Monday, August 30, 2010

Here it is Monday - SIGH - back to the grind. The weekend was very busy - not much 'down' time.

Saturday the weather was not very nice - since we had planned on going to the County Fair here in Fort McMurray - it was chilly and damp - but we persevered - there were lots of arts and crafts and baking on display - lovely quilts - I was quite impressed with the scope of talent here in Fort McMurray - it is not a very large town - but there are a lot of very talented crafters here. Need to get busy and upload some pictures - right now I think I am doing well just blogging - but need to get on the pictures - pictures make the blog much nicer. We spent four hours poking around Heritage Park - where the Fair was held - looking at the buildings they have - as well as looking at the crafts and the vendors. We happened on the Dunvegan Garden's booth and bought some beets, carrots, onions, radishes and then I found that they had baked goods for sale - oh oh - ended up buying four cinnamon buns and a tiny zucchini lemon poppyseed loaf. So guess what I am doing today - yep cooking beets - getting ready to make another batch of borscht - Marian put in a request. I am very glad that I splurged and bought my yellow duck jacket - as Marian calls it - it is a waterproof jacket - got it at WalMart for $8.00 or something like that - has turned out to be very handy. Unfortunately all the standing around in the cold weather did not help my knee any - but such is life. When we finished at the County Fair we went grocery shopping and got a few things that we needed. Got home - I made a gourmet meal of hot dogs and a salad - we also had 1/2 a cinnamon bun for dessert - then prepared ourselves for 'movie' night - we watched the movie 'Precious' - Marian has quite a movie collection as well as TV Series - the movie was 'interesting' - not autobiographical - but I guess a combination of stories - sad that this happens - made me truly appreciate that which I had as a child. It was certainly sobering.

Unfortunately I did not sleep well Saturday night - woke up around 2:30 a.m. and could not get back to sleep - tossed and turned - finally gave up and started reading. Did not manage to get any more sleep - ARGH. Meant Sunday was going to be a very long day.

Sunday was Marian's company's first annual picnic - lousy timing as a fair number of their drivers are Muslim and of course are fasting for Ramadan - so the turnout was not as good as it could have been. Weather was much better - sunny with a few cloudy periods - when it was sunny it was VERY nice. We were supposed to start early - but Marian got sidetracked - surprise, surprise - so by the time we got moving it was time that I had wanted to be back home so I could have a nap - I get CRANKY without sleep - but I ended up going - because if I did not go Marian would not go - oh well. Had quite an enjoyable time - ran into Brenda - she is one of the Weight Watchers leader here in Fort McMurray - she commented that I had lost more weight since I quit going to meetings (financially and psychologically could no longer cope with it) - and yes I have managed to lose around another 20 lbs. - have .6 lb. to lose and I will be at the 50 lb. mark - still a long way to go before I get to my goal -but I am closer than I was. Before we went to the picnic we stopped at Save on Foods and bought out their quinoa - it is usually $1.59/100 g - on sale this week for $0.99/100 g - I bought 2 kg. to take back with me to Egypt - I really like it - and I am sure Ayman will eat it as well - as he eats anything. Marian got around 6 kg. of it - they now have no more - we bought it all. But we both like it - and since I found the recipe for Tabouleh Quinoa - it is a real crowd pleaser - we go through quite a bit of it. We indulged at the picnic and had a couple of burgers each - small ones - so when we got home I put together a huge salad and that is what we had for supper - and polished off the last of the cinnamon buns - we each had one for breakfast - they were YUMMY.

So here it is Monday morning and I have cooked beets - now need to wait for them to cool off so I can put together the borscht - guess I should have some breakfast - not sure what interests me - but I need to get something going - already had some 'concord' type grapes - yummy. Going to cook fish, beans, corn on the cob and have salad for lunch - it is our big meal of the day. Then for 'supper' we will have soup and maybe a sandwich.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

TGIF - and I am finished work for the day.

Yesterday was a long day. Worked my usual 2-6 at the post office - then went to A&W and had a Teenburger - they were donating a dollar from every teenburger sold to MS - so Marian and I went to do our part - yeah right - okay so you don't believe me. They also had a fairly good collection of 'classic' cars to look at - I was quite impressed with the number of cars considering that Fort McMurray's population is around 100,000. They even had cars there that are older than ME - hard to believe - but it is true. After we gawked at the cars - and Marian shook her head at some of the souped up cars that were automatic - hard to believe - what is the point - we headed home and guess what - the flyers were on the doorstep. So we came in made our bladders gladder and headed out to do the flyers. I have not been doing much in the way of helping since I buggered up my knee - have been helping mainly by driving and loading the flyers into the carrier bag for Marian - have been slowly working my way back to doing my share. Last night I did - and man is my knee ever sore today - had trouble getting to sleep last night because my legs were so sore - partly from the walking - the steps kill me - and partly because I have been doing squats every day - and my quads are saying - WHAT IN SAM HILL ARE YOU DOING TO US - hmmm - maybe I should only do them every other day. Once we finished the flyers and disposing of the extras - we came home grabbed a well deserved ice cream treat - walked up the hill to the gazebo that is perched on the hill - and sat inside to watch Mother Nature put on a really whiz bang light show. The lightening was stupendous - and the thunder was pretty good too. Only problem was that it was past my bedtime - Marian's as well - got home a bit after 10:00 and I did some stretches and then had my shower and tried to sleep. Marian got 'sidetracked' as is her wont - and did a bunch of laundry before getting to bed - so she did not get upstairs until after midnight and then she had to have her bath. We were supposed to get up early this morning and go for a walk - got up around 7:00 - knocked on her door - and she said she wanted to get more sleep - I did not argue too much - my legs were still giving me grief from yesterday - but I got up and had my shower and got dressed and came downstairs. Today is the first day of Marian's weekend - she has 3 days off - but today she had to attend a Professional Driver Improvement Course - which took all morning. She had made an appointment with Telus to come in and do something with her TV's - so I had to stay put - and of course they phoned yesterday to confirm - and stated their technician would be by anytime from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. - I usually head to bed around 10:00 for a laydown - find the afternoon at work goes better if I give my feet and legs a break - only an hour - but could not do this today because I was waiting for the Telus technician - and I was worried that if I went upstairs to lay down I would not hear him when he came - because you cannot hear much of anything when you are upstairs - kind of nice most of the time - but times like this would have been nice to have not had it so quiet. Anyhow so I stayed up - he called around 11:30 (could have had my rest) - he was on his way - did I want him to come - UH YES - called again after about 10 minutes - he was lost - had to give him directions - talk about the blind leading the blind - like I know my way around Fort McMurray- luckily he was quite close so I knew where he was and could give him directions to the house. He was here for about 30 minutes - and when he left I went upstairs for my rest. Marian got home in time for me to take the car and drive to work.

Got to work and ended up sitting around for two hours because I could not get into the program I needed. Have a feeling IT had been busy after Jim left - he was gone when I got there at 2:00 - and had done some upgrades and closed the program - only problem is that no one there knew what the password was - so we had to wait for Jim to arrive home and call back - so did not really start work until just before 4:00 - managed to get two boxes of mail done - one short one - and one 'flat' one - not as much as I usually get done - but did not have my usual amount of time either - so shoot me.

Got home and prepared supper - leftover barbecued steak, fresh green beans, corn on the cob, salad and some potatoes that I cut up and 'fried' in the oven. For dessert we had some chocolate pudding - all in all a good meal. Now I have to figure out what to cook for the coming week - because there are no leftovers - will be thinking about eating a lot of fish - we have bought lots of it - was on sale - so should just eat it up - make room in the freezer.

Tomorrow we are planning on heading to Heritage Park for Fort McMurray's Country Fair. And then on Sunday the company Marian is working for - Diversified Transportation - is putting on their first Family Picnic - not a great time to do this - as a lot of the drivers are Muslim and it is Ramadan so they are not able to eat - but I guess they will be bringing their kids and the kids can eat.

Ayman headed back to Libya on Wednesday - he is hoping to be able to ship some copper to Egypt during the next couple of weeks and then hightail it back to Egypt for Eid.

And that is it for today.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

OK - to continue the saga of the last 3 months.

My job hunting has been more 'successful' here than in Calgary. I applied for a part time job working at A&W - was hired to work Saturday and Sunday and some evenings. Unfortunately the woman who hired me then quit - and the new management were not happy that she hired me at $13.50 an hour - according to them my wage should have been around $11.00 an hour - because I would only be working on weekends and the occasional evening. I did all the training - it is done online - took what seemed forever. Every time I would complete a module I would be told to do more. I ended up doing all 18 of them - when I only really needed to do six of them. Oh well - interesting.

I then applied - on a whim - for a letter carrier position with Canada Post. Actually my niece Annie told me about the position - she had applied for it - so I thought what the heck - and I got called. Had to go in for a GAT (General Aptitude Test) - now I remember them from when I was being tested by Manpower (way before it was called UI now EI) to decide what 'career' best suited my 'skills' - and I was a bit freaked because I remember the math being a doozy - and I was not all that great at math when in school - and as you know from my previous post - it has been just a 'day or two' since I was in school - so I worked myself up into a sweat about the math portion. Day finally came to go for the testing and why was I surprised - they were so disorganized. The tests had not been run off yet - and instead of giving us the test first - they give us a wad of paperwork that had to be done - security clearance, privacy issues, TD1's, banking information - all kinds of stuff - which to my way of thinking was a waste of time until we had at least passed the GAT - but who am I to question the way things are done - after all this is Canada Post. We were to be there by noon - and of course people showed up late - so held everyone up - because we had to fill out all the paperwork before we could get to the testing - ARGH. Well the math - after all my stressing - was a non-event - very basic - adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing - no sweat - interesting to hear the 'young 'uns' go on about how tough the math was - SAY WHAT - but of course they do not know how to do it without a calculator - I just breezed through it. Did run into problems with the short term memory test - my ability to memorize things has never been very good - and after noon it drops dramatically - being a morning person and all - so I likely did not do all that well on that portion of the test - so I am figuring I am done for. But lo and behold I get a phone call - I passed the GAT and am not onto - what I think and have been told - is the last hurdle - the one on one interview - a bunch more scenario questions - as well as a map question - get through that and I think I did quite well. Then I get an email saying they have added a physical fitness test to the equation - more stress - ARGH - oh well - I have been walking a couple of hours most days - so I think I am all right. In the email I am given the phone number and instructions that I have 48 hours to make the appointment or I lose the opportunity. So I immediately start calling the number they have given - to find out it is the fax number - hmmm - Marian suggests looking the company up in the phone book and getting the number from that - so I do - call them and am told that they cannot make an appointment right now - they will call me later in the day - so I wait - at 3:30 - no call so I phone them - and am told that they are not yet set up for the testing - could I please call back in a week to 10 days - SAY WHAT????? I tell them I have 48 hours to make the appointment or I lose the chance of work - no change. So I contact the woman I had interviewed with - she was not there - but I got the number for HR in Edmonton - gave them a call - told them that the number in the email is actually the fax number - oh - so sorry - but that email comes from head office - ok - then I tell the woman that I did make contact with the company that was to do the physical testing - and was told that they were not yet set up - she was some surprised - because the company told Canada Post they were ready in mid-June - and this was the end of June - hmmmm - so she makes some calls - gets back to me - tells me that they are ready - and the company calls while I am at A&W and Marian makes the appointment - I am now stressing about this. Go for the test and it was a 'piece of cake' - only problem I had was being hooked up to a heart monitor for the walking section - you were carrying the postal bag - with increasing amounts of weight - up to 35 lb. - and you had to walk 300 ft. including up a step - hmmm - not bad - except I was rushing - and my heart rate exceeded their 'normal range' - so I had to stop - a phone call was put into Canada Post - and a decision was made to give me another chance - this time I took it nice and slow and remember to breathe - second time around my heart behaved itself - minor detail that my resting heart rate is higher than their normal - but God forbid anyone 'think' - so I leave there and wait again for a call or something. The call comes in when I am at A&W - Marian calls me and I am thrilled. Finally I am going to be working - had applied for many, many jobs in my 'field of expertise' and heard nothing from anyone. So, at the age of 53 I am going to be a mail carrier - GULP.

Went in on July 12 to start my training - remember how in the previous post I mentioned that on July 10 I had injured my IT band - now it is causing major problems. My first week of training is on a walking route - about 14 km long - and I am in PAIN. Having to walk is not the problem - but the stairs are a killer - Monday I just followed Kriscinda - my trainer - and Tuesday I delivered a bit of mail - Wednesday she divided the walk in 1/2 and I did one 1/2 and she did the other - then on Thursday we switched - Wednesday took me forever because the bags of mail had been put in the wrong transfer boxes - so I did not have the mail at the right place - meant I was doing a lot of backtracking - oh well - got it done - then on Friday I did the whole route on my own - she helped me do the sort - which is the most important part of the job - you sort it right and then you just follow the mail - was going along really well - until I got to a transfer box - and the wrong bag was in it - NOT AGAIN - yes again - so I just picked up the bag and carried it to the right box and took the bag that was supposed to be in the other box back to it - and carried on my not so merry way. The weather was HOT and HUMID - so I was sweating and dehydrated - but I followed the mail and managed to finish it just before 3:00 - Kriscinda is usually done by noon at the latest - oh well - got back to the depot and had time to sort through the mail that was waiting to be done - called flats - magazines, and advertising (not flyers) and got out by 3:30. Called Kriscinda when I got home - she was surprised that I finished when I did - thanks I think. I just kept following the mail - must admit by the latter part of the day I was really wishing the mail would just disappear. Got home and soaked my feet in cold water - AHHHHH.

The second week of training was done on a 'motorized' run - which means you drive around in a Canada Post vehicle - the route I was trained on is in a newer area of Fort McMurray - and most of the mail is delivered to the super mail boxes - she has six of them on her route - and as well you deliver all the parcels to the houses for that area - and there is a small walking section as well. Much easier on my knee - but this woman kept telling my to pick up the pace - I was slowing her down - well I was going as fast as I could - will take time to get as fast as these guys who have been doing it for years. I tend to have to look at the mail a lot more than they do - they do the same route day in day out - week after week - so they know the route really well. Anyhow I managed to finish the second week of training - still in a lot of pain - but I finished it.

Now I have been hired as a temporary mail carrier - so I now sit at home and wait for the phone to ring to be called in. On the Friday of the 2nd week of training I am told that I will have Monday off - so I sleep in - am in the shower at 7 - when Marian comes banging on the door - I have to go to work - thank goodness she was not working - so I could take the car - they needed help with sorting the mail - usually you get one maybe two boxes of mail - well most of the routes were dealing with four to five boxes - and one of the regular carriers was off - so the person doing her route needed help sorting the mail - so that was fine by me. Then Kriscinda - the girl who trained me on the walk route was not feeling well - so I ended up doing half of her route - they called it an 'overtime' route and it is done a lot differently - so I was not very fast at getting it done - took me until 3:00 to do half of the route - but I was going round and round in circles - I was SO confused - I knew how to do the whole thing - but the way they divided it had me thoroughly flumoxed - oh well I got it done. No calls came in for the remainder of the week.

The following Tuesday I missed a phone call from them - did not hear the phone and did not see that they had called until later in the day - ARGH. Decided to head in on Wednesday to see what was going on - I had to pay the $5.00 initiation fee for the union - so used that as my excuse to go in - went in for 7:00 a.m. and told the supervisors I would show up every day at 7:00 because I do not have a car - so to wait at home would waste a lot of time - I would not get paid for the time - but I did not care - would rather be there when they need me then at home and not be able to get there until 8 - which means you are running late with no chance of getting caught up. Was told to report to the other depot (there are two in Fort McMurray) at 1:00 p.m. that day to be trained on RTS (Return To Sender) mail - ok - means I will be working from 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. five days a week - I am not THRILLED - but it does beat sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. The job is B O R I N G - you sit or stand at a table - pick up an envelope - type in the postal code of the sender - put the envelope in the machine and a label is put on it with the sender's postal code and reason for the mail being returned - and then you do it over and over again - oh yes it is just such a thrill. I am able to do 3 boxes of mail in a 'normal' shift - do not seem to be getting anywhere - because for every 3 boxes I do - another 3 come in the next day - yesterday I finished the RTS mail for July - which was an accomplishment. And actually got the mail done for Aug. 4 as well. Will be at this for the foreseeable future. Talked with the supervisors - had been thinking maybe I was being punished or I had washed out as a letter carrier - but was told if I would rather they could bring someone else in and I could sit at home - told them no thanks I am happy to be working four hours a day - just want to know that there is a chance I will get to go outside and play - and they said yes. The VOP training (have to be trained to drive their vehicles) will next be held at the beginning of October - so will be doing that - missed the last one because of the danged long drawn out hiring procedure - oh well - such is life.

And I think that is the end of the post for today.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Well this is truly frustrating. Spent a couple of hours yesterday typing up my life in the last few months on MS Word and am unable to copy it onto my blog - so will have to start from scratch.

First my hair has been cut numerous times - so have lost the calico look and am au naturel - white - with a sprinkling of pepper. Have renewed my licence again and even took the major step and admitted that my hair colour is white - ah isn't aging grand.

I think I will start with my 35 year high school reunion. It took place on July 9 and 10. I flew out to Winnipeg from Fort McMurray, rented a car and drove to Pinawa - located 120 km ENE of Winnipeg - on an island in the Winnipeg River - beautiful place. We moved there in 1971 - in April - I was in Grade 8. Did not really find my niche as the kids in my class had been together since Grade 1 - definitely odd man out. Found out how odd at the reunion - a couple of people questioned whether I had graduated with them - hmmm - really made an impression. Of course the girls I did associate with did not come to the reunion - we were kind of the 'outcasts'. Arrived in Pinawa around 5 - had dinner with my hostess - a friend of my parents that I got to know through Miles - and her son who was visiting from Australia. After supper I went to the meet and greet - that had originally been planned to be held at the Pub - but the pub burned down a month or so before the reunion - so the venue was moved to one of the organizer's back yards - only drawback were the mosquitoes - one of the bonuses of living in the 'wilderness'. The only people who recognized me were the few people who I have connected with through Facebook - the rest were absolutely clueless - and even wondered if I had in fact graduated with them - I assured them I had. It was 'fun' to see the people who were there - there were about 15 who showed up for Friday night - again I was the observer - watching people. And I remembered why I did not associate with them even in high school - their idea of fun is to see how much liquor they can consume before upchucking - not much has changed. I was busy in high school babysitting - earning the princely sum of $.50 an hour. Good money back then - how the times have changed. This was the first reunion that I had attended - will likely attend others if I am in the country and available - but will plan to stay longer than 2 days. Saturday I opted out of the golfing - I have never golfed in my life - no desire to start now - and spent the day with my gracious hostess - Helen - she took me on a tour of the town - sure has changed. When we lived there there were very few fences - my dad put one up and I think it was one of the very few in the town. But fences have now been erected to keep the deer out of people's yards. The deer have become a real problem - Helen and I were sitting in her back porch and a doe and her fawn just about came in and joined us - they are very tame - guess there are a few reasons why the deer have become such vermin 1) there are very few kids - when we lived there there were loads of kids - so lots of noise; 2) new town bylaw keeping dogs tied up - when we lived there the dogs roamed - so kept the deer at bay and 3) lots of Bambi lovers. There are even people who feed them - causing more of a problem. Saturday night we were supposed to go to the club for a meal - but again the venue had to be changed - the chef quit earlier in the week - so salads were catered and we barbecued in another classmates back yard. It was quite enjoyable - again I watched and marvelled. Unfortunately I managed to trip and injure my IT (ileotibial) band - making walking very painful. I flew back to Fort McMurray on Sunday.

And that is all I have time for tonight. Will endeavour to do more tomorrow.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Every day I receive a couple of spiritual newsletters. This one that I got today really struck a chord - so I thought I would share it with you.

Differences and Divsions

Differences and divisions are not the same things.

Differences, confirm and make possible, your experience of Who You Are. Divsions confuse and render impossible that experience. Without the differences between here and there, up and down, fast and slow, hot and cold none of these things could be epxerienced. Yet there is no division between here and there, up and down, fast and slow, hot and cold. These are merely different versions of the same thing. Similarly there are no divisions between black and white, male and female, Christian and Muslim. These are merely different versions of the same thing.

I promise to start blogging on a regular basis - had a post all typed up in MSWord and am having trouble copying it - so will try again tomorrow.