Bits and bobs

Random thoughts about random things by a random person


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How not to impress people on the first day at your new job, or “What did you do now?”

(Queasy stomach alert: If you don’t like injury stories, please don’t continue. It’s not totally a hurl-your-guts story, but some tummies are extra-sensitive and if you are on that side of the scale, you might wanna pass on this one…)

I started a new position at work on Monday past. Unlike most new positions the last several years, there wasn’t anyone I knew at this new one. I was starting with a completely blank slate (other than the references that got me the job). There’s a lot of power with a blank slate – you can put ANYTHING on it. And on that first day, being the time of first impressions and all, what you put on it can be very, very…very…important.

What did I put on mine? This:

 

No, no…please – hold the applause.

Like most of the injuries I’ve had in my life (including breaking an ankle BEFORE a softball game), I don’t have a great story to go with it. Not even a lame “I took a dive to save a tipping printer” office story. Nope. Wanna know how I did it? (Don’t bother popping popcorn for this…honestly, it’s not worth it…)

Picture it: Sicily… Just kidding. That’s a different show… ūüėČ

Seriously, though…I was heading down to the cafeteria for lunch. I pushed the elevator call button and leisurely paced back and forth in the hall while I waited. Soon enough, I heard the chime announcing an elevator’s arrival and I turned to head towards it. (In a movie, this is where the music would become louder, to indicate something big was about to happen and bring you to the edge of your seat.)

I’ve mentioned my age before, but in case you’ve forgotten, I’m 48. I’m not new to this whole “foot at the end of your leg” thing, or walking, or any of that stuff. I’ve been doing it for quite a while now. Yet somehow (and I’m really and truly not sure how), I stumbled as I turned. I didn’t trip on anything…it’s a flat floor. I didn’t slip on any spills…it’s a carpeted floor. There weren’t even any wrinkles in the carpet. I just…stumbled.

Not being one to give in to a challenge, I was sure I could recover. I took a step forward and tried to regain my balance. Nope…didn’t work, so I took another step. Nah ah…so another step. And another. And another. Flashing occasionally in my mind at the same time was, “Man, I’m glad nobody else is here!” With each step I was angling closer and closer to the ground and after about the fifth, I knew it was a losing battle. Well, to be honest…it was a lost battle because¬†down I went – THWUMP! And I went down harrrrrd – right in front of the now-open elevator doors.

Having my priorities in the right place, the very first thing I did was look inside the elevator. The Bad Fall Gods had taken pity on me again. Not only was there no one in the hallway, there was no one in the elevator!! YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!! There are definite perks to taking a late lunch.

Then I got back to the business of the moment: How badly was I hurt?

I did a quick check (still on the floor). Nothing was broken. My head felt odd and fuzzy, but only inside as I for sure hadn’t smacked it on the floor as I went down. My shoulders were feeling the impact, though, and I knew that would only get worse as time went by. I must have landed on my forearms as opposed to my hands, so thankfully there was no damage my wrists.

I picked myself up and tried to shake off the fuzzy headedness. That didn’t work (the headache lasted a few days), but since I was still hungry, I continued with my plan to get lunch. While sitting there, eating my sandwich, I discovered the carpet burn on my left forearm, which I did by innocently putting my arm on the table, as normal, to hold my book, the edge of the table cutting right across the scraped skin. O.U.C.H.¬†I am very proud of myself, actually, for not having sworn like a sailor at that moment.

Anyhoooooooooooo…fast forward to me telling my new boss what had happened, which involved paperwork (every boss’s dream), and spending the rest of the afternoon repeatedly explaining to my new colleagues what had happened. If THAT didn’t fill them with confidence in me, I don’t know what would.

Take THAT, blank slate!!!

 


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Mother Mary Comforts Me

This is my mother.

Mom

This was taken at my oldest brother’s wedding on August 4, 2000. She loved that hat – she thought it was hilarious. (No…she did not wear it as part of her outfit for the day – she just wore it for this picture. ūüôā )

Her name was Mary. Mary Catherine, to be precise. The two previous girls born before her were both named Catherine and they died while still small infants. My grandmother didn’t want to chance it when Mom came along and added a “Mary” before the “Catherine”. It worked – she lived.

And she loved.

That, in fact, was her legacy.

She was a woman who loved nothing more than being a wife and a mother. When we were teenagers and able to take care of ourselves, we encouraged her to get a job. She did – at one of the mini-marts in town – but it didn’t last too long. She didn’t like it. She wanted to be home – she wanted to take care of the house and us. She absolutely loved being a housewife. I had assumed she didn’t work because she felt she¬†needed to be home when we were younger, but no. She didn’t work because she wanted to be home. Not because she was lazy, but because taking care of our home and of us was her dream job.

I was thinking about that the other day when I was mulling over some ideas for this post. For the first time I thought that our efforts to encourage her to get out of the house because we no longer “needed” her – efforts that were intended to give her the freedom to do what I, at least, assumed was what she really wanted to do – quite possibly had the opposite effect. As an adult, I now know that one of the most painful times in a mother’s life is when she realizes her children no longer “need” her. It can be quite a punch in the gut. For Mom it didn’t just happen naturally – we practically shoved it onto her. “We don’t need you anymore! You can do what you want now!” Ouch. I’m 48 and I only just clued in to how that must have sounded to her back then.¬†What she wanted was to be needed – by us – and we trashed that.

She’s been gone for over 10 years now. I miss her laugh and the way her eyes twinkled and scrunched up when she laughed. I miss her beef stew, baloney and gravy…and her bread. Oh my gosh – her bread!¬†I still long for her cool hand on my forehead when I’m sick.

She didn’t get married till she was almost 34, which in the 1960s was quite old. For Mom’s plan it was quite old, too. She said she wanted to have as many kids as her Mom did, which was 15. She and Dad had the four of us within the first five years of their marriage and she also had four miscarriages so I don’t doubt that, had she married at the more typical age of her time, she very likely would have given her mother a run for her money!

Because she was so softhearted we could pretty well wrap her around our finger so she had to make frequent use of the maternal standard of “You wait till your father gets home!” She was also, to me, the more fun parent. Dad was the more serious one in the family, which was probably needed. His oft-used refrain was, “Mary, you’re worse than the youngsters!” Two memories I have that would have elicited that response were an ice cube fight when I was still in junior high or high school and then a shaving cream fight when I was in university. On both occasions, there was running and screaming and it was messy, but it was also funny and fun.

I’m so grateful for those memories.

I didn’t really get to know my mother as an adult. I had moved away by my early 20s. I visited for a couple of weeks every couple of years, but that’s not the same. As I talked about in a previous post, I had a year with Dad after I had moved back to Newfoundland in 2007, but by then Mom was already in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s (the reason for my move). It had been coming on for several years before it hit a critical point and she had to go into a nursing home in early 2006.

The first time I saw her when I got home that September, she looked at me with a mixture of confusion and curiosity. “You looks some familiar to me…,” she said, the question hanging at the end of her statement.

“I should,” I replied, ignoring the unintentional sting of being forgotten and forcing a laughing lightness into my voice, “I’m your daughter!”

Her eyes brightened and a smile filled her face. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” she exclaimed, looking at the others sitting nearby. “That’s my daughter! Home from Alberta!”

She never forgot me again.

Over the next four months before she passed, we had lots of visits. Most times, the visits were at the nursing home, but sometimes I would take her for a drive in and around the city and to visit some friends and family. Inevitably, though, she would become anxious after only about an hour or so and want to go back to her “apartment”.

But Mom wasn’t really there. So much of who she was had already disappeared and more was lost as the weeks moved on. But I’m still grateful for that time that we had.¬† I can’t imagine my life now without those four months in it.

This post, however, isn’t about her passing. It’s about her birthday. Today is one of them.

Growing up, we all thought Mom was born on July 4, 1934. We teased her sometimes about being a cradle robber, as she was two years older than Dad – also quite unusual at that time. Then in the early 1990s, she had to get a copy of her birth certificate for something and when she got it, it turned out that she was actually born on July 12, 1933! 51 weeks older than she thought she was and, obviously, an extra older than Dad. It was funny and there was more teasing.

Despite what that little piece of paper says, it’s always felt more natural to celebrate her birthday on July 4, so that’s why I’m writing this today.

For Mary Catherine Cove (nee Turpin), b. July 12, 1934, d. January 8, 2008.

My mother.

Mom, where she best liked to be - the centre of our family

This is our family at my oldest brother’s wedding (the guy to Mom’s left) in August 2000.


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A mid-city treasure

I’ve lived in Ottawa for six and a half years now. Six and a half years and I had never been to this park before a couple of weeks ago. What’s worse is I have driven past it on my way home from work every day for the past three months. It’s not even out of the way. The entry to the park is literally on my regular commute home. Yup. True story.

I was just in too much of a hurry to get home at the end of the day so the closest I got was saying, “You know, Lucy… you really should check that place out. It’s beautiful!”

Well, at the beginning of June I found out that I would soon be changing work locations so I knew the clock was ticking and I needed to do it soon.

I know…I know… That doesn’t really make complete sense because I could go there anytime – it’s not like there’s some crazy municipal by law that only allows people to go there at the end of the work day. But here’s something important to know about me: I’m forgetful. “Out of sight, out of mind?” That’s me. Every day I would say I need to go there and by the time I got home 40 minutes later, I would forget about it till the next day on the way home.

But because I knew it would soon no longer be part of my regular commute, I made an extra-special effort to remember and actually made a plan to go on Friday, June 15. Yay me!! What’s even cooler than remembering to make the plan is that I remembered to follow it! Can I get a Woot! Woot!!

And, no surprise, I am so very glad I did. Not only is it visually beautiful, there is also the¬† roar of the rushing water of the falls. It was a bit too hot for me, so I didn’t stay for long, but I can totally envision me spending some chunks of time there in the fall, with a book, surrounded by the trees in all their autumnal splendor!

As you may have noticed in other posts, I am not a professional photographer nor do I play one on TV. As such, these pictures don’t really come close to showing you the real beauty of this park. However, they’re good enough that I think you’ll get the picture. (Bah ha ha haaaaaa – see what I did there???)

Hmmm…right about now you might be wishing I had taken a longer hiatus between posts… ūüėČ

OK…No more corniness, I promise… here are the pictures and remember, “Take time to stop and listen to the waterfalls.”

Hog's Back Falls, Rideau River, Ottawa ON

My commute home has me on that bridge. The other side is Mooney’s Bay, a more placid part of the river. It’s definitely a part of the commute where I don’t mind getting stuck in traffic!

Hog's Back Falls, Rideau River, Ottawa ON

A bit of a different angle, taken a bit further down the path in the park.

Hog's Back Falls, Rideau River, Ottawa ON

Moving further along the falls… It’s not just the water that’s beautiful…check out all the different layers in that rock!

Past Hog's Back Falls, Rideau River, Ottawa ON

And now, past the falls, things have calmed down in this lovely pool!

Rideau River in Hog's Back Park, Ottawa, ON

To really prove this is in the middle of the city – some apartment buildings nearby.


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The Phone Scam in my Head

If you read the¬†Dairy Queen Discoveries¬†post from a few days ago, you may recall that I talked about the negative thought cycles that frequently take over when I’m experiencing anxiety and/or depression.

As mentioned in that post, those thoughts have little to nothing to do with reality or logic. But they feel very much like they do.

It’s like if I had planted a garden and it turned out beautifully – all sorts of flowers with their vibrant colours intermixed with greenery of various sorts. (I don’t have a green thumb, by the way, so this is definitely a metaphor!)

Mackenzie King Estate, Gatineau Park

Garden in front of the tea house on the Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park, Quebec. Taken in Sept 2007.

Some days all I see in that garden are the beautiful plants – they are a feast for the senses – and I love it. Most days I enjoy it for the most part, but I notice that a couple of the plants could have been placed more optimally visually. While I’m aware of that and it bothers me a little, I can push that thought aside and still enjoy the overall appeal and am mostly happy with it. Then there are the days when the beauty is completely quashed. My brain only points out those out-of-place plants and I’m convinced that that’s all anyone else sees, too. There are no vibrant colours. It’s all a big, blah mess. In fact, I shouldn’t have even bothered with the garden at all. I should just tear the whole thing up because it’s all ruined and blah blah blah.

That’s ridiculous, right? Tear up a whole, beautiful garden because of a minor “error” in placement?

When I was writing that post, and thinking about those negative thoughts and how ridiculous they are (from the outside), phone scams popped into my head.

As you must be aware (and if you aren’t, please tell me your secret!), phone scams of various sorts have become a more and more common annoyance the past few years. The “Microsoft” guys who want access to your computer to fix problems. The tax department that says the police are all but on their way to lock you up and the only way out is to rush out and buy a bazillion iTunes cards and give them the numbers on the back of the cards. The vacations we’ve all won. And so on.

I called them an annoyance and for most of us, that’s all they are. But for those who fall for them, they can be quite devastating.

When they first started, I felt so badly for the victims. Some of them lost tens of thousands of dollars. But, over time, there was more education about the scams – warnings everywhere – and, well, my sympathy diminished. I still felt badly for the victims, but I mostly wondered how they could fall for what seems so obviously to be a scam.¬†I couldn’t help but wonder… What on earth were they thinking? How, in the name of all that is green on this planet, could they fall for it nowadays? iTunes cards to pay your tax bill?? Seriously? Come on.

Yet here I am. An intelligent, successful woman and I, on a regular basis, and despite multitudinous evidence to the contrary, fall for the phone scams in my own brain. I am all too often ready to trash that metaphorical garden because of any number of internal phone scams. That is ridiculous.

That comparative thought did two things:

  1.  It made me go back to feeling super badly for the victims of actual phone (and other) scams. Who am I to judge those folks?
  2. It made me realize how ridiculous my own thoughts were, in the literal sense of that word.

The Cambridge dictionary defines ridiculous as “stupid or unreasonable and deserving to be laughed at”.

I had already realized the thoughts were negative, harmful, untrue and so on. But I hadn’t thought of them as truly ridiculous.

Thinking of them from that perspective – particularly the “deserving to be laughed at” bit – takes their power away. How can you be afraid of something that makes you laugh?

Now, that is not to say that I will always remember that they are¬† unreasonable and laughable. But, it is another tool in my arsenal and if I can remember it while I’m at the start of a negative thought cycle, it will likely help to keep it from really spiralling to the point where nothing is laughable. And I call that a win!

Tear up the garden because of two “misplaced” plants? Ridiculous!

 

 

 

 

 


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Star Trek: The Next Generation theme song with lyrics

I just saw this on Wil Wheaton’s page… it’s funny! Have a listen and let your inner geek (or outer geek…we don’t judge here!) have a moment to shine!! (Allan: I’m posting this for you in particular – I think you and Matthew could make a lovely duet out of this!)

When we worked on Next Generation, Brent Spiner and I would sit at our consoles on the bridge, and make up lyrics to our show’s theme song. I vaguely recall coming up with some pretty funny and clever stuff, but nothing that held together as perfectly as this, from the weirdos over at meh.com:

via this is brilliant ‚ÄĒ WIL WHEATON dot NET


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Will I never learn? Or “The importance of good gravy”

For those of you who miss my Facebook Lucy-isms since I left FB, I think you’ll really enjoy this post…

I stayed at the Landing (see previous post)¬†for about an hour – until my shaded spot had been hijacked by the sun. On my way home, I stopped in to Canadian Tire (feeling all outdoorsy as I was) and was tempted by a lovely tent that was on sale. It stood at 6’6″ in the centre and slept 6 (ie: 2 comfortably). It had a lovely canopy at the entrance and was 40% off. All wrapped up, it wouldn’t even take up too much space in my storage-roomless condo. I resisted the urge, though, knowing that I wouldn’t actually go camping by myself and nobody here than I know would go with me. All the same, it was fun to snoop around that section and pretend I belonged there!

On my way in, I had¬†noticed a chip truck in the parking lot and decided to check it out before I left – fresh cut fries are a great treat on a beautiful, sunny day! I hadn’t eaten there before so I also got a side of gravy to see what it was like – I do love me some good gravy!

When I got home, I put my bag with my notebook, book, etc. over my shoulder, the container with the fries in my left hand, and the little cup of gravy (filled to the brim and smelling delicious, I happily add) perched on top of the fries container.

Everything was going so well. I balanced it all perfectly going up the steps to my building and when I unlocked and opened the front door. I had no issues on the stairs to my unit or unlocking my door. The steps and stairs made things a little wobbly, as did shifting the keys around at each of the doors. But it was all good.

Honestly, I’m not sure where the problem came into play, but play it did. All of a sudden (you can see where this is going), while I was standing on the flat, stable, tiled floor of my entry way, everything went awry and POOF! the gravy cup tumbled off of the fries container and landed with a splat on the floor. I mentioned I was on stable ground at the time, right? Yup. I was. Maybe I got cocky. I shouldn’t have. This scenario has played itself out multiple times in my life. If you follow me on Instagram (heresmeg1111), you may remember the sour-cream-on-the-kitchen-floor incident of the recent past. Yet, for some reason I continually think that this will be the time that either a) I won’t be clumsy or b) gravity will take pity on me. Alas, ’twas not to be!

In my own defense, though, I will add that when I was getting out of the car I thought for a moment of putting the cup of gravy in my purse, but I remembered one time a couple of years ago when I did that with some pop from McDonald’s because my hands were full with other things. Despite my best efforts, the lid popped off and, well…let’s just say it didn’t work out so well.

Thankfully that memory¬†served me well today and I¬†didn’t put the gravy in my purse. I at least get points for that, right?

Still feeling a smidgen of hope, before the cup hit the floor, I remember thinking that maybe it would be fine. Maybe it would be like that one-in-a-million time when the buttered toast lands buttered-side up. If you’ve been paying attention, though, you’ll remember that¬†I’ve already used the word “splat”¬†and therefore that it was not fine. The lid popped off of one end and the Styrofoam bottom split off from the other. The gravy, thick though it was,¬†splashed out, Jackson Pollock-style¬†on my floor.

I kept my wits about me, though, and managed to salvage the bit that was left in the cup so I could at least taste it.

I needn’t have bothered.

 


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What a day!!

This post is transcribed from what I wrote this earlier this afternoon in my notebook that I keep in my car.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Idyllic setting

A small patch of shade makes it all perfect!

This is where I am writing at the moment – the Jock River Landing. Other than the near-constant drone of traffic on both sides of the river, it is a pretty idyllic spot. Even better, it is only about a five-minute drive from home!

It’s an absolutely stellar day. Not a cloud in the sky, the temperature is only about 25*C and the humidity has seriously dropped off from where it’s been the past few days. There is enough of a breeze to keep the flying, biting critters at bay and to provide some musical backdrop as it rustles through the trees.

It is, in short, a perfect day for me. I’ve even found a lovely little spot in the shade. It’s literally the only shaded spot here¬†that is big and flat enough to fit the chair that isn’t full of tall grass or bushes – it was meant to be!

Since this is, in the very literal sense, a landing, a paddle-boarder (is that what they are called?) is heading in from the Rideau. It would be rude to take a photo from this proximity, so you’ll have to imagine it yourself. I’m sure he’s had a wonderful time out on the river. A few boats – motorized and other – also zoom or float by occasionally.

I should also explain that this spot is where the Jock River meets the Rideau River. The Rideau is the one that I’m looking across in the main image above. This little cove (see below)¬†is the mouth of the Jock, which comes from behind me to the right.

The Jock River comes from the right and empties into the Rideau River, which continues south around the point just left of centre in the photo.

Birds of various sorts are chirping and you certainly don’t need to be an ornithologist to enjoy their chattering songs.

A massive bumble bee just zig-zagged past me. There’s only grass that I can see, though. Not sure that’s any help to him. There are a couple of empty dandelion heads around, with their seeds almost all blown away, and some tall, scraggly white flowers at the left edge of the mouth, but otherwise I don’t see any signs of flowers. However, who am I to say what a bee finds appealing or not? ūüôā

A father and his two young sons just showed up to go fishing. The kids are pretty happy about the prospect. Who can blame them!! I haven’t seen hide nor hair of any fish, though, so I don’t know how successful they’ll be, but when it comes to spending time with your kids and your dad, that’s not really the point, is it?

Well, enough writing! Now to put this away and just enjoy!!