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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to Work I Go!!!

Yes, I have my first shifts at Northlands on Monday (7:30 AM--yikes!!) and Tuesday at the Gift Show!! We got our assignments at the orientation Tuesday evening.  Most of the other new staff will be working at Rexall Place and for many their first shifts are the Metallica concert (Friday and Saturday).

In addition to the power point presentation, sheets and handbooks, we were also given tours of Expo Centre and Rexall. We have to know where the staff areas are, where to swipe in and out, and the sign-in sheets.  Rexall was exhausting--it's 6 levels!! But we did get to go into the River Cree Club ( for season's ticket holders) and see those fancy doors that the Oilers come out of to get to the ice.  Apparently the Oilers are the only NHL team  that goes through a public area to get on the ice. We also got to sit in the Oilers' box and the penalty box!!  We went back stage where the performers, bands, etc. hang out--typically Guest Services staff wouldn't be in these areas.

The uniform--I was pleased to see that the vest was made in Canada!! Yay! But the shirt's not--it's made in China. This goes with black dress pants, black shoes and socks.  The vest is made of some neoprene-like fabric on the outside and fleece on the inside.  No that won't be hot, especially for a menopausal woman!! Hahahaha!!
Because of the times I listed as to my availability (9-6) I'm not likely to work at Rexall for any concerts or hockey games, except for an afternoon event.   I also wouldn't ever be a host in the seating areas, due to vertigo.  We got to Level 3 and I had to sit out the climb to the top levels.  I was getting panicky as it was.  And with the lights low or off in some places, that just heightened the lack of balance and panic. Yuck! But I could scan tickets at the door!! I don't mind about the concerts or games--didn't really want to have to deal with drunken, disorderly fans!!  I'm very happy to be in Expo Centre!!

Meanwhile, the heat and humidity has returned and the 3/4 inch of rain we got last Thursday brought more mosquitoes!! We were just seeing some improvement because we had some days without rain or very little. I'm doing my best though to harvest the fruits and veggies.  I picked a pail of peas yesterday--the 3rd picking and the last for the season.  There are such beautiful tomatoes too, and I got a dish pan full of cherries from the neighbor's trees, so I'm making pie fillings, and will make some jam. I have some tiny onions from the neighbor to pickle--just enough for half a pint. I must wade out there today to see what's happening in the cucumber patch!!!
Yum!!  As my neighbor likes to say, "Peas be with you!!"

Tomato sauce coming up!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Agility, horse races, and other stuff!

Duffy and I have 2 agility classes left.  One had to be cancelled on July 25 because of rain and storms, and then instructor Dan was away at the Nationals, so the August 1 class was also cancelled. This Wednesday's class  was a hot, muggy, and horrendously buggy evening with a storm brewing.  It held off until the end of class and then started to rain.  So that was good timing! I enjoyed the class though as there were just 2 of us along with Dan. Usually there there are 6 of us with one woman having 2 dogs--the really overweight Aussies.We got a lot more chances to practise the night's new things and there wasn't the standing around waiting for everyones' dogs.  I've read some agility articles and blog posts about the value of 1 on 1 instruction and I can certainly see that one gets a lot more bang for one's buck.  I don't like standing either--my back starts to hurt, so more movement is definitely a plus there.  I also find that I don't really learn too much watching others with their dogs--I learn a lot more when Duffy and I do the exercise. However, there are pros to group instruction too--camaraderie with others just learning, and our dogs having a chance to get used to the distractions of other dogs and people, something they would see at a competition. Maybe a combination--2 different classes a week?   The next set of classes start in September and we will stay outdoors at the rink until the end of October. I think both dogs and people will find the fall weather a relief!! Mosquitoes be gone!!
Those of you on FB saw this picture of Duffy--Wednesday night after agility class.  A pooped and hot doggy lying in front of the portable air conditioner! 

I think Duffy enjoys the classes.  He also enjoys lots of sniffing the ground and peeing!!!!  Oh the joys of an intact male! Other dogs there: a black lab sort who's hyper, a miniature poodle named Prada, the 2 obese Aussies, who are nice dogs but need a diet for sure, a cute little Pom who likes Duffy and he likes her, and a 11 month old German Shepherd named Raina.  The Pom is shy/scared--she makes a little bold move and then decides she's scared. She likes to drink Duffy's water--she's probably has never had such good water in her life!  Lovely tasting spring water either from a farmer's place west of Olds, or the springs at Ya Ha Tinda, or from Rattlesnake Springs on the Penticton Band's reserve in BC. And then there's Raina--Raina is besotted with Duffy, seriously besotted.  She makes a bee line to him every opportunity she can, dragging her owner along with her!! She throws herself in front of him, usually crashing into my shins (ouch) as she does so, and openly flirts all the time. Duffy just stands there and I swear yesterday he was thinking, "Pull yourself together girl, for heaven's sake!!" At one class others were noting what a gentleman he was despite Raina's antics, and her owner commented, "And meanwhile she's acting a like a slut!" LOL!  I hate to see what she's like when she's in heat!!  Kidding aside, hyper sexuality is one of the signs of vaccine damage.  I see so many different signs of damage in almost every dog--it's very sad really. But what can you do?  People seem to have to learn the hard way. I basically employ the "don't ask, don't tell" policy these days!

Now to horse races! Last year I had a blast volunteering at the Canadian Derby and I really wanted to do it again this year.  I kept checking VicNet, Northlands' online volunteer scheduling program and they only had jobs at the Derby Marathon on Sunday handing out water to the runners for 6 hours on Ada Boulevard. Um, no thanks!! So then on August 2, I had to be at Northlands for 6 o'clock (more on that later).  I got home and saw there was an email from Northlands about Derby jobs--whoo hoo!! I went to VicNet--nothing, just the water boy work :( Usually this means that all the spots have been filled very quickly just after the email went out. But I decided to email Kelly anyway.  She was away until Tuesday and I got a call on Wednesday asking if I was still interested in volunteering at the Derby! You bet! She had one morning shift spot left--"I'll take!!" I have an info session to go to on August 23 and then the Derby on the 25!! Yay!! This year, because there are all new people at the racetrack, they will be assigning our jobs either at the info session or the day of the Derby.  Last year I worked at the infield with another woman, setting up and supervising the kids' craft tent. We had a great view of the races, they brought us a bag lunch, and then after our shift, we placed some bets and watched the races.  I won $7.50!!
From the stands--the kids' crafts and a face painter were in those far off white tents.

Fancy food was served in that big tent--special passes were needed to get in there! People are starting to gather for the arrival of the winning Canadian Derby horse.

And there he is--Freedoms Traveller, 3 year old gelding, Alberta bred and owned by Randy and Donna Feddema.  Jockey-Rafael Zenteno. It was a poignant win, as Freedom's trainer, Barry Brown had died of cancer in May, and Brown's partner Leanna Knechtel had taken over the job of conditioning the horse. I had bet on Tommy D'Horsey--because the name made me laugh, and Lemon Loaf--for obvious reasons.  Tommy D'Horsey led at the start but was quickly overtaken by Freedoms traveller!! Oh well!!

Why was I at Northlands for a 6 o'clock appointment? I was being interviewed for a job, that's why!!  This was one of the things that I had been planning from early in the year. I wanted to work in the "Guest Services" area--basically the kind of thing I do as a volunteer--an ambassador for Northlands. The 6 o'clock interview slot had 6 people waiting and we had a group interview. Never had one of those before--different. We were told they would make their decision by the following Wednesday and if we hadn't heard from them by then, apply again next time! I came home quite sure I wouldn't be hired--everyone was young except for one other woman and I wasn't sure I had answered the scenario questions very well.  But I was okay about the fact I wouldn't get a call.  Dave said to me, "Well you are definitely over qualified for the job"!! Hahaha!! You think???!! I wasn't thinking anything about the job, as I knew I had days to wait--no worries until at least after the weekend.  Friday morning, the phone rings, it's Northlands--and they want to hire me!! Shock, awe, thud!! Orientation is next Tuesday for 4 hours. I did ask at the interview, if my having vertigo would be a problem.  They had said no.  Vertigo means I can't work as an usher/guide at Rexall place for the hockey games and concerts. My screams of panic would drown out the bands and distract the hockey players!!!

I will keep volunteering with Northlands too and I put down for only 10-15 hours a week for work.  I still have my dad to see to, and fun stuff to do with Duffy.  In addition I have signed up for the next course in homeopathy with Magda, the Repertory Course--that starts September 9 and goes for 10 weeks. Should be a busy fall!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Dave's Mom who died this day one year ago, and my goddaughter Clara who died August 8, 2003.

Somehow it seems unfair that a bright Summer day should be filled with sadness and longing. But life seems to hand out these ironies to us on a regular basis. My mother-in-law was snatched away almost without warning although in truth she had had many spells where she blacked out and then didn't remember them. But she seemed to have many more years left and neither Dave nor myself could have conceived that our visit for her 90th birthday would be the last time we would see her alive.  Still, she had lived a full life and had the career she always wanted, the boy and girl she had dreamed of, and the love of family, friends, and colleagues.  Her life wasn't always a bed of roses, but she had such deep strength and always carried on.

Clara was also snatched away without much of any warning.  But instead of the full, rich life she should have had, she died the day she was to have emerged into this external world.  All the dreams, hopes, and plans her parents had, died with her.  All the hopes and dreams the rest of her family had, died that day.  All the hopes and plans of friends like myself, died that day too. Clara's death has no rhyme or reason, at least not that we can see or understand.

I miss Mom.  I miss being able to talk to her.  For a little while after my own mother died, I still had a mom to talk to.  Even though her memory was failing and she didn't remember most conversations, that was okay.  I was used to that with my mom's dementia and that of many people I have encountered at the Edmonton General. I long to have talks again with my moms.

I never got to have all those conversations that I imagined having with Clara as the years would pass by. That August day in 2003 I held her and loved her.  I will always love her and always long for what might have been, for what should have been. She visits me though--this year in particular so many times ladybugs have landed on my hand, arm, or clothes.  They are young ones and small, not large adults. I know it's her, saying hi to Auntie Dianne.

Roses from Mom's garden. For Mom and Clara, love always XOXOXOXOXO.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


To Diana and Ali'i for successfully finishing the Tevis 100 mile endurance ride yesterday. This is their 2nd Tevis ride--they also finished last year's ride. I'm so proud of her and her great little horse.  I hope he didn't do any bucking along the way!! I can hardly wait to read all about the ride in her blog.  But first I hope she's having some much deserved rest!!
Diana and Ali'i--pre-ride photo from the Tevis website

For those who don't know she was kicked in the leg by a friend's horse just under 2 months ago and her leg was pretty badly beaten up.  But she gave it the rest it needed and it healed well, and she was able to ride in Tevis. Her friend Janine took Ali'i for a month to condition him, as Diana wasn't able to ride him with her injured leg.  I was sad to see that Janine and her horse were pulled at Chicken Hawk for metabolic reasons.

I followed her progress on the Tevis Webcast all day ( yes I know, I really need to get a life!!).  It was frustrating at times, because it often took up to an hour and a half before results were updated and that's not counting the time zone difference. But I can only imagine the logistics of  getting the info at the vet check stops, then compiling it, and typing it in. There were 231 riders who started the ride and 98 finished it within the given time. Tevis is in the top 10 rated endurance rides and is sanctioned by the American Endurance Ride Conference. The first ride was in 1955 and it has only been cancelled once and that was in 2008 due to the wild fires. Check out for lots of pictures, information, and stories about Tevis. Riders who complete the ride within time and who's horses are deemed 'fit to continue' receive a silver buckle!!
Pretty spiffy!!!

The ride started at 5:15, PDT and it took such a long time before Diana's first results were shown. There must be such a glut of riders in those first couple of checks that they only gave the results for every check point for the leaders. But finally I saw she had reached the first one hour hold point at Robinson Flat at 11:42 PDT. That's 36 miles into the ride. As the day progressed, riders were pulled for horses going lame and for metabolic issues.  Some riders chose to take themselves out of the ride.  Diana kept going and moving up the ranking. By the Deadwood check in there were 152 riders left and Diana was 116. By Chicken Hawk, she was 95 out of 139. I was relieved to see her check in at Foresthill at 7:43--this is the 2nd one hour hold. She ranked 79 at that point. She was out of Foresthill (68 miles) at 8:48, out of Cal 2 (77 miles) at 9:42, and the Francisco's at 12:31(85 miles). Of course with the delay in reporting and the time difference, I finally lay down and slept around 2 MDT. I woke up at 4:30 and checked and Diana was reported out of the Lower Quarry at 2:42  and she was ranked 53. This is 94 miles into the race and was the last check point. There was no way I was going to bed now!!  I waited and the results came up showing that Diana crossed the finish line at McCann Stadium in Auburn at 4 AM!! She was rider 55 out of 98 or to put it into an even greater prespective, rider #55 out of 231 who started!!

My hat's off to everyone who rides endurance--you have to be very brave and a little crazy!! I love you Diana, you are a hero!! Congratulations! And I know by tomorrow, if not sooner, you will already be thinking about next year's Tevis! Or maybe a little longer!! xoxoxoxo