Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On Bakeries

At The Wee House, we were sadly bereft of a good local bakery. There was a bakery at the local chain grocery store but never once in the two and a half years that we lived there did I have a good experience at that bakery. There was the time that the woman working on the other side of the counter (about 3 feet from me) just kept working and pretended I wasn't there. There was the time that the two employees argued about which one of them had to serve me. There was the time that they dropped my desserts on the floor... It was a sad, sad place.

And I'd like my bakery to be a happy place.

WH and I were out for one of our exploratory walks in the neighbourhood surrounding one-oh-six the other day and came across an actual honest-to-goodness, up-at-5am-baking-for-the-community, not-cakes-and-cupcakes-but-actually-bread, BAKERY.

The bakery was closed at the time of our first discovery, but we were up like a shot the following Saturday morning and headed in its direction. One cinnamon bun and one chocolate croissant later, we have found a new Saturday morning routine: a lovely walk followed by delicious fresh breakfast. Sunday morning I ventured that way again to find some beautiful rolls for family dinner.

To top it all off, the customer service at this little local bakery is stellar; they are friendly, warm and kind people.

And we feel profoundly welcomed and very, very happy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I didn't want to have to do this...

...but I've been witness to too many close-calls in the last little while, and seen too much evidence that the following is badly needed.

That being the case, please take a seat and make yourselves comfortable, whilst I explain, carefully and hopefully without too much condescension, how to navigate a round-about or, as I know it, a traffic circle.

Driving in a traffic circle should be very simple and very straight-forward, provided that everyone does it properly and doesn't act like a weenie.

Let me explain that one of the primary methods that I see employed by my fellow drivers, what I refer to as the "close my eyes and drive and hope nobody hits me" method of driving in a traffic circle is THE WRONG WAY. No good comes of this.

So here are the rules, some of which are actual rules, and some of which is just good advice:

1. People inside the traffic circle always have the right-of-way over people who are outside it. This means that nobody inside the traffic circle will stop to let you into it. Do not proceed into the traffic circle until you have an adequate window in which to do so.

2. Don't change lanes inside the traffic circle.

3. Turn signals are an important tool when navigating a traffic circle. When you are inside the traffic circle, you should be indicating a turn to the left (in North America). When you reach the quarter of the traffic circle at which you are exiting, you should be indicating a turn to the right.

4. Within the traffic circle, people in the inside lane have the right-of-way over people in the outside lane. The easiest way to manage this is to use the outside lane only if you are exiting at your first opportunity. Use the inside lane when you are exiting anytime after your first opportunity.

5. If you insist on driving in the outside lane passed your first opportunity to exit, YOU MUST (and this is key) YIELD TO DRIVERS EXITING FROM THE INSIDE LANE AT EACH EXIT. This means that each time you are passing an exit in the outside lane, you must slow down and check to see if there is anybody in your inside lane who is exiting. If there is, you must stop and let these people exit. If you don't do this, do not be surprised when that person in the inside lane runs into you with their car and then looks at you like this:
6. If you are driving in the outside lane and you yield to a person exiting from the inside lane and somebody behind you honks at you and flips you the bird, don't worry about this person. Clearly, this person is a dweeb. Drive away puffed up with pride that you have made Chorus very proud.

7. If this rule about yielding the right-of-way to the inside lane seems confusing, believe me when I say that it is much simpler if you just use the outside lane for immediate exits and the inside lane for all other exits. This way, you don't have to worry about yielding to anybody; you should just be able to drive!

I believe that a properly driven traffic circle is smoother, faster and safer than your average lit intersection. But if you drive them like a jackass, you endanger not only yourself but everyone around you. So don't do that.

Person in the dark-blue Chevy Tahoe who cut me off when I was exiting yesterday, THIS MEANS YOU.

Friday, July 24, 2009

On the Rights of Animals

People who are close to me will tell you that I am an animal lover, so much so that I'm not allowed to read stories about animal abuse anymore because of how deeply I am distressed by them.

I saw this today, and thought it just perfectly summarized the way that I feel about animals.
  1. Animals have the right to have their lives cherished and protected.
  2. Animals have the right to social integration.
  3. Animals have a right to a fair share of public resources.
  4. Animals have the right to be treated humanely.
  5. Animals have the right to act like Animals.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On Last Night's Episode of SYTYCD

For those who don't watch SYTYCD, or didn't watch last night, I encourage you to take a look at the video of the second dance performed by Ade and Melissa. The piece was choreographed by Tyce Diorio, and was inspired by the impact that breast cancer has had on his life.

I've been surprised today by some of the negative feedback that has appeared on the interwebs, detailing reviewers' criticism that the dance was manipulative, that articulating the tie to cancer forced an emotional reaction from the audience and from the judges, that the piece pandered to viewers.

Here are my thoughts.

One, I thought that the piece was absolutely beautifully danced, both artistically and technically. Were this a dance about milk cartons, you couldn't find fault with their technique.

Additionally, I don't believe that the work could have been danced by any other two dancers in the show; it required Melissa's maturity and Ade's strength to really come together.

I'm struggling with those critics that stated that putting something so emotional on the stage was manipulative. My opinion is that the fact that we were moved by the dance proves its success. The dancers on SYTYCD are asked all the time to convey stories or themes or emotions to viewers; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. It's not fair to state that just because the emotion of this particular dance worked, it was manipulative. One reviewer opined that as soon as the word "cancer" was introduced, everyone started crying, which was clearly not the case. The tears flowed when the dance was over, when judges tried to express how they had been affected by the dancing. That means the dance did what it was supposed to do. It moved them.

Others have whined that to give two dancers such a powerful piece all but guaranteed them a pass to next week, despite having both been in the bottom two last week. I'm not sure how this feedback can translate into something constructive... "We would have prefered if you'd danced something more boring? Funnier? Less technically difficult? Shame on you for taking an admittedly emotional theme and translating it successfully onto the stage through movement?" if by doing what they did last night they moved enough people to pick up the phone and vote for them to remain on the show, then how is that their fault? That's how the show works.

And to those people who have asserted that Melissa and Ade couldn't fail with this number, you're wrong. As successful as it was, it could have been that much of a disaster too. The dancers could have failed to connect, or danced it sloppily, and I can assure that if they had, the emotional impact would have been lost and it would have been an awkward mess.

Where I will agree with critics is in their statement that Nigel's reference to a future Emmy nomination was misplaced. It was a silly comment, but really, the guy's an executive producer. It's his job to be silly.

You can read a response to the performance here, and see the video as well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We've arrived...

... in small town living.

We took WH's car in this week to get a tune up, oil change and a bunch of other (expensive) things. But it was alllllll worth it.

Because as a "gift" for bringing his car in, WH received...

...a bottle of mustard.

Yup. It says "We Cut the Mustard" on the side of it.

All I can picture is a greasy mechanic saying, "I done fixed yer car. Here's yer mustard."

It's just awesome is what it is.

The Wheels on the Bus...

Starting at the beginning of August, I'm going to take the bus to work every day!

Primarily, this change is going to save WH and me some serious cash. The commuter bus pass from The Hamlet into Prairie City costs $85 per month, compared to the $105 I spend on a monthly parking pass at Colourful U. And that's to say nothing about the cost of gas...

Taking the bus will also allow me to not have to worry about driving on the highway in the winter when the snow is blowing horizontally across the road and cars are in the ditch all over the place. I'm quite happy to sit quietly with my iPod and have the driving be someone else's problem.

And a good decision for the environment as well!

We knew, when we moved to The Hamlet, that the change in commuting patterns would be one of the biggest adjustments we'd have to make. My commute from The Wee House took about 7 minutes from door to door. To compare, the new drive in from One-Oh-Six takes about 25 minutes. But it's a pleasant commute, and the view of Prairie City is really quite lovely.

I'm kind of looking forward to becoming a bus rider again! We'll see how I feel about it when it's -30C outside and I'm waiting for the bus at 6:45am, but for the time being, I'm content!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Storm

It was very hot yesterday in The Hamlet (30C (about 90F for my friends to the south)). As is often the case on the Prairies, hot weather brings evening thunder storms. Last night's storm was a big one.

We first noticed the wind. Blowing in hard from the northwest, our neighbour's lombari poplar trees were bent almost double under its power. I was watching from the back window when the wind blew our BBQ and our outdoor chairs onto the back lawn. Lightning and hard rain followed the wind. Our power went out. I fell asleep, but was awakened by the sound of hail hitting the windows. It didn't take long before our entire back deck was covered with ice.

Mama Cat and Baby Cat were not amused.

This morning, on our way to church, we saw many victims of the storm - fallen tree branches, broken construction equipment and toppled road signs. Fortunately, there are no reports of human injuries, despite the collapse of part of a building in downtown Prairie City.
WH found this picture on twitter:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Back to Work on Monday

My vacation is nearing an end.


Looking back, it's been a wonderful rest and time away from Colourful U. Yes, in the middle of my holidays, we moved, but the move went smoothly, we had wonderful help from good friends and family, and we are loving the new digs. In addition, because we moved in the middle of my time away, I've had this last week to put things away, clean, get settled and get comfortable.

I'm looking forward to going back to work, to getting my old job wrapped and cleaned up before the transition to the new position in August. But I'll miss the wonderful quality time that I've got to spend with WH these last two weeks, all the cuddles I've enjoyed with the kittehs and just generally being peaceful and quiet.

Life is good.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blog Changes

I think it's time to update some of the identifiers on this blog, now that The Move is all but finished.

WH and I have actually moved out of Prairie City into one of its suburbs, which I'll be referring to as Prairie Hamlet. And our house, formerly known as The Wee House, will now be One-Oh-Six.


Enjoying the new digs

The big move went well; we had lots of good friends and family give us wonderful help, both in the days leading up to Saturday and on the day itself. So we're in, and despite the relative chaos that surrounds us, we are both very happy with our new home. I'm still on vacation this week, which is great, and gives us lots of time to clean and put things away and make the space our home. But before we do that, we are headed back to the old house to get it cleaned up and move the last few things this afternoon.

Mama Cat and Baby Cat have been adjusting pretty well as well; they've been laying pretty low under the bed and I think are a bit intimidated by the size of the place, but they are gradually spending more time exploring and figuring out their new space.

I'm most looking forward to developing patterns for this new house; getting used to the space, where things are and how the house "works." I feel a little bit unsteady or unsure of myself, which I guess is expected when living in a new space. I don't remember feeling this way when we moved into The Wee House, but maybe I did.

Anyhow, back to it...

(Now that the move is over, I'll be a more regular blogger; I promise!)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Two Years Ago Today...

... this is what I was up to.

Actually Chorus
Happy Anniversary, WH!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

What we've been up to...

Well, I'm on holidays from work until July 20th, so I've been enjoying my time off so far, playing golf, spending some truly lovely quality time with WH and getting preliminary cleaning and fixing done in our new house.

On the golf, I've played my first two rounds of the year, and hit the ball really well, though inconsistently. My highlight of the week so far was a drive off the 14th hole on our local city course yesterday that went 235 yards. Woo!

On the new house, we are loving it. There are lots of little things to do, cleaning and changing lightbulbs and figuring out where our things are going to go. The lady who lived in the house before we did left us a very sweet little note and a bottle of champagne in the fridge. This was a very kind act, but to be honest, I would have preferred it if she had done things like clean up the mountains of dog poop in her backyard... dog poop that she had been shovelling into her window wells for the last several years. But such is life, I guess, and we will enjoy the champagne while we work to make what was formerly hers now ours.