Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Slow Moving Days

Today was one of those days that felt like it passed rather slowly. It was probably something to do with the fact that it began to rain heavily last night just as the pups and I were heading to bed and it didn't really stop until this evening. The ground is thick with puddles, the sky was dark all day and it the sun didn't even think about shining.

It's supposed to get cold enough to snow tonight. Naturally, being the snow loving creature I am, this has me a wee bit excited. I love snow and especially the first real snowfall of the season. We had a few dry, cold flakes last week but it was barely enough to notice. What I'm ready for is the first downpour of thick, fluffy flakes that merits breaking out the Williams Sonoma peppermint hot chocolate and seeing in the finery of winter in the right way.

I know, I know...not everyone feels this way. Once again, I can feel my mother cringing in her chair as she reads this, her body already starting to grow cold with the sheer imagining of the snow. I can't help it though. Snow, to me, is something to be celebrated.

Still, it's not snowing yet. Instead we have a soggy day where it was too wet to really be outside. The puppies try to play out there but they come in sodden and muddy and I have to wipe their feet with a towel. They seem to be staring at me accusingly as if to say, "why is it raining? We don't LIKE rain!" To make matters worse, they didn't get their evening walk because I don't have a real raincoat and the idea of traipsing around the block in the rain was not terribly appealing. The pups would agree if they thought about it but, instead, being the creatures of habit, they still wait expectantly for me to say, "Wanna go for a walk?"

It's days like this where I think it might be nice to be a puppy, curled up in my crate in the morning as the rain pours down instead of in my office, looking at my computer. I like my job a lot and it's different every day but no matter how much anyone likes their job, sometimes it's just appealing not to be at work.

Still, the day passed....slow as it was. Now we're ready to relax this evening. I have fennel roasting in the oven, the puppies are lying on the couch, wondering why I'm in my office yet again. They don't like it when I'm in here because they don't understand what's so interesting about this machine I'm always sitting at. It's a shame. I'd quite like to discuss my writing with them but even though Rory cocks her head adoringly like she's actually listening, her vocabularly is still limited to "Biscuit, outside, walk, treat, chicken, cheese," and "sit." It makes for a lousy conversation unless you're talking about Chicken in a Biscuit crackers.

I think the problem is that we're in the holiday season. There's so many things I'd like to be doing. I need to put my tree up. I need to take down my fall decor from outside- the silk leaves I wrap around my little outdoor lamppost and my scarecrows in the garden- and replace it with my Christmas decor. I need to do some shopping. I want to do some baking. There are holiday movies I'd like to watch. There are friends I'd like to see. There's wrapping to do. December is a busy month and sometimes it seems a shame that work has to get in the way.

Of course, without work, it might be hard to have a busy Christmas season because of the need for a paycheck. It's a bit of a Catch 22. Until I become independently wealthy or a mega-million copy selling author, it's off to work I go where I can sometimes squeeze in a little online browsing between looking at resumes.

It's not so bad really. After all, I'm no longer at my old job where, chances are, I'd be debating whether to call in sick so I could do other things. Or, I might be sitting in my cubicle freezing because our area was always freezing and the spaceheater that someone had loaned me when I first started was claimed by another coworker even though I'm almost 100% sure it wasn't hers. These are things I no longer have to worry about. Also, we're allowed to acknowledge Christmas at my current office. We're even going to do...stuff. We're having a party and a happy hour for our consultants. That's not bad going. In fact, I keep waiting for someone to come in and say, "Ha! Fooled you! We're not this nice after all."

It's funny. My current coworkers apologize if they've been 'cranky' and feel like they've snapped at me. In truth, I don't even notice because even at their crankiest, they're still nicer than many of my old coworkers. It's sad, but true. This is the time of year when we're supposed to be thankful for the things in our life and thus, I am thankful that I have a new job that I like with normal people who seem to respect me.

All in all, slow as the day was, it wasn't so bad. It's just like with everything else, no matter how happy we are, we always think we could be happier. For now, however, I get to curl up on a chilly, wet night with two puppies, watch TV, eat roasted fennel with parmesan and enjoy the fact that, for now, thats as complicated as life needs to be.

And maybe, just maybe, it will snow tomorrow.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nostalgia for Days of Yore....

I think that, when the holidays are upon us, it's inevitable that we look backwards in time to Christmases that have come before.

Or, at least, for me it is.

It's hard not to, really. It starts with the brochures, I think. This year, the Toys R Us Toybook came quite early and it's been at my parents' house where my nephews and nieces can leaf through it and decide what they'd like to add to their Christmas list. I leafed through the book and many other brochures this past weekend. It's amazing to see the toys that are popular now and compare them to the toys that were popular in my childhood.

Some of them are the same. Strawberry Shortcake has made a comeback, Cabbage Patch Kids are still around and Calico Critters bear a striking resemblance to the Sylvanian Families of my youth (and of which my younger sister was a collector). Heroes like Batman and Spiderman never really go out of style.

Yet there are new toys as well- Bratz, Monster High, LaLaLoopsy and other weirdly named dolls seem to be in vogue. Toy Story 3 is everywhere although those toys are actually Disneyfied versions of mine and even the generation before's youth.

It's not just the toys that are different. It's the world, really. Now's the time when, if I had a child, I'd be saying, "When I was a child..." and telling the stories of having to walk through snow and rain over the miles to get to school. Actually, I did have to walk a mile to school in the snow, thank you very much. It was freezing especially when you had to wear a school uniform that required a skirt.

But the world is different now. It was different in my youth from the generations that had come before me. It's constantly evolving. The places I notice it this time of year is in the stores.

When I was a child in England, there were toy shops. There were butcher's shops, a greengrocer, a fish market. There were bakeries and post-offices where you had to go to get stamps. To go shopping was an event. I'd wait patiently for my mother to order her merchandise from the vendors. The butcher's shop, for example, smelled of sawdust that masked the odor of meat. Behind thick strips of hanging plastic in a doorway, we could see the racks of meat hanging, waiting to be cut to order. In the greengrocers, the scents of apples and oranges, of onions and leeks and cabbage would blend together and I'd wait while my mother bought her potatoes and whatever else she needed. In the newsagents, they'd sell sweets and snacks, newspapers and soft drinks. We'd go there to pick up our weekly comics. That was my favourite shop because I had a sweet tooth and I'd spend my 10p of pocket money on 'little sweets' from the penny county counter.

What I'm getting at is that the world isn't like that anymore. The stores of my childhood are gone. They've been boarded up or replaced by cellular phone stores. If you want meat, you go to one of the mega-marts that are everywhere. The same goes for bread, for produce, for sweets.

It's the same in England as it is in the States. Here, you buy toys at Walmart or Target or K-Mart. Sure, Toys R Us is there but that's a megamart of a different kind. It's not a little toy shop with hand carved puppets, deluxe softtoys or collector-quality trainsets. It's a store full of what's popular. They sell FAO Schwarz toys in there now which makes me sad because I think FAO Schwarz is almost gone from the face of the world. That was a toy shop to see. I went to the New York Store which I think is still there and it's just something else. Even as an adult, I felt like I could be a kid in there again.

Speciality stores have become a novelty nowadays, oddities that are fun to peruse but more expensive to buy from because they have more overhead than the big chains. It's like in the movie, "You've Got Mail," in which Meg Ryan's delightful little children's book store is overshadowed and overpowered by the big chain bookstore.

I'm as guilty as the next person for helping this happen. I mean if I see something in a specialty store or catalog, the first thing I do is go to Amazon.com or other website to see if I can get it for less.

It's just the way of the world. It's economy and convenience. It's not wrong it's just...a little sad that this is what's happenend. Sure, we can blame Walmart but it's not all their fault. They wouldn't succeed with out us, the consumers who are eager for low prices with less hassle. Of course, personally speaking, these days I almost always find Walmart to be a hassle but the point remains.

It's just sad to look back and look upon a world that's lost the personality of individual stores and given way to 'all-in-one' types of places. It's hardest, I think, at Christmas because shopping is such a part of the experience. Nowadays, it's entirely possible to get all your shopping done in one store if you're careful.

Me, I like to spread the shopping around. This is probably why I enjoy spending time shopping online. The digital stores have become our speciality stores. I don't know if that's a scary thing or something that's just plain interesting to contemplate. I'm going to have to think on that.

In the meantime, I'll continue to look back through my rose-tinted glasses on past Christmases where Christmas shopping meant getting to look round the expanded toy sections of each department store and, as a special treat, to go visit Father Christmas in one of them. While I enjoy the scrimmage and chaos of early-morning Black Friday shopping, I like the idea of spending a day shopping. It means going to more than one store to get the shopping done and even though the stores carry much of the same products, it still feels different in each one.

I suppose that's the closest we can come nowadays to the forgotten days of speciality stores where each store sold lots of types of the same thing. I miss that, in some ways but it's quicker these days to shop and get the job done in one or two stores.

I suppose it's all a trade off. The world has moved on and we've moved with it.

But sometimes, wouldn't it be nice if time could stand still for a while?

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

No Mini Chopper for Me!

Well, Thanksgiving has already come and gone and it seemed to be far too quick. It seems like it was just Wednesday morning and I was loading the pups into the car and driving off to my parents. I love being able to do that. For too many years, Thanksgiving involved a red-eye flight from L.A. and landing in the wee hours of the morning on Thanksgiving day, being tired and irritable and never recovering quite enough to really feel like eating a ton of turkey.

Nowadays, it's a luxury to hop in the car and be there in just over two hours. It's nice to unload the puppies, sit down and relax the day before Thanksgiving so that when the day arrives, I can help cook.

It was fun this year although, as always, when it came time to serve up, everything got chaotic. Trying to get everything into serving plates while 14 hungry people await including four young children leads to a bit of chaos. In the end though we were all fed to our hearts' content, even the puppies who were treated to a little bit of turkey of their own.

Traditionally after Thanksgiving, we all retreat into the living room and pour over the ads for Black Friday. This year, my nephews and nieces decide to have a lot of fun running around, burning off energy. They weren't any trouble...just a little loud.

By the time everyone was gone, I have to admit the silence was a treat. My parents and I sat in a bit of a haze, letting the calm wash over us. The puppies were also a little traumatized. Usually, it's just me, Rory and Sookie at home. It doesn't get very loud and chaotic. The most chaos they're usually around is when they rile up the neighbour dogs or, if we're visiting my parents, when my pups chase around my parent's dogs and make them all hide.

Thus, a Thanksgiving evening filled with the squeals of childish joy, coupled with the overloud sounds of the TV as my older nephew watched "Kung Fu Panda" combined with a room full of adults conversing....well, it was no wonder Sookie was a docile as a teddy bear and needed to be soothed from her slight case of trauma.

Still, it was a fun day as was the next day. My sister and I followed our annual tradition of getting up for the Black Friday sales. Aside from the fact this year I managed to come down with a nasty cold on Thanksgiving night, we had a lot of fun.

We were a little irritated, however. We generally start at Walmart at 5 a.m which is when their big sales usually start. After that mass of chaos and confusion, we usually venture up to the other stores and do the rest of our shopping there. This year, however, Walmart decided to start at midnight with most of their specials and put only their electronics on special at 5 a.m.

This may not seem like a big deal but when most of the other stores we frequent on Black Friday don't start their sales until 5 a.m., the midnight specials are a little...inconvenient. We'd either have to go at midnight and then try to catch a couple of hours sleep before heading out- an idea which in theory sounds good but, in reality, would result in us being groggy and crabby all day- or just head out at 5 a.m. as planned and hope that they still had some of their sale items left.

We opted for option b, although my sister did send her husband out at midnight to Walmart for one item they absolutely wanted to get. He was successful. My sister and I...not so much. I didn't have a huge list of items but I've been wanting one of those mini choppers for a while. Every year on Black Friday, Walmart has a ton of them on sale for about $3. I was excited and had decided to buy one. I didn't think there'd be an issue. After all, for the past four years, at least, these choppers have been on sale on Black Friday for that price and every year for the past four years, you've been able to go to Walmart several hours after the craziness of the 5 a.m sale is over and still get yourself a mini chopper for $3.

Not this year, apparently. No, the one year I really want one, there seemed to be a run on the blasted things. There wasn't one to be found. Nor crockpots. Nor hand mixers. They were all $3. They were all sold out by 5 a.m.

Needless to say, I was rather perturbed. Why this year was there a run on mini choppers? I was so annoyed that when my dad went to Walmart later in the day on Black Friday, he asked an employee if they had any. By this time, my sister and I were deep in the middle of our shopping but I'd called my parents to check on the puppies because they were kind enough to puppy-sit and relayed my woes of not getting my chopper.

According to the store employee, people were buying the choppers by the cartfuls. Apparently, many were going to put them on ebay.

To this I say, um....really? Ok, so it was a great deal. Who doesn't want a mini food processor that can chop onions in a matter of seconds? Obviously, I wanted one so they're a hot item.

However...eBay? Really. As much as I want a mini chopper, it's not the kind of item I'm going to go try to outbid someone for on eBay.

All I can say is people are a little crazy. Granted, I was up at 5 a.m. to buy a $3 chopper so I also may be a little crazy but buying them for eBay? Huh. All I can say is that when my parents' town hosts their annual Garage Sale Day in May of next year, I guarantee there might be a few mini choppers to be had.

Still, even though I was thwarted in my chopper as well many of the other items I had on my list, my sister and I managed to put in a good, solid ten hours of shopping and managed to take care of much of our Christmas shopping. It was a lot of fun, rather productive and worth every minute of having to blow my nose, wait in line and freeze while we ran into stores. For some reason, every year, Black Friday tends to be the first really cold day of the year. This year was no exception. When I got up at 4 a.m., the ground was frozen, the rain that had poured down for most of Thanksgiving day had frozen into icy puddles and the wind cut through us like a nice.

Still, we persevered, we shopped and we conquered. It was a good Thanksgiving and a good Black Friday.

Even if I didn't get my mini chopper.

Stupid Walmart.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Traditions...

Today was my "friday" at work. I decided to take tomorrow off so that Thanksgiving wasn't so rushed and quick and the puppies and I could take our time as we drove to my parents' house tomorrow.

Weeks like this are nice but usually slightly frustrating because everyone's already slightly in 'holiday' mode and everything slows down. It's harder to get people to return phone calls, harder to get people to commit to meetings/interviews and harder to get people moving forward.

I can't blame them, I suppose. I mean, this is a short week for me and all day today, I had that sense of an internal 'countdown' that didn't stop ticking until the clock hit five p.m. and I was officially on vacation until Monday.

Of course, it's not going to be the most restful vacation but, really, is thanksgiving ever really restful? As the self-appointed soux chef to my mother in the kitchen, Wednesday is usually spent with me and my notebook, planning each stage of cooking Thanksgiving Dinner in a Dinner Impossible style. My mother and I plan how long things take to cook, what needs to go into the oven when and how we can keep things moving so that we don't run out of oven space. This is usually coupled with trying not to panic because people are arriving and coming to say hello by standing in the kitchen and being social. Since my parents' have a relatively small kitchen, this makes movement and smooth sailing quite impossible.

Also, there always tends to be the issue of the carving of the turkey. My dad, naturally, likes to do this. We generally let him because otherwise, he sulks a little. One time, we let my older brother do it but he ended up taking three times as long as my dad usually does because that's just the way he is. He's very meticulous and quite a perfectionist. It's the same when you ask my brother to put lights on the Christmas tree. It ends up taking him several hours to position each individual light correctly on the tree branches. It ends up looking fabulous but by the time he's done, you're just wanting him to hurry up and you've sort of stopped caring how it looks.

Anyway, when it comes to carving the turkey, we let my dad do it. He usually picks the most inconvenient time possible. He's either much later than he should be or he decides to come and claim it when my mother and I are doing a graceful dance around the kitchen, moving plates, dishes, etc. to get everything in order.

Still, in the end, it all comes together. The meal always turns out delicously. It gets eaten far quicker than it gets prepared but that's always the way, isn't it?

After thanksgiving, it's become a tradition for everyone to grab the newspaper ads and start talking about what they want for Christmas, particularly the children. This is quite handy since my sister and I are Black Friday shoppers and it gives us ideas for our shopping trip.

We're planning on being at WalMart at 4 a.m. I'm not a huge fan of Walmart in general but it's a tradition. It makes you feel like you're part of something to be there at 4 a.m. waiting for the announcement that it's time to start shopping. That you're not be something sane per se is irrelevant. It's a tradition and it's fun to see all of the other nutcases who are there for the early-morning deals. It's just best to stay away from the big screen TV's. Big Screen TV buyers are a little scary.

I don't know where else we'll end up but I know we're likely to make a day of it on Friday. Chances are by Friday night, we'll be exhausted but in the meantime, it will not only be fun to be shopping all day but also to spend time with my sister and act like a crazy person.

Of course, she'd probably say that I generally act like a crazy person year round which may or may not be true but on Black Friday, I'm not alone.

That's a Thanksgiving tradition I just love.
Happy Thanksgiving- I'll be back next week!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Slight Obsession with Food....

It has come to my attention, once again, that I think about food entirely too much.

I've always enjoyed food although, as a child, I was a horribly picky eater. I was one of those children that only ate 'safe' foods like fishfingers and chips (fishsticks and fries to my American readers), beefburgers (hamburgers), pizza (cheese only, please) and other kid-friendly foods. I simply didn't like my food messed around too much. I liked things plain, simple and kept quite separate on the plate.

When I was in high school and I went on one of my first real dates, I thought it was exotic to eat at the Olive Garden restaurant. Still being a picky eater, I was slightly alarmed and all the fussiness of the descriptions on the menu. I ordered fettucini alfredo which, at the time, seemed wonderfully fancy and grown-up. It became my staple at any Italian type restaurant. When in doubt, order the fettucini alfredo.

Then I went to college and...something happened. I began to eat everything. I don't know if it's because I was suddenly always hungry and there was always food or because my tastebuds changed but, suddenly, I began to try new things. I no longer just ordered fried rice and egg rolls in Chinese restaurants or cheese quesadillas in Mexican restaurants.

That's how it's been ever since. I try almost everything once. I've learned that sushi is not scary but actually rather delicious. I've learned that the Filipino typical breakfast of bangus fish with spicy vinegar, rice and longanisa sausage is pretty fantastic even though it's quite different from the traditional British breakfast of everything fried with a side of baked beans.

In short, I learned to eat because, well, food is just delicious when it's cooked well. I've learned to cook which also helps with the food factor.

It's just...well...that I now think about food. A lot. I mean, I suppose most people do, right? If you're hungry, you try to decide if you're craving something in particular or you're just generally hungry.

However, in my case, usually by about 9 a.m., I've already planned my lunch and dinner. Usually lunch is leftovers from the night before. Dinner's the fun part. I like to do a mental sweep of my pantry/fridge/vegetable drawer and decide what I feel like cooking.

For example, last night for dinner, I made a mini Thanksgiving meal for myself. This may seem slightly excessive for a single woman living alone but, well, if I don't cook for myself then a) I don't practice my cooking skills and b) I live like a bachelorette on microwave meals and take out.

It wasn't like I even had to buy anything special for this meal. I had bought a cornish game hen on sale a month or so ago. It was in the freezer. I already had parsnips in the cupboard because I generally like to keep root vegetables on hand because they're useful. I had potatoes. I had brussels sprouts. Voila. Put it together and you have roasted game hen with roast parsnips and potatoes and a side of brussel sprouts. The whole thing took about an hour to cook. I also have to admit that I made it because on Thanksgiving day, my mother and work together to get the dinner ready for our large family. By the time it's on the table, we're both so tired and sweaty from cooking the meal that we never really eat as much as we'd like because we've lost our appetites somewhat. Since I am a big fan of the roast turkey and trimmings, I figured it didn't hurt to spoil myself a little because that way, I won't feel so disappointed when I don't eat as much on Thanksgiving.

Hey, it makes sense in my head. That counts for something...right?

The nice thing was, I had leftovers of my vegetables and thus, today, I had my leftover vegetables for lunch. This meant there was no need to figure out what to have for lunch.

Instead, I decided to plan dinner. I've been wanting to try a recipe I had for Thai curried chicken soup. I had all the ingredients because I've been planning on making it for a while. All I had to do is defrost the chicken.

The soup turned out to be...fantastic. I know it sounds like I'm singing my own praises but, really, I'm singing the praises of Food Network Magazine who provided the recipe. It was the kind of soup where you just can't get enough of the broth.

I have leftovers for lunch, naturally.

I suppose my question after all this is...is this normal or am I just a bit food obsessed? Am I feeding my slight loneliness and tendency to be a bit of a puppy-loving hermit by indulging in food?

Whatever the answer, I blame the Food Network. Honestly. If my parents hadn't put Iron Chef America on while I was staying there a couple of years ago, I'd probably still be thinking that Tyson Chicken nuggets and McCain Smiles were a good dinner. Instead, I'm trying new recipes, finding new flavour profiles and trying things I never thought I'd ever eat.

It's not so bad. Of course, I have to be a lot more careful than I used to because with age comes a slower metabolism. Yet, it's still fun to watch Iron Chef America and learn something new.

It's also fun to treat each day as a new canvas for that day's meals. Tomorrow, for example, I have leftover soup for lunch. I haven't planned dinner yet. It'll give me something to think about tomorrow when work is a little slow.

Although maybe I should think about work instead.

But it's more fun to think about food.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Dichotomy of Seasons in the Neighbourhood...

This has been another very quick weekend. I've discovered that even when you like your job, weekends fly by and you're ready to head back to work before you know it.

Still, I can't complain. This has been a beautiful weekend. Today, especially, was just a stunning autumn day. It was the type of day where I got up with a 'to do' list in my head. It included yard work, cooking, writing, cleaning and doing laundry. I also had to go on a mad early morning dash to Target for their pre-Black Friday sale on behalf of my sister who's in search of this thing for my niece for Christmas called a "LaLaLoopsy Doll" or something to that effect. Unfortunately, Target did not have said doll nor did Walmart. I think this means my sister and I might have a quest for Christmas.

Still, when I got home from my pre-Black Friday shopping trip, I realized that it was far too nice of a day to waste and so I took the pups for a long nature hike over the woods.

It was a wise choise. There was a cool breeze but the day was otherwise sunny and balmy. The woods were a myriad of autumn colours and we had fun chasing nature. That is to say the puppies had fun chasing nature in the form of a woodpecker, squirrel, herron and a flock of Canadian geese whereas I just ran along behind them, enjoying the exercise.

It was a great day for a walk. The air woke my tired brain up and made me appreciate that it's less than a week until Thanksgiving and I could still get by in light jacket and t-shirt without being cold.

I wore the puppies out which is not something I was too unhappy to see. By the time they got home, it was nap time for them while I did some more of my errands. When they woke up, they joined me in the garden as I winterized it- chopping down the dead plants and putting leaves around the roots of the plants that are sensitive to cold.

The day remained pretty and so later this evening, on a break from writing, the pups and I went for another walk- this time on our regular neighbourhood romp.

We discovered that while we had been walking over the woods, enjoying the balmy sunnyness of autumn, many of our neighbours were taking advantage of the good weather and putting their Christmas decorations up outside. While it's still a little early for my tastes, I couldn't blame them. If I were going to do more than put some lights over my bushes, I'd probably have thought about it too.

However, we also noticed that it wasn't just outdoor decorations that had gone up. As the sun set and we continued our walk we noticed more than one house in which a tree stood proudly in the window.

It's still too early for my tastes but it's nice to see the lights, at least. In addition, it's quite fun to see the transition in lawn decorations from autumn/Halloween to Christmas. There are still some houses, like mine, with scarecrows and autumn leaves decorating them. Then there are the Christmas folk with their red and green displays, their multicoloured lights and their icicles hanging from the roofs.

To me, this shows the transition of the season, even if I'm not ready to make the transition yet.

We had fun on our walk this evening. It turned out to be quite a windy day so the leaves had gathered in thick carpets all the way around the neighbourhood. Even those people who had painstakingly raked their leaves and cleared their lawns were back to needing to rake again.

Personally, I only rake leaves when they pose a nuisance such as being trod into the house. otherwise, I leave them. This time of year, there's such a pretty display of reds, oranges, browns and yellows in the fallen leaves that it seems a shame to ruin the cover on the ground. It's like nature is giving us a carpet of colour. Why rake it? When it rots and turns brown, the snow will come and offer a cleansing cover of white. Then the snow will melt and the green of spring will be peeking through. I say let the leaves lie...they're prettier that way.

The puppies, however, don't mind the raked piles of leaves. Rory continues to 'splat' on ever pile she sees while Sookie watches her, bemused. They don't seem bothered by the dichotomy of Halloween meets Christmas that we see as we walk. They're too busy looking for squirrels.

It's nice to still be able to walk. Then again, I'm hoping we can still walk, even if it snows. I'm curious to see the neighbourhood in yet another transition. I hope the puppies aren't opposed.

We'll see how that goes.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Woes of Growing Old...

I think I'm getting old. This is a redundant statement really because even as I started typing this, I'm already older than I was when I typed the first word.

I don't necessarily mean in age. I mean that I'm getting old as in just being. I know you're really only as old as you think you are but that's not really what I mean, either.

What I mean is hard to describe. It's not an age thing, measurable in years. It's more just a state of existence, more who you are, what you do and what you like.

For example, we all go through phases. In my childhood, I went through phases such as wanting a pony more than anything else in life, wanting to be in a pantomime because the one I saw on my seventh birthday was the most exciting thing I'd ever seen and wanting to be a gymnast even though physics, heridity and lack of balance were all against me.

In my teens, I went through a heavy metal stage, an Andrew Lloyd Webber stage, a Stephen King stage.

In my twenties, I went through a theatre stage, a passionate love of the movies that led to my attempts at being a screenwriter and an Anne Rice stage.

You get the idea. Each decade of my life meant I was older. My interests naturally evolved to help define who I was at that moment in time. They grew a little more mature as the days went by though most likely by someone else's standards, my interests were always (and probably still are) slightly immature in some ways. I mean, I did go through a passionate devotion to Green Day in my late 20's/early thirties. I still like Green Day.

Yet I no longer have that burning desire to have Green Day help define who I am. It's strange. One day it was there, one day it wasn't. I don't know why it went away or even what made it go away, it just did. It was suddenly replaced by a weird and inexplicable desire to listen to Top 40 music and discover that Lady GaGa is quite an artist, Katy Perry is horribly catchy and that I wouldn't mind if Jason Mraz followed me around and sang to me all day long.

The only constant in my life that has been there since my 20's is Harry Potter. Since I first read the books, I've been a captive fan. I love the movies. I collect Harry Potter stuff, specifically featuring the illustrations from the books rather than movie themed stuff but I'm not horribly picky.

I can't wait to see the movie that opens tonight at midnight. I've been counting down for months. I know it's going to be good. I know I'm going to be frustrated that I have to wait another six months to see Part 2 of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." I don't care. I can't wait to see the movie.

I just don't want to see it at midnight. Hence the fact...I'm getting old.

A few years ago, I would have been there at midnight if I had friends who wanted to see it. I mean, I was at Borders for the midnight release of the last book in the series. Nowadays...I just don't want to and that, I fear, makes me old.

No longer do I have that happy-go-lucky, "I don't care if I have to work tomorrow!" attitude that I used to have. Instead, I know that even if I did drag my 35-year-old bones to the movies, it'd be a waste of my $12. You see, I could wait in line. I'd get in and sit down. Then I'd get tired. I might force myself to stay awake but I know that if I did, I'd be so focused on not falling asleep, I wouldn't take in the movie. I might manage to watch it but, at best, I reckon I'd probably catch maybe 85% of it and miss 15% by a) trying not to doze off, b) getting distracted by the fact that I had to be at work in a few short hours or c) being worried that I left the puppies home alone and hoping they'd be ok.

I know, I know....so what? There's only a midnight opening once, right? I can always go see it again if I did miss some or fall asleep.

The thing is, I don't want to do that. For one thing, even matinees these days are almost $9. For another thing, Harry Potter is very important to me. I love to see the movies and get lost in them. I love the thrill of knowing even as I sit in my seat at the theatre, I'm about to have over two hours of pure enjoyment that is all mine. As a child, I felt that way any time I was lucky enough to go to the cinema. It was this almost breathless thrill of excitement that arose in me as soon as the lights went down. I was going to escape from my seat and get lost in the screen in front of me.

Nowadays, I rarely have that feeling. I do, however, always have it with Harry Potter movies.

I don't want to not have that. You only have it once and that's the first time you get to see the movie in the theatre. You can try to recapture that the second time or even the third time but the magic is just not the same. It's like having a chocolate chip or shortbread cookie that's still warm from the oven. The gooey warmth is only there when they come out of the oven. Afterwards, they're still good but that comfy, homey warmth of that sweet disc of goodness is gone. Even if you put it in the microwave, it's not quite the same.

I know I'm being slightly dramatic about Harry Potter. It's just something special and important to me. When you're a thirty-something singleton who lives alone with two adorable puppies, you cling on to things like Harry Potter. It makes like that little more special.

So, I won't be seeing it at midnight tonight. That makes me feel old.

I know people who do still go to midnight showings- several friends who are scattered around the U.S. will be waiting in line at midnight in their various time zones, waiting for that Warner Brothers logo to appear on the screen and for the Harry Potter experience to begin.

I admire them because they can still do it. They can overcome that old person mentality and not care about being tired tomorrow.

Whereas me...I know I wouldn't make it through the movie without falling asleep.

So, instead, I'm going to wait until Saturday. I'll make it into a Harry Potter day and I'll enjoy the movie while the sun is still shining outside. I won't be in a theatre with devotees of the movie like I would be if I went at midnight.

But at least I'll be awake and I'll enjoy every minute.

Oh, I'm getting old.

Happy Friday! (and enjoy Harry Potter if you're seeing it tonight/this weekend!)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Good Days, Bad Days...It's Nice to Like My Job...

This week is going quite quickly. Tomorrow's already Thursday which means it'll soon be Friday.
You'll hear no complaints here. This has been a better week at work. I've learned there's an ebb and flow to the recruiting business. Somedays, it's like spending the day fishing without getting a single bite. Even when you think the fish is biting, it turns out that your hook is actually caught on a week or you've caught a leaf. In my case, it tends to be that the weeds and leaves in the analogy are job seekers who, sadly, aren't really authorized to work in the U.S. even though they indicated on their resume that they were. It's frustrating for both sides- it's not that we don't want to sponsor anyone's visa but we simply aren't in a position to really do that.

Sometimes the weeds that masquerade as fish are people who simply don't want to accept the realities of the world. For example, I contacted a woman today about a potential job. She's been out of work for a while but not desperate for a job yet. She wants $100K for a position. The position I offered her was $85K and she pretty much snorted into the phone with derision. I have to admit, I have no tolerance for that attitude. I deal with enough desperate professionals each day who are victims of the economy that people like this woman make me cringe. I suppose it shows my middle-class upbringing but I can't help but think of all the people who take jobs as fast food employees, cleaners or shelf stockers just because their unemployment has run out and they have to feed a family. The economy is improving but it's still not great. There are still a lot of unemployed folk out there. I get irritated at people like this woman who don't understand that to the average, middle-class or lower worker, $85K is a pipe dream. In all honesty, she was on the third tier of people I contacted anyway so it's not like she's top of the line. Still, it's a lesson to me that not everyone really wants a job, even when they advertise online that they do.

It's all a learning experience. I'm learning that, as a recruiter, sometimes you have to sell your candidate to the account manager. So far, my instincts aren't proving too badly. My first placement was someone my boss didn't think was fabulous and yet he managed to get the job. I have another candidate who I knew could do a job but my account manager on that one didn't believe me. He's going into the second round of interviews so he's definitely not doing too badly.

It's all rather fun at times even though the days when you don't get a single bite are frustrating. They make me feel a bit like a failure. I've been told that it's a silly way to feel because then I'll have a day like today where I get three candidates for submittal. It's all just a big old circle. What I'm learning is that talking to people and getting to know them is the best way for them to want to work with you. Today, I helped a woman who's reuniting with her ex-husband from 30 years ago get a job interview up near Dayton. I helped another woman who's been job seeking for months and wants to live anywhere she can find a job get an interview. I found out she's been having a lot of bad hair days and so it's only natural she gets the interview during a period like this.

It's fun to get to know people. There are some rude ones- the guy who decided that he needed to send a rather long email correcting my grammar in response to a bulk email I'd been told to send, for example- but there are some really fun ones too. There's nothing better than talking to someone who's dejected and tired of job seeking and offering them a lifeline in the form of hope. It's satisfying. It's also fun to reach out to them as a human, to find out that they're having a bad hair week and they're wondering if it would be bad to wear a hat to an interview or to find out that they're reuniting with their ex-husband after 30 years.

It's not all like that but I'm quickly learning that the nice people make up for the rude people. It's one of the reasons I wanted a job like this. It's much more rewarding to get a message on your voicemail first thing in the morning from someone you placed in a job that tells you how happy they already are and how much they love thier new job. They say thank you. It's what I missed about my old job. There was no instant feedback like that. There was really no feedback at all though I'll blame that on the bad politics/human resource efforts of my former company rather on the nature of the software industry in general.

It's nice to be told thanks. It's nice to hear "good job" from your boss when you do something right. It's addicting because it makes you want to keep doing it. Granted, I get a commission for every placement I do but it's not about the commission, it's about the feeling of satisfaction and success I get when I do my job well.

It's been a while since I've had this feeling. It feels nice. It's nice to come into an environment like this from an environment where not getting fired seemed like a good reward, even if you had no reason to even get fired. You don't realize how paranoid you are that you might just get axed until after you've seen a company fire three people at different times, seemingly out of the blue. I'm sure it wasn't completely out of the blue but that's how it seemed to me and to the rest of the minions at my old company.

In addition, it's a pleasure to work for a stable company. I confess, given the rocky transition of my old company from being a university-owned company to being a private company to being a merged company, it never made me feel very secure. I'm hoping for the sake of my former coworkers/friends that the company sticks around but, honestly, I don't think anyone will be astounded if things don't go so well in the future.

So, four weeks in to the new job and I can safely say that I'm glad I made the decision to try something new, to leave behind the safe but crazy world of my old office. Having a day like today where I feel like I did my job well almost makes up for the bad breakup I had to endure with my old boss.

Almost, at least. It's going to take some time to get over that one.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Perfect Rainy Night...

It's a soggy night out there tonight. It's been raining non-stop since about 10 a.m. and the daytime feels like it never really arrived.

I don't mind one bit. I'm a fan of precipitation. I'd much rather it rained or even snowed than for it to just look gloomy and grey. It's been so dry this summer/fall that the rain is very welcome. It's a perfect rainy day too. I have dinner cooking in the crock pot and the house is warm and cosy.

The puppies don't like it much, of course. They go out, get soaked and then proceed to do weird, wild dives on the carpet, on the couch, on ever visible surface in an attempt to dry themselves off. If I was a neat freak, this might be a problem but it's just water and, well, they're puppies. I can't exactly make them sit still.

It's the perfect night for cuddling up and enjoying the sound of the rain. I'm trying to be good this week and get some writing done. I've been in a slump lately. I entered The Reluctant Demon in the Writer's Digest Self Published awards and I didn't even get an honourable mention. I confess, I've been a bit down about that. The sales have been going pretty well considering I haven't done any publicity. I've sold 40 electronic copies in the past month. This may seem small but that's not bad going for an indie writer who hasn't done any marketing.

It just bothers me that I'm bothered so much about some stupid awards. It shouldn't matter. It just does.

Still, I've decided it's not worth being so sad/annoyed about that I should let it stop me from writing. So this week, I've decided that I'm going to try to finish my novel by the end of November. I'm ready to move on. It's fun to write the adventures of someone in Hell but I'd also like to write other things too.

So, tonight will be a writing night. I hope the pups don't mind too much. Their usual response to my writing is to ignore me while they play together and then when they're ready to curl up on the couch for the evening, they yip at me to come and join them. Sometimes, they'll come in and lie in the doorway, staring at me with those big sad eyes. It's easy to want to give in to eyes like that. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. If I ignore them for long enough, they trot off, heads down and sit on the couch all alone until I join them.

This time of year is very strange because the days suddenly feel so much shorter. I'm sure the puppies are still bewildered by the change that Daylight Savings Time has brought about. It's dark so early now and they miss out of the daylight because that's when I have to go to work and they go in their crate. I'm experimenting with leaving them out for half a day to see if they can be trusted without supervision. I work a little later now than I used to and if I have to run errands after work, I feel cruel for keeping them crated when it's getting dark. I'm hoping they adjust to being freed from their crate for part of the day so that I can have a little more freedom myself.

On nights like this though, there's nothing more freeing than being home, in your pajamas, listening to the rain fall as the smell of comfort food perfumes the air with a puppy cuddled up on each side of me.

I've missed the rain. I'm glad it's back.

Happy Wednesday.

After the Indian Summer is Gone...

Our Indian summer is over. It was one of those days where, when you get up, it's chilly outside. There's not quite a frost but nature was thinking about it. It's cold enough that you feel like you need a jacket but if you wear one, you're going to feel a little silly by midday when it's warmed up and you're suddenly carrying around a jacket. You still want to put the jacket on because it's still not warm, per se and yet...well, you're not used to it being jacket weather and you don't want to give in, not yet...even though it's time.

It was still a beautiful day out there today. Most of the leaves have fallen and they're swept into tidy heaps. Some ambitious souls are still mowing their lawns. I don't understand this, honestly. I know it's a way of mulching the leaves but the grass is dying back. We didn't have enough rain this summer for the grass to grow much at all during late July/August. Besides that, we've had a hard frost and it's bad for the lawn to cut it.

Still, when I run home at lunch to release the hounds from their crate, there are usually a couple of men mowing their lawns in the warm sun. Perhaps it's their attempt to cling on to the warmer days of the past season. Perhaps they just like mowing their lawn. It's hard to say. Yet there's a chill to the air now that wasn't here last week. It's the type of chill that's letting us know that winter isn't too far away and autumn is saying goodbye to summer, once and for all.

The evenings are cooler again after the tease of the Indian summer. I walked the pups again tonight and as I walked with them, I realized that if you were to take the calendar and flip it horizontally so that we were in spring, not autumn, this was the exact type of evening you'd find. It comes in after a warm day and there's a chill to the air, the same type of chill there was tonight.

The puppies will be disappointed that Indian summer is over. They love their 'leaf dives' in the evenings. Now, with the time change, it's getting dark when we start out and almost dark when we're done. Rory has been able to perform her belly flops into leaf piles under cover of night. It makes it a little less embarrassing if she splats the pile back into an untidy mess of leaves instead of a neatly swept pile. I try to stop her but she's a dachshund on a mission. Sookie, meanwhile, waits for Rory to splat the pile and then she has a nose. One time, they found a vole that one of the neighbourhood cats had clearly hidden in the pile. They thought it was a prize until I made them drop it. They do like their prizes. They haven't caught much in our garden though they had a lovely time hunting voles at my parents. By my count, they caught three. They also caught a rather large cricket and found a recently dead bird. There's no doubt about it: My dogs are hunters.

Yet they also enjoy the sniff of the hunt as much as the thrill of a catch. That's what they do on their walks. You can always tell when they've scented a bunny and they know it's nearby. The leashes go taut and they're both poised, ready to locate the bunny. The nice thing about them being on a leash is...they're on a leash. I can control their hunting expedition.

Of course, I still can't quite control Rory and her tendency to belly flop into leaf piles but it's probably because I just don't try as hard. There's something just too adorable about watching her run, do this strange little leap and suddenly be in the middle of the pile while her sister looks on, as though shaking her head and saying, "Messy little sod!"

Then again, maybe that's me.

Oh well, we may as well enjoy our autumn walks while the weather is letting us still take them. Belly flops and all.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Awkward Reunions and Cold Wet Puppies

How is it possible that it's already Sunday evening? I feel like it was just Friday evening when I was sneaking out of work a little early with two of my coworkers to get margaritas. We weren't really sneaking- our boss told us to do it so I guess you don't get any less sneaky than that really.

Anyway, the fact of the matter is that it feels like it was just a very short time ago we were drinking the margaritas and now, time is whizzing by so quickly that in a few short hours, it'll be time to go to bed and say good bye to the weekend.

It was a nice weekend, even if it did start off with a visit to my old office. It was, as you might suspect, very awkward going back there. I knew it was going to be. My old company, in the grand scheme of things is quite small. My current company caters mostly to big companies. This is because big companies can afford services like ours. We're not a terribly inexpensive service. Big companies don't mind paying us for what we do because we take the hassle out of having to find employees.

Smaller companies like my former employer don't usually use us because they usually don't need us and, also, they can't really afford us.

As I suspected on Friday, my former HR manager was obsessed with the cost. She didn't want to know what she'd be getting for the cost. She just wanted to know how much it would cost. We sat with her for almost an hour while she obsessed about percentages and facts and figures. It was, to say the least, a little...odd. I know they need to watch their spending but if you call someone in to explain how they work, the least you think they'd want to do is, you know, hear how we work. Instead, we sat there while she kept trying to find out what we'd charge.

It was painful. To make it more painful, my ex-boss came in late and sat there without saying much, staring awkwardly at us. It was completely clear to me that my account manager and I were wasting our time but we had to persevere anyway. To make matters worse, when my ex-HR manager told me what salary they were willing to pay this new employee that we might help them find, my jaw dropped. I've only been doing recruiting for 3 weeks but it's long enough to know what a beginning/entry-level programmer expects. Let's just say my former company was willing to pay significantly lower than most companies.

It's no wonder the position has been open three months. To top it off, they want someone with a combination of skills that is going to be pretty near impossible to find in one package let alone for the salary they want to pay.

Needless to say, by the time we left, I wasn't expecting them to go with us. I don't think they will even though we were told they'd call us to work out details. I'm hoping they don't go with us because, frankly, as much as I'd like to bring business into my new company, we'd end up taking a loss with them anyway by the time we're done. Ah well, c'est la vie. As long as I don't have to go back again any time soon, I'm ok with that.

So, by the time it was margarita time on Friday, I was ready for the weekend.

All in all, it's been a great weekend. I went to my parents early on Saturday and had a lovely day hanging out with my mother. We went out for lunch to this new Vietnamese restaurant that's not too far from their house. They're a pho restaurant. Pho is one of the things I miss about Los Angeles- it's a vermicelli noodle soup with meat, spiced broth and herbs and it's just good comfort food. I tried it here at a local place once and it was nothing like the real thing. Thus I was delighted to find that the pho I had on Saturday was as close as I've ever had since I left Los Angeles.

I also decided that I might as well give into Christmas so I started my Christmas shopping in earnest. I'm doing pretty well considering it isn't even Thanksgiving yet.

Today, I spent the day with my parents, their dogs and my puppies. It was a nice day but chilly in the wind. Not so chilly, however, that the puppies didn't have a great time running around my parents' yard and going in their ponds.

I'm not sure what the fascination is but my dad has this little fish pond with a waterfall and the puppies were obsessed with it. They spent the day running around the edge of the pond. Naturally, Rory being Rory, slipped off a rock and ended up soaked to her belly. Sookie got a little wet too and, as a result, our drive back home was a little pungent.

Now, because the smell of pond is not appealing, I have two shivering puppies on my couch. I had to give them a bath and they were not happy. They're currently wearing their pink mock-Burberry coats, wrapped in a pink mock-Burberry blanket and looking as pathetic as I've ever seen them. It's not like they can possible be cold. Their coats and blanket are made of fleece and I've had the heat on as well. I think they're just making me feel bad.

I do feel bad. I didn't want to bath them but, well, they smelled like a pond and since they sleep burrowed in my bed at night, I really didn't want them curled up next to me smelling like stale fish and algae.

I'm hoping they'll forgive me soon. They're almost dry as it is. Still, knowing my pups, they're going to milk their sorrowful mood as long as possible and make me feel like I have to sit with them and cuddle them.

Still. There are far worse ways to wind down a weekend.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

One More Into the Breach...

So, I have to go back to my old company tomorrow. I'm not terribly excited.

It all came about because when I left my company, I made a joking comment to my ex-boss ("ex" being the key word) that he should use my new company to help him fill the programmer/developer position that he'd been trying to hire for months.

I made the comment mostly in jest. I mean, my boss wasn't exactly, um, nice to me when I left my old job. He wasn't exactly congratulatory about my new position and he didn't send me off and wish me well with the traditional going away lunch. In fact, the only lunch I did get was with my two coworkers, one of whom paid with a buy one-get-one-free coupon. This was nice of her except I realized that she'd actually owed me lunch anyway because we'd made a bet and I'd won.

The bet was actually to do with an interview candidate for the open programmer/developer job. We had several candidates in when I was still there and somehow, prior to us getting to meet the candidate, my coworkers and I got on the subject of "Which is your favourite mythological creature: Vampire, Zombie, Werewolf or Ghost." Then we got into symantics which lead to a discussion about whether it was blood thirsty creatures rather than mythological creatures in which case then we should add Vikings to the mix because, let's face it, they were pretty blood thirsty. It became an ongoing conversation and it came up yet again while the same group of coworkers and I were trying to come up with questions to ask the candidates. I made the joke of saying that we should ask them about their favourite bloodthirsty creature because that way we'd see if the candidate had a sense of humour. Thus, I was dared to do it. If I did ask it with a straight face and as though it were just a routine interview question, I got lunch.

So, of course, when the time arose, I asked it. The candidate liked zombies best, by the way.

He didn't end up getting the job but I got my lunch. Sort of.

Well, it seems that they didn't hire any of the candidates that they interviewed while I was there. They haven't had any good resumes. They want someone to fill the job.

This happens to be what my company does for a living. Thus, when my phone rang on Tuesday and it was my old HR manager on the phone, I was a little surprised. It turns out that my former boss had taken me seriously. He wanted me to come in and talk to them about assisting my old company with their candidate search.

Now, this side of things doesn't happen to be what I specifically do. Our account managers talk to the clients who are seeking candidates whereas I then help find the candidates to fill the job. I suggested that perhaps I set the HR manager up with a time to talk to an account manager. My HR manager was not having any of that. It seems my old boss had specifically requested I go in because I knew what they were looking for and though they'd speak to the account manager too, it's important that I go since, if they choose to hire my company, I'd be the one looking for the candidate.

This isn't actually true. It'll probably be me and our other recruiter. Still, it seems that I get to tread back on familiar ground and go back to the scene of the crime.

Also, now my old boss has invited himself along to our meeting. This means that, yay, I get to sit in a room with my old boss. Again.

I'm hoping that tomorrow when I go into my old building, it's not with that cold, sick dread of post-traumatic-work-disorder that sometimes follows some really bad job experience. I'm hoping that I don't suddenly feel the run into the bathroom to affirm that I should "LIVE TODAY, FOR MY LIFE IS NOW!" I'm hoping that I don't suddenly start wondering why I suddenly feel like I need a Mac computer in my life again or suddenly need to start singing like Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf .

Most of all, I'm hoping that I won't feel any inappropriately violent urges towards my old boss. I don't quite think I've had time to recover from my last days there yet. Any good psychiatrist would say it was far too soon to go back.

I wish I could say a secret part of me is excited to go back into the belly of the beast to see how it's doing without me. However, given that I see some of my old coworkers or at least talk to them fairly regularly, I have a fairly good idea. As I suspected, they're getting along fine. The coworker who inherited some of my duties is whining about how busy she is when, most likely, she's finally got a full workload instead of having nothing to do but wander around and socialize.

I think the fact that I'm still rather bitter about the whole thing speaks volumes about whether I'm really ready to go back. Give me a few months, I won't care. Give me three weeks....well, I'm already visualizing accidentally running over my ex-boss' feet with my chair. That is not a good sign.

Still, once more into the breach I'll go and hopefully come out the other side, more relieved than ever I left.

Then again, maybe I should go to that bathroom again. It did have have a jolly nice way of inspiring good decisions in me...such as running away to sanity.

Here's hoping the sanity remains tomorrow. Here goes nothing.

Happy Friday and have a good weekend.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Warm Days, Cold Noses....

Apparently, we're officially having an Indian summer. I learned yesterday from Frank Marzullo and the Fox 19 Stormtracker weather team that were having one. This is because we've had a 'hard freeze' and then the temperatures have risen. Given that we've had 70 degree days since Monday, this is definitely the case.

It still feels odd though that it's getting dark at 5 p.m. It feels odd that when I get home from work and the pups are in their crate, the shadows are already long in the kitchen and the puppies are still staring at me as if to say, "Dude! Why are you SO late?"

To make matters worse, I've been going out after work for the past two nights which means I come home, let them out, call them in so I can leave again and, by the time I get home, it's dark.

The puppies don't understand this. I don't understand it either, to be honest. It's to get home at 7 p.m and feel like it's far too late to have been out on a work night.

Still, it's all part of the process of moving between seasons. In a few weeks, it'll all feel normal. The Indian summer will be over and we'll be moving on into the chill of winter.

As you know, I love winter. I love the fact that it's a cleansing break between the finality of autumn and the newness of spring. I love snow. I love frost. I love having the perfect excuse to stay inside, snuggle up with a puppy and read or watch TV or write. It's all part of the semi-hibernation process.

And yet it's not winter yet as evidenced by the beautiful days we're having at the moment. It's wonderful to come home at lunch without a jacket and watch the puppies frollic in the garden they way they did most of the spring and summer. It's been too cold lately for them to do much outside but hunt the occasional squirrel, do their 'business' and come in. I think they're as delighted as I am that it's warm enough to go out.

Of course, it's still getting pretty nippy at night. We've still had a few frosts. Personally, this is the way I like my weather. I love the dramatic difference between daytime and nightime. Even when it's freezing outside, I keep my house cool at night so that I can snuggle in my bed and enjoy the cocoon factor. These days, I have two doggy-hot-water-bottles to keep me warm. Rory snuggles on the right, Sookie on the left. They burrow under the covers, heads towards my pillow and lay vertically pressed up against me. It's very comfortable and it's lovely to feel that loved and needed.

Naturally, I know it's really because they're cold and I'm a convenient puppy-warmer but it's still nice to have the snuggle factor on chilly nights. It makes the slightly eerie creaks and groans of my little house a little less sinister when you have two puppies you know will alert you if there's really something to be worried about.

I love having my pups to keep me company on chilly nights. Of course the fact that they like to press their cold noses up against me tends to make me jump a little at first but I'm getting used to it. I don't like it when they need to get up in the wee hours of the morning to go outside because it means I have to leave the cocoon of my bed to open the back door.

However, when we come back to bed, chilled from the frosty air, I do enjoy the race we have to see who can get under the covers first. I usually win.

They follow quickly, cold noses and all.

I love autumn!

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Trials and Tribulations of Having a New Phone...

Tonight, I got a new cell phone. It's been two years since I got my last one. Prior to my last new phone, I'd had a lovely little phone that I'd loved. Then I'd accidentally left it on a phone while en route to Los Angeles to visit a friend.

So, on that trip to Los Angeles, I'd gone to the cell phone store and picked out a new one. I had previously had a normal phone that could access the web but wasn't a 'smart phone,' per se. I ended up with a Blackberry. I don't know why I picked the Blackberry other than the fact that it was pink and I was momentarily blinded by the fact that it was a Blackberry and it was cool.

I hated that Blackberry. It wasn't that I hated the Blackberry in general but I'd chosen the cute one that had a smaller keyboard than normal. This meant that there were two letters per key and when you tried to text/instant message, you often ended up with things like "yat" instead of yay or "ygr" instead of "the".

In addition, I had the unfortunate accident of dropping that Blackberry down the toilet.


To its credit, it still worked. Both times, fortunately, it was a clean toilet. It was an unfortunate accident resulting of my putting my phone in the back pocket of my jeans and not realizing it would lead to calamity when I went to the bathroom.

Both times, I managed to use a combination of a space heater and rice to dry it out.

Both times, the phone continued to work once it had dried out. Nevertheless, I still have a text message from my younger dated August 8, 2048 that came as a result of dropping my phone down the toilet the second time. I'm not going to delete that. I mean, how often do you get a text message like that from the future?

The fact remained, even without the toilet incidents, I was not a fan of this Blackberry. I decided a few months ago I liked the shinyness and niftiness of the Droid. I mean, for goodness sake, it said "droid" when you got a text message! How cool is that?

Then I changed jobs. Then I found out that my office would pay part of the fees of a Blackberry if I used it for work as well as for my personal life.

The Droid seemed less appealing. Not so unappealing I didn't do massive amounts of research to let me know why it really was smarter to get a Blackberry than a Droid.

I finally decided that while the Droid had nifty apps like The Food Network App and that one where you can scan any barcode and find out what it belongs to, the Blackberry was a solid communication tool. When I looked at my history of apps and such, the most I ever really do is surf the web, instant message people and check Facebook.

So, when I went into the Verizon store tonight, I knew I was going to get a Blackberry.

I did. I think I like it. I've also got a new number which is a bit alarming. I've been clinging to my Los Angeles area code for the longest time, not willing to relinquish the last vestiges of that former life.

Then, recently, I realized that when you give local people that number, they look at you like you're from Mars. Or Venus. Or someplace else. Which you are because they really only know their area code. Everything else is alien. It's just the way things are.

So, I decided after two years of being a foreigner in the Midwest to give in. I finally gave up my L.A. area code and now have an Ohio one.

This means I have to let everyone who calls me know that I have a new number. This could be done simply by sending a text to everyone.

I tried to do that. Unfortunately, on my new phone, the 'delete' key looks a lot like the 'enter' key. It took three texts to let people know I had a new number. After the third, I felt rather like a twit. I mean, how many texts does it really take?

Still, people are being nice. They've responded. I figure the ones that want to stay in touch will. The ones that don't...won't. It's ok by me. It's the way of life. Every now and again, we do a little purge in our lives. Sometimes accidentally. Sometimes on purpose.

Now all that remains is to figure out how my new phone works. It has a lot more buttons. It has a lot more dangers. Still, I think with perserverence and diligence, I can conquer it. On the plus side, it's also harder to dial which means it's less likely that something, say, like a puppy named Sookie can steal it and call someone which used to happen with my old phone. Nothing worse than accidental dog dials.

Except, of course, having to talk on a phone you know has been dropped down the toilet.


Here's hoping I'm a little more careful with my new phone.

I'll keep you posted.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Impossibility of Explaining Daylight Saving Time to a Couple of Puppies...

It was feeling a lot less like Christmas today.

Even though we woke up to a lightly frosted world, the day warmed up so much that a jacket wasn't necessary. I'd say this was odd given that it was pouring down with snow on Friday night but this is the Midwest where you can have an 80 degree day in December and a 30 degree day in May.

It was nice that it was so warm outside. It made walking the puppies more pleasant. Lately, it's been so chilly, I've started to think gloves might be necessary. The puppies don't seem to mind. I haven't put their winter coats on them yet but when the temperature drops again, it'll be time.

They won't like it but there's a lot of things they don't like. There are things they don't understand...like daylight saving's time.

It's very hard to try to explain to little furry creatures- albeit cute little furry creatures- about daylight savings time. When their basic understanding of the human vocabulary can be boiled down into several meaningful words ("Rory", "Sookie," "Biscuit?", "Outside?" and "Walk"), explaining the concept of why it's dark at 6:15 p.m. and why it's now light when we get up is sort of impossible.

They don't care. They are waking up an hour earlier than the clocks read. Yes, we as humans try to adapt to the fact that 6 a.m. was 7 a.m. when, a few days ago, 7 a.m. was 7 a.m.

When I got home this evening at 5:30 p.m., it was already getting dark. In their crates, they stared at me accusingly as if to say, "MOTHER! It's late! Where HAVE you BEEN?"

They don't understand that it's not late. It is, in fact, the usual time that I get home from work.

When we walked this evening, it was by twilight. There were no sparkly vampires, thankfully, only a weirdly hovering Larry who was standing by his car as if waiting for something but I couldn't figure out what. For some reason, in the half-light of day/night, he couldn't seem to figure out who I was even though it wasn't that dark and there's no one else in the neighbourhood that I know of who has two twin black and tan dachshunds and takes the route we do. I left Larry to his own devices and decided that making conversation was probably not the best idea.

The puppies seemed to enjoy their twilit walk though. We saw a couple of bunnies which, of course, sent them into jubilant attempts at trying to catch the bunnies. We saw a couple of squirrels. Rory dived in a large pile of leaves. She also investigated a pile of tree branches that had been trimmed and left for pickup and managed to get tangled up in them and toppled the pile. We attempted to tidy it up but we walked away quickly.

Now, even though it's not very late, the puppies seem confused as though they don't understand why I'm not nested on the couch ready to watch TV so they can cuddle with me and warm their chilly noses. A week ago, I would have been ready but this week, it's an hour earlier.

I've tried to explain it to them. The only problem is that honestly, I have a bit of trouble explaining it to myself. I know it was a method of saving energy back in wartimes or whatever but, really, do we need it to be getting dark as we're coming out of work? Couldn't we, you know, just let 5 p.m. be 5 p.m. instead of 4 p.m.?

It's all rather befuddling, I find. No wonder the puppies are confused.

Ah well, they're get the hang of it soon enough.

I hope.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's Already Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

It's working. This stupid thing of retailers to begin the holiday season is starting to work on me even though I'm stubbornly refusing to admit it.

I know that because of last year and the fact that consumers didn't spend as much as retailers needed for the holiday season, this year they're trying to make it longer in hopes that it encourages us to buy more and spend more.

So, instead of waiting until right before Thanksgiving, this year, the weekend after Halloween, the holiday season is in full swing.

I'm trying to ignore it. It's rather hard.

For example, my mother and I went out this weekend in hopes of going to The Fresh Market, Target and Kohls for a leisurely browse. I didn't need anything new but it's quite fun to look, just in case that perfect sweater/top/jacket/pair of trousers/shoes is out there.

We started at The Fresh Market. This is a store that's rather like Whole Foods for those of you who aren't familiar with it. It's like one of the Whole Foods you find in one of the smaller cities like Cincinnati, rather than the two-story mega versions of Whole Foods you find in L.A., London and the larger cities. It's mostly organic. The prices are high but everything's rather....fancy. They have small produce, cheese, bakery and meat sections but what they have is the upscale things, the fancy cheeses, the gourmet produce and the luxury meats. My mother and I are both Food-Network inspired cooks and we love to browse stores like this to see what they have.

So we decided to go to The Fresh Market on Saturday to see what fancy produce they had and to just have a look. It's an expensive store, just like Whole Foods, but when the ingredients are good and hard to find elsewhere, sometimes it's worth the splurge.

We got inside and I got excited. Figs were on sale. I love figs. I miss fresh from the tree figs like I used to get in California. I picked some up. My mother and I navigated to the produce aisle which is along the wall. Oddly, there was a line of people in front of it. I'm talking one of those lines of people militaristically waiting, very seriously, for something. It made it quite hard to get to the produce or even to browse.

Then we actually looked at what they were waiting for. Well, it turned out we had stumbled into The Fresh Market's holiday open house sampler day. All around the rather small store were stations with free samples of things that you might serve during a holiday party. This meant it was impossible to get anywhere to look at anything. We weren't about to join the line of free samplers because the line was long and we had plans for lunch. However, we were still wanting to browse but everywhere you turned, the line wove around each part of the store. When people had their free samples, they simply hovered where there was space to eat so they could move on to the next station. This was lovely for them but not the smartest choice for those of us that simply wanted to shop.

The whole store was also decorated for Christmas. They had the Christmas cookies and baking supplies adorned with holiday glitter so we couldn't miss them. The Christmas coffees and teas were on prominent display. There was the scent of cinnamon everywhere.

It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I stubbornly fought it. It got harder as I saw all of the accoutrements that go with the holidays. I love Christmas. I love all of the things that go with Christmas. When you're being invited to jump in with both feet and tempted by the things you love, it's hard to ignore it.

My mother fought against it too. Of course, she ended up with two chocolate advent calendars in her cart. In her defense, they're quite hard to find and with all the grandchildren, they love opening a door that counts down to Christmas each day during December.

Still, by the time we left, I was starting to think I really needed to get on with my Christmas shopping.

After lunch, we moved onto Kohls. Well, naturally, there were Christmas songs playing. There were the gift displays. Christmas trees were everywhere. It was hard to find the every day clothes that you want to buy yourself amongst the clothes that are clearly positioned to be gift options to others.

Which leads me to one of my problems with Christmas beginning this early. Generally, once the holiday season begins and I start buying gifts for others in earnest, I have a general ban on buying things for myself. This is because a) it's a time for giving to others and, b) because if I see something I like, it provides a nice option to tell someone when they ask for a Christmas list.

Because of this ban, if I do contemplate buying myself something, guilt follows. Sometimes, it's overrideable. Like last year, I bought a jacket for myself because it was $7 and it was a puffy jacket and just how often do you see a deal like that?

Yet still I had the guilt.

This year, it's only the first week of November. Having started a new job in which I'm required to wear business casual, I'm still not fully stocked in my wardrobe. This is because my last job allowed me to wear jeans, t-shirts and other casual attire. While I have some business casual wear, I'm still looking to expand.

However, when you go shopping in order to browse for possible work wear and you're confronted, head on, with Christmas, you suddenly feel...guilty.

In Kohls, my sudden need to start buying gifts suddenly kicked in.

It began to be combined with a sudden desire to sniff the sparkly sugar cookie candles and lovingly pat the peppermint-candy soaps that were on display. It made me want to "aw" over the cute snowmen that were tempting me with their snow and sparkles.

In short, the retailers were starting to win.

Then we went to Target. The dollar section was filled with Christmas items. Everywhere, there was some small indication that it was time to start Christmas shopping. The pet aisles had cute antlers to adorn your dog/cat, stockings filled with chew toys and Christmas packaged dog biscuits. The clothing section had t-shirts emblazoned with holiday designs. The toy aisles had swelled to include all of the items that call out to children to be added to lists. Then there were the Christmas aisles, lit by the glow of many trees and their multi-coloured lights.

Yes, it was, indeed, beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Even the weather decided to help. While I was driving to my parents on Friday night, the clouds were heavy and 45 minutes into the trip, big, fat, beautiful snowflakes began to fall...and fall. I ended up driving through what felt like a blizzard where the giant, cascading flakes came so fast that I could barely see between them.

By Saturday morning, in time for the beginning of this holiday injected shopping trip, the ground was sparkling white with a thick layer of frost and the remnants of the snowfall the night before. It looked like a winter wonderland.

It's hard to resist the call of the holiday season. I'm trying yet part of me feels like it might be ok to just accept the inevitable and not mind the strains of "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," when I hear them in every store.

Yet, there's still Thanksgiving to think about before Christmas is really under way. Still, maybe it wouldn't hurt to make a mug of peppermint hot chocolate and start my Christmas list and Christmas cards.

Eek gads. See what the retailers have done to me?

Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Nature of the Job and of Humans...

Well, it's Friday tomorrow. It's been a strange week. I've been at my new job three weeks,almost. My past two weeks flew by. This week has gone more slowly. The process we have at work is that the two account managers try to get clients to ask us to fulfill their IT personnel needs. In turn, me and the other recruiter in the office get job descriptions and we're in charge of finding people to fill the jobs.

The process we follow is to try to locate people. We then phone screen them. We try to bring them in for an interview. When we're confident they're a good fit, we submit the person's resume to the account manager who decides at that point if they can 'sell' the job candidate to the client. If so, they forward the resume. With luck, the client likes the candidate and they get a job.

If they get a job, we call it a 'start.' As recruiters, we're required to get 3 starts a month, if possible. If not, we don't get in trouble but we do have to make up for it and keep working.

It's harder than it sounds. This week I had my first couple of 'bad' days. I had managed to get a candidate an interview at the jobsite. This is good because he's jumped most of the hurdles. At that point, it's up to him why he can prove that he can do the job.

Except then my candidate got another job offer so he backed out of the interview. He'd told me he wasn't that close to getting a job.

I then had to scramble to find another candidate. I found one who had called only two days before desperate for a job. I'd told him I'd see what I could do and so the minute an interview slot opened up, I fast tracked him and he got an interview with the client.

Guess what? He got another job too and cancelled on his interview. I felt hoodwinked. I'd fallen for his desperate story and sold him to my boss without feeling completely comfortable that he was the absolute best match. I think he could have done the job. I think he would have done it well but I bypassed other resumes in order to help him out.

I learned a couple of lessons this week. Mostly, that candidates lie. They need a job. I understand that. They don't want me to think that they don't need an interview even if they think they might have a job offer. So they tell me they're still looking and then, boom, I'm left holding their resume while they're about to start another job.

Secondly, I learned not to take it personally. That's a big thing. I have to look at it from their point of view. They need a job. They're going to say anything so that I help them get a job. If they find a job, they no longer need my help. It's that simple.

It was a tough lesson to learn. I'm a creature that likes to suceed. I also like to control things. I've been working with software. It has a strict pattern that it follows to get the job done. If the software breaks, I generated a bug report and someone fixed it. It's an A to B type of process.

Working with people is different. It's been a while since I worked with people. People are not A to B creatures, for the most part. Even the most organized humans aren't that simple.

That's what I've had to remember this week. Humans are not software. They can get other job offers, they may answer the phone but not be able to talk because they're in the middle of making meatloaf and their hands are covered with hamburger. They may come into the office and drink a can of Mountain Dew in less than one minute and in one drag and then ask for another please. They may walk up and down stairs while reading a book and not even look to see where they're going.

Yes, these things all happened this week. The point is, humans aren't predictable. I need to remember that. I love my job but I need to start remembering that I'm dealing with real live people with real live...lives. If they don't show up for an interview, I can't file a bug report with my boss and have him fix it. It doesn't work like that.

It's going to take me a while to get used to it. I admit, I love it, even when things don't go quite the way I planned. It's different every day. Sometimes, it's different from hour to hour.

It's a different change of pace but it's exactly what I needed. Now, if I can just get stop candidates from lying to me....

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mysterious Stairwalking Readers...

I like my new office building. It's completely different from my old one. For one thing, we don't have an exercise room, fancy popcorn maker or an optimistic bathroom. I don't miss any of those things. It's still quite nice to go to the bathroom and not be assaulted by bursts of cheeriness. I'm sure, in time, the memories of having to be wildly excited to be in the bathroom will fade but, in the meantime, we have a perfectly normal bathroom. It's nice also to go in there and see immediately whether a stall is occupied. In the Most Optimistic Bathroom in the World, there was always one person who didn't understand the concept of leaving the doors open a little when you excited a stall. If you closed the doors, this made any bathroom goer have to embarrassingly knock on the stall or say, "is anyone in there," before she could do her business.

Instead, my new building is a pretty generic office building with three floors, occupied by small businesses like ours. It's quiet. Every day, I see different people as I wait for the elevators. Sometimes I take the stairs but when I go in first thing in the morning, I tend to be a little lazier.

I quite enjoying seeing people in my office building whom I don't have to work with. It makes a nice change not to know everyone in a building.

I have started to recognize a few faces of people I see fairly regularly. There's this nice lady who seems to be on the same bathroom schedule as me. Whenever I go to do my business, she's either finishing up or going in as I leave.

There is a nice travelling opthamologist I've seen on Fridays. He has a lot of equipment on one of the wheely dolly thigs. Apparently, he travels to office buildings but primarily to nursing homes so the old folks don't have to go out to get their eyes checked. He's really nice.

Pretty much everyone I've met is nice or, at least, politely friendly. Sometimes I take the elevator just because it's a good way of seeing who works in my building.

On the occasions I do take the stairs, there is one woman I see almost all the times. Without fail, she is going down the stairs and she's reading a book.

It's not the same book. She literally reads as she's racing down the stairs. I'm not joking about the racing either. She moves pretty quickly considering she's reading.

I can't decide if she's impressive or pretentious. I love to read. There are times when I'm waiting for something and I wish I had a book with me. When I used to take lunch in California, I would always have a book to read at lunch. When it was an addictive book, I'd want to do nothing more than spend every spare moment reading.

Yet I never walked and read. I think I tried it once and I realized that given that I can't walk in a straight line when I'm not reading due to either a terribly lack of ability to walk in a straight line or that I get easily distracted and this causes me to walk crooked. Reading a book while walking was somewhat dangerous.

Thus, I would never think about reading as I'm racing down the stairs.

Because I'm nosy, I looked at what the woman was reading. It's been different books. They're the type that have bright pink covers usually associated with either trashy Danielle Steel type of fiction or a brighter shade that identifies chick lit. I can't make out the titles.

I'm impressed that she hasn't fallen and that she can manage to at least look like she's reading as she goes down the stairs. However, I find it a little excessive that she can't for one moment, put the book away. I get that she probably loves to read. I get that she likes to take breaks from her job when she can to sneak a quick read. If I was enjoying a book and I got 15 minute breaks, I'd certainly go somewhere away from my office and use the time to sneak in a quick read. However, I wouldn't read while I was getting to that somewhere away from my office.

I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she has a good reason. Maybe, for example, she's on a quest to break the Guinness Book of Records for most books read in a year and she hasn't a moment to lose. Or, maybe her husband/child/mother/dog is being held at gunpoint if she doesn't finish a stack of books in a certain timeframe. Maybe, even, she's testing out the safety of the building to see how likely it was that someone who wasn't paying attention could fall down the stairs.

Still, aside from the last reason, I can't fathom why she doesn't, at least, take the elevator. It'd be safer. She could read while she was going up or down and she'd have the added bonus of the pages not bouncing around while she moved quickly. Also, if she was worried about the time she had to wait for the elevator to arrive, it would simply mean more time to read without accidentally breaking her neck.

I suppose she takes the stairs for the exercise. Of course, at that, I can't wonder why maybe she doesn't get an exercise bike or treadmill at home because you can read while doing those two forms of activity.

Still, for all I know, she's worked there 20 years and she's been doing this for ages. Maybe she has the treads of the stairs worked out and that's how she can read and move down the staircase so rapidly.

I just find her a mystery. I suppose I could ask her but she moves so quickly and has such an air of "do NOT disturb me, I'm reading!" about her that I think maybe she should have been a librarian. (Not to stereotype librarians- my good friend Ms. P is one, as is my good friend, Cindy).

I'm sure I shall continue to see her and thus continue to wonder about her obvious addiction to reading. As a writer, it's nice to see someone that dedicated and voracious. As a fellow reader, I can't help but admire her dedication.

Yet, I admit, I'm also just slightly worried that she's so addicted to reading, she's putting her safety at stake on those stairs.

It's just one of those things that makes my building interesting. Who needs optimistic bathrooms when I've got Mysterious Stairwalking Reading Lady to observe?

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Early Snow...the Joy and the Guilt....

I made a mistake last night.

I made the mistake of talking to the puppies about what would happen when it snowed.

To top it off, I wore one of my snowflake necklaces today.

This may not seem like a big deal to most people but when you're a Monkeypants in possession of a dire love of snow, it's a dangerous thing indeed.
It's only November. As much as I love snow and the comfortable cosiness of the things associated with it, even I know that it's too early. Only yesterday I was mocking the giant inflatable Santa Claus down the street from my house.

Now, it seems, even though not-so-deep-inside, I'm eager for snow, we could have snow by the weekend.

For me, this is quite a delightful idea. After all, I'm the type of Monkeypants that adores the white stuff. I don't care if it's early. I only care that it's the real thing and not some slimy sleet that only wishes it were snow.

However, while I love the wintery precipitation, I'm not deluded enough to expect everyone to agree with me.

Thus, since it's only November 3rd tomorrow, it seems that there is snow in our forecast. By Friday, we should expect raw, cold temperatures that promise precipitation. If we get the precipitation, it's likely to be wet snow.

Naturally, being the winter-loving Monkeypants I am, this sets off certain interior cartwheels/songs of joy within me.

Yet, also being the sympathetic, empathetic Monkeypants I am, I can hear the groaning and moaning of my mother's anti-winter bones curling themselves up into a fetal position as we speak.

Personally, I can't wait. I made my puppies coats a few weeks ago as I mentioned on this blog. Thus, once we start getting temperatures that are below freezing, I still expect my little pups to don their coats and go walking in a winter wonderland with me.

Yet, the realist in me protests. Perhaps it is too early. Perhaps the beginning of November is too early for snow.
The sad thing is, I just can't tell anymore. I've lost my sense of the seasons to my sense of what I love most about the seasons. I love this transition period. I loved how Autumn suddenly slapped the hand of Summer and said "no more," as it made the leaves finally tumble from the trees and the nights to grow cold. I love how Autumn has to give way to winter with the spirit of balmy days that are interlaced with frozen nights that stunt the growth and progression of anything until spring.

I know I'll love it when Winter has it's ice-cold grip on us but Spring sneaks in and says, "look, you can be as frigid as you want but during the day, I'm taking control" and, slowly, her magic works and there are crocus, daffodil and hyacinth shoots peeking through the frozen earth.

Yet there's a long way to go until then. In the meantime, it's still Autumn with only a hint that snow looms. Nevertheless, the hint is strong enough that I'm already being blamed for the potential frozen precipitation.

My problem is that I love snow. In my former days, I had a dachshund named Sausage who would help me bring upon snow by our ritual dance. In my newer days, I have a dachshund named Sookie who can also help me do the dance but she's yet to realize the consequences of her infectious joy. In addition, my mother gave me a snowflake necklace that seemed to bring on the weather whenever i wore it.

This year, I haven't yet worn that necklace but I have another snowflake which, I confess, I wore today. It's not as fancy nor as obvious but given that snow was predicted by Frank Mazullo and Fox 19 Stormtracker weather, it seems to be quite as effective.

I admit, the joyous part of me that enjoys frolicking in the snow, that enjoys the frozen tundra of winter is happy that this weekend could be the start of the ice-laced season.

Yet, the realistic part of me, the part that will always be tied, invisibly, to my mother who I love beyond words, knows that it IS too early. It's only the first week of November. Winter doesn't officially begin until December 21st. A few weeks ago I was complaining that Summer was being greedy by trying to infringe her heat and warmth on Autumn's territory. Now, it seems. Autumn is getting the shaft again because Winter is being slightly greedy and wanting to speed things along.

I have to admit, the idea of a wintry covered sidewalk adust with snow doesn't exactly make me unhappy yet the nature of my personality is that I care about others. I know my mother and other winter- despising humans are definitely not ready for snow.

Yet, no matter how I feel or try to feel, the fact is there's snow in the forecast for this weekend. I just want to go on the record and say that it was NOT my fault. Sure, I wore one of my pendant necklaces and I described it to my puppies but this doesn't mean it's my fault.

Of course, if I decide to wear the official necklace and do the offical, "Snow, Sookie!, Snow!" dance, that's another story.

I'll keep you posted. It won't happen for a while, mum...I promise.

Happy Wednesday!