Monday 27 November 2023

Great great-away!

The bus trip to Minot was a success; I finished my Christmas shopping, spoiled myself a little, found some real bargains, spent some time relaxing in my hotel room, and met a wonderful group of women. Apparently this tour has been happening for many years and some of the participants have been on multiple trips. However, there is no guarantee it will happen again next year, as the bus company has recently been bought out and the new ownership may decide to cancel it. There were originally around 38 tentative bookings but by the time we left, we were down to 23 (plus hostess and driver) on a 54 passenger bus. I'm glad they decided not to cancel.

We left Regina on a very cold Thursday morning (-18C/0F) at about 9 a.m. There were several women on the bus who had boarded in Moose Jaw, and I think were about 12 of us from Regina. We had one more stop to pick up a woman in Weyburn before we headed to Estevan in time for lunch. We were expected to arrive there about 11:30 but actually reached the city a good 30 minutes early. After a quick lunch at Taco Time or Subway, we hit the road again for the border crossing. There was a short stop on the Canadian side at the duty free.

At the crossing, the bus was directed to a separate area, and an agent boarded the bus to collect our passports. I don't think we were sitting more than 15 minutes before he returned and gave the passports to Diane, our hostess. She handed them out and we were on our way. To pass some time, we played a game of "Survivor" at a cost of $5 USD. We selected one card from each of decks of blue and red playing cards, which we tore in half. One half went into a bucket and we held the other cards. As cards were drawn, the other half was handed in and the last card to be drawn would win the pot. I lost my first card very early and figured I had no chance, but I was still holding on when there were only four cards left. The gal in front of me also had a card, and said "I'll make you a deal, if we're the last two cards, I'll split the pot with you." I agreed, and yes, we were the last two cards. However, she would have won the entire pot had she not made the deal with me. In any event we both had $50 additional cash to spend.

We arrived at the hotel about 3:30 p.m. and were greeted by the staff with bottles of water, our room keys, and information about the hotel and its amenities. After unloading our luggage and at little time at our rooms, we headed back to the bus for a short drive to a truck stop diner for dinner. We were told basically everything in the city was closed and it certainly appeared that way on our drive. We had what my kids call the senior dinner, eating by 5 p.m. The food was fine, the company much better. I was ready for an early night and quite happy to be back at the hotel and settled by shortly after 6 p.m.

I DID NOT get up early the following morning to go shopping at the mall. Others did, however, and several were in line-up at the J.C. Penney doors at 4:45 a.m.! I slept in until 7:15, took my time before heading down for breakfast, and joined several others on the bus for the drive to Hobby Lobby and Kohl's. We were given three hours! for this jaunt - mostly due to the thought there would be long line-ups. There weren't and I was back on the bus after an hour. Hobby Lobby's sale items were primarily Christmas and leftover from the fall/Thanksgiving. No yarn on sale though I did find a item for D's Christmas gift. At Kohl's I found some towels and a blanket for Eli, but nothing else sparked my interest. Thankfully, I had my Sudoku book of puzzles to amuse me while I waited for the others.

In the afternoon I shopped and ate at the mall. I had hoped to find a specific book at Barnes and Noble for my brother, but they had none in stock nor in their warehouse. Carter's, Ross Dress for Less, and Target were provided some clothing for Eli and me. Later in the day, we made a trip over to Walmart, where I purchased some grocery items, some yarn (just 2 skeins), a duffle bag (to pack things in) and a couple of gift items. 

Saturday was a very successful day - some relaxing in the morning, and shopping in the afternoon. The bus was going back to Hobby Lobby and Kohl's so I stayed behind, walked over to T. J. Maxx where I found more items for Eli and me. Back at the room, I did some crocheting. I cannot locate the amigurumi cocoa mugs I made on last year's cruise, so I found another pattern that I actually like better, and worked on those. I used some yarn I'd brought with me, as well as the yarn I bought at Walmart. I also spent some time on my cross stitch project.

D messaged me to say that the local store was out of brown sugar, so after lunch at the mall, I wandered down to Target and found a couple of bags of brown sugar for her. I'll mail them to her later this week, when I finish the cocoa mugs as those are meant to be gifts for Eli's teachers, teacher aides, and the principal.

Our trip to Menard's that afternoon was amazing - what a store! I thought of it as a hardware/lumber store, but it is much more. They have a grocery section, and at this time of year a huge section for Christmas. I was able to finish off my list of gifts, with a few extras to boot. Who wouldn't want a cordless screwdriver for $4.99? Well, I don't know if they do or not, but both my kids are getting one. 

Later in the evening, we had a another jaunt, this time to Joann Fabrics. I was looking for permanent vinyl for D's Cricuit, but though the vinyl was on sale, the package she wanted was out of stock. I did look at the yarn, and fondled a few of the pound balls, but left them on the shelf. They were definitely a good price, even with the conversion rate but I reminded myself I have a closet full here that needs to be used. Maybe next year.

Speaking of pricing, I did the math on the sale prices and found I saved about 33% overall according to my receipts. I haven't done the calculation of a comparison of USD to CDN as yet, primarily because several of the grocery items I purchased are only available in the U.S. That included Dolly Parton cake mixes, special flavours of Oreo's, and Dot's Pretzels. My best deal was a pair of slip-on Skechers for $32 ($45 C), which is a 40% savings over the cost the same pair here. 

Now, I agree, that I probably didn't save a whole lot when one considers the cost of the trip itself. However, I could not have booked a hotel room for three nights and driven there and back for the price I paid for the tour. It was worth the cost if only for some time away especially after the stress of this move. I stayed well within my spending budget and enjoyed the company of my fellow shoppers as well.

We were all loaded and on the bus by 9 a.m. on Sunday, with a short stop at the U.S. duty free before the border. There the bus was directed to a building where we all off-loaded with our passports. Two agents met us, one scanning our passport while the other reviewed our declaration cards. As long as the amount was $1000 or less (the limit is generally $800) we were through the line quickly. We had to wait until they finished with everyone and did a quick check of the interior of the bus before we were permitted to re-board. Two of our passengers were sent to another building to pay the duty on their over-limit purchases. See the photo below...and they had two more large suitcases in addition! After a quick stop in Estevan for lunch, we dropped off the passenger in Weyburn, and were in Regina by 3 p.m. 

I did learn, I need to take a large suitcase with me, as I had to buy a duffle bag and still had two more bags to carry besides my craft bag, my purse, and my small bag for clothing. It was good to get home, unpacked, and I even managed to get my laundry done before bedtime. All in all, a very good weekend!

Thursday 23 November 2023

And she's off

I'm posting early this week, as I'm heading out this morning on my short break, a bus trip to Minot for the weekend. I'll be back late Sunday evening, assuming the weather and roads are good, so there will likely be an update on Monday.

It was a busy few days this week, with a visit from my daughter and grandson on Tuesday overnight. They came into the city in the morning for his autism screening at the university. Results are expected by mid-week next week. Eli cooperated very well, and what was thought might take four hours was completed in just over 2 1/2 hours. D had found something called a wiggle seat for him - it's like a cushion but has raised bumps on it. The sensory boost it gives him as he sits helps to keep him still. I saw it in action that evening when we were having dinner.

Before they arrived, I had the fridge repair man out to take a look at the freezer fan. It does need to be replaced, however the part won't be in for two to six weeks. He checked on-line while he was there and there isn't a single fan available in the country! Fingers crossed he's correct, and the part will become available soon, as replacing it will be far less expensive than buying a brand new fridge.

Eli had fun exploring the new house and later when Uncle C arrived home, he spent some time gathering rocks in the back yard for me. (I didn't ask, he thought it was a good idea.) This is the area where I plan to put in micro-clover in much of it, and C wants to put in gravel in part of it for a fire pit. After a short visit with my brother, Eli and C went to basement to play with nerf guns; the war continued after dinner too. Bedtime was a bit chaotic but he and his mother finally settled in about 8 p.m. They used my bed, while I slept on the couch.

Eli told me he was taking a nap in the cupboard. Silly kid!

They got away the next morning about 8 a.m. as D wanted to make a stop at the Dollarama on her way out of the city. After a bit of shopping, they stopped at a cafe in a nearby bedroom community to visit with a friend and her fairly new baby (also named Eli). I had a message about 10, that they were on the road home.

Once I knew they were settled back at home, I headed out to the bank to pick up some USD for my trip, then onto to Stitch and Chat. I've started on a new project, a counted cross stitch Christmas stocking. There is no possibility I'll have it finished in time this year, so the goal is to finish it by December 2024. There were the three regulars today, myself, S and I, and a new lady who came for the first time, M. She explained her husband is going through cancer treatments and she needs a little time away from everything. Later she said she enjoyed herself and would be back next week. 

We head out this morning about 9 a.m., with an anticipated arrival in Minot around 4:30 p.m., with a stop in Estevan for lunch. The group will be getting together for dinner the first evening.  Then the shopping begins in earnest tomorrow. I've been researching possible gifts and have a good idea where I'll find them. 

Have a good weekend everyone!

Saturday 18 November 2023

Burning a hole in my pocket

Life slowed down somewhat this week. Most everything I want or need has been unpacked - though I still can't find my tea canister. No worries, I still have boxes of tea so I'm not going without. 

My son had Monday off as a statutory holiday for Remembrance Day, and because his bi-weekly earned day off is usually Monday, he had Tuesday off as well. That meant four days off for him, and quiet mornings for me - since I spoil him and let him sleep late. Monday, though he had to be up by 10:30 as my brother's friend, P was stopping by to check the garage door for us. The fellow who had leased the garage from the owners had mentioned it was tricky - tap three times to open it and twice to close it. That didn't work for me nor my son. After he had retired, P got into refurbishing garage door openers as well as installation. In fact, back in 2010 he replaced the old garage door opener at the previous property I'd owned. 

The one sensor wasn't working properly, but he got that going in short order, then did a few adjustments to the machine. That seemed to make things worse, so he took it apart and realized he had made the turn to the opposite direction he intended. About 20 minutes and $40 later, the door is functioning as it should. P mentioned the opener is very old, but a top of the line brand. He figures it should last the winter at least, and agreed he'd be back in the spring to replace it, if we chose to do so.  Since he's closed down his business, it's nice to know he'd do that for us. I did tell him, my brother R owed him a coffee. :)  

Oh, before I forget, Wednesday's photo is courtesy of R. He was out hunting elk but the wily creatures kept approaching him from the wrong direction or after hunting hours ended due to the sun setting. While he'd like to get his elk, he truly enjoys being out in the blind enjoying the sounds and sights of the natural world around him. I'm too soft hearted to like the idea of hunting, but I do appreciate the photographs.

Wednesday, C was back to work, and I went shopping! Nothing really exciting, some groceries and a few household items. I did make a stop by the thrift stores too finding a lamp at Value Village, a sheet and a pair of pajamas at Salvation Army. When I was moving the furniture in the living room, I manage to break one of my lamps. Eventually, I'll replace the pair in the living room, but the one I bought will be used in the basement. It had no shade, but I was able to use the one from the broken lamp. 

I also stopped in at my former esthetician's shop to purchase mascara for D. I missed L, as she wasn't working in the morning but I was able to make the purchase. One little boy got into his mother's make-up last week and wasted a whole lot of mascara. She had given him permission to play with the eyeshadow but neglected to expressly tell him not to use the mascara. Apparently he drew pictures on the tub with it. (Are you laughing...I was.)

Later, I met S at Stitch and Chat. I'd actually got some knitting done this weekend and was close to finishing the toque I've been working on. I didn't get it done that afternoon but have finished it since. We meet at the library, so I dropped off the book club novel, "Lethal White" by Robert Galbraith. I hadn't realized the author was the nom de plume of J. K. Rowling, or I likely wouldn't have read the book. She's made some controversial comments about the transgender community, and when challenged about those remarks she doubled down on her comments. In any event, I read the book and wasn't impressed. BTW, I've never read the Harry Potter books and if this novel was a sample of her writing, I won't be reading any more in the future.

I won't be attending next week's book club as D and Eli will be in town. He has an appointment for autism testing with a psychologist and a student intern. The appointment is over a four hour period, and I sure hope they give him a number of breaks. I'm expecting the two of them to arrive at the house mid-afternoon and they will overnight here before heading home in the morning.

More shopping was accomplished on Thursday as well, but not necessarily as I had planned. I want a new laptop as the one I currently use has a very limited memory. I do have an external hard drive but find it annoying to have to retrieve photos and documents. Yes, I know there is a cloud thingy too and some of the photos are saved there - at least the ones since I purchased this laptop, BUT I have no idea how to retrieve those items from the cloud. I didn't get a password or any kind of program to access, it saves the photos automatically but I also save to the computer and back-up the folders to my external hard drive. My concern is: what happens to the stuff in the cloud if this computer were to crash? Some things are just too important to me to lose access.

I went to the Staples store near my house and had a laptop selected, but they had none in stock. According to the tech, there was one in stock in the store on the other side of the city. Off I trundled to buy it there...except that didn't happen. The laptop on the shelf was not exactly the same as the one at the north store; it had half the memory/storage of the one I wanted, yet it was listed at the same price. I tried to get some assistance, even phoning the store directly after I'd ask a nearby stock clerk to call someone. The phone was never answered, and the automated voice told me to call back later. I waited a few more minutes, then walked out of the store. Back at home I ordered it online for delivery next week.

Since it's been a very spendy week, it was time to stay home on Friday. I did a few chores and tackled some heavy duty cleaning. D has my rug cleaner so I used the small green machine on the worst of the carpet in the basement. Upstairs I cleaned the louvers in the pantry and linen closet doors, washed the walls in the back landing and scrubbed doors. I'm slowly making my way around the house. Once the cleaning is complete, there will be some minor repairs and painting needed, most of which I can do over time.

Today, I've got nothing on the schedule. There are several curling events going on, I may find something streaming to watch. I'll likely do some knitting, to finish off the toque I've been working on for several weeks, and then turn my attention to another UFO, a sweater I started in the spring and barely started. It is Grey Cup weekend (Canadian football championship) but I won't be watching as I don't have access to the game. I've set up the Christmas tree and started a jigsaw puzzle. As I said to my daughter, I'm just puttering. A quiet weekend sounds good to next week will be busy.

Have a great week ahead everyone!

Saturday 11 November 2023

A long time coming

Well, we made the move from one house to the other successfully. I am forever grateful that the move was complete before the snow that arrived with a vengeance on Tuesday morning. The movers arrived on Monday by 8:45 a.m. and had dropped everything at the new house shortly after 12. They were fast and efficient and having the boxes in the garage was a good thing. We had them drop the boxes and bins in the new garage, though my organization didn't work quite as well on this end. The charge wasn't much more than I paid 13 years ago, when the three of us (D, C and I) moved into that house. Of course, there was quite a bit less now than then. But either way I was happy. M

We did some unpacking (mostly items from our vehicles and a few necessary boxes with dishes/glassware, towels, and bedding) and C went off later in the afternoon to pick-up the mattresses and bed frames. Of course, there had to be another hiccup with the Brick. Though he had the invoice, his last name is the same as mine, AND he had his identification with him, the fourteen year olds who rule the warehouse initially argued with him as I wasn't there. He had borrowed a friend's truck - she came back with him, and we had dinner together and visited for about an hour or so. We didn't get the bed frames put together so the mattresses were simply put into their respective bedrooms and made up. By 9 p.m. I was done and had crawled into bed.

Awake at 3:30 a.m., I stayed in bed until nearly 6 before heading upstairs. Poor C heard all the noises through the night (fridge, furnace, etc.) while I slept through it all. Then he heard me as I moved around upstairs. I may have to offer him my ear plugs. :)

By 7a.m. Tuesday,I was on my way over to the old house. I packed up the food from the fridge and freezer, and loaded it with the packaged food items that hadn't been moved the day before. I'd thoroughly cleaned the fridge a week or so ago, so it didn't take much to ensure it was cleaned. For some reason, I didn't think to eat before I left here, so was happy to find a piece of pizza in the fridge and a banana on the counter. It made a good breakfast!

I wandered around the house and made sure nothing was left behind. There was a box left in the garage with small propane bottles - I'm assuming the movers wouldn't/couldn't move those- a night light, a mat, a some cleaning supplies and my carbon monoxide detector. Just after I finished packing the car, the cleaners arrived. We did a walk through and while they got to work indoors, I swept up debris in the garage.

By this time, the snow was coming down in earnest! My realtor arrived around 10 to do a quick walk through and mentioned that traffic was moving slowly. Not long after he left that the garbage haulers arrived. and filled their trailer. My work there was done, so I found a spot to sit out of the way until the cleaners finished up about 12:15. They did a great job and I hope that having the house cleaned will make up for the fact that the driveway didn't get cleared! We got close to 5 inches in just a few hours.

The route that I take from the east side of the city to our new neighbourhood has a train crossing. We've been stopped a couple of times since we first saw the house. It happened again on Tuesday. I groaned when I saw the train actually stopped on the was a wait of over 10 minutes before it started moving again. 

Wednesday started early again at 3:30, when the noise from the water softener woke me. I caught up on some news, read blogs, and then managed to doze off until just after 6 a.m. I heard C moving around upstairs. I'd parked behind him on the single driveway so I got dressed. YUCK, more snow on the driveway! I moved my car out in front and he took off for work while I cleared the couple of inches that had fallen over night.

Then I tackled the pile of boxes in the garage. I took four boxes at a time into the house and made four or five trips in total. In addition, I organized the boxes that will remain in storage in the garage. The kitchen and bathroom boxes have pretty much been emptied and everything in its new place. I may not remember where I put things for awhile though!

The fellow who leased the garage from the old owner, came by to remove a few items left in the garage. I think he'd hoped we'd keep them, but they were heavy metal tables, and old desk, chair, and a filing cabinet. Nothing we need nor want. (As a result I wasn't able to get to Stitch and Chat that afternoon.)

Meanwhile I received an email from the lawyer indicating the sale was complete and the cheque would be deposited to my bank account that afternoon. When I had a chance to check it at 3, the money was there. BUT, the bank had put a 7 day hold on a lawyer's trust cheque, or at least 90% of it. I was able to move some of the funds over to pay off the line of credit, and to put a bit in savings, but the balance was sitting there looking pretty but inaccessible.

I had an appointment downtown on Thursday so made a stop at the bank branch to discuss this with someone there. At first, there didn't seem to be anything they could/would do, but when I explained I had a small loan (from the renovations) to pay off, and I would be asking them to pay the interest for the extra week, they acquiesced to my request to release more of the funds. I walked over to the other institution to drop off a cheque, then headed to my appointment. While I couldn't make the deposits that day, arrangements have been made to move the funds when they are released next week. 

From the appointment, I went to do a bit of grocery shopping on this end of the city. I've never lived in this area so it was a bit of treasure hunt walking around the stores. The rest of the day was spent relaxing at home. No unpacking...I was still tired from the day before.

Friday I tackled more unpacking, though most of it stayed in it's boxes in the store room downstairs. These include extra glassware, some small appliances, and extra bedding. There simply isn't enough room in the kitchen for anything else, and to be honest, most of it isn't really needed. I vacuumed the basement, used the dry mop on the walls to get rid of cat hair and cobwebs, and washed the bathroom floor and the back door landing. In the afternoon I did a quick run to Walmart to get a new rug for the landing - the old one shredded when I pulled it up to wash the flooring. It was stuck down...I'm wondering how long it has been since that floor was cleaned! (I could say that about much of the house, to be honest). 

On a happier note, curling is being broadcast this week (Thurs-Sun) so I've been able to watch several games, with more to go. It's been nice to take a break, from unpacking and cleaning, to curl up on the couch with Saku, and watch the draws. There will be more of that today, but we have some things to get done today too. The bed frames need to be assembled, the rest of the boxes of clothing and bedding need to be brought indoors, and I want to get the living room vacuumed and floor washed. I haven't been able to do that just yet. Those boxes contain the unassembled bed frames. Far too heavy for me to lift!

I'll be taking a moment this morning too, to remember those who fought for our countries in the world wars to allow us to live in peace. In particular, I am thinking of my uncles Wilf and Bob, who went overseas in WWII. Neither came home unscathed, though they did make it back. 

Have a great week ahead everyone!

Saturday 4 November 2023

Carry and Tote

Wednesday's photos were a trip down memory lane for me, from my visit to Victoria in October 2009, to visit my godmother Gladys. I believe the houseboat photo was take on our walk along the seawall, and I know the other photos were taken at Butchart Gardens. Another story about Gladys, her full name was Cecilia Gladys and when she lived in Victoria, she used Cecilia as her name. Of course, I was expected to call her that too - it wasn't easy. As for the gardens, they were created at the direction of Jennie Butchart, in a former limestone quarry. The development began in 1912 and continues to this day. According to their website, the gardens are spread over 55 acres, employs 50 fulltime gardeners, and is open year-round. It is definitely a place to visit in Victoria.

As Patsy would say, the jello jiggled for me on Monday. The original plan was to start moving boxes from the kitchen/spare bedroom to the garage. However, as the temperature was expected to drop overnight Monday to -18C (0F), I didn't want to leave the car out on the driveway if I didn't have to. Warmer temps were in the forecast with highs near freezing and lows around -5C (23F). In addition, it would have been colder to be working in the garage and while there are heaters, they are electric and expensive to run.

So instead, I did more packing and made lists...lots of lists. What cupboards still need to be emptied, and which box the stuff is to go in (kitchen and bathroom), what boxes/bags and other items are to be sent to the house in my son's car, and what will go in mine. 

Halloween was both busy and fun. It warmed up quite a bit by mid-morning, so I pulled the car out of the garage and started moving boxes. The spare bedroom was cleared out and a good portion of the kitchen boxes were moved, as well as the boxes/bins from the sunroom. I also got the rugs from the sunroom rolled up, taped up and moved to the garage. This all took several hours, with breaks including lunch in between. It's tiring moving boxes.

The first child arrived at the door about 5:30, and after a bit of lull, they began appearing in earnest from about 5:45 to 6:30. It quieted down again before the hordes started arriving again just before 7. I ran out of potato chips (40 bags) and was left with a couple dozen small chocolate bars by 7:30. There were some fun and interesting costumes including one that looked like a cross between a one eyed fly and a demon, as well as a wee elephant, and several princesses and super heroes. I asked about the fly/demon costume and was told by the wearer that they are creating a cartoon so the creature was of their own invention. 

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't add a photo of our very own astronaut. He had a wonderful day at school where they were able to wear their costumes throughout the day, and then into the early evening trick or treating with his mom. She said the wind had died down, and the -2C temperature was perfect for walking. I'm sure they both slept well that night.

Wednesday saw me carrying more boxes and bins from the basement to the garage, doing laundry, and running a few errands before meeting S at Stitch and Chat. There was a whole lot more chatting than stitching. In the morning, I met with my insurance agent to arrange the cancellation of the house insurance. It amused me that this has to be done in-person, while starting a new policy or making changes to an existing one can be done on-line or by e-mail. 

I finally got a sense that my son is getting excited about the move on Thursday morning. His first words to me were, "four more sleeps." I replied, I thought I was the only one counting. :) It was a wee bit cooler -5C (23F) that morning so I wasted watched some curling before heading down to the basement. My goal was to get the rest of the boxes/bins into the garage. That was accomplished in relatively short order between curling games. There are just a few pieces of furniture left in the basement for the movers. 

I was also able to contact the garbage haulers. I'd used their services back in 2019, when the house did not sell, and hoped they would still be in service. They are, and have been scheduled to make the pick-up on Tuesday at 10. I'm expecting the cleaners at 8:30 (now changed to 12:30 due to the long weekend) and this will give me time to check for any items left behind and to sweep out the garage. 

The curling continued through Thursday afternoon and early evening, and again on Friday. In between draws, I moved some boxes* that were on the shelves in the garage to the pile to be moved, and then did some housecleaning. With my trips back and forth to the garage with the boxes, I've been bringing in leaves and debris that has been blown in or come in on the tires of the cars. (I did put down plastic on the floor of the garage before I started piling the boxes.)

Today I'll finish packing a few more boxes and moving them to the garage. The last ones with the remaining dishes, glassware, and cutlerly will go out sometime Sunday evening. There is no more cooking happening for the weekend, we'll eat any leftovers from earlier in the week, sandwiches, or take-out pizza.

*The boxes are kitchen items that C moved home from his two years in Lethbridge in 2008. The boxes haven't been opened since. It will be interesting to see what they hold and if he wants to keep any of it in his new home.

Have a great weekend everyone!