Monday, August 31, 2009

Because they have a black market value.

This is from the end of my vacation...but I don't want to forget it, so I'm posting. First, a reminder:
Remeber the post about the penguin? Because you need to read it to understand this.

I went on my vacation with two half packed suitcases. One had the few clothes* I was taking, and lots of space and the other had smoked meat things as a thank you to my sizzler and her hubby (Because nothing says "thanks for having me and spoiling me rotten" like freezer packs of bbq, brisket and smoked porc) and more space.

Naturally, on my return both cases were stuffed full. And I still left things behind! I bought tea (duh), clothes, shoes (including my first and only pair of Italian dress shoes), kitchen stuff (duh again) and lingerie (yeah, you could have made this list out yourselves and been pretty much right on target). I also got to bring the penguin home! Almost didn't, and here's why:

We got to the airport and it turns out that one suitcase was overweight and one was underweight. So the check-in person said I could repack them. So I did, and decided that the penguin would just have to stay with dad until some other trip. I took it out and gave it to him. One of the check-in people said I could take it as a carry-on. I didn't think that would work. I already had two carry-on items, my knapsack of cookbooks** and a bag with two boxes of giant Pocky***. Not to mention the fact that the penguin would look like a bomb when the bags got x-rayed.

She went and got a bag and I ended up putting the Pocky and the penguin together. And off I went through security. And yes, the penguin caused some giggles when it went through the scanner. Don't know what they thought it was, but clearly it didn't appear bomb-like because no one asked me about it.

When I got on the plane I decided the penguin could go in the overhead bin, and the knapsack under the seat. I had my book, glasses and wallet in the knapsack, and knew I'd need them. The penguin not so much. It proved to me far more difficult getting the penguin into the overhead bin than I thought it would. I mean it's metal, there is no give. And it's not flat at all, totally the wrong shape for an airplane's overhead bin. I suceeded, but it wasn't easy.

The flight was direct, in the sense that I didn't have to change planes in Calgary. There was a stop in Calgary though. And as we were late leaving BC, we were late arriving in Calagary. The flight person asked everyone that didn't have a connecting flight to stay seated, so that the people who did could make their flights. Naturally, no one listened,and the aisle filled with people desparate to get off the plane so she had to say it again.

The connnecting flight people left, and then the people who were stopping in Calgary left. Which leave a dozen or more still on the plane. There was only a fifteen minute break, so no sense in leaving the plane. Or so I thought.

Turns out they wanted us off, so they could clean the plane. And we were supposed to take our belongings with us. And here's how the conversation went:

Flight Attendant: Please take your belongings, and leave the plane while we give it a quick clean prior to continuing on the flight.
Me: We have to get off? For fifteen minutes?
F.A.: Yes, we need to clean up.
Me: ok...and we have to take our stuff, then?
F.A.: Yes please, everthing.
ME: Everything? Even the overhead bin? You need to clean the overhead bin?
F.A. (with the other passengers listening, and not looking overly happy). Yes, everything that you brought on board has to be removed.
Me: took me forever to fit the penguin in there. And it almost didn't come on the flight at all, because it's a bit akward. Seriously, you want me to take the penguin out, and then try to get it back in ten minutes later? It would be easier to leave it.

This, of course, made perfect sense to me. I knew what I was talking about. I'm guessing, though, from the look on the faces - all of the faces - that everyone else thought I was talking about an actual penguin. I had to show it to EVERYONE then, at their insistance. I think they were disappointed at not capturing a penguin-smuggler.

The weird thing is that the spilled bits of airplane snacks that were on the floor by me seat - they were not mine, there were there when we boarded in BC - were still there when we got back on. So I guess "clean the plane" is code for something else. Like "find the escaped snake and get it off the plane".

* Not only just a few, but totally the wrong type. The week before I left I'd been watching the weather reports. BC was setting heat records all week long. So I brought nothing warm. Not a single long sleeved shirt, even. Good thing I was going somewhere with clothes I could borrow because they didn't set any heat records while I was there. Nice weather, just not screamingly hot is all.

** I put a cookbook in a suitcase once, and it got lost. The cookbooks I took out were two binders. One with all the family recipes and one with the business cookie recipes. I wasn't going to risk losing either of them. So I kept them with me.

***The boy eat these Japanese snacks known as Pocky. They're not very big, maybe three inches. I found a box of Giant Pocky, and they were about a foot long. So I bought him two boxes (he was thrilled), and then realized that if I put them in a suitcase they'd be nothing but Pocky crumbs when I got home. So I kept them with me. Me, the penguin, the Pocky and the sacred cookbooks. And we all made it home, safe and more or less sound.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I am going to postpone - or possibly cancel - blogging about my vacation. Not sure why. I don't feel like blogging about anything, actually. Who knows - perhaps tomorrow I'll wake up and be all excited about blogging. Maybe.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Vacation, day one, and a bit of the night before:

So, the flight for day one of vacation left at 5:25 AM. Which is early, but it means that I have a full day of vacation when I get there. Leaving at noon makes it seem like your whole day is spent traveling. This way, arrival in BC was 8:00.

The night before…ok, I wasn’t as great at getting ready as I could have been. But I was better than usual! I thought The Girl would be pleased with how early I started getting ready. Early to me, at any rate. Not early at all according to her: I was in the bath at nine PM (nothing done at that point) when she knocked on the door and said “I would be packed TEN TIMES OVER this close to leaving. Why aren’t you PACKING?”

So when I got out of the tub I brought two suitcases upstairs. Progress, yes? But really, it was only ten. I had HOURS to get ready. I did try to sleep, for a bit. And the trying worked, since I slept about an hour. And I didn’t go to bed until I’d packed one suitcase. Of course, that meant when I got up (at two, with a departure time of 3:30ish) I still had stuff to do. And the boy never did go to sleep. I drove us out to the airport, and then we switched and after a giant hug (unprompted!) he drove home to sleep and I went to get checked in. I really just needed to get my baggage checked, because I had already done the online check-in that most airlines offer. It makes the whole check-in process much quicker. Always take that option!

No problem with the check in – I’d remembered this time to take my foldy knife thingy out before I went to the airport. Forgot to wear the right underwear, though. Still can’t figure out if the security person who asked if I was wearing an underwire bra – I beeped going through, and the wand thing beeped when he went over the girls – wanted to know because that is part of his job, or if he just wanted to know. Because when I said yes, all he said was fine, you’re good to go. But really, if I’d had a weapon, I would have said yes to that question anyway. I mean, what kind of criminal says “no, it’s a shive” when asked what may be setting the metal detector off? Anyway, barefoot and not really late at all I made it through. And I’m glad that I didn’t get there really early. There was no line to speak of at security and I didn’t have any money on me for tea or anything. So I spent my time making up stories about the other passengers waiting to board the plane.

Quiet and sleepless flight to Calgary, and quiet and sleepless flight to Victoria. Not much to see from the plane due to cloud cover, but there was a LOT of smoke cover as well over BC’s interior. Those poor people – the smoke went on and on and on.

Ma chere sister and her beloved hubby picked me up at the airport. I realized that it was this first time that anyone other than dad had met me at that airport. It was odd not seeing him but he was golfing in a tournament and I was going to be seeing him at the end of my vacation. And a change is as good as a rest, yes?

Breakfast in Victoria at Swans, and that was the beginning of people treating me to things. Seriously, I was spoiled beyond belief this trip. Ok, every trip. I get spoiled every trip. Princess for ten days, really. It was awesome.

Of course not

There was no happy dryer dance. There was, however, a "bumble bee up my pants repeatedly stinging" bossa nova, a "tap vs. knuckles vs. vise grip” quick step and a “head injury, blood and lump included” hip hop.

I can’t bring myself to go into details. Suffice it to say that I have a new washer that works, and a dryer that would work, except…there is a problem with the wiring. No power from the outlet= no working dryer.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Happy Dryer Dance

I know, I'm supposed to be blogging about the vacation. But first things first:
Today, at seven PM, the appliance round about begins:

7:00 Mover guy comes to the house and takes away three dead appliances. Two dryers and a washer. There is a dead stove down there too, but that will have to bedealt with some other day. There is also a fridge that works, but I may someday have a need for a beer fridge. 'Cept I don't drink beer. Hmmm. May have to get rid of fridge too.

Mover guy also takes a washing machine that does work. He gets it for free, I don't pay to have it removed and I get a better deal on the cost of the moving.

7:30 I'm guessing here, because I don't know how long it takes to get appliances out of a basement, but when it is done, I head off to the house of the woman that is selling me a new washer and dryer. I pay her and then go back home to clear out a space for the new stuff.

8:15 New dryer arrives, and I will have hopefully figured out how to break off the mighty putty that is holding the old hose onto the taps. Because I'm gonna need those taps!

8:30 I will be frustrated as the news stuff has been delivered and I will be struggling with the duct for the dryer. And no doubt bleeding from whatever stupid thing I've done to get the old hoses off the tap for the washer.

9:00 (a) Filthy but happy, I have a shower and rejoice in the fact that once again I can do laundry in my own home.

9:00 (b) Filthy, angry and in tears I give up and decide to spend Saturday afternoon making things right.

Really hoping for (a). Really quite desperately hoping for (a)!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Delayed Reporting

I intended, truly I did, to blog during my vacation. This plan was thwarted by a Mac and a stubborn PC. The Mac was an exercise in frustration and the PC just plain hated me. So I didn't get to a computer until I was at dad's.

The upshot of all of this is that I will tell about the trip, but in retrospect not as-it-happens. And at the moment I'm not even sure when the retrospective is going to begin. This week at some point. Maybe.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Vacation in 20 hours

I leave tomorrow for my much anticipated vacation. My longest-since-maternity-leave break. And given that my babies are 17 and almost 15, it's about time, yes?

I'm not really ready, though. Not at all, actually. No packing done. Because I haven't done any laundry. Which sounds stupid, given that I just had a four day weekend. The problem was not the time, the problem was lack of facilities. I am washer/dryer less. The plan was to have the new washer/dryer in place yesterday afternoon. I was not happy when appliances died, but I ended up with a really good deal. And I was very excited at the thought of a dryer that didn't leave rust spots on anything left in the dryer for more than ten minutes after the cycle ended. I was not surprised when the thing gave up the ghost altogether.

You'd think I would be in a panic to buy new stuff, given the lack of funds that I seem to find myself permanently in. Whoever...I had an extremely lucky serendipitous moment. I ended up arranging to buy a new washer/dryer set. $400.00 for the set, $150.00 to haul four appliances out of my basement and move two new ones in. See? I told you sometimes the weird stuff that happens to me is good stuff!

I had the mover guy set up to do all the moving on Monday. And then I got a call from my washer/dryer seller. She had the flu, and was not allowed to fly home from Edmonton in time for the move.

Right off the bat I’d like to say that I am TOTALLY fine with this. If I were to get on the plane tomorrow only to find that I am seated next to a feverish puking person I would be extremely angry at the airline for allowing said sickie to fly. So I have no problem with the delay, it will just have to be done when I get back.

This, however, means no way to do laundry before I go, and The Boy – who is house/puppy sitting- will have to wash his uniform at his dad’s house. Maybe this will prompt him to buy a second shirt. Maybe I’ll buy him one myself. Maybe not! Because of course, the Friday before I leave I:

Took The Girl to the orthodontist
Took myself to the optometrist
Had the oil changed in the car
Got the money for the washer/dryer
Got the money for the mover
Picked up the stuff from Prairie Dog BBQ to put into the thank you package

All of which, of course, required payment of some sort. And my next pay day isn’t until the 7th. Why I would want to start out my holiday with next to no money is beyond me. It just sort of worked out that way. And I still have to fill the car with gas (because I told The Boy that I would) and give him the money for house sitting. I don’t really need to pay him, but since I won’t be around to feed him, and given that he is WAY cheaper than having the puppies go to a kennel for a long stay I figured some food money would not be amiss.

I didn’t fill the freezer for him this time. I did, though, buy him four litres of milk, two of juice, a bag of bagels and a jumbo box of cereal. I am assuming that he’ll do some eating at his dad’s, and some at work (for instance this week he works Tues-Friday over the supper hour) and other than that he can work it out on his own.

We did get some of the pre-holiday chores done last night: poop scooped and mowed the lawns, moved the new bbq into the back, got the old one ready for the junk yard, moved the wood for the fire pit from the driveway to the back of the house, leveled off a path from the side door of the house to the driveway for the appliance moving guy and raked up broken branches from the last wind storm. Some house work too, but my theory is that The Boy won’t care – much less notice – if the house isn’t perfect. Not that it ever could be, but it could be better than it is. And I may yet do more cleaning. I’m leaving for the airport at 3:30, and if I can’t sleep I might as well clean. I am baking/cooking before I leave too, additions to the Thank-You box ‘ o treats.

In an attempt to make the early morning check-in easier, I went to do the online booking this morning. You can do that 24 hours in advance, and it means you can go in the short line at the airport. Naturally, that didn’t go smoothly. I couldn’t get on because my last name kept coming back as invalid. By the time I found a way to get my booking number (the insurance file), I had already been trying to call their “help”* line for forty-five frustrating minutes. Turns out my last name was fine (duh – I do know how to spell my own last name), but the booking number was wrong. I managed to be fairly wound up not to mention irate but I’ve since calmed down….somewhat.

The problem was that I couldn’t get to my reference number from the email they sent unless I had…the reference number. Thank heavens that the insurance form had a side note that included the flight booking number.

I put help in quotation marks on purpose. The line was VERY unhelpful. The recorded voice said that due to the number of people trying to book flights, the line was busy. Please call again. No number to call if you were NOT calling to book a flight, and no being put on hold with “your call will be answered as soon as a customer service representative becomes available”. Just call back. Which I did, over and over again. Not helpful, not in the least.

That is my day so far. In the end I’ve decided not to worry about laundry, thanks to the insurance form I have checked in and have my boarding pass and given that I started ridiculously early and will be skipping lunch (three people away sick, so I am working over the lunch hour) I can leave quite early. Hooray!

Vacation Blogging

I am going to make an attempt to blog every day of my impending vacation. With the exception of Friday-Saturday because I don't have a lap top and I don't know if I'll have access to a computer in Vancouver.

I may even blog today's events. Because despite the hour, there are vacation related events already!