a big week... in a small way
another chapter of the cell phone saga: the parents have an old phone that has been forced onto the cingular network that isn't really a network at all any more. in light of the troubles that they've had since easter (the bloody phone has been stuck on roaming for two weeks now so they've been unable to make or receive calls from their home area), they've switched providers. even though, a few months ago, i was thoroughly enraged at verizon wireless, i've recently been relatively happy with their service. i've had no dropped calls from my home; i've noticed more signal strength; i've had more range with strong signal. so take all these points and add the fact that i was qualified to get three phones for free, we did a full upgrade for the whole family. if cingular hadn't placed their corporate heads firmly up their corporate butt and stopped providing analog and standard digital signal, we'd probably still be on their network—hell, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? in this case, it was completely broke, so we fixed it with a switch to a decent network and camera phones for everyone in the family. on wednesday, mum and i went out to the daffodil farm where there were actually a lot of flowers still, surprisingly. we wanted to make sure we had good signal on the mobile phone before we did the full upgrade and service switch. there is something truly amazing about driving down a narrow unkempt road through huge old trees and salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) bushes along a small creek. the brilliant pink of the salmonberry flowers stands out brightly among the greens of the spring foliage. in spite of the allergies that this area causes me almost all year round, i do love it out here.
there's another chapter in the animal saga, as well. the bull who kept getting out of the field and generally raising hell is now in the freezer. well, technically he's still at the butcher's, but he'll be in the freezer within a couple weeks, and i can't wait! i'm looking forward to the summer ritual of barbecue… there's nothing quite like eating meat that's been cooked over hot coals. almost anything is better when cooked over fire, just like almost anything is better with chocolate or wasabi. note the "almost" anything there—i don't know if barbecued steak would be any good with chocolate and wasabi, and i'm not sure that i want to try it! the day after the bull went away, one of the young bulls broke through the fence and gave the dog a run for his money, but nobody's escaped in a few days now. luckily the dog has learned a small amount of basic herding skills and understands many voice commands, so we can direct him a little when dealing with the cattle. i wonder what he'd do if we had sheep since sheep are the only animals he's worked with in a training capacity. the first time he saw sheep, he got really excited. it must be an instinctual reaction. he's always very interested in my wool when i'm knitting, especially if it's not processed wool.
talking about knitting, the local knit shop, fiber nooks & crannys was having a yarn sale this week, so i bought enough ribbon yarn to make a shawl for my mom's birthday. her birthday was friday, arbor day, and the shawl is a little late. i started it on wednesday, and it's now saturday… i have three skeins left out of nine, so i'm nearly finished. she's already seen it, and she likes it. it's always been hard for us (referring here to my whole family, actually) to keep gifts secret until the special day. we tend to give each other gifts all year round which takes the stress off birthdays, anniversaries, and other holidays. i'm still working on the socks i started for my sister, but they're approaching the end. we just sent off her new mobile phone along with all the little handwarmer critters i'd made for her. i can't think of what special day they were for… maybe they're for arbor day!
in the meantime, i've been trying to maintain my sanity by cooking some spanish dishes. the gazpacho i made a couple weeks ago was excellent; even my dad liked it which is saying something! the other day i made fideua which is a variation on the typically spanish dish of paella made with noodles. (the link is automatically run through the google translator, so it may be a little hard to understand. computer translations never quite get it right, but this recipe was one of the better ones i found online.) it turned out perfectly, so i bought more ingredients today to make some more! i'm also still looking for a full-time job in this area. it doesn't look real positive, though, because i have friends who are also highly qualified and are still unemployed after about six months. it's disheartening to say the least… and the government says the economy is growing. yeah, right, maybe the economy in the oil business is growing… but that's something for another day. i'm still considering taking the course for the tefl certification so i can leave the country and get a job teaching english. one way or another, wish me luck, eh?