Sunday, December 21, 2008

Counting Blessings

I've always considered the extremely cold weather to be count your blessings weather - because no matter how bad it is here, it's always worse elsewhere. Not exactly true today. It's -31 right now in Regina (-40 with the wind chill), but only -24 in Yellowknife and only -27 in Cambridge Bay. Cambridge Bay has always been my "thank you, Lord that I don't live there" spot, because it's like Weyburn for wind (it's on the arctic coast and well above the tree line) and yet it is generally much colder before the wind than Yellowknife is. Well, it is colder today in Regina.

I can still count my blessings, however.
  • I have a warm apartment (and I don't pay the heating bill anyway)
  • I'm on holidays for two weeks
  • My car starts even in the cold
  • The laryngitis has receded enough that I can talk (croak may be a more accurate term and singing is still iffy)
  • My kids arrive on Thursday!!!
  • I don't have to go out for anything in the cold unless I want to; I have groceries and my Christmas shopping is done.

I have much to be thankful for.

Friday, December 19, 2008

School's out

No school for two weeks! I need the break and I know my students do too. My kids arrive Boxing Evening (if there is such a term). I'm really missing them and it will be good to see them again. I have all my Christmas shopping done, presents wrapped (well, present bags made and presents stuffed inside), everything ready to go. I'm not worrying about Christmas baking.

Unfortunately, I still have the remains of laryngitis. Although I can talk, it sounds like I'm doing an imitation of an adolescent boy with the voice change thing, and I can't sing. Really frustrating! It's been over 10 days now that I've been just working on being able to talk. Hopefully, not having to teach for two weeks will make a big difference.

Now for good news. One of the piano pieces I've been fighting with for a long time is finally coming along. I no longer feel like kicking myself when I make the same stupid error because I'm not making the same stupid error! Feels good. I have a recital in mid January. I'm not ready for it yet, but it at least seems like I could be ready for it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Welcome winter!

It's -30 this morning. The first really cold day we've had. (Well, actually yesterday was pretty cold with temperatures of about -27 and strong winds blowing.) Thankfully today there's not much wind.

I went out this morning to plug my van in for the first time. First of all, I had to find an extension cord. (Who really needs to plug in their Christmas tree anyway?) Then I had to figure out how to unlatch the hood on the van. I also had to get the cord to plug into the outside plug (not an easy feat) and the van's cord to plug into the extension cord. If this is a recipe, the next step is to wait and hour and check to see if all the connections were made. I think I need to get one of those lighted plug things so that I can tell if it's working.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Or maybe not

I just discovered the wheat thins I've been eating are multigrain wheat thins. This means that they had oats as an ingredient. So that's likely why I was noticing that my tongue was going numb when I ate them. I thought it was something in the dip! It is therefore likely the reason I have largyngitis and I'm just lucky that I didn't have to use my epi pen. I can count my blessings I guess. (And read labels more carefully next time).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The sound of silence

I seem to have come down with my annual laryngitis. I generally get it every year around Christmas. Usually I can attribute it to eating the mandarin oranges that are so widely available this time of year, but I haven't eaten any for at least a week - so maybe it's just bad luck this time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Red Letter Day!

My new piano arrived this morning. I had to run over from school to let them in. It's beautiful! I ran home at noon to admire it (and to pick up the marking I had to do) and discovered that the orchid I had inherited with the apartment is blooming. It has one beautiful fuscia blossom; one bud that will likely open tomorrow and three other buds that will need some time. The other orchid plant is sending out a shoot, so hopefully it will bloom later.

This evening we had the annual Christmas banquet at Western. I really enjoyed that. Good food, lots of fun (there was a limbo contest that I didn't participate in), some good visiting. Now that I'm back home, I need to do some marking and piano practice. In fact, I think the piano is calling my name!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sorry about that neighbour

When I came home last evening, I shovelled the walks outside my apartment, but just before I went to bed I noticed that it had been snowing again and they were snowed in. I decided that I'd deal with it in the morning. However, I slept in this morning until nearly 7 am (yeah, I'm an early bird). I looked out the window to check on the walks and saw that some kind soul had shovelled the front walk but the back walk still needed to be done. So I put my jacket on, double checked to ensure I had my keys, and went out to shovel it. It only took about 2 minutes, it's a short walk. Then I went to let myself back in and found that I only had car keys in my pocket, no apartment keys.

OK, check all the other windows. Any lights showing? Nope. It's only about -4 out; I could wait. Nope. There's only one doorbell that works at the back - the Williams'. I rang it. Waited. Rang it again. Waited. Rang it again. Nothing.

Bright idea now. I had one of the Williams boys hide a key at the front for emergencies such as this. So I hopped the fence and went around to the front door. And discovered that he may have hid a key, but I couldn't reach the hiding place! (The joys of being vertically challenged.) Then I saw a light come on in the Williams' apartment and rang the bell again. Loopie came down and let me in. (Sorry to get you up but thank you for rescuing me.)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I can't believe what I just did

I'm still in shock! I went by the piano store today, fully intending to dicker about a used piano. However, he only had two used pianos left in stock (in fact, he only had two new pianos left in stock) because he has to be out of the store by Wednesday - the building has sold and he's retiring.

I left after having purchased a brand new piano! I still can't get over it. I know it was a good buy (I bought it for just a few dollars less than his wholesale price); and it comes with a ten year warranty and he'll pay the delivery charge - it's just that it's a whole lot more money than I intended to spend. I'm very thankful for my line of credit - and I'll have to go to the bank tomorrow to ensure that I transfer enough money in my account to cover the cheque I wrote.

The brand name is Young Chang; it's a cherry wood colour and has engraved wood on the front panel - it's beautiful! They'll deliver it on Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest.

Now, do you know anyone who wants a used piano? Good for beginners?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Decisions, decisions

OK, I got my licences (driver's and plates). It only took two more trips; so I made a total of four trips to various licensing offices and had all the needed ID three of those times. (What's wrong with this picture?)

I had the piano tuner in yesterday because my piano has been bugging me with this key out of tune, that key clicking, another key double striking, etc. However, he tells me that the problem is with the bushings, and it'd cost me more than the piano is worth to replace them. He recommends buying a new (to me) piano.

You have to realize that I've been considering whether or not I would splurge and spend $100 on a camera for myself for Christmas. (And I did splurge and buy myself some winter boots.) Now a good quality used piano would likely cost me close to $1,000! So, what are my options?
  • Stick with my existing piano (but that low E that's out of tune and is untunable because the block is cracked there, he says) is causing me to have bad technique because I try to either skip playing it or playing it for a much shorter length of time.
  • Practice on the grand piano at school (in the evenings and on weekends); meaning that I likely wouldn't get as much practice in because I'd have to go over there every time and I couldn't practice on it if there was a function in the room where it is.
  • Buy another piano. One of the piano stores in town is closing and apparently I could get a good deal on a piano right now (the tuner took me over there after hours, as he has a key and went through all of the pianos with me). The catch? It'll be around $1,000 once you add in getting it tuned and moved. And... I'd now have two pianos and would have to do something with the other one.

So, I don't know what I'll do. Right now I've decided that I don't have to make a decision right away.