Sunday 28 January 2018

Tick Tock!

Retirement is looming…not for me but for my mentor/coach/BFF at work.  C’s last day in the office is February 8 and I am already dreading the time when she won’t be there.  When I started 20+ years ago and had completed 4 weeks of training, C became my supervisor.  She was my coach and went along when I went out to do my first field work and continued to review my work over the next couple of years.  I learned so much from her, and until very recently, still had copies of the notes she provided during that first year.  I used these not only to refresh my own knowledge, but as examples for writing similar notes to my own staff. 

Over the years, as I moved from her group to others we continued to talk almost daily.  She was my advisor, my life coach and my friend.  She cheered me on as I continued my education and on the day the results of my final exam were released mid-afternoon, C told my current supervisor to send me home as I was too excited to work and was literally bouncing off the walls (yes, I passed).  The two of them even bought me flowers to celebrate.

In the early years, we went to a nearby restaurant for coffee together on a daily basis, along with a larger group.  I recall the group sitting in stunned silence on September 11, 2001 watching the planes fly in the World Trade Centre in New York on the television at the restaurant.  When we eventually returned to work, after an extended coffee break, very little was accomplished.

Later on, C took on a job in corporate support and moved to another building.  Soon after, I went to another area as well.  We kept in touch by e-mail and I still bounced ideas off her.  When we returned to the same location, C encouraged me to advance my career, and provided invaluable advice and support.  When I was successful in the competition to become a supervisor myself, I was frankly stunned.  I’d applied as a way of letting management know I was serious about that career path but never dreamed I’d get the opportunity that soon.  My first reaction was to run to C and say “what the h*ll do I do now?” 

As she has been throughout my career, she was there for me, coaching, guiding and encouraging me.  C has a way of leading you, so that when you ask a question you end up answering it for yourself.  It is a method I’ve never mastered.  Shortly thereafter, C became my manager for an interim period and the informal coaching became formal for that time.  By the time I’d been in my position for a year or so, my confidence level had increased and I no longer felt as though I was in over my head. 

Outside of work, C and her husband N, have become good friends as well.  Back in 2003 when both my parents were ill and I had to dash off to care for them unexpectedly, they went to my home daily and cared for the cats.  (C is also a cat lover – at that time they had three tuxedos, all have since run to the Bridge but I suspect there will be another cat in their lives soon).  They also invited me to their annual New Year’s Eve part (and N’s birthday), and with one exception, I’ve been at their gala every year for nearly 15 years. 

For about 5 years, I’ve been joining their ‘crew’ for Friday night dinners.  These started about 20 years ago with C, N and another friend Cu.  Over time they added to the crew, most were met through N’s volunteer work with Air Cadets.  C and N met in pilot training, C has since let her private licence lapse, while N is now on crew with WestJet.  They love to travel too and someday I hope to join them at their timeshare in San Diego.  They go every fall for the annual airshow – which is spectacular.

I truly will miss our almost daily conversations and the ability to send her a quick e-mail saying, AARRRGGGH, and knowing I need say nothing more, she just gets it.  We’ll continue to see each other on Friday evenings and I’m sure we’ll make time for lunch and/or coffees at least every month or so.  I know she’s looking forward to leaving work, to spending more time travelling, and when the weather gets nice in her yard and garden (it’s absolutely gorgeous in the summer, full of perennial beds and 60 or more containers… and that’s just the back yard). 

I know I’ll learn to manage without her at the office…but she will be missed!

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday 21 January 2018

Catching my breath

What happened to the weekend?  Heck, what happened to the past week?  It has been a busy one for sure.  

I spent the entire work week* in the classroom with four students.  It was first time I taught this particular course.  Usually I train what I consider "soft skills" courses, this was quite technical.  While I generally knew most of the material some of it was not familiar.  I tried to keep ahead of the class but there was one section where I think we all ended up quite confused. Hopefully they never run into that particular situation or their supervisors and coaches are able to assist.  What I heard most often was my stories of real life situations were beneficial in understanding the technical information.  I guess the last 20 plus years weren't entirely wasted. J/k.

As a result of spending time in the classroom, I only managed to do the bare minimum of my regular workload.  On one break I came back to my desk to find 37 e-mails!  Almost all were items that needed to be actioned.  I did my best but I suspect that I'll be busy this coming week catching up.  I'm okay with that as it means the week will fly by!

This weekend, I've been kept busy doing housework, grocery shopping, playing with the grandson and what was that other thing again?  Oh yeah, watching curling!  The Pinty's Grand Slam was held this weekend, as were the Junior Canadian curling events.  Yesterday, there were three draws for the Slam event, and two for the Juniors.  Today there are a total of four draws, all finals.  While not everyone's idea of great television viewing, I quite enjoy.

Speaking of my grandson, Eli, he continues to grow and change.  He's beginning to vocalize more and more.  He says dada, mom mom, ma-ma - D insists that's me, kitty, and cookie.  At least that's what they sound like, and I think he even means them sometimes.  If you ask him where's the kitty, he actually looks at one of the cats.  Eli now has 5 teeth with a 6th on the way and enjoys his food very much.  No more baby food - except for arrowroot cookies though I like those too.  He's also off formula and onto regular homogenized cow's milk.  Much cheaper for mom.  That would be Gma's homemade soup on his's a favorite of both of ours.

Eli still isn't walking on his own, though will walk holding someone's hands.  He quite enjoys walk circuits from the living room to the bedrooms, and back to the living room.  And he still loves to bounce, whether it is on my knee, in his bouncer or on the small trampoline he got for Christmas from his mother.  Yes, a trampoline!  I think he's still too small for it and he generally to sit on his bum but he can hold the bar and bounce for a few seconds at a time.  You'd think if he can do that he could walk ...but I don't want to be in a hurry for that to happen.

This is a lousy photo, as the lighting is awful however I think it is sooo cute!

I had the sun-room door open so the cats could get out there as we're having some decent weather at the moment.  Eli shut the door and we could hear him giggling.  We found him playing with Sheldon who is batting at Eli's hand.  Lots of fun!

This evening I drive the little rug rat over to his Dad's for the night, and I'll pick him up tomorrow after work.  J had asked if he could have him last night...his mother contacted D about 5:30 p.m. yesterday.  I flat out said, no because I had other plans.  I absolutely refuse to jump when this guy says jump....he tried to find someone else willing to pick Eli up from my house but could not. I suspect his friends feel the same way.  This may seem unfair to J, but in my mind some advance notice is both appropriate and expected.  

I miss the little man when he's away but I do enjoy the relative quiet.  On that note I'm off to watch the rest of the men's final at the Grand Slam.  Have a great week everyone!

*I'm unofficially working four day weeks - Fridays are earned days off, vacation or some other form of leave where needed - for the rest of my 10.5 months of work!

Saturday 13 January 2018

Winter's wacky weather

We're back into the deep freeze and will be until early next week.  I know this isn't abnormal for January but I starting to feel a bit of cabin fever.  While I went grocery shopping yesterday afternoon and to dinner with friends in the evening, the only time I spend outdoors is dashing from and to the car.  

I did chuckle a little yesterday when I realized, that due to the freezing rain earlier this week, the trunk of my car has frozen shut.  Oh yes, we certainly had freezing rain on Wednesday - a rare thing here in Saskatchewan.  In fact we had more rain, 2.8 mm, than we had for the entire month of July 2017.  Overnight we went from 1C to -17C so parking lots, sidewalks, and driveways became skating rinks.  In fact, one intrepid individual actually went skating on his residential street!

I used some ice melt on my sidewalk and driveway but to be honest, haven't been out to see whether it did any good.  Yesterday's high temp was -21C with wind chills of -37C.  Today is slightly cooler/warmer with a temp of -24C and wind chills of -34C.  I have no plans to leave the house for the rest of the weekend, unless J calls and wants Eli to overnight.

When I went to pick Eli up on Thursday evening, I managed to take a fall in J's yard.  He doesn't clear the sidewalks and with the freezing rain the walkway was treacherous, it was dark and I misjudged my step.  Luckily only my pride was bruised...I landed putting my left foot and knee down but bounced right up.  I really do prefer to pick Eli up in the daylight hours.  I noticed yesterday as I drove to dinner at 5:45 p.m. that the light is lasting longer. Hooray!

Yesterday, I also stopped at my hairdresser's to get a wash and cut.  I've let it grow....well, as much as it can in 2 months time and it was looking a bit like a mullet...yuck!  She did an awesome job, cutting of over an inch and more in the back.  It is short but doesn't look masculine which I appreciate.  It is the first step in preparing for my upcoming cruise.  Next up is to re-dye it as the purple has faded.  

I may book a couple of tanning sessions pre-cruise as well, simply to ensure that I don't burn the first day.  Though I am spending a couple of days before the cruise in Cocoa Beach so it might not be necessary.  The best part about tanning ahead of time is I get warmed up all the way through!  I also have a pedicure and a manicure booked shortly before I leave.  

But that's a few weeks away yet (32 days until I fly out and 35 day to the cruise to be exact).  Next up is sorting through and trying on my summer/cruise clothing.  I won't need a lot of dressy items as I'll be joining the solos.  In fact the last Norwegian cruise I did, I managed with a small suitcase, one that some travellers use as a carry-on.  I have a small duffel bag I carry though, that holds my camera, my purse, a change of clothing, a nightgown, a bathing suit and a small bag of toiletries.  It is enough that should my luggage not arrive when I do, I can manage for 24-36 hours.  Things would get a bit dicey after that, especially if we are at sea.  Fortunately, since I've started this practice I've never had my luggage not appear on the carousel.  

I've no new photos of Eli to share this week.  He continues to be adorable, is beginning to let go of the furniture and standing on his own.  This frightens him though, so it doesn't last long.  He wants so badly to climb and his mother caught him putting his foot in one of the holes in the baby gate.  I suspect he'll be trying to climb over it at some point.  

For our drives to and from dad's, I've been singing with him - well, he babbles, I sing.  The ABC song is a favorite, and I made up words to go with the tune "Jesus loves me".  I sing:
"Grandma loves me, this I know
For she always tells me so
Little one, I am so sweet
From the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.
Yes, Grandma loves me,
Yes, Grandma loves me,
Yes, Grandma loves me,
She always tells me so."

He was fussy today, just before he went down for a nap.  I started singing, he calmed down and gave me the sweetest smile.  I'll leave you with that mental picture.

Stay warm and have a great week!

Sunday 7 January 2018

Life continues

I would not describe myself as a religious or even spiritual person.  I was dragged to church as a child (almost literally), until that one time my siblings and I hid in the chicken coop while our mother yelled and threatened and eventually drove off in a cloud of dust.  Well, I can't really remember the cloud of dust but I'm pretty certain she would have stomped on that gas pedal.  She was pretty darn mad!  After that, my church attendance was much more sporadic.

In any event, that wasn't the point of this post.  These days, I'm not entirely certain what I believe and it wouldn't fit the pattern of formalized religion, but I sense there is more to us than the mere physical being. It seems to me there is a spirit or spark that is within makes us who we are, outside of the physical.  While the physical ends, I wonder, what happens to that part of us?  Does that continue in some other time or space...or when we die, is that truly the end? This week, I had two moments that made me feel it is more likely the former.  

As all of you who have reading know, I've  been quite concerned about what the future will hold for my daughter and my grandson.  I've spent a lot of time mulling over various possibilities, tryig to envision how I might influence those outcomes, and as a result, have lost sleep many nights.  One night, this past week, I was laying awake with all my worries when suddenly, I clearly heard my mother's voice saying, "It's not your problem."  She said nothing else, and in that moment, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders.  I wish I could say I don't still have my worries and certainly my doubts but I know in my heart those words are the truth.  It is high time for D to make her way.  I cannot "make it all better" as I did when she was a child and fell on the playground.  I will not allow her troubles to overwhelm my life.  I was (and am) a single parent.  It wasn't easy, especially when the children were young, but I did it.  She can too, though I suspect her way will be different and more difficult than the path I chose.

The other moment came in a dream.  I had Eli with me and we were visiting the old farm yard where I grew up.  The house is no longer there as it burned down several years ago.  I was surprised to see an old shack on the spot where the house had been.  There was a new house being built in the ditch which I realized was odd but hey, it was a dream.  In the old shack I found my father, looking as he had for most of my life.  He was puttering around, heating some water on the stove, and seemed a little surprised to see me.  But we sat down, with Eli on my knee, and had a short visit before my sleep was interrupted.  I don't recall that he had any particular message, instead I was simply thankful that Dad and Eli had a chance to meet one another and wished that our time together might have been longer.

On a more earthly note, life as I know it continues.  Eli went to visit his dad Saturday night and I picked him up this afternoon.  I spent much of the last two days watching curling - the Canadian mixed doubles Olympic trials and the Saskatchewan women's provincial; in fact, the latter is currently playing as I type this.

Sheldon frequently watches with me, and is quite interested in the sweeping.  He'll stand up on his back paws and swipe at the screen.  

I often remind him, he makes a better door than a window.  Good thing I can rewind live television should I miss a particularly good shot!

The last couple of weekends I've been working on my projects.  I started a shawl last summer thinking it would be nice for my September cruise.  I was close to finishing it in time, but ended up needing more yarn ...and the desire to complete it.  

After making Eli's toque and mitts, I had enough yarn to make more mittens, then started a scarf but needed more yarn, which I did buy along with the yarn for the shawl.  I finished both projects last week but I like to keep my hands busy while I watch the curling so this weekend I started another set of mittens.  This last bit of yarn I bought last winter when I made a turtle blanket and hat for Eli (my daughter decided she didn't like the color so I simply added it to the stash.

Once I finish the mitts, I'd like to make the matching scarf but I know I'll run out of yarn so I guess I'll be buying more again.  It's time to find some projects to use up the stash!  

I'll end this post with this photo of Eli.  Since I've been watching curling in my bedroom, he's taken to crawling down the hallway to my room.  I'll hear him coming and play peek-a-boo with him.  He'd just pulled himself to a standing position and was peeking at me over the end of the bed.

He was just out of the bath, his cheeks are rosy, and it was nearly bedtime.  What a sweet boy! 

And so we carry on.  Have a great week everyone!