clearly, this blog has been lacking the funny and stupid lately. I think I can help y'all out with that.

First, the funny:

Star Wars: The Saga Begins (by Weird Al Yankovic)

Embedding is disabled, so you must click that link. That's going to be my next karaoke song. It will be awesome (also, how did I not know about this until yesterday? I love it!).

Second, the stupid:

I was in bossman's office last Friday, admiring his ipod.

I have an ipod. Nothing wrong with it. Bossman's ipod was just newer and nicer. I said that I wanted a new one, but couldn't justify it, because there was nothing wrong with mine.

Flash to Monday morning: I've sent my ipod through the washing machine and the dryer.

It may recover. It may not. I might be getting that new ipod. Twice the capacity, half the price of what I paid, three years ago. Technology sucks.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Well, whaddaya know!!!1!

Look, I made the machine work! And it even looks like knitting.

Seriously, after the second row, it took me all of five minutes to do this:

I've got to figure out garter stitch, and FSM knows that it will take me a while to get around to ribbing, but right now, I'm pleased to have stockinette.

Clearly, it's not perfect - I did drop a couple stitches (see upper left), but still, five minutes!

Time to try with real wool, I think. Not ackrylic. I think I see a felted cat bed in my future (felting will hide all the mistakes).

Monday, December 8, 2008

My new toy

That, my friends, is a Bond Knitting Machine.

I've had it for a couple weeks now, and I managed to resist temptation until yesterday.

So far, I can cast on. Yippee! I suppose I'll have to practise a bit before I start cranking out a blanket over a couple evenings.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Prorogue or Perogie?

I swear, if I hear one more sour cream joke, I'll get the tub out of the fridge and dump it on someone's head (possibly last night's exam invigilator. And no, I'm not eating your Hershey's Kiss. My mom told me to not take candy from strangers).

I've been very distracted, this past week, by the sound of Newsworld in the background as I've been trying to study (I finally gave up and shut it off. After the Governor General's decision).

I have a few things to say:

Mr. Harper: You are a bully. Stop it, or I will take your toys away from you and send you home. Don't make me speak to your wife.

Liberal Party of Canada: Either get behind your leader, Mr. Dion, or dump him. You pick.

Mr. Layton: This is as close as you and your party are going to get to having a real voice in Parliament. Don't screw it up.

Mr. Duceppe: Can I move to Quebec? How's the farming out there? I'd like to bring my family with me. All 10 of them.

Ms. Jean: I don't envy you. I don't think you made the right decision, but you made a careful decision.

I am quite disgusted with all of the parties right now. I usually like minority governments. I certainly didn't like the last one. This one's not shaping up much better.

I'm not as freaked out about the economy as others are. Mostly because I think it's a long overdue correction. I'm sitting pretty, in a house that I bought at a reasonable price and I go every day to a job that compensates me well and isn't disappearing anytime soon. And if it does disappear, I'm in the right industry - accountants are always in demand. We deliver bad news, and we are good at it. Furthermore, I'm not planning on retiring for another 30 years, so I'm not worried about the hit I've taken on my investment portfolio.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not worried about my fellow Canadians. The ones who are working in manufacturing and forestry, and don't have the skills to move into other industries. The ones who hoped to retire, and just watched the retirement kitty tank. The ones who just got a good job, and might lose it now, because we are all freaking out.

To all of us: Please, stop freaking out! Let's take every day as it comes (I'm looking at you, market investors) and not have an extreme reaction every time it looks like a financial forecast or 3rd quarter results might not be as rosy as you predicted.

You know, we brought this on ourselves. We got used to high returns, so traders bought and sold, to inflate the commissions and make it look like there was exceptional portfolio growth. And executives responded, by devising new instruments to finance investment that wasn't needed, except to satisfy market expectations.

Who is the market? I am. You are. The $50 or $100 every payday that is sent into a mutual fund. The 4% of your gross salary contributed to your pension (did you know that the biggest investor in Canada is the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan?). We are the investors demanding the increased returns and inflated stock prices. We brought this on ourselves. And those companies delivered. They manufactured cheap, inferior consumer products that we bought. On credit. Because we wanted nice shiny things. Just to have.

It's time to pay the piper, and I don't think anyone has figured out that we are in the band.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Done. For now.

My boss said something earlier this week, and it really resonated. He said the exam was an opportunity to show them how much I know.

To show them how much I know... wow. Not to weed out the stupid ones, or to make me crack under the pressure.

So, I stood back. Tried not to panic... and it went OK.

I'm sure I could have done more studying (frankly, my study groove never quite recovered from the frantic hat-making episode) but I don't feel too bad. I was rested. I restricted my liquids, so I wasn't uncomfortable. I budgeted my time (100 marks, four hours - that's 2.4 minutes per mark). I just wrote. And wrote. And wrote so much that my right hand was too sore to knit on the bus ride home.

In eight weeks or so, I'll know exactly how much knowledge I showed them.

Of course, it helped that the exam had five questions instead of four. That I was smart enough to write down a quick reason why I rejected a m/c answer. There were no surprises. All the keywords and acronyms on my home-made review sheets helped, because if I was stuck for a point, all I had to do was visualize the page in my head.

Next course starts on Monday. Courier delivered my text today. But, I've got a party on Saturday, so I'm taking the weekend off. I know I'll have a sore head on Sunday. I'm starting to think about knitting for Christmas. Two new babies, after all.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's a girl!

Every time one of my brothers has a child, I think to myself that my heart cannot possibly have room for more love. I think that it must be totally full, because I am so very lucky to have many good friends and a family that I adore.

I am delighted, every time, to be proved wrong. There is always room for love.

My third niece joined the world at 1:20 AM, weighing 9 lbs, 4 oz, and measuring 20 inches (incidentally, she's the smallest of the lot. The Misstea family are big people. In fact, all my nieces and my nephew (I love how that sounds!) have outweighed me at birth. I can only imagine how beautifully tall and strong they will be. Also, I love ellipses).

She too, has a name that I had considered giving a daughter, if I chose to reproduce (I really should keep my good ideas to myself).

For the first time in a long while, I can't wait for Christmas, so I can meet her!

Mad Photography Skillz

I got home from work a few minutes early tonight (yay chiropractor!) and the view over my garage was fantastic. It was the crescent moon, with two tiny little specs to the right - Venus and Jupiter. The sun hadn't quite set, and the sky was an amazing variety of blues - from the palest blue to nearly pitch black (that would be midnight blue, I suppose).

Seriously, how cool is it that the moon, Venus and Jupiter are visible at the same time? I think it's wonderful.

So, I whipped out the camera, and I took a few shots. Well, I suck. Can't take a focused photo for the life of me.

This was the best of the lot. Someday, I am going to get a real camera (I bought this one with my Shoppers Drug Mart points. It's craptastic.)