Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Big news

Dave's new workplace: Cold Lake Chrysler.
My apologies if I haven't been around much – I just have so much on my mind right now that I can't seem to focus on anything.

We're moving. Again. Oh, I can't believe we're moving again. I say I hate it and yet I keep doing it. I don't think I've spent 10 of my 52 years in the same place. My dad was a railway engineer so we moved a few times because of that, and then my career in the newspaper business meant I moved again and again. Then my marriage fell apart. Then I met Dave. Every time a "then" happened I had to move again. I remember planting trees up at Dave's house in Sundridge and saying to him, "every time I plant a tree somewhere, in the hopes of being around to watch it grow up, I move again." Sure enough, we moved when my company moved our production office to Bracebridge.

Fortunately I was never tempted to plant a tree on our property here – we're surrounded by trees already! Besides, we love this place. In many ways it's the place we have been looking for our entire lives. When we moved in I said to Dave, "I'm never planting a tree here. Never." But then we planted a couple of snowball bushes and a few lilacs. I didn't think of them as trees, but maybe the Great  Goddess of Moving and Tree Karma counted them because here we go again.

I guess I was born under a Gypsy star.

This all started last summer when my brother-in-law, Don, told us about a Chrysler mechanic who moved out west and was making so much money he didn't know what to spend it on. It's all due to the oil sands in Alberta and the incredible demand for skilled trades. It also has to do with Chrysler, which has launched a serious training program for its automotive technicians, insisting on a certain level of training at all dealerships and refusing to pay for warranty work done by unskilled mechanics. Dave, as you can imagine, is a bit of a keener. He had all his courses done before Chrysler made it mandatory. Not all mechanics felt the same way about the new regulations (Don did, to his credit – he's a real keener, too), so there are a lot of untrained or semi-trained mechanics out there and not a lot like Dave and Don. Knowing that, you'll have no trouble realizing that Dave is in high demand.

When the company he worked for in Huntsville was bought out just recently, Dave decided it was time to look around. Within a few minutes scouting around on the internet, he found a job posting for Cold Lake Chrysler, three hours north of Edmonton, Alberta.

The opportunity is amazing. The pay is amazing. It has benefits and bonuses out the wazoo. After debating its merits and cons back and forth until our heads hurt, we finally decided that Dave should take the job. For me the best thing is I won't have to work anymore. I can retire and concentrate on writing. Or eating bon-bons. Or picking my nose.

He will drive out there next week, leaving me behind until we sell our beloved house on the Muskoka River. I could be here for three months or six months or a year. You never know how long it takes to sell a house... it took us eight months to sell our last home.

I am not looking forward to being alone here. I will miss Dave terribly because he is my rock and my knight in shining armour and all that blah-blah-mushy stuff. I will also miss him because now it's up to me to do all those stinky jobs he does so well – jobs like cleaning the cat litter, taking the garbage out, shovelling the driveway, cutting the grass, bringing in wood and keeping the house in good condition for impromptu showings.

Did I mention I hate cleaning kitty litter? I did it today, as a trial run. I am happy to report I didn't faint or barf.

Seriously, I'm a bit of a mess right now. The thoughts of missing Dave, the thoughts of missing my family when I move. Not to mention the 41 million things we have to do in preparation for it all.

The worst thing, of course, is leaving my family behind. The kids are staying with their father, for all the reasons I've blogged about a thousand times before. Angus doesn't really care, I don't think – he has taken a part-time job with his dad at the hardware store and he has a girlfriend he is head over heels with. As for Sam, well, I know he will miss me but he says he can hardly wait to go out west and spend the summer with us in "the mansion" we are sure to buy for him. Still, I worry that I am the worst mother in the world. How can I possibly even think of moving across the country, away from my babies???

I worry about leaving my mom behind, who isn't getting any younger, and know this will mean more pressure on my sister, who has always been the one to help my parents out whenever she was needed. Don't think I don't realize what you do, Liz, or appreciate you. I will miss you, too, and I will definitely miss our trips to Kiosk.

When I say I've been stressed lately, I'm not kidding. My heart feels like its beating out of my chest and I know my blood pressure is off the charts. I am trying to stay focused and only worry about one thing at a time, but the adrenaline rushing around my veins gives me the attention span of a flea – an extraordinarily bitchy flea.  My apologies to anyone whose head I've bit off lately. The good news is, I won't be around to much longer for local head-biting. Long-distance chewing will have to suffice.

As for you guys in blogland, nothing will change. Except maybe I'll have to come up with a new name.  Any ideas?

Anyone got Valium?

Seriously, anyone?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Swag wag, peacock-style

Ok, ok, ok, I have to brag about some gloriously fab swag I picked up at the post office today. You are going to HATE me you'll be so jealous!

This drop-dead gorgeous scarf, brooch and journal all came in a trés sweet gift-wrapped box, along with a luxe note with the same peacock theme, from dear, adorable Jenny over at The Modest Peacock. (This is where you click on the link, say hi and give her a follow). I'm not exaggerating when I say Jenny is adorable – she really is a pink-buffed cutie, but she's also a tough chick who has endured a lot in her short lifetime and still maintains a positive, cheerful attitude that a lot of us curmudgeons could learn from.

Thank you so much for the gifts, Jenny. The scarf is as warm and snuggly as it looks (I wore it at my cold old desk all afternoon) and I love, love that peacock bling!

Now go give her a follow. Go on ... rumour has it she has another giveaway in the works ...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Will my ass fit?

Will my ass fit in an airplane seat?

Since we're flying out to Edmonton tomorrow morning, I am reminded of that Dodge Ram pick-up truck commercial where one redneck asks the other redneck "does that thing have a Hemi?" and the driver of the truck says, "You're about to find out."

I guess I'm about to find out.

What if it doesn't? Dear lord, can you imagine having to ask for another seat, or one of those seat belt expander-thingeys, and causing a fuss, all because my ass and the Goodyear Blimp are second cousins?

I tried to do a little research, googling "Will my ass fit in an airplane seat?" but didn't get a satisfactory reply, but boy-oh-boy, those images I DID get will forever be retinally burned.

What I'd like to do is find the seat measurements and then measure my ass. Anyone know how wide the seats are in Westjet's economy section? Anyone want to measure my ass? Dave's not here to help ...

I'm really nervous about this. Not about the flying itself, just about the ass-thing.

I was thinking that my ass squeezes into movie theatre and hockey arena seats – surely airplane seats aren't too much narrower, are they?

Are they? Any frequent flyer folks know the answer to this? Should I bring an ass-horn? Crisco? Any suggestions?

Monday, February 11, 2013

I'm an addict and it's all my mother's fault

Of COURSE I blame my mother. My addiction is totally her fault. Not in an esoteric blame-the-mother-for-everything kind of way, but in a real "Cathy you should play jellies" way. She might as well have started me on heroin.

My name is Cathy Olliffe-Webster and I am a fecking jellies addict. No, not Jell-O. (Who in their right mind is addicted to Jell-O? Other than those kids in Bill Cosby's Jell-O tree, which is plain weird if you ask me, a grown man with a backyard full of trees with kids in 'em.) Jellies. As in "the jellies," aka Candy Crush Saga or something on Facebook.

She told me about them a few months ago because she needed her FB friends to play the game and give her more lives. She was like a junkie, my lovely, otherwise elegant mother, with this jellie gleam in her eye. (If she looked like that on The Walking Dead, she'd get a shovel to the head, and I say that in the nicest of all possible ways, Mom.)

"I am NOT playing that jellie game," I told her. "I know what I'm like. It'll take over my life."

"Just play it for a little while," she wheedled. "Just long enough to help out the woman who was in labour with you for 48 and a half long, painful, excruciating hours."

OK, forget about The Walking Dead look – at this point she looked more like Puss 'n Boots on Shrek.

At first I ignored her. "Just say no to jellies" is my motto. But Dave couldn't. "I can't believe you won't help our your own mother," he said, turning the computer on to Facebook.

"DON'T DO IT," I screamed. But he went down to the basement by himself, figuratively, and started playing The Jellies.

Next thing I knew, I was a Jellies Widow. Every spare chance he had, Dave was on the computer playing The Jellies. After a week or so of that he needed something stronger so he was on to some Pyramid Solitaire game, and then he was rescuing pets and planting crops in Farmville and I was a lonely, lonely woman. I'd lost my mother and my husband to the addiction. You'd think it would be enough incentive to stay clear, but I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. After all, it looked stupid. So one day I started with The Jellies, just an experiment you understand. I was only going to try it. Just once. Just ... once ....

It's hopeless, now. I've got jellie tracks all up and down my arms. I ignore my husband, my children, my blog, my writing – everything that ever meant anything to me. I am not interested in anything other than The Jellies, the beautiful Jellies ...

Depends are the best way to get maximum time with The Jellies. I don't need to eat. Caffeine is injected in an IV and I haven't slept in four days. My Precious Jellies. My Precious ...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

January camping: done!

January 19, 2013. As you probably know, Dave and I are rabid campers. Last year we camped in all but four months of the year. In 2013 we vowed to camp in every one. That resolution is a little harder to keep in the winter months when most campgrounds are closed, so we decided to camp in our backyard, in a tent. Friends have asked us why on earth we chose a tent when we have a perfectly comfortable trailer outside, but where's the challenge in a trailer that has a furnace? The whole point is to find adventure! And we've always wondered it it was possible to stay warm in a tent during the deepest darkest nights of Canadian winter.

Ben, our singing cat, watched us with bemused interest.

The weather forecast was weird, to say the least. It rained most of the day and only started to snow about four o'clock in the afternoon, when it was time to set up. We started with a blue tarp hung from one of our cedar trees. 

There were wind warnings that night so we held the tarp down with wood from our woodpile. We also used tent pegs to keep the tarp in place. This was trickier than it sounds, because the ground was (and still is) frozen solid. Dave used a cordless drill to make holes in the icy ground for the pegs. The tarp itself was meant to be a shield from the wind and the rain/snow mix that was coming down.

When the tarp was up, we placed another tarp on the ground, followed by cardboard, followed by the tent. (Ermagherd, that tent stunk. It had been in storage for years and had the delightful fragrance of must.) We laid a thick blanket on the bottom of the tent, followed by two mattresses from our trailer and sleeping bags. Then we made a "tarp sandwich" (two tarps with a blanket in between) and laid it on top of the tent. You need to have some sort of insulation between your warm breath and the cold outdoors, otherwise you have condensation dripping inside the tent and all over you. 

It was looking pretty cosy inside!

Our trailer mattresses. So soft! My old carcass can't take sleeping on the cold, hard ground.

Bedtime! Dave snuggles in. It was actually HOT inside that tent. I kicked off my sleeping bag and laid on top of it without any covers until the middle of the night, when Dave covered me up.

Doesn't that look awesome? It was really snowing by bedtime.  Sometime during the night we got a thunderstorm. I didn't hear a thing – when I sleep, I'm dead to the world, but Dave said it was wicked and it was all everybody was talking about on Facebook the next day.

Not bad, eh? The light from the woodshed made our impromptu house look as warm as it felt.

Bedtime! That's me looking all scary and weird in the harsh shadows thrown by our flashlight. Mere minutes after this was taken I fell fast asleep. Dave had some things on his mind that night, however, and he laid awake for hours. Finally at about 4 a.m. he woke me up to say he was going inside to try and get some shut-eye. "You can stay out here if you want," he said. I was like, NO, I am not staying out in the yard by myself in a thunder-snowstorm! So I toddled in the door behind him. It was warm as toast in there - the only thing I'd do different next time is buy a tent that doesn't stink. It took me all day to wash all the sleeping bags and pillows that got stunk up!