Last night, I tread upstairs late after an evening of trying to catch up on some emails and computer things. I have really enjoyed our house and one of its features is a sky-lite. Now, most of winter in the Okanagan (as I have experienced) is a haze of clouds and clouded evenings. However, last night there shone a bright, wonderful, seemingly full moon through the sky-lite. According to the calendar, tonight is the actual full moon night. I dunno.
For years I would remember my mom dreading the e.r. work schedule when it showed that her hours coincided with a full moon. The weirdest things would happen on that night. Usually there were more drunks and police arriving with victims of a brawl or accident. Today at work it seemed the whole office was on full-moon-mode.
Yesterday was a big day. There had been a great deal of preparation for the Q-4 (year-end and fourth quarter assessments). There was an internet live audio-visual conference where the CEO and FEO spoke of the company's growth and future. By the time I arrived at noon, an office full of tense people were letting out their steam. Everyone was a bit giddy and punchy after the huge hawl to get the Q-4 and conference all in order.
Not today....complain, complain, complain. I couldn't believe it. People were upset about everything from the taste of the water through to the deadlines not met by clients and service personnel alike. The customers I spoke with were under insurmountable stress as their internet connections were failing...passwords and user i.d.s lost in the great expanse of the computer world. Our own mainframe had collapsed last week, and last night the mainfax fell apart. Our business emails were conjested with error messages and some faxes I transmitted arrived at the customer service personnel in duplicate, triplicate and quadriplicate (is that a word?). People were talking behind peoples' backs. Everyone spoke with an extra air of sarcasm and distrust....just awful!!
The weather too has gone a bit wonky here. We were starting to feel the approach of spring. The birds are going crazy with their mating rituals. I love the amount and diversity of wildlife here. It is as though my grandfather's wooden carvings have come to life. There are the Canada Geese, robins and chicadees. In the lake there are lots of ducks of various vibrant colours. I saw a returning mockingbird and I had to slow the car to a stop as I waited for a flock of quail to cross the road this morning (the last quail kept going back and forth completely confused as to the safest direction). When I went to the airport on Saturday, there was a huge (about 3 or 3-1/2 foot tall) crane of some sort. It's colours of muted grey and beige were accentuated by bright sparkles of various shades of green and blue. I couldn't say that I was a bird-person, but this environment has forced me to stop, look and listen.
With all of this spring-type weather and return of birds, we have also had a great deal of snow. The snow is starting to collect again in small patches along the side of the road. The roads are slick with sand left after the melting on the paved roads. The Saturn swifts around some corners but occassionally the tread can't hold as the s-turns challenge its mass with my speed. The temperature itself isn't bad, and I am regularly prepared with either winter coat or short-sleeved shirt in tow.
I spoke with a friend of mine from Ottawa today. They have experienced the rather mild winter that has soaked much of Ontario. Quite a change from a year or so ago when I went to stay at his house which was hidden under ice and snow.
Now Rich N. is one of those guys I really admire. He has so much style, grace and a great deal of humble smarts. We spoke of his life experience this past year. A year ago his father was in hospital and we weren't sure of his future. He had experienced a life-changing accident after a near-fatal collision while skiing in the hills in Quebec. While he was slowly surviving his ordeal, his wife, Rich's mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She wasn't going to be able to be well enough for remission, and there was only a short amount of time that she would have to share with her family. She has had many months of intense chemotherapy, and her cancer levels are thankfully lowering far enough that the word "remission" is now part of the doctors' vocabulary. Rich and Paul are hosting Rich's parents as they all work to fight these afflictions.
I started to cry with happiness though as Rich described his "coming of age 40" celebration. He and 17 of his closest friends from around Ontario, Quebec and Massachusets (sp?) celebrated his 40th in New York, NY. He did it all...$15 glasses of champagne while waiting for their opera (The Barber of Seville) to begin at the Met. A private tour of the Gugenheim (sp?), partying at an all-black jazz bar in Harlem, kicking up their heels at a same-sex bar downtown, a broadway show (42nd Street) and tour (for some) to "ground zero". Although they were accomodated at one of New York's finest hotels they didn't sleep for days...but partied, partied, partied. When Rich and Paul returned home, awaiting Richard was a big, black grand piano. A gift from Paul. I miss hearing Richard play piano. He is so gifted. His business is booming, and the strength of his family, business partner and life partner have helped him stay focused, balanced and centred into the care of his parents, business and family. Rich's twin kids (Jazmin and Zachary) turned 6 years old at the beginning of this month!! I can't believe how much those wee babes have grown. Richard's love for those two children have brought him so much joy and thankfulness.
Well, there is a lot going on in my life at home and at work...hopefully I will get back to blogging regularly so that, as a safe outlet, I will be able to share my thoughts and experiences daily, or as often as I can. Will write again as soon as I can.
sorry again for the blogging pause,
I am going through one of those emotional sorts of transitions.
I may be some sort of a change-junky. I really seem to enjoy change until it becomes mundain and easy to do. We have started back to an old routine to get some old "to dos" caught up. My work is going along...boring...and I am a "nobody" amongst others that I can't share even an emotional wink. I am in my own little island enticing passers with a cute little candy dish full of whatever candy I am trying to get rid of at the time. I mail things, I mail things, I call shippers, I send out faxes, I send out emails...and heaven forbid that I send one fax to Jo-Ann (single slip of the curser on the mailing list) when it was meant for Joanne. The girls 'live' across each other cubby spots...passing the info from one to the other would take a mere computer stroke....I really don't need a return email with a glaring remark about the mis-sent fax followed by a great forest of exclamation symbols. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This week though I won 2 tickets to the local Junior A hockey game. Jerry and Xdr really enjoyed the first 2 periods. Son and Dad are off for the weekend to a cub camp. They leave right after school tomorrow. I asked around work if anyone wanted to join me for a drink and/or a movie...I am on my own...but that would cross those business lines that I don't think I am culturally allowed to cross in the business setting...see if I get them their mail as quickly the next time...I have my ways...so, instead, I will trek over to the mall (I really hate shopping) to buy a half-priced bra, then treat myself to a movie. It will just be too quiet by myself on Scott Cres.
Saturday morning Susan arrives for her trek to the Big White. I have been waiting this visit for months!! However, with the reality that she is going to only be at the resort and that she has 'work' to do while she is there...I don't know how much we will really see her. I am going to meet her at the airport...maybe go up to the resort. Sunday I may take up some warm clothes, the cross country skis and skates, and see if I can meet up with her then...but who knows? At the end of the week xdr has 2 days of P.D. days, so hopefully Jerry will be able to get up there with him to play and visit(?) while I am at work. I had hoped to be able to see Susan and maybe even encourage a night away from the women with a relaxing dinner and sleep-over chez nous, but I think this work will prevent any like that to be take that on...that feels a bit sad. I should have looked at this a bit more realistically. It is just so difficult to know that someone from my family is only 45 minutes away, but not really accessible and not able to share in our new life here...no trips around to the scenes of our new life...oh well. I guess we will have a fair crew here in late June...but, you know, that is Jerry's family...I am feeling kinda sad missing some of my crew.
If all else fails, I can stick around the house and get some chores done (sans les gars) and hopefully blog something positive.
I am getting a bit down too as this seems to be the Eastern friendship-transition time. One of my friends was emailing me nearly daily. That changed to one every couple of days. Then EVERY Monday...now, whenever. I miss some of my friends so much and (for me) this was a great way to try and keep up...sometimes things, even friendships, I guess can get left in the translation...out of sight / out of mind. :-(
Well I made it through this week relatively unharmed but exhausted. I wonder what the next week will be like as we have redesigned our lifestyle a bit. Jerry wants us to go to the gym each morning after we drop off xdr to school. Then on Wednesdays we will be able to get back to our yoga routine again (yahoo). So, the mornings of workout, home to do a quick chore for an hour before I go off to work for the rest of the day.
I feel rather badly for Jerry today. You see yesterday the HR person came to me and asked if Jerry was still looking for a job. I said that he was. The HR person then just wanted to confirm that Jerry worked in computers and was looking for something in the project management or leadership area. I slowly pressed my hands under the counter and started to cross my fingers. He then made some comment like, "I could look through my files to try and find his resumé, but instead tell Jerry to email me again his resumé tomorrow as soon as possible so that I can hand it onto one of our staff. She, I mean, the person is looking for someone in that area." I quickly inscribed the message on my palm in red ink so that I could tell him a.s.a.p.
Jerry was a bit nervous/excited and wanted to know more about the position. I couldn't tell him much beyond what the HR person had said to me. So, when we were back home, Jerry sent off his basic "computer job" resume and a basic cover letter. This morning, bright and early as we were in the throws of arguing with xdr over some morning-get-ready-now-issue, the telephone interrupted. Jerry grabbed the phone and all I heard him say was ,"ya, we are all up too. Content resources management? No, I am not familiar with that buzz word. Oh, ok. Well call if you have any other questions. Bye." When he asked me what the company was using, and the Content resources management (what is that?), I said that I would look it up on the net...etc, etc.,
Well, as it turns out the "Content Resources Management" is one of the web tools that the company must use. I found an internet video explanation and some other suppliers of CRM while Jerry took xdr to school. When he got back Jerry sat and went over everything I had found. Even though he hadn't worked with a CRM, he did work with a similar non-web application of the same type of product at Stelco. He quickly called Dave (the HR) person and told him that he was aware of CRM, but he just hadn't worked with that specific tool. Well, I think the earlier call (not knowing the 'buzz' word), and then the call stating that he hadn't worked on that particular tool put Jerry's chances a bit lower. No one called today. When I went in to work, the HR person said he wasn't sure what was going to come of the chance because of Jerry's lack of experience with CRM. When I started to offer the point that he had worked with a very similar tool...the HR person just stopped me and said, "I just don't think that his lack of specific experience may work with him for his chances" Then the HR guy started to walk away. I said a very confident, "well maybe not for this one but....", but the HR guy just ignored me or wouldn't offer any words of encouragement.
Jerry called the office to let me know that he was leaving and that if the company was going to call him, then he would have to get the message via cell phone. The call didn't happen. I explained too that things were a bit crazy today (they were) as everyone was getting things ready to leave...so we should continue to be realistic (based on the lack of particular practice), but hopeful that something may turn around next week. When I arrived home, I saw that he was even more disappointed.
I feel so badly. It has been very difficult for Jerry to get "in" and this looked like a possible carrot. This business of perhaps not getting the call for interview really bothers him. We both know that he can take the job on. He has very flexible abilities, but because they can find people with the exact experience they are looking for, that always leaves Jerry out. Even if they would offer him or grant him an interview, they would see that he has the ability because the Stelco application is so similar...just a different name because their system was on a mainserver and intranet...whereas Bridges deals with intra, extra and internet. It's just that chance to get your foot in the door and convince them....
I don't feel that this is a lost cause. It is only my first week there and the HR person has turned to me to see about getting Jerry on board. I tell you, that would be really interesting working in the same place (mind you he would probably be in one of the 5 or 6 other buildings around the neighbourhood "BOB" where I am). So, the beat goes on.
Speaking of beat....Trevor and Barb, you package arrived yesterday. It is absolutely wonderful!! I played "Kith & Kin" back and forth to work (and I have it on now too). I loved the package of photos from the wedding, and thanks for passing on Nikki's cd. I will email you to discuss the terms of the shipment....hhmm. You know "something", today as I passed all the "good souls" on the "side" of the road on the way to work, it gave me a "fresh feeling". I'm not "super stylin'" yet at work, but I'm sure if I were to get upset over that , someone there would set me straight by just reminding me to "stop your crying", you're just "stuck in a moment", it's a "lovely day". Just think, maybe this time "next year" maybe you'll be able to vacation on an "island in the sun", "daydream in blue" watching the "sundown" of many coulours. You could then lay around naked like a "new born" under the evening sky where "there's a star" in every direction you look. I know that they would put their arm around me and console me with kind words like "I hope your're happy now", there, there, black is still in in some parts of the world, its ok. Listening to the tunes though has meant that "I can't get you out of my mind". "I love you" two. Thanks for the tunes. (Alexander's only disappointment was that he thought the first song would be "You're a mean man...Mr. Grinch". But I know that when I play him the tunes tomorrow, he will take the cd away and want to show this one off to his sweet wee friend Samanta (btw, her name is as it is spelled...don't say Samatha...it really bothers xdr that people don't take her name seriously and pronounce it properly...ah, it must be true love....teehee
Last night Jerry met me in town as we were able to get a babysitter for a couple of hours. She had to be back to her family's house by 9 p.m. as the whole family was taking a Valentine's Eve trip to go skiing up at Big White. *green jealous spots form on my cheeks* Jerry and I went to hear Barbara Coloroso speak. I think just about all of you are familiar with who she is. I told her that I feel a bit like a 'Barbara junkie'. This was my 4th chance to take in her wonderful pearls of wisdom...and as she put it ...she was there to irritate us like a pearl which is irritated by the dirt...it can either live and turn into a pearl, or die. ...and Brian, I seem to remember a sermon where you also used this pearl metaphor...you know, I actually thought YOU were the one who came up with that metaphor...hm?
I saw Barbara the first time when I was in teacher's college. Then when I had been teaching at the tough Dunnville school, her appearance as a keynote speaker at one of our PD days changed my educational practice so much. That day she spoke about the same basic info, but the title of the talk was "Kids are worth it or How to teach without beating up your students". I bought her book that helped a great deal with some discipline practices I used with my students. When xdr was about 2 years old, I realized that a refresher course would be good and I reviewed that book. As well, I purchased a purse-size version of the book for those "quickies" of reminders at tough times. When xdr was about 4 or 5 years old, I heard that she was speaking at a local school. I paid for two tickets and Jerry and I arrived really early so that we could be assured front row centre seats....maybe we could take in her ideas by closer contact...osmosis(?). We started to put the ideas into practice again, and we also tried to start some of the other things. We were re-energized and ready. Last month I got her next book from the library. It was a tougher book as it dealt with children who face life. She said in that book three realities that children need to understand when there is a difficult crisis...1-life is not fair; 2-life hurts; 3-life is good! It was a great resource when I was trying to help xdr with some of the difficult emotions and feelings he was experiencing from the move. Xdr is doing really well now. He has a great perspective on the move, and he is gaining some more insite that he is now sharing with us. He still misses everyone, but he really seems to be settling in quite well these days.
So, she spoke last night at the Evangel Tabernacle in town. The public school district (like our boards) was rather smart as they sponsored the event allowing parents and anyone else to go for free. Today she spoke with the district teachers and administrators...I would have loved to have heard her speak with them as well. She worked in conjunction with a research group out of Toronto to get a great deal of research for her most recent book (was supposed to be out in January, but it now looks like that will be October instead). Her next book will deal with the bullies, the bullied and the bypasser. The Toronto research showed that bullies and bullied kids should not be put into "conflict resolution" situations as these usually never work...why...because the main purpose of a bully's actions come from a feeling of 'contempt'. The 'contempt' of a person toward another person is the crux of the issue. She is also looking at creating 'thinking skills' that bullied kids should know so that they don't get themselves caught into these scenarios. She also shared that 81% of times a bully is bullying another person, there is an observer/bypasser who in only 13% of the time does something to come to the aid of the person being bullied. So she is also wanting to empower the bypasser to take an active role...of course there are certain common sense things to do and not to do...these will also be addressed in terms of empowering our kids to "think" and "problem solve". Obviously there are still some kinks to work out, but based on her past approaches about discipline, grief, and other issues involving ourselves and children, I am certain this book will offer very good advice that is practicle, usable and so easy we will wonder why we hadn't realized what we could do earlier.
Well, the night is late, so I must go. This weekend we are off to another Koga get-together. I imagine the rest of the time will be doing some family trekking (if the sun would come out like it did this week, I for one will be outside the whole weekend) and some more Olympic viewing. Of course, somewhere is the washing, ironing, dusting and vacuuming. Aren't weekends fun? teehee!!
Life continues to elude my understanding. Its changes and routines continue to run a course that I have been left to follow, but have very little idea of where it will turn next to nor of its pace.
Of course the day started earlier than I have been used to for a while. I was still trying to get over the shock from the figure skating of the night before. Then there was the pure fear that I felt knowing that I would be left to my own devices at my new job while the full-time receptionist was training. Thankfully Alice was there when I needed her to "lean on" and I am sure half of the things that Angela would handle in a day were completely overlooked. I did take some nasty calls and had my share of problem solving, so I don't think I will ever get totally bored at this job (not in the near future anyway). Tomorrow we have a visitor coming to the company...the local federal member of parliament. That should be excitingly superficial..but an experience none the less.
I can say that I can now probably identify about 25 faces and names today. That only leaves about another 126 in the office where I work and another..??..in Ottawa and around the U.S. and Canada. Oh well...in time. Everyone that I speak with (as some people are names and voices still), have been so exciting. There is a really interesting mix of former teachers, computer kids, former lawyers, etc in this group. I will be starting a "yearbook" of faces and biographies next week, so the weeks ahead could prove interesting. Today I met a guy who grew up in Germany, was "driven" out of Fergus with his band, has an uncle who sold us our van and as it turns out this guy lived in Ottawa at the same time I did. Who knows who I might get to know tomorrow.
I think Jerry has been thinking a bit about my experience in getting this job and he has started to refocus his work and life strategies. Although this is a rather ... I dunno what would be the most politically correct way of saying it ... beginner level job, it really did take all of my drive, experience and utter quick-on-my-feet thinking to even try to get a position. I really can't describe what kind of market it is like here in Kelowna. In all of the places I have lived in Ontario, it has been difficult to get the job that I truly wanted to get, but in the end, I could usually find something that was comparable or bearable....here, the market is so closed. There are job opportunities, but the word doesn't get out. As an example, on Monday, I was introduced to the company...so were 3 new computer people. Now the jobs that were filled by these three people, I could have easily done one of them (if I had known that it was available), and Jerry would have found enjoyment and challenge in the two other positions. And I know, that this company is exactly what Jerry has been trained to work in...and he could do wonders. Today alone, two more computer people were hired. These jobs have not been posted in any part of the office (that I have found yet), they don't seem to appear on the system (which I was connected to today), they definitely didn't appear in any of the job ads in either of the newspapers, nor at the career/job company that is training Jerry right now. So, the only way these jobs are getting out there is by word of mouth. Now maybe, my wee job may lead to something for Jerry (and hopefully myself too...same company, but hopefully some day as a research and writer)....but, it is all "who" you know. They are VERY reluctant to hire people who "drop out of the sky outside the valley". I dunno.
In light of all of this though, Jerry has started to re-evaluate his ideals and direction for himself...as well as for the family. Yesterday, he and xdr went to an "Oriental healer" who discussed all sorts of things with Jerry that related to health...but more metaphysically. This has really hit Jerry quite profoundly. He has had weeks now of intensive training on personality traits, skill identification, etc., and I think he is strongly considering some sort of huge career swing. He loves to work with people...and he is thinking more in line with counselling (of some sort). He is very much into the ideology of life change - health change. The three of us have seen very profound changes just in our own wee family. Our perspectives and ideas about certain things (i.e. violence and children, nutrition, quality of life) have become quite more focused than before. We are working together much more as a three-some in problem solving. Family discussions now include all of us much more than they ever did before. The result of which has had some profound effects on Alex for one. Alex now is more analytical(?), or perceptive, and involved in his choices of everything from appropriate dress to the choices he makes in spending his day (from play to work and back again). It really is quite an interesting evolution. So, we will continue to test these new waters and try to develop even stronger skills and creative ways to solve some of the problems that life is throwing to us.
Yesterday Alex had a ball. In the afternoon, the class (?) or school went skating. We had sold and given away all of xdr's skates thinking that we would buy a new pair here when we signed him up for skating. Then, we became overwhelmed with our choices for the winter (swimming, skiing, cub adventures, church/school activities, Koga family get-togethers). So we didn't get his skates bought. However we found this great place where we can rent equipment (helmets, skis, skates, snowshoes, boards, etc). This meant that we could rent a pair of skates for the day. Skating lessons had become a "chore" for xdr. He would go on Saturday, but never really cared for it. He would skate with his class at school, but that wasn't great either. However, yesterday he had a ball. He was going around and helping the ones who were finding it difficult to skate (he even started falling down with some of them, so that they wouldn't feel silly and alone). He came home asking to take more lessons. Last week, he wanted to sign up again for karate (another abandoned sport from the past). So it seems that he is starting to feel more comfortable in the sports again, and is wanting to make some choice changes again. He is signed up for soccer (which starts in April here), but we have 4 cub camping adventures to go on before that starts. So much to explore.
Well, on the learning curve, I am very low in the name recognition department so I have some homework to do...the company name/position/title list..So I will bid a fare well and talk again soon.
Oh, before I go...thanks Mom for the info you sent in the mail. I will be officially joining you and your challenge starting next Monday. The guys said that they are not going to join me in the activity, but they are sure going to support me. Now if you lost yours and I found it...and, hopefully I will lose mine...who will find mine? Hm...we'll have to see where this goes next. Thanks for all of your help Mom. Love, Wendy
Hello to you all. I wanted to write this quick message to say a very, very special happy birthday to my brother Trevor. I still remember the day you were born with great honour and pride. As you grew older, you attracted many a passersby by your big brown eyes and your big white smile. As you passed into your teen years, you lengthened out and quickly grew taller than me. Your abilities in sport were growing as were your awarenesses of the world we live in. Your skills with music and love blossomed into the very handsome and thoughtful person you have become today. I hope the next 32 years see more glorious colours and love. Happy Birthday Trevor.
Today too we celebrate another very special person's birthday. That of my oldest step-daughter Denise. You always had a strength that held the world together around you from the time I first met you. Your smiles has lightened the hearts of all of us. You can reach deep into the inner-most feelings and desires of others without ever letting down your own strong feelings or opinions. I wish you all the best for this, your 26th year, and all the years ahead. Happy Birthday Denise.
In short, today was my first day at Bridges.com. I should be glad that I made it through a whole 9 hour shift today, but I am looking a bit tentatively at the next two days of 9 hour shifts. The company is leaving me alone at the desk as the full time staff will be on a two day training session. There are so many things to remember, and I feel that I am cm away from having the whole front desk way out of control. I look for better memory and an ability to understand all of the complex jobs that the very talented people do for this company. However, if the staff is any indication of where this work time will be in my life, I see a chance to begin many new friendships, mentors and I already feel very honoured to be included as "one of the clan". Thanks especially to Angelica W. and Alice. I couldn't have made it through today without your energy and calm guidance.
Royal maiden passing and Kelowna bridge trivia:
Just heard that it was Princess Margaret who was the first person to cross our famous floating bridge. As she crossed in the open-air car, she tested the bridge before any others were allowed to pass. That was 1958. Apparently the Princess stayed at a house (on 'our' side of the lake) for the weekend of her visit. The family was allowed to spend the weekend in a lovely resort/hotel while the Princess played house in their lakeside, humble abode. Who knew?
What a crazy day it has been since my marathon interview yesterday.
Last night, we started discussing the events for this year's Koga Olympicswith a full fledged Koga family meeting. Our civic holiday family reunion has now been rebooked for the first long holiday at the end of June/beginning of July. The setting for the meeting was Pattie and Tom's (but of course), and members of each branch of the Koga family squished around their dining room table. I love family reunions. I don't know if it is simply the fun memories of kicking off our shoes with our distant cousins in Tavistock, or the incredible Japanese food that always marks any Koga get-together. Whatever is the focus of each reunion, this year will be especially special as all of the Yamashitas will be together again (right guys?!!). We do know for sure the Mom Yamashita, Denise and Colleen are ready to fly, but we haven't had the final word from Ken and his family, Janet and Ron, nor Nancy. We have begged all of the other Kogas to barrage them with emails of invitations. Hopefully the family will all attend this once/4 year event.
Thanks to Trev and Barb's blog, I had finally heard about the passing of Princess Margaret. I have read over the BBC releases and viewed photos that I had never seen or had completely forgotten that I had seen. Princess Margaret was a beautiful princess, and her life was much more interesting than I had ever known. Like Trev, I too feel that her passing will be filled with the tabloid trash of her colourfull past...but at least we won't have to hear more about that rediculous Canadian teacher. Do rest in peace Madame Princess.
Tonight we went to the local buddhist temple for supper. Jerry's family (many of the aunts, uncles and cousins) have returned to their families' religious roots. Each month the men and women of the congregation make Japanese food for all to enjoy. Tonight's menu included wonderful udon (Japanese noodles and broth), sushi, green tea and many great Japanese treats. The food played second fiddle to the fact that once again, we were together with the Koga Krew. Jerry's cousins are mostly my age, so I had a chance to talk babies, boys and houses, while Alex played paper-flag-monkey-in-the-middle with his 1st cousins once removed (or are they second cousins?..I never get that one right) and Jerry mused with the other "guys" about the olympics, hockey and the upcoming-soon-arriving golf season. Fun conversation all around. We have been invited to dinner at cousin Dave and Heather's for next week. No wonder my clothes are "shrinking" here. Unlike it's oriental cousin, the Chinese dinner, Japanese food is great for the soul and these nippy winter eves. How do so many Kogas stay so slim, I will never fully understand.
Alexander is off to his 5th or 6th birthday party tomorrow. Riely is turning 9. The afternoon will be spent at a local kid's fun spot called Scandia. They will enjoy mini golf, some video games, pizza and birthday cake....but, for us, the price of a cute boys' gift is only a small fee for the wonderful time just to ourselves for once. We are going to catch an adult movie (The Shipping News), and fit in mass before we pick him up again after the party...in time to get home and ready ourselves for the new week ahead.
My new job is starting to set in. Despite the fact that I will simply be a receptionist, the idea that "you make your job" has started me thinking of some of the challenges ahead. I am so nervous that I won't be able to remember names (you know what I mean right Trev, I mean Brian, I mean Mom!!!, right?). Will I be flubbed by the use of the computerized system, or will I be able to stop myself as I send off messages from people calling from all over the world...I don't know if I will be able to hold myself back sometimes.... I do know that trivia will need to be part of my daily routine. While I was there, the receptionist was working out a querry from one of the workers about the amount of acres in 'x' amount of hectares, then she quickly relayed a series of calls to various departments, signed as the courier person dropped off a package (addressing him by name) and told the passing VP that she figured the temp was around 8 degrees. Will I be able to mult-task like this too someday? "Bonjour, Bridges.com, where can I direct your call?" "Bonjour, Bridges.com, where can I direct your call?", " Bonjour, Bridges.com.........
blogging delay bridged:
My blog has been delayed this past couple of days by events that have passed by so quickly, Houdini would be amazed at how we escaped them. Jerry presented a very important proposal to the company who is training him to "job search". Over the past two weeks he has been involved with a grand mass of presentations with titles and subjects ranging from Chinese medicine and health strategies to proper resume preparations for the 21st century. His every aspect of life has been put under the microscope to be viewed and studied in great detail and depth with the hopes of unlocking that perfect job that is waiting for him in the Kelowna market. Then Thursday, he put all of his learning into work and presented his career councellor, and owner of CBD (Career Business Development) a proposal that would "revolutionize" the HR practices of the company. He had facts, opinions, development plans and computer examples. If, down the line his proposal is accepted, he will be creating a job for himself that would help to put a real spin on the technical recruitment and Kelowna's business technical requirements. His ideas are wonderful and I/we truly hope that the CEO will strongly consider directing his ideas. Of course...there is the issue of money, so now we are going to be researching any funding possibilities that the HRDC (Human Resources Development of Canada) has to offer....look out red-tape-reading, here we come.
About 2 weeks ago, I was thinking about certain structures that have created a type of metaphor for my life's experiences. I then started to realize that throughout my life there have been many, many bridges. Now, this could simply be the fact that I grew up in Southern Ontario which is graciously webbed with waterways. So, one night I brainstormed each of these bridges that I have passed many times. The list below is a listing of various bridges that have had a part in my life. Now, I thought to share this with you because I believe that each reader will at least be able to be aware one of these bridges. I suspect too that one of these bridges will mean something to you too. For those of you who are bored by lists (or don't care to go down that path), please skip ahead to the last paragraph for my latest news (**teehee**...see ya there)
Bridges of my past (and your's too?)..Bridge over the Thames River (Oxford, Ontario County), Guy Lombardo Bridge (London, Ontario), Belwood Bridge (post 1942 of course), large cement bridge over the Elora Gorge (?) near the Elora arena, Victoria Park (?) swinging foot bridge (Guelph, Ontario), Fergus mill bridge (from Centennial Park), Railway bridges that crossed the Elora Road and the South River Road (Brian do you remember anything about one of these bridges????), Tower St. bridge by Canada Trust (Fergus, Ontario), Caledonia and its multi-arched bridge over the Grand River, Skyway bridge (Burlington/Hamilton, Ontario), Beaches lift Bridge (Burlington/Hamilton, Ontario), world's longest floating bridge (Kelowna, B.C.), Calcahualco Bridge to Citlatapetl (Calcahualco, Veracruz, Mexico), West Montrose covered bridge (near-ish Elmira, Ontario), covered market bridge (Florence, Italy), London Tower Bridge (London, England), Bridge across the Rideau Canal (walked this many times from bus route #1 stop on Bank Street to the University of Ottawa, Ottawa-Hull bridge, Ottawa-Aylmer bridge, Lansdowne(?) Park bridge (Ottawa, Ontario), Mill St. bridge (Elora, Ontario), Lion's Gate Bridge (Vancouver, B.C.), Isle d'Orlean bridge (Quebec City, Quebec), Mont Ste. Anne bridge (swinging foot bridge). I still want to go to a bridge that is in a park high on the mountains outside Vancouver...who knows the one I might mean???
***Now, was my recollection of these bridges, indeed my desire to find some metaphor in my life that these bridges have played, have anything to do with what happened today? Was there a prophetic element in my desire to recollect these structures? I have found a new job...part-time...for now. After a gruelling 3+ hour interview where I sold myself so diligently (with every piece of clothing on) and completely, I procured a job with the one company I REALLY wanted to work for....I am now an employee of "Bridges.com", one of North America's leading education software writers for career-based learning (Junior Kinder. to adult). The company began in Kelowna in 1994. It was started on the backs of two retired Kelowna secondary school teachers. In the past year, it has experienced a 5,000+% increase in sales across North America. Although it has catered primarily to internet and CD-ROM distribution of its learning materials to public schools, the market has started to be opened to human resource and development sites and is slowly spreading to many English and French speaking countries world-wide. My new, exciting title, after 3+ hours of grueling questions and answers and scenarios, while single-handedly breaking into the ever-Kelowna-only boy's club (people's club) in the most auspicious area of ....drum role....Bilingual receptionist/assitant....part-time, 4 hours each day. It was exhausting....you would think I was applying for VP of research and development. I mean, really people!!! No wonder poor Jerry hasn't gotten anywhere yet!!! Oh yes, and this was after I received an out-of-the-blue telephone screening interview yesterday. Please!!! I don't know what clinched the job; education background (good), a 'Koga' name on my References list (I happened to know that the HR person was a former teacher of nearly every Koga who went to highschool in Kelowna) (good), my French tested by another employee (good), my complete understanding of the Bridges.com history/present achievements/past awards/mission statement/customer & clientelle/b.s. (good), my eloquent descriptive of my skills as a team worker (good), my possible flexible working hours (good), my ASSURANCE that I was not just going to leave Kelowna and head-long back to Ontario (good), my savy of the technical requirements...from research I did for Jerry's job interview last March (good)...who knows?
Don't get me wrong, I am very pleased that I will have this job. I had applied for their full-time bilingual receptionist position, but the posting changed to part-time (why, I am still not clear). I will job-share with a full-time receptionist either taking the 5:30 a.m. (for those eastern customers) - 9:30 a.m. shift or the 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 pm shift. The VP of sales raised his eyebrows when I said that I felt that the company was missing a large market by not accomodating Spanish speaking areas of the states (or Mexico) like their French language versions of the product..."oh, and by the way, I know Spanish...even better than French." Apparently it is a very dot com type of group. Everyone was dressed in their favourite jeans, and casual work spaces are set aside with a "creativity room". I explained too that I had a great deal of agility with sourcing/research...so I think some of that work will be passed my way. But, I had to 'understand' that they needed someone who liked phones...."I love phones, oh yes, I love phones...Do I get to wear one of those wire pieces?" So, Monday, February 11th I begin at 8 a.m. I am to stay the whole day to learn the ropes. Tuesday will also be a full day as there is a general training session that is running for their customers (and I get to participate, so that I can get to know the product...I will enjoy that day because I really and truthfully do like their product), then Wednesday I will have a third training day. I guess that means I will be on my own to man...I mean, person...the front reception desk. I was warned about the Americans...."an aggressive sort, but firm friends once they get the help they demand". Calls will be sent off to other offices in Kelowna, Ottawa and New York where the other Bridges.com houses about 50 more writers and engineers (as well as the 130 - 150 staff in 'my' office). Will I find it challenging? I hope my ability to remember names improves drastically over the next 3 days...but I will try my hand as best as possible. Besides, they are having fun trying to get my name down, "You know, Yamashita, like ya mash de potatoes?" Will there be a future career here?...I bloody hope so...I do not want to be "miss wendy" at the front desk with crocheted vest to ward me from the fridgid wind passing through the opening and closing of the front doors. Will I be able to achieve all of my goals for equal opportunities for all people and save the world from the problems beset upon us from generations of abuse to our environment and lack of general well-being toward others whilst finding the cures for all unsolved ailments and diseases? Nope. I'll leave that one up to you guys. K?
On a dare, and with some encouragement, I thought I might try my hand at writing a story to submit to the local university. Depending on our employment situation, that being if Jerry gets a job he really wants to be at, I may return to the classroom in September to either study human teeth (dentistry) or take some writing courses. Most of the writing courses are geared around journalism, but there are a couple of fiction offerings that I thought I might try...maybe. As a yearly "thing" the university in conjunction with some other supporters offers a contest. Much like my entry into the Toronto Internation Marathon a couple of years ago, I know that I have no chance of showing a competitive edge, I simply want to try this contest to see if I can do it. My own personal, internal barometer is wanting me to get at a number of projects, and I thought this would be the one.
So, last Wednesday I started. I began writing 3 paragraphs. Then, I didn't like them as starting paragraphs, so I thought I would introduce the work with another angle first. Suddenly I found myself doing what I always told my students to start with...a plot outline. Since this story has been floating around in my head for so many years, I thought that my plot outline had been fulfilled. After the plot outline, I like to do some research on the subject. I always enjoy reading something where the author "knows" something of the area they are introducing the reader to. Since my story setting was going to be the Wilker homestead farm of the early 1930's, I started to do some research into our own family history. I pulled out the old "Wilker reunion" book, and attempted a family tree of Granny's side of the family. A project that I figured would be quick and relatively easy led me on to more questions than answers. This also lead me to some wonderful sites on the web regarding geneology and such.
I think I am wanting to do this for a couple of reasons. I feel that since I left the east, I had unfinished work there. I had wanted to get the family trees in order before I left, but never finished them as I set these aside to the world of box making and packing (let alone internet house hunting and job hunting). I think I need to do this too because I miss the family. Not in the sense of feeling sad not to be able to see everyone more often, but in the sense of not "being" with everyone when needed, or on a whim. The best parts of my life have been on whims, usually initiated by "gut feelings". Now, I can't just decide that I'd like to see how the farmers are doing with their crops in Oxford county and get a chance to visit with Granny and the rest of the family. I can't decide to do some soul searching and nip up to Fergus "for a spot". Logically I knew this would happen, but intellectually I felt that I would fill these times with the new pursuits.
The reality is a bit different than I had imagined. I didn't realize how completely drained I would be with the stress of the move. I didn't realize how much there is to do here as a volunteer, nor how the things tend to only function here on the backs of people who give of their time and their talents. I didn't know that this community would become so insular once the winter set in. I had visions of popping off to Vancouver for weekends of culture, not realizing that the road is most often impassible or one would have to be out of their mind to just hoof off like that. I didn't realize that the mountains would hold in the clouds and the hills would be so expensive to venture on with skiing. I thought I would hike and romp in the snow, not realizing the real dangers of preditors (right now that is cougar) and very unsafe terrain. I also thought that we would have the cash to join up for clubs and activities, not realizing the true constraints of our new lifestyle. So, I am learning, trying, and re-inventing myself so often that I barely know what I will be doing or what I will be feeling or what I will become motivated to do from one moment to the next. Suddenly the freedom I once felt with unplanned, impromptu acts are the theme and direction of my life and I feel more like I am sliding around on the rink rather than strengthening my body with a good high powered stroking session.
I have been wanting to work on expressing myself well. However in the unpredictability of my "being" right now, even any artistic goals are simply desires with some hope of success.
Mom and I talked on the phone last night for two hours. She is getting herself so together and I find that really motivating. She has worked hard and loss a great amount of weight. She is still working around the employment future for herself from 13 weeks to the next. She is motivated and driven to the point that she feels quite in control of her environment. Heck, she even has my favourite van now...a Honda Oddysey. I am very proud of what she has been working to overcome, has been achieving and is continuing to strive toward set and random goals. One of her achievements of late has been the consistent work on reachieving a good, nutritious, balanced diet. She has worked hard and has lost a lot of weight (as I told her before, she doesn't have to worry...I know exactly where those pounds are, and I will continue to hold onto them for her in case she wants them back...teehee). She is going to be sending me her diet regime, which I will try in an effort to gain more balance in my diet, but my biggest goal is to get my energy back.
Today was horrible. I could not get out of bed. I literally slept for hours not knowing if it was day or night. Unfortunately, since last Friday, my desire to find some "muse" and "think outside of the box" has led me again to have horrifically vivid dreams and nighmares. I was once told to write out my dreams and establish a dream journal. I have been haunted by these dreams in the day and night. They are filled with war, strife, suffering children, suicide, deformation, negativity. I hate this time in my journey of life. These nightmares do haunt me from time to time. I am secure in the realization that these are not real, nor any indicator of the future, but my life becomes a cycle of sleepless nights filled with dull wake times and a total lack of energy and terribly dull hope.
None of what I am saying is earth shattering nor life changing, it is just where things were today and the days leading up to today. Yesterday, the sun was full at times and I was able to look beyond much of the negatives, then in the turn of the clock, my energy is sapped beyond its normal low and filled with horrific "filler".
Something too that I think I will be facing soon is my experience in Mexico. I think a surprise get-together with a Mexican lady and a movie that brought home some of the experience of the latin people (Proof of Life) has once again knocked me sidelong in needing to justify/understand/retell my whole story of Mexico. Like Shrek pleads with Donkey, "Ogres are like onions. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. Get it!!" Donkey comes back with more positive metaphors, "Cakes has layers. Now I love dem layer cakes. Nobody likes onions. Layer cakes. Dey're good. Ogres could be like layer cakes". My Mexican adventure was like a layered onion cake. It was beautiful on the outside, but deep down, it stunk!! There was so much reality there though that we as Canadians have no idea what life is really like. There is a level of stress and tension, that we just never have to even approach..unless in nightmares. But I did live through a nightmare. A story that has remained left untold to most and never actually, formally written
So, back to the story. I might put the family tree aside. I may still let that story wonder in my head. For now, while job hunting is still top of the list, I think I may try to tell my Mexican story. It used to be pretty. It was shown to be pretty by photos and letters, but there were life-changing events that come to re-haunt me from time to time. I think though the story needs to be told. So, my fictional story may appear like a fictitious story about a Canadian who travels to Mexico, but finally, the reality of what happened may finally come out in words. Maybe the haunting will stop then. Who knows?
I just received the STATS on our January norms. We were 3 degrees warmer in January than the norm. We averaged -1.3 degrees C over the month. The precipitation was at the normal level...but I can't remember what that was. Now here is the OFFICIAL total of sunshine for the whole 31 days....drum roll please.....24.8 total hours!!!
I just realized today that I didn't hear anything about Groundhog day. It came and passed in a none-eventful day. I already can bet that the Kelowna groundhog did not see his shadow. What that means again, I can't remember.
So, let's celebrate those 24.8 hours and look forward to sunnier days ahead (j'espere).
The Power of the Sun:
Think of it, not just in scientific terms, but in its more pure and natural state.
Today the sun made its appearance from time to time. The ever-cloudy Kelowna landscape was enlightened by areas of daylight and blue sky. For me, this has had an amazing effect on my "being". I have enjoyed the effect of the sun upon my face. It's warmth amazingly helped to re-connect some of the foggy synapses between my cranial lobes. It's radiance worked amazing feats of artistry on the landscape of the mountains and waterlands that pass before me each day. Its ability to even bend and fold into areas that have not enjoyed its warming rays for months embued my senses with a moment of true spring. Will the sun come again tomorrow? Will this energy and optimism be in the environment of my mind and body? I hope so.
Now I can see that the car needs cleaning, the garage floor needs sweeping, the windows in and around the house need cleaning, the clothes will in fact need to be loosened thereby exhibiting my hybernating winter body. The needles of the fir and pine will need picking, the grasses will need cutting, the soil will need replenishing.
I will enjoy this sun for now. I will wish it stay today (and perchance tomorrow) while I dream of the coming of spring and re-energize my batteries readying myself for the long set of spring chores ahead. Know what? Winter isn't that bad afterall.