Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Today was a dreary day, best spent sleeping in, having hot baths and lots of computer time. We missed a good change to bundled up on the sofa with a movie though - that would have made the day better, but we still have a few movies in reserve for the next rainy/snowy day.
There was a comment from Merikay about keeping yeast in the fridge. I've always kept it in the cupboard and it seems to be okay, but I did a quick visit with Google to make sure. Since it is dried yeast, and not yeast cakes it should be fine. Thanks for the heads up!

As someone who suffers from vertigo the quote below explains that fear in the best way I’ve ever read.

What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.
Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Vertigo would be a good term to explain the slightly out-of-balance, sense of doom that I sometimes feel when watching the news. Granted there is no desire in this form of vertigo but there is fear. Tonight there was an article about China’s potentially far greater nuclear power than originally thought. Carm named off its nearby nations that were also nuclear holders - North Korea and others of that ilk. How likely is that that the increasing instability that seems to be rocking our globe will increase the likelihood of the worst? Or maybe it won’t be nuclear holocaust but one caused by a giant meteor crashing into the planet… you can see where I’m going I guess. I’m someone who lives most happily in a fairy tale bubble lest I become a survivalist or other such crazy person. Maybe that’s why I like the simplicity of old movies and thoughtless television.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

While the Cat is Away the Mice Bark

I'm sitting at the airport waiting for Carm's plane to land. He was away in Toronto for a day, giving a presentation to IT types. I'm sure it was fun for him. Not so much fun for me though. The dogs drive me crazy when Carm's not home. They keep a close look out the window in case he suddenly appears in the laneway. Every noise elicits a barking shouting frenzy as the dogs run through the house, shouting at the top of their lungs. What are they saying I wonder? I always imagine that they are shouting 'Intruder Alert' - God help anyone who did intrude. Kabira, the African Lion Hunting Dog, leads the pack, her barks and growls are louder than the rest. Ridgebacks were bred not only to hunt lions, but also to guard the hunter and his family. I would feel well looked after if they didn't alert at every little sound, actual or imagined. As it is they just make it impossible to sleep.

This is only the second or third time I've been in the "new" airport. It's nice, not so shabby as the old one and it has free Wi-Fi! So I'm getting to use my prun yet again. Pretty cool to be able to surf the internet and write my blog while sitting around an airport. (I'm easily amused)

Airports are funny places. There are so many different kinds of people condensed in a small area. Just a few feet away from me are two business men talking about the next meetings to come. (Ah yes, I remember meetings from my old working days - do not miss). There is a lady with 3 kids in tow who has been waiting for about the same length of time as me - she looks like she's meeting her husband. There are other people that look like wives or girlfriends, and even a few men hanging around. How long has their person been away? Is it just a day like me or maybe they are coming back from weeks or even months away. There's an anticipation of reunion no matter the duration of separation.

There was lots of mindless television over the last day - no CNN darkened the airways at our place. Thanks to the PVR I had a selection of "Big Bang Theory", old movies (I watched one called The Big Hangover with Elizabeth Taylor), and dog TV. I even watched an episode of Prince$$, where a financial person helps to get a young woman thinking in a more fiscally responsible way - imagine being 30 and already have $35,000 worth of consumer debt - yikes. I think it is great that there are so many programs like this to hopefully help some people to avoid the credit pitfalls.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Grey Cup Traditions

MV5BMTkzNjk5ODA2NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjY1NTIyMQ@@__V1__SY317_Saturday night we caught the last half of America America, a 1963 black and white movie directed by Elia Kazan. The cinematography  really made this movie, they made full benefit of the black and white medium using lighting to it's best effect. I wished we had seen it from the beginning. Then we watched Dodsworth, a film where two people end up divorced. Not much action, but an enjoyable watch. Good line from the movie "Love has to stop something short of suicide".  I love TCM (Turner Classic Movie channel).  Next week they are showing Dr. Zhivago - we'll have to make sure to pvr that one.

logoToday is Grey Cup Sunday. Growing up, our family wasn't particularly sporty, in fact I don't recall seeing my dad watch any sports. But on Grey Cup Sunday, out would come chips, cheezies, pickles and olives, cheese and crackers and all manner of nibbling type food. We'd all gather around the TV and cheer for our favourite team - usually whichever team was from the west. We'd self-consciously holler when our team made a touch down - we weren't used to making such obvious displays and felt sheepish after doing so. I didn't understand the game but it was fun to watch anyway.

Many years the game seemed to get it's name from the dreary November skies, it was a rare year when the sun was shining. In fact it wasn't unusual for a game to be played with snow on the ground. We Canadians are a hardy bunch! In contrast, I remember one year that I was outside planting bulbs, wearing just a t-shirt, no sweater required. The sky was still grey though.

box1_col2_21The year that stands out most in my mind is the 1973 game. The Friday before I was just leaving for school and my cat Puff ran from across the street to see me. What she didn't see though was the car speeding down the road. She didn't make it. Right before my eyes. I can still hear the thump. I can see her flailing legs as she died. It was the worst few minutes of my life. My mom was right there and grabbed me before I could run out to the street and a neighbour ran over to help. I don't remember how they got her off the street, or even what was done with her body. I didn't leave the house that day nor the next, but on the Grey Cup Sunday I had to walk several blocks over to Scanlon's house to feed their cat and walk their dog Rusty. I didn't want to do it and couldn't think how I even could but that action got me back into the land of the living. It didn't stop me from crying for weeks after but at least I was past the worst of my grief and shock. I was just 11 years old so maybe that's why the event left such a mark on my memory, but to this day I can't talk about it without a tightening in my  chest and a pricking in my eyes.

I seem to remember that Mom really made an event of Grey Cup that year, I don't know who was playing or who won, but I do remember my grief and also the warmth that comes from having a loving family on a day that I especially needed one.

So this year? We'll watch (some) of the game and we've treated ourselves to a bag of cheezies. A far cry from some year's feasts but at least we won't have a tummy ache at the end of it!


Friday, November 25, 2011

To the Dump, To the Dump, To the Dump, Dump Dump

MV5BMTg3OTgzMjI3OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDUyMzcyMQ@@__V1__SY317_CR26,0,214,317_Friday night we watched the 1953 version of Ivanhoe. Elizabeth Taylor is beautiful beyond words, as is Joan Fontaine. It's a good adventure flic - and as a bonus there are Irish Wolfhounds and horses too.
Spike slept through the whole thing – so peaceful.

velcommen_200_greenI see that there is another new follower - Ruth and her husband have their own blog. They are RVers, retired from IT Security. I also saw that there were other new ones that I missed (where was I anyway?). One of the ladies is a retired Soil Engineer - how cool is that! And then there are the Good Luck Duck ladies. I love "meeting" all these new people. So many lead such interesting lives. If you want to learn more about them, click on their pictures and look for their blogs. Lots of interesting reading.
Today we got busy and cleared some stuff out of the basement. First out - an old, broken ping pong table, couldn't bear putting good wood into the dump so it went into the back of the barn. If you wonder why farms are so full of old and broken junk, well, it's because they can be!
20111126_dump_006After the ping pong table we loaded up an old sofa to go to the “used store”. We thought it was in pretty good shape, but after we got it unloaded and took a better look in the light of day we could see that it wasn't in great shape after all. So to the dump we went. We salvaged the seat cushions which fit perfectly in the back floor of the truck - the dogs will have a more comfortable bed back there. And we saved the legs which have castors - surely those will come in handy some day.
Our dump is pretty well run and has separate sections for metal, bikes and compost. However, every single person should have to visit their dump on a regular basis - it is a real eye opener on how much stuff we all throw out. Our consumer society sure is wasteful.
20111126_dump_005the bike and metal piles 20111126_dump_003look how much stuff gets thrown out – it is a mountain of garbage
While we were seeing about dropping off the sofa, we did take a look around our local "used store". It has everything from furniture to toys to clothes to books, and the list goes on. I didn't leave empty handed and came out with a cute embroidered tablecloth and a little Christmas decoration. All for $4 - my kind of shopping day. These places are great for keeping some stuff out of our landfills.
Oh - since I now have my prun (Transformer TF101- productivity unit) mostly set up the way I want it is turning into a useful device (and not just a toy, Carm). I love to do the initial write of my blog on it - I can sit where ever I like and pound away at the keys - it fits perfectly in my lap. Sometimes I even make a few notes while watching TV at night (see Ivanhoe above). I'm writing this sitting on the futon with the dogs. I have a perfect view out the west window and can catch glimpses of the road. I just saw a motorcycle drive by - hey what? It's November 26th and motorcycles are still out and about! Today Carm went for our little walk without a jacket. Tomorrow is Grey Cup Sunday and I don't think it's even going to snow (note to self - perfect excuse for bags of chips and other naughty treats - it is traditional after all).

Happy Tails Trails

The Royal

Today was cloudy but warmer, all but a few tiny spots of snow are gone. I made Mexican style black bean soup today - I've made it before but this time I used a few teaspoons of Old El Paso taco seasoning, and some hot chilli pepper flakes. I didn't use enough of the hot stuff, but the taco seasoning was really tasty. It was a perfect soup for a dreary November day - good thing too cause there are 3 more lunches worth. I love making a huge pot of soup that will span several days. I find we don't snack so much if we have a proper soup & salad lunch. This is a good one for the diet too, although I did use a few teaspoons of olive oil to sauté the onions with. Sometimes I get tired of just using stock or water.

In my photo directory wanderings yesterday I came across a few other photos from November 2001, both of these are from a trip to Toronto that we made to visit the Royal Winter Fair. If you are ever in the Toronto area at the beginning of November be sure to check out this giant agricultural fair. There are horse shows of international calibre, horse breed shows that showcase various of common and uncommon breeds ; livestock shows - pigs, sheep, cows, goats, rabbits and any other type of livestock you can think of. Of course there are huge retail areas with stores selling tack, crafts, etc.. It really is an event to experience at least once.


I've been to the Royal twice, the first year in 2000 when I met my friend Cynthia (from Australia) there. We each had our little nieces - I think they were 3ish, or maybe 4 - in tow. The girls loved all the animals, the candy apples,  the cinnamon buns and all the other Royal things. The following year Carm made the trip to Toronto with  me so he and I took Shenna for another year of the Royal. It's so much fun to see events like this through the eyes of a child. I have one picture of her with her eyes almost as bit as the cinnamon bun she just finished. Ummmm... cinnamon buns... they are the absolute best at the Royal!

On our way home that year we stopped to have brunch with Olaf (my brother) and Tammy. They had a cute little Toronto apartment that Tammy had decorated so nicely. The picture is taken on their little sun porch - so cute and homey. Tammy served delicious buns with poached eggs topped with melted cheese slices. Well, to this day we still laugh about it - the cheese was so sticky that it stuck to the roofs of our mouths such that we could barely have a conversation. I guess you had to be there.


What makes me sad about all of this is that now both my sister (with her husband and my nieces), and my brother (with Tammy) now live almost exactly on the other side of the planet from me in New Zealand. Those fun little visits and all their fond memories just don't happen any more.

I take a lot of photographs, although sometimes I miss capturing an event. I find that my memories are so much fresher, and I remember so much more detail when I have the visual clues in a picture.

Happy Tails Trails

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I was poking through some digital photos this afternoon and realized that it was 10 years ago this month that our second foal found his new owner. Where do the years go?

venn_2001_0811aVenn (Norwegian for Friend) was born on Saturday, June 30th, 2001 at about 1:30 am.

At at 12:30am Saturday morning when I got up to check on Viktoria she was pacing and pacing. She was also very sweaty, so I sat down in the paddock to watch and wait. Finally at about 1:10 she lay down beside me and her water broke. He was basically born right into my lap. That is something that will never get old or tired. The miracle of birth is always that – a miracle. It is also special to have such a good relationship with the mare that she includes you in her moment. Many mares will delay the birth until no people are around. They just aren’t that trusting. Not so with Viktoria though – we were present for all three of her baby’s births. She even let my friend Deirdre participate in one of her births – but that story is for another day.

Viktoria was a great mother, good with her son, and generously let people visit with him. Venn was a joy to handle and train. He had a very quiet, cooperative demeanour which made training easy. Even as a baby he could do many of the “big horse” skills including picking up his feet, giving to pressure, leading, standing tied, turns on the forehand and haunches, plastic bags, ropes around his body and legs, Mom's saddle and bridle. This foal was Mr. Laidback - nothing phased him.


here he is with (left to right) Valena, Britt, Viktoria and himself

In November of 2001 we got a phone call from a woman who was interested in purchasing him. Her brother had seen Venn's sire, Felix, at the Weedsport Fjord horse show. He was impressed and passed the information on to Lana. When she found out that we had a foal by him she contacted us and made the trip from Upper New York state - only about 2 hours from here - an easy drive to come and have a gander. Well, Venn and Lana immediately hit it off - it was obvious from the get-go that they would be good friends. Lana thought so too. A sale was made (or should I say that adoption arrangement were made). Venn spent the winter with us and then early spring Carm and I trailered him down to her place near Watertown. It was good to see him go to an excited and happy new owner.


Sadly we got an email this past summer that Lana had passed away. Luckily for Venn, Lana's young neighbour took him over so he still has a loving home. I'm so grateful that she took the time to let us know.

Happy Tails Trails

Be Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American Friends. This poem was in a BPHope email that I received this morning. It is a good reminder to look for the good side of difficult days and not take a step towards the down spiral of despair. I had to share.

Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don't already
have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don't know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you're tired and weary
Because it means you've made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.

~ Author Unknown ~

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ticks and Snow and Other Yucky Things

20111122_tick_002Last night we found a tick on Spike’s head. Ewwww. It was all big and engorged. We got him under some good light and carefully took the tweezers and pulled that sucker out. There are different methods on the web, but they all stress not squeezing the body,pushing out potential Lyme disease. So we were careful to just grab it right down close to the intersection between Spike and Tick.  Spike was a good boy and held still, even though I took a good portion of his head out along with the tick. We aren’t too worried about Lyme disease though as we have only seen deer sign on our property a few times in all the years we’ve lived here.

I woke up so many times last night feeling phantom ticks crawling about me.

20111123_dogs_001The second yuckiness was this morning - we woke up to a bunch of snow on the ground. I can always tell as soon as I open my eyes if it's the first snow as the light is so different from when there's just barren ground. It is pretty… I guess. But I'm not sure if I'm ready for another winter yet - of course I don't get a choice. The good news is that it’s supposed to be in the double digits (Celsius digits that is) for the weekend. So winter will recede, at least for a little while.

Today I was down in the storage room cleaning out a few old boxes of software. Some of the software only required 3mb of disk space and 512 kb of memory! Can you imagine! Just think of todays bloatware. Some software stated it was Now for Windows! Do you remember DOS? We thought that Windows was such an amazing breakthrough, and it was – we are all still running it, or some off shoot, years and years later. The gui interface was such an improvement. Look at the software and electronics now – they wouldn’t have the same experience if it weren’t for such a user friendly interface. ‘Cause really, the interface itself is not all that different from the original Windows. I love how all the smartphones and tablets are reminiscent of Star Trek. I remember watching and thinking wouldn’t it be cool to have such a great hand held device.


I just heard from my Dad that he has started a blog. We’ve all be bugging him for ages to write down some of his memories starting with growing up in small town Alberta. He’s done so many interesting things in his life we think he should share. What a treasure for all of us kids and grandkids. (see his blog here)


Sometimes when you are feeling jaded you can revive your sense of wonder by merely saying to yourself: "Suppose this were the only time." Suppose this sunset, this moonrise, this symphony, this buttered toast, this sleeping child, this flag against the sky... suppose I would never experience these things again!
Author Unknown

(I tried this with regards to today’s snowfall – suppose this were the last snowfall…)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Software Upgrades

I got two emails yesterday about new versions of software being available. I know it's crazy but I went ahead and upgraded them both - My Memories scrapbooking software and Advanced Diary journaling software. These both run on my laptop and neither will be replaced by functionality on my prun. I've been using both pieces of software for nearly a year and would be lost without them.

Some of the things on my to-do list is to create albums in MyMemories for pets and horses of years past. I plan to go through my piles of photos and scan good pictures to include in the albums. Then once it is all good I'll send the albums out for printing. I found one place that prints the albums on archival quality silk paper for quite a reasonable sum. I like having hard copies to look back at - old fashioned I guess!

This morning was the first morning of really heavy frost, in fact the frost wasn't fully off the grass when I went out for a little walk around 1pm. It was the first day of tearing eyes and running nose. The cold didn't slow down the dogs any though - they still raced around like crazy. Oh, the good news (touch wood, fingers crossed) Spike has not gone near the gate since our training session. We'll do another setup in a few days to make sure. His large chicken-bone is a good thing. The chicken bone is something that he and I share - I'm pretty safety conscious too - I learned the lesson well from my Dad... being a doctor I guess he saw his share of outcomes from accidents. Did you know that you shouldn't wear flip flops or sandals on your bike - I cringe when I see such disregard for personal safety! Just ask Carm, I can see danger where only the very smallest possibility exists.

Carm had his cardiac "stress test" today, not because there was anything wrong with him but just as a baseline and to make sure. Of course they never give any indication of the outcome of the test right there, he'll have to wait to hear from his doctor. Carm's mother has heart disease and had a heart attack in her late 70s and now has a few stents in place to keep her healthy, but I think Carm has a healthier lifestyle. We do have to get more consistent with exercise though. No excuses cause we have an excellent dreadmill - oops - I think I meant treadmill ;-)

We are due to get our first freezing rain and snow overnight. Already the sky has become overcast, obliterating the beautiful sun and blue sky that we had earlier.

Food... food is so time consuming... making it, cleaning up after making it, eating it, cleaning up after eating it. No wonder America (and I count Canada here too) has such a love affair with fast food. That being said, most of the time I get a lot of satisfaction in making and of course eating, food. Tonight on the menu - Curry flavour brown rice & lentils, leftover grilled zucchini and mushrooms. Simple and healthy food, but even still required a certain amount of time in the kitchen.

Pictures of the dogs as usual... Spike lies on that pillow for hours everyday looking out the window. I've never known a dog so much into window watching. It's a typical pose for Kabira - in a tight little ball trying to keep warm (yes we heat our house) - she loves to sleep.

Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.
Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, November 21, 2011

Writing on the Futon

It's been a pretty lazy last couple of days, yesterday cloudy, today sunny. We have managed to get out a few times with the dogs, but other than that there has just been a lot of reading.
Right now (Monday afternoon at 2:20) I am 1/2 sitting, 1/2 lying on the futon with dogs all around me, the sun is shining on me, but not in my face. It is really rather lovely. I might finish writing this and have a nap, or maybe I'll have some lunch first (homemade minestrone soup). I do feel like I should get busy with something, but the sunspot is just too comfortable. At the very least I should clean some of the dog nose prints off the window so I get a better view from my current vantage point. Or maybe they aren't nose prints at all but are instead nose-paintings, artistic expressions of canine viewpoints.
I've done some more playing around with files, updating them on my pc and my prun using google docs and that's working just fine. I do like the Polaris word processor better though so as soon as they've fixed that table bug I'll start using it again (being sure to keep a regular backup in non polaris format just in case).
Oh - sun just peeked around the corner to the west window - now it's in my eyes so I guess it's time to end.

(later) I may have just fubared this post as I tried to edit it in Live Writer but got an error, so then tried blogger in my brower. That didn't work very well so I'm back to the blogger app - it's added html codes into the text... and it looks like it has rotated one of the photos. Oh how I love technology!

(later still) Updated it again in Blogger on my pc. Removed extra codes, the duplicate photos, and the photo that it rotated.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Testing Inserting a Photo


Yes, I'm still playing around with my prun. As it stands I've abandoned the Polaris Office as they introduced a bug with the last firmware update. I've downgraded my requirements and making Google Docs work - it's less buggy (it seems). Now I've tried attaching my camera to download a few photos. I've figured out how to crop (easy) and now have to find out about resizing and then attaching into my blog post. Although I love Windows Live Writer, I'd like to be able to do the whole shebang when my laptop is not so readily available (like when I visit New Zealand).

What it doesn't let you do is layout your photos where you want, but sticks them in a photo bar.

Do you think I'm expecting too much from this little Android tablet? (oh yeah, no spell check anywhere - which is a big drag for me - I'm the worst speller!).


So there you have it, it just inserts the photos right in a row. Pretty stunned I would say… Unfortunately I can’t find any better Blog editor on Android.

And I think I’ll have to find a better program for resizing photos – this one seems to do a pretty rough job (see second photo), or it could be just a lousy photo taken with my prun.

We had a nice break yesterday from all things computer with a visit from friends Laurie & Kelly. I met Laurie in 1997 on a horse forum. I saw from her signature that she was from the same village as I’m in so sent her an email. Well, it turns out she lives just around the corner from us, had 3 horses, and her father used to raise Irish Wolfhounds (we had an Irish Wolfhound, Max, at the time) so we had lots in common. We arranged to meet for lunch in a little restaurant and quickly became friends.

How many people do you know that have or had Irish Wolfhounds? Not many I’d bet, but since I’ve had mine I’ve met 4 other woman that have had them in their lives – and not through dog shows either. One though birds, 3 through horses. Pretty strange eh!

Autumn wins you best by this its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay.
Robert Browning

Friday, November 18, 2011

Larose Forest

20111118_larose-forest_007It started out as a drive into the village to do some shopping, but once the purchases were made neither of us wanted to head back home so instead we did one of our favourite things – go for a drive. Today’s drive took us on new routes and some that we hadn’t been on for almost 20 years. We ended up driving through the Larose Forest, a huge conservation area with lots of small roads and trails. We will go back with the dogs on the next nice day.

We had a dim recollection of an old cemetery being on one of the side roads, so when we saw one that looked just right we turned down it. It was only one car wide and quickly turned from gravel to sand. But… sure enough a little ways down was the cemetery that we remembered. There is also the foundation for a church that served the little community of Grant that has long since gone. I guess at some point the settlers just gave up – it was too hard to make a life on that sour land. All that remains are the footings for a tiny little church and a handful of gravestones.


you can just make out the small stones that were the footings for this tiny church


20111118_larose-forest_018this stone just says “Father”

I've been so wrapped up with the frustrations of technology that I've been forgetting my pleasures. So today I made an effort to be aware and more mindful. So what did I come up with? Well, for the last few weeks I've been taking the dogs for a 10 minute walk around the property as soon as I get up in the morning. That's a refreshing start to my day. And the dogs have fun too - instead of just out for a quick p, they get to run and play for a few minutes. I think they enjoy their breakfast more too - today they each got a raw egg - what's not to enjoy!


Happy Tails Trails

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


A few years ago, when horses still roamed, I found a tiny little nest woven with horse tail hair and fine grasses. It was just so perfect. I stuck it safely in a cupboard cause I couldn't think of a safe way to display it. Well, I was reading a crafty blog and they had buttons, and stuff in jars which seemed like a brilliant way to display my little nest. So Tuesday I went through my jar cupboard and found just the perfect one. I have some fake eggs that we used to encourage nesting when we removed Timneh eggs for incubation, but they were too big for this tiny nest. I'll save a few little candy eggs next Easter.

At one point in my struggles with my machines I looked out the window only to see SNOW FLURRIES - oh my gosh - I guess it really is mid November. Actually we've been really lucky this fall for these to be the first I've seen.

The IT World is just not what it used to be. In the "olden days" when software developers had rigorous testing plans that had to be run before anything was released to production. There were pre-production environments where users and testing plans would test the user experience. This type of rigour seems to have gone the way of the mainframe. Case in point - BNS (a bank) recently released a new front end. It was totally buggy with some drop downs not working, some things just missing and even more alarming in one case a decimal point was moved. This is a bank folks! Some things would work for Carm one day, only to be fubared* the next, and working again later in the day. Hummm - it looks like they are changing PRODUCTION on the fly - gasp.

And my example, yesterday I had everything working on my prun. My files were uploading and downloading, the tables were showing up properly, the pictures in the files were showing up too. Everything was hunky dory - I was finally happy. This morning when I turned the thing on it said there was a firmware update and I could apply it now or in an hour. I ran it "now". Well, strangely the documents no longer display properly - the tables go all wonky and when I send them to the cloud to edit them on my laptop they are corrupt. Wait, there's more - I can't download software from the Android market, nor does the screen timeout seem to work, it can’t see the second sd card anymore, and times on the calendar are now loosing the “:30”. That’s what I’ve noticed so far. Are there other fubars*? Possibly... Is this another case of rolling something out without testing?

In my early days of computing we had things like development lifecycles and rigour and testing and planning, etc.  With the advent of distributed computing things got a little less structured. And the final few years I think it denigrated to chaos. They started using a methodology called "Extreme Programming". In other words, don't bother planning, just make a bunch of changes and hope they work with everything else.  Whew - I feel all worked up and somehow glad I'm not in the thick of it all.
*Glossary: fubar - f_cked up beyond all recognition/repair ; mainframe - really, really big computer - think Watson of Jeopardy fame.

At least I had some nice non-computer time with my friend Christina. We got outside for a little walk - it was blustery and cold, but sunny. We had to cut it short cause I didn't bring enough Kleenex - it's that time of year I guess!


Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.
Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I've Lost My Edge

Figuring out how computer stuff works has always come easily to me - I've never had trouble working things out and in fact it was due to this skill that I did so well in the working world (as a consultant in the IT field there was never any training $ so I usually flew by the seat of my pants). Now though... I've spent days trying to get this transformer integrated with my pc. Right now (Tuesday afternoon) I'm trying to get the Asus file cloud sync to work but I just can't figure it out! I feel stupid and useless and old.

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day, perfect for being outside, but also energizing for doing housework (both of which were a welcome break from IT stuff). We need guests on a regular basis just to keep the house in order. All those years of hired house-keepers did not build good habits!

20111115_eric-betty_002Betty and Eric 20111116_pinecones_002little birds and pine cones graced the table

Last night we had a lovely time entertaining dinner guests. Eric worked with Carm for years so they have lots to talk about. Betty, his wife, is from Tucson, Arizona so it was fun hearing all about living there. They commute back and forth as required, with most of the winter spent in Tucson - sounds like a plan doesn't it! As usual Spike was anxious to show off his tricks and did so with his usual aplomb. This winter I think we'll work up a little routine that flows nicely. Don't want to miss any of his fine jumps. One of his favourite tricks is bringing me things - a little bag that I keep in the kitchen, a tissue, a bottle of water - any will do. Of course I keep a little bowl of treats nearby - he is somewhat mercenary!

Oh - the bread maker - yumm! It’s huge and since we’ll be using it regularly it had to go somewhere convenient. I had to empty some of the junk from one of my “appliance garages” but once I did it found a perfect home. And the junk, well… some of it made it’s way to the garage sale pile in the basement.

Now to the real test – does it make good bread? The first loaf came out great, but I used mostly white flour for it – it didn’t last very long though ;-). Last night before bed we started a loaf to be ready this morning - this one is 100% whole wheat, and uses olive oil instead of butter. It was easy to assemble the ingredients which is good ‘cause Carm will be responsible for it most nights. We tried the second loaf this afternoon (toasted with butter and a side of Earl Grey tea). It tasted GRrrreat! We are going to have to be careful with all this bread eating or we'll both balloon out :-(  Fun times getting there though.


bread machine in it’s new home


our first loaf turned out great

And my troubles with syncing to the cloud? I think (think) I have it all figured out. It's going to take some coordination though as it creates a copy of the file instead of replacing the old one. So I'll end up with files like filename (1) ; filename (1) (1) ; oh bother. I have two files that I update on a daily basis, a menu planner for a month, and a file with other data for a month. So I'll just keep them on my prun and upload them at the end of the month to keep things a bit simpler. Google Docs would be a lot easier and more seamless, but it just doesn’t have some of the features for tables and spreadsheets that I need – namely the ability to merge cells.  The document processing software that came installed (Polaris Office) is a bit more fully featured.

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day, perfect for being outside, but also energizing for doing housework. We need guests on a regular basis just to keep the house in order. All those years of hired house-keepers did not build good habits!

If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it.
Lucy Larcom

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Bridge over Troubled Waters

Spike was out on the road again Friday night. So after the dogs got their hair cuts, Saturday afternoon found me outside getting the electric fence powered up. Once that was working I hooked it up to the gate... With Carm's help we did a setup - I took Kabira on the other side of the gate and we ran and played - sure enough Spike couldn't resist and he scootched under the gate. Whether he got shocked or not is unclear, but he wouldn't go back near the gate. Just to make sure Carm pushed him right against the gate. He was certainly shocked then. He skulked back to the house and we both felt TERRIBLE - but it would be far worse if he were hit by a car.

When we were outside Sunday he kept his distance from the gate, even when I took Kabira out. Fingers crossed. Now I just have to make sure I remember to turn it off when we aren't out there just in case we shock a visitor! That's one sure way to keep door-to-door salespeople away.

I caught the tail end of "My Fair Lady" on Sunday afternoon - oh how I love a musical! I love how they'll be having a conversation and someone will burst into song - I often feel like doing the same - it's too bad I can't carry a tune. Why aren't there any new movies with dancing and singing? Such sweet, innocent entertainment. Not a gun or explosion to be seen.

It was a beautiful day today – 17C (!) - but we only drove to Casselman for some groceries. I brought my prun along for the ride. It's a bit heavy to drag around but I guess it's still new and novel enough to lug it. I find that I like writing a bit of my blog as we are driving around  - there's the novelty thing again. Having a keyboard on this things makes it pretty easy to write on.

Since I don't have my smartphone yet I'm unconnected unless I've got a Wi-Fi connection. It is a bit of a pain when out and about and wanting Google maps. It caches a certain amount into memory, but you can't load new bits as we are driving – until I get my new smartphone that is ;-) The GPS works just fine though.

While we were out we stopped at Canadian Tire and bought a bread maker. Now I know we should be eating less wheat products, but the fact is Carm is a bread-a-holic, so we figured we could at least make healthier loaves. I love making bread, but it's such a time killer that I don't always (often) get the homemade loaves made. I guess it's not hard to guess what we did as soon as we got home - yup that's right get our first loaf of bread whizzing away in the machine. I didn’t plan it well though as we will be eating supper really late now – just cause it’s in a machine doesn’t mean it rises and cooks any faster.


Cheerfulness is the best promoter of health and is as friendly to the mind as to the body.
Joseph Addison

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Software Fun

I'm still setting up the environment for my new prun (productivity unit). Today was spent trying to get Google maps to work but it was hard to test as I was experimenting with offline access. Then I turned my sights onto recipes and menu planning. I am currently run Big Oven on my laptop which is great - I can enter recipes to create my own cookbooks (really handy for camping), however, I am having trouble upgrading to the newest version and am getting a "catastrophic error" message - not good!

Why all this effort? Cause I'm not one to do something with a paper and pencil when an expensive computer system can do the job almost as well!

We did have a break from all this computer geek stuff though - Spike's breeder Dawn came over for a most enjoyable lunch. Spike get’s so excited to see her – it’s amazing that he remembers her so well as we brought him home at 9 weeks. No visiting puppies this time though.

And now I'm back scratching my head at a few other problems:

  • why won't all my Google calendar calendar's show up in the Calendar Touch program. It claims to manage multiple calendars but no matter what I do I can only get two particular ones to show up.
  • how can I edit a draft blog post using Windows Live Writer? I thought I’d done just that yesterday, but now can’t find a way to download that draft post from Blogger.
  • there's still the Big Oven thing
  • more to come tomorrow…

My brain needed a bit of a workout!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Work Avoidance but Walking

It's 11:30 am and the truck says its 17C, so guess where we are... heading down to the bird sanctuary to hopefully find the watch that I lost the other day. Not holding out much hope, but it's a nice day for a drive/walk anyway.

We got to the sanctuary but no watch to be found. I was a bit disappointed, but not all that surprised. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for a cheap watch that I can attach to the dog walking/poo bag pouch.

Today we headed down a path that we saw the last time. It was a lovely path, some of it through open meadows, and some through woods, and all on a wide, gravel path. The dogs were happy to get out again, but were not as keen as yesterday.



When we got back to the truck we polished up a few apples and dug out a couple of honey bars for a nice little snack. As we were sitting at the picnic table some ladies came by with bags of seed which they held in their hands. Sure enough little chickadees were landing right in their hands. Carm got up to join them with a bit on honey bar – one chickadee liked the special treat.


On the way home we took the back roads again, guided by both a paper map and my new prun (productivity unit!). We passed by the junkyard again (scary). I wonder how people can live like that? It is so foreign to me and out of my realm of experience.


All in all it was a gorgeous day, another bonus for November!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Honeycomb, Won’t You Be My Baby

I got it! The Asus Eee Transformer tablet which runs Honeycomb Android :-)  (see for the honeycomb song – who knew it wasn’t just a cereal!).

We saw that they were for sale at Best Buy so headed into town on Sunday to check it out. Yes they had some in stock so yes, we want to buy one. Then we were lucky enough to find one in an open box for $100 less – yes that’s right one hundred dollars less! What good luck :-) The gadgeteer has her new gadget :-)

We got it home and set up to charge but it was too hard to keep my hands off it, so on it went (while it was charging). I got everything set up and a bunch of apps installed. I started with Google maps, Google navigation, and LCBO wine store locator, another LCBO app that tells you where bottles are in stock, a wine review app that reads the barcode (how neat is that!), an online editor for blogger, goggle star chart, oh and a few more odds and ends. I’m sure I’ll end up with more but this was a good start.

Now the bad news, when I set it up I did it using a new Gmail account which turns out to be unlinkable to my existing goggle account that has blogger, calendar, etc. The only solution – blow the machine away and start over… so that’s what I did when I got up this morning. Imagine if Windows worked that way… Now it’s set up with the right account and I’m good to go (think, hope, pray).

Google Maps Navigation has a GPS with turn by turn guidance and there’s some way that you can set it up so it’s stored offline on your SD card. I gave it a try but didn’t have any luck. It’s supposed to store the step by step route instructions with a voice, so that you can use it without an internet connection (the tablet only has Wi-Fi and not 3G or HSPA).  I could see the map and it did show us travelling as a little blue arrow (a bit like Harry Potter’s magic map). More testing required.

20111107_bird-sanctuary_016Our little test drive took us to the Upper Canada Bird Sanctuary about 45 minutes away. We travelled on the smallest back roads, ones that we’d never been on before. I could almost hear the banjos at some points as it seemed we had entered Hillbilly Land - there were “houses” so run down you couldn’t imagine anyone living there, and with yards so full of junk that I almost stopped to take a picture. These were BACK roads!



The Bird Sanctuary is a pretty little campground with some really lovely sites (47, 48, and 11 were the ones that caught our eye). It’s a booze free zone though so I guess we’d have to forgo the bubbles - or drink it in a coffee cup ;-) We were planning on going for a camp there this fall but the weather didn’t cooperate. In fact it was warmer today at 17C (61F) than it was the days we were going to go!

20111107_bird-sanctuary_011 20111107_bird-sanctuary_007

I’m off to play with software to try to integrate and automate my life  :-)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Beans, Beans the Musical Fruit…

Oh how on a sunny day can anyone be anything but happy? My pleasures today are somewhat repetitive… sunny November day, a tad cool but not too much wind so it’s a pleasure to go for a walk in it. November is traditionally a dark and dreary month so any sunshine should be enjoyed!


the creek that winds through our property

More pleasures: tea with my friend Christina (the one who had the birthday a few weeks ago). It is always a pleasure to visit with friends. ; Here’s another one: finding out that the Asus Transformer is sold by Costco – maybe a new toy is on the horizon (I am a gadgeteer after all!) ; reading some short stories by Margaret Atwood – she’s a brilliant author ; seeing a tiny bit of progress on my diet – not a whole lot, and I have been sticking to it pretty well – except for a piece of bread with peanut butter in the middle of the night last night ;

20111105_creek_006 20111105_creek_005

This is not my first reference to Disney – you can probably tell I’m a big fan of the older movies, and perhaps a bit of a kid at heart! So here’s another pleasure – listening to an old recording from Disney: . Looking at all the sunshine outside my window brought this song to mind.


Music by Allie Wrubel
Lyrics by Ray Gilbert
Performed by James Baskett
© 1945 Walt Disney Music Company

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay
My, oh my, what a wonderful day
Plenty of sunshine headin' my way
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay
Mister Bluebird's on my shoulder
It's the truth, it's actual
Ev'rything is satisfactual
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay
Wonderful feeling, wonderful day, yes sir!
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay
My, oh my, what a wonderful day
Plenty of sunshine headin' my way
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay
Mister Bluebird's on my shoulder
It's the truth, it's actual
Ev'rything is satisfactual
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay
Wonderful feeling, feeling this way
Mister Bluebird's on my shoulder
It is the truth, it's actual... huh?
Where is that bluebird? Mm-hm!
Ev'rything is satisfactual
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay
Wonderful feeling, wonderful day!


What’s not been a pleasure? The really hard lentils that I cooked the other night. I forget to NOT add salt so they were tough ; and last night was a real disaster – I was cooking a white bean garlic stew which I’ve done in the past and it’s been great, but yesterday I didn’t cook the beans for long enough and then didn’t cook the whole stew long enough so there was a raw onion taste, and slightly uncooked cannellini beans – we both had sore stomachs all night (and still do now). Note to self – they seem like they are cooked quickly but are in fact still quite raw! Thank goodness we didn’t have company, so I guess you could consider that a pleasure?


the neighbour's cows grazing in our creek pasture