Category Archives: Thought for the Day

Is It Worth the Energy?

I’m entirely convinced there’s a freckle-faced bureaucrat with two fingers up a nostril trying to navigate the stray hairs while sitting at his mahogany desk somewhere in the non-Blogosphere wondering how he can hoodwink us all into thinking we’re bettering the environment and our wallets at the same time, while accomplishing little in the way of energy reduction. (Run-on sentence much? I don’t care, it still bothers me.)

Aye, it was me. And I’m bitter.

They get television personalities like HGTV’s Carter Oosterhouse to break in-between segments bursting with smarm and a head full of curls, willing us to unplug things around our home to help save us another 40% on our energy bills. Anyone that knows me also knows I’ve never been one to leave a stray light on or use electricity with flamboyant, reckless abandonment. My Mum would always get at us for walking away leaving lights on in our pathway of destruction and I soon learned to flick it off or hear the wrath of it with the words ‘Blackpool Illuminations’ thrown in there somewhere for good measure.

Like any good mother, I have passed on the heaving neurosis to my oldest, who undoubtedly will pass it to his sibling and save me the bother. (I’m all about saving any kind of energy, really.) So like any self-respecting lecky-thrift, I went to task unplugging items I don’t use on a regular basis, and waited. And waited. It was pre- air conditioner weather and post- heavy furnace usage weather – a prime time, or so I thought. Imagine my horror when we hadn’t SAVED money, but actually USED a whole extra dollar! I felt violated!

Undeterred, I went about with new faith before our impending trip to Scotland literally oozing with glee that my efforts then would not go unnoticed when the financial docket slipped into our box. We were gone from 10 March — 03 April. Exactly three weeks. I unplugged EVERYTHING except the DVR, the fridge and the stand-alone freezer in our garage. We also turned the thermostat of our (natural gas) furnace down to 50ºF. And as a courtesy, you may like to know our cooker/stove is gas also. Now, it should be noted that our expenses for an average billing cycle is around $135-ish. Imagine my utter disgust when we received our new bill the end of April and it was a whopping $100 for the previous cycle. So basically, a week’s worth of usage.

We paid it, and I thought about it from time to time, but in the back of my mind, if the truth be told, I quietly hoped there had been a calculation error, despite knowing full well the metres are read remotely from the comfort and safety of their wee swanky vans. Months past and my curiosity couldn’t take it anymore. I picked up the phone and dialled.

“I just have a random question and I should have phoned you 4 months ago about this…”

She chortled. “OK, how can I help you?”

“My family and I were out of the country from hence to thence and I unplugged everything we absolutely didn’t need to have plugged in … our furnace is gas. Yes, the stove is gas too.”

“For that time period, it does show a dip in the kilowatt usage–”

“Yes, but not as much as I would have thought, I don’t understand it. We weren’t home at all…”

“Even if you unplug things, there is still electricity running through your home.”

“OK, that makes sense (but I was quietly cursing Carter Oosterhouse’s name). We’re leaving for a trip again next month, what can we do to minimise the cost? Do you have any suggestions?”

“The only thing you can do to bring down your energy costs while you are gone is to switch off the breakers for the rooms you don’t need power to.”

So, you heard it from me first everybody, flick the main switches, go live with the Amish and save a pretty bundle. I’ll still be flicking lights off right behind people as they leave a room and ticking them off, but maybe from now on I’ll flick them with my fingers instead.


Scrolling Saturdays – A Post From the Past

This post was sitting in my Drafts and I completely spaced it.

The idea behind Scrolling Saturdays is to post something from your archives, from when you perhaps had a smaller readership. My blog was just four months old at the time; this post I wrote two days after my husband’s birthday. It gleaned 24 comments at the time. Woot woot.

03 November, 2005 – “That Man”

I’m in a reflective mindset again. Whatever the reason, I can’t help but marvel at the fact that I have a wonderful husband. It was his birthday on Tuesday (tchoosday), and throughout this week, I have been reflectively contemplating him: his character, his strengths, his mannerisms. Him.

First and foremost, I’m grateful to his mother for raising him the way she did. I have a wonderful man at my side because of it.

I often wonder if most would pass by Bryan without a second glance, unaware of how remarkable he really is.

He has such strength of character and a strong resolution to always do the right thing. He’s smart. He’s funny, mostly without trying. He has been through a lot in his life, and in spite of it, has become a better person for it. He commands a quiet attention when he publicly speaks or teaches a group. He puts others’ needs first before his own and includes everyone. Despite his incessant teasing, he has a love for everyone and shows it in his actions. He is a natural-born mediator and is at his best when he is resolving concerns and situations. He has an incredible ability to draw others to him, and because of that, people confide in him a lot. He isn’t afraid to try something new, or take risks. He has a very sensitive (and kind) heart. He is by all means the definition of complete selflessness. He is always looking to improve his surroundings and is never short of a new well-thought-out idea. He was born to sell anything to anyone, and by his own admission could “sell ice cubes to Eskimos.” He loves me completely, for who I am and what I can become. He never tires to please me or make me feel wanted and appreciated. He really is the one person that understands me completely. He is my husband … and he has no idea how important he is.

Makes Scents

Disclaimer: This one is long-winded wordy. Bear with me.

There are few things in life that spark a tangible memory, a feeling or deep-rooted emotions–something that whisks us back in time filled with intrigue and curiosity. One – which I’ve mentioned before – is music; the other (and arguably much more intense) is a scent.

It’s amazing how just a slight fragrance of something can transport us to a time we thought we had long forgotten or buried in our past: a person, a place or a product (ahem–unintended alliteration). We’re hurtled away beyond our control where our capture is not content to stop quietly at contenting us with a vague memory.

I experienced this five months ago after we visited a British import store (not in MT, unfortunately) and I bought my husband and brother-in-law some Irn Bru. Irn Bru is a soft drink made solely in Scotland concocted in 1901, and it is the only red-headed pubescent schoolboy-coloured drink in the world that outsells Coke (I wonder if that ticks them off no end?). For years it was only available in Scotland, but can now, in the last decade or more, be bought in the rest of the UK, Australia, (sparsely in the US) and the Soviet Republic (don’t ask).

I stopped drinking my caffeinated beverage of choice – Dr. Pepper – when I became pregnant with Ian, I decided to make the change, no one asked me to. And anyway, I soon noticed that if I didn’t have one every day, I’d experience excruciating headaches – as close to migraines as I cared to get.

I didn’t buy one for myself, but opted for Ginger Beer (and definitely not alike to it’s North American cousin, Ginger Ale. This ginger drink has “chungas”) and happily chugged it, burning the tender lining of my esophagus and nether regions.

On returning to my mother-in-law’s place, I opened up my brother-in-law’s bottle and took a sniff. I was suddenly standing in my Mum’s living room, loitering right next to her chair. It threw me for six. Mum drinks it like it’s going out of fashion, and for a brief moment, I’d forgotten that. Home sickness, a longing, emptiness–whatever you want to call it, swept over me like a cold unwanted blanket. Silent tears fell and I realised how much I missed my family, and how guarded and reticent I’d let myself become.

Similar instances of this have occurred since then, but this one I find much more intriguing. It happens every time I walk through the heavy mental doors leading to Ian’s pre-school class. I don’t know what it is: it might be the art supplies, kid friendly glue or the disinfectant floor cleaner. There is something innately familiar (and comforting) about the smell, and it smells just like my pre-school did way back when. I pause as I walk in and take a deep breath, soaking in all the care-free, clay molding, easel painting innocence.

I recently sat in on the class and helped out with their craft project (she made it look like helping her was my idea, I was impressed, but really, I wanted to help). They’d pre-painted some paper plates brown and were going to put monkey faces on them. The other teacher was gone for the day and had remarked how she’d completed the homework only to find it chewed by the dog the following morning.

I sat and made a template on deep cream (construction) paper with a large oval disc, adding two small circle discs to the top, slightly joining. I then preceded to cut out eight of these for the class. Following that, I cut sixteen brown ears adding a straight edge and sixteen circle inside parts in deep cream. As I neared the competition of the last ears the teacher said, “Do you have a template I could copy?” “Yeah, I have it right here.” “OK good, I need to make some for the afternoon class later–” “I can do it, how many more do you need?” “Oh, another eight.”

I enjoy walking into the world of a pre-schooler where life is simpler and familiar. Despite the struggles I have trying to reason and explain motives and actions with Ian, I am careful to take the time to enjoy it. I know all too soon, it will be gone in an instant with only a faint memory to draw on.

Suffering Succotash

It’s come around all too fast again.  I’m left feeling empty, alone and down right bored.  The house seems to echo with the quietness reverberating off every wall, even though the boys are playing happily.  It gets worse when it’s dinner time, no one to bother feeding but me (Ian rarely eats what I put in front of him).  What’s the point of making the effort?  When next Saturday rolls around, the clock will tick again–until then, everything’s still and quiet.

Any time Bryan and I are apart, I worry enough for three women.  I always dread something bad is going to happen because we’re not together, like that would somehow prevent a tragedy.

He’s in Quebec as we speak at the Company’s Canadian site, taunting me with finding a Curry House and showing me the bill.  I wonder what nicety he’ll bring me home…until then, I’ll scuff my feet and sigh loudly.

Not a Dr. Seuss Book

I was going to touch on another subject tonight, but have decided to postpone it until I air out my brain on this one.

Bryan educated me tonight on a new phrase, acronym, if you will:  DINK.  For those feeling left out, you may be able to refer to yourself as a SINK, if it applies.  So, are you wondering what a DINK is?  (I’ll pretend you said “yes” here.)

DINK is Double Income No Kids.
SINK is Single Income No Kids.

I know that rearing children shouldn’t be delved into blindly or taken lightly, there are responsibilities to fulfill and sacrifices to make in every aspect of your new life with a little one around.  But I can’t help but feel saddened and discombobulated, empty even, that someone took the effort to coin this phrase.

Bryan and I would definitely be in better standing financially and have unrivaled security for our futures if we had decided to take our lives down a different pathway.  However, I just can’t imagine not having the boys in my life.  It brings tears to my eyes just thinking of it.  My children love me unconditionally, and hopefully always will, and they bring me so much joy and happiness.  I know I couldn’t find anything close to it elsewhere in life.  No amount of toys or possessions could make me want to revert to a life without them, and I know unequivocally that if I had the chance to go back and make the decision again, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

There were quite a few consecutive months in Layton, Utah where we could barely make ends meet, and quite frankly, sometimes we didn’t.  We had our two credit cards paid down to a very enviable amount, and they soon were going in reverse at an alarming rate — just to put food on the table.  We didn’t go out to eat, not even McDonald’s, we didn’t have a “date night” or see movies, we couldn’t rent any, not even for a dollar at McDonalds’ Red Box.  No amount of clothing was purchased, in fact, when Ian was about 9 months old he maybe had around 14 pieces of clothing total.  We just had to make do.  I had to de-snob and buy store-brand items, I even grew my hair out, just to save $22 every six weeks.  Life wasn’t easy, and sometimes barely manageable, but we survived through it.  To add to the equation, there were the work allegations and threatenings of dismissal, which ironically coincided to-the-very-day with the new pregnancy.

The offer of the new position with a different company was definitely a shock to the system.  Things would be changing, and fast!  The interview took place on 24th July 2006, and by 20th September, we had signed the papers on our new home in Montana.

I sincerely doubt that Bryan’s career circumstances would have been different in Utah, but I know that he and I would have been making a considerable amount of money.  We would have been driving newer cars and owned the things we needed in life (like a new couch), but things don’t really matter to me.  We have two beautiful sons who delight and amaze us every day.  Just tonight in the SUV heading home, Ian was asking to go back to “the hallway”.  It took Bryan a minute but he mumbled to me, “I think he means the Mall.”  It’s amazing how little minds work.  And after we got home, I held Cameron at eye level with the bird (a cockatiel).  A huge smile spread over his face and he breathed excitedly, then out of the blue he said, “Dee-dee!”

A plasma telly would be nice, but would it make me squeal with delight, bring tears to my eyes AND fill me brimming with pride like this did to me?  I doubt it.  People have their reasons for opting not to bring children into their lives, and I respect that, but I know I wouldn’t change a thing.  I’d rather be SIK any day.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I like to think of music as being a warm blanket around your soul. It’s an extremely powerful medium and can evoke many different feelings and emotions. It possesses an inherent ability to both entertain and heal, all with the touch of a button; many times pulling us back to a fond memory – or as the case may be, not so fond and down right unwanted.

It can whisk you back like a time machine to a milestone in your life, bringing with it those thoughts and feelings that made your day so memorable. It can also provoke feelings of contempt or sorrow, rewinding the years to a time where the less time spent meandering down memory lane the better.

Music is also a great tool in teaching, and can oftentimes project a message with more eloquence and vigor than the most gifted of tutors.

I have always had a great love for many different genres of music. Some I have admittedly learned to tolerate, albeit badly.

Some of my favourite pieces of music are found more prevalently during this time of year. More recently, I have grown to have a greater appreciation for all types of Christmas music: the quiet reverence, the wool-blanket-and-cocoa, or the jolly holidays types. Some of my favourites include: “Pie Jesu”, “O Holy Night”, Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar-plum Fairy” and intriguingly, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

However, as with everything in life, there are equal and opposite reactions. Here are but a few of the musical epitaphs that typically make me want to rip my ears off so that I’ll have something to pound the life out of my speakers with:

“Hey Santa!” – Carnie and Wendy Wilson
“Feliz Navidad” – José Feliciano
“Christmas Shoes” – New Song

Honourable mentions:

Anything by Karen Carpenter.
The line: ‘Christmas comes this time each year … ‘ (no frickin’ kiddin’ Sherlock) from “Merry Christmas, Baby” by The Beach Boys.

Which holiday songs both delight and disgust you? I’m interested to know …

Help I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up

I’ve cornered myself into a self-made trap.  Okay, it wasn’t all self-made, but still, I pretty much allowed it.

In September, a good friend of mine invited me over for a night with the girls.  Not just any ordinary night, though.  No.  A Pampered Chef fancy pants night.

Ten years ago, you could safely say I didn’t know much (okay, anything) about Pampered Chef.  A friend of mine bought me a Cookie Press about seven years ago, which, admittedly, I still haven’t used.  I looked the company up online and browsed through their products, that was about it.  Then five years later, I went to a party and checked out their regalia in the catalogue and became a total skeptic.  I saw the prices and my jaw dropped.

So, I’m sitting next to a dear friend of mine, Diane, an older lady with a sweet heart and an engaging personality.  Since moving here just over a year ago, I have lynched on to a few select people.  The type of people you just mesh with right off the bat.  The ones who let you be your complete self.  She was one of them.  I had heard her talk in front of a crowd a few times and I was just drawn to her.  Her experiences and trials just amazed me.  She had that way of making you laugh and cry all in the same instance.

The first time I chatted with her, I knew she had been one of those women who’d been hardened by life experiences – I was a small reflection of her when I was younger.  I think that was the reason I looked up to her so much.  She was my Gran to me, and I just adored that woman.  I looked on her that way anyway and she knows it (she’s since moved away and I’m still pretty cut up about it).  Anyway, we got quietly chatting and I asked her opinion on a few of the things in the catalogue.  I knew she’d give me a straight answer and would tell me if I was wasting my money or not.  She’s the type of woman that has seen a lot and been through so much that you just instantly trust and respect their opinion.  So I did.  Then I ordered a few things and filled out one of those gimmick cards to enter the instant drawing.

Would you be interested in hosting a Show?  Yes.  No.  Maybe.

Being the indecisive person that I can be on occasion, I marked “maybe”.  I didn’t feel like committing to anything, but the thought of having people over and entertaining, intrigued me.  Inevitably, the consultant talked me into it.  A month and a half later (15 Oct), I hosted my show.  I was fairly nervous leading up to it.  In the six-and-a-half years Bryan and I have been married, I’ve never once entertained for a crowd of non-relatives.  I really had a great time.  Sixteen people came and a few others dropped by and some ordered online or over the phone.  It was really quite successful, but to be truthful, I didn’t do it for the kickback, I did it for the social side of it.  Despite that, I got a really nice return on it and picked out quite a few free products, so I was really happy.

Another friend of mine from the previous party hosted too.  Hers was on Thursday.  She came to mine, so I went to hers.  You know that one.  A neighbour of mine who was at my party received a lot of P.C. items as wedding gifts, so she was all over the idea of hosting too.  So, guess where I’m headed 12th December?  Yeah.  Up the street.

I have a feeling the cycle’s going to keep going and I’ll be doing this for the next few months.  If I do keep it up though, the consultant will start using her Jedi mind tricks on me, and I’m pretty sure Life Alert will drop kick me for paging them for that.

Ten Things I Never Thought I’d Hear Myself Say

 1.  “I think for our next house, we should build it out where there’s not so many other homes around us, secluded a bit more, you know?”
2.  “Ian, close the front door, birdie will fly out and the hawks’ll get him.”
3.  “When I was feeding Cameron this morning at 5 a.m., there was an owl on our roof hooting.”
4.  “I can’t believe those guys are poaching deer so close to our house.”
5.  “A bald eagle just flew over our car!”
6.  “It’s quiet and peaceful here, I’m actually starting to enjoy it, in spite of myself.”
7.  “It’s weird to see buffalo in a field next to I-93 on the way to Missoula.”
8.  “I never knew what dark was until I moved here.  Look at all those stars!  I think I can see every constellation.  If you relax your eyes you can see the Milky Way too.”
9.  “What’s the point of going camping?  We’re already there!”
10. “I can’t sleep, it’s too quiet here.”

Were You Reading That?

I really feel the need to read lately. No rhyming pun intended. I don’t know if it’s a form of escapism, or a quest for intelligent and thought-provoking literature, but I really want to. I’ve never made enough time in my life to read, but I’ve always enjoyed it.
I love the descriptive imagery and character depth that J.K. Rowling gives to her books and have enjoyed reading those these past few years. I suppose you could say I have “book commital issues.” Am I fearing that if I read a book and get part way through it that I’ll only be disappointed? Perhaps.
My current venture is to find out all I can on the developmental and behavioural characteristics of a 13½-month-old. Apparently landing full force onto your head after wrestling with a side table and tumbling backwards from a loveseat is not presidence enough to stop. This is merely an indication to the young undeveloped brain that more practise is required to master the feat and maintain a dominion over inanimate objects.
Websites like babycenter advise “take your child to the park” as some sort of solution or remedy. Hmm, yes, why don’t you take him Mr. Babycenter, it’s 95 degrees outside and I’m from Scotland where a good day is white cloud cover and a max temp of 70, two weeks in July.
Anyway, I seem to have been side-tracked. Ah yes, books. Any suggestions? Perhaps I will re-read Adrian Mole. I wonder if our archaic library has such books. We’ll see.

Things I Miss From the UK

  • ten pence mixtures
  • corner shops
  • chips and gravy
  • being able to walk somewhere
  • sausage rolls
  • the coast
  • not having to spell my name (at least in the last 5 years BEFORE I left)
  • bagpuss
  • sausage supper
  • slice aka square sausage
  • any kind of sausage really
  • safeway
  • newsagents
  • potato scones
  • potato waffles
  • hp brown sauce
  • heinz soups
  • cornish pasties
  • the wombles
  • wellies
  • tizer
  • tesco cheese aisle
  • french fancies
  • red amber green amber red
  • crusty rolls
  • bacon sarnie
  • top 40 singles
  • rain, sometimes
  • no chance of watching someone run a red light
  • knowing what the name of a cut of beef is
  • teletext
  • british tv
  • jam doughnuts
  • real hot cross buns
  • singing a nursery rhyme without changing the words
  • lilt
  • “at the third stroke, the time sponsored by Accurist will be…”
  • devonshire custard
  • hearing people say Worcestershire properly