Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘NaBloPoMo wrap up’

I have done NaBloPoMo almost every year since I started blogging in 2007. I have to say that this year was the most challenging by far. I suspect that not feeling well and coping with the emotional fall out of being bullied and then losing my job for complaining made it much more difficult. That being said, I am happy I stuck with it and managed a post every day in November.

I am hoping to keep some of the momentum going. I will attempt to blog at least once a week going forward. I may highlight some more of my cooking adventures as I enjoy writing up those posts. Of course the dogs will also figure prominently. I am also anticipating an uptick in the political postings with all the scandals going on and a federal election in 2015. There is also the BC provincial leadership race coming up soon. And I am sure Rob Ford is not done yet!

Thanks to all my readers for sticking with me through November. If there are any topics you would like me to cover in upcoming posts please let me know in the comments. Topic suggestions are always appreciated!

Other NaBloPoMoers I am following

I have been enjoying NaBloPoMo this year. It is a challenge to come up with something to blog about every day. Plus trying to remember to do it has also been a bit of a struggle. Knowing how hard it is I thought I would highlight some other bloggers who have been participating:

Beth has made it ever day over at Not to be trusted with knives

Erika has managed every day over on her blog Loic

And a new one I have been reading, Love, Live, Grow

Check them out and show them some love! Anyone have any other NaBloPoMo links?

Quick Post

I am in Calgary and have spent the last 12 hours with my mother. I am very tired. I spent hours trying to fix her Logitech remote. I did prevail. I also found the Naot store and scored 3 new pairs of shoes!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘things for which I am grateful’ edition

I have been a little moody/bitchy since Sunday. This is not normally me. I realize that a great deal of why I am feeling so crappy is that I have not had any time off since June that did not involve my mother. I tried to get a couple of weeks leave without pay in September but the powers that be said no. I still have some vacation days left so I have asked for next week off. If I don’t get it, I am going to be very upset.

So, in the meantime, I have decided that if I focus on some positive things my outlook may be different. Here is the list:

  1. I am grateful for my wife. I am a fortunate woman because I get to share my life with someone who loves me fiercely. We support each other and laugh so much.
  2. I am grateful for our dogs. Without dogs, I would just merely exist rather than live. They make me smile and laugh every single day.
  3. Music and the amazing dock in my office. I also have really good speakers in my car.
  4. The NHL Lockout
  5. CBC Radio One
  6. The end of the US campaign!

Music from the Swamp – the ‘Mumford and Sons’ edition

NaBloPoMo update – Woo hoo! This is day 2 and so far so good. I would also like to note that Beth over at Not to be trusted with knives is also joining in on the daily posting in November!!! Go Beth!

If you haven’t heard Mumford and Sons yet you are missing out on an amazing new band. The group is named for Marcus Mumford who is all of 25 years old! I am astounded at the level of sophistication in their music. Their lyrics mine deep emotional territory that artists twice their age are not able to access. Check out this live performance on Q:

What I’m Listening To

I love listening to podcasts. So every now and then I will post what I am listening to right now.

Mental illness is one of the most misunderstood illnesses.[1] There is so much stigma around mental illness we need mainstream programming that addresses it. I have been listening to a 5-part series on mental illness called ‘Taking Crazy Back.’ Tod Maffin, who has been open about his struggles with mental health and addictions, has put together this series. I encourage you to give it a listen.

[1] I think obesity is also extremely misunderstood.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘water has a mind of its own’ edition

  • First off, my apologies for being MIA for the past 10 days or so. I have not been feeling my ‘daisy-fresh best’ and as a result the blog suffered. I have been struggling a lot with the usual health issues. It is like I constantly have fog in my head that I have to fight through. The other main reason for the break is that I have re-discovered crocheting. I am madly trying to make stuff for Christmas presents this year!
  • I am going to try to complete NaBloPoMo like I have in previous years.
  • We have had some serious plumbing woes. We are on a septic system. Apparently septic fields die after a certain amount of time. The tank holds all the waste in an anaerobic environment where it breaks down to a certain degree. Water is supposed to flow through the tank to the septic field. What ends up happening is that bits of ‘material’[1] flows through and eventually stop the septic from being able to absorb any more water. The options are to replace the field or connect to the city sewer. While connecting to the sewer is expensive, replacing the septic field is completely out of reach. The plumbing contractors we have, Mr. Swirl, have been absolutely fantastic. I have never seen a company be so incredibly responsive and professional. They committed to keeping our septic tank pumped out while this work has been going on. They have had to come pretty much every other day to meet this commitment. Hopefully in another couple of days we won’t have to worry about the septic tank anymore! The other great advantage will be no more smell!
No more deck!
The new holding tank going in.
You can see the old, concrete tank
Another view of the old tank
  • In other related news, Sienna, the pit bull, got under the house and managed to impale herself on a nail. She then, so it appears, rotated her self and managed to separate her skin from her fatty layer a further 3 inches below the 2-inch gash we found on Friday night. She now has a 5-inch gash on her chest with a drain tube coming out. It seems that if there is anything to hurt herself on she will find it!


[1] Euphemistically referred to as ‘sludge’ by the plumbers.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘Has hell frozen over?’ edition

§  We have lived in the swamp for 4 years now. We have never had any problems with rodents until recently. We found evidence of a mouse about a week ago. We put some traps out and we got one yesterday. I hope that is it but the traps are still out just in case. For now, Swamp Dwellers 1, Rodentia 0. I suspect the mouse got in under the house when the drain pipe was put in. I hope there was only one!

§  In my daily conversation with my mother today she said that she now thinks Naheed Nenshi will be a good mayor for Calgary. From turning down city perks to holding city councillor’s accountable for their expense accounts, she thinks he is smart and fair. Amazingly not one word about his religion or marital status.

§  Operation no food waste at the swamp is working well. We’ve been doing it for 2 weeks now and the dogs love it. Plus we have been getting 2 meals for 7 dogs each week by adding a little meat and rice to our leftovers.

§  Clio was back to the vet for a re-check for her heart condition. She is doing well. The main concern is that she is quite thin as she always has been. Our vet suggested a liquid supplement. It had a lot of fat in it and I asked what it was made of. Turns out it is made of high fructose corn syrup, soy beans and gelatin byproducts. Yummy. These kinds of products really call into question why the vets will sell stuff like this for animals to consume. There was no food product in this stuff and certainly nothing species appropriate. We gratefully declined. I think we will just feed her real food more often instead.

§  NaBloPoMo is going well. I just wanted to give a shout out to some blogging buddies who are also participating. For those of you who don’t know, NaBloPoMo is all about posting every day in the month of the November. If you have a chance check out Dr. Beth’s and Tanya’s blog on NoLa.

§  This just in! It is really hard to blog while watching the puppy hump the rabbit toy. Deb keeps throwing it and he keeps going back for it! Too funny. Deb says: “It’s not supposed to be his fuck bunny.”

§  Oh, and in other news: my mother has re-commenced smoking. She actually went 6 months without. She thinks she breathes easier when she smokes. I think she is delusional.


Dentist Visit

Today I went to the dentist. This was an event as I am dental phobic and the dentist we have had for the last 10 or so years has retired. Breaking in a new dentist is very difficult as I my mouth is sensitive. As a child, I saw a dentist who looked like Vincent Price. He used to come in and wring his hands and say “and how are we today.” He would always emphasize the ‘we.’ He was creepy. Plus he would do things to my teeth when the anesthetic was not working. I hated him!

I have a couple of root canals I need to get done. This came as a bit of surprise and a couple of crowns. Sadly, I have many fillings that are 25+ years old and some that are very ugly. So I will get the 2 root canals, 2 crowns and 4 fillings done all at once. They use an oral sedation which should help the phobia and the lack of freezing on the bottom. I am sure if I got through a root canal without the additional oral sedation and the option of having nitrous gas too, I should be fine.

In other news it would appear that winter has arrived here on the left coast. It was pouring all night. Hopefully we have a couple of more days of sunshine before it really starts. This is also the beginning of NaBloPoMo – which will see many bloggers manage a post a day for the entire month. I am pretty sure I can do this. I will only run into trouble if I have too many late meetings.

NaBloPoMo to the rescue

I have been doing little to nothing for the last couple of days so I really don’t have much to blog about. So I decided to check out NaBloPoMo’s blog idea of the day. Here it is:

Take a random book, open it to a random page, and then post the passage that begins at the top left. If you want to go further, tell us if the passage you posted sheds any light on your life at present.

Given that I am sitting in the living room there are not many books within reach. The only book around is “iWork ’09 Portable Genius” by Guy Hart-Davis.

Creating Custom Styles
When the styles in Pages’ templates don’t meet your needs and you can’t bring in the style you want from another document, you can create custom styles of your own.

Creating your own styles in Pages is very easy. You simply set up a paragraph or some text the way you want it to appear and then create a style from it.

The fastest and easiest way to create a new style is by changing one of the existing styles to make it look the way you want it. So start by typing a paragraph of text – or clicking in an existing paragraph – and applying the style nearest to what you need.

Well, being a technical book, I don’t really think there is deeper, life meaning. However it is illustrative of the fact that I have been very busy learning a new operating system (Mac OS X) and iWork ’09. I struggled using MS Office for a while but they both kept crashing my Macs. I decided to try iWork and once I got past the initial apprehension of things being in different, I really liked it. I find Pages to be a very powerful word processing program. It is even further enhanced by the page layout feature which allows you to work with text boxes and graphics. It isn’t as powerful as a desktop publishing program like Adobe Pagemaker but you can certainly do a newsletter, brochure or flyer.

I am not much into change and those who know me well will attest to that fact. The mere fact that switched back to a Mac after 20 years is very strange. The main reason I did it was because I was frustrated with PCs and the fact that they continually slow down* no matter the processing speed or the amount of RAM. I have been using 3 different macs for almost a year. The only one that disappointed me was the Mac Mini and this is more likely due to how I use computers than a function of the mini. I need to be able to run Parallels and Windows so that I can get into MS Access for work. I demand a lot of my computers. I also have an iMac and a MacBook Pro. I think the MacBook Pro is my favourite. It is extremely responsive and fast. The trackpad is amazing and I love the backlit keyboard. I probably use it more that any of my other computers.

Learning to use a new computer and new programs is really good for the brain. Stimulating the brain cells helps to create new pathways and improve overall function. I highly recommend learning a new skill!

*Thanks to Derek K. Miller for the link to the article.