Monday, May 31, 2010

Lazy Holiday Weekends....

I love long weekends. It's so nice to have three days to just do whatever you want. Regular weekends are just a little too short especially when you spend Saturday running errands/doing tasks you didn't get a chance to do in the week and Sundays are spent trying to relax or, worse, continuing those errands. The three day weekend gives you one extra day that is pure weekend- time to actually unwind and relax.

My weekend was spent with my friend Saz who flew in from Washington D.C. She was originally supposed to come in February but thanks to the mountains of snow that was dumped on the DC area in February, she had to postpone.

This time, it was the opposite of snowy. It was very hot and rather humid. Nevertheless, we managed to make it work in our favour. Neither Saz or I are what you'd call 'outdoor gals' or, really, even in the realm of being even remotely outdoorsy. Thus, we find our favourite entertainment inside and so the heat of the briskly approaching summer didn't bother us much at all.

It was nice to have a human friend to talk to. I love my puppies but they're not much on conversation. Also, it's nice to have someone to talk to who isn't going to run off with my shoes or try to nip my nose. If Saz did, I'd be worried. Fortunately, she didn't. We spent the weekend just relaxing. We did some shopping, did a girly day with a nice brunch and mimosas, pedicures and seeing "Sex and the City 2."

It seemed like a great idea except that "Sex and the City 2" was pretty awful. It was just a cheap attempt to continue the popularity of the TV show and the first movie. It was full of cheap gags, bad puns and a ridiculous romp in the Middle East that lasted FAR too long and made you cringe. It also made you dislike one of the main characters immensely.

Still, even in spite of the bad movie, we had fun. Saz got along very well with Rory and Sookie who decided that jumping on her head was their new favourite pasttime. I got to cook for a guest which is always fun, particularly when you don't disgust them. I also got to see how it felt to play a hostess in my own home.

I have to say, it felt pretty nice. It's nice to have the space to give guests their own room. It's nice to have a dining room table to set for a nice dinner and it's especially nice to be able to know that it's my house.

It's actually been a year now since I put in the bid on this place. In a week or so, I'll have been a homeowner for exactly a year. In that year, I've learned things about painting, mowing, putting down new sticky floor tiles and growing my own vegetables. I've also learned to cook much better than I ever could, finished a novel and published one. I've also adopted two puppies who have become the centre of my domestic world. I've learned not to despise my job most days. I've learned that while neighbours can be very nice, their yappy dogs make them seem far less so.

Most of all, I think I've learned that owning a house is a good thing. I'm proud to have made the move and I'm proud to be able to have guests and entertain like a real grown-up. The house I bought from the nice old lady last year has finally become my home. Well, mine, Sookie and Rory's home, really.

Now that Saz has left, the house seems really quiet. A little time remains of the long weekend so I think the pups and I will probably grill outside for dinner. It seems like the right thing to do on a holiday and now we have a house, we can grill. I still need to learn how to do THAT a little better but we're working on it. It all takes time...right?

I hope you all had good long weekends. Happy Tuesday to you all!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Lure of the Long Weekend....

It's going on Friday and it's the Friday before a long weekend. There's nothing better, in my opinion. Unless, of course, it's the Friday before a vacation, preferably one that lasts a couple of weeks. Since I don't get those very often- if at all- I'll take what I can get and a long weekend will do quite well, thank you.

My long weekend will be spent hosting my first overnight non-parental guest in my house. My parents both came down one night but it was the night before I was going to have minor surgery so it was really them just being good parents. My mum came down one other time but that was a very quick trip. No, Saz's visit this weekend marks my first real weekend visit I've had.

I have to admit, I'm not nervous per se because it's Saz and she's not going to walk around and judge my house but, in a way, it's my first foray into true adulthood that I actually have a spare bedroom and not a pull out, wire-framed futon that squeaks whenever someone moves, no matter how much you oil it. It'll be nice to be a grown-up host and make breakfast for my guest as well as dinner.

Oh, who am I kidding, I'm just thrilled that I'm going to have someone to feed. As much as I like cooking, it's a little anti-climactic to make something that I, at least, think tastes rather good and be the only one eating it.

But it's not just about the food although, when I'm involved, food usually plays rather a large role because, as you've probably learned by now...I love food. Though, lately, I've been a good Monkeypants and cut back on the junk in an attempt to lose some weight. I've been successful but I'll never be the size four I was in my youth. I'd sigh but, frankly, I think that I might have been too skinny and there's something to be said for some curves and a little more up-top than there used to be. Not that there's much up-top but, in my mind at least, it feels like there's more.

Anyhow, it's also about showing off my house which is slowly but surely starting to look the way I want it too. I still have the 1970's style family room that has the most hideous curtains in the world and is badly in need of paint but the rest of the house is coming along. Of course, this means I have to obsessively clean my house as I did last weekend and I did tonight.

Unfortunately, tonight, I discovered that while I was hoovering, nothing was being picked up. This lead me to discover a blockage in the hose of the vacuum cleaner. I thought it'd be easy to unblock. Silly Captain Monkeypants- when is anything every easy.

I had to find something to clear out the blockage. I tried a metal stake from the garden but that was not strong enough. I tried a broom handle. That was too short. Eventually, after much sweat and energy, I manage to dislodge a solid mass of everything that I've vacuumed up in the past few weeks. Vile, to say the least. Although, I have to admit, there was definitely a feeling of triumph as the blockage finally gave way to my furious attempts to dislodge it.

I only usually say it after incidents like that but sometimes, it'd be nice to have someone else to unblock the hoover. I love my puppies but they don't talk back. Also, their lack of opposable thumbs means they're useless when it comes to installing new TV's or unblocking the hoover. Also, they can't mow the lawn or take out the rubbish. In fact, aside from being hopelessly cute, they're biggest talents involve digging holes in my lawn, eating and bringing the outside...inside.

It doesn't mean I love them any less. It just means that they look at me like I'm mental while I'm doing things like unblocking vacuum cleaner hoses.

Still, they're good company, even when they attempt to run off with the screwdriver when I'm not looking. They also try to eat batteries and change the TV channel. Now that they're good at- all they have to do is sit on the remote control.

I think, however, we're now officially ready for our visitor. If not...well, she's coming anyway. I think she'll excuse a few pieces of grass and a lot of puppy toys everywhere. I'll just make her dinner in return. Hopefully that'll make up for it.

Unless I cook her something revolting.

I better not think of that. I'll just think forward to three lovely days off work with good company and some quality puppy time. I think that's the best approach. I hope you all have great weekends.

Happy Memorial Day!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Elephants,TV's and Terminator Eyes

Today was quite a busy day in many respects. It started out much the same as usual except instead of having to drive to the office, I pretty much rolled out of bed, went to my computer at home and logged on. I actually got permission to work from home for a few hours because I had splurged and ordered a new television from and I had to be home to accept delivery.

The nice thing about working at home is're at home. The bad part're at home and the last thing you really want to do is work. Still, I actually did work while the puppies were good little girls and amused themselves for the morning. Of course, given that they're used to sleeping all morning in their crate and they didn't even nap before I left for work around nooon, they were pretty tired when I left.

I actually had a nice productive day at work too which made the afternoon go pretty quickly. After work, I had an eye appointment because my eyes have been very red for the past three weeks and will not allow me to put contacts in them. I've been looking like the Terminator whenever I try. It turns out that I might be allergic to my contact solution which I didn't consider. Silly me switched brands because I didn't think it would make a difference but when I think back, that's pretty much when I started my zombie-eye phase.

This evening, I managed to get a prescription filled, mow the lawn and hook up my TV. I have to admit, I'm quite pleased I managed to do it by myself. The problem with being a single woman is that sometimes, you have to be resourceful. Take for example, the fact that I bought a TV stand from a furniture store. I didn't want to pay delivery because it was literally right around the block from my house. However, the stand- a sofa table, really- was far too heavy to be carried and far to large to fit in the boot of my car.

I told the saleslady that I'd find a way to pick it up. I knew a couple of people at work who would be nice enough to help and, sure enough, a friend with a convertible was very kind and willingly volunteered her car's back seat. The TV stand fit very well and we got it to my house with no trouble at all.

The thing is, even though I usually find a solution, there are times when I do feel a little helpless being alone. There are things which really require two people- like assembling a TV stand and mounting the TV on it. Except I've grown used to doing things by myself and I managed not only to get the TV on the stand but also to relocate my old television. This, I'd like to say, was no mean feat. It's a 27 inch regular old TV and compared to my new flat screen weighs roughly the same as a small elephant.

(Speaking of elephants, I had a HORRIBLE dream last night- I was at a farm and the farmer-lady told me I could see all the animals. For some reason, I really wanted to see the little piglets so I went to check them out. Except the piglets had tusks and weird sewn-up-mouths and looked a bit elephantine. Well, turns out that their mother WAS an elephant and I was attack by an elephant. It was terrifying. I managed to get the elephant to stop attacking me by using some dog-training techniques. Then, just as I thought it was ok, I found out Sookie had been hit by a car. Like I said, horrid dream. Aren't you glad I shared my weird subconscious with you?)

Anyways, I did manage to move my elephant-TV as well as the old stand that it's been sitting on. I also managed to get the TV working which turned out to be quite easy. The only sad thing is that it's an HD TV and I don't yet have HD television coming in through my cable box. According to Direct TV, I have to pay $200 to get a new receiver. We'll see about that. I'm going to try the old, "my contract is up soon and I'm thinking of switching to Time Warner Cable- can you counteroffer" technique. It's actually not that much of a fib. I could probably get a pretty good package deal from them.

So, now I have an nice new TV on a nice new TV stand and my living room looks a little like a herd of elephants went through.

(I must be on an elephant kick. I wonder if there's any meaning to that?)

Having a messy living room is not good because I spent forever cleaning in anticipation of Saz's visit this weekend and now I have to do it all over or, at least, vacuum.

Still, it's been a productive evening even if Sookie and Rory didn't get their walk. I don't think they minded. Since I had to drive by Larry's house on the way to the pharmacy and he was out in his front yard, chatting. I noticed that Larry was using the up-close-and-personal chat method that he uses with me and I felt slightly better. Also, I noticed that the neighbour was clearly trying to back away. Again, that made me feel better.

All in all, this has been a weird day and I know the puppies are confused at their change in routine. They've been following me around all night and are currently clamouring to get on my lap. I better go attend to them. I think sitting down with a cuddly pup or two might be just the way to unwind after a day like this.

Thanks, as always, for reading. Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dog Walking Encounters...

It was another sunny, warm day today. It was, in fact, quite beautiful outside. I think spring is definitely giving way to summer, slowly but surely.

The pups and I decided to take advantage of the weather and take a walk. Generally, this is actually quite an ordeal as they absolutely despise their harnesses. Sookie runs away the minute I pull them out and I have to go outside and wait until she gets distracted by a bird, squirrel, rabbit or bug before I scoop her up and take her inside where I put on her harness with much whimpering involved.

Then, of course, I have to carry her outside because she has a fear of going through the door. I think I mentioned that I accidentally shut her tail in the door once but, in my defense, she was afraid of the door before then. Dogs have weird quirks. I used to watch Gilmore Girls- still one of my all-time favourite TV shows. Lorelei Gilmore (namesake of my Rory) had a dog named Paul Anka which was the quirkiest dog ever. He was afraid of peas and didn't like to go down steps. I used to think it was quite silly and cute but not at all realistic until I got Sookie. Sookie doesn't like to take treats from me with her teeth. She gums them and promptly drops them on the ground and then wraps her paws around them, delicately chewing away. She's afraid of her harness and the front door. She thinks when I invite her to sit up on the sofa with Rory and I that I'm going something bad and she runs away. Sookie, in short, is a little quirky. And, of course, I love her dearly.

We did eventually make it outside for our walk where we managed to get about ten feet when we ran into the non-Dog-Whisperer next-door-neighbours. They're a very nice couple but very chatty. We haven't seen them in a while and so we stopped to say hi. Then they insisted on getting two of their three dogs- their corgi and their King Charles cavalier spaniel- and bringing them outside on a leash to meet the girls. This was cute at first except Rory got a little excited and started to chomp on Lance's ears. Lance is the spaniel. It's weird for me to call a spaniel lance because I have a friend named Lance and he looks nothing like a spaniel.

Lance became annoyed with Rory, naturally. He turned his back and that was that. Then the corgi came out and I can never remember his name but it's something like Timmy. Rory decided to try to bite his nose. Rory is very playful and likes to jump on things. This list of things she likes to jump on includes: the sofa, worms, birds, bumblebees, Sookie, Sookie's tail, Sookie's ears, my feet, my shoes, sticks, rocks, other dogs, other dogs' noses, other dogs' get the picture. She's a jumper.

The corgi was not impressed. He barked. Then Sookie had to bark. Sookie has a bark that could seriously break glass. It's very high-pitched. It sometimes hurts my ears. The sound shocked the dog-whose-name-is-something-like-Timmy and he backed away which prompted Rory, naturally, to try to jump on his head. To make matters worse, Son-of-Dog-Whisperer walked by with a large, orange, plastic toy pistol. He pointed it at the dogs. The corgi went nuts. Then Lance went nuts. Then Rory got excited and tried to ride on Lance's back. Lance stomped away. The corgi licked Sookie who was lying down, peacefully observing the mini-chaos. She got up and walked away.

I think my neighbours were a little sorry they'd decided to bring out their dogs. I tried to control the girls but, well, they're puppies and they like other dogs. Actually, let me correct that, they seem to like other dogs who do not yap continuously and annoy the crap out of them by standing at the fence and barking every time they move like, say, the Dog Whisperer's beasts. Of course, I may be projecting a little bit there.

Anyways, we managed to leave the neighbours with a friendly 'have a great evening' and we continued on our way. Then two bunnies happened to run across the road, chasing each other. Rory decided she had to have a bunny. Fortunately, she was on a leash and I have a pretty firm grip. Sookie laid down because that's what dogs do when they see bunnies...right? Ok, I admit...Sookie is a bit strange.

I got Rory to calm down and we continued along without incident until we go to Possibly-Joe the plumber's house. He was on his room blowing leaves off it. I'm not sure why his roof has so many leaves on it, to be honest. He doesn't have many trees around him- not ones that are tall enough to drop leaves on a house. It was a bit odd, to tell you the truth. He threw us a friendly wave but his blowing-thingy alarmed the puppies who get a bit skittish around electrical-noise-making-things. Sookie hides when I hoover the floor. Rory usually runs away although she did bravely try to bite the hoover once. Then she ran away.

We managed to get by Joe and his leaf blower thing although the girls had tangled up their leashes around my legs. This was a complicated untangling affair because I was wearing a skirt and I had to lift my legs quite high. I hope no one saw my underwear.

After Joe's place is the most precarious part of our walk...Larry the Potential Serial Killer's house. I didn't see Larry as we started to pass by. I heaved a sigh of relief.

Silly Captain Monkeypants! He was in his back yard! With visitors! He came to shout "hi" over his gate but Joe's blower was noisy and he couldn't hear my "hi" response.

So, he came running out to say hi to 'the fellas'. His guests were left behind. He greeted me with a "I haven't seen you since the last time I saw you!". Uh, yes...that is a very true statement. He seemed to abandon his guests to his back garden. Eventually, though they came out and introduced themselves as Robin and Mona.

I have absolutely no idea who Robin and Mona actually were but they seemed quite nice. They left quite quickly to pick up someone else. I was a little alarmed because Mona, the driver, had started backing up from Larry's driveway before Robin had got in and Robin had to sort of run to hop in the car. Also, since the puppies, Larry and I were standing right behind the car, it was doubly alarming. I pulled the girls to safely and Mona and Robin peeled out.

Ok, so they didn't peel out but they left in a hurry. Larry wanted to show me his "to-made-as" (translation: tomatoes). I declined. I think one of my issues with Larry is that he's an 'up close and personal' chatter. He really has no concept of "This is my space, this is your space." So, talking to him involves casually backing away. Tonight, I tried that and my flip-flops and the leashes got a wee bit tangled but, fortunately, it didn't involve any accidental underwear showing moments.

I excused us from Larry by saying that the puppies were hot and needed water which, for the record, was not a fib. It was just a very convenient reason to escape. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that Larry seemed quite disappointed. I think Larry is quite lonely. I feel sorry for him but I'm not sure I want to be that friendly to Larry, if you know what I mean.

The girls and I began our final stretch towards home. Once we got to our front garden, Sookie promptly laid down, refusing to budge. This is my cue to pick her up and carry her back through the front door. All in all, the ten minute walk took about 40 minutes tonight. Fortunately, I had time to spare and didn't have anything else planned.

As I said in my last blog, living in a neighbourhood is fun. It turns a simple walk into an adventure of sorts because you never know who you're going to meet.

Well, except for Larry. We always meet Larry.


Happy Wednesday!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Life in a Neighbourhood...

It's a Monday today and, at least, it didn't feel as much like one as the past couple have. It was very sunny today- sunny and hot. We seem to have moved right out of spring into full-on summer. It's nice but it's a little humid and it means the pups are getting hot and panty as they play in the yard. Fortunately, they're enamoured with ice-cubes which makes it a quick and easy treat that keeps them busy for at least a couple of minutes.

On evenings like this, I feel as though I should be outside but it really is rather hot in the sun and there are a plethora of bugs, gnats and mosquitoes out there that seem completely resistant to my bug repellant. I find that annoying. Is bug repellant just not effective or do I have some super-hero, hybrid-bugs that are invincible. Of course, if that were true, they wouldn't get splatted whenever I discover one trying to bite me. Rory and Sookie like to catch bugs- particularly spiders. It's quite handy except Sookie tries to bring them too me when they're half-alive. I'm not terribly afraid of spiders but I don't really want them, if that makes sense.

So, I'm being lazy tonight and staying inside. I want to walk the pups but I'm afraid it's a little warm and, also, creepy possible-serial-killer-man is starting to bother me. I ran into him at Big Lots the other day and he wants me to come on by and see his 'to-mad-as' which is how he says tomatoes. While I'm happy that he has planted tomatoes, they're not particularly...enthralling to see, if you know what I mean. Also, I have rows of them growing myself. I think he was just being friendly but I'd quite like to avoid popping 'round there on a regular basis. I also feel bad because I said he could have my extra zucchini plants even though he didn't know what a zucchini was (seriously). Then I ended up finding room for them and now I don't have them. I hope he doesn't come looking for them.

My neighbourhood is an interesting place to live. There's always someone doing something. Lately, my non-dog-whispering next-door neighbours have had a lot of guests. This is not particularly remarkable except the neighbours have four cars for their household and even though they park two in the driveway and two on the street in front of their house, this means their guests park in front of my house. More unusual is that sometimes, said guests sit in their car for hours. I'm not sure why. I find it very odd but since I know they 'belong' to the neighbours, it would be weird for me to bash on their window and say, 'excuse me but you're bothering me with your sitting here and not getting out of your car. Could you leave?'...wouldn't it?

My neighbourhood- and several others around- has a new trend of mowing the grass in diagonal lines. It looks...diagonal. For me, it's way too much work since I have trouble getting my mower to mow straight lines of any kind and my lawn is on a slope. It isn't, however, a problem for the Dog Whisperer who seems obsessed with mowing his grass because he does it three times a week, sometimes in the rain. Unfortunately, he just now decided to try the diagonal mow which means that since he's a bit of a lawnmowing junkie, the last cut hadn't grown out and currently, his lawn is a bit of a crosshatch design. It looks a little wonky. I think he realized because, no kidding, he's out there now mowing and it looks like he's gone back to the horizontal mow.

The Dog Whisperer's son is an interesting little boy. He likes to shoot baskets in his little hoop which is quite a bit shorter than him. He's seven years old and is SO proud when he makes a basket that, if I'm outside, he asks me if I watched. Of course, I don't like to tell him that when you're towering over the basket, it's not that much of a feet to reach out and drop the ball in so I just nod politely and say "good job." Today, when I popped home at lunch to let the puppies out, the Dog Whisperer- off from work this week- decided to let his beasts out even though I only had a 15 minute window to let the puppies play outside. I know he doesn't do it intentionally but...sometimes I wonder. As I was leaving, Son of the Dog Whisperer was wandering down the street. He does this a lot. He's one of those kids who's always looking elsewhere rather than where he's actually going and you can actually hear imaginary 'la-di-da-di-da' as he sort of skips along. He's fun to watch because he's always carrying a stick or a light saber or a toy. Today, he made a point of stopping in front of my car just as I was about to climb in and go back to work. He said, "I live in that house with the porch back there" as he his house...which is next to mine. I smiled politely and nodded and said, 'good job'. I think it's my new standard response. He's a sweet kid but very head-in-the-cloudsy. Also, he just seems to stroll off at any given time. I'm sure his parents know where he's going but I sometimes pass him just 'la-di-da-di-daing' at the end of the street which is quite far from home for a seven-year-old.

But it is nice to live on a street with neighbours. Even though the Dog Whisperer's beasts continue to yap continuously, I now know that it doesn't just bother me because Larry, the possible-serial-killer told me. He likes to go to the neighbours and have a gossip so I trust him on this. Even with the awkwardness that is caused by meetings with Larry, I still enjoy the fact that I have a neighbourhood now. It's coming up on a year since I bought this place and it's unbelievable how my life and priorities have changed. It's much better than living in an apartment where every spanking sounds through the floorboards and there's a stray student needing a ride to his ice-skating lessons.

Now that summers here, the neighbours are out and about and there's nothing more fun that peering at a neighbour through the window. In my family, it's a time-honoured family tradition going back at least as far as my great-grandmother who would stand at her windows and stare out, peering behind the net curtain. I found myself doing this the other night as Larry strolled by on an evening jaunt. I couldn't help it. When I realized what I was doing, I realized that perhaps its a genetic trait. Either that or I'm just nosy.

But there's nothing really wrong with that...right?

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dear Crystal Meth Makers...Thanks for Making Things Difficult...

It's Sunday evening already. I'm blogging earlier than I normally would because, after 7 p.m., tonight belongs to Lost.

Yes, I'm that much of a television nerd that I planned my Sunday around this evenings TV. In my defense, it's a big night for Lost- the last episode ever. I think given how much entertainment and puzzles it's given me since it aired, it deserves a proper send-off.

I shall sit down tonight and watch it with the puppies who I am hoping will sleep through the actual episode which is 2.5 hours and doesn't start until 9 p.m. Before that is a 2 hour special that basically honours the show and recaps everything that's happened. Or something like that anyway.

I haven't spent the whole weekend planning for it though. I spent most of yesterday cleaning my house since Saz is coming to stay next weekend. I also did some grocery shopping and bought a new TV as well as a stand for it. No, Captain Monkeypants has not come into the money- she just promised herself that when she got her tax refund, she was going to move into the digital age and actually buy a LCD television.

I bought it from and it should arrive Wednesday. I'm quite excited although I'm sure hooking it up might be a wee bit daunting. We'll see.

So, yesterday was a busy day. Today has been too. I spent much of it outside, sweltering in the sunshine. I mowed the garden, pulled some weeds, planted the last of my vegetable plants that I grew from seed, baked sausage rolls and bathed the puppies.

The latter did not go quite as well as I'd have liked since the puppies hate baths. They're small enough that the kitchen sink works quite nicely. Today, Rory decided that when I was bathing Sookie and she couldn't see her sister that I clearly was inflicting some awful punishment upon her. She proceeded to whine and cry and act like she was terribly wounded. Then, when it was her turn to be bathed, Sookie decided to whimper and cry and act like she was terribly wounded. Then when they were both done...they ran out into the garden, rolled in the grass and chased each other without another whimper. Strange puppies....

I also went to Walmart today. I think I've mentioned that I'm not a big fan of Walmart. When they first opened, like so many other people, I was enamoured with its cheap prices and easy-to-find..stuff. Then as time passed by, Walmart became far less friendly and cheap and eventually became the Evil Walmart that Destroyed Small Town Businesses and Then Became More Expensive than Kroger and Target- at least in my mind. These days, while Walmart does have some good deals, most of the time you can find the same grocery items on sale at Meijer or Kroger for the same price or cheaper. As for the non-grocery items, I find more and more that Target is better value and it's a lot more convenient.

Not to mention, Walmart have recently taken to remodeling the inside of their stores. Have you been in one like this lately? There's absolutely no rhyme or reason to the organization. You're in the kitchen stuff one minute then in crafts and then back in Kitchen. Also, there is tons of empty space between the aisles and it looks like a ginormous warehouse. That might be the idea but, let me tell you, when you're in a hurry and you need to dash in for two items, a ginormous warehouse is not where you want to go. You want to go somewhere where you can a) find the items because they're logically organized and 2) will not cause an asthma attack because it's so damn huge, you have to sprint from one side of the store to the other if you're unlucky enough that the two items you want are far apart which, I find, is most of the time.

My second complaint is actually not just towards Walmart. Today, I needed to buy some Claritin-D for my allergies. Over time, I've gone from being a casual seasonal sneezer to someone who wakes up with red, itchy eyes, a stuffy nose and a need to sneeze every two minutes and they're not the nice, dainty little sneezes... they're the ones that make puppies want to hide.

Here's where I say: Thank you, Crystal Meth Makers for making us allergy-prone people's lives so much more complicated.

I hate Crystal Meth Makers as a group. I don't think I know any personally. I hate them not only because they tend to be the less-intelligent members of society or the ones who have no grasp of reality but, also, because they need allergy medicine to make their stupid drug.

This means that because they were going and buying all the pseudoephedrine-containing products to make their drug, the government had to find a way to stop them. Now, everyone, not just Crystal Meth Makers has to jump through hoops just to buy a box of Claritin or Sudaphed that actually works.

Oh, I know- you can still buy the basic Claritin and other allergy medicines from the shelf because they don't contain pseudoephedrine but the thing is...they really don't work that well. They might curtail the sniffles or the sneezes a little but they don't stop it. It's like putting a band-aid on a badly bleeding cut- sure, it stops the bleeding for a bit but eventually, it's going to be useless.

So now, we all get to show our ID's and have them scanned whenever we buy allergy medicine from behind-the-counter. If we exceed our limit, we can be arrested. You might think, oh, this is just a 'soft' law but, let me tell you, they do arrest people. Take little old Sally Harpold- a grandmother of triplets from Indiana who was locked away in Clinton, Indiana where she was caught buying two cold medicines within seven days. Sadly, she wasn't even buying them for herself- one was for her husband and one was for her daughter. She was charged with a class-C misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. Her record is potentially able to be expunged of the crime if Harpold pays the court costs, stays clean for 30 days, and presumably comes to terms with “her problem.”

This isn't a joke. It's a news story that I first heard on the radio and then researched because I didn't believe it.

This is one of the reasons I hate Crystal Meth Makers. Poor old Sally Harpold didn't know the law and now she's being treated like she's a Crystal Meth Maker even though all she did was run two errands for her family.

I know it's not the pharmacies' fault that they have to get our ID and report us if we exceed the limits of our pseudoephedrine allotment. It just seems to be that the law isn't always working the way it's supposed to an now it's not possible to have a super quick trip to a pharmacy- it involves digging out your ID, having it run through the computer and waiting to see if you're allowed to buy the medicine.

I suppose it's not that big of a deal, it's more of an inconvenience that the stupid members of our society are the reason we all have to comply to laws like this. I respect the law and all that but every now and again, you have to wonder if it's really doing anything. I mean, I'm not a crystal meth dealer but surely all it would take is asking some of your clients/friends/family to go and buy their allotment of pseudoephedrine for the month and then having them hand it all to you. It doesn't take a genius to figure out ways round a law like this which is probably why there's still a huge problem with crystal meth labs and the consequences that go along with them.

Ah, well...such is life. As I said, it's not Walmart's fault but I'll blame them anyway because I always leave there in a bad mood. Half the time I go in one now and then leave because I can't find what i'm looking for and its easier to go elsewhere.

Still, today, I did get most of what I needed. It turned out to be a nice productive Sunday after a nice productive Saturday. Those are sometimes the best kind of weekends even though they're not what some people call relaxing. For me, that's a different form of relaxation- at least it doesn't involve sitting at a desk, staring at a computer screen and dealing with office politics.

I hope you had a good weekend too. I'm off to start my Lost evening and find my puppies.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Light at the End of a Gloomy Grey Tunnel of Clouds....

It really has been a gloomy week. The sun did come out today but, by the time we all left the office, it had faded again, the clouds moving thickly overhead and the first sprinkle of rain just falling.

Still, I refuse to complain when I woke up this morning and saw the first sunrise in a week. It was nice to see the sun for a bit, albeit briefly. It even warmed up and the puppies got to frolic in the sunshine during our lunch hour.

The day was a quiet one. It ended with a happy hour after work. I hadn't planned on going since I tend to feel that I spend enough time in the office with my coworkers and I'd rather spend my free time with my puppies. Still, I was persuaded to go by a friend/coworker and I'm glad I did. There weren't too many of my coworkers there and I got to meet a couple of new people. And, in all honesty, as much as I love my puppies, they're not huge on conversation.

Though, when I got in, they were certainly talkative. I got told off, quite firmly, by Rory who hates it when I leave them. Of course, I was also greeted with excitement, enthusiasm and two furry bundles of puppy that dived on me the minute I walked in the house so I can take a little puppy-scolding.

The nicest part of the day is that tomorrow is Friday and that means a weekend. It's supposed to be rainy all weekend but I think that'll be ok. Even though my garden is a weedy mess and my grass grows quicker than I can mow it, there's plenty of stuff to do in the house. Next weekend, I have a houseguest for Memorial Day weekend- my good friend Saz who was supposed to come in February but couldn't make it because of the snow. We're not supposed to have snow next week so I think her trip is a go this time.

It's funny because I know if I don't clean, Saz won't care but there's something about guests that automatically sets off the alarm bells and you start thinking of places to clean that normally don't really exist in the scope of your awareness- the corners of the shower, for example. Are our toilets ever more clean than when guests come and stay?

Still, even if it's just cleaning, the weekend lies ahead like a bright, shiny light at the end of a gloomy tunnel. I intend to enjoy every minute of it and I hope you do too.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow....

The week is halfway over. So far, since Saturday, we've seen the sun for about 30 minutes. That was this evening. It was gloomy up until about 7:15 p.m. and then, miraculously, the sun shone. It shone for about 30 minutes and the gloom took over again but 30 minutes is...30 minutes and that's something. Tomorrow, we're supposed to have a fully sunny day which will be most welcome after the gloom.

I've always loved rain as I've mentioned in my blog before. I like contrasts and one of the reasons I left Los Angeles is because I needed variatal weather. So, I'm not complaining that it's been raining. No, I'm actually complaining because it hasn't really been raining. It's just been...cloudy...gloomy...dreary. Pick any word you like.

However, the sun can do a lot to brighten up the gloom. I took the puppies for their first walk in a week tonight. Fortunately, we didn't run into Larry, the potential-serial-killer. I was quite glad about that. His human hair is now even thicker around his bushes. My mother informs me that it's also an excellent rabbit deterrant which might be why Larry actually uses it. Nevertheless, I still find it slightly creepy and vile.

The pups are finally learning to walk in a civilized manner. Sookie only laid down once and I didn't even accidentally drag her as I've done in the past before I realized that she's actually lying on her tummy rather than standing up. Dachshunds have short little legs. In longish grass, it's a little hard to tell sometimes if they're standing or lying down.

When we got home, I made chicken tortilla soup. I used a recipe from Food Network Magazine as a guide to make the broth but I veered from the recipe when it came to the actual soup. It's actually a recipe from Eva Longoria Parker, she of Desperate Housewives. I have to say, her broth was fabulous. I added some stewed chicken which picked up the spice nicely as well as some chayote squash. It was very, very delicious and actually took me back to my days in L.A. I'd go to lunch with a friend to a local 'mercado' where the was a food court of different international foods. One of them was a little Mexican place that had the best chicken soup. I always loved the broth and I have to say, Eva Longoria Parker's recipe came ridiculously close in taste.

I've started to realize that cooking is definitely my new favourite way of relaxing. Now it's spring, I have fresh herbs ready for the picking and there's absolutely nothing better than going outside, plucking a handful of sage or some springs of thyme and using them in a recipe. Hopefully I'll have some vegetables in the garden by mid-summer but time will tell if rabbits will eat them or bugs will blight them. I'm already losing some basil to invisible beetles. I get up in the morning and my basil leaves are full of tiny holes but there's no sign of the culprit. According to my internet research, they're little tiny nocturnal beetles. Theoretically using cayenne pepper and a solution of soapy water should deter them.

It's amazing what you can find on the internet. There's always someone out there that knows the answer to something. It's quite nice. I've started doing a wee bit more surfing at work merely because the project that I'm plodding away on is so tedious that I HAVE to do something else for a few minutes every so often. My trick is to always go from Google so that while the powers-that-be can still pull up my history from the server, on my computer, there's never any hyperlinks in my history bar except Google. Of course, today, I accidentally types which instantly gave me the "THIS SITE HAS BEEN BLOCKED BECAUSE IT CONTAINS PORNOGRAPHIC CONTENT!!!!" message. Naturally, the first thing I did after I closed the window was glance around guiltily to see if someone was watching. Our handbook clearly states no pornography in the office. I'm sure I'm not the only violator and, also, it wasn't like I did it on purpose.

Of course, our handbook also says no gambling and, call me crazy, but, technically speaking, a basketball pool is considered gambling of a sort. Still, I won a nice clean $50 from that so it's not like I'm going to complain.

Now our Wednesday is winding down and I have two sleepy puppies drowsing at my feet. I'm tempted to wake them up. They're falling asleep too early which means they need to get up too early in the morning. I've now had a 5 a.m. wake-up call from Rory every day for a week. Her wake up calls are a bit of a shock in the middle of the night because they consist of a sudden weight on my head, a wet sensation in the ear and, if I still don't respond, a gentle nip at my nose. It's not exactly subtle.

Still, we're closer to the weekend and with sunny weather on the way, things are looking up. Thursday is almost as good as Friday because it's almost the weekend. It's got a brightness of hope about it and never a bad thing.

Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Decline of Quality TV....

It was another dreary day today. It rained a little but mostly it just threatened to pour without actually doing more than spitting at times.

It wasn't as bad in the office though. My coworker was out which means there was a little less interruption than normal. While I don't mind a chat, we tend to use Instant Messaging in our office to communicate without disrupting others. My coworker gets rather bored and likes to IM me to tell me she's bored. Yesterday, she spent 30 minutes discussing a haircut. She has short hair. It's not a very interesting subject, particualarly when you're trying to work on a project that requires toggling between two windows and when an IM window pops up, it ruins the toggling.

Still, today wasn't bad which is always a good thing at work. Tuesdays are nice merely because they're not Mondays. Besides, they're good TV nights. Well, for now, at least. My very favourite show, Lost is coming to a final end this coming Sunday. Even though I admit that my relationship with the show hit a rocky patch in Season 3, once I gave it another chance, I became completely addicted. Just don't ever try to watch the show without watching every single episode because it will never, ever make sense. Well, actually, to be honest, even if you watch every episode, it doesn't really make sense but I'm hoping it will. If not, well, it's been fun anyway.

Lost isn't the only show ending for good. Jack Bauer and 24 are ending next Monday for good. It's high time in Jack's case. Last night, he did a very good Iron Man impersonation which would was quite funny except he wasn't supposed to be funny. It was quite entertaining though. Our Jack has gone rogue (yet again) and he's out for blood. He's also reached the stage where he is now officially a superhero, moving at the speed of light, delivering death like an out-of-breath avenging stubbled-beaten and worn angel Also, he's never, ever stopped to go to the toilet and, well, if that doesn't make you a superhero, I don't know what does.

Both of those shows are due for their end. However, there are others that aren't returning next season which I'm sad about. I am one of the people who anticipated FlashForward because I was hoping it was the next Lost. Well, it isn't but, for the most part, it's been interesting and entertaining. I was hoping it would get renewed so it would find its footing completely. If they'd just have lost that whole government-conspiracy-that-caused-an-ordinary-ex-alcoholic-to-sneak-into-Afghanistan-and-rescue-his-kidnapped-soldier-daughter, it would have been WAY better. Still, I'm sad it's over. Also, I've been increasingly fascinated to watch it and see how many more European actors they can add. Seriously, many of the actors on there are English and every week, there's a new one. It's quite fascinating. The male lead, Joseph Fiennes, is a Brit. His wife on the show, a former Lost actress is also British. Her lover on the show, played by Jack Davenport...also British. His science partner is played by Dominic Monaghan who is Scottish. The ex-alcoholic rescuer man...Irish. The new villain...British. You get the idea. It's quite entertaining, actually.

I was sad that they cancelled that show and renewed V instead. I tried to want to watch V but, well, after the pilot, I accumulated a ton of episodes on my DVR and never wanted to watch it so I just realized that there was no point in keeping them. It just couldn't keep my interest.

It seems like networks are giving new shows far less chance to succeed. My parents are fans of both Mercy and Miami Medical, both medical dramas that were new this TV season. I've watched both and they're both entertaining but, apparently, they didn't have enough of an audience to keep them going and they're both cancelled.

It's sad. There's more and more reality TV popping up and less and less quality 'fictional' series. I know it's to do with budget. It's far cheaper to follow an annoying quasi-celebrity around and watch him/her make an idiot out of his/herself than it is to get good writers, good actors and a good crew together to make a real TV show. It seems as though the guilty pleasure shows have become the norm and real TV is fading away. I still watch Glee but I worry about that show a little. It was fun and original when it started but now it's a powerhouse hit and it's spinning off more CD's than American Idol. I used to like American Idol but it's become a formulaic little show these days. There are stereotypes that are filled every season: The rocker, the country-singer, the folksy-earthy one, the girl who can sing rock songs but still surprise with a ballad, the nerdy little boy with a big's just boring these days and without the insanity of the questionably-drunk Paula Abdul, it's lost its sense of humour. I've flipped it on before another show starts and it's just nothing but filler or the kids talking about how the song they're singing is important to them because, you know, it's, like, well, they can just feel the song inside them.

I'm rambling. My point is...what's going to happen to TV? Sure, the good stuff is still on cable. There's still True Blood and Dexter to look forward to this summer. But the regular old quality TV, the type you don't need a satellite dish to access is fading slowly away from the networks and being replaced by dancing, singing, boss-trying-to-be-one-of-the-people, wife-swapping, bachelor(ette)-seeking-love type of shows.

I know in the grand scheme of things, TV isn't exactly a necessary thing in life. Yet, for me, it does enhance my life by providing a little escapism. After a bad day at work, there's nothing more therapeutic than watching Jack Bauer eviscerate a Russian terrorist. There's nothing more fun than trying to figure out what exactly Lost is really about. In short, it's just a fun way to relax and if I didn't have it, I'd miss it.

Still, for tonight, at least, I shall kick back and enjoy the last regularly scheduled episode of Lost...ever. The thought makes me sad but there's nothing I can do about it.

Maybe something will come along next season that will get me just as hooked. There's always hope.

As always, thanks for reading. Happy Wednesday!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dreary Weather Mondays...

Is it redundant to say that today was another True Monday? I say that every week but today, it was especially true. I woke up to the sound of pouring rain. It was dark outside whereas even at our early 6:03 a.m. wake-up time, it's usually starting to get light by now. The puppies needed to go out and let me know quite clearly that there would be no laying in for me today. After we'd taken our morning jaunt outside in the wet yard, they decided they wanted to go back to bed. I would have loved to have given in to them and climbed back into my toasty nest but, alas, my precious PTO is low at work and I couldn't justify it.

I was the first one in the office. It was deadly silent when I went into Cubicle Land. They've taken to turning off the air conditioning/heat at night and so the absence of the hum made it seem even quieter.

Everyone seemed to be getting a late start today as I remained the only one in the office for at least 20 minutes longer. Even though I take in a travel mug of tea each morning, I like to get the coffee rolling for those who aren't as caffeine-prepared in the mornings as I am. However, today, I went to make coffee and discovered that only the decaf pot remained. Someone had taken the regular coffee. Not sure whether it was intention, I decided not to make coffee until the pot returned. Normally, someone removes it over a weekend to run vinegar through it- our water in this area is the type that creates a lot of build-up over time and makes us have to clean the coffee pot to make it drip more quickly.

Anyway, it turned out that there was some kind of disaster with the coffee pot and it was NOT coming back so someone braver than me decided to confiscate the decaf pot and convert it to the True Ways of Coffee. We no longer have a decaf pot, at least for the time being. We only have two decaf drinkers in the office most days anyway. Besides if they really want their decaf, they can always confiscate the hot water coffee pot. Yes, we have a hot water coffee pot for the tea drinkers. Of course, it doesn't really boil the water but it gets it hot. We also have a water cooler that dispenses boiling hot water and there's no waiting for it to heat up. So, you can see why I found it a little strange that the decaf drinkers got bumped but, well, office politics are everywhere, even with the priority of the hot-beverage drinkers.

The rain stopped but the whole day passed in a dreary fog. I had a chat with my boss on Friday and felt quite good about telling him in a polite way that I felt like Harry Potter. Today, however, I was back to being Harry Potter which, while not unexpected, was slightly disappointing. The project I'm working on is currently at a standstill because it just won't run through the database. I've tried all the fixes I know how to apply and nothing is working. I know it's not me. My boss thinks it's me. Thus, when I ask him for assistance, he dismisses me with one of those vague, 'try this' solutions that I've already tried and when I ask him for help, he forgets I asked five minutes later.

Still, I have other work to do in the meantime. It's just not the type of work that makes you want to sit up, punch the air and say "YAY! TODAY I GET TO TRY TO TRANSLATE TECHNICAL JARGON INTO ENGLISH AGAIN! HURRAH!"

I've been working on this project for a while. It's not moving very quickly. It's necessary but boring. It's not a good 'rainy Monday' project either so you can imagine that by 4:15 p.m., I was ready to come home to the puppies.

They seem to be in crabby moods too. Rory keeps biting at my feet. Sookie keeps following me, giving me sad, sulky looks. They both want to sit on my lap and then, when they do, decide they want to get off again and start squabbling.

Still, now we're home and the only thing to do on an evening like this is to sit down and let the day pass quietly while watching some Jack Bauer. He puts it all into perspective, really: A rainy, dreary Monday is hardly a bad day when you're dealing with terrorists or nuclear bombs or betraying women or crazy women or women you have to shoot or best friends who betray you to the the-almost get the idea. So, really, this day hasn't been so bad. It's just been a bad mood day.

Tomorrow is Tuesday. I hope it either rains or is sunny. I hate this dreary, nothing type of weather that won't really do anything except hang around, not making up its mind if it wants to rain or clear up. However, even if it is like this tomorrow, at least it's not a Monday. Something about that makes the day already better. I wonder why that is.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rapidly Passing Weekends....

Another weekend is almost gone and, as always, it went by so fast, I hardly knew it was here.

Well, ok, I knew it was here...but, as always, I wish it were longer. It was my first weekend at home in a couple of weeks. As much as I love going home to see my family, it's also nice to come home on a Friday evening, kick off my shoes and know I don't have to go out again.

This weekend turned out to be a blend of productivity and sheer laziness. My Saturday was rather busy. The puppies, early risers that they are, got me up around 7:30 a.m. I actually didn't mind, having dozed off while watching TV at 11 p.m the night before. My 'puppy schedule' now means "early to bed, early to rise."

Of course, being early to rise is not such a bad thing. I was out and about by about 8:30 a.m. I needed to go to Jungle Jim's and, on weekends, the best time to go is before the crowds hit after 10 a.m. The beauty of a 9 a.m. trip to Jungle Jim's means no 'tourists' getting in the way of actual shopping. Having been a 'tourist' once, I know the sheer fascination with the cheese counter alone. Ok, fine, even now I find myself fascinated with the cheese counter. Yet when you're a Monkeypants on a grocery-shopping mission, there's nothing more tedious than someone being amazed at the varieties of Brie. Don't get me wrong, I like Brie but, really, it's the first stop on the Cheese counter...move alone and marvel at the mass amounts of parmiagiano reggiano.

Yes, I'm a Jungle Jim's snob. I'm also a Jungle Jim's smartypants. Going that early on a Saturday is a sure way to snag some bargains. My favourite section is the 'reduced produce' area. Some people might sneer up their nose at this. However, as a 'foodie' and a lover of all things produce, it's my favourite section. I use so many vegetables when I cook that this section is a fabulous moneysaver. Yesterday, I managed to snag a tray of jalapenos- always useful- for $1. I also got mushrooms and peeled shallots for 79 cents each. I got a plantable pot of thyme for a mere 39 cents, some cilantro- which I shall use in my chicken tortilla soup- for only 39 cents.

My favourite bargain was fiddlehead ferns. When I found them, I actually had some ramps in my hands. However, I've now cooked with ramps. I liked them very much but I've also seen chefs on the Food Network cook with fiddleheads and, well, I was curious. So, having to choose between ramps and fiddleheads, I chose the unknown. For those of you who thick I'm insane, they're actually quite a spring speciality, much like the ramp. They're the unfurled new portion of the ostrich fern and they look like little tiny coils. I also paused over the morels which were reduced down to $10 for a little pot. However, as much as I'd love to taste morels, my job, alas, does not pay me enough to splurge for such delicacies. One day...

I spent far too long in the Jungle Jim's produce section. I'd like to wager I know it better than most people by now. They're actually looking for a produce manager and if I knew anything about managing produce, I'd be tempted to apply. I think I know enough about the actual produce part to be somewhat of an amateur expert already. Most of the time when I talk to people, they look at me when I'm insane when I wax poetical about my roasted cardoons or my fiddlehead ferns.

Ah well, to each his own. For the record, I made homemade linguine today and I served it with a sautee of fiddleheads, mushrooms, thyme, onions and garlic. It was, not to brag, rather delicious.

I I often do when talking about food. I spent most of the rest of the weekend in the garden. The puppies helped me dig holes and I quickly planted some of my tomato and zucchini seedlings as well as some Swiss chard seeds. I also have some asparagus coming up, finally so, if all goes well, I might have a healthy vegetable crop by mid-summer.

I also made time for a little Robert Downey Jr. When I found out the release date for "Iron Man 2," I did warn the puppies that while I loved them, I have loved Mr. Downey Jr. for a little longer and thus, I would be abandoning them for two hours. While it didn't happen on opening weekend for the film, this weekend, it was a priority. I'm happy to say that while "Iron Man 2" did not hold quite the entertainment of the first movie, it was still very entertaining. I think, honestly, it would have been very difficult to match the entertainment level of "Iron Man" merely because it was far deeper and far more 'fun' than most comic-book movies and that took me by surprise. This time, I expected it to be fun and, so when it was, it didn't exactly surpass expectations- if that makes sense. It was definitely a great way to start of the summer blockbuster season though.

However, on a side note, having seen a preview for "Twilight: Eclipse," I simply have to say this- did they give the entire cast downers? What's with the zombie-land, monotonal acting? Ok, so that's normal for Kristen Stewart but, well, Dakota Fanning used to...act, right? Do they issue some sort of law that actors in the Twilight movies can't have facial expressions? That if they dare let any emotion or, you know, acting show on camera they get fired? Just curious.

So, all, in all, in addition to the shopping, the movie and planting plants, the pups and I had a great weekend. I meant to do a lot today but, well, it was a cool and dreary Sunday and after I made my new batch of butternut squash ravioli, I just didn't feel like doing much of anything. In the end, Rory, Sookie and I spent much of Sunday relaxing and being lazy which, honestly, was a rather nice treat.

Now Monday looms nearer. I had a chat with my boss on Friday as to how redundant I feel at times and how I hate feeling like Harry Potter. He actually felt bad, as I knew he would. I don't know how long it'll last but I did feel like he listened.

And, so, even though it's the start of the workweek in just a few hours, I have just a little more hope than I had last week. Granted, that might not last for long but, for now, I'm going to let myself dream.

There's nothing wrong with that...right?

Happy Monday!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Overactive Imagination vs. The Kindness of Strangers

It's a soupy night out there. If you've never lived anywhere with humidity, you might not know what I'm talking about but, chances are, you have. It's the type of night where no matter what you do, you feel sticky; when you go outside, the bugs flock to you and though you don't see them, somehow you come in with a few mosquito bites, even when you sprayed repellent.

We're supposed to have storms tonight and I hope we do. The atmosphere is thick out there and we need a storm to break it up. Even if it means waking up to crashing thunder and sharp flashes of lightning, it'll be worth it if we can have a cooler day of it tomorrow.

I think the puppies sense the storm. They are, as they have been on previous stormy nights, quite restless. I took them for a walk tonight and though Sookie didn't lie down in protest as she quite often does, they walked quickly as though trying to get home as quickly as possible.

Of course, they didn't take into account that we'd meet Larry, my very friendly neighbour who lives on the second-to-last corner we turn on our nightly walk.

Larry is a sweet man. He calls my girls "fellas" even though I've told him they're girls. He loves to garden and knows I do too. Thus, when we pass by and he's outside as he so often is, he has to tell me his latest garden developments.

He's very nice. He really seems to love seeing the puppies. He's just...a little too friendly, if you know what I mean. When he talks to us, he invades my space and I find myself taking a step back to fight for some personal space. Tonight, he insisted on showing me his back garden and showing me his plantings. It's a nice garden and he's got a lot of good stuff growing.

It just took a long while to make our excuses to get out of there. Also, he uses human hair as a bedding nutrient.

Yes, you read that right. Larry uses human hair to fertilize his plants. Larry is probably ten years older than me and he lives alone. If I had an overactive imagination, I might be a little worried about Larry and his human hair fertilizer. I might think he had some serial killer tendencies.

Ok, fine, I do have an overactive imagination. You know I'm now a little curious and a little worried about Larry. I mean, hello, he uses human hair to feed his plants.

I know. It's not that weird. After all, it's a good fertilizer, I know this. I know you can go to the barber and ask them for clippings and they'll give them to you. But most people don't's a little creepy. I mean, after all, decomposing bodies also make good fertilizer but you don't hear of people going to morgues and asking for unclaimed bodies to make their garden grow nicely, do you?

Fine, that's a disturbingly dark exaggeration. I still won't lie and say it doesn't make my skin crawl just a little that around every tree and newly planted shrub, Larry has a neatly lain circle of human hair.

Personally, I prefer mulch or, you know, plant food or, perhaps, compost which takes a little more work and smells a lot but somehow manages to be more appealing than human hair.

Needless to say, once I saw the hair-circles, I tried to excuse ourselves from Larry's company. He's nice but he's the sort of nice that won't stop talking and doesn't like to see you leave. He made comments about getting one of 'them cute l'il dog pens so the l'il fella's could have their play while you and me sit on the deck'. Translation: He wants to find a way to pen my puppies so we can sit on his back deck and look at his flowers.

Now, while I find Larry to be an exceedingly friendly and kind neighbour, I'm not sure I like the idea of him getting a little pen for my dogs. After all, we can see the Dog Whisperer's garden from Larry's so it's not like they really need to be penned. Also, well, frankly, Larry and his need to get up close and personal while he talks to me, combined with the fact that he uses human hair and appears to be very lonely does send up some red flags, I have to confess.

So, even though Sookie, Rory and I will continue to take our walks, even on muggy nights, I think we'll be a little more wary of Larry and not let him invite us back to his gated back garden to see his hostas. He's very nice and I know he means well but...we're just being cautious, that's all.

Of course, the puppies did happen to conveniently find a 'chicken' bone outside his house the other night. I pulled them away quickly. If I had an overactive imagination, I might debate about whether it truly belonged to a chicken or not.

Overactive Imagination? Please turn off now.

Happy Friday and have a good weekend!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Reflections of a Life at Work...

Today started as another stormy day with the sky so dark, it didn't feel like daylight at all. When the rain came, it came down with torrential force. It cleared up eventually but now it's starting to cloud up again and Mr. Weatherman told us that we should expect more storms.

I don't mind a good storm. I find them therapeutic. At the moment, especially at work, I could use therapeutic. It's one of those times in which I'm trying to be zen but each day presents yet another challenge and I have to remind myself of my mantra: "It's only a job, it's only a job."

It is only a job but it's disgusting how much of a bearing our jobs have on our lives. Sometimes it's just impossible to convince yourself it's only a job. After all, for me, at least, I work 40 hours a week. I get 12 days off a year. If you want to be mathematical about it, at 40 hours a week, for 52 weeks a year, that's a total of 2080 working hours. Take away the 12 days off I get, at eight hours a day times 12, that's 96 hours of vacation/sick time. That leaves 1984 hours per year in which I work.

Yes, I used numbers. Scary, I know. But when you stop to think about it, 1984 hours per year is a lot. That's a lot of time to be spending with coworkers and bosses who drive you a little crazy each day. It's no wonder that sometimes its easy to lose perspective as to the fact that it's just a job.

For me, now I have puppies to come home to, it does make work easier. It doesn't make it better but it gives me an escape. I come home for lunch each day and that hour is the best hour of my day. I get to hug my puppies, eat my lunch and escape from my office. Even on the worst days, I've found that this hour can make any day better.

It's all largely due to the puppies who, in spite of their penchant to dig up flowers, rip up paper, eat my books and chew my shoes, are too easily forgiven. They're currently staring up at me as if to say, "hey, lady, why aren't you paying attention to us."

Of course, on the downside, this makes it incredibly hard to write. I tried to get some time in tonight. I got some writing done. I'm working on the sequel to The Reluctant Demon which, I've probably mentioned, is tentatively entitled, Emmy Goes to Hell. I'm stealing a little from Dante and his nine circles of Hell. Oddly, the sixth circle, the first level in which is considered "Lower Hell" bears a striking resemblance to 'Emmy's' office.

I know I'll have to be careful because it's easy to get sued for libel these days. I'm being careful. However, this time around, Emmy's office in Hell often, conincidentally, resembles mine at times. Strange how that happened. I did make the concession that coffee would be worse in Hell though, in truth, I'd challenge that in real life. Sometimes the coffee in our office is so vile, it's like someone sprinkled coffee in a jug of chlorine and called it 'fresh coffee.'

The fun of being a writer is that you can draw from real life without stealing completely. You can use your observations to be creative. It's one of the joys of my life. I try hard not to be passive agressive in my writing though, to call out friends and foes who I feel have let me down or upset me. I know people who have done that and it never ends well. Instead, I try to add a sardonic layer to my writing in which I gently poke fun at people without being malicious. For example, my heroine in "The Reluctant Demon" calls one of the managers "Voldemort" because, to her, he bears a striking resemblance to the Ralph Fiennes version from the Harry Potter movies. Let's just say that I might have projected one of my own thoughts from one of our own managers there.

By that, I wasn't being mean. I just observed that, to me, this manager did look like Voldemort. Of course, now some of my coworkers have read my book, I have had them giggle that they never thought about the manager like that but I "am so right!"


But there's a strange pleasure in that. It means people are really reading my book and remembering small details like that. Ok, it does make it easier if you know it's written by me and you work with me and know that there is a manager who looks like Voldemort. Of course, you probably wouldn't have noticed that until "Emmy" pointed it out in The Reluctant Demon. Still, people noticed and it's fun to have them act shocked but amused at the observation.

Whoever it was that said, "The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword," was definitely right. I have to confess that it gives me a lovely feeling of power over my sometimes miserable work situation to know that no matter how much I'm made to feel like Harry Potter, I can retailiate in fiction. It's therapeutic and it makes for some great writing; nothing is more powerful for writing than a bad experience that riles you up so much you have to do something about it. Me...I choose words. I write in a furious frenzy on days like this. If words could throw up dust as I typed them up, my 'office' would be so cloudy, you wouldn't be able to see me.

It's one of the reasons I do love being a writer, even if things on that front don't always go as smoothly as I'd like. There is a benefit to writing, even if it's not in the form of recognition and sales. It's days like this that remind me, once again, why writing is my chosen form of expression and no matter how much I threaten to quit, I couldn't. It's my coping mechanism and everyone needs one of those.

Unless you're a puppy and your coping mechanism is digging up flowers.

Thanks for reading! Happy Thurday!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Unwanted Help in the Garden...

Today began in a stormy manner, quite literally. As I drove to work, the rain was coming down heavily and as I settled at my desk for the day, the thunder began to crash outside. I worried a little about the puppies; they're not afraid of storms, per se but they don't like them and get a little restless. I figured they were safe in their crate and they had each other for comfort.

The day cleared up around mid-morning with only a slightly stifling humidity left as a result of the storm. I wouldn't be surprised if we have more storms tonight and tomorrow- that's the only thing that's going to break the humidity and the stickiness in the air.

Since I thought it would rain all day, I hadn't planned on working in the garden tonight. Last night, I worked like a fiend to get all my flowers planted.

Unfortunately, the puppies had other ideas about 'gardening'. While I weeded last night, I found them having surreptiously dug up one of my new perennials- a pretty yellow flower that made me happy to look at it. Fortunately, I was in time to rescue it and I replanted it, adding rocks around the base to deter digging.

I should have known that wasn't enough. While I was indoors, cleaning up a little, Rory was helping me with my gardening. By the time I went out, my yellow flower was no more. I'm sad about it. I really liked that flower. Last week, it was a dianthus that I lost due to Sookie's compulsion to dig.

I suppose I can't really be angry. I mean, they see me pulling up weeds, digging in the garden for hours. Perhaps they really thought they were helping. They can't tell the difference between a burdock and a coreopsis. I've tried to make Rory and Sookie a hole of their own in which to dig but, instead, they're returning to the site of the late yellow flower and making it's former home an even bigger hole. Perhaps I should plant another rose there, something spiky that will deter digging.

Of course, it doesn't help that the Dog Whisperer came out tonight. Lately, he's been driving me crazy by coming home from work, letting his yappy beasts out and then leaving them outside for two hours which, generally, is the two hours that I want to work in the garden after work. I don't know if he thinks it's my fault for leaving my puppies out but, as I've mentioned before, my puppies don't bark.

However, I have to admit, my puppies are rather good rabble rousers. I've watched them and they seem to take great pleasure in running up and down the fence, making the Dog Whisperer's canines chase them, barking, naturally, the whole time. My puppies, however, are silent. They just like to wind up the neighbour's dogs. Then, at other times, Sookie will sit calmly in our garden, about five feet from the fence where the Dog Whisperer's beasts are barking like mad. She will just watch them, as if knowing that she's the cause of the frenzy but not moving a muscle.

Then, Rory will pounce on her and the two will tussle around the garden, doing this weird friendly-growling thing at one another with the occasional yip. This, of course, drives the Dog Whisperer's pets rather crazy.

So, while I think that the Dog Whisperer should definitely exert some discipline over his dogs and discourage them from barking, it's not like my pups are completely innocent. They're clever little things, knowing the effect they have but being smart enough to act like little angels.

Except, of course, when they dig up my flowers. It's sort of hard for them to look like little angels when they have dirt in their coats, and on their faces and their paws are filthy from digging.

Still, as I always say, they keep life interesting.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Relating to Harry Potter Just a Little Too Much....

Today, being Monday, began as Mondays often do: never as smoothly as you hope. For me, I woke up to a frigid room having left my windows open last night without realizing how cold it was going to get.

When I got to work, there was only one other person in the office which was not unusual. Most days, my coworker beats me there but on occasional days, I get there first.

I admit, I was still fuming a little from my day on Friday on which, once again, I discovered that I remained the Harry Potter of our department- metaphorically shoved into the 'cupboard under the stairs' while my coworker- the equivalent of Harry's cousin, Dudley- is showered with praise, given the same Mac computer as everyone around her and constantly included in everything.

I'm not bitter. Well, I'm trying not to be, at least. I keep trying to remind myself of my mantra: "It's just a job." I have two lovely, sweet puppies waiting for me each night at home. I have a home of my own. I can come home each night to work in the garden and try to make it move from something into nothing. Tonight, I planted a lot of plants since it's supposed to rain all week. My mother, a master gardener, kindly donated shrubs and flowers to my empty, somewhat weedy flowerbeds. I tried to plant them wisely; time will tell if I really did so or not.

Anyway, today, when I got to the office, I tried very hard to get over my frustration and bitterness before my coworker and my boss came in. I like my boss, I really do. He's a nice man but, well, honestly, as I've stated before...he hasn't a clue what to do with me. He doesn't like to make decisions and he doesn't like to be responsible for anything. Me...well, I'm a quite, um, bossy Monkeypants. I tend to get impatient at people who can't make decisions regardless of their rank.

I actually ended up doing...ok. I didn't throw anything at "cousin Dudley"'s head. I didn't end up throwing my pencil cup at my boss. I call that a success.

Then I glanced upwards. I noticed on the ceiling above the cubicle that shares a wall with mine, there was a rather large, rather unpleasant looking bug. Upon further inspection, it was over an inch long and it was a cockroach.

Now, I've seen cockroaches. I lived in L.A. for almost 9 years. It's hard not to see cockroaches. It's just...I didn't expect to see one in our office, nor one quite that big...nor one quite in danger of crawling a few feet and dropping on my head.

I have a vivid imagination. The idea of a cockroach falling on my head made me envision revolting, nasty outcomes.

I knew that I could have captured the bug myself. I just didn't want to do so. I mean, it's a nasty, disgusting cockroach, it might have had family.

So I did the sane thing: I told our receptionist who promptly called our maintenance man to come and dispose of the bug. I felt bad about that. I'm usually an independent Monkeypants. I usually take care of things like that myself. After all, when you try to weed your garden, there's any number of creepy-crawly, bug-like substances you unearth. I'm not that squeamish.

But, well, I just felt like it was the workplace. We have strict code about following procedure. So I followed it. The maintanance man came and quickly squelched the critter while mumbling under his breath. I don't blame him. It was a little...silly. I could have smacked the ceiling with a broom like he did. Except, well, I don't have a broom at work like he does.

I admit though that when the bug had gone, I felt better. I could stop imagine it falling on my head. I know that it probably wasn't likely but my imagination begged to differ otherwise.

The rest of the day passed. Once again, I was ignored in favour of my cousin 'Dudley' at work, even though, technically, I know just as much as she does and, also, I tend to do a bit more work because I don't feel the same need as she does to spend countless hours wandering around the building trying to find someone with whom to chat.

I sound bitter. I probably am, just a little. I'm just a little fed up of doing a lot of working and gaining exactly...nothing.

But that's a lie. I do gain something. I gain a paycheck. I gain the ability to list my job on my resume. These days, that does mean something, even if the psychological drama of it all sometimes makes it a little difficult to deal with.

In the end, it comes down to the fact that I have to accept that I'm a Harry Potter in a society of muggles. There are far worse things...I just wish I could get that darn accio spell to work.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Therapeutic Weekends...

I can't believe the weekend has slipped by already. As always, it went by so fast, it seems like it was just Friday. Nevertheless, it's another Sunday evening- albeit a slightly chilly one- and it's almost time to settle down for the night before having to get up again for work tomorrow.

As I said, it's a cool night out there. When I drove to my parent's house on Friday night, it was 83 degrees, windy and stormy. By Saturday morning, it had cooled down to 45 degrees and it was a bit of a shock to the system. The wind had changed direction and blew cold instead of sultry, humid air.

Nevertheless, even with cool, windy weather, it was a lovely weekend. I had originally planned on taking my parents out to eat in celebration of Mother's Day. The problem is that now that I have learned to cook somewhat, I have this horrible habit of looking at a restaurant menu and being slightly outraged at how much they charge vs. how much it would actually cost to make. In addition, my parents live in a small town outside of Fort Wayne, Indiana. The only restaurants in their town are fast food or down-homey type of places. There is a Mexican restaurant but that hardly seemed like the place to take them for a really nice dinner. So, we would have had to drive to Fort Wayne which generally takes at least 45 minutes each direction to get there. If you're driving that far, you have to watch it if you want to drink wine. All in all, it just ended up seeming like it would be a nice idea to cook for them. Naturally, I made sure they wanted me to cook for them because there's nothing worse than offering and making someone feel like they HAVE to say yes.

But yes they said and so I attempted to make them the type of fancy meal we would have got if we'd have gone to one of the finer restaurants in Fort Wayne. It was also a lot of fun to cook. I find cooking slightly therapeutic these days and after an absolutely horrible day in the office on Friday, I was ready for some food-therapy.

I ended making four courses-
1.) Stuffed mushrooms with blue cheese and herbs
2) Pea soup with mint
3) Salmon with rosemary, baked in a salt crust with roasted baby red potatoes and sauteed green beans with garlic.
4) Tiramisu.

There was also wine because I tend to think wine goes rather well with food. Actually, I tend to think wine goes rather well with everything.

I'm pretty sure the meal turned out quite well although I did learn that if I'm going to serve mass amounts of food, I should learn to make my portions smaller. We had to wait for dessert until we had enough room in our stomachs for it. Still, it was so much fun to come up with a menu, go shopping for ingredients and then prep and cook them. I felt like I was in my own version of Top Chef. Even though I'm not a chef. Also, I wouldn't be the top chef. But on that show, they get to make a menu and then go to Whole Foods to buy their ingredients. They have a much bigger budget on that show than I did but I think I still managed to do pretty well with the ingredients although not at Whole Foods because there is no Whole Foods near my parent's house.

It ended up being a fabulous way to spend my Saturday afternoon/evening. While I was cooking, I got to talk to my mum which is always lovely. The puppies played outside and inside and the day passed very quickly. I've found that secret to a successful meal is planning and preparation. If I make my menu then plot out the timeframe I need to get everything done when I need it done, it makes things go well. I know, I know, I believe this qualifies me to be an official nerd/geek, whatever your term of choice. Yet it does work and it works well.

After dinner, I provided entertainment in the form of the movie "Crazy Heart" which my dad had been wanting to see. It was a decent movie, very slow and I admit, it seemed like it was very similar to "The Wrestler" only instead of wrestling, there was country music. Jeff Bridges was good though so it wasn't the worst thing I could have rented. If I'd wanted the worst thing I could have rented, I would have asked my sister to pick. She has this uncanny ability to find the absolute worst movie in the Redbox machine and rent it. This is how we ended up watching "Bruno" on New Year's Eve and watching Sasha Baron Cohen's penis talk.

I'm just teasing her and she knows it. It's endearing that she has this ability. She gets it from our dad so it's not her fault. Also, the Redbox, while convenient and cheap, isn't exactly the best source of selection. Since they closed all of the movie rental places in my parent's town and all they have is the Redbox or Netflix, there's not much choice in the matter. While I think both methods of movie renting are convenient and easy, it's not the same as going to a video store and wandering around, reading the backs of DVD's, smelling the microwave popcorn even through it's cellophane wrapper and wondering if it would be bad to buy a large packet of Twizzlers to go with whatever you rent. Even though places like Blockbuster became outrageous with their rental prices, I still think there's nothing like going to a Blockbuster and having a wander around. You could check out the new releases or take a trip down memory lane by looking at the older movie selections they had. I mean, you can't rent classics like "Gremlins" or "Point Break" from the Redbox.

All in all, it's been a very nice weekend. The puppies and I are home now, ready to sit down for the evening and start to wind things down. I'm hoping this week in the office is going to be better but given our office politics, I'm not holding my breath. I'll try to make the most of it and keep reminding myself that my life is not my job.

And, if not, there's another weekend only five days away.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Friends and Mothers....

I promise not to wallow today. I can't lie and say that the self-doubt is gone but thanks to good friends and a great mother, I'm feeling a little less like a failure and a little more like a human.

I'm lucky that way. I have people to talk to when I feel down. I've never been much of a socialite. My social circle has always consisted of a few very good friends and some casual friends who I know but don't know well.

I've always been the type of Monkeypants to prefer quality over quantity. When I was a child, I had a best friend and other good friends I knew but although I was always invited to birthday parties, I never felt like I was likely to become a fan of being with the 'in-crowd'.

That carried through to high school. For the first couple of years, my crowd of friends consisted of quiet, shy girls like me who never felt like they completely fit. We had fun- some of my favourite memories of my early high school days are of playing Uno and eating ice-cream sandwiches. As high school passed, my circle of friends changed a little. We all moved in different directions. It's sad but that's high school. It never meant I forgot those friends, it just meant that we were no longer jigsaw puzzle pieces that fit together- we'd morphed into pieces that were from the same puzzle but from different corners.

College was the same. I had a close circle of friends throughout. Sometimes the members changed but I still always had people to talk to, people who would talk to me.

These days, it's not much different- it's just that my friends are scattered. Some, via Facebook, are my earliest friends from my childhood days. Some are high school friends who are always there for me, no matter how long ago we sat in Mrs. Studebaker's English class and laughed at the fact that she said "eggo" instead of "ego."

Some are newer friends, friends I've made in my 'adult' years. I've always been lucky enough to find good friends with whom I have a lot in common and, like me, see the need to appreciate the goofier things in life.

It's these friends I appreciate most because they're the ones who pick me up when I'm down. I can't go without giving a shout-out to Saz in Washington for being there, even when her own life is dark and scary at the moment. And, Ms. P in Texas- I love that you read my blog, I love that I have my puppies because you persuaded me to make getting a dog one of my New Year's resolutions. The other friends out there, reading....I don't need to name you but...thank you.

Since it's Mother's Day on Sunday, I can't go on without mentioning my very best friend- cheesy as it sounds. My mum hates sappiness. She was born in Germany and raised in England so it's not exactly odd that she feels that way. But, at the risk of making her cringe, my very best friend in the world is my mum. No matter how mean I get, how crotchety I am, how much I waffle on and on...and on and on about my puppies...she's always there. When I'm feeling down about writing, she gets indignant on my behalf because she reads library books and lately seems to have been comparing them all to The Reluctant Demon. I love that she always thinks my books are better. I love that I can go home for a weekend and have a moan about my life to her and she always listens. I love that I can take a picture of flowers in my garden and ask her to identify them- she usually does.

Most of all, I'm just glad I have a mother who I can talk to and whine to when I'm down. I can't believe she hasn't hung up on me yet when I get snappy on the phone with her but she never does...unless those mysterious hang-ups when we get 'disconnected' and she has 'no idea what happened' mean she's hanging up on me. Just kidding- she always calls me back.

So, even though I'm still doubting my ability and my skills, I'm not in such a dark place I can't turn around and see that even in spite of the writing, I'm very lucky in my life. I have people who care enough to try to stop me giving in to my self-pity. I also have people who read my blog and make me feel like I'm not just a voice on the wind...someone is reading. For that, I thank you all.

For now, I'll keep the blog going...after all, I always have something to say, no matter how random. It's what makes my blog

Happy Friday and to all you mothers out there- be it mothers of children, Monkeypants, puppies, pigs, dogs, cats, characters or ideas....Happy Mother's Day.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Self-Doubt Days

So, I'm having one of those days today where I woke up in a bad mood because I didn't sleep well again. As the day went by, I went from being cranky to being mopey. It's my own fault- it's when I start to let self-doubt creep in and that gives way to self-pity.

It's all to do with writing again. As I've said before in this blog, sometimes, I feel great about writing and I love doing it and I don't care if I get anyway- it's the journey that's fun. Then there are times, like today, when I stop and look back and I realize that I've been on this journey rather a long time now and there's no destination in sight.

I know...I published a book. Yet, even with the interview in my hometown paper, I haven't sold a single copy since the interview came out. I don't know how to take that. I know many of my friends moved away but, well, I can't help but take it personally when no one cares one bit. One of the first tips I'm always given regarding self-publicity is to try to get interviewed by the local paper. So...I did. And...nothing.

I'm sad about that, in all honesty. I keep thinking that maybe I was arrogant to publish my book- they used to call forms of self-publishing "vanity presses." Maybe that's what I did. I just don't know anymore. The problem with self-doubt is that it's a deep pit and once you let yourself step-in, it doesn't seem so far to the bottom.

Even this blog has me doubting- is it worth blogging? I know there are a few of you out there reading but, again, it's a vain thing to write and hope that people care enough about what you have to say to read what you're saying.

I HATE days like this. These are the days when I am looking back at the 'journey' I'm on and wondering what made me think I was good enough to start the journey in the first place. Along the way, I've had very few successes and yet I continued anyway. On self-doubt days, I start to wonder what made me keep going. I had/have a dream that I could be a full-time writer, that I would be recognized one day by an agent, a publisher, a magazine...something.

So far...nothing but a self-published book and a blog that tends to be far too much about puppies and not enough about anything else lately.

I'm hoping that the self-doubt passes. It really sucks because it taints everything. I haven't felt like this in a while but that's what I get for stopping and looking back. I keep trying to keep my eyes forward but the truth is, I just don't know which way to go anymore. I've tried magazine stories, novels, contests, queries...and nothing.

Is there some point at which I should just accept that I should give up or should I keep going? That's the question I'm juggling lately. Is it worth it to keep going? The problem is that I've based my life on this dream and my 'day job' has always been something to pay the bills but not something I loved. Writing was what I loved/still mostly love...If I don't write then I'll be left with an empty job that pays the bills but tends to drive me crazy.

I apologize for my whinyness. I blame it on a lack of sleep and humidity- it's been hot and muggy here today. I'm hoping tomorrow will be better, that, at least, the self-doubt is gone. The crankyness isn't so bad since I don't really have to put up with coworkers do. I'm also having a friend over to dinner tomorrow which will be really nice and stop me from being so self-pitying.

Also, I have two puppies asleep on my couch and they don't care what I do for a living- they love me anyway. Maybe I should take a leaf out of their book.

Thanks for listening. Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oddly Productive Evenings...

I've had a strangely productive evening so far and I'm not even sure how I managed it. I'm actually surprised I even had the energy given that, last night, we had thunderstorms that rumbled through the night. The puppies aren't afraid of storms, per se, but they were restless and had trouble settling down. This meant I woke up a lot as they moved, mostly trying to get closer to me. It's nice that I'm their security blanket although it would be nicer if I weren't trying to sleep.

Nevertheless, after a quite busy day at work- one of those where you plan a quiet day of working on a project and it decays into multiple 'rush' projects that all have to be juggled but not in any type of orderly fashion because, at any given moment, you're going to be interrupted- I thought I'd feel like coming home and doing nothing.

Instead, I managed to go to the library to pick up an audiobook to listen to as I drive to my parents' again this weekend. I'm going to listen to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as a treat. I just finished listening to Henry James' Turn of the Screw. It's one of those books I've always meant to read but never go around to so when I saw the audiobook...I grabbed it.

Is it wrong to say I disliked Mr. James' classic novel rather a lot? I know it's lead to a lot of critical essays', theses, discussions and the like as to whether the governess is insane or really seeing ghosts but, well, frankly, I thought it was a bit overrated. One of my biggest pet peeves is that the novel begins somewhere with a man who's going to read the story. It's a long beginning, a dragged out lead-in to the actual story. When it begins, you get to hear a gothic, supernatural sort of tale that doesn't end with as much of a twist as I was hoping. Also, I was thinking if Mr. James began with a narrator of sorts, shouldn't he end it the same way? If so, why bother with the whole long, somewhat dull introduction at all?

Anyway, I didn't care for it. That's my two cents. I decided Harry Potter was a safer choice because who doesn't love it when Jim Dale reads to them, particularly when it's my favourite of the Harry Potter novels.

Anyway, after the library, I ran to the supermarket since I invited a coworker/friend to dinner on Thursday and needed some supplies- particularly a bottle of wine since she doesn't like red as I do- she's a white/blush drinker. After that, I came home and uncrated the puppies which always take a while as we have to greet each other quite excitedly- I'm just as pleased to see them as they are to see me- and we ran around outside for a bit. Then I managed to rid my garden, temporarily, I'm afraid, of the dreaded burdock weeds that are taking over. We've had so much rain, they're the size of my head- no kidding. They're evil weeds- growing so big they obscure the actual flowers and so deeply rooted that it's almost impossible to dig the roots up. Nevertheless, for now, they're gone. Also, they're non-toxic and the puppies love them so they managed to dispose of some of them for me. They tend to rip them to pieces with their teeth but not actually eat them. It's quite useful actually.

We followed that up by making dinner. I decided to make steak skewers with gvegetables on the grill. I had marinated the meat in a blend of soy sauce and yuzu sauce- which is an asian citrus marinade/dressing I saw on Iron Chef America and had to try for myself. The yuzu was a fantastic marinade and the steak had a tangy flavour that was actually quite delicious. The skewers themselves were nice too- I used mushrooms, zucchini, cippolini onions, red peppers and red potatoes. I even remembered to soak the skewers so they wouldn't burn. I have to say, it's probably my most successful grilling attempt yet.

I followed up dinner with some more cooking preparations. I'm making split pea with ham soup tomorrow in the crockpot so I needed to prepare my mirepoix (soup base). It's ready to go now.

After clearing up and running the vacuum around, I think I'm actually ready to stop being productive for a while. Fortunately, I have Lost and Glee to watch tonight on TV which is why Tuesdays are my favourite TV night. Although I have to admit, now that Glee is now trendy, I fear it's starting to believe its own hype and it's losing the charm that made me love it. I'm hoping it's temporary. It's still better than most things on TV now though so I'll be watching it anyway.

Ironically, I'm still not terribly tired yet. I'm trying to figure out where this energy is coming from. I had one cup of coffee all day and virtually no sugar unless you count the starlight peppermints I eat at my desk. I'm a little curious as to why I'm so energetic. It's actually a little alarming.

However, ot's nice that it's time to sit down and enjoy the rest of the evening. I just hope that I don't crash halfway through Lost.

I do have a feeling that I'll sleep tonight...I just hope the puppies do the same!

Happy Wednesday.