Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hydro One - Ontario

I don't know if I make a good activist. I always look like I'm having a great time! Shouldn't I look more serious? I don't know. I think it's just the automatic reaction when someone points a camera towards me - CHEESE!! 

You should see an interview CTV did with a couple of the leaders of the "HYDRO ONE NOT FOR SALE!" group. I'm in the background chanting with some of my fellow protesters - honestly we look like a sorority group dancing and singing away! (In Canada Hydro = electricity)

Protesting outside of our local Member of Parliament's office.
We stage a sit-in every Friday for a half hour and generally
pester Ms. Matthews by filling out appointment slips
every week. So far one person has had one meeting
with her.

Here's the scoop: our provincial leader, Premier Wynn, is selling off our huge Ontario Company called Hydro One. With the payout, around $9 billion, some debts will be settled and the rest (not much) will go into repairs and infrastructure. A one time deal.

The $750 million annual profit will belong to whoever buys the company instead of going into the provincial budget. You can just imagine all the social programs that will have to be cut to make up for that huge loss.

Rates WILL go up and up and up. Brown outs will occur more frequently. Aging infrastructure will continue to age causing our rates to skyrocket! Our rates just went up again as of Jan. 1st - the 4th time in less than 3 years! (most recent increase before this one was November 2015!! - our rates have increased 46.6% over past 10 years!!) Another increase is planned for spring 2016. Oh my...

I am one of the lucky ones. I got my e-bill yesterday and was feeling a bit worried. I've heard of some people's bill going up more than 50%!! Those in rural areas and/or living on native lands were getting hit worse than us city dwellers.  Some people still heat with electricity - and have gone from paying $300+ a month to over $500! My bill only increased by $7.00 over last month which increased by $8.00 last November, 2015, which increased..........and so on. And then they're going to ding me again come spring! I guess my new habit of going to bed when it gets dark has paid big dividends - HAH!

Maybe I should stop cooking - now there's a thought! And I'll just store my food outside! Stop washing our clothes, get dressed in the dark!

How else can we save some of our electrical dollars??

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Look out Ireland!!

In case you haven't heard, or read, Annie and I are off to Ireland this year!!! Right now it doesn't seem real (other than the charges already appearing on my Mastercard!!) Last week Annie and I spent the better part of 3 or 4 days checking out places to stay, trains, flights, spots we didn't want to miss (the Blarney Stone!) etc.
There is so much to see and do in Dublin!
Skeletal remains anyone?  
Guess what I'll be bringing home?
As it stands now we will have a few days in Dublin, then we travel by train to Galway where we catch a bus to the ferry which will take us to Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands where we stay for a couple of nights. We will cycle our way around the island visiting Dun Aonghusa, a circular fort perched on top of a cliff among other medieval sites!
Annie - we have to eat in Druid Lane (Galway)! 
The cliffs are magnificent!
Galway is the 4th largest city in Ireland.
This shows the trip from Galway to Inverin where we take
the ferry to Inis Mor
Dun Aonghusa - a circular stone fort

From there we will be taken by taxi to where our walk begins - Oughterard, on the mainland. Over the next 7 days we will walk 122km of The Western Way ending up in Westport. We spend the night in Westport and then take a train back to beautiful Galway where we spend a few nights and explore the city and western Ireland.

After Galway we head to Cork which is on the east coast. Staying in Cork for a couple of days gives us time to visit nearby Blarney Castle home of the infamous Blarney Stone! From Cork it's about 3.5 hours back to Dublin.
This map shows our trek beginning in Oughterard (bottom right)
to Westport in the middle. You can see the trail continues on.
I'd better keep doing my yoga!!
Cork looks AMAZING! 
and VERY colourful!
So far I've paid for my flight - I got a great price - $709.00(Cdn) with one brief stopover on my way over at Heathrow and then non-stop on the way home. I paid for very comprehensive insurance this time around - it costs more but puts my mind at ease. I know of two hikers who had to cancel their trips last fall due to injuries. And I've paid for our Galway B&B which was $102 (plus fees) for a total of $342 Cdn. Of course that's split between the two of us so it's not so bad. We were firm in wanting 2 beds to rest our weary bones on :) And we get breakfast included :) :)
Two beds! 
Pretty post!
We are busily saving our pennies and are travelling the last week of August and first 2 weeks (approx) of September. Why is it though that the euro is rising?!? Grrrrr! Despite that I'm very excited in our upcoming adventure! We wanted more of a balance this time around between hiking and having the time to explore more. I think it's going to be fantastic!!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Waiting on the Birds...

After a busy week I was looking forward to a restful weekend. I'd been out 4 nights in a row and my body was aching after 3 days of walking, a very challenging 90 minutes yoga class and 2 hours of volleyball. Therefore I stayed in my pjs all day yesterday (YES I DID!) and caught up on some things around the house, spent some time reading and then crocheted a few more inches of my first scarf while watching a couple episodes of "Z Nation" because I do love me some zombies! It's not as good as "The Walking Dead" but as I only have Netflix and Shomi I am waiting on some new episodes of "TWD". 

The kitties are teaching me how to relax. While I was reading the paper Saturday morning Lily and Luna were waiting for the juncos to make their appearance. Lily is using the POWER of ATTRACTION but to no avail. 

She tries to wait patiently...

...but started to act silly...while performing a few acrobatic tricks...

...I wish I was half this flexible...

"here birdie birdie birdie!"

When it was Luna's turn in the castle she tried to STARE the birds into existence, but alas, her attempts did not produce any birds.

"wake us up when the birds arrive!"zzzzzzz      Birdwatching is exhausting!!

And, finally, in the weird world of weather...snowdrops are putting in an appearance!

No, I'm not going to watch the Panthers and the Broncos - I prefer to watch the kittens and the juncos!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Foto Friday

A few snowflakes floated down today but they melted as soon as they hit the ground. It was pretty and slightly more seasonal.

What was happening a year ago today I wonder? Let's look and see.

There was a LOT more snow!  We have none at the moment except for the melting piles in mall parking lots.

We averaged about -20c for 3 weeks so the kittens cuddled together to stay warm.

"Excuse me Luna but you can you snuggle a little closer?"

I was out on the trail so this is before I hurt my back.

I was having fun playing with filters!

The bridge in Kilally Meadows was above water.

 This is the same bridge! I took this photo on Wednesday when it was +14c!! The previous record high was around 7c!  No, I didn't bother crossing to the other side!

 Very wintery!

It won't be long after this hike that I'm laying on my back all day from an injury...but at least I'm still smiling at the point! I am so thankful that I've recovered from that injury and the accompanying anxiety and depression.

Appreciate your health!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Winter Weirdness Continues!

I'm heading out in a few minutes to see the movie "Brooklyn" which has been nominated for Best Picture but before I go I just have to remark, once again, on how weirdly this winter is shaping up.

First of all a rain warning is in effect!

Second of all it's supposed to be +11c tomorrow!!!!!

And thirdly of all I just got my natural gas bill (heating, hot water, dryer) and it was only $53.00!!!!!! I budgeted $75.00. Without a doubt this is the lowest January natural gas bill I've ever had over the past 21 winters that we've lived here.

I'm not complaining, but I am getting a little worried about the state of our climate!!

Monday, February 1, 2016


Phew! I had to let that out; now I feel much better. What's going on?


We'll be meeting up in Dublin, spending a few nights there, travelling across country to Galway on the west coast, spending a couple days on the largest of the Aran islands, then walking northwest of Galway ending up in Westport.  We'll go back to Galway spending a couple of nights, then heading to Blarney & Cork (have to kiss the Blarney Stone!) and then heading back to Dublin. What a trip!

More details to come! Wheeeeeeee!

Photos of my recent thrift store finds (by popular request!):
My new flannel sheet set - washed and on my bed already! Brand new - perhaps someone received them as a gift and doesn't like horses - who doesn't love horses?? Anyhoo I'm sleeping great for just a few dollars!

 A wispy summer top (50% off)!

 I like the little zipper detail in front.

 I love asymmetrical hemlines - this top fits well and looks great!

This has a similar hemline in black and white; very flattering. Also 50% off!

 My new black, grey and white quilt - $9.99 - I would have paid more, but glad I didn't have to. It's getting the sniff test by Luna and then she tests it for nap time coziness - PASS!

My favourite find - a green/blue/gold paisley blanket backed with sheepskin - oh so cozy! $5.00!!

Finally - what the heck is going on with the weather??  Looks like I could soon be seeing daffodils and snow drops! I took a lovely walk today in +6c weather and got HOT! Last year at this time we were in the deep freeze - around -20c and lower with the wind chill. Today's weather felt wonderful but makes me uneasy. Mother Nature will make us pay...somehow!

There were a couple more items - a few of those specialty hangers that hold 10 items and a huge piece of cloth as a gift for my friend Julie, the banner maker.

Oh, I bought another Christmas present today! At this rate I'll be done shopping by summer :)  I was at  Michael's buying yarn, on sale for only $1.49 per ball, to make Christmas scarves (I am on top of things!!) and I saw a bunch of science kits for making crystals among other things. Well, my great nephew, Ollie, loves rocks, fossils and things of that nature. (I gave him some fossilized POOP for Christmas - what little boy doesn't love fossilized poop!!) I had a coupon for 20% off of my whole order as well as the 10% off senior's discount. I'm on FIRE!!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Bye Bye January!!

It looked like I was going to end up with money left over at the end of January's budget but, alas, I had to replace my laptop charger after a kitten who will rename nameless decided to give it a good chew! Woe is me.
Hard to believe that these precious munchkins love
to eat my cords!! Such dumplings!
 And, prior to that happening I had a little thrift shop splurge at Talize so I actually ended up spending about $5.00 more than I should have. Woe is me again.

Meh, no biggie. I'll just take that off my misc budget for the first week of February. Actually, I'll be ahead of the game as Kazi is paying me back today some money I loaned her for a car repair - that will go directly into savings.

Happily I also got a $30.00 monthly pension raise :) which along with a $5.00 weekly decrease in misc spending allows me to put $400.00 into savings monthly instead of the current $350.00. That puts a smile on my face!! When I look at my budget it seems like I spent a lot of money this month AND I managed to tuck a little extra into savings over and above the usual automatic transfer of $350.00.

Misc Spending:

  • $120 for an eye exam
  • $50 for charitable donation
  • $38.19 Walmart (?) no memory of what I bought! Must have been really important!
  • $14 - movie
  • $11 Value Village ( a brand new area rug and a shelf for my treasures)
  • $17 - Shoppers Drugmart (chapstick and lipstick)
  • $8 to play volleyball
  • $40 - wine and food show
  • $8 - music from iTunes
  • $58 - Michaels (yarn, 2 frames, rub-ons)
  • $9 - pint at book club meeting
  • $45 - new charger (that hurts!)
  • $55 - thrifty splurge at Talize - a lovely black and white quilt (for $10!), brand new set of flannel sheets!, a gorgeous green/gold paisley throw that is backed with sheep skin!, 3 new tops (2@ 50% off) (will post photos once I take some!)
They look so innocent, don't they?

As I allow myself $150.00 weekly for misc spending these expenditures represent $473/$600 misc spending for January. The discrepancy is cash withdrawals (and a couple little transfers to savings) throughout the month which paid for a breakfast out with a friend, a lunch out with a friend, 2 movies that I saw last week, yoga fees, coffees, newspapers and so on. 

I came in under budget for gas (spent $67/$160) and food (spent $242/280) so that helped with extra amounts I put into savings. Also received some interest from an RSP that bumped savings up a bit.

At the end of 2015 I decided that I want to give a monthly charitable donation of at least $25.00. I exceeded that in January by donating $50.00. The other thing I want to do is buy one Christmas gift per month to lessen the sting in December. I accomplished that by purchasing a large piece of material for my friend Julie who creates banners for activism purposes. 

This fiscal year is off to a great start. My taxes are finished and ready to netfile on Feb. 15th. Due to decreased income and income tax paid thanks to now living on a pension I will only receive a refund of $200 (last year's was $1236) but I am thankful I don't owe any money to the tax dep't!!

Did you end up with money at the end of January or did you break even?