Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Plugging away and Easter Weekend

So in Dec 1980, I was enrolled in the Canadian Forces and I traveled to Chilliwack BC in early January 1981 to attend Basic Officer Training, some days that seems so long ago but on other days my memory of my arrival at Vancouver airport is so clear that it could have been yesterday.  I left the military in August 2007 to take a job in the Defence Department as a civilian; we call that a Public Servant here in Canada. That means that in Dec 2015, I reached one of the milestones that the government recognizes with a long service award, 35 years of service.  Man, that seems like a long time but it has gone by relatively quickly.

The official presentation was last week. We get a certificate, a pin and we also get to chose a gift from a selection. Everything from luggage, to art, to jewelry, and electronics; I chose a gold garnet ring.

 Now if the Pay Centre would just recognize that I have 35 years completed. We can only receive a maximum of a 70% pension (35 x 2%); so at 35 years they are supposed to reduce my pension contributions to 1% of my salary just to cover for inflation.  My pension contributions still haven't been reduced even though I submitted the request in early February.

In any case even though I've fully paid into my pension, I can't retire without penalty until age 60 so I'm going to keep plugging away at least until then before I really retire.

It was lucky they did the presentation when they did as that evening I had a sinus headache and chills and called in sick the next day. What a time to get sick right before the Easter weekend. I spent most of Thursday and Good Friday in my pajamas, napping on and off during the day.

Saturday, we had an agility competition. It was a Starter/Advanced trial that was the practical exam for an aspiring judge. He passed with flying colours. Since it was only Starters and Advanced, only Keltic could run and we didn't have to go to the trial venue until early afternoon since all the Starter events were in the morning.  Keltic had three runs, two Standards and one Gamble. There was no joy in our Standards, in the first one I made him do the dog walk over when he leaped off the side of the down ramp. In his second Standard he was better, he only got 15 faults, he missed the dog walk contact, popped of the table and refused a jump but he did get his weave entry and really did try to stay in the weaves. But he did Q in the Gamble, so that means Keltic only needs one more Advanced Gamble for his Advanced Games title and he will be in Masters in all the Games events.

Keltic had a nice opening with 28 points. We basically did the outside of the ring; tire, spread jump, double jump, tunnel, tunnel to the weaves but when he wouldn't do them we just went and did the 4 point jump twice then over the frame and got the frame twice. The buzzer still hadn't sounded so we did the teeter too. Then the buzzer went and I calmed myself down walked to the line for the first jump. Keltic did the first three without hesitation but he curled in toward me before the last jump; I called him to me and sent him out, amazingly he went straight out and did the last jump. Mini dogs had 20 seconds to complete this gamble as you can see Keltic and I took just under 14 seconds. (You have 40 seconds in the opening to gain your points and if you get the Gamble those points are doubled.) So as I always say any trial where you Q is a good trial, and I went home happy. It was pretty late when we got home so it was supper and off to bed.

On Easter Sunday, my sister was hosting dinner and I was making a pasta salad for my contribution for the supper and hard boiled egg mice as an appetizer. The egg mice seemed so easy when I suggested it but let me tell you getting peppercorns to stay in wasn't easy.

I think they were at hit, although my niece took the eyes out to eat them so she ws eating blind mice. She might have even had three.

Dinner was just lovely, we had ham, scalloped potatoes, turnip, carrots and salads.  As usual there was a lot of food but it always makes for nice leftovers. Dessert was a dirt chocolate cake with carrots. The dirt was Oreo cookie crumbs and the carrots were strawberries with orange candy coating. Wine and specialty coffees rounded out the dinner.

Unfortunately, I think Saturday and Sunday were too much by the time I got home I was all stuffed up again. I went to bed and again on Easter Monday I stayed in my pajamas all day. Fortunately, it rained all day so it was one of those days where curling up, watching TV and napping was really all you wanted to do anyway.   The rain has really cleaned up a lot of the snow so yard work will start pretty soon.

This weekend we have an agility trial on both days so I've taken Monday off. Hopefully it will be a nice day and we can do some yard clean up, you know doggie doo.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Taste of Brussels

So I went to Brussels last week for work, we arrived Sunday afternoon after an overnight flight from Ottawa. The meetings were at NATO headquarters on the outskirts of Brussels near the airport.  Our hotels were quite near the city centre so we had to take a tram or bus to get out to the meetings.  I had a little trouble getting in the first day as they had put the wrong dates in for my pass so there was no pass at the gate for me. I had to call around so that someone from the Canadian delegation could come and get me. It was a good thing I had gone early.

NATO Headquarters
The meetings were quite long nearly every day so there wasn't a lot of time to get around. My third afternoon I had the time to walk down to the Grand Place and we finished at noon on Friday so I had a half day then too.
View from the hotel
Our hotel was at Place Rogier, one of the metro stops and only one stop from the North Station, a large bus, train and Metro station. The large spire seen in the picture is the Grand Place, quite a touristy area of shops and restaurants, all on little side streets.


All of the pictures above are of the Grand Place. It's a market square that in the spring, summer and fall is filled on weekends with stalls but it was little too early in the year for that. I only saw a few vendors on Friday afternoon.

There were many little side streets around the Grand Place; but being by myself, I was careful about which ones I went down. It would be too easy to get lost as many of these little streets didn't have street signs.

I did have two missions on my visit to Brussels, one was to find the Tintin Boutique and the other was to find the three peeing fountains.

Brussels is quite famous for Manneken Pis (Little Man Pee). He is quite a little guy actually so except for all the tourists you could easily miss him.  The fountain is not far from the Grand Place just two blocks down this street which is right off of the Grand Place.
The original statue dates from the 1600's but this one was made in 1965.  They dress him up throughout the year in various costumes, while I was there he was in Irish dress for St Patrick's Day but I didn't get down again to see him. 

But did you know there are two other peeing statues?  One is fairly well known but hard to find and other isn't well known at all and is also quite hard to find. They are statues of a little girl (Jeanneke Pis) and a dog (Zinneke Pis).  The little girl is also off the Grand Place and is on a dead end street. If I had't know she was there I wouldn't have walked down that little alley.

Then there is also the dog. He isn't off the Grand Place but on streets opposite the Bourse about a block away from the Grand Place.  He was hard to find not because he was in a little side street but because the streets often don't have street signs to let you know where you are. And then even some of the directions on the Internet were wrong.  The dog doesn't actually pee although some web sites state that he was plumbed just never connected. 

My other mission was to find the Tintin Boutique. I expected to see more signs of Tintin than I did as he was created in Belgium. I did find the Tintin Boutique; it too was right of the Grand Place. And I did find some other signs of Tintin; a mural on a wall and in the restaurant we ate in on Friday afternoon.

So all in all it was a good trip, got to experience meetings at NATO and still had time to see some sights. Just a little taste of Brussels although I do have to say patates frites were really nothing special. I brought home chocolate, who doesn't, so we'll have to see if  that's the real taste of Brussels.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Throwback Thursday

A picture that was on a memory card that was in my Dad's camera.  I put them all in a folder on my computer but then never really looked at them all. This is Beckett's first day with me; it was the Saturday of Labour Day weekend in Sep 2009.  I had dropped my father of at my youngest sister's place along with Ceilidh and Tucker and had gone on to pick up Beckett.  This was back at her house where another of my sisters and her family had joined us for the day. This is their Toby laying in front of Beckett's crate. Not sure who is saying what to whom.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Ordinary Heroes

You hear about them all the time. Bystanders who rush in to help in emergencies to rescue people caught in fire or trapped in car. You see appeals on the news for people to make living donations to save someone who is dying from liver or kidney failure and there always seems to be a stranger who comes forward to make that gift. But how often is that you actually know someone like that who gives so selflessly of themselves. Today I do! Today, my nephew underwent surgery to give a kidney to his father-in-law who was diagnosed with kidney failure last year.  There are probably so many ordinary heroes that we should give thanks to everyday but they walk amongst us without even thinking that they are heroes.

Today I say "Thank-you" to each and every ordinary hero. 

And remember, please be an organ donor.