About Me

Life is learning. Life is change. Life is good. Life doesn't have to cost a lot. I want to make my life greener, healthier, and thriftier. And I want to enjoy doing it!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

And A Good Yule To All!

First, a bit of explanation may be in order:

I am Wiccan.  Most of my family are not.  Therefore, I do two celebrations.

Yule  -  Winter Solstice  -  is for quiet alone time for my own meditations, prayers, chants, and reflections.

Christmas is for family  -  lots of good food and noisy fun, stockings and presents and a tree with lots of shinies.

So it's Christmas Eve. 

All my gifts are ready to be wrapped, except one small knitting project to be finished this evening and tucked into a stocking.  All the goodies are baked, there's a turkey defrosting in the fridge, the house has miraculously stayed clean and tidy since last weekend's gathering, and for once I think we have enough tape!  All my holiday cards went out on time, and I've received more than I expected.

Big Guy is out in his workshop wrapping away, and when he's done and brings the supplies back inside, I'll be shutting myself in my workroom to wrap J's gifts before she gets home.  Then she and I will finish decorating the tree and wrapping P's and Big Guy's presents while singing along to White Christmas and The Muppets' Christmas Carol and swilling eggnog.

Tomorrow Big Guy and I will have a quiet, leisurely breakfast before he starts assembling turkey stuffing and I hop in the car to pick up P and her Damndog (yes, all one word).  Apparently, she can't leave him home alone (her partner will be spending the day with his daughter) or he (the Damndog) will destroy her house.  Granted, he behaves well enough here  -  as long as he has P in view  -  but FatBrat kitty loathes dogs, so she'll hide in the basement all day, and sulk at me all day Boxing Day.  Ah well, at least that means she'll confine her hairball-hurling to the basement for once ...

All in all, I'm more pleased with how everything is going than I thought I'd be.  I only had to make one trip to the mall to find everything I'd planned to buy, the weather is nicer than we expected, the house looks nicer than I expected, and I stayed under budget! 

I really had an awfully hard time getting into the holiday spirit ... but today, I think I'm finally there.

I wish you all a peaceful and joyous holiday and nothing but good things in the coming year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's Official

We got it in writing on Wednesday ... the office is closing much sooner than we expected.  My last day at work will be December 30th.  Happy New Year.

My first thought was "I'm glad I didn't do much Christmas shopping yet."  My second was "I'm glad Big Guy is still working."  I'm ashamed to say it took me until the third thought to feel badly for N (our office manager / supervisor), who has a little one at home and whose husband's work has been somewhat sporadic lately (not his fault in the slightest, the work just isn't there).

So, here I am again  -  job-hunting in an economy that's as unsettled as it was the last time I was laid off, with even bleaker prospects in my particular field.  

And in a corporate move that really adds insult to injury, I get to spend part of my remaining time at work training my replacement!  Now, I'll do the very best I can with her in the inadequate time I have  -  because honestly, even if she spent a month sitting with me all day every day, it wouldn't be enough to teach her everything.  But a couple of hours a day on the phone isn't going to cut it, and I feel badly for her.  I'll do everything I can for her  -  none of this was her doing, and I'm certainly not going to throw her under the bus just because I'm not happy with upper management.  I have to admit, though, that there's a not-so-nice part of me hoping that said management will shortly come to realize how badly they shot themselves in the foot with this particular decision.  I'm also deriving a bit of satisfaction from hoping they all lie awake every night through the holiday season, feeling guilty about their execrably poor timing and the effect it's having on all of our families.


Yesterday's gathering went really well, even though there were some last-minute no-shows.  We talked and laughed and ate  -  and  ate  -  and ate  -  and enjoyed each others' company.  I ended up pressing containers of food on everyone to take home, because there was so much more left than I expected.  There are still enough leftovers that Big Guy and I won't have to make work lunches until at least Wednesday, and today I asked him to please not make anything large for tonight's dinner because there is no space in the fridge for any more leftovers!

Now it's time to get creative with gifts.  The stocking stuffers will be easy  -  traditionally, everyone gets socks and a chocolate orange (addictive, those!) in their stockings, so there isn't too much space left to fill.  A trip to the dollar store will take care of the stockings nicely, and with luck provide a few other gifts.  Thrift stores are always good too  -  in fact, Value Village is daughter P's first choice for gift cards!  I raised her well ... I just wish I'd known a couple of months ago that the layoff was coming; I would have made time to make more gifts myself.

I'll spend this afternoon redoing my shopping list, and shop on my way home from work every day.  We have Friday the 23rd off, so anything I haven't acquired yet will have to be picked up then.  Friday evening is Chinese food and Miracle On 34th Street with Mom and sister S, and Saturday is for wrapping and tree-trimming, and watching White Christmas and The Muppets' Christmas Carol and the original Grinch and Alistair Sim as Scrooge.

So ... my house is cleaned and decorated (except for the tree), I have plenty of homemade goodies on hand, and a plan for an affordable holiday.  I'm more determined than ever to enjoy my family, count my blessings, and not let a little thing like unemployment stop me from having a wonderful time!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Been A While

Actually, it's been a little over a month.   That's because every time I sat down to post, I ended up going into such a Woe-is-me rant that I shut it down again.  Nobody wants to read weeks of me just moaning and whining about how sorry for myself I'm feeling.

Anyway, here, in no particular order, are the events that kept me from posting anything worth reading until now:

My uncle A died.  It was expected; he'd been very ill for a long time, and I think everyone heaved a sigh of relief that he's no longer sick and in pain.  But at the same time, it was very sad  -  he was the "baby" of my Mom's family (and I think kind of her favourite sibling; they were close), and even those of us who weren't as close to him as we would have liked were sorry to have him leave us.  He was only a few years older than Big Guy; my cousins are closer in age to my daughters than to me, and both have little ones themselves.  It just doesn't seem right that they won't grow up knowing their wonderful, funny, loving, kind, wise grandfather.

I somehow managed to dislocate two fingers in my sleep.  How the heck does that happen?  And in doing so, I also tore the cartilage, and tore the skin on one knuckle just enough for infection to get into the joints.  So I ended up with a honkin' big awkward splint, and two weeks' worth of antibiotics.  Now, antibiotics and IBS are definitely not a good combination ... I'll spare you the details, but believe me, it got ugly.

Halfway through my round of antibiotics, Big Guy got an abcessed molar and ended up on penicillin himself.  It's true what they say about the effect of penicillin on the digestive tract ... and we have one, count 'em, one bathroom.  Let's just say there were a few exchanges of less-than-polite language and leave it at that.

When I went to start doing my holiday cards, I discovered that I'd completely forgotten to clean my favourite fountain pen after the last time I used it.  I had to soak it in water for four days to loosen up the dried ink enough to take the pen apart and clean it properly before I could reload and use it.  Every time I drained the water, shook the pen, and put it in fresh water I felt like an idiot.

Last Tuesday at work, we were informed that the line will be cancelling its Pacific Northwest services mid-February, and "some time between now and the end of February" our company (the agents for the line) will be closing down all their Canadian offices for good.  Hello, unemployment.  Again.  Only this time, I don't know when the axe will actually fall, and so don't know what to plan for.  Of course, come Monday I will once again be sending out resumes and cover letters  -  and this time, I'll also be sending out a flyer advertising my services as a freelance temp.  With the current state of the economy, it's anyone's guess how long I'll be out of work this time.  And this time, I won't qualify as "long-tenured", so I'll only be eligible for five or six months of E.I. instead of twenty months.

But ... I'd hardly done any Christmas shopping yet, so I'm able to scale back my spending budget quite severely without feeling too much hardship.  (Although if I'd known a couple of months ago about the impending office closure, I'd have done this year's craft fairs after all!)  The family party will still be here; sister S has already delivered the gingerbread, and has promised one of her "signature" party dishes.  My second batch of shortbread is in the oven and making the house smell festive, and last week's winds brought down enough evergreen twigs, branches and cones that my decorating will be almost effortless.  And... ta-daa! ... I found the candy canes, so I got to cross them off the shopping list.  The rest of the groceries are in the house, I remembered where I stashed the holiday cookie tins, and I found a super-easy recipe for pumpkin tart filling.  Oh, and J has offered to leave work early on Party Day and whip up a big platter of her killer spring rolls! 

So life isn't so bad after all.  I'm still blessed with family and good friends, I still have a warm, dry home and enough to eat, and I'm blessed with loved ones who understand that this season is really about how we feel, not about how much money we spend.