Saturday 27 January 2024

Low key week, shaky customer service

The photo from Wednesday was taken in a hurry. Goodness those critters can move quickly! Yes, Saku has seen the pair that seem to be neighbourhood buddies. I caught a glimpse of the two of them one afternoon chasing one another in the tree. I've also seen one of them making a mad dash across the street to trees on the other side. 

Another week of not much happening around here. I did go shopping on Monday. A few groceries were needed, a new tea kettle as mine has gotten corroded and is leaking, a pair of pajamas were purchased at Value Village, and the Salvation Army provided a couple of books for reading.

I spent much of Tuesday morning on the phone. I tried called the Royal Bank (RBC) to arrange to change my address. I only have a small RRSP there, with no other accounts, thus I couldn't use on-line banking. I tried calling their customer service line. They've gone to a ChatBot/AI* that is supposed to direct your call. I kept telling it, that I did not have a bank card but it would not transfer me to a real live person without one. I searched and located an e-mail address and sent off a request. 

Next up was the autobody shop. Unlike the last time I had an accident, I can no longer make an appointment to have the vehicle looked at for an estimate. Instead I need to take photos and submit everything electronically. I'll receive an estimate by e-mail and then make an appointment to have the mirror replaced. However, since I have the mirror taped up, I'm waiting for warmer weather this weekend to take the photos. 

My second call was to the Canada Revenue Agency help-line for information on a recent change that requires I set up a trust account. Back in 2018, I assisted my daughter in purchasing her house. Because she did not qualify for the mortgage at the time, we had the title and mortgage put in my name. The rules for bare trusts such as this have changed as of December 31, 2023, and I now have to file returns for the trust despite there being no income. My daughter has been responsible for all of the expenses related to the property since 2018. There was some additional paper work to be completed, as the on-line system wouldn't allow me to submit it, so I printed everything off, signed and mailed it. Hopefully, I hear something in the next few weeks as the (nil) return and schedule must be filed by the end of March.

Later I received an e-mail from RBC, informing me they could not "discuss any financial information" as my e-mail was not sent via a secure server. What financial information? I just wanted to make an address change. I was given the standard answer, call the telephone number (that I'd already called) and ask to speak to an agent. The fellow did provide another phone number, so I tried that the following morning and spoke to someone outside of Canada who was able to make the address change for me.  

Back to the subject of pj's, I spent Wednesday in mine. I just feeling up to leaving the house so I didn't. That meant I missed Stitch and Chat. I had thought I'd pull out my stitching that afternoon; I didn't even do that, instead I binge watched NCIS-Los Angeles.

Another e-mail arrived from RBC on Thursday morning, from still another person suggesting they could resolve my issue. I was assured I could ask the ChatBot to transfer me to a live agent by telling I don't have a debit card who would set up an appointment for me at a branch. Or I could go directly into the branch to make an appointment. I responded, a little less kindly than I maybe ought to have informing this person who called themselves my "personal advisor" that their ChatBot did not transfer me when I told it I had no bank card and that making an appointment at the branch was not convenient, unless I could see someone that day to make the simple change I had requested. I also expressed my disappointment at the lack of customer service I've experienced. 

I headed over to Mahjong that afternoon. It was nice to visit with the other women though I didn't win a single game. Oh well, maybe next week. When I returned home, I took the photos and video of the damage to the driver's mirror and submitted them to the autobody shop. I hope to hear something early next week. Before I went indoors I cleared the sidewalks and driveway of a small of accumulation. I think most of it fell from the tree branches though we might have seen a bit overnight.

Friday was laundry day and I made a batch of buns and cinnamon buns too. When I was a child, my mom always did her laundry and baking on Monday. The memories of coming home to the aroma of fresh baked bread made up for the pile of ironing I was expected to help with. My favorite part of the loaf was the heel. Since I've never learned to shape a loaf properly, I stick to buns. Her cinnamon buns were better than mine too, but both my son and I are quite happy to eat the ones I make.

Today, I'll be watching provincial curling from our next door neighbouring provinces (Alberta and Manitoba). Even with the time difference, the games will overlap - that just means I'll have one playing on the television, the other on the computer screen. Since I have done nothing on my crocheting or stitching, one or the other will get some done as I won't be able to play on Ancestry. 

Oh, I had a distant cousin contact me from the U.K. last week. Her 6X great-grandfather and my 2X great-grandfather were brothers. She's taken over her mother's tree and is doing some clean-up and more research. I was able to provide a bit of info about her great-grandmother she didn't already have in her possession. I asked how she happened to be in the U.K. as the brothers emigrated to Canada about 1850. It turns out her mother was visiting family in the U.K., and met her future husband. 

Well, I'm off to park myself on the couch to wait for the first curling game. I've got my cup of tea and a book to read in the meantime. Have a wonderful week ahead everyone!

I'll leave you with a photo my daughter sent on Friday. She and Eli had friends visiting, and she and her friend took the kids to the outdoor skating rink. The girls didn't have skates of their own, but D was able to borrow the equipment, including helmets from the school. Until recently, Eli has needed a chair for support but not anymore! 

Saturday 20 January 2024

The present and the past

The much awaited warm-up didn't happen on Tuesday. By then, the forecast had been pushed out to Saturday. We did see a slight warm-up throughout the week but the dratted wind kept it feeling much colder. I did go out on Wednesday and Thursday, first to pick up a few groceries and Stitch and Chat, and the following day to attend Mahjong.

My time at home was productive and enjoyable as there was lots of curling to follow. First the finals of the men's event in Lloydminster, then on Wednesday the Sask. Provincial Women's began, and a Grand Slam event began airing games on Thursday. In fact, both Thursday and Friday had six games I could potentially have watched. 

I had other things to do too; first up to clear out the documents and correspondence I no longer need from 2023 and prior. All of the items for my former house were shredded - this include the original purchase and mortgage documents and invoices for every repair and renovation project from 2010-2023 and utility bills for the last year. I told C that since I no longer need those folders, I've filed the documentation for his property in the box.

To prepare for my Caribbean cruise in March, just 7 weeks away, I printed off a few more documents. Since I originally booked my flights, Air Canada has changed the departure times more than once. (not the dates thankfully). After last year's delays due to thunderstorms in Florida, I've chosen to fly in three days prior to the cruise. I'll arrive late the first day, because getting anywhere from here is always a full day affair and have two full days to rest, relax and/or explore before I board the ship. The cost of the airfare with the extra two nights of hotel was actually less than flying in the day prior to the cruise too. I read somewhere it will be school break. This time I'm flying with Air Canada, not WestJet, with only one stop in Toronto both going and returning so, fingers crossed, this will be a less stressful trip.

While I was at Walmart on Wednesday, I came across a heavily discounted bag of yarn (about 40% of original cost). I couldn't pass it up as I've been wanting to make a pair of slippers. I made up watching the curling that evening, and another Thursday morning while (though the ends haven't been sewn in yet. They are lovely and soft, and I have a lot of yarn left, so I may make another pair, this time a sock slipper style. 

Another activity that can be done while watching curling is updating information in Ancestry. Recently added a significant number of archived newspapers opening up more and new information. In addition, data from the 1931 Canadian census has been added over time. I knew that some of my maternal grandfather's family had returned to Ontario after giving up their homesteads here in Saskatchewan but I had hit a brick wall previously due to the lack of information. With the added newspapers, I was thrilled to find the obituaries of my great-aunt Bess and her husband. Her obituary also provided the name of their eldest daughter's husband. Previously, I knew from her siblings' obituaries that Phyllis had passed away sometime after 2013 but only had her spouse's last name. Bess's obit provided that one piece that broke that brick wall. Not only did I find Phyllis' obit learning she had two sons from a previous marriage, but I was able to find information on her second husband. He was also previously married, and though I can't find a lot of personal information, I did learn that he was a well known comic book artist in the 1940's. He was also the artist for a newspaper comic strip, Dizzy Don, that appeared in the comic book series. If you are interested, there is currently a copy of Dizzy Don Comics #3 Howard Pub 1947 Canadian Edition available on E-Bay listed for $800USD. Other versions have prices between $200-$1600 USD. I certainly can't claim to be related to this fellow, but I found the story interesting. It's unusual though, that I cannot find anything about his antecedents. Just another brick wall to keep me looking.

In between the fun stuff was the normal housework. I did NOT do much shovelling of snow this week. With the windchills still near -40C/F, I cleared the sidewalks and left the driveway for less cold days. Just to demonstrate how volatile the weather is the forecast for next Tuesday is 0C/32F.  I'll believe it when I see it, but I'll definitely welcome it, if this holds true.

We reached -17C Friday afternoon with windchill around -23C. It felt practically balmy out there when I went out to shovel the driveway. I hadn't done when it was so cold so I was clearing the accumulation over the past week or so. I moved my car out of the garage when I finished, and that turned out to be a slightly expensive decision, as I tapped the fence with my side mirror and the darn thing (plastic) broke. I was able to tape it up for now, but will need to make an appointment with an auto body shop to get it replaced soon.

Have a great week ahead everyone, stay warm and dry!

Saturday 13 January 2024

Colder than a snowcone at the North Pole

The weather turned nasty here this week, with temperatures dropping rapidly throughout the week. We also got more snow. By mid-week we had more than four inches on the ground. For the first few days of snow shovelling left me feeling sore but by this point, I can be out there for the hour it takes me and I'm fine. Now this doesn't mean I don't want to convince my son to buy a snowblower. :) 

Tuesday was our "warmest" day with a high of -11C (12F) so I went out to get a few groceries, cat food, and to run an errand for my daughter. When I'd unloaded everything at home, I went back out to Value Village (senior's day), and found a pair of blue jeans, a blanket for my bed, and a picture frame, all for less than $13. While I was happy with my deals, I was chatting with one of my favorite clerks and found out she's just been diagnosed with cancer. She hasn't started her treatment just yet, but expects she will in the next few weeks. She's such a nice person, always smiling, helpful with the customers, and I do hope her treatment goes well.

I did make it to Stitch and Chat on Wednesday. There were just two of us there, S & myself. The other regular, Io wasn't there as she wasn't feeling well. We were both working on cross stitch projects, though there was a lot more chatting than cross stitching. S will be with us/me next week before she leaves for a few months in Arizona. Boy, I'd like to be tucked into her suitcase! My warm holiday is still 8 weeks away.

Thursday was Mahjong at the local community center. I initially thought I would attend, but with the temperature hovering around -28C (-18F) I decided I'd rather stay home and bake some banana bread. There was curling to watch too with a men's event being held in Lloydminster (Alberta) and streaming available on You-tube.

D spoke with her doctor that evening and got the results for Eli. He had strep throat. The cause of the seizure was his body's response to his temperature rising to fight the infection. I understand from her discussion with the doctors and my google search, that febrile seizures are not uncommon but, as long as they don't last more than 5 minutes there is little risk to their brains. In fact, according to one article I read, it isn't even recommended to take the child to the emergency department unless the seizure lasts beyond that time period. Yeah no, any seizure would freak me out and in any event, I'd want a diagnosis. Hopefully, he'll never have this experience again.

It reminded me that I had a similar reaction as a small child. I was about four, maybe five years old. Mom and Dad rushed me into the hospital when I had a convulsion, as it was called then, and I was flown by air ambulance to the hospital in Saskatoon. I'm not certain how long I was in the hospital, but am certain it was at least a few days. It was determined that I had contracted rubella and rather than appearing as a rash on my body, it had attacked my internal organs. I was unconscious for quite some time - I do recall waking on the airplane and asking for my mom, and being transferred from the gurney to a bed in the hospital. Mom wasn't with me on the plane but when I did wake fully, she was there. I don't know or remember much more but do know that when the other students got their rubella vaccines in Grade 7, I was exempted. 

It steadily got colder all week, so I stayed home on Friday as well. With several curling games to watch, laundry, housework, and a knitting project on the go, I kept busy (and warm). I wasn't feeling like cooking so ordered in pizza from a nearby restaurant. Don't judge me - there was curling to watch! :)

Today is another day of watching curling, starting a new jigsaw puzzle, and knitting. This is the one I finished last weekend after giving up on another. I quite enjoyed putting it together. 

The cold weather has gotten even colder and the winds are still causing serious windchills. Overnight the temperature was -35C (-31F) with a windchill of -52C(-62F). Brutal! Today our high temperature is expected to reach -31C(-23F). Thankfully, it appears the cold snap will snap on Tuesday and we'll see a return to more seasonal temperatures.

I'll leave you with this photo my brother sent me of the sunrise on Tuesday morning. He has the benefit of living in the country where the buildings don't get in the way of his view.

Thursday 11 January 2024

Update - all is well

I did it to myself...I used the b word last week and I know better. Every time I use that word, something crazy happens. This time, it didn't happen to me but to Eli. D called me Sunday afternoon after he had a seizure and passed out on the couch before she rushed him to the hospital (about a five minute drive from her home). I called the emergency department to let them know they were on their way in. Eli didn't regain full consciousness until about 5 p.m. The photo I shared on Wednesday was taken shortly after he'd woken. However, he did fight with them when they took blood shortly after his arrival and responded to his mom when she told him she loved him. In my mind these were good signs as those are things I'd expect him to do.

Meanwhile I was at home here in the city, worrying about what was happening. D called again when they got home about 6 p.m. and let me know the doctor said he'd had a febrile seizure due to his temperature increasing. He was prescribed antibiotics as his white blood cell count was high. D kept him home from school until Wednesday even though he wanted to go back on Tuesday. :) Oh, and according to Eli, Sunday was the "best day ever" because he got to have a McDonald's milkshake AND a gift from his mommy's gift closet for being a good boy at the hospital. That's due to not being able to remember what happened there at all. 

Here he is on Monday morning, after a good night's sleep. The watch cat Stanley is sitting behind him. 

All's well that ends well, and I'll never use that word again.

Saturday 6 January 2024

This is a boring post

It's been a pretty quiet week and had its ups and downs. New Year's Day was quiet and relaxing - I'm pretty certain I spent most of it binge watching old television programs. 

I left the house for the first time in nearly a week on Tuesday, picking up groceries in the morning, having lunch with a friend, and then a little more shopping for household items in the afternoon. One of the windows in the kitchen doesn't close properly and there is a gap that lets in the cold air. I picked up some weather stripping as a stop gap (literally) measure. I've noticed a difference that night so it was an easy fix. 

My former colleague D was in town visiting her sister and daughter so we met for lunch. It was so nice to see her and the conversation and food was very good. We shared photos and stories about our grandchildren, and had some laughs. The restaurant was busy, especially with seniors. After I overheard some snippets of conversation, I realized this was due to the proximity to a medical lab. I'm sure some folks had to fast and were ready for a meal after their appointments.

The following couple of days weren't great, as I started feeling the onset of a cold that evening. I woke about 1:30 a.m. coughing, which didn't stop for some time. When it did ease off I took a dose of Buckley's and was able to sleep again for a couple of hours. The rest of Wednesday was spent mostly on the couch as any kind of activity caused coughing and shortness of breath. That night I took a Buckley's nighttime pill and another dose of cough medicine and slept very well.

Saku was a big help (sort of). He climbed up on my chest and pinned me down. Here he is fast asleep while I rested!

But oh my, my ribs and stomach muscles ached on Thursday. Thankfully the coughing was much reduced but every time a cough came on, I would try to hold it in because it hurt so much. I managed to get my laundry done and then worked on my budget worksheet updating my spending and reconciling my accounts. Meanwhile the junior hockey semi-finals were streaming. Our Canadian team lost out in the quarter finals but I still enjoyed watching the game.

Our winter weather has arrived. It snowed on both Thursday and Friday, and I managed to clear the driveway both days. The first day I was a bit slow, taking breaks to catch my breath. But I was feeling much better on Friday so it went faster, though I ought to have waited until later in the day as it continued to snow through the afternoon. I left it be, and either I or my son will shovel it today.

I caught up on some much needed housework as well, in between the junior hockey games. My bedding was washed, the entire house vacuumed, and my bedroom rug was cleaned of the spots that Saku leaves for me on occasion. The cough hasn't entirely gone away, but it's infrequent and I don't feel short of breath when I exert myself. 

I have no plans for the weekend, I'm sure there will be more television watching, a bit of housework, work on the jigsaw puzzle and I really, really need to work on my crochet and cross-stitch projects. I was feeling some pain in my wrists and forearms after all the crocheting for Christmas. I did a few rows on my sweater while at my daughter's, but the discomfort wasn't completely resolved. I figured a couple more weeks would be helpful. The cross-stitch is easier, but I need good lighting.

See, I told you it was boring. Have a great week ahead everyone!