May 31, 2006

6 months to middle age!

It occurred to me that tomorrow is June 1st. Just 6 short months left in the year...can you believe it? We are at the half-way point of 2006 already!

We are also just 6 short months from my fortieth birthday.


There is also the realisation that I am just 9 short years away from the age my mum was when she passed away.

There are a million things that I still want to do, want to see, want to feel and experience - and I KNOW I am not dying or anything crazy (before anyone out there chews my ass) - but I am suddenly very aware of my mortality.

I am making a few lifestyle changes with the hopes of at least making it another four decades and still blogging in 2047 - or whatever the technology is at at that time.

May 29, 2006

Here's Spring ...*blink*... did you miss it?

Well we've had a typical Canadian spring - last weekend we had the heating going, warm sweaters and umbrellas as we suffered through the first long weekend of summer with temperatures that hovered at 10C/50F. I was even concerned over the risk of frost as I planted my summer garden planters.

Silly Susie.

If you don't like the weather here just wait a few days - or in this case a week. Today we had record breaking temperatures with the first smog alert of the year. It was 34C /93F- but with the humidity it felt like 40C/104F. The rest of the week is forecasted to get even hotter. The heat is off, the fans and AC are well and truly on - welcome to summer!

May 27, 2006


Well it seems my relationship with N. has not only wound down, it has come to a screeching halt. We "talked" when he got back from his weekend away and decided that this relationship wasn't going anywhere and it was time to call it a day.

Or to be more precise, he decided it was time to call it a day. Yes, sad to say ol' Suzy-Q got dumped.

I find myself mourning not-so-much losing him perse, more losing the relationship itself. After almost a year of being a "couple" and no longer [shudder] single, I had kinda gotten used to having someone there. Someone to talk to, share things with and care for.

The past few days have been a rollercoaster of emotions. Relief on one hand, that one of us finally had the gonads to say "hey, this isn't love!"; and heartache, over the loss of what was essentially a very close friendship. I miss him, but in the same breath I also feel a sense of freedom.

Don't try to figure it out, I ended up with a headache trying to analyze it myself.

May 23, 2006

Holiday Weekend

This past weekend was Victoria Day Weekend here in Canada - more commonly known as the "May Two-Four" weekend as it generally falls on or around May 24th - the first long weekend of summer - and probably because a case of beer equals 24 bottles! The roads have been choc-a-block full of weekend travellers. Summer cottages are being reopened for the season, campers realising that perhaps it's still a little too early to be out under canvas (the temperatures this weekend hovered around 10 celcius).

And for once I had the weekend off! Woot!

The weekend didn't quite go the way I had planned - initially I had thought N. and I would spend a little time together - perhaps check out the garden centres for some flowers for the garden, a road trip, dinner somewhere nice... I had even picked up a nice roast for Sunday.

N. however decided he was going to head over to visit his friends a couple of hours drive away to party for the weekend. He generally does this on the weekends that I am working - which doesn't bother me, after all it can't be much fun being home alone all weekend when I am at work. On the weekends I am home however (two out of every five) I do prefer that he stay in town and we at least can have some semblance of a normal dating life together. Needless to say I felt a little miffed that he had not only buggered off again for the weekend ...but the first long weekend of summer no less....and with virtually no notice - so bugger any plans I had had for us.
I am starting to think that our time together is starting to wind down. The past 10 months have been fun, but we're not in love - we care about each other, we've had a lot of fun together, but for me that "zing" has never been there, and I suspect the same is true for him.

Gah! Men! Who needs 'em?

My weekend wasn't a dead loss however. My girlfriend J. and I spent an evening at a local country bar, enjoying the music and hooting with laughter as we "people watched" some of the most interestingly dressed people we have seen in a long while. It was a great evening and long, long overdue.

Monday I headed out to the garden centre and picked up flowers for the borders, the hanging baskets and planters. As usual I bought far too many flowers for my pocket handkerchief sized garden - but the way I look at it the extras can be used to replace any casualties in my war with the squirrels.

On the home front, I got an approval from a local bank on a preapproved mortgage for a quarter million dollars (I just like saying that, a quarter of a million dollars!! - $225,000 to everyone else) - which they would happily give me providing I can ante up the downpayment. Anywhere from 5-25% preffered, thank you very much! Nice to know I qualified - a nice little pat on the back for having a good credit rating blah blah blah. I am talking to a broker however about a 100% financing at the moment. I am curious as to how much more it would cost me should a decide to go that route (and providing of course I qualify).

I am back at work - a week of midnight shift looms ahead, but for now I am going to sign off to go watch the final of American Idol. H'mmm who do you think will win this season? Taylor Hicks or Katherine McPhee.

May 20, 2006

A word to the wise...

Never watch tear-jerker movies at "that time of the month". I accidentally got sucked into watching "The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants" this morning...and bawled my head off.

May 17, 2006

Squirrels in wigs and a quarter million dollars

It's been a busy, busy week at work. The warm weather and lighter evenings are upon us - and with them it seems, comes a dramatic increase in our work load. Last night was no exception and I am soooo grateful that I now have a few days off to recharge my batteries.

My plans for the next few days will undoubtedly include a pile of housework, a little WoW time, and if the weather co-operates, a little gardening. The yellow "caution" tape is up around my front garden. Thankfully (for once) it is not an indication of a police "crime line", but more of a "keep off the grass" as I try to coax the new grass seed to take root. My battles with the squirrels will no doubt resume in full force once I get all the bedding plants in. I tried using human hair last year as a deterrant (old wives tale) - needless to say it didn't work. I am sure there is a little squirrel running around out there with a gorgeous red wig on it's scrawny tree-climbing-rodent-head. This year I may be tempted to try a more modern application and check out my local garden centre for some pesticides/repellents - yeah gimme those chemicals.

My first tentative steps - more like tiny fairy steps - into home ownership so far has been to check out a few websites to calculate how much I could qualify for. I was surprised as to how widely those amounts can vary. I used the mortgage calculators with 3 lending/banking institutions and found the amounts varied by over $50,000 from bank to bank! Mind boggling as to how they get their numbers.

Considering I live on the outskirts of Toronto, the real estate market is crazy. Armed with the numbers from the banks I searched the MLS listings for homes in my area in my price range - and basically I can't get anything for under $200,ooo. Hello people! We are talking about almost a quarter of a million dollars here!! And I can't even find a nice little "two up-two down"? I am already a 40 minute commute from work, I don't want to move even further out of the city limits. Even at $200K the houses available are described as "needing TLC" and "handy man specials" and "investment opportunities". Yes, I can get in with only 5% down...but the rate is higher to cover insurance and I don't have $10,000 sitting around doing nothing. Grrrr!

So I qualify for the mortgage - and can carry the expenses - but I don't have that blasted downpayment. I haven't given up yet, but I will have to think long and hard about all this. There has got to be a way around this. I don't want to be house poor - no point in having a roof over your head - and nothing to put inside it!

May 14, 2006

Just another day in the 'hood

I woke up this morning to find several members of our local police dept. out on the road - 4 cars in total - just up the street a-piece; parked up on the sidewalks at awkward angles, as police officers are so prone to do at times. Two Scene of Crime Officers (SOCO) or to put a more Hollywood spin on it "CSI" officers were there, one videotaping the street, the other taking photographs - mainly of the ground.

Naturally my curiousity was piqued, as I stood there watching them, nattily dressed in my finest navy-blue velour dressing gown (yes, the one with the bleach stain on the cuff). It was in fact only my manner of dress (and a severe case of bed-head) that was holding me back from trotting over to find out what had transpired overnight. I played briefly with the idea of running upstairs and throwing on some sweats - but decided against it. I wasn't opposed to "finding out" perse...just more than a little embarrassed that in order to get any info, I would have to pull the old "brothers in blue" routine and let them know I am also "on the job" - thus letting them know that yes, in fact, this hellhole of a neighbourhood, is where I call home.

I tried to tell the boy that is was purely professional curiousity - but he saw right through me, rolled his eyes and said, "Yeah right, you're just being nosey!" He went back to his computer, battling demons in Azeroth - and I went back to my vigil by the front door.

Doncha just hate it when they are right?

I've been working afternoon shift this week, so it didn't take me long to beat a path to my Staff's door to see if he could drop a dime on the local pd, out where I live, to make some enquiries. He's good for getting the scoop - like last year when there was a shooting at the end of my street....

Did I mention that I live in what appears to be the "scum bucket" part of Ontario?

A few hours into my shift he was able to find out for me that there had in fact been a stabbing overnight. Lovely! Between the home invasion a few years ago where my super and his family ended up trussed like chickens in their basement, whilst their house was robbed (yeah, tell me that wasn't drug related...sure!), to the shooting last year....and now this. I think the time may finally be approaching when I start looking for a new place to live. A place where Five-O aren't going to be parked up the street on a regular basis, dealing with the local delinquents and picking up shell caseings. (OK, maybe I exaggerated about the shell caseings, but it could happen...I'd just prefer not to be here when it does!)

So sometime over the next week or so I am going to take a shot at getting preapproved for a mortgage...I really don't want to keep renting all my life, and this may have been the kick up the bum I needed, to get motivated into actually making my dream of homeownership come true. The downpayment is the only stumbling block at the moment - carrying the mortgage is not the issue - just that lump sum that they are so keen on seeing put down prior. All I keep telling myself is that if everyone else can manage it - then why not me? I foresee a lot of Kraft Dinner and overtime in my future.

May 5, 2006

Family Tree

Almost 2 years ago I received an email from my cousin Sue in England (yes, there are two of us, "Susan" was apparently a very popular name for girls in the '60's and '70's it appears). Together with her sister (my cousin Linda), they are researching our family's genealogy. I've tried to help fill in a few blanks, point them in the direction of other family members still living in England and provide a little history about our mutual grandparents.

Progress has been slow due to having to send off for birth/marriage/death certificates, lack of records and several ruddy big rifts in the family. We know precious little about my grandad's side of the family - they were from Wales and very little more about grandma - she was from Newcastle-on-Tyne.

The only "plus" side perse is that my grandma still has family living in or near our old home town. Thanks to the aforementioned "rifts" however we were unsure as to how or whether to contact the family (second cousins etc) living in town, How would we be received? Many years have passed - almost three decades - since our respective families had their falling out. My cousins and I were innocent children aged 12-16 years of age, but our parent's feud with family members has continued into our own adulthood, even though the primary individuals involved have all long since died. We didn't know if we would receive a frosty reception or if time had in fact healed all.

I have offered to write to the family from the safety of this side of the Atlantic, on behalf of my cousins, my reasoning being that they are hardly likely to show up on my doorstep. But instead fate stepped in, and just a few short weeks ago, cousin Sue happened to be searching on a website and searching under my grandmother's sister's name and she came across another family member who was also searching. [gawd, isn't the internet wonderful?] A second, third or fourth cousin, 20 times removed - who knows? I haven't quite figured it all out yet.

Emails are still being exchanged, as we all tread very carefully, but so far I think curiosity over this "dark side" of the family has won over harbouring any old grudges. We will see how it proceeds.

My "doorstep theory" has been blown out of the water however, Tom's first email to me began..."Are you in Canada? Can we come out for a holiday?" Arghhhh!