Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cocky cow

Some people buckle under pressure.

Me, I walk around with a big phat smile on my face. I give everyone the time of day as much as possible and I bustle. I especially like it when I make a call and it turns out to be the right call. The plant manager is not here today. Our big machine went down. For the first two hours of the day the “supervisor” walked past the little machine and watched the guys cleaning-up. No-one said anything. Nothing got made.

After my morning chores in my department I went out to find out what was going on. I got the little machine going, set them about making all of the product we need for Alpha customer, even though we weren’t sure if their truck would be here or not.

I went down there to check it was getting done and when they stopped, I put them back on track. When they miraculously changed their minds about what to make, I put them back on track. Then a truck arrived.

The driver says, “I’m here for Kevil customer”.

We say, “You have a big truck for two loads”.

“Is that it?” he says, giving me a piece of paper with two numbers on it.

“No”, I says, “you’re here for Alpha customer too.”

My boys are still making my stuff and they called me Darlin’ because I laminated a sign for them and I say, “I know I am” and I walk away smiling because I made them laugh.

Then I shout to the maintenance supervisor to see if he needs help. My voice is so big and confident that he can’t see me because he doesn’t know where I would’ve come from.

There’s days when I like being big and I like being me.

The Christmas Dilema

There's plenty of snow so do I decorate now or wait at least until December starts?

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Monday, November 28, 2005

I call it, "Teenager in saggy pants".

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Pedal Pains

There’s a problem with riding to work. I always seem to manage it for a while then something happens and “Green” gets put away. Then months later, I dig her out again, rub her down, tart her up, give her new brakes and repair her inner tubes, charge the batteries and off we go again. So what’s happening is I run trouble-free for some time, then the glitches start to happen and then combine until something so catastrophic goes wrong, it takes me all my energy to get around to fixing the problems and all the associated swearing, breaking nails, scraped knuckles and split fingers that go with it.

Yesterday was one of those days. I did my Christmas shopping, I went to the ski hill to get my pass (and wished I’d taken my skis) and I came home and fitted my new bell… ding ding… repaired a puncture, oiled the chain, strapped the battery on and I was ready to go this morning.

Wo is me, the stream of disasters is not over because truly, so far, there has been nothing to really disable me and piss me off riding completely.

This morning it came.

I set out with a bit of a bump in my tyre. A bulge which, standing in my driveway, I put down to a kink in the inner tube and figured it would be OK until I got to work. I have learned now not to make assumptions in one’s driveway and to seek the warmth of the basement to confirm – or otherwise – the accuracy of my foolish assumptions.

As I set off up the hill, I noticed my lights were unusually bright but confirmed to myself – somehow - that I did indeed have my low beam on.

The ride was not so hard going. It was -4 degrees C but it only took me the first hill to get warm as I have a good warm-up hill. The blimp in my tire was a bit annoying but I tugged the brakes to one side to stop them catching and I could cope with the wobble.

However, precisely half way through my journey (too far to go home / potentially too far to keep going) the bump got more annoying, the tire started to rub again and it was more visible than ever. I had to stop to make sure I wasn’t tearing the tyre wall to shreds with the friction. And LO the innertube was oozing through an inch long gap. Not a hole – no – but where the tyre could no longer hang on to the rim. This could not be ignored. I got out my tyre levers but found no twist in the inner tube. All I could do was force it all back together again, pump it up to a low pressure and hope for the best – for half an hour!

I turned my lights back on only to discover that the main beam had indeed been on all this way and the battery was dead.

Pissy pissy ca ca. This was turning into a shitty ride to work. Even the snow underneath my shoes wasn’t helping as I jumped back on and gingerly tried to climb a hill without putting too much side pressure on the tyre. I was thinking of reactivating my cell phone for emergencies like this.

After a quick moment of take-the-trail / take-the-road contemplation, I rolled onto the trail and it was white over with snow. Only 1cm deep, two day old stuff with tracks in it already and a little layer of ice underneath which crustled as I rode over it. Suddenly I had to concentrate. FUN! I rode over the wooden trestle bridge very carefully and listened to the ripping sound of the ice breaking away on the wooden beams as they flexed under our weight. This is FUN.

It was OK riding in the snow without lights as the snow was bright enough to illuminate the way and I arrived at the city in the beginnings of dawn.

If I were really keen I’d go to the bikeshop at lunch and buy a new front tyre and a dynamo set, fit them, then ride home. But that’s what email and husbands are for right? For days when on n’a plus de courage.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Remember the TV programme "That's life" with Ester Ranstson (?)

Remember they used to have a bit where people send in photos of vegetables that look "human"?

Want to see what I have?

Great Canadian Adventures #6 - Coming Soon

By special request from my Uncle Tom and in honour of the fact that it is now precisely 2 years since our epic journey across this great country - Coast to Coast - I will be publishing another Great Canadian Adventure soon. When I find my diary and look up what happened next because after two years it is all such a blurr.

But for now... have you SEEN the time? I am still at work because our biggest customer has come up with a not-so-smart new idea for wrapping our loads and the incredibly expensive machine that was bought to do the job is even slower than three slow workers so I have two lines of incredibly slow workers sticking labels and wrapping plastic and I am still here making sure they put the right stickers in the right places and answer any dumb-ass questions anyone may have.

Roll on the holiday season.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I went to the bike shop last week and outside were these Retro bikes. When I rode home the next night a cute student-type chick joined the trail some distance ahead of me with a retro bike. It was the size of an adult bike but it had these huge antler handlebars like an overgrown "chopper" (no puns). She looked very retro in her cord jacket and beanie hat and I was going to pass her then take her picture, but I couldn't catch her up...

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Christmas jokes

Three men died on Christmas Eve and were met by Saint Peter at the pearly gates.

"In honor of this holy season," Saint Peter said, "you must each possess something that symbolizes Christmas to get into heaven."

The first man fumbled through his pockets and pulled out alighter. He flicked it on.

"It represents a candle," he said.

"You may pass through the pearly gates," Saint Peter said.

The second man reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys.

He shook them and said, "They're bells."

Saint Peter said, "You may pass through the pearly gates."

The third man started searching desperately through his pockets and finally pulled out a pair of women's panties.

St. Peter looked at theman with a raised eyebrow and asked,

"And just what do those symbolize?"

The man, with furrowed brow, in desperation replied, "These are Carol's?"

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

In almost-related biker news

A man got knocked off his bike outside my folk's place in England last week. No drivers stopped to help him until a neighbour driving by noticed a red back-light glowing in the grass. Bill stopped in the road (no pavements near the old house) and subsequently got beeped at for stopping in the road. The ambulance then took 20 minutes to make the 2 minute drive to their house and it took 20 minutes to get the guy into an ambulance he was in such a bad way.

I am not too worried about riding my bike in Canada.

It's not good but it's OK.

Warning: This post contains graphic details some readers may find upsetting.

I had a horrible dream a few weeks ago. I was hanging out at acting school with Emu (who was at the school, not me) – Emu is a person, by the way, a very very good friend. Her brother was there too, except it wasn’t her brother, Marcus, it was another boy I didn’t know. They were quite young and so was I. I was probably 15, Emu younger and the brother about 8.

The acting school was telling Emu she’d have to leave her cat (which was actually my cat) with them whilst she went off to do some work somewhere. She was refusing saying that she was taking her cat with her. The acting school took revenge by tying her brother’s dog (a big, brown pointer that I have never seen, met or known) in a string bag dangling from a helicopter then flying it through the trees until the bag broke and the poor dog fell, impaling itself on a tree and the little boy watched it all happen then knelt by the body of his dying dog howling and in tears.

I awoke, brow furrowed, nearly in tears, over-warm and alone – not wanting to wake Hubby from his sleep for a stupid dream. It made me wonder why our minds do these things to us. Why it put me through such pain over a person and an animal I never knew and never will know for something that's never really likely to happen.

Last night on my way home I was approaching the Hillside Estate Winery and a van parked by the side of the road with its hazard flashers on. Conscious that this might be an accident and someone might need my help, I slowed to take a look and check that no-one was hurt / lying under the wheels of the van / trying to change a tyre without the proper equipment or knowledge or strength. I promise I wasn't rubber necking, I mean this is a part of the world where you could be stranded in the dark without most half-wits noticing you as they pass. Part of me wished I hadn’t looked. There was a large brown dog with smooth fur lying on the ground and the person standing by the van had covered its head with a towel or blanket.

I realised there was nothing I could do and continued on my way. I hate to see dead or lost pets. It breaks my heart for the person, the family and the animal – though I didn’t think this dog would’ve known any pain. My thoughts got worse. I banged my head against the head rest, trying to knock the negative thoughts from my head. I turned up a dance tune on the radio to full volume, trying to drown the noise of the pain of the people and the man standing by the limp body out of my ears. He must feel so guilty, so bad for the owners. I wonder if he is waiting for them or the cops to come and take the body away. I wonder if he will get in trouble. Was he speeding? Is he angry at someone for letting their dog run loose? How would I react? I’d be torn apart. I tried to tell myself it’d be alright soon. I’ll forget this. Hubby will make me feel better when I get home.

I got home and the house was still and dark. No Landy in the car port.. For a while I forgot the dog, thinking Hubby was lying in a ditch somewhere in the Landy. I wondered if it was icy on the road to his work tonight. Then it occurred to me that he might be the dog-man. I couldn’t be angry at him but I hoped he wouldn’t be angry for someone letting their dog run loose and blaming the owners because he's a cat-person. I would just feel bad for him. I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher. I put the kettle on. I let the cats run free. I cuddled Slaughterpuss and tickled Andrew. I would just feel bad for him.

I phoned his office but there was no answer. It was safe to put the dinner on, he’d be home soon. I turned the oven on and went into the basement to the freezer. The Landy arrived.

“Wow, you’re late”, I said.

First, he got stuck in a meeting (which doesn’t happen very often). Then he was on the way home and cars were swerving all over to miss this deer that was thrashing around in the road. Someone had hit it and driven off. It was struggling in pain to get up so they stopped and pulled it to the side of the road and laid it down and covered it and it calmed and they called the cops and waited and the cops came and made the pain go away and though it was sad, I was glad that someone didn’t lose their dog. That some kiddy wasn’t going to come home from playgroup to find its puppy was no more.

See. I knew he’d make me feel better.
Winter... she is here.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Even those pretty red leaves have turned yellow, then brown, then dropped off.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Now they've all been squooshed and are hapily fermenting so I can drink them

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Such a lot can happen in one month

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
October 20th

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
It wasn't so long ago

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I am liking the look of the ski hill already

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Perfect Pants

I watch Malcolm in the middle. It’s funny. Some days its funnier than others. If you don’t know the show, it’s about a family with 5 boys – the oldest has left home, the youngest is a baby, then there’s Dewey who’s still a little boy, Malcolm (in the middle) who’s in his early teens and his older brother who all live at home.

One particular episode made me laugh back in September. Whilst all the amusing and hectic things in the show were happening to the other members of the family, Dewey was looking after the baby. He was telling a story about how their parents led a secret life of luxury behind a locked door in the house. When they finally broke through the locked door they found their dad dressed in a ship's captains outfit, smoking a cigar and their mum dressed in a silk gown, draped with pearls, talking to the butler who was their oldest son saying in a zombie-voice, “you are the best parents in the world, I love you so much.”

They sneaked around the back of the over-stuffed furniture without being seen and disappeared into a second room. This room was completely dark except for a single spot-light illuminating a coat-hangar, invisibly suspended. From the coat-hangar dangled….

“the perfect pants”

“The perfect pants” were white jeans. Completely unstained and un-torn by any other member of the family. They were NEW. When the baby reached out and touched “the perfect pants” an alarm went off and the luxury parents rushed into the room. Dewey, being the smart brother of the family, left the baby in the centre of the room to take all the flack and survived the onslaught by hiding in the dark corners of the room.

I was reminded of this episode by a slanging match entered into by my cousins about who used to submerge the Star Wars toys in the paddling pool when they were kids and who else consequently got in trouble for it.

Since then the phrase “the perfect pants” has been constantly at the forefront of my memory. For riding my bike in the winter has given me my own pair of perfect pants.

They’re not perfect for the same reason that I described in the programme but they fit into a whole philosophy that has been bugging me for quite some time.

I’m not very good at keeping things nice. Put me in a dress, I’ll have mud or food on it in no time. Buy me something fragile and I’ll break it. Give me something precious and I’ll lose it. I have a ton of outdoor and biking gear in the basement that I don’t honestly use anymore and a ton of outdoor clothing I never wear anymore because really, we’ve been so damn house-focused for so long. Now that we have our house we are enjoying the novelty of being in it and sleeping in our own bed. Nothing compares any more. The snug feeling of sleeping bag is not calling to me these days.

But, I realise now that rather than big organised trips away, I live the outdoor life virtually every day here in BC. Right now I manage to cycle three days per week and even when I bring the bug to work, I walk around the mill a lot outside.

So, I have decided to throw caution to the wind, dust off my carefully preserved gear that has been neatly tidied away waiting for a “real adventure” and use it for the every day adventures of commuting, working and living a life.

So thanks to this new philosophy, I have my Karrimor pannier bags strapped permanently to “Green” bike and my windproof thin-pile-lined Buffalo trousers to wear to work and my thermal balaclava to wear under my cycle helmet, two pairs of racing gloves to keep my hands warm and my Specialised fleece-lined, ancle-to-shoulder-braces, chammy-seated, reflective leggings (aka. “The perfect pants”) to ride to work in.

I AM almost completely kitted-out except for the bell… and I really need a decent pair of overshoes now to keep my toes warm. Since my bottle cage / rechargeable battery carrier finally gave-in to a stress fracture this morning (after a crash 5 years ago) I now have a legitimate excuse to go to the bike shop and splurge. He hee!

Aside from that, I can’t resist Blogging DBO’s joke which has made me snigger for over a day:

A man goes to the zoo. There’s only one animal at the zoo – a dog.

It’s a shitzu.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

hahahahahah ha ha ha ha ha haaaa

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Then I realised there was a whole watchin' me watchin' you thing going on.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
The battery fell out of my camera so I had to drop Green and go back to find it. I photoed the deer anyway

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Meanwhile, The Fog was swallowing the mountain

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Ghostly Ghouls in the village, by the light of my bike and the breath from my lungs, I'll scare your house down.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

I have a confession to make...

I ride on crosswalks (zebra crossings). I am absolutely totally in Crazy Biker Chick’s pond when it comes to riding style. Everything she says makes perfect sense to me and I know what her gripes are all about.

I don’t know if she’s with me or not on this one but generally I am anti-biking-on-crosswalks. Especially those cyclists who appear from nowhere – generally kids on bikes – and fly across the crosswalk with no regard to oncoming drivers or pedestrians or anyone else riding on the sidewalk (pavement). And you darkly suspect that if they get hit, it will go down in court as the driver’s fault and cyclists will be tarred with more dirt forever.

But here’s the thing. I ride through the city on my bike on the disused railway line – a permitted bike path. The trail crosses several roads and there are crosswalks at each crossing. The instructions to cyclists are carefully posted – “Dismount and proceed with caution”.
1. Being selfish, if I walked across all the crosswalks on my way to work it would take 10 minutes longer. If you’re good enough to give me a cycle path, at least let it be an efficient one.
2. Less selfishly and more importantly. There are two types of drivers. Those that will stop at the crosswalk and those that will not. I do not mind if drivers don’t stop and don’t expect them to stop for me on my bike. I am happy enough to wait for a gap. Those who do stop (even if I try to hold back from the curb and be inconspicuous in waiting for a gap), I expect are happier if I ride across the road quickly, rather than dismounting and plodding across before them on foot.

In all my time here I have never had anyone complain or shout at me for being on the crosswalk on my bike which makes me feel happy but also insanely guilty every time a driver stops (hence the attempts to be inconspicuous).

I only use one pedestrian crossing light (pelican crossing) on my ride. I will wait for a while at the junction which is one of those on a 4 lane highway where the traffic comes in each direction in waves, never leaving a gap. I doubt many drivers make a left at this spot. If I wait too long, I will dismount (because I’m now entering the pedestrian zone and I really don’t want to get in anyones’ way) and go press the button.

Last night though, I was waiting, just coming to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to get out of the road when I made eye contact with a pretty young lady walking along wearing sweats. She looked like she was on her way home (walking) from the gym. We mentally acknowledge eachother for what we are – insane – and nod respectfully to oneanother. I decide to try my luck.

“You wouldn’t mind hitting the button on the crosswalk for me would you?”

She smiles

“Sure” she says.

The lights change, I make my turn, on my bike. I wave to the nice lady in sweat-pants and continue on my merry way.

Five minutes later I come across a dog walker on the trail. The wind is blowing towards us so she doesn’t hear me coming. I have no bell so I call, “Excuse me, Coming thru, if I can”.

“oh sorry oh sorry oh sorry”, she says, hauling her dog out of the path.

“It’s OK, don’t worry, have a good evening” I say. I feel awful. Some people get startled. I feel awful. Then there’s times like this morning when you have one of those, “this way that way”, moments, passing an oncoming runner (made worse by the fact I still feel more comfortable on the left side of the track and will happily get out of anyone’s way who’s also travelling on the left).

So, after all these years, I’m finally thinking of getting a bell for my bike. Not any old bell. It will have to be one that doesn’t ding incessantly at the slightest bump because I ride to work off road but a nice, shiny black one that’s silent till rung and I will stick stickers on it and love it for the freedom it gives me to politely say what I want to without the risk of any offence or threatening intonation. For the sound of Ding Ding is a universal language of etiquette on bike paths and I think I want to learn to speak it.

Oh yeah, then there was this other time at school when I was helping make baked potatoes for charity and I grated some fingernail into the cheese and I never took it out. SORRY!
Squeal... "SNOW"

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Sharp intake of breath.. gasp.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Video blogger

I took some extremely shakey yet poor quality vid on my way home last nite on my bike and figure I'd share it with the world to make them feel ill... I mean... give them a feeling for what it's like here.

Especially since I came out of my office last night and squealed... "SNOW!"

How does I videoblog? ANyone?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Being a Girl in Business

ISO Auditor - So how do you monitor your rejects and downtime? What happens when big boss finds out downtime is up and rejects are up?

Me - His face goes all red and he shouts a lot.

No, really, I actually said that.

The auditor has been coming here for some time. He knows the face and he knows the shouting.

Halloween bike ride in Toronto

Halloween bike from Crazy Biker Chick.

The village people

We're all in our new hi-vis vests at the moment. We all look very gay. Wearing two fleeces as my feet adjust to the cold shoes in my office after another chilly ride to work, during which I saw a bat.

Enjoying my job for once!

Normal service will be resumed soon.