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Archive for December, 2007

Customer Service?

In an uncharacteristic fit of organization, Mike shopped for Christmas this year in the middle of December.  I had suggested that a black leather jacket might be in my future, so bless him, off he went to follow directions.  Apparently he thinks I’m still 130 pounds, because the jacket I opened Christmas morning was a tad small.  Knowing that retailers here don’t process returns on Boxing Day, we trotted downtown to find a suitable jacket on the 26th (looking for bargains).  The store where he’d shopped tried really hard (lovely young sales clerk) to help, but there was just one jacket with the sleeves long enough and I didn’t like the way it looked on me.  So, off we trotted to another store, found two jackets (one black, one red (!)) for less than the price of the original, and I went home happy.

The next day, Mike and I tootled off to the mall to return the too-small jacket, where we were informed that the store policy was to allow only 7 days for returns and 14 days for exchanges.  The clerk was snooty, told us “This is a high end store.” (like that should matter; maybe with high end service?)  I asked if there was no allowance made for Christmas gifts, and was told no, the only thing that matters is the date it was purchased.  ???  If I wanted to speak to the manager, I was to come back the next morning.

So, last evening I checked out the Boutique of Leathers (oops, did I put that in writing?) website where it states, yes, there is a 7 day refund policy.  Right under that it says (and I quote) “December Christmas purchases refunds or exchanges must be done by December 31st.”  Now, I did a little poll and all my friends agreed that it sounds like they will make accommodation for Christmas shopping done before December 24th.  I printed off the page, armed myself with my cell phone and corporate headquarters phone number, and away we went this morning.  I insisted that Mike come along, because my first instinct in confrontation is to run away, and my second instinct is to cry.  Hardly constructive.  Well, the manager greeted us by standing by the 7 day policy, and didn’t seem at all fazed by the website printout.  I took out my phone, called Calgary and wandered to the other end of the store.  While I was talking to customer “service” Mike said to the manager “You should be concerned.  She’s very good at this.”  My history would indicate otherwise, but I hit my groove and insisted.  The bottom line is that they made an exception for me, since we have been good customers in the past (2 jackets in 15 years).   I intend to watch the website and see if they make any clarifications about the Christmas policy, but I am still incredulous that there is a retail outlet that doesn’t appear to have special return/exchange policies to allow for Christmas shopping.  When we left the store, we were all smiley, promising to drop in if they get new stock with long sleeves, but it is unlikely that I’ll darken their doors again.  I may also tell everyone who will listen that the Boutique of Leathers has a rather unreasonable return policy.  (oops, did I put that in writing again?)  Even mattress stores give you time to actually use the product and change your mind…Anyways, I’m happy, I have two jackets for the price of one, and Mike exchanged the camera lens I got him for one that ate up the Visa credit from the leather store.  Gotta love consumerism.

All this nonsense aside, we had a lovely Christmas, albeit Geoff-free,  and now I only have to wait a few days before I take down the decorations and re-claim my house.  I spent the last few days knitting a new scarf:

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The stitch pattern came from here:

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Patons pattern from 1983; who says I never use old stuff?  The fibre is Juniper from Sirdar , Mulberry (515).  It was fun to work with, although at 60 metres the scarf took two and half balls.  (Good thing it matches both new jackets.)

Andy was thrilled with his new hat.  It was purchased at a store.

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In my own defence, I could very easily have knit one like the store-bought one, but my time was taken up answering the “fuzzy pink challenge”.

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It looks just as bad in person.

Dominica’s little pink scarf was appreciated:

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and we got nothing for the dogs.  They didn’t seem to care, although Attie did sulk a bit.

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I now have another gift certificate from Prairie Lily thanks to Geoff.  (He organized that all the way from Puerto Rico.)  Now I definitely have to commit to a major project.  What to do, what to do?

Thanks to all who have dropped by my blog in its first year.  I’ve had fun, and intend to continue in 2008.  It’s typical of my timing, though, that I just get going on a blog at the same time everyone seems to be migrating to Ravelry.  I got my invite, but am being a bit stubborn.  I’ll be here if you want to keep checking back.  Happy New Year!

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I am weak.  Just when I thought all the rest of my spare time could be dedicated to food (and trying to knit the hat that Lyra was wearing in the Golden Compass) (yes, I missed part of the plot because I was trying to figure out the hat), Mike’s niece asked if I could please knit her daughter a scarf.  I said yes.  I am weak.  Just doing a little pink multi-directional number; three and a half inches wide, 36 inches long.  Likely won’t be done until Christmas dinner (I have the day off in the kitchen since we’re dining elsewhere), by which time the baby will be in Winnipeg.  Oh, well.

Got a little misty-eyed today talking to Geoff in Miami.  He’s really not going to be home at all this year.  I hear Puerto Rico is nice, but it’s not Saskatoon.  Less snow, for one thing.  Somehow I don’t think that’s the part Geoff is going to miss. 

and now, for your edification, the annual Gay family Christmas letter:

So where was I?  Oh, yes.  2007.  (At least I think I was there.  Sometimes I’m not so sure…)  This was the year that Andy graduated from high school, and more importantly, the year we finally tore down the shed in the back yard.  (More importantly because while we knew that Andy was going to graduate one way or another, the shed’s continued existence was a point of much discussion and could have gone either way.  Thank you Randall for your skill with the chainsaw.)   

This was the year that we traveled to B.C. for Mike’s folks’ 50th anniversary, which reinforced in our minds what a wonderful example both sets of parents provide: My parents celebrated their 57th this year (no big party).  We are blessed with healthy supportive families on both sides and rarely does a day go by that we don’t remind ourselves of that. 

This was the year that Geoffrey turned 22 and continued in the employ of Carnival Cruise lines.  While he started with the company as a showband musician, he found that 15 hours a week was not enough to keep him interested, and has moved into the technical department.  As of last week, he is the senior technician in the entertainment department of the good ship Lollipop, er, Victory.  Yes, the lad is in charge of pyrotechnics (for those of you who know Geoff, all together now, “YIKES!”) and is supervising a small crew of like-minded individuals.  He is still keeping company with the lovely Courtney of Calgary, who is a dancer on the ship and apparently loves to shop.  I’m not sure that they have that in common, but she’s trying to convert him…Geoff will miss Christmas this year completely, but will be home in March after he and Courtney take a scuba vacation in St. Lucia after his contract is done.  (You may ask, who needs to vacation in St. Lucia after floating around the Caribbean for months at a time?  I asked the same question, and the answer had something to do with not having to smile and answer stupid questions from tourists at all hours of the day.  I guess they want to be the ones asking the stupid questions.) 

This was the year Andy turned 18.  Much to his chagrin, he was able to vote in the provincial election but sadly had to do it sober, as the legal drinking age is 19.   He did have a legal beer in Alberta on our way through to B.C., but continues to be a good kid at home who gives us no cause for concern.  We must have done something right.  He thought he was destined for a construction trade after high school, but couldn’t really decide which one.  Mike suggested that Andy go to work at our restaurant until he made up his mind, and imagine our surprise when a few months into being a cook, he came home from work one day and announced the he really liked cooking, and wants to go into the restaurant business.  He is working mostly day shifts, plays a little soccer and a lot of Guitar Hero (a video game) (and quite a bit of real guitar, too), and is looking forward to taking a snowboarding excursion with some friends just after Christmas.   

This was the year that Mike and I took our first cruise.  We set sail on the Carnival Conquest in January and spent a relaxing week in the Caribbean (this was, of course, Geoff’s ship).  Mike found what he thought would be the perfect job for me- there is a woman working for Carnival whose job title is, get ready for it, Super Shopper.  She knows where to get whatever you are looking for and how much you should pay for it.   Neat job, but I’m far too busy to go back to work.  (not exactly sure what I do all day, but there you go.)  Back to the cruise:  We snorkeled in Grand Cayman and Cozumel (effectively removing us from the Blood Donor list for a year) and took an interesting cab ride in Montego Bay in Jamaica.   The cabbie was like most other Jamaicans we met; interested in current affairs, government, social issues.  We made Geoff ride up front with the cabbie, as I thought it would do him good to see that the Caribbean is not all about tourists.  **I did get a headache from the high-volume Bob Marley music which is ubiquitous in Jamaica, but I’m much better now.  We decided that Jamaica looks pretty good from a distance, but are not sure if we need to go back.  Ditto with the cruise in general; I’d rather go somewhere and stay for a week.  (Maybe that’s why Geoff thinks he needs a vacation…) 

This is the place where I would have put in a picture from the cruise were it not for the fact that this was the year that I dropped my laptop computer on the floor, fried the hard drive, lost all my pictures, and vowed to start backing up my files more often than once a year. 

This was the year that I accompanied Mike to a trade show in Davenport, Iowa in September.  We drove into Chicago after the trade show and I was able to cross 2 things off my lifetime “To Do” list:   We visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio in Oak Park, and I got to spend a few hours in the Chicago Art Institute looking at the Thorne Miniature Rooms.  We walked (and walked and walked) and had a lovely time (albeit too short).  We would go back, but not until I have returned to New York and taken Mike with me this time.  So many places to go!  Luckily Andy is old enough to stay home and look after the dogs (once we review the definition of “party”- if you can hear the music outside and the police drop by, it’s a party.  I don’t care how many (or few) people are in the house.) so we are starting to do a little more traveling.   

This is where I would have put in a picture from Chicago, but the same excuse applies as for the prior paragraph. 

This was the year that we continued to host Attie the Golden Retriever and Wallace the Sheltie.  Wallace still lives to fetch, and Attie?  Not so much.  

lapful1.jpg  Another exciting evening at Mike and Judy’s house 

This was the year we made plans to go to Mexico this coming up January.  We’ll just be gone for a week (long enough to burn off a layer or two of skin) visiting with Mike’s folks, and hopefully miss whatever large dump of snow is coming.  We will celebrate our 25th anniversary this June and plan to take a little longer trip (likely in the fall); right now we’re deciding between the British Isles and New Zealand (although that’s not to say we won’t be considering somewhere else next week.  I guess we won’t know for sure until we buy the tickets!). 

This was the year Mike stayed very busy at work; the Husky Travel Center continues to be a “Happenin’ Place”, and between juggling staff (always a pleasure) and welcoming a new partner, Mike has started to scale back his volunteer soccer commitments.  He still is an assistant coach for a girls’ under 14 team (the daughters he never had) and is on a couple of boards and committees.  (Yes, this is the scaled-back version.  Sometimes he goes for a whole week without a meeting.)  He still picks up his guitar, and I hope that he’ll get back to picking up a badminton racquet; he and Andy both like to play. 

This was the year I continued to knit whenever I can.  I started a Blog and continue to marvel at how small the world becomes when you travel electronically.  It has been fun to discover that the knitting obsession is not a localized phenomenon; I’ve met people from all over North America (and a few from further afield) who “suffer” from the same symptoms.  It’s pen-pals for grownups. 

This was the year that I got a “Spanish Immersion” course on CD in an attempt to learn a wee bit of Spanish before we head south next month.  I can recite the alphabet, but I do recognize that this is of limited use conversationally, so will attempt to acquire some vocabulary as well.  I have the disks in my car, so instead of entertaining adjacent drivers by singing, I am dialoguing about shampoo and cauliflower.  I keep my windows rolled up. 

I have finished my baking, the decorations are up and we are starting to feel Christmas-y.  Whatever and wherever your holiday plans are, we wish you joy and peace, right through Christmas and on into 2008.  Cheers!  

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Movie Sunday

Fun things I did today:

1) Watched “It’s a Wonderful Life”; black and white.  Cried a little at the end, but that might have been the new eye cream I was test driving. 

2)  Watched the first of my three different versions of A Christmas Carol.  Started with the Patrick Stewart version; of the three it’s my least favourite, mostly because the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come looks like a giant Jawa from Tatoooine.  You’d think they could have come up with something a little more original/scary than a rehash of a Star Wars character.  In my post Star Trek existence, though, I have to admit a certain fondness for Patrick Stewart in any role.

3)  Finished Dashing!  (The fingerless mitts, not to be confused with the reindeer or physical exertion of any type.  Just knit some thumbs.)

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Now I just have to try one more time to explain the whole fingerless thing to Mike.

Oh yeah.  Heard from Geoff- his ship was right in the thick of things in Hurricane Olga.  He said they got spanked a bit, and have to replace all the new lights they just installed during drydock in October.  He’ll be home in just over two months but I’m not leaving the tree up this year.  (Last year he was just a little late for Christmas (Jan. 11th), so I left up the decorations for him.  I don’t think he cared.) 

On the list for this week: 

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I want to finish this little scarf- I lost the ball band,  but it’s sort of fun.  Alternates matte and shiny, and matches perfectly a shirt I have.  I have to admit that in spite of what I said yesterday about novelty yarns, this one is okay.  I guess I don’t mind ribbon yarns; it’s the fuzzy hairy ones I prefer to avoid.  Once this is done, I am on a mission to commit to a project on which I can spend my G.C. from Prairie Lily.

Have a great week! 

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weekend update

Yup, been busy.  I’ve done some shopping (nothing too out-of-control), tempered by the fact that as the kids get older (heck, they’re darn near grownups!) gifting gets less complicated but perhaps more expensive.  In my own defense, I did offer to knit a toque for Andy, which he politely declined, (just as well, since headwear is not my favourite use of knitting time and energy.  Thumbs are right up there with headwear.) although he did say if I knit him a pink fuzzy hat he’d “so totally wear it”.  I present:

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This amorphous blob is truly ucky.  I hate knitting this because of visibility issues, although when I was waiting for Auntie Peggy to have a test at the hospital, it was a great conversation starter in the waiting room.  I took perverse pleasure in people’s reactions when I told them I was knitting a hat for my son.  No further explanation, just that it was for my son.   Sadly, the most garish novelty yarn seems to attract way more attention than a really nice merino or alpaca or other natural fibre.  At the risk of sounding snobbish, I guess that’s a danger of dealing with the unitiated public.  Don’t get me wrong, I use acrylic and other petroleum by-products on occasion, but natural fibres have become my first choice.

I found a ball of lopi lite and whipped up seven of these: 

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(The little one is Paton’s Classic wool.)   The holes are marked with scrap yarn- I put threaded it after I washed them; a smart person would thread something through the holes before tossing it in the wash, but I’ve never been concerned much with preventable cause and effect.  A little fancy red ribbon to replace the scrap yarn and my reputation with the neighborhood Ladies who Lunch is intact.  My reputation as a photographer of completed gifts before giving them away is not.

I finished up the mitts and scarf for Andy’s girlfriend.   This is a Moda Dea Washable Wool, and goes on to my list of “would use it again” fibres.

teal.jpgAfter Andy telling me that her favourite colour is teal, and assuring me that it would match her coat, she showed up here one day in her winter coat.  Yup, lime green tweed.  Now, I may be a little out of touch with what colours are considered to “go” together, but teal and lime?  Methinks that either Andy doesn’t know what colour teal is, or he is blessed with the same sort of visual generalization that Mike has when it comes to the whole distinguishing-teal-from-blue-from-purple-from-maroon-from-burgundy issue.  Oh well.  If matching is important to her, she can buy a new coat.

I have finished one of these:

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The blue line is where my nemesis the Thumb goes.

Post-thumb:  Damn.  My camera just died.  I’ll post a picture when the pair is done.

It’s “Dashing” from spring 2007 Knitty and the second one should be done by Sunday.  I had trouble explaining the whole fingerless mitten concept to the troops, but when it comes right down to it, I don’t care.  I shall have lovely fingerless mitts, and they won’t.   I asked my sister to pick up a couple of balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran at Gina Brown’s in Calgary, (any colour), and I think she done good.  These will look great with my brown leather jacket or my black dress coat.  This wool is a dream to knit with (especially after pink eyelash) and I will definitely use it again.

I am desperately looking for a project to use up a gift certificate from Prairie Lily.  I can’t believe that I’ve had it for a month.  I have spent it in my mind many times but seem to be unable to commit to something in the real world.  I always seem to have mental disorganization in December (I can’t say why) so I hope January will bring me some cerebral clarity.

Here are today’s gratuitous dog shots.  The fellow on the left is my husband, not a dog.

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Wallace post-haircut.  His belly has never been so bare, but he’s too dumb to come in out of the cold, preferring to lie down in the snow and hope that I don’t notice him.

Off to dinner with some friends!  Later. 

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Of dogs…

We’ve finally entered the Big Chill here in central Saskatchewan, just a little behind Terri  in Waskesiu.  Environment Canada has, in its infinite wisdom (what other job can you be dead wrong at least half the time and still keep working?), predicted that it is going to be much colder than usual this winter, with waaayyyy more precipitation than normal.  (I guess Al Gore’s been hawking enough carbon credits that La Nina has gained some strength, but don’t get me started on that tripe.)   Attie doesn’t care much for the weather, just going outside long enough to look after Important Business (who am I kidding?  Her front end has turned around and is heading back inside before the back end is even out the door.), whereas Wallace is quite happy to nose around outside for quite a while.  He is still convinced that there are still unclaimed apples under the tree, and he also believes that if he jumps high enough and often enough under the birdfeeder that unshelled peanuts will magically fall into his pointy little mouth.  He’s only about two feet short at his apex.   But ever hopeful.  I call him in from the back door, and he looks at me and sits down.  He has such a fuzzy butt that the cold doesn’t seem to bother him. Attie, on the other hand, needs these:

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She just barely tolerates them. 

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She is convinced that this is just another in the long litany of indignities she must endure.  The first few times she had them on, she was less than thrilled and walked lifting one foot at a time in a sort of canine goose-step. Then I got mean and kicked her out the door into the snow. The only flaw in her adapting to the new footwear  was Wallace taking offense at the extra long velcro strap. Turns out if you grab a strap attached to another dog’s foot without being noticed and run away with it, said other dog will fall over.  Game on.

Four scissor snips later and Attie is in control of her feet again. Wallace has now switched to defense.  I am back to having a beach towel spread out over half my kitchen floor to try and catch the snow that comes in with the pooches.  (Mud in the spring, grass in the summer, leaves in the fall…)  I just hope Martha calls before she drops in. 

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