Friday, December 25, 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS (and all that!)

This year I made the decision to spend Christmas and New Year's with my mother rather than at home. It was about time for me to spend a Christmas with Mom as I have not spent a Christmas with my parents since 1982 when we all travelled to my brother and sister-in-law's home in the Vancouver area - my parents flying out from Ontario and me travelling by bus from Jasper. Since then I spent Christmases either with my ex-husband's family or post-divorce with friends close to wherever I was living. With my Mom now living alone as Dad is in a home, I felt it was time for me to spend the holiday season with her.

We've had a nice visit and I have been able to reconnect with some good friends who still live in the area. Last week my friends Helen and Pat and I took in "Unsilent Night" where one walked through a portion of town where several installations were set up and various sonic themes were played through whatever personal music players people brought along with them. Quite an interesting experience and one I would definitely do again.

Yesterday Mom and I had a quiet but very lovely Christmas. I'd cooked a boneless turkey the evening before (the turkey turned out great after much hand wringing but I finally dove in - good thing I'd just rewatched "Julie and Julia" and had Mrs. Child's instructions of "no fear" wringing in my ears!) and the home was gorgeous thanks to my Mom's holiday decorating. And as usual, she set a lovely table for Christmas dinner too!

One of Mom's younger sisters spent a good part of the day with us and I must say some of the conversation was quite entertaining. (Who knew a Christmas with one's 80-something Mom and Aunt would involve a conversation including sex toys!! I'm still trying to pick myself up off the floor!)

Being away from home over the holiday season means I am missing Marc, his girls, our friends and especially my two whippets. It didn't help that yesterday I received a best holiday wishes e-mail from an amazing canine artist whose e-mail included a photo of her with her lovely blue brindle girlie. Her little whippet so reminds me of my Becca. Once I get home I don't think I'll leave the dogs alone for about a week solid!

At least I have another Christmas to look forward to as I travel home on Ukrainian Christmas Eve and perhaps can persuade Marc to stay home from work the next day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Decorating the Nest

I've previously mentioned that I've been working on getting a few spaces in the house finished up in an effort to really make me feel that my house is more me rather than still looking like the previous owners live there. Gradually over the past few years I've come up with more ideas of how I'd like the place to look and so far 3 spaces in the house have been substantially changed from when I first moved in.

The ensuite bathroom is lovely thanks to Marc's hard work gutting the entire space and starting over. A few little touches are still needed but we're getting there.

The kitchen/family room/office is now looking really great. Still more to do, especially in the family room/office but at least the walls are painted and everything else that is still to be done seems relatively insignificant to me. Sure the fireplace needs "something" done to it, a light of sorts needs to be installed to highlight the fireplace area, and the tv currently in the living room needs to be moved back into the family room and mounted on the wall, but at least all of those jobs can be done without total disruption to Becca and Tazio. Of course their needs are the most important in the house!!

Next week will see additional painting done in the bedrooms and I've been trying and trying to get enough time to check out carpeting possibilities for the areas where a certain awful green carpeting needs to be obliterated! (If I didn't like the idea of toxic smoke I'd do a primitive dance around the burning green rug!)

I originally thought everything might be done by Christmas but since I won't be here for Christmas perhaps the end of January is a more likey completion date.

Then there's the main bathroom and small powder room that will need to be redone. Oh, yes and the landscaping at the front of the house just has to go.

And in the midst of all this I'm trying to finalize the choice of a husband for Becca (yes, puppies in 2010!). And I really need to keep up with my work!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Lovely Sunday Walk

Yes, we should have gone lure coursing today but I have so much work to get organized before Tuesday that late last night I decided I just had to stay home and get more work done.

That said it was a lovely day and I wanted to make it up to the dogs so we headed off for a nice walk at a local park with two friends. Tazio stayed up front with Philip and Becca walked behind with Susan and I.

Gorgeous day out and I'm so glad I took my camera. Autumn is definitely here and while we don't have the gorgeous maples of my native Ontario the local trees still provide some lovely yellows, pinks and oranges.

The start

Fast moving walkers and whippets

The bridge

Back to the parking lot

And now back to work!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A week and weekend with human and whippet visitors!

This past week I was able to spend some time with two good friends - one that I haven't seen in years and another that I see several times a year, always during dog events.

A good friend who I was able to get back in touch with via Facebook is Maria. Maria was on her way to a new adventure in a more eastern area in Canada whose name strikes a chord of fear in many a Canadian's heart but which shall remain nameless. I don't want to offend anyone and frankly I see the attractions of the place, never mind the cold!

Maria came through town, spent the first night of her adventure here in our humble abode and set off early the next morning driving east.

Then, this past weekend saw a first in our household - whippet visitors that numbered more than one! (And of course my good friend Jenn who accompanied said whippet visitors)

Jenn came up to Canada to show our mutual friend Beth's girl Lark in this past weekend's dog shows held in Cloverdale. Lark is one of my favourite whippets and just needed one more Winner's Bitch award to earn her Canadian championship. Jenn also brought along her girl Tara who we puppysat last December and who fit in quite well with my two dogs.

Now the only proviso for any additional whippets staying here is that they all be girls as my boy Tazio gets a bit put out when he's around boys. I think it was due to the time he spent as number 2 boy to my first whippet Senna, Tazio's half brother.

We had a lovely weekend, visiting, going to the dog shows (Lark took Winner's Bitch on Sunday and is now Can CH Serendipity Skylark FCH, FCH, SR, OTR, TRPX, DPC!!), talking a lot about life, relationships, dreams, dogs, travel and just generally enjoying each other's company.

Love being able to host good friends!!

Dispensation Of The Cheese!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Another weekend, another lure coursing trial

This weekend found my youngest whippet and I travelling over to Vancouver Island for two days of lure coursing in the area between Nanaimo and Ladysmith. Earlier this year Becca and I travelled to the same area for a very successful weekend of lure coursing where Becca completed her Field Championship and became the first of my three whippets to achieve this title. This weekend was another awesome weekend. Becca finished 2nd in the trial on the first day and while she didn't place on Sunday we had a great time.

Becca has really been my dog of many firsts - first girlie dog, first Canadian show champion, first Canadian field champion, first CWA Dual Purpose Champion and also has her Title of Racing Proficiency (and one ARX point!), first whippet that I've taken to obedience and that has both charmed and enthralled the instructor, first whippet to take swimming, and now it's looking likely for Becca to become my first whippet to have babies!

When I first got into whippets many moons ago I never ever considered having anything to do with having a litter - unless one of my boys (as I only ever wanted boys) proved to be simply amazing and someone wanted to use him as a sire. And now I'm suddenly in the midst of health testing to ensure Becca's got the right stuff to become a mommy.

Very scary!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Okay kids - this week sees the return of NFL football to our tv screens. And what better opening game to the season can you ask for than for the Tennessee Titans to be travelling to the hallowed Heinz Field to play the PITTSBURGH STEELERS! And kids, do you know how to spell "ROETHLISBERGER"? 'Bout time you learned.

You may have detected a wee bit of favouritism associated with any mention of the PITTSBURGH STEELERS!. And the fact that the excitement bit of punctuation is also somewhat attached to that particular team name. AND YOU'D BE RIGHT!!!

Needless to say the Older Brother and his wife are hosting a bbq the the evening of the season opener and I will be travelling to their home probably mid-afternoon as the tv coverage of this event will commence at 5 p.m. West Coast time and I don't want to miss a minute. Now a part of me would love to be at the Kickoff and Rib festival that is part of the Pittsburgh pre-season opener festivities taking place right now but I will happily settle for a lovely 'burger from Jimmy's grille on game day.

If you've read any of my earlier blog posts you may have run across those from the last NFL season and especially from last season's Super Bowl game when the PITTSBURGH STEELERS! came out on top in the league.

(Hmmm, I'm already wondering if the shrine will be in place at Jim's house for this fabulous season opener.)

The Terrible Towel is at the ready and the arm is warming up . . .

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Garage Sale Follow-up

I felt I should post at least one photo of one of the items that I came home with after our little garage sale trip last Saturday (also came home with a lovely little watercolour) and after one comment on the previous post I've got off my butt to do so.

The stone mason had some absolutely amazing rock at his property that he was selling but short of going with a slate floor for the main bathroom I couldn't see anything else that would really be "needed" for the house.

Well . . . except for one thing . . . an old wagon wheel that was leaning up against a deck support.

It looked lonely and it only cost a box of Corona beer)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ah, the weekend is upon us . . .

And it appears that there are many yard sales of interest THIS weekend that simply must be attended.

A fellow that Marc used to work with is having a yard sale. This gentleman has been 18 years at this location and is clearing up and heading to his real home (and huge acreage) elsewhere.

Now I always enjoy a yard sale but this one is quite special. You see this indivdual is and has been a stone mason for MANY years (yes, he's even older than I am!). Now, consider this - a geologist going to a yard sale with a lot of gorgeous rock on sale - and keep in mind said geologist is always ready to renovate or do something to the house and yard!

Perhaps it might have been in Marc's own best interest to have not even told me about this particular yard sale - it might be quite frightening to see what I simply can't live without!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The oldest is leaving the nest . . .

Well not actually "my" nest but, as August is winding down, my partner's oldest daughter is getting ready to leave her mom's home and head off to the hallowed halls of higher learning. She was unable to obtain full-time summer employment this year so I've been providing her with a bit of work here and there - partly to help me out with my massive, mind-numbing workload and partly to provide her with something to do where she feels "needed" and with a bit of income.

Today, while we were out running errands (her "work time" with me sometimes is more "paid companion" rather than "part-time staff") including my finally picking up a copy of "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass", taking Becca into the local Petsmart for a roam through the store and to buy dog cookies, and a lovely dog walk with Tazio and Becca at the park, she mentioned she's going shopping tomorrow to pick up a few items that she will need for living in residence and for school. It brought me back to when, in 1976, I went through the same, somewhat exciting, experience of pulling together the items I would need to live away from home while at university. I can still remember how exciting it felt to be on the threshold of starting my "adult" life.

I'm supplying her with my trusty laptop that I purchased just over two years ago and which became the workhorse for my consulting business. This summer I ordered a new laptop to replace the original that I knew I'd be giving to Samantha. This weekend will see my computer guy and I getting all the programs and data transferred from the old laptop to the new laptop, reformatting the drive on the old laptop, and readying it with MS Office, etc for her use at university.

I keep thinking of different little tidbits of advice, information, etc that I can pass onto her that hopefully will help her with her transition from high school student to university student. And I'm sure her mom is doing the same thing.

She's a very intelligent, savvy girl but it's been quite interesting how much I find myself thinking of the challenges that await her and how I want to ease this transition for her.

And how old her heading off to university makes me feel!

Monday, August 3, 2009

And Life goes on . . .

It's been extremely busy around our household over the past few months. Work has been, well, much too busy and I wonder sometimes how long I can keep trying to take care of the number of clients I have. Yet another summer is flying by and another summer has seen no movement towards getting back into some form of gardening other than the occasional required pruning of various thorny branches (mainly from the neighbour's blackberry shrubs) that might injure a thin-skinned whippet blasting by.

We've had quite the heat wave here in SW BC this year. And humid. I grew up in SW Ontario where one lived in a perpetual state of standing sweat except when inside in a too air conditioned office/shopping mall. In the past 28 yrs since I relocated to the west, I have rarely agreed with anyone when they've commented on the startling humidity in the Vancouver area. Maybe a total of 3 times prior to this year did I acknowledge, that yes, today, it is indeed something resembling humid. This year has been different. Starting with a wonderful electrical storm a week ago this past Saturday, this area actually definitely was humid for about 4 days. And the heat . . .

Well the heat has been ugly. We typically experience a moderate climate - cool, wet winters and comfortable warm summers. This past winter we had much more snowy weather than usual and now this summer we've had quite an extended dry spell and lately way too much heat.

I don't like the heat, never did, never will. Don't get me wrong - I do like my warm weather to be T-shirt/shorts weather - most definitely. But I don't like my warm weather to beat me up so badly where I'm languishing about completely unable to function, cringing at the thought of getting dressed after my morning shower, and trying to figure out the best ways to keep the heat out of the house! On Thursday I actually abandoned any attempts to continue working and I headed off for a one o'clock matinee showing of the latest Harry Potter movie.

The forecast for the upcoming week looks much nicer at present - and I have an awful lot of work I really need to get through once and for all. Just might have to dive into it today even tho' it's a holiday today. Also I'm thinking that even with the amount of work perhaps one movie one afternoon per week might be a nice little break - could become a good work week tradition!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's been way too long . . .

Okay - I realize it has been much too long since I last posted a blog.

The purpose of this blog is to simply say that I've have had so many blog-worthy things to post and didn't really have the time to post. As a result I promise to get back at it this week!!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I know, I know - it's about time for another post!

I sincerely apologize for being extremely lazy and ignoring my blog for soooo long!

It's not as tho' I didn't have anything to blog about - I'm thinking the problem was I had too many things I could blog about but just, . . . well, . . . didn't!

Got home from the AWC National Specialty without any drama, been busy with work, have seen several groups of friends at different times over the past month and had a great whippet racing weekend, attended a great seminar by Dr. Jean Dodds, and things continue well at home and with the dogs.

The Racing For Fun group hosted two great Continental Whippet Alliance meets just over a week ago. Becca continued her good running ways and as usual ran better the 2nd day. She ended up placing 7th overall and was the top C dog that day. As a reward I decided it was time for her to start a little swim program at my vet's pool.

Becca has now had two swimming sessions and there are six more to go (I signed her up for a series of eight). The sessions start out with her spending time working out on the treadmill that is lowered into the water so there is increased resistance and she has to work harder than if she was on "land". After she's warmed up on the treadmill she then has her little life jacket put on (okay, who makes these things!! They are too cute! And the size variations are numerous so there's bound to be a size for your dog.) and she gets several turns swimming in the pool.

It was expected that she would really just splash around for the first two or three times in the pool however, as usual, this little girl has proved once again that she's somebody special. She seemed to figure out the swimming thing quite quickly (at least that's what the staff said!) and this week there was some consideration given towards removing the life jacket and she's got her front down fairly even with her butt as she swims.

I'm not really sure that she's enjoying these sessions altho' she sure dragged me into the vet's reception area and was really flying as we headed to the "spaw" area.

More news on the doggy front is that our portable agility equipment has arrived and it's true - the equipment really does fit into their two bags. Poor Becca and Tazio don't quite know what they're in for now!

Monday, April 6, 2009

We have arrived . . .

My fellow travellers and I have arrived at the host hotel (Hilton Atlanta Airport Hotel) for this year's American Whippet Club National Specialty. We've had - well perhaps I'll just say we've had an interesting first evening here in Atlanta however we truly travelled in style today!

Linda and I felt like complete country bumpkins as Miss Jennifer was extremely stylish and drew all of the attention away from us as we traipsed through the Vancouver, Denver and Atlanta airports. I felt like I was accompanying a Hollywood star!

And in the Denver airport we did notice a few, well, shall we say "ominous" signs? (and Jenn did her best "Vanna")

And "Pass the Buffalo"??

What? Buffalo Wings??

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The "Nerve Centre" is being painted!

At long last some of the insidious pink that covered all painted surfaces in this house when I bought it is about to be covered with a different paint colour!

I love colour and love watching home reno shows and have my favourite decorating magazines that I buy almost every month. And finally, after many months (years!) of wanting to get this house the way I want it, work is underway that will drastically change the two areas of the house in which I spend almost all of my waking hours - the family room/office and the kitchen.

I have gone through many many colour choices for these spaces and because one is just an extension of the other, finally decided against two different colours and am going with just one. It's a gorgeous terracotta colour and, for those who must know, the chosen colour is "Flower Pot", #CC-96 of the Benjamin Moore line of paint.

This is such an exciting time for me - to actually know that the transformation of this house is underway - and to suit my tastes!! Marc is a dear soul who when asked what colour(s) he prefers, just tells me to go with what I want.

And in a day or so I will make a pilgrimage to IKEA to purchase new office furniture so my work area will finally look more professional and pulled together than the previous too tiny work area that I've put up with for just over a year of working predominantly from home. Hmmm, beech or birch . . .???

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Atlanta (Okay I'm really starting to get excited!)

In just under two weeks, two of my whippet buddies and I will be in Atlanta for this year's American Whippet Club annual National Specialty to be held at the Hilton Hotel at the Atlanta airport.

Last year was the first time I was able to attend an AWC National Specialty, held in Eugene, Oregon, at quite a beautiful and dog-friendly location. I took my little girlie Becca with me and really enjoyed the entire week. My friend Jennifer showed Becca in the Open Bitch class (a huge class of 40 girls) and even tho' Becca didn't make the cut it still was very cool to have one of one's dogs actually entered in such a huge show.

This year I will be attending sans dogs so in some ways it likely will be a bit more relaxing in that I won't be worrying about "does the dog need to get out to go potty", "is the dog making too much noise", etc and can just soak in the atmosphere.

I will be taking the laptop tho'. I still have clients that may have some sort of emergency that week and still am coordinating the work of two other consultants for a shared client. And this year I have a blog that really should been attended to!

And this past weekend was the first lure coursing meet of the season, held on Sunday. Becca outdid herself by initially tying for first in her stake and, after a runoff, finishing 2nd. She just needs another placement and more points but appears well on her way to achieving her Canadian Field Championship (fingers crossed!).

Needless to say on Monday (the first half of the day anyway!) Becca was very tired.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A trip off the Mainland


So my consulting cohorts Allison and Denise called me on Friday afternoon (over a week ago now!) to tell me to head on over to Denise's place on Bowen Island so we could discuss a work idea that they'd been working on. Oh, and have some wine. Red wine. Amarula in coffee too. Lots of fun and actually when the three of us are together we get incredible amounts of work done.

When they called me on Friday afternoon it was very depressing, only in that I would not be able to give the ladies any of my time. You see my whole weekend was planned out as I was going to our local "Racing For Fun" club's first Continental Whippet Alliance race weekend of the year. And since my girl Becca finally started running like a good little race girlie last year, the whole concept of me attending a race weekend WITH a dog that can compete, well, nothing else can get in the way of that!!

But these two ladies are dynamos that I used to regularly work with (they used to be my consultants in their areas of specialty when I had a regular job) but since I went out on my own, we only see each other sporadically altho' we keep in regular touch. And oh what a fun weekend it would be!!!

Well the doggie event won out - as it should have! And I touched base with the girls on the Sunday to find out where we'd be meeting in Vancouver the following day (as decided earlier). And I ended up travelling to Bowen Island. All very fun and worthwhile especially as Allison and Denise had been worked into quite the frenzied state due to frustrations with a friend not delivering on some things they NEEDED. And they were in need of someone talking them down. And alcohol. Really in need of some alcohol.

I just hope I was able to help them(Hmmm, there is a bit of a demented look here . . .)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Whippet Van is going to be serviced!

I've been holding off taking my doggie van in for servicing but now the time has come. Decided to call this morning to get an appt and arrange for some additional work to be done in addition to the regular service that is due.

For some reason lately I've been writing a lot of cheques in the $1,000 range and it appears that tomorrow the corporate account will get another whacking! Final quote for the service is just under a grand. And I'm hoping the Honda-gods-that-be don't call me at some point to advise that "gee lady your brakes really need to be turned" due to my usual hard braking style of driving.

And I really hope they do a great job of washing the exterior. After all we have a straight racing meet this weekend and lure coursing next weekend and it would be nice to be able to place my magnetic running whippets onto the van without having to clean the exterior myself!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What the . . .?!

Major dose of "back to reality" yesterday!

We got home from Hawaii early on Monday morning, got through customs and associated airport stuff in decent time, delivered the girls to their home (they were planning to head to school right away) and we arrived home to two very excited whippets bouncing off the walls.

Since then I've been working madly to finish up a job for a client that is due in Regina on Monday morning. And then the weather changed!

On our arrival home Monday it was a bit cloudy and we had some rain since then but temperatures were in the 6 to 10 degrees Celsius - the usual stuff for February in the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley and one of the reasons I live here (I'm DONE with real winter!). And then yesterday, sometime around noon, I glanced outside and there it was - SNOW - big honking flakes densely falling to the ground!

I wasn't happy.

You see over the Christmas period when we had a bit of a dump of snow for an extended period of time I was unable to venture forth with my van as the van's all season tires were starting to appear they needed replacement. And because the Lower Mainland isn't exactly the snow capital of North America I've never bothered to get an extra set of rims mounted with snow tires.

And of course I still haven't got 'round to replacing the all season tires (altho' I am about to get quotes!) nor have we sought out an inexpensive set of rims for the van on which snow tires could be mounted.

And now we have more SNOW. And I want juice and a latte. Hmmm - it doesn't appear to really have snowed so much that I can't get out of the driveway.

And where was I last week??

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A bit of a girlie day in Paradise

Yesterday was a day off from snorkelling and diving and the four of us had a lovely brunch at the small village of Holualoa that lays 1,400 feet in elevation above Kailua-Kona on the west-facing slopes of the currently dormant shield volcano Hualalai. Holualoa is a sleepy village with a few interesting art galleries and shops. Our hosts had recommended we try a very lovely cafe - the Holuakoa Gardens - and the food was amazing - yet another wonderful meal here.

While Marc headed off to drop in on the local marine supply places to meet up with old acquaintances from when he worked here, we three girls headed off for a little treat of our own - pedicures.

In the past I'd always avoided getting a pedicure as I am extremely ticklish, especially where my feet are concerned, so this was going to be quite the breakthrough. However I figured I deserved some pampering too!

I anticipated us having to wait as we didn't have appointments however we were pleasantly surprised as the shop's attendants were able to take us almost as soon as we walked through the door. We'd scoped out this particular shop the evening before and it was very clean and welcoming. Sam and Chelsea got a headstart on me while my girl was still getting set up after finishing with her prior customer. Soon we all were relaxing in the wonderful massage chairs while our feet were being pampered to the extreme.

And then I was about to be put to the test - it was my turn for the "sanding" of the feet! I'd earlier watched as the bottoms, and especially the heel areas, of Sam and Chelsea's feet were scrubbed with some sort of abrasize pad in order to rid the feet of any rough spots. I figured that this was my moment of truth as that treatment looked as though it could set off a bout of ticklishness - and OMIGOD it did! I almost went through the roof and laughed and squealed like some sort of idiot. It did help thought that my attendant started giggling right along with me and she explained that she has the same reaction.

Once the tickle torture was through an absolutely wonderful leg and foot massage followed (for some reason I was totally relaxed throughout and no further tickles occurred). Eventually we watched as the staff expertly swirled on the nail polishes that we'd chosen and the girls had beautiful Hawaiian flowers painted on their big toes. I'd opted for a little more glamourous treatment - rhinestones! (Actually made me wish I had some lovely girlie sandals to put on afterward, not my stolid New Balance sandals!!)

Afterwards we met up with Marc and he and I got tattoos . . .

Monday, February 16, 2009

Golly Gee!! I found us a rental car!!!!

So on past visits to the Big Island of Hawaii we've never had ANY problems with locating a rental car. None. Not even a hint of difficulty. This trip has been different.

Prior to leaving I went through all of the online reservation pages for ALL possible car rental agencies and came up with absolutely nothing. Nadda. Zilch. Not even a sniff.

Marc figured we'd have no problem once we'd arrived and settled in with our friends. We arrived late Thursday evening and by Saturday Marc and I were circling the airport rental car locations trying to locate anything - even tho' a Jeep Wrangler is totally the required vehicle! Late that night we saw a few cars in the parking lot near an independent agent's location and yesterday morning bright and early we headed there again. The fellow who operates the business was washing his vehicle in the lot and told us that it would simply be first come first served first thing Monday morning.

So this morning, after I dropped Marc and the girls off at the dive shop for their big boat dive, I headed over to that location once again. Darn - already a vehicle of people sitting in the parking lot. (Hmm, two of them are elderly - surely they wouldn't be interested in the Wrangler sitting there!) After a bit of a wait (don't ever expect a business to open on time anywhere in Hawaii - island time and all that - I was successful! And the Jeep Wrangler!!! Who cares that it wasn't equipped with the rear and side windows. It had four tires, room for four, and looked as tho' it wouldn't break down upon leaving the lot.

Turns out the major car rental companies, in their infinite wisdom, decided that with the economic downturn they'd be smart and ship what they considered to be extraneous numbers of cars off island. And I've been told this is the situation on all of the Hawaiian islands. So - if you're planning a trip my suggestion is to first rent your car. Then book your flights.

(And we went on a fabulous snorkeling/whale watching trip yesterday with our hosts, Kevin and Claudia Merrill who own Dolphin Discoveries.
Wonderful day and we saw a few whales and lots of dolphins and even a manta ray!! I'm not a water girl - I'm waiting for my part of the trip when we head to Kilauea!!)

Friday, February 13, 2009

The "Last Trip"

So the "step" family and I travelled to the Big Island of Hawaii yesterday. The trip was a must as the oldest of Marc's daughters will be in university next year and I remember how that changed my life. This essentially could be the last time the four of us are ever able to travel together.

In my experience, once I headed off to university that spelled the end of me being present for virtually any significant event with my parents. Mind you I could have attended university much closer to home (a distance of 280 miles does put a bit of a crimp on things) but I knew that I needed to "get away" so I would grow as an adult. I did return home for extended breaks and summer vacations but starting with the summer break between third and fourth years my summer job was in NW Quebec and the writing was on the wall.

Once I began university I have never celebrated a birthday with my parents, and after third year I never spent another summer at home with them. Work in the mineral exploration field necessitates maximizing field time when the weather conditions are best. And once I finished university I have only spent one Christmas with my parents - and that was when they came out to British Columbia in 1981 and I travelled down from Jasper.

I'm not sure the girls realize the significance of this trip. We have mentioned that this is likely the last opportunity for the four of us to travel somewhere together but they are young and the young typically don't realize the significance of something until many years later. This time they will do their first scuba dive and we plan to again travel to the southeast end of the island to again immerse ourselves in the Kilauea experience (mind you that may be more for me than anyone else).

Now if we could just get a rental car!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

In the wake of the Big Win . . .

So here we are post-Super Bowl but still very excited about the Pittsburgh Steelers big win. And it was a huge event as it's the first time that I've been able to be part of a Super Bowl do at my brother's when the Steelers (he's a bit of a fan) have been playing.

When we arrived at Jim and Nancy's home it was already obvious from the driveway that this would be no ordinary Super Bowl as the posters announcing we had arrived at "Steeler Nation" were hanging from the front edge of the roof. And then, there he was, resplendent in his "uniform" - Brother Jim bounding from the house to assist with carrying the requisite beverages into their home.

Inside it was quite the sight with various home-made posters lining the walls (including the bathroom - there were even yellow-gold towels on the towel bar and a Steelers logo bath towel on the shower curtain rod). And of course the Steelers Shrine!

The game was truly exciting and until the final seconds with that miracle catch in the end zone there was lots of opportunity for screaming (and I mean screaming) at the tv, hand wringing, cheering, praying - all the usual things that go with a close, meaningful sporting event.

And then there was the food - amazing dips (including a 35 year-old balsamic vinegar with lobster oil - you have never had balsamic vinegar until you've had an aged one - absolutely no bite and smooth smooth smooth!), oysters, gigantic prawns, chicken wings and even some champagne to belatedly toast Jim and Nancy's wedding anniversary.

So now, in the wake of the Big Win, things have been strangely quiet this past week. Just lots of work to do and organize, a trip to try to get ready for (to the Big Island of Hawaii), and now, as of this past Friday night, a lovely litter of whippet puppies to think about (should I? do I? will there even be one for me?).

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Big Day Approaches . . .

Tomorrow the Pittsburgh Steelers face the Arizona Cardinals for the Super Bowl. And it should be fairly obvious which team I am supporting.

My brother is a Steelers fan from way back. I used to sit and watch football with my dad and brother while growing up and listened and absorbed various aspects of the game but in the early years I never really "got it". Then came the late '70's. My brother was living in BC and I was at university in Sudbury. Huge Steelers Super Bowl victories and I was now aware that my brother had become a huge Steelers maniac - uniform to wear during game broadcasts, posters along the picket fence outside of the house he lived in, posters on the walls, photos of the Steelers Super Bowl parties he and his wife hosted. Got you kinda excited.

After university I moved west and really got to know my brother as a person and friend. The love of the team rubbed off - or perhaps I possessed a latent Steelers fan gene. Not sure. But it's now there and it's working!

In the last Super Bowl won by the Steelers (against a "it just wasn't their time" Seattle Seahawks team) I was unable to be present at my brother's for the game. I did take my Terrible Towel, earrings and measuring tape (yes, measuring tape) to the game and whipped my Towel into a frenzy at every opportunity and kept it out of the Seahawks fans clutches.

Friends who were both non-Steelers and non-Seahawks fans looked at the huge number of Seahawks fans in attendance where we were watching the game and decided to back my team. And after some awful referee calls that went the Steelers way (I take a win anyway it comes to me) made some good use of that measuring tape with that hallowed logo on its side, pulled out the tape to the appropriate length to help illustrate to those Seahawks fans just how close the calls were. (I'm still amazed that tape survived the day!)

This year I will be at my brother's house for the game. My brother, his wife and his best friend all prepare an amazing array of foods for any Super Bowl but you just know that everything will be prepared with an extra intensity for this year's game. On the menu are various recipes including chicken, prawns, oysters, lobster (these people really know how to eat !) and my contribution will be a dessert. Due to work overload I am relying on my fall-back dessert which is lemon squares.

It just dawned on me - the squares are GOLD!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I was at a conference

I spent the past few days in downtown Vancouver for the annual mining/mineral exploration conference held at the Westin Bayshore. It is always a great time for meeting up with old friends and colleagues, and to hear the latest pertaining to things in our industry including a chance for the government regulatory boards to make presentations on upcoming changes to their systems. This year it was even more special for me as, due to the current economic conditions, I did not attend the November conference in Yellowknife, I almost never go to the gigantic Toronto conference in March, and I likely won't attend the Nunavut Mining Symposium held in Iqaluit (and I will really regret missing the opportunity to buy the amazing Inuit carvings and other artwork that is available everywhere!).

This year I made the decision to book a hotel room. Last year I missed a few important meetings/information sessions at the Vancouver conference due to an ill-timed snowfall and I was stuck at home for the first two days. I decided to stay at the Marriott Pinnacle - a short walk from the main conference - and it turned out that several of my meeting obligations were either held right at the Marriott or just across the street.

It was a lovely few days - a chance to relax (sort of!), get some intensive work performed and I gained very useful information that will serve me well in my work. The highlight was Wednesday's fabulous information session hosted by the Nunavut Water Board. I also met up with several people that I have not seen in years and with some of my best friends.

I also can't believe the excellent sushi that I had, and it's not like there isn't a plethora of great sushi places in this area. Ate at two wonderful sushi restaurants, two nights in a row, and with the best company on both evenings!

Today I came very close to popping into the Vancouver Tiffany's (yes, that Tiffany's!) to buy something affordable in silver. Sanity reigned however and I practiced some restraint for a change! Also it just wouldn't have been the same without Denise and Allison along for the experience!

Maybe the next time I happen to be in Vancouver I'll just have to drop in and make a wee purchase!

Monday, January 19, 2009

You'd think it was spring!

The past few days have been fabulously sunny and WARM here in the Fraser Valley.

The whippets and I have had wonderful walks lately and I keep wishing I could maneuvre a camera amongst the leashes (and I only have two) to take goofy photos of the dogs during our walks.

The problem however is I have a girl that walks surveying everything within sight, anticipating a squirrel up that tree, a cat under that car or on that doorstoop, another dog out walking that must be met - and she doesn't miss a thing. The other portion of the problem is I have a boy that basically trots (well, usually paces) along, checking out smells that must be covered - but not with the total ATTENTION levels of the girl.

And when the girl sees something of interest her entire body starts vibrating and it's not always obvious if she'll keep quiet or if she'll start barking at the spied item.

And it's usually at that point that the neutered boy makes his move to attempt some initial love moves directed at the girl. Who has no idea that anything is happening in her world other than whatever it is that she's kicking up a fuss at!

So the camera stays at home.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I bought a binding machine

So the last few work weeks have been dominated with working with two other consultants preparing a report on mineral exploration work for a shared client. The report, once complete, would then be filed with the applicable provincial government agency. Providing sufficient work and expenditures have been completed, this enables the client to hold this particular property for another two plus years.

I seem to have taken on the role of chief bullwhip lasher as I am the heavy that has to get the client to hold off on other unrelated work requests so the other consultants can concentrate on the work they need to finish. With this report having a rapidly advancing due date it was imperative that the report be completed with enough time to spare to allow FedEx to get the report delivered in time. As a result I did have to crack the whip several times to hold our client at bay (don't they realize how important these due dates are??).

Last Sunday as I returned home from picking up the geophysical interpretation report and maps from one consultant I was starting to think about how we'd get the report bound once the text, maps and other items were completed. Suddenly I realized we would be at the mercy of the timeframe of the copy/binding section of the local office supply store. They wouldn't care about our deadline. And also would they put the report together just the way I want it done? Okay - so how were we to get this report bound in a timely fashion??

"Aha - buy my own binding machine!! That's the ticket!!"

Now I've worked for several exploration companies since the late '80's when I returned to the mineral exploration industry after a six-year period working in transportation. My first job back saw me doing everything from organizing a filing system to writing reports. The one thing that I found the most relaxing and stress-free (yes, I am weird!) was the binding of exploration reports. Since I was working for a consulting company who would be paid by their clients once the clients' reports were delivered to them, it always seemed to me that as I punched the pages and inserted the pages onto the binding comb's teeth that I was printing money. That particular binding machine was electric and something about the electronic paper punching sound seemed to be synonymous with a printing press sound and added to the image that I was printing money (okay - sometimes you have to find ways to get keen about certain office tasks!).

So this past Tuesday evening saw me embarking on my quest for my own personal binding machine. Now I have always loved buying pens, pencils, paper etc since I was very young so to now be buying a binding machine - truly this took me to another realm of excitement!

Earlier that day I'd checked out the models that our local office supply store carried in their on-line catalogue, found a model that seemed to suit my present and future needs, called the local store and found they had it in stock. And it was less than $500! Oh joy!

Once at the store I wandered around for a bit salivating over the various stationary items before me. I managed to locate the requisite report covers and backs, various sizes of binding combs (and secured 10 of the very desirable 2-inch comb size from the in-house copying/binding centre!) before venturing around to actually find where they kept the machines.

The staff at this particular store are always extremely helpful and a lovely young fellow carried the machine I was going to buy to both the checkout and out to my van (and of course with two dog crates and all front and middle row seats in place there was no room to put the box other than on a middle row seat - this would now require me to actually not do any high g force turns or hard braking manoeuvres on the drive back home - not an easy thing for me).

After another hard day of work the report was finally complete and I had a fun time acquainting myself with the new machine (it's very nice) and managed to get the reports pulled together.

Now I have to figure out where I'm going to store it when it is not required.

Hmmm . . . it does look lovely on the kitchen counter!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Steelers play today

I've got lots of work to do.

One client has a report due this week and I've designated tomorrow as the "due date" for those of us contractors who are working together on the report to get all of the work filing prepared. In the meantime my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers have a play-off game coming up within the half hour (this won't be a long post!) so I'm faced with having to work through the game.

The TV's on and warmed up (I'm sure I'm not the only one that remembers "those days"). The laptop's been moved to the coffee table, the whippets are comfy on the sectional with me.

Becca and Tazio have been shown my "towel" which is currently draped on the back of the sectional. The "towel" will soon be ceremonially moved next to me - probably to be positioned on my left side as Becca is tucked up against my right hip along with her plushy soccer ball that makes the weirdest boinging sound when activated. Tazio, of course, is at the opposite end of the sectional and he's got an excellent viewing angle of the TV.

Let the game begin!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Yes, Jenn, I know it's been a week but . . .

I was goaded a bit earlier today by a fellow blogger looking for more posts from me. Why, I wonder, when my stuff is relatively mundane and boring compared to her sparkling and witty observations on the world. Oh well - here are some "start of the year" ramblings.

The past week has been somewhat hectic as I returned to working to a level more consistent with my pre-mid-November work levels. For the past month and a half I just picked away at some of the more urgent work items and now am in the throes of assisting in preparing various exploration reports that need to be filed with their respective government jurisdictions so the companies holding the ground can maintain their properties through the next work period. With the downturn in the stock markets, a large number of Canadian junior exploration companies have really pulled in their wings and seem to be content to just sit tight and ride out the current ugly market conditions - not a great time to be spending money when one isn't real confident about raising additional funds with a languishing stock market.

I have a couple of clients who appear to be moving forward with their exploration plans and the filing of assessment work to help the companies hold their more promising properties is always one of those things that just have to get done regardless of tighter money situations.

It's an interesting time of the year as Marc's girls start with their club volleyball play, the new year brings a new round of dog shows, various work conferences are coming up quickly and other things start filling the calendar and the year is just over a week old!

This winter we are taking both girls to Hawaii in mid-February (to the Big Island of course - I only go where there are active volcanoes!) and this time they will have an opportunity for scuba diving. I also need to check out accommodations in the area of Volcano so we can spend a bit more time at that exciting end of the Island!

I am also eagerly looking forward to finding out when the various lure coursing, straight racing and show events will be scheduled so I'll know when I need to have Becca in shape after the winter slow-down. Becca started a coursing and straight racing career late in 2008 and I hope I can keep her in good condition so she has a good year in 2009 and hopefully stays injury-free. Tazio just likes getting out on any dog walk whether around the neighbourhood or at his favourite park.

One big event dog-wise this year is the American Whippet Club National Specialty which is being held this year in Atlanta. I finally attended my first National last year - held in Eugene, Oregon - and it was a fabulous week - great time to see lots of dogs that one had only read about and to meet people involved in the whippet fancy.

So while I should be working like mad instead we have company coming over (imminently) and I'd better get my butt in gear and get ready!!

And here's the requisite whippet pic - whippet toys appearing magically from out of the melting snow!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Becca had a holiday!

Over the New Year's period, while Marc and I were away at our little hideaway, my little girl Becca (well I guess she's not so little anymore - she will be 3 in April after all) went to visit her two half-siblings, Tanzy and Smokey.

Now Becca had come into season just a week before Christmas and the calculations showed she'd be at her most "breedable" while she was on her vacation so it was great that Smokey had recently been neutered altho' his Mom and I were quite sure he'd still be very interested! And of course he was.

What I wasn't expecting was my little girl to become such a flirt!

Becca's my first girl whippet - I have had 2 males and still have my second boy, Tazio. When Becca came into her first season I watched and watched for all of the whining, rubbing, etc that I'd heard went along with a girl in season but all for naught - Becca didn't seem to do any of the usual things I'd heard about. "Excellent" thought I - maybe I've got a girl who will be very sensible about this "season" stuff and we'll get through however many seasons until the glorious day she would go in for her little surgery at the vets. And so it had gone through a couple more seasons until this one . . .

Upon arrival at the home her half-siblings share with their human Mom (Laura) and Dad (Marco), Becca roared into the house and it was immediately obvious that she, Tanzy and Smokey were going to get along just fine. Except for the fact that Becca kept wiggling her butt at Smokey every opportunity she could get. With assurances from Laura and Marco that the dogs would all be fine, Marc and I departed for our little New Year's getaway and, due to the respect I have for Laura and Marco as dog owners, I was able to put all concerns and worries out of my head with respect to Becca.

Yesterday we picked Becca up on our way home and got to hear a few stories - about how this little girl is an absolute brazen hussy. While in the house Becca had her lovely panties to wear but even so she apparently persisted in flirting shamelessly with poor Smokey!! Marco also showed us a video of Smokey in his crate where he had his nose extended as far out the crate door as possible for when Becca would saunter by (which she was doing!) - Smokey's nose was all bent upward and his pearly whites were also showing!

It is obvious, aside from Becca's conditions, that all of the dogs had an absolutely blast together and shook off some of the boredom they are all suffering from due to the stupid snowfalls we've been enduring in this area (and the idiots that don't realize they are legally bound to shovel their sidewalks!).

The little hussy is now settled back at home with her older companion Tazio who, other than the fact that he occasionally has a sniff, really has no interest in Becca's current state and reprimands her quite often for flying about the house like a lunatic.

Guess my little girl is growing up . . .