Saturday, December 23, 2006

This Is Just Crazy!!

If it weren’t sliding so far into the absurd, I would probably be curled up in a corner having a pity party somewhere!

I was SO ready to yell in joy to the whole world that there was indeed a Santa Claus!! I got a call late yesterday afternoon that the logic board had come in and that my computer was ready to come home! I took a whole plate of Christmas cookies over to the computer shop as a thank you and was absolutely giddy until I got home and plugged the eMac in. Everything turned on perfectly, but it was absolutely unable to connect to the Internet! I called Aliant (our internet provider) for help and they walked me though everything, but had no explanation for why it wasn’t working other than it could be a hardware issue! By this time of night it was too late to do anything else or take the machine back to the store, so I stomped up to bed.

This morning, I decided to see if the problem was with Safari or with all of the web browsers on the machine, so I snuck down to the office as soon as I woke up and turned on both machines. It was then that I discovered that I no longer had ANY internet connection on EITHER machine. No email, no FTP access, no web browsers of any type at ALL!!

Trying not to panic, I called the help line at Aliant and they tried to help me check the modem that they provided to us. It began to look as if the ADSL was not registering at all on the modem, no matter how many times we unplugged it, counted to 20 and plugged everything back in. So, the helpful person on the other end suggested that I try the power supply and phone line parts of the modem in another phone jack elsewhere in the house. As I was cutting the zip ties to release those cords from the bundle of wires at the back of my machine, I accidentally cut through the modem’s power cord!! This sent us out to find a replacement cord from one of the Aliant service centers around the city on one of the busiest shopping mornings of the entire year…

Since the computer store is right near Zellers, we went in to see just what was on sale for the special early bird event… and I thought I would faint! First, let me set the scene properly. Way back in late October, Bethany and I were checking the Littlest Pet Shop website and she discovered that there was a Chinchilla Littlest Pet that had the cutest face she’d ever seen. We’d never seen that one around here so we checked the Hasbro site and discovered that it was unavailable. The hunt began and I was finally able to find the Chinchilla and Ferret as a pair on ebay (listed as VERY RARE) and won the bid for roughly 2.5 times what these little plastic toys sell for in the store… but that was what Bethany had put on her list to Santa, so I felt it was worth the price for a little Santa Magic. After a communication snafu, the items finally arrived at my stepfather’s US mailbox late last week! My Mom mailed them off to me via Priority Courier and they arrived late Wednesday. I was smug that Santa’s reputation was saved for another year for my youngest who still believes with all her heart…

So here we are in Zellers in the toy department where a new shipment of Littlest Pet shop toys have been brought out just in time for last minute Christmas shopping and I find myself looking at over 20 of the little Chinchillas, all smiling at me with their $4.97 price tag. If I could have screamed I would have. Bethany immediately went into acquisition mode and begged for one in case Santa couldn’t find it for her! I was able to calm her down and reassure her that Santa would come through for her and that she needed to wait until Christmas morning to see for herself. AAAAAaaaaaargh!

We brought the new power cord home, hooked everything up and tested the modem out in a new phone jack. No solid ADSL light. Finally, after testing quite a few configurations and possibilities, the nice helper at Aliant decided that we needed to have a technician come to our house and check everything out… but the earliest day said techie can come is the day we leave to visit my Mom!

So, I couldn’t even set up the little surprise that I’d planned for stitchers to tide them over. A friend DID help me get a newsletter update up this afternoon with his FTP and my passwords, but now that I’ve checked the site, I see that two files are still missing… so maybe I can be a total pest and get those files up to him on a CD tomorrow afternoon between the morning and evening church services so that he could send them over.

I can still blog though Nick’s computer and I will be able to do the same from my Mother-in-law’s and my Mom’s, but I will be basically blind and deaf on the Internet until January 5th at the very earliest.

That’s just the way the cookies crumble. As I said at the beginning of this blog entry, it has become such an absurd adventure that I can only try to laugh or groan. At least I’ll be able to spend time with my family guilt-free because there isn’t anything I can do to fix this over the holidays!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Lights In The Darkness...

It is amazing how just when things seem darkest, there are lights to remind you that all is not lost. A little stuffed elephant arrived in my mailbox with twinkly stars on the fabric that lines its fuzzy ears (thanks a million Erin!), a stitcher called from Toronto to see if I wanted the phone numbers of the Mac shops there who might have parts kicking around, a friend called out of the blue to say that she’d been sending happy thoughts my way because I’d been on her mind, I got lots of sympathetic and understanding e-mails about the delay in getting the Morning and Evening Dragons on-line... and after I came home from running an enrichment afternoon at Nick’s school there was a message on my machine from the contact person at Apple Canada telling me that my logic board part shipped out today!!!

Of course, with the holidays this weekend, it might not get here quite as quickly or get repaired in time for Christmas Eve, but I think I have an alternate plan in the works so that I can still get a tiny gift ready for stitchers to enjoy from the newsletter thanks to a few helpful elves!!

Upstairs as I write this, 140 cookies are drying after being iced with all kinds of colours. As soon as the Royal Icing is hard enough to package, they will be assembled into baskets, boxes and mugs for teachers, bus drivers, neighbours etc. When the dragon can’t be on her computer... she bakes! Actually, I do it in batches every weekend in advent and feed the freezer then take everything out the night before to ice/decorate. The only bad thing about being stressed and having baking around is the incredible temptation to eat it all!!!

So.... tomorrow is the last day of school for the girls. I am having a craft session at our house Friday morning with my girls and 4 neighbours kids who have chosen not to go to school for the 2 1/2 hours that it is open on Friday morning. It should be a half day, but because of the bus schedule, our kids would arrive at school at 8:15 and leave again at 10:30... which seems really silly to me. We’ll just take in all the teacher presents tomorrow and get them out of the way so that we can relax a bit Friday until their teacher parents come to our house and the real unwinding begins!!

If nothing else, these past few weeks have taught me that you need to be persistent and firm when trying to get an answer to a problem, to laugh when you feel like crying, to remember that there are always lots of other people who would still trade places with you in a heartbeat, that there are still many wonderful moments of light and hope amid the chaos... and that the true magic of this season is that it can work miracles through people all around you!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Someone Wake Me Up From This!!!!!

I guess the best news is that Erin was not barfy because of the flu, but rather a reaction to the increased asthma medicine to get her under control while she has this bad cold. She went off to school today sounding a bit better, even though getting up out of bed produced the same dizzies and gagging... she was fine after breakfast.

The nightmare is really with my eMac and I am reaching the end of what little rope I have left. What happens when the going gets tough? The tough get twisted....

‘Twas the week before Christmas
And all through the house,
A dragon was moping
And clutching her mouse...

(To the Tune of “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth”)

All I want for Christmas is my eMac please... my eMac please... MY eMAC PLEASE!!!!

(To the Tune of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”)

Please be FIXED by Christmas
Stitchers are counting on me!
They don’t want snow or mistletoe
Just dragons under their tree (or to stitch!)

After almost a month with a computer acting wonky and a week with NO graphics computer at all, I am getting just a little bit grumpy and panicky. I called the shop today and they told me that they still had no idea when that part would be shipping, so I spent almost 40 minutes on the phone with Apple Canada trying not to beg, plead, whine, cry, yell, use vulgar language or rant in order to get to the bottom of what is going on.

If the part is out there somewhere, find one and tell me WHEN I will have it. If there is a real problem getting said part and my 2 year old computer that is still under warranty (the store sold me THEIR extended warranty plan instead of the Apple one which I will never EVER do again!) then be honest with me and I will somehow find a way to buy a new one. I cannot survive without a Mac as a graphic designer and I have work to do for clients in the New Year as well as my own stuff.

I WANT MY MAC BACK!!!!!!!!! (dragon taking a deep breath so as not to melt the only working computer in her office into yet another heap of useless plastic)

I am REALLY sorry that everyone is having to wait for all the fun goodies stuck in the main computer. I should know in 48 hours whether that part can be found so until then I will just cross my fingers and toes.

At least I’m not looking at the flu sweeping through the house for Christmas!!!

Monday, December 18, 2006


Watching the final episode of Survivor and Reunion Show last night while batching up a Hoffman order, I was struck by several comments that players made about the primal nature of their experience. Becky, a lawyer, commented that when she’d first arrived on the island, she’d spent most of her time asking other players what time they thought it was. Her life was so defined by her watch and schedule that she had a hard time letting go of that structure. Ozzie pointed out what a primal experience just focussing on survival had been. He was right that only a few thousand years ago, even a few hundred years ago, most of us spent a good part of each day just trying to survive.

In our climate controlled, consumer driven North American society, as the mad rush of last shopping days until Christmas whirls around us, it is very hard to remember that there are corners of our planet and even our cities where the struggle to survive still rages on.

I read the girls one of our Christmas books before bed, about Laura and Mary Ingalls in the Little House on the Prairie. It was about the year that Santa couldn’t cross the rain swollen creek but Mr. Edwards still managed to deliver presents on Santa’s behalf. My kids were entranced by the story, but a little baffled at the joy Laura and Mary felt at receiving a tin cup, a stick of candy, a little baked cake and a shiny penny each. When I explained that people didn’t have as many things back then or as much money, Erin got very thoughtful but Bethany was still baffled at the lack of toys. It is amazing how much STUFF our children end up to play with that gets thrown in drawers or cupboards because they get BORED... I wonder if they ever realize how lucky they truly are to have that problem!

We got through the Christmas pageant, Erin’s solo in church, the two Christmas parties this weekend... all of which were joyful and wonderful and totally draining. I came home and just crashed for an hour’s nap after which I felt human again, but Nick and I are still feeling very drained. Everyone is just counting the days until the break...although I think much of my countdown still has to do with when I get my main computer back.

Would I ever be able to unplug completely? Like Ozzie, I think I carry a lot of skills that would certainly enable me to survive if thrown into a challenge like that (for real not for the cameras). I can cook well, swim well, sew, make things, invent stories, build good fires, weave, lash things together thanks to many summers of guide camp or fort building and I know quite a bit about First Aid. Would I choose to live like that instead of in comfort? I guess that depends on the day. While I can’t see anyone on this planet truly choosing cold and hardship over a comfy bed, regular meals, indoor plumbing and chocolate, there is that little voice inside most of us that longs for something simpler than the mad race to collect stuff, earn money, get to appointments, stay thin, be successful etc. These past few weeks with a wonky computer have taught me to go with the flow more instead of trying to control everything and plan it out. It has made me look more closely at the vulnerability of what I have chosen to do as a career and considering a back-up plan, especially as Bethany starts Grade 3 next year and has a longer school day.

This morning, things have been turned on their head yet again. Nick took the van in early to fix the damage from a little mishap in the parking lot of the video store two weeks ago and Bethany went up to the bus stop with a neighbour because Erin woke up and started being violently sick to her stomach. The flu / Norwalk virus has been going through schools in the area and has hit quite a few families that we know. I don’t know if this is what she has yet (because she’s been fighting more of a cold and cough) but it was instant quarantine to her room and LOTS of hand washing for me. I don’t handle barfies well and am very prone to rapid dehydration myself... so I am going to be VERY, VERY careful.

As I look about this week and think of all the ways in which I am NOT fighting for survival on a daily basis, I will remember to be thankful.