Wednesday, December 31, 2008

You know its meant to be, when....

I don't often brave the boxing day crowd - unless I just want the challenge and excitement. I always say that I don't need to save a hundred bucks that badly.

About 2 pm on Dec 26 Alb suggested we face the Futureshop mob. I already knew I was getting a new HDTV and HD PVR for my birthday. We could see from our driveway that the Costco parking lot was full from Futureshop's overflow parking. But since it is only a few blocks away, there was no harm in going "just to see" how bad it really was.

We pulled into the parking lot and immediately found a close end spot to park in. We marched with dozens of others through the double glass doors and were met with wall-to-wall people inside. I knew there was no way I was going to stand in that line up that weaved its way half way through the store. But since we were there, we may as well inch and pry our way through the throngs to the TV department.

Of course the one I wanted had no price label on the shelf. Nathan just happened to be standing nearby and was just finishing up with someone. I asked a couple of questions and confirmed the price. It seemed as if I was in the middle of conversation with the young lad and he just walked away.

I thought, "Nathan, you little ...... Get back here, I'm not finished." I barely had time to decide that Boxing Day was not a good idea and Nathan re-appeared with a 32" TV in hand and set it at my feet. He climbed the ladder and got a Bell PVR from the rafters above, and pointed out cables to Albert and then followed me to suggest the correct wall mount.

Before I knew it he had his computer at the back all fired up and I was swiping my bank card.

I don't think eleven minutes had passed from the time we pulled out of the driveway at home until we were climbing back in the truck with a mountain of boxes.

I know Boxing Day is the absolute worst day of the year to try to contact Bell for anything, but I dialed the number to get into queue while Alb finished hooking up wires and switches. Of course I got the same message I have recieved every single time I have called Bell in the last seven years, "We are currently recieving a higher than normal volume of calls..." I'd like to know just what they consider normal because I've never not gotten that message.

I tucked the phone into the crook of my neck and set to doing other things, anticipating a 45 minute wait. About 10 seconds later an english speaking person greeted me and offered to help. I was totally caught off guard and had to scramble to actually get things set up.

And it was just that simple. It was almost disappointing.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Who wants to know my PIN?

Here's a blog I wrote on December 10th. For obvious reasons, I was unable to publish it at the time:

Last year I planned to buy all my children a Wii for Christmas. Simple and sure to please. Not. I'm sure they would have been pleased, but simple it was not. Due to brilliantly successful marketing, people had to be willing to stand in line most of the night in order to score one. I wasn't willing. The kids got socks.

Once again this year I planned to buy 2 Wii's for my away-from-home children. (Jed uses mine, and I had other plans for him this year.) After my simple and successful procuring of my own Wii and Wii Fit (see my bog entries in October) I thought once again I was on to something simple, brilliant and sure to please. I saw them on in October, but since I was off work and it was a bit early to finish my Christmas shopping I decided I wouldn't order them just yet.

Bad decision. Nintendo's marketing is proving brilliant; even after more than three years on the market it's one of the most sought after items. I am absolutely certain there are hundreds of thousands of these gaming devices sitting in warehouses somewhere between here and China but releasing only limited numbers each week has managed to maintain the "gotta have" attitude in a substantial number of North Americans, myself included.

I have spent the last 6 weeks phoning Walmart in the middle of the night and Superstore at opening at 7am. The answer to my question, "Do you have any Wii consoles?" is always either a flat out, "No." or "Try next Saturday."

One morning at 7:01AM the Superstore clerk said, "Yes!" My heart leaped with joy until he followed it up with, "But don't bother getting dressed because my line-up is longer than the number of Wii's I got in."

I decided then that I would just use my usual trick of "psyche boxes" this year at Christmas. My kids have learned to never get excited when they open a present and see the box because I often wrap things inside "psyche boxes" to psyche them out. It's a cheap thrill I know, but I still love it every time. I thought I'd just use my empty Wii and Wii Fit boxes and tuck socks or chocolates or something inside, along with some cash, and tell the kids they could do their own shopping in January or February.

Wednesday is "run around" day for me. It's my day off and I always have a gazillion things to do. Today was no different. About noon I was heading towards the grocery store but decided to just drive on by and go home to unload my car and make some lunch - I have to think that God was choosing to bless me this day and manipulated my thoughts and plans.

I went home and didn't arrive at Superstore until after 2 o'clock. As I passed the electronics department, out of habit I glanced at the shelves behind the counter. I spied a Wii! I could hardly contain myself as I pulled into the line behind 2 elderly women, praying and hoping all the while that neither of them was there for my Wii. They were both developing films. (Truly I didn't realize people still did that, but I blessed them all the same.)

It was my turn and I pointed and sputtered out, "I'll take that Wii." The girl reached down into a box at her feet and set one on the counter.

"You have more? I want two." By this point I was nearly peeing my pants with uncontained excitement.

"Sorry, I can only sell you one," she responded.

Meanwhile the other clerk behind the counter announces in a loud voice, "We put these out at 2 and the Wii's are nearly gone. Only 5 left."

"Shut up!" I thought. "There's no need to announce it to everyone that you have them."

Then I b-lined for the aisles. I have never been in Superstore and not run into at least one person I know. I'll find someone I know and hand them my bank card and beg them to run to the electronics department for me. Oh what glee I felt as I raced up and down the aisles in search of a recognizable face. Twice I circled the store and found no one. No one!

I even started to look into the eyes of complete strangers trying to determine if I could trust them enough to hand them my bank card and PIN number. Seriously. I did. But then I held myself in check and calmed down. I could just go with my original psyche plan for one of the kids. (at that point I wasn't willing to decide which one would have to wait)

I began my regular grocery shopping but my mind wasn't really on it and my eye was still glancing about for someone I know. Then I spied Lori from church. The poor woman. I basically bowled her over while I shoved my bank card in her face while chanting my PIN number. And off she ran.

About 15 minutes had passed since I had made my purchase. I stood around the corner and waited without a lot of hope for Lori to return. She emerged and triumphantly held up the bag saying, "I got the last one!"

Not only had I managed to score my sought after Wii's, I got coupons for free turkeys along with them. I danced my way through the rest of my shopping not really considering the fact that I had just spent nearly a thousand dollars in a grocery store. All I could think was, Thank you Jesus... and happy birthday.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from the A&L Ziemer household.

Ah Christmas! The wonderful time of year when we take time to reflect on the goodness and love of Our Father who saw fit to bless us with a saviour - a means of reconciliation with Him.

And of course it’s that time of year when we also reflect on our own lives as we consider the events of this year that is now closing and look forward with anticipation to the coming year. It also is the time of year when we feel the urge to bombard our friends and family with the fluffy details of those events. And thus, here is your annual update on the inner workings of the Albert and Liana Ziemer family.

What year 2008 has proven to be. (I believe I started last year’s letter much the same way.)

A few days into January Ken and Jade unexpectedly moved into our house for about two months. With Jed back living with us, this created a crowded nest but it was a great opportunity to really get to know Jade.

Meanwhile we were trying to make some decisions as to Jed’s long term living situation.

In February we purchased a small 2 bedroom home down the street from us and after a few renovation adventures, Ken and Jade moved into it.

March was filled with blessings. We thank God for the government grant we received that would allow us to convert our open basement into a suite for Jed. While it was an adventure of hoop jumping and paper filing and a bit labour intensive for Albert and his trusty sidekick, Jim, Jed moved into a great little suite in November. It’s complete with his own kitchen and laundry facilities. An added bonus is the small addition for his entrance has expanded my dining area upstairs and created the need for new siding. Yay! I finally got my moss green house. God is good.

Ken bought Jade a diamond ring for her birthday in March and quickly plans for a July wedding began to unfold. They also set to work on turning us into grand parents and by the end of May we knew that we will able to cuddle the little bundle of joy sometime around February 23rd which is Great Grandpa Z’s birthday.

My event-filled life began to catch up with me, and in May I ended up on high blood pressure medication. I find taking one little brown pill each morning to be an easier alternative to losing weight and cutting salt, wine and stress from my diet. Of course in the process of being put on medications for life, one must endure routine health checks and tests and I was scheduled for my first ever mammogram in August.

In July we were blessed with absolutely perfect weather for Ken and Jade’s medieval wedding. I am probably marginally biased, but that wedding was the party of the decade. My condolences if you missed it. And if you were there, thank you for participating with us. Most guests were dressed in appropriate attire and the wedding party looked spectacular. It was a great casual yet organized celebration that lasted the full weekend.

In August, Brandi and Kore bought a nice end unit townhouse in Kamloops and both started new jobs that are working out well for them. It’s nice having them a little closer and easier to visit - although I may never get back to Ikea and the Olive Garden again now that they are no longer in Vancouver.

My August mammogram showed a small lump in my left breast. This was surgically removed in October. When it was confirmed cancerous, the surgeon went back in two weeks later and did a wider excision to make sure all offending tissue was removed. Because of such early detection the prognosis looks great. I will be on Tamoxifen for five years but was able to avoid having chemo or radiation. October is breast cancer awareness month and let me tell you, we became aware.

In November Brandi and Kore got a new car and took it for a little test drive and showed up on our doorstep for a quick surprise visit. It was great - and definitely a surprise!

November also saw Jed get settled into his suite with his new cat, Tiger. He has We Care Home Services come in for a couple of hours each morning, so that takes a huge burden of responsibility off our shoulders. Of course Albert and I are still very involved in his days but there is now some breathing space and routine back in the lives of all three of us.

Our term as landlords was short lived, and in December Ken and Jade bought the small house from us - another released responsibility.

I also have undergone some tests on my ovaries in December. While my right ovary is significantly enlarged, no one has kicked into panic mode just yet and it will remain “under observation,” - meaning regular ultra sound screening.

So yeah, there is never a dull moment. Some days I just yearn for a dull moment.

We are looking forward to being Granny and Grampy in 2009 and we have our hopes, plans and pennies leaning towards finishing the Newfoundland portion of our cross Canada trip sometime in the summer.

Merry Christmas everyone! May you be keenly aware of each blessing of 2009.

~ Love Albert & Liana

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Aging sucks. But it beats the alternative, I suppose.

I had the ultra sound on my ovaries last week. As I lay there on the table bursting at the seams of my bladder, the technician drove her little toy all over my belly. As I winced and tied my legs in a knot to prevent accidents, she apologized for the uncomfortable yet necessary treatment.

"Have you ever had anyone pis themselves here on your table?" I asked.

"No. No I haven't," she snickered.

"Allow me to be the first."

I went for the results today. Yay, my left ovary looks really normal and healthy. The right one... not so much. It is significantly enlarged. Whatever that means. Apparently its not alarming enough to pursue further investigation at this time, but I will need to have another ultra sound in 3 months and the results will be sent to my oncologist.

So I guess all-in-all that's goodish news.

My family doctor will retire in February. Lucky jerk. Hopefully I won't have to get too familiar with his replacement any time soon. On the bright side, thank God he has a replacement.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Kill Poinsettias

Most years I order at least one poinsettia plant from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation fundraiser. Most years I kill it long before Christmas. Last year was the exception. The plant remained lush and beautiful long into the new year.

This year I picked up 3 white ones for the church a a lovely red one for my home. After about a week to 10 days mine started to look a little bit sad so I took it from it's place in the window and set it on the floor in precisely the same position last years plant thrived so well in. Within a few short days it was looking like... well, like this:

I think perhaps it's time to head out to the shed and find the storage bin containing my total score from last New Year's Day:

I figured I'd better scoot on over to the church and take a peek at how the white ones are doing. I'd be totally humiliated to walk into the church on Sunday to find 3 similar looking twigs in pots up on the stage. It's not like it's my fault - they just die on their own. But I'd feel responsible none-the-less.

The plants at the church sit in the dark most of the week. Perhaps that's the key to success, because they look absolutely marvellous.

Next year I will just donate cash to CF and stick to my made in China vinyl variety to beautify my plant killing home.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Oh my achin' eggs.

There are definite advantages to being a girl.

Shoveling the driveway is not my responsibility.

My mechanical abilities amount to, "Honey both my low beam headlights are burnt out. Good thing my car is so dirty no one minds my high beams." And miraculously those headlights will be fixed within 24 hours.

I am entitled to filling the shoe closet- even if I will never wear them. I need only leave space for one pair of men's running shoes and one pair of work boots, the rest is my space to pile up however I choose.

Other parts of girlness are not so fun.

Of course if you've been reading this blog you know that I've been conquering breast cancer and am forced to bring pink things into my life. Pink is a new experience for me - I tend to lean towards black and greens and red.

When a woman decides she will produce no more children the menses cycle should just dry up and go away. However, thanks to Eve and her quest for knowledge and equality, this is not the case. We are cursed to endure it.

To be truthful, I don't have much problem with the most obvious portion of the cycle. It's the halfway in between, when those little eggs are released, that I run into problems. As years go by this becomes more and more painful and longer in duration. 10 or 15 years ago it lasted about two hours. Being careful not to make jarring movements during this time was the only required treatment. This duration has crept up to 6 to 10 hours and sometimes Tylenol becomes my friend.

Of course back in the days of required birth control these little buggers would float around un-announced. Things would have a little easier had they announced themselves back then.

While discussing the side effects of Tamoxifen with my oncologist I mentioned my problem with ovulation. His reply? "I can't say for sure, but I would suspect it will make things easier." Bonus.

I should have known better. I always do things the rebellious way. While hot flashes are the number one side effect, I am freezing all the time. While it is suspected that ovulation pain should subside ... it did not. Man, did it not.

Perhaps it was just coincidental that the pain I experienced on Monday night was unlike anything I have ever had. I'd even take childbirth over that. Thank God I still had a vial of Tylenol 3's and I ate 'em like M&M's. Had someone been here to drive me to the ER, I would have gone for morphine. To be honest, had the opportunity presented itself, I'da have likely experimented with crystal meth at that point.

I will tell you right now, I refuse to have that experience monthly for the next five years. If next month is the same, I'll be flushing the Tamoxifen and heading off to the radiation lab.

I was visiting my family doctor for an unrelated issue yesterday and asked him what he knew about the side effects of Tamoxifen and explained my little episode.

Of course now he is obligated to rule out Ovarian cancer - even though this pain has been going on for many years. So once again I'm all lined up for diagnostic ultra sounds and internal exams.

What a way to spend the Christmas holidays. Yay for womanhood.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Exercising my option to opt out.

I know the economy is slow and it's Christmas time, and even the people at Capitol One and Synovate need to make an income, but give me a break. If I had a dollar for every unauthorized assault on my phone line in the past month I could pay off my mortgage.

I know they probably all strictly adhere to the 10 o'clock rule (no phone calls before 10 am and none after 10 pm) however I think they all live in Newfoundland or India. Which means I, in the Pacific Standard Time world, get the calls at ungodly times of the night, like 7:30am. I am not a happy camper to wake up to a telemarketer at that hour of the morning.

So this morning I made the effort to register with the National Do Not Call List. Before doing so, of course I did my due diligence and googled about it. I couldn't help but laugh out loud when I clicked on the information site and there, spread across the top of the page is an ad for ... Capitol One Mastercard. Oh, the irony!

I registered my number. Apparently they legally have 31 days to still call me, but then I'll be safe for 3 years. I'm not confident that this system will actually work when the list of exempt callers includes: governments, surveys, charities, written media, and companies we have dealt with in the past. And if some unauthorized organization calls me, it's up to me, the innocent homeowner, to contact Phone Busters to tell on them. (Yes, Phone Busters. Sounds hokey, but it's a legitimate organization run by the RCMP)

So for what it's worth I have done my part.

That will not, however, stop my calls from Home Depot Card Services, with whom I have a relationship. Shall I say with whom Albert has a relationship. Apparently I am unauthorized. So even after passing the stringent tests of repeating phone numbers, addresses, postal codes, dates of birth and what he ate for supper last night, the reply is, "Is Albert available to speak to?" Why test me, if you have no intention of speaking to me.

I should get smart and just say, "This is Albert speaking, how may I help you?"

That way I can answer the question they call with nearly every month: "We received a cheque for $3117, there is currently $3742 outstanding. Which transactions do you want me to apply the funds to?" Umm... how about the ones that are listed on last months statement. You know, the ones that add up to $3117. It's not rocket science.

Thank God the basement suite is finished and our contractor card relationship is nearing its end.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

There's no need to panic ... just yet.

I remember about 15 or 20 years ago, friends of ours put their Christmas tree up on December 2nd. I distinctly remember not being alone in thinking, "That is ridiculous."

But somehow in the past couple of decades, the Christmas season has just kept expanding.

I was in the mall on November 28th, and I crossed paths with a few different acquaintances. Now, I realize that Christmas is a nice neutral subject that most everyone can relate to, so it makes a good conversation starter, however, every person- myself included, was nearly in panic mode because we "weren't ready for Christmas yet". It wasn't even December yet.

In this electronic, high speed, ready-made, disposable world we live in, you'd think things would become simpler and easier. Not so. Back in the day when most gifts, cards and decorations were hand made, people managed to prepare for and celebrate the birth of our Lord in a two week time frame. Now we need two months. And thoughts of the Lord rarely surface for more than profanity.

And so, in the spirit of years gone by, I have waited until the second week of December to do any shopping, decorating, baking and start making my Christmas cards. It has nothing to do with laziness, procrastination or lack of energy and ambition.

And if you believe that, I have a plot of land I'd like to sell......

Friday, December 5, 2008

The flash and dash of Christmas time.

I love Christmas lights - pretty ones, not the gaudy Disney crap. They add brightness and cheer to the long dark days of winter. It should be the law that houses have Christmas lights from September 22 until March 22 while the nights are longer than the days.

However that being said, because the siding is only half finished and inside the finishing touches haven't been added to the addition, I myself have not really gotten into the festiveness of the season. Jed has lights twinkling in his windows so we don't look completely like grinches.

Until 4 o'clock yesterday, our grass was green and as I typically do every November and December, I held a small glimmer of hope that winter wouldn't actually materialize. Of course this yearning is partially spurred on by the fact that I still have aging summer tires on my car. And my drivers side wiper is about as useful as a soggy kleenex.

The snow started falling at 4 yesterday and shows no sign of stopping. Winter has arrived. I left a few minutes early for work, knowing that I'd be pushing snow with my bumper as I back out of the garage and down the driveway. Alb shoveled a walking path from the door to the car but didn't have time to get the drive done before it was time for me to leave.

I made it about 6 feet before the poor little Jetta pouted and spun her wheels and made me take a second run. The second run she just flatly refused and the dash lit up like my non-existent Christmas bulbs flashing all sorts of pretty colours. My trusty little owners manual tells me that my ABS breaking system has failed and my car will not handle safely. In my great mechanical know-how, I decided that if I shut the car off and started it again perhaps the lights would go out and my car would be healed. Nope. Didn't work. The lights still flashed and warned.

So what could I do but phone in and take the day off work. I'm not sure what staying snuggly indoors is supposed to do to help and I'm sure I'm gonna need the missed wages to take the Jetta to the doctor. But for now I'm warm and dry and wishing the flashing lights were in my window, not my dashboard.

Monday, December 1, 2008

My mom sews better than your mom.

This weekend was the unveiling of the Christmas decorations and as expected, everyone was thrilled and awed by my mother's quilting. Friday evening was a dessert night and silent auction to raise funds for a missions project. I had numerous people tell me to make sure I pass on their compliments to Mom.

Apparently they even took time during the Sunday service to acknowledge the displays. Everyone clapped and cheered and many want them left up all year. I however did not witness this display of gratitude because I was playing the role of sinner while I slept in to recover from the said decorating extravaganza.

For the record, the stained glass quilts will not be staying up all year ... that would mean I'd have to come up with something else to wow the crowd with next year at Christmas.

Consider Yourself Reminded.

Ten years. It's been 10 years today since I was branded with that title that no-one ever wants to wear. That is until you receive it. ...