Labour Unrest (Warning: Political Rant to Follow!)

001We’re on strike!

Well not a strike, exactly. I don’t think we’re allowed to do that. It’s a legally sanctioned stage one job action. And it’s very complicated.

We’re not attending any meetings with principals…unless it’s related to student safety, behaviour, custody issues, legal matters, or if the principal is directly involved in providing educational programming to said student.

We’re not doing supervision of students…unless the school is unable to manage providing adequate supervision using only non-BCTF staff.

I think that’s about it.

(We teachers are a tough bunch! Piss us off and we’ll…refuse to read your emails!)

Oh yes, I forgot to mention, we’re not accepting any electronic communications, aka emails, from principals. (That’ll hit ’em where it hurts!)

What are we doing it for? Well a little more money would be nice. (BC teachers are among the lowest paid in the country.) We’re also hoping to restore class size and composition to our collective agreement. These issues were illegally stripped from our contract about ten years ago.

Since then the union and the government have been involved in numerous court battles. The union has won three times, but every time a judge sides in our favour, the government changes a law or two and appeals the ruling.

I don’t know how much they’ve spent on lawyers, but I wish someone would tell them to direct that money into the school system.

$95

004I almost bought a pair of shoes last week: retro style Adidas runners in, wait for it, pink suede! Even my sailor liked them, pronouncing them a perfect match for skinny jeans.

What held me back? The price for one thing. At $95, I wanted to be sure I’d wear them–lots. The style was another stumbling block. Although they were adorable, I’m not a running shoe kind of girl. If they’d been ballet flats or riding boots, I’d have been all over them without a second thought, but runners…

I needed to sleep on this purchase.

At home that evening, I found a similar, though much less cute, pair of runners from when I sprained my foot and needed supportive shoes. Now I only wear them with yoga pants on the days when I really can’t be bothered.

For casual Friday, I wore them with a pair of skinny jeans to try out this look.

All was good until someone commented that I looked like I was heading off for a run. I was rushing out the door at the time and assumed the comment was directed at my fast pace and not my footwear.

Later, another coworker greeted me. “Hey, it’s Sporty Spice!”

This deserved a snappy comeback. The best I could do was, “Umm.”

As so often happens, hours later I came up with perfect response: “Thanks for saving me $95 plus tax!”

The Lady of Wolfthorn Hall

013I’m late to the party, but I’ve finally arrived!

The Game of Thrones party, that is.

Sure, I’d heard the buzz around this throney drama, but I was too busy catching up on Breaking Bad, Rome and The Walking Dead to start another show. This week, my sailor convinced me to give Thrones a try.

Let me tell you, after binge watching season one, I get why it’s so popular and all the cool kids are fans.

The allure of Game of Thrones goes deeper than its compelling plot. Game of Thrones is the first show I’ve ever watched where my life imitated art. (A good thing considering my other favourites feature insatiable zombies and violent meth cooks.)

No, I didn’t start receiving messages via raven instead of email. I ran out of deodorant on Sunday.

I had to use my sailor’s Old Spice. I expected I’d smell like a pirate until I read the scent name: Wolfthorn–ooh!

Forget pirates. Wolfthorn could be a Game of Thrones location. (It’s left of Winterfell and south of Kings Landing.) There’s even a crest on the label–two animals (wolves?) cuddled up, paws entwined. If I was a princess, I’d want a crest like that, except with Chihuahuas instead of wolves.

I looked forward to smelling slightly earthy with a hint of wood smoke and notes of leather and hay. How exciting! I would smell like a knight!

Surprisingly, Wolfthorn is crisp and lemony. It’s almost as fresh and pretty as my usual green tea and cucumber deodorant.

Who knew all those rugged knights smelled like girls?

Highlights of Easter Weekend 2014

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4. The pitter patter of little…paws! Our nephews in Ontario adopted a dog this weekend. We haven't met her yet, but she looks awfully cute on Facebook. She, along with our adorable puppy-in-law in Alberta, brings the total of family pooches we have yet to meet up to two. Although I get car sick, I'm thinking a road trip this summer would be a great opportunity to meet these two cuties.

3. Cherry blossoms and ocean views. Every year we go to the Wardroom for Easter brunch. Even though the weather was drizzly and blah, the views from our table were spectacular. (In addition to the dashing uniforms the Navy's ocean front venues are a bonus that other branches of the military just can't match.) The eraser pink cherry blossoms in the parking lot were pretty special, too.

2. Nothing says Easter weekend like martial arts! Okay, it's not quite Easter news, but my boy had a Tae Kwon Do test on Thursday night. I'm not allowed to stay and watch because my (surprisingly loud) gasps distract him while he's sparring. So while, I can't speak about his technique, I can share that he passed to the next belt level and I couldn't be more proud.

1. I resisted the urge to eat any of my boy's Easter chocolates in the weeks leading up the big day! Because the Easter Bunny is a very busy rodent at this time of year, he foolishly delivered my boy's chocolates before Easter. I found a boy-proof hiding spot and avoided scarfing any of them down myself. In case, you're not suitably impressed by this feat of willpower and good motherhood, know that the Easter Bunny provided delicious Rogers' Chocolates this year. That's right–I had a selection of Rogers' Chocolate eggs and bunnies in my kitchen for over a week and didn't touch them. Sometimes I impress myself.

Amazing Military Family!!!

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We still haven’t found renters for the new place. The agency rep assures us he has a few possibilities and will forward an application any day now.

This is good enough for my sailor, who weirdly never ruminates over worst case scenarios. (Apparently, this is the special talent I bring to the marriage.)

In order to feel pro-active without actually contributing to the situation, I surfed kijiji, used Victoria and craigslist to see what the competition looks like. I’m biased, but I think our house with its water views and peaceful location beats all the other rentals on the market. (If this house was someone’s dad, it could beat up all the other dads, no problem!)

As well as rental properties, I found ads from wannabe renters. One ad resonated with me: Amazing Military Family seeks three-bedroom home for July.

You may be skeptical as to their actual level of amazingness, but based on their ad, I can vouch for their awesomeness.

They have two children who are “assets to any neighbourhood,” two loveable cats and a gorgeous well-behaved golden retriever (I know this because they posted his photo and resume: graduated top of his class from Friendly Fido Obedience School). Their full package of wonderful is completed by a dashing sailor and a devoted mom.

They out perform us in every area: more children, more and better pets and definitely more oomph and enthusiasm.

I showed the ad to my sailor.

“Why can’t we be an Amazing Military Family?”

“We are,” he said. “We are.”

Could he be right?

Well, we have an astro turf basement. That’s pretty amazing. Actually I think (hope) the bright green floor covering is underlay. It doesn’t look much like the carpet I picked out, but who knows? Every day when we get home, workers have done something new to our basement.

We have one super duper boy. I’m not sure if he’s an asset to the neighbourhood, but I’m certain he’s not a deficit.

And the dog? One emotionally needy Chihuahua who has never taken a class, but wags her tail so fast when she welcomes us home it starts her entire body vibrating. Now that’s amazing!

Superstitious Minds

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I’ve just finished binge watching the BBC miniseries, Rome.

I won’t spoil the ending for those who haven’t seen it and don’t know their history or their Shakespeare. All I’ll say is that I was pretty sad when Octavian’s forces defeated Mark Antony’s army prompting Antony to commit suicide.

As well an engaging story line filled with legions of attractive men in uniform, Rome offers glimpses into ancient Roman life. I particularly enjoyed scenes like the one where Vorenus damns his family to Hades. Vorenus immediately regrets this rash action. His brother in arms, Pullo offers reassurance. As long as an animal wasn’t killed on the curse, it can be reversed. (Duh–everybody knows a curse doesn’t “take” unless you make a sacrifice to it. Why was Vorenus so worried?)

I admit to feeling a bit smug watching too grown men worrying over the power of a curse. These are clearly characters living in an unenlightened age before scientific discovery and universal access to education. Of course they rely on superstition to explain the mysteries of their world.

Then my sailor and I went grocery shopping. Loading our stuff in the back of the truck, a box of tissues fell out of a bag.

I noticed the picture on the side of the box.

“Oh my Gosh! I have to exchange these tissues!”

“Why?”

“There’s birds on the box!”

My sailor looked at me with raised eyebrows.

“Duh–everybody knows images of birds are bad luck.”

He groaned. He may have even looked a little smug. “You’ll be in line for ages. It’s really busy.”

“Fine.” I climbed in the truck. “We’ll risk taking them home.”

It should be okay since we haven’t sacrificed an animal.

Alert Ref: 350722382377

Oh. My. Gosh!!!

Banking threats abound!

I have been contacted by the folks at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).

“Dear

We have recently enhance the security for the CIBC online account management system. As a result of these recent enhancement, your CIBC online account was deactived for an 30 day after that is removed from the system. You have to confirm the reactivation of the CIBC online account by filling out the form below. If you receive this e-mail and do you NOT Re(Activate), you are fully responsible for the activity of the account.

Kind Regards, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce”

I think it might be a scam. You see, I do not and have never had a CIBC account.

While I have no experience with CIBC (never having banked with them), I have a feeling any legitimate communication from them might be more, well, grammatically correct.

Most people are probably too sophisticated to respond to messages like this by sending detailed financial information, but each of these scams makes our world a little less trusting and a touch more suspicious.

It’s the Nigerian princes for whom I feel the most sorry. Thanks to scams like this, everyone deletes their emails.

Belly on up to the Bar

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I’ve found another series to binge watch while I wait for season 4 of The Walking Dead to come out on DVD. It’s Rome and it’s fabulous! There are only two seasons, but they’re long. (Did I mention it’s fabulous?)

Unfortunately, devoting a couple of hours a day to Rome-ing means other things get neglected–namely baking.

It was time to make cookies so I devised a plan to streamline the process: bars! Think of the time saved if instead of individually forming three dozen little cookies I just squished all the dough into a pan, baked it and cut it into perfect, crumbly bars when cool.

It seemed like a good idea until I turned the cooled pan over the cutting board and smacked it to loosen the giant cookie rectangle. Part came out according to plan, but lots didn’t. Since it’s the cook’s prerogative to eat everything that’s not quite perfect, I scarfed down all the broken bits even though I wasn’t hungry.

Bloated and sluggish, I still had to clean up the kitchen which was covered in sticky crumbs from my wrestling match with the cookie mass.

The good news? After presenting the family with these unpleasant bars, no one will be asking me to bake anytime soon. Oh, and now I can get back to Vorenus and the gang!

Stephen Harper’s Revenge

003To anyone affiliated with Canada Customs: The events described in this post are fictional. None of this ever happened. It’s an imaginary story. I made it up. As a matter of fact, the characters in this post are make believe, too. Any resemblance to me or my friend D is purely coincidental.

Returning from our recent shopping day in Washington, D and I got held up in a two-hour line. When it was finally our turn to be grilled by the border guard before being allowed return to our home country, D flashed her brightest smile. (She hates paying duty.)

“Anything to declare, ladies?”

This was going to be easy: just a couple of dresses for D and my handbag…oh, and two boxes of wine we got at Target.

“Two boxes of wine?” Suddenly, the guard was like a pig who’s just discovered the mother lode of truffles. “How big are these boxes of wine?”

“Not very big,” said D. “Each holds the equivalent of one bottle.”

“Really?”

Not really! Hers was a jumbo sized box that held FOUR 750 mL bottles. Mine was a cute little wine cube that held TWO bottles. Together we were smuggling the equivalent of six bottles of wine. I think the limit for a trip under twenty-four hours is, like, zero.

“Really! They’re just teeny one-bottle boxes, right, Nanette?”

“Mmm hmm.” I couldn’t meet his eyes. Would we do hard time for lying to a border guard?

“Since it’s only one bottle a piece, you can go through.”

D rolled up her window and put the pedal to the metal.

Once we were safely out of official earshot my normally law abiding friend laughed, “No duty for us! Screw you, Stephen Harper!”

This was an image upon which I preferred not to dwell.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I finally cracked my oh so cheap, duty free box of American wine. It was harsh and acidic and tasted more than a little off.

But it was the only wine in the house, so I drank a glass anyway.

I spent the rest of the night awake, straddling the miserable cusp where nausea meets a pounding headache.

Ugh! I’ve got Stephen Harper’s revenge.