Shame on you BCE, employees deserve better

Shame on you Bell Canada for treating your loyal, long-term employees so poorly! You promote yourself as a company that cares about the Canadian communities you serve and the well being of others. You have raised millions of dollars in your annual Let’s Talk Days, however let’s talk instead about your recent shoddy tactics.

Downsizing due to changing technology is understandable, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about the necessary cut backs. A company of this stature should be above stressing your long term, valuable employees by offering severance packages to any of them whose jobs you are drastically changing. The same should apply to those wishing to leave after many years of service as part of the downsizing process.

Instead, many of these Bell Canada employees are holding their breath, stressed to the hilt, waiting to see what will happen to the jobs they have been at for forty plus years. I have heard these stories, but can only speak to one in particular.

My husband started working for Bell Canada as a teenager in the summer months. After college, they offered him a job here in Ottawa. That was 38 years ago. In the early years he worked outside, climbing poles, running cable, and installing phones in homes, basically anything they asked him to do. For the past thirty years or so he has been working inside fixing computer systems that support Bell’s technology, covering the entire 613 area code. It has been common for him to spend 7 hours a day driving to and from remote Ontario communities to fix the “troubles” as they come up. Year after year he has received rewards and recognition for his excellent work ethic and lack of sick time. You would not need all the fingers on your two hands to count the number of sick days he has taken since 1981. Up until recently he loved his job.

Sounds like a great career doesn’t it? Not to mention an excellent, valuable employee. Both the career and employee should be congratulated, rewarded and celebrated. The problem is, now at almost 61 years of age, this employee has been told he is now expected to be climbing ladders outside, year round. How ridiculous is that? Shame on you BCE!

He was told by his manager that if he doesn’t want to climb ladders he should just get a doctors note saying he cannot do so. Many others in the same predicament are doing this due to their health restrictions. So why doesn’t he do that? Because that goes against the very core values that have made him such a valuable and loyal employee! He is also relatively healthy and fit, something he should not be punished for. Not to mention the fact that he can (still) probably climb ladders better than the younger generation soon to replace the older guys. The point is not that he cannot do it, but that he should not be forced to do so.

Who in their right mind wants to risk injuries that could affect their retirement years? Who at sixty years of age is as agile as a twenty-something or even thirty-something employee? It is ridiculous that any company, let alone a blue chip company like Bell Canada, expects their senior employees to modify their job descriptions in this manner. What about the liability involved? Is there not an age limitation on employees climbing ladders? I guarantee you if he is injured on the job, I will be hiring a lawyer!

With this downsizing initiative, severance packages have been offered to some (selective) surplus employees. Several on the seniority list above him and a few below him are eligible for these packages but not him. Even though his specific department has been downsized from sixteen to three scant employees in the past few years, his position has not been categorized as surplus, so he is ineligible. Sounds fishy to me!

Even after this shoddy, disrespectful and unfair treatment, this man still does not want to slam or discredit a company he has been loyal to for so many years. I have no such qualms as I am the key witness to his anger, frustration and grumpiness creating the unhealthy stress levels he has been forced to endure.

Union representatives have suggested he grieve the fact that he is not eligible for a severance package. Especially as he was told they only need two employees (he is the third) in the department. They also suggest he wait a few years until another package comes out. My concern is the stress involved in the process, not to mention the potential for serious injuries. Selfishly, I want him around to enjoy our golden years together.

Shame on you Bell Canada! Why not let any of these long-term, senior employees bow out gracefully if they wish to do so?

Shame on you
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Still the One: Celebrating 35th Anniversary

Today is my 35th wedding anniversary. I met my husband on my 21st birthday, a short thirty-eight years ago. Yes, I know I’m dating myself, but that’s to give you perspective on just how long we have been together! The lyrics to “Still the One” by Orleans sums it up pretty good…

still the one
Still the one by Orleans, 1976


You’re still the one — that makes me laugh
Still the one — that’s my better half

You’re still the one — that makes me strong
Still the one — I want to take along

Changing, our love is going gold
Even though we grow old, it grows new

You’re still the one — who can scratch my itch
Still the one — and I wouldn’t switch

We’re still having fun, and you’re still the one

lyrics by John and Johanna Hall, in hit song by Orleans in 1976

I do (pun intended) have advice to offer of course, in fact relationships have their own category on this blog. This previous post refers to ideal components of relationships and this one talks about the role of fate in many successful matchups.

As my husband is planning on retiring in the not too distant future, we will be starting a new phase in our lives. In anticipation of more time at the cottage and travel adventures, Gardens4u has been turning away new clients and cutting back on existing ones.

This blog will continue as that I can do anywhere!

Flowering shrubs scream “Spring is Here”

It’s a good thing the flowering shrubs know it’s spring. Mother Nature on the other hand, has forgotten that the weather is supposed to warm up. The sunny yellow blooms of my neighbour’s forsythia are a beautiful sight from my bedroom window…

and my own magnolia is also screaming “spring is here!” with its fragrant blooms…

with the blossoms of plum trees not far behind…

My roses (at least the ones in my front yard that are protected from the north winds) are also showing signs of spring…

flowering shrubs
climbing rose
flowering shrubs
shrub rose

Now, if the cold and wet weather would clear up, spring would be awesome!

Classy Glass Upcycles, a unique Mother’s Day gift!

Looking for a unique Mother’s Day gift? Check out this Facebook page for Classy Glass Upcycles! Select a beautiful creation to enhance your Mom’s garden, yard, or indoor location. Indulge in one for yourself too!

Classy Glass Upcycles
Perfect Mother’s Day Gift!

These awesome creations are lovingly handcrafted in Cornwall, Ontario by a family friend. Each item is unique, (re)using the beautiful glass found in so many vintage vases and bowls. What an fantastic idea; I love the idea of upcycling these exquisite treasures from yesteryear.

Visit the page to check out the posted creations currently available. Or commission one (or two) in the color, shape and size of your choice.

TIPES (Thinking in Pictures Educational Services)

Many of you know I have a landscaping business that keeps me busy from April (usually) to October here in Ottawa. What you may not know is that I need something to keep myself from going stir crazy in my offseason. Especially when the winter months are as miserable as they were this year. One of my other passions is writing, so when an opportunity came up to help update manuals for TIPES, I was keen to join this impressive group of people dedicated to helping autistic children and adults as well as their families.

TIPES

TIPES is a charitable organization founded in 2007 by Jennifer and Deborah Wyatt, who just happen to be the twin daughters of my husband’s childhood friend. The business started small but has exploded exponentially with the rising need for their services and programs. The more time I spend writing, editing and revamping the policies and procedures for their manuals, the more impressed I am with this program.

As a charitable organization, TIPES relies heavily on donations and fundraising to keep their operation running smoothly. One such event is coming up soon in the form of the National Capital Race Weekend where you can support TIPES by sponsoring their Financial Officer Marnie Potter.

Graphic Design Project Transforms Seniors Home

In the Inspirational People tab of my homepage I included information about my very talented niece Jillian Sliter. This video displaying her latest graphic design project proves just how talented she is.

This particular senior’s home is located in Barrie, Ontario where Jill is currently living and working. It is one of several under the IOOF umbrella within the province. The transformation is incredible, so bright and cheerful!

I probably don’t have to mention how proud I am of my niece, but I will anyway. Great job Jill!

Graphic design
Jillian Sliter Design

Patience and Cheerios

I have to admit patience is a virtue I do not possess, but I’m working on it. That’s because I’m learning that grandchildren are great teachers, but require unlimited patience.

This morning was another lesson learned in the patience department. My two year old grandson and five year old granddaughter slept over last night and although she slept well, he did not. He was up several times during the night and then up for good, bouncing around with a seemingly endless supply of energy at 6am.

“Grumble, grumble, ok Grandma is up, but I won’t be dancing with Elmo or to Baby Shark within the next few hours, at least until I have a cup of coffee.”

Checking out his choices for breakfast, this (always adorable) grandson grabbed a box of Cheerios and promptly dumped (most of) its contents onto the kitchen floor. Luckily the box was not full. After I grabbed the broom and swept up the mess (with him helping of course) he repeated the process. Dump, scatter, sweep….at least five more times. After the second sequence, I realized he was having fun. No real harm done, and other than relocating breakable objects within the swinging radius of the broom handle as he “tidied up,” it was fun to watch his concentration. The cheerios were going in the garbage anyway; each time I threw some out (without him noticing of course) so there were fewer to clean up each time.

Cancer Research is Changing

Cancer research is changing. In the right direction. Instead of focusing on expensive and harmful medications and treatments that compromise every organ in your body, research is looking for ways to outsmart the cancer.

For example, stem cell research has scientists hopeful and busy looking for ways to use these unique cells to fight many diseases, not just cancer. Stem cells are the earliest form of cells within the human body, formed four or five days after an embryo is fertilized, and before the embryo is implanted in a uterus. They are uniquely non-specific when they are formed and don’t take on specific functions (differentiate in scientific terms) until they divide and grow.

With the popularity of invitro fertilization on the rise these days, stem cells are becoming more available as any embryos not used in the fertilization process can be donated to science for research and treatments. Of course, this raises ethical concerns, since the embryo is destroyed in the process of harvesting the stem cells. The concept however, is brilliant.

Stem cells can also be harvested from umbilical cords after childbirth and frozen for use. These cells have been successfully used to treat children with blood cancers (leukemia) and certain genetic blood disorders. Since stem cells have the ability to turn into various other types of cells, scientists believe that they can be useful for treating and understanding diseases. For example, stem cells can be used to:

  • grow new cells in a laboratory to replace damaged organs or tissues
  • correct parts of organs that don’t work properly
  • research causes of genetic defects in cells
  • research how diseases occur or why certain cells develop into cancer cells
  • test new drugs for safety and effectiveness

Adult or non-embryonic stem cells are found in infants, children and adults. What makes them different from the embryonic kind is that these stem cells come from developed organs and tissues in the body. Unlike embryonic stem cells though, adult stem cells can’t differentiate into as many other types of cells. They’re used by the body to repair and replace damaged tissue in the same area in which they are found. For example, mature human tissue such as nerves, bone, blood, muscle, liver and skin all have different types of cells.

Hematopoietic stem cells are a type of adult stem cell found in bone marrow. They make new red blood cells, white blood cells, and other types of blood cells. Doctors have been performing stem cell transplants, also known as bone marrow transplants, for decades using hematopoietic stem cells in order to treat certain types of cancer.

A recent breakthrough has scientists able to genetically program adult stem cells to behave like embryonic stem cells so they can be used as specialized cells throughout the body, for any organ or tissue.


Allergies and Sensitivities: Trust your body

How do you know you have environmental allergies or sensitivities to common products and even foods?   Listen to and trust your body!  I have learned the validity of this simple piece of advice over the years.  

For example, this is my evidence that I have personally compiled and learned to listen to.  How many of these (or similar reactions) apply to you?

  • sneeze when walking past the highly scented laundry soap and fabric softeners in a grocery store?
  •  sneeze or cough when popular (Febreeze comes to mind) room deodorizers or air fresheners are used?  
  •  cough when adding soap to your sink or dishwasher?
  • get an instant tightness in your chest when walking by a house whose dryer vent is on spewing the scent of Bounce into the air? 
  •  get the same reaction from yards sprayed with fertilizer and or weed killer, from blocks away?
  • have to open the windows and turn on vents before cleaning bathrooms?
  •  get an instant headache walking through the fragrance department of a store?  (why do they have to place those right at the entrance to the store?)
  • get an instant headache from the different perfumes in a crowd?  For example, I dread going to the NAC (National Art Center here in Ottawa) because each elderly lady there seems to have an entire bottle of perfume on.  The blend is not pleasant!
  •  get stomach cramps and diarrhea after eating some foods.
  •  get skin rashes after eating certain foods.

 

I saw an article recently about cancer causing ingredients in many common dish soaps.  The offending products include:

  • Cascade
  • Legacy of Clean
  • Finish
  • Sunlight
  • Palmolive
  • Dawn
  • Simple Green Naturals
  • Mrs. Meyers
  • Seventh Generation
  • Method
  • Green Works
  • Bon Ami Dish Soap

I must admit I have never heard of many of these brands of dish soap, but do know Dawn, Palmolive, Sunlight, Finish and Cascade are on my avoid list as they bother me. I used to have to leave the room when running the dishwasher.

These reactions that I have experienced are the reason I use Melaleuca products in my home. They are all natural, many with tea tree oil (from the Australian melaleuca plant) as a main ingredient. By using these products, I have reduced my contact with ingredients that aggravate my allergies and sensitivities. I no longer have to open the bathroom window when cleaning, and can run the dishwasher while working in the kitchen.

allergies and sensitivities
Melaleuca Products

If you have similar reactions to any products or foods, trust and listen to your body. You may have allergies and sensitivities too. Then get proactive to improve your health and the quality of your life. Remember, you are in the driver’s seat!

Gardening? Today? Who would have thunk it!

This might not seem too outrageous in your part of the world, but in mine gardening today is definitely pushing the season. After all, we still have lots of snow and today is the first day our temperature has risen above the freezing mark.

So, for those of you also lamenting the late arrival of spring here in Ontario, I will give you the exciting details of what gardening chores I was actually able to accomplish today. The rest of you can yawn in boredom as you mutter “been there, done that already.”

Every time I pull in my driveway these days, I am reminded of how sick I am of seeing the brown and crispy fall/winter arrangements that looked so green and lush last fall and for most of the winter…

Today the sun is shining and the temperature above freezing so I pulled out my garden gloves and secateurs…

gardening today
gardening essentials

First I tackled the evergreen arrangements that are an eyesore, at least I attempted to. Even though the temperature is warm today, the soil these branches are sitting in is still frozen in one of the containers. (One gets full sun all day, the other only a portion of the day) What is left of the one is just the blue spruce branches that are still a beautiful bluey green color. I know, they look kind of lonely without anything else to complement them, so I will have to find something to add, even if the plants are fake. The other container will have to wait until the soil thaws sufficiently enough to remove the branches and ornaments.

By the way, the ornaments (red dogwood branches, pinecones on spikes, etc) spend the summer in my gardening tool organizer, AKA a plastic shoe storage unit, that hangs on a wall in my garage…

gardening today
gardening tool AKA shoe storage

Another thing I tackled in my brief gardening stint today is the ornamental grasses I could reach. I like to leave them over the winter so the fronds can blow in the wind, but by this time of the year they are either broken (from the weight of the snow) or the seed heads have blown off. Before they send up new growth, and as soon as you can access them, cut them back to a few inches from the ground.

I have several in my back yard, but they are still buried under at least two feet of snow, so will have to wait for their trim. I do however, have one large clump beside my lamp post in my front garden that is accessible and several as experiments in pots on my front veranda.

As this veranda is always bathed in full sun and protected from the wind, I can get away with less hardy plants there. This year I tried leaving the ornamental grasses I planted in pots last summer on the veranda over the winter. Each time it snowed, (quite often this winter) I covered them with snow for some moisture.

The general rule of thumb for perennials in containers is that you have to (should) use plants that are hardy to two zones below your gardening zone. It appears I was successful in my experiment though as I see some green inside the trimmed shoots. That’s a sign they did not die, exciting news to me.

Earlier this week I helped a friend stage her house. She wanted fresh, live pussy willows and spring blossoms for her front porch, but as the temperature was still close to -20C overnight, we settled for plastic. Plastic flowers have come a long way; not the plastic flowers your grandma used to have!

gardening today
spring blooms

Perhaps I will go back to the dollar store and pick out some plastic flowers for my front containers.