Friday, October 31, 2008

First Dickless Week

Well, I'd say we did pretty good in our first week without Dick. As some of you may know, Dick has gone to visit China with his parents and I'm left in charge of the house with my 2 teenage boys. Getting to work on my own wasn't quite as bad as I thought, and luckily I made it out of the office pretty much on time every day this week and can make it home well before dark.

We had a lot of food pre-made on the weekend which lasted as several days. Derek helped me make a big pot o' chili one night and I stir-fried some pork with a ton of veggies and that took us right to Friday. This week just flew by.

The work week was great. Having a depressed market has its advantages, as most of the nerve-wracked movers & shakers' wheelin' & dealin' has almost virtually come to a grinding halt, resulting in a lower work volume for us here in the back office. I hope this lull will last for a while.
On Wednesday, I actually took my first full hour lunch in a long time and attended one of the First Canadian Place lunch hour events featuring Roberta Bondar, the first female Canadian Astronaut giving a presentation on her tree canopy photography. It was amazing for me to come face to face with a real live astronaut. Much as I admired her and her photography, I found her seminar a little bit too technical, but it was still enjoyable. I almost won a door prize too. (A calendar featuring her tree photographs). I was off by just 1 lousy number.

Thursday was the best day for me. It was a very productive day for me personally. I can't say so work-wise tho. The boss wasn't in and we had a mini power failure which resulted in many of our computer programs being unavailable for us to work with. So what do I do to pass the time? Well, since I was assigned the weekly task of having to water some houseplants and pick up mail for my in-laws while they were away in China, I thought this would be the perfect time to do it. Kelly, my co-worker was nice enough to lend me her monthly Metropass, so it saved me some time by taking the TTC instead of having to walk to my in-law's place. I was originally thinking of dropping by their place on a Thursday, after work and staying the night and then taking a 30 minute walk back to work the next morning rather than enduring the one hour plus commute from my home. Anyways, despite getting lost on one of the side streets, I still accomplished my task in under an hour. This was mainly due to the fact that my mother-in-law was smart enough to make my task easier by pointing out to me which plants needed watering and which plants didn't. You see, some of her plants were real, some were fake, but looked almost real, and some were real with some real looking fake flowers added to the mix. So to my relief, she attached "Water" signs for the plants to be watered and "No" signs to the plants that didn't need watering. I hoped I didn't miss any because she had a lot. Oh well, I'm sure I'll find out next week if I did a good job or not.

Upon returning to my office, the computer programs were still not in working order, so I decided to attend another First Place Canadian lunch hour event. This time, it was a cooking presentation by Marty of Marty's World Famous Cafe. He claims to make the best butter tarts in the world from his Cafe in the Muskokas. He did a demo on how to make the perfect pie crust, all the while jabbering about his life growing up in Ontario. He was a real treat to listen to as he told us about his journey from being a clueless teenager to Cafe owner extraordinaire and now an Author of a cookbook. I loved his story about how a friend convinced him to travel to Europe with him for 1 year, instead of going to university and they had this to-do list which included bringing back a bottle of water from Loch Ness, taking a picture of him climbing on top of Stone Henge and bringing back a roll of toilet paper from Buckingham Palace, among many other zany items on his most unusual scavenger hunt list. And yes, those were 3 of the things that got ticked off of his to-do list. His whole point is that, if you REALLY set your mind to doing something, no matter how crazy or absurd, is that it CAN be done. It's just a matter of how badly you want to do it. The best was when he was given the "5 minutes left to go" signal, he just said, "No, I'm staying in the Zone. I'm not rushing, I'm gonna take my time to do what I love best. And of course, we left with some goodies he had made, like his famous butter tarts and a real scrumptdelicious giant lemon,blueberry cream cheese muffins. Unfortunately, I missed winning the door prize again (his famous Big Ass Apple Pie). But my ticket number was way off this time.
We capped off this week with Halloween night and we had quite a few cute & rambunctious trick or treaters come by. I thought the best costume was some 4 year old kid dressed up just like Indiana Jones, with his trademark, hat, jacket and whip. There was one group of kids who kept trying to scare Colin with a bunch of loud Boos. They were a lot of fun. I'm sure Dick would have loved to be here dishing out the treats and trying to scare the bejeebers out of some of the little ones with his scary rubber mask, but not this year. Good thing too because he sent one little girl away crying and screaming one year. Poor thing. All in all, a most enjoyable week. But the boys and I do miss Dick. He is still keeping us in stitches though, with daily reviews of his travels in China. If you want to follow along on this trip with him, you can visit him at

Roberta Bonar - The first female Canadian Astronaut

This plant needs watering. There's even a bottle next to it filled with the exact amount of water that the plant needs.

Here's another plant which needs watering. So what do you think? Does it look real or fake?

This plant does NOT need to be watered. Looks real to me.

DO NOT water this plant either.

A real bad picture of Marty Curtis at the Cooking demo.

These muffins were soooooooooo goooooooooood.

A slightly crushed butter tart and half a giant muffin which I brought home to share with the kids.

Here's a picture of Marty's $15 Grilled Cheese Sandwich recipe which I think Dick might appreciate, but I don't think it's made with Dick's favourite ingredient, Kraft Cheese Slices.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween Tricks & Halloween Treats

For Halloween this year, I baked a bunch of fun Halloween cookies for a United Way Bake Sale. In case you can’t figure out what the cookie shapes are, they are Pumpkins, Jack-o-lanterns, ghosties, Frankenstein’s Monster, bats, and turtles. For some reason, Dick thinks the bats are tarantulas. You are probably wondering what turtles have to do with Halloween. Nothing I can think of, but Derek seems to think that his favourite creatures, turtles need to be included in every occasion possible. I couldn’t to waste the last bits of chocolate & white cookie dough, so I made a Yin Yang cookie with them.

In lieu of a Jack-O-Lantern, we will just celebrate with orange peppers this year. They look sort of like miniature versions of pumpkins. Most years, Derek and I will carve Jack-O-Lanterns on the Sunday leading up to Halloween and hope that the Jack-O-Lanterns wouldn’t turn rotten or liquefy before the big day. Unfortunately, Halloween is on a Friday this year, and I’m pretty sure that any pumpkins we carve this Sunday will end up in pretty bad shape and will truly scare away all the Trick or Treaters.

Here’s a line-up of Jack-O-Lanterns we have carved over the years. Some years were better than others. We did poorly in year 2006, mainly because we went shopping for a pumpkin a little too late and all the good pumpkins were gone. We ended up carving a honeydew (Jack-O-Melon). Yeah, it was pretty lame looking, but we still had fun.

Have a happy and safe Halloween, everyone.

Bats & Pumpkins
Scary Ghosties
Turtles & YinYang Symbol

Orange Peppers (Mini Pumpkins 2008)

Pumpkins 2004

Pumpkin Barfing

Derek removing guts from the pumpkin

Derek putting some finishing touches on the pumpkin

Skeleton & Snoopy (2005)
Colin & Derek with their finished products

Jack-O-Melon (2006)

Creator & His creation

Spider & Haunted Place (2007)

Friday, October 24, 2008

First Snow of 2008

Just last weekend, I was admiring my garden. I decided to gather some of my garden harvest before the cold weather sets in. I collected the last of the Chinese Lanterns and some other foliage to save for any future crafting projects. It's a good thing I did because the snow came just 2 days later and my gardens were covered in a thin layer of snow. So our first official snowfall of the year came on October 21. I guess Global Warming hasn't kicked in for us yet. I'm not a fan of cold weather, but I must admit the snow added a nice touch to my gardens.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Last Minute Assignment (Part II)

You can run, but you can’t hide. That’s the lesson here. It doesn’t hurt to try though. That’s why I’m always dashing out that office door every little chance I get.

Anyways, it does look like the work place has slowed down somewhat. It’s no longer the frantic place it was just a few short months ago. I think everyone is just waiting for the stock market to settle down, before deciding what to do next. Even though the Mergers and Acquisitions front has slowed down, it looks like Bankruptcies are on the rise. No doubt, Class Action lawsuits will continue to keep us busy. But, I do believe Class Actions did peak about a year ago what with the Enron and Worldcom fiascos.

Well, let’s ride out this recession and hope for the best!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Glimpse into My Work Life

Here’s a snippet of what my work life can be like. There are many intense moments, interspersed by even more intense moments. Sometimes I just want to hide and escape from it all. But despite all the stress of relentless deadlines, I must admit that I’m currently working with a great bunch of young people who know how to have fun while under stress and it makes it all worthwhile to come into work, day after day.

Maybe I will delay my early retirement plans for now, especially with the way the market conditions are. I should be thankful that I have a decent job to go to. If you had asked me even a year ago, if I’m ready for early retirement, my answer would have been a DEFINITE YES! I would have told you that I can’t wait to step off this treadmill, ditch it all and join Dick in early retirement and just take each day as it comes. Now, I have changed my mindset to just enjoy whatever troubles that may come my way at work and not let them bother me. Dick has always given me that advice before, but it has taken me this long to finally follow it.

I dedicate this “Stocks & Bonds Inc.” Comic Strip Series to all my fun(ny) friends, (both past & present) in the Reorg Dept., where I’m currently serving my 22nd year of prison term. (I’m a lifer). Now, if I ever feel stressed out at work, I just take notes and think of a way to poke fun at it in my next Comic Strip story. I love all you girls & guys from Reorg!!!
Also, I would like to give credit to Debbie Ohi for getting me started on this blog and the Comic Strip idea. You should check out her blog at Other creative types who have either encouraged me or inspired me include: Connie Tam, Serena Chen, Anastasia Xu, and my dear hubby, Dick Seto. Thanks Ana, for suggesting that I signature my work.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Toronto Waldorf School/Village Market

Well, it's another beautiful gorgeous autumn weekend. Not as warm as last week, but still wonderful and sunny. We decided to visit the Toronto Waldorf School where they run a Farmer's Market year round every Saturday morning. The School is located on one of the best piece of woodland in Richmond Hill, just south of Rutherford Road on Bathurst Street. Just next to the school is a very pretty garden, where you can sit and relax while listening to the babbling waterfall beside a wooden bench. You can even park your bike at a nearby garage built just for bicycles. One of these days, I'm gonna get myself a good used bike and ride here. This place is probably a 15 minute bike ride from my home.

The school is surrounded by woodland and we wandered around into the forest, taking in the beauty of Autumn. Afterwards, we made our way back into the school where various local farmers were selling their organic harvest including Organic Beef, alongside vendors selling their baked goods, and other homemade goods and crafts. Maybe, I'll be a vendor here some day, selling some of my own homemade goods, like my pretty jars of tasty pickled daikon, lemon squares, or little cute crafts. I was quite enthralled by those adorable little lavender mice being sold at a booth dedicated to all things lavender. We ended up buying a Jamaican Squash which will be turned into a Beef and Pumpkin Stew with black bean sauce. Hmmm... black bean sauce. I also bought some of Chef Fancesco's homemade crackers made with sesame seeds, flax seeds and sundried tomatoes. I thought they tasted quite good.

We passed along a sheep farm on our way back home. Geez, I've been living in Richmond Hill for over 20 years now and this is the first time I noticed that there was a sheep farm so close to us. We need to explore our neighbourhood more.