Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Wonderful, Happy, Hour....

It was another beautiful day today. Now it's officially summer, it seems that Spring is trying to get back a little of the time it missed. It was warm without being unpleasantly hot, breezy with no humidity to hold back the fresh air.

It was the first day in a while where I've come home to lunch with the puppies and not wanted to go inside to the air conditioning. It made it hard to crate the puppies up and send myself back to my own cubicle-sized crate at work.

The afternoon didn't take too long to pass. It helps that I had a meeting with my boss among others. My boss is funny in meetings. He's ok in the ones where the entire staff have to attend or, even, when his own 'boss' is there. Yet when it's small groups of us, my boss is like a fidgety child. He likes to play with buttons on the computer. He also very frequently gets distracted and leads us down bizarre areas of discussion. For example, I learned that the term "crapper", used to crudely describe a toilet, was named after a plumber named something like Thomas Crapper. We looked it up on Wikipedia in the middle of a meeting. We also learned that my coworker worked at the most unfortunate Ruby Tuesday restaurant in the world. It burned down once. A mirror fell on someone's head and half the staff passed out because of carbon monoxide poisoning.

We've had a lot of odd discussions like this when my boss is present. Unbeknownst to him, I've actually started to not hate meetings when he's attending and no one higher up than him is going to be present. They're often quite...interesting.

Anyway, after the meeting with my boss, the afternoon whizzed by. There had been talk of a happy hour after work but, as I suspected, it either didn't happen or it became one of those 'exclusive' happy hours that the annoying little high-school-esque clique in my office has sometimes. I may sound bitter but, actually, I'm not. I just get fed up of the slightly unprofessional vibe in the office that involves whispering, gossip and secret lunches/happy hours. It makes things a little uncomfortable for those of us not involved. It's not that we want to be involved but it becomes a much bigger deal that we're not because of the covertness of everything. It's much like everything in the office that is worthy of a staff meeting to announce something bit- it remains a horrible secret until we're in the meeting. This leads to paranoia and gossip that wouldn't be nearly as present if they'd just tell us upfront what's going on instead of making us wait until a staff meeting.

As I said, the happy hour didn't happen. Instead, I came home and spent some time playing with the puppies in the garden. Then I took my laptop out, grabbed a beer and sat outside and wrote a little of the novel I'm currently working on while the puppies played nearby.

All in all, I have to say, that's probably one of the best 'happy hours' I've ever had. Since I tend to prefer the company of the puppies to most of my coworkers, there was no awkward socializing. There was no trying to be friendly when, mostly, you wonder why you're spending your free time in which you're NOT getting paid to hang out with people you personally don't care for outside of working with them. Also, the beer was way cheaper. Also, it's a rare happy hour at a bar when a furry little dachshund catches sight of you watching her and makes a running leap to try to get on your lap to give you 'kisses.'

Also, I got to work on my novel which is always a nice thing, particularly when the early evening sun is shining down and the breeze catches you just right.

Now that....was a happy hour.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Call of The Wild...

It was a beautiful day outside today. The humidity went away, the temperature dropped and the breeze picked up. It felt almost like spring, rather than summer, outside.

It was definitely a welcome change from the stifling heat. I don't think it's just me who's been feeling the heat; I noticed the puppies have been a little sluggish- more so when the air is thick and hot outside. Today, they had a lot more energy than they have which they spent chasing each other around the garden.

They're getting so big. I looked at a picture of Sookie which was taken by the people from whom I got her. It was a cute enough picture that I pretty much dropped everything and decided she would be my puppy. She's so tiny compared to how she is now. In a way, it makes me sad that she's growing up so fast but it's one of those things you don't even notice until you look back at a picture and realize how tiny she really was.

Lately, Sookie and Rory's favourite activity in the world is Bunny Hunting. We have two rabbits that like to sit in my vegetable patch. Since they've consumed everything they seem to find tasty- including, but not limited to swiss chard, corn, sunflowers and eggplants- fortunately they seem to be doing no more damage than sitting on my plants.

Rory and Sookie try to take care of my rabbit problem. Now, when I let them out of their crate, they go, excitedly, to the back door where they proceed to jump very high as they they think they can turn the handle themselves. The minute I open the door, they tear at full speed to the vegetable garden. You can practically see the skid marks.

Nine times out of ten, the blasted rabbits are there. They're fast, I'll give them that. What I don't understand is that the big bunnies seem able to shrink to the point that they can squeeze through a tiny hole in the fence. It drives the puppies a little crazy because they can't even fit their nose through the same hole. Believe me, they try. I've seen them lying down on the ground with their noses pushed through the holes in the fence, desperately trying to get to the rabbit.

The rabbit, being a bit of an evil bunny, has taken to sitting about four feet away from the bunnies and just casually eating the grass in Possibly-Joe's yard, just behind the fence at the bottom of our garden. It sits there, defiantly watching the puppies as it slowly chews. The puppies bark. Then they try to dig. No matter how furious they try to unearth the secret way to the bunny, they're not successful.

Now the original bunny has brought a friend and the two of them have taken to sitting there, lazily watching the puppies as they furiously bark. It's as though they're just out for an evening jaunt and they're having one of those lazy conversations two friends do when they're just sitting together, sprawled out in the sun. Or, more likely, they're just making fun of the puppies in their secret bunny way.

Poor Rory and Sookie try so hard to get to the rabbit but it seems to be in vain. To make matters worse, we seem to have an angry squirrel that has taken residence in the sapling that's just way too tall for the puppies to reach but low enough that they can see it. It's taken to making peculiar squirrel noises at them which sounds like a cross between yelling, spitting and squealing.

Naturally, the puppies try to get the squirrel but, fortunately for me, they can't climb trees. I'm quite glad about that.

Sometimes I wonder if there's some kind of communication system between the neighbourhood wildlife as to whose gardens are the best to inhabit for a) safety, b) yummy snacks and c) entertainment value. I'd say we have the last two, at the very least. We don't see the same sort of creatures in the Dog Whisperer's garden.

Last week, as I was driving to work, I saw a racoon ambling along the road. It was a skinny, ragged thing and I seriously think it gave me a dirty look as I watched it. It slowly hunched its way across the road and down into a storm drain. I'm actually waiting for it to get the word that our garden is fun for creatures of most types, as long as they can outrun two little dachshund puppies. I have a feeling that the racoon might be in trouble there but I wouldn't be surprise if it tried.

For now, as long as the puppies can't dig their way out and the rabbits leave my zucchini, asparagus, cucumbers and tomatoes alone, I think I can live with the wildlife whether it's sadistical bunnies, shouting squirrels or crotchety old racoons.

You'd never believe I live in a city, would you?

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Leaky Roofs and a Plethora of Basil...

It was definitely a Monday today. The day began with me walking sleepily to the bathroom to begin my morning routine and finding a wet spot on my carpet. I was surprised but I was half-asleep and not thinking. As I slowly woke up, I realized that the wet spot was really wet. I looked up and discovered a leak in my ceiling. This meant that my roof was leaking. We'd had some really heavy rain again last night so I should have figured that out sooner. Nevertheless, it still surprised me.

I took a quick peek up in the attic to see if I could see where the rain had come in but though I peered and used my handy flashlight, I couldn't see it. Since I had to get to work, I decided that it would have to wait.

I still haven't gone up there though. The ladder I have is very old and very rickety and to get up in the attic, I'd have to use the very last tread on the ladder. Since it wobbles horribly and I have no balance, I have horrible visions of falling off the ladder, knocking myself unconscious and having the puppies attempt to revive me by licking me to death. Even with cute puppies, this wasn't a picture I liked having in my mind.

Since we're not supposed to have any more rain for a while, I think I'm safe. I do think I'm going to have to track down the leak though. This past month has been my first in which I've really learned that being a homeowner means a lot more responsibility than being a renter. I've now replaced a ceiling fan, a kitchen sink and a kitchen faucet, all within the last month.

I'm really hoping that since it's such a little leak, it doesn't merit something so drastic as a new roof. That would be expensive and I quite like the roof I have, anyway- leaky or not.

Regardless of how big or small the leak turns out to be, this was not the way to begin a Monday on a positive note. My day was actually quite busy which was a little annoying since I wanted a day of working slowly and not getting much done. I was thwarted in my attempt.


When I finally made it home from work, I didn't feel like doing anything. Still, I decided to try and cheer myself up with a nice dinner.

I decided to make pesto. Aside from the pine nuts, I have all the ingredients in my pantry or in my garden, particularly the basil. Oh, yes, I have basil. You see, my mother and I have cultivated a love for the herb since we both started cooking properly. In the winter, it's expensive to buy and it's a bit of an extravagance to buy it regularly. Thus, this summer, we both planted basil in our gardens.

The thing with basil is that it grows. I planted some seeds and, when they were little seedlings, I put them in a big tub in my garden, expecting only a few of them to grow. They all grew. I have a large plethora of basil. To make it even more ridiculous, I had assumed my plants weren't going to grow so, since my mother had also ended up with a huge supply of basil plants, I took some of her extras. I now have a tub of growing basil as well as many, many plants scattered through my garden. I'm not complaining; I like basil. I'm just a little afraid of wasting it.

So, tonight, I made pesto. I made a quadruple batch so that I could follow the advice of a recipe site I found and make pesto cubes by freezing the pesto in an ice-cub tray. This way, I would have a supply to last through the winter. I have to ice-cube trays full now and with all the basil I still have, I think I could probably last through several winters.

I'm sure I'll find another use for the tasty herb though. It's just a treat to be able to go and pick what feels like a bushel of basil and still have a garden full. It's also an amazing feeling to be able to eat something you've made from something you grew from seed. This year is really the first year I've done that and it feels nice. Despite the weeds in my garden, it's starting to come along. Thanks to my mother's generosity, I've got far more plants than I expected. I love planting the cuttings and plants she digs up from her garden. I like the feeling of planting them in mine with the soil from her garden still attached- it's like a very organic bond is forming and will continue to grow each summer.

My pesto turned out very nice so Monday is looking up. I still have a leaky roof but since it's not raining, I think there's no need for panic. I need to mow my lawn but it's looking a little like a swamp out there after the rain last night. I should really do something productive but, alas, since it's Monday, I think I'm going to do what I meant to do at work today...pretty much....nothing.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Too Much TV on an Impressionable Mind

It's already Sunday evening. I hate that Sunday evenings signal the closing of the weekend. It's been a rather nice weekend too so I'm sorry to see it pass.

I think the puppies will be sad too. They really like weekends where we get to stay home instead of going to my parents' house. Of course, it doesn't mean that they've quite learned the concept of 'sleeping in' yet but we'll work on that. I actually did get to sleep in until 8 a.m. on Saturday although technically, since Rory woke me up at 6 a.m. to go out, it wasn't continuous sleep. Today, she woke me up at 7 a.m. and there was no going back to bed.

On early mornings, I tend to be rather productive. I just think I need to train myself to go to bed earlier so it's a little easy to get up and be productive. Since I had a friend staying over last night, I got up and made the batter for crepes. It's sort of my 'thing'. Being a singleton Monkeypants is mostly fun but I do occasionally wish I had someone to cook for on a regular basis. Thus, I tend to like to cook for guests because I get to use my kitchen gadgets. I got a handy immersion whisk at a yard sale last week so I got to use that for the crepe batter. It's a fabulous device and it takes out all the lumps.

Since I had a guest in town, it meant a trip to Jungle Jim's. Because my friends tend to read this blog, they're generally curious about this grocery store which has me so enamoured. I like to give tours. I think Jungle Jims actually does official tours but I think mine isn't so bad. I think I'm quite informative and I offer the added bonus of being able to explain what odd-looking food items are. Thanks to the Food Network, I have become quite well-versed in weird ingredients.

I have learned that the Food Network has also made me into a bit of a culinary snob. I don't mean that I have high falutin' tastes. I mean that I tend to drop culinary terms into everyday explanation and not even realizing I'm doing it. For example, my friend asked me about making soup so I started to talk about the mirepoix. Naturally, she was, like, "uh, mirror-what?" Then she was looking around my kitchen and found my prep bowls so she asked what they were for. So I explained mise-en-place to her. The thing is, I don't actually mean to sound like a pretentious want-to-be-chef. I just watch far too many cooking shows. Worse than that, I watch the competitive reality cooking shows like Top Chef and The Next Food Network Star in which the contestants are young bucks who are all trying to out-chef each other. They make things like coulis and sabayon. They have fancy cooking technique terns like brunoise .

I am impressionable. I'm also obsessive. When I'm fascinated by something, I tend to absorb like a sponge. I can't actually do the things I'm learning about, necessarily but I like to know what they mean. It's annoying, even to myself.

Once upon a time, I was very anti-reality programming. I used to think it took jobs away from writers because they didn't need writers on these shows. Now, thanks to the slippery slope that was begat from watching Iron Chef America, I have fallen prey to the lure of competition, particularly that in the kitchen. Curses.

Sadly, my knowledge won't get me very far in my real life. Working at a software company puts a damper on the need for fancy cooking knowledge. It does help at Jungle Jim's when I'm browsing. I discovered that they have duck confit there. I'm always seeing that on Top Chef.

It's sad that TV has such an influence on me. However, I think, for the most part, those that I end up feeding don't particularly mind as it usually means they'll be eating something non-vile and, hopefully, tasty.

Still, for now, my flow of guests has come to a slow for a while. While I love having my friends stay, it will be nice to have some time to get some stuff done at home. For example, I have visions of turning my somewhat-unappealing family room into a Tuscan villa room. Of course, I'm not very good at decorating.

Maybe I should start watching more decorating shows.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Flanges and Merges....

Today was a rather muddled day at work. It began with doughnuts. Lately in the office, we've been having a lot of 'mystery' snacks. They just show up and no-one says why they're there or who brought them in. This makes it a little awkward because you know you're supposed to eat them but without knowing the origin, you don't know who to thank. Also, it's a bit weird to eat someone's food without truly knowing whether it was for an occasion and thus deserves a 'happy birthday' or someone just felt like bringing in doughnuts.

I usually don't eat doughnuts. I'm not opposed to them, per se. I just don't really enjoy them much. They're just...there. Today, I forgot my morning banana and so I was hungry. I ended up eating a doughnut that looked like it was a jelly-filled one. It also happened to have the added bonus of fluorescent pink icing. This would put most adults off, most likely. Not me, I'm a sucker for weird coloured things like that. Yes, it's unnatural but it's fun.

When I bit into my doughnut, I was very disappointed. I'm a firm believer that a jelly doughnut should have jelly. These days, most bakeries cheat and use that strawberry pie filling crap. I may have vented about this before. If I have, I apologize. Anyway, the pie filling is runny and smooth. I like my jelly with seeds in it. This doughnut was NOT the doughnut I had expected. I take my doughnuts quite seriously and I felt slightly betrayed. It looked like a jelly doughnut. It pretended to be a jelly doughnut but it wasn't.

Anyway, shortly after the mystery doughnuts showed up, a second batch of identical doughnuts from the same bakery arrived. These, at least, were not mystery doughnuts. It was our tech support person's birthday. I think he felt bad that he doubled the doughnuts but our company never wastes such things and managed to get through quite a lot of them, even though there were about 50 doughnuts in the office this morning for 23 of us.


After the doughnuts, us non-conference attendees were left out in the cold while the conference attendees met to discuss the conference. I would quite like to have heard how it went but we weren't invited. During this time, we found out that our slightly impromptu staff meeting was going to be attended by the head of our 'sister company.'


Long story short, this means we're merging with our sister company. I know it means a lot but it doesn't seem to be affecting us much. We have to change our company name which means new logos and all that stuff. We're being 'rehired' by the merged company. This means yet another tax season next year with more than one W-2. As far as I can see, for now, it doesn't mean much to us. I'm sure in the long run, it will. Some people are worried, mostly the new folks who weren't here for the scary dark period last year where we were being sold and thought we were going to all lose our jobs. Those who were here tend to feel a little like veterans and this, compared to last year, feels like nothing.

To me, the only major question I had was: Were we going to keep our jobs. The answer is yes. We also keep our benefits. That's good enough for me.

Of course, all this was coupled with the fact that today was the day my kind parents were driving down so my dad could do the home repairs in my house that I was unable to do. This means I had to make sure I was available if they had questions and stuff. It also meant they were puppy-sitting. I got to run home and lunch and feed my parents and say hello. My dad had already replaced my ceiling fan/light in the kitchen.

When I came home from work this evening, I discovered that even though I had only expected a new faucet in my kitchen, my father had decided I needed a new sink. My dad's not the type to think, "oh, wait, maybe she doesn't want a new sink." When he decides something is needed, that's it.

I'm not complaining, naturally. The sink is nice. It's very, uh, sinky. Also, it has nice new taps and it doesn't gurgle like my old one. It's lovely to have a new sink so I was glad. I wasn't glad that when I got home, dad needed a new pipe for under the sink so he sent my mum and I off to Lowe's. We asked one of the Lowes employees for help because, let's face it, mum and I are not plumbers and know nothing about pipes. Unfortunately, it seems, neither did the Lowe's employee. For one thing, he was incredibly rude. He snatched the old pipe literally out of my hand and tried to match it. He was clueless even though, technically, he was working in the plumbing department. It's rather sad when I had to be the one to identify the fact that since the pld pipes were joined with a connector in a perpendicular fashion, perhaps the new pipes ought to be also. Needless to say, we were sent home with the wrong thing. This meant my dad and I had to return to Lowes to get the right thing. So, back to Lowes I went, this time with my dad while mum stayed at my place and puppy-sat.

We got home only to discover that the pipes we'd bought weren't equipped with a flange. My dad said flange a lot. Flange was the word of the day. I kept singing it, "Flange! Flange! Flange" as we drove, yes, you've guessed it, back to Lowes. I think I drove my dad a little potty but soon he was saying "flange" in every other word.

We were successful with finding pipes that had flanges. I made dad buy and extra one, just in case since I did not want to return to Lowes a fourth time in an hour. Turned out he needed the extra one so I'm glad I made him buy it.

Finally, the pipes fit. We didn't have to go back to Lowes. I'm glad. I'm a bit tired of Lowes, actually.

I now have a working sink, a working ceiling fan and the word 'flange' stuck in my head. Also, big things happened at work but I'm a bit over worrying about it. There's no point. I'm actually sort of enjoying my job at the moment and I get to keep it for now so why worry? I might have to do that later but for now, there seems to be no point.

In the meantime, tomorrow is Friday which is always welcome. Also, there'll probably be doughnuts tomorrow though they'll be stale. We also have to have meetings to talk about the change at work. I have a lot of meetings tomorrow, unfortunately. Still, if they get too boring, I can always yell "FLANGE".

FLANGE!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

World Cup Nostalgia

This week seems to be going quite quickly. That's not such a bad thing though. I'd rather the week go quickly than the weekend although I've yet to have a weekend that passes too slowly.

Work was actually quite fun today. Since we have cable television, a couple of my coworkers and I decided to go work in our training lab so we could watch the World Cup on television. We knew we'd be allowed since during March Madness basketball, the men in our office all got to sit and watch basketball and work.

Strangely, enough, I managed to get quite a bit of work done and cheer for England at the same time. Since we could only watch one match at a time, we flipped between the England match and the U.S. match. Luckily, both teams one and will advance on out. I'm a little nervous since England now has to play Germany which rarely goes well but, all the same, I'm excited for my team.

I'm not really a very sporty person, generally. I think I like the competition of sports more than the actual sport itself. I do watch American football now although I don't feel compelled to watch every game. If I'm really in the mood, basketball doesn't offend me. I can't watch baseball because, well, frankly...it's boring to watch. Mostly, I'm not really big on sports. Yet there's something about the World Cup that I always find addictive. Every four years, I learn the England squad and keep my fingers crossed that this is their cup, that this time they will win. I've never seen it in my lifetime but I live in hope.

I've actually been into the World Cup since when I was young. Living in England and playing with the kids on my street made us into football (ok, fine, soccer) fans. I remember the first world cup I can remember, back in the days when Pele played for Brazil and Diego Maradonna played for Argentina. We'd play on the green in front of our houses, always wanted to be our favourite player. I always got stuck being Kevin Keegan who was an England player at the time. My friend, Glen, would be Maradonna and his little brother, Stuart, would be Pele. We played a lot around World Cup time.

We also played Wimbledon a lot during Wimbledon season. We never had a tennis net so we'd play tennis on the path (sidewalk) in front of my house, drawing a line for the net in chalk. We'd enjoy ourselves but occasionally get carried away and hit the ball too hard. It only was an issue when it'd go in the neighbours back garden and we sheepishly had to ask for our ball back. Sometimes, we lost the ball and couldn't play. We got to the point where we'd all try to have a supply of tennis balls. My favourite tennis partner was my next-door neighbour, Darren. My dad had put up a high fence to keep the afghan hounds in. We used to play Tennis-Over-The-Fence and try to play over the high fence. We were pretty good at it but that's usually when we'd lose the balls the most. One time, we lost our only ball and in desperation, tried to make one. We actually made a newspaper ball filled with little rocks and taped it up. Needless to say, it was a disaster. We soon realized it had no bounce.

Clearly, physics was not my speciality. In my defence, it wasn't Darren's either.

These days, especially around the World Cup and Wimbledon time of year, I often think back to how the sporting events go on even though life changes. I have no idea what happened to Darren, Glen, Stuart or any of the other kids we used to play with regularly on the street outside in the summer evenings. I sometimes wish I did, just because we such a part of each other's childhood. We fought together and against one another, made up games, fell off bikes, climbed trees (or, in my case, tried to climb trees), and swapped comic books. Times like this, watching the World Cup, thousands of miles where I grew up, take me back to those summer days. Even though my memory has become horrible with age, I still remember the details of my youth.

I'm sure the World Cup will continue every four years for the rest of my life. Each time, I know it'll trigger my memories and make me nostalgic for the more simplistic days of my youth, even though I like where I am now in life.

I just hope England wins one soon though.

Happy Thursday!



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Musings on Mowing, Offal and Other Random Thoughts...

Today seemed like rather a long day. Work dragged by for no reason other than the fact that nothing too sensational happened and we all went out about our business of work. With no office olympics, work seems a little less interesting this week.

It also started out as a rainy day. By mid-morning, the rain had stopped and the heat had crept back out, the humidity constant and oppressing. I did manage to get my lawn mowed even though the garden still resembled a bit of a swamp. It was hard going; the grass was super long and very wet. Nevertheless, I got through it and the puppies can now play on the more manageable grass. It was so long that they kept losing their toys.

Naturally, as always seems to be the case, the Dog Whisperer decided to mow his garden not long after I mowed mine. I've noticed this seems to be a pattern; even if he mowed a few days prior, he always has to mow when I mow. I suppose he likes consistency between our adjoining lawns. It probably would be better for him if I hadn't accidentally put my mower on the shortest setting yesterday instead of the longest as I'd intended. I get a bit confused about which way is which. My lawn is much shorter than the Dog Whisperer's. He tends to like his to be that short but measured length that lawn-obsessed men like to cultivate.

The lawn mowing was part of my productive evening. I needed to get some cleaning done. I also manage to make fried stuffed zucchini blossoms for dinner. They were, as I'd heard, delicious. Stuffed with ricotta, basil and oregano, I put them in a light batter and fried until golden brown. They were ridiciously tasty. It may seem weird to eat a flower but don't knock it until you've tried it. Then again, eating flowers might not be natural to everyone. I always used to eat rose petals as a child so I suppose something carried forth into my adulthood.

Ironically, aside from the odd rose petal, I was a notoriously finicky eater as a child. I wouldn't eat any of my mum's 'gravy' dinners and preferred staples such as fishfingers and chips or frozen pizza or, best of all, things on toast like cheese or baked beans or spaghetti. I always preferred 'teas' to dinners. We ate our tea at the end of the day, having our dinner in the middle of it. Thus, our tea was what you typically eat for lunch only we ate it at dinnertime, if that isn't too confusing.

Nowadays, I'm proud to say, I'm a much more open-minded eater. I try anything, provided it doesn't make me feel nauseous to think of it. My brother just got back from a trip to Japan where he went out for Korean barbecue with a group of people. He brought back the menu and some of the items that you could order to barbecue did make me feel a little nauseaus. Things like nose, windpipe, stomach, womb....my brother accidentally ordered large intestine and, to his credit, he actually tried it. He said it was vile. I'm sure if you grew up eating things like that, it's probably normal. The most exotic thing we grew up eating in England was liver and I never liked that much. It wasn't even the taste- more the texture. My mum used to make a liver and bacon casserole. This qualified as a 'gravy' dinner. I didn't like it, naturally. Nowadays, I'd probably eat it but I wouldn't want it as a choice, if that makes sense.

I think I'm in a random mood. I started out talking about mowing the lawn and here I am discussing eating offal and liver. Is liver offal? I don't know but I could probably look it up.

Ok, I did. Yes, I believe liver counts as offal. So there you have it, I have tried offal. I also tried to eat tripe but I couldn't do that. I'll leave that to my Filipeno friends. We used to feed a form of tripe to our dogs. We had afghan hounds. They had a finicky diet. We used to have to defrost the frozen tripe and mash it with dog biscuits. To this day, I can remember the smell of the meat. It wasn't terribly pleasant. Of course, there are different types of tripe. You can probably wikipedia it if you want to know. I'll even give you a link. Just in case you're interested. I never have eaten tripe though.

I find it funny that I just used wikipedia as a verb. I blame Google. They started the trend of saying, "Google it". Now we say, "I'll Facebook you," or "Youtube it," or "Wikipedia it." The internet is taking over our lives.

Still, if it wasn't for the internet, I wouldn't have a blog and you wouldn't get to read the random thoughts that come spilling out of my brain when I have absolutely no idea what I plan to blog about. Of course, that's not necessarily a good thing but I'll let you decide. You are, after all, reading my blog.

And I thank you for that.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Product Placement and Stormy Weather

We seem to be stuck in a pattern of intense heat that is interrupted sporadically by severe thunderstorms. Today, we were told by Mr. Fox 19 Stormtracker Weather that we would have temperatures in the 90's today with a chance of a pop-up thunderstorm midday.

Well, I'm actually quite amazed to announce that Mr. Fox 19 Stormtracker Weather was right. For once. Yes, it can happen. Right around the time I leave for lunch to come let the puppies out, the sky, suddenly ominously dark, opened up and the rain began to fall. It was the torrential type of rain that saturates everything within seconds and obscurs your view while you're driving.

I tried to wait out the storm but almost an hour later, I needed to liberate the puppies from their crate for an hour and eat some lunch. Needless to say, I got wet.

Still, the storm did pass and the heat came back and the world is calm again.

The problem with that much rain is that my back garden floods. At the moment if I walk on my grass, it squelches. There are puddles with standing water and my flower/vegetable beds are under a layer of water. I had actually planned on mowing the lawn tonight but, alas, I could only do the front lawn since that's on a slope and the water drains off. It was still wet but at least now it's mowed. It was starting to look rather horrendous.

On the plus side, I would like to endorse a product. I highly recommend that Off Mosquito Fan thingy. Being that I provide rather an attractive bait for mosquitoes, I seem to have the added misfortune of suffering from what I've been told is known as 'skeeter syndrome'. This means that my bites swell to rather large red lumps that look a bit like a tumor and they stick around for a couple of days. I've tried all of the spray on repellents and somehow, the mosquitoes still find a way to snack on my blood.

Not today, however. Thanks to the fabulous Off Mosquito Fan, I mowed my lawn and went out to the garden without one bite. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical of the device. It just seemed a little silly- a fan to repel mosquitoes.

Then, when I went to my parents' this weekend, I discovered my mother had one and she said it worked. I borrowed it and then put it to the test- I went walking around their large garden from which I usually emerge with at least three mosquitoe bites. Not with the Off Fan! That thing is bloody brilliant. It has Captain Monkeypant's seal of approval which, given that I'm a bit of a complainer, is a pretty rare seal to earn.

Anyway, this means that on this hot, buggy, humid evening, I am sitting inside my air-conditioned office with not a single new mosquito bite. It doesn't sound like much but given that I've used almost a whole tube of hydrocortisone over the past 3 weeks, it actually is a lot to me.

I'm hoping that the weather cools down tomorrow but I know it's not likely to get any cooler for most of the week. We're supposed to have the possibility of more storms tomorrow which means my back garden will get even wetter. Even the puppies are finding it a nuisance- it's muddy wherever they walk and they come in with wet feet. It doesn't stop them from going out but it does mean they leave muddy footprints on the kitchen floor. They've been a little naughty tonight, anyway. I lost my phone only to discover that Sookie had 'borrowed' it and taken it outside. She managed to dial my younger brother somehow. She called my mother a couple of weeks ago. Sookie really seems to like the phone. I'd be amused if I hadn't been frantically looking for it.

Still, for a Monday, it hasn't been too bad. I buried my head at work today and got a lot done. The conference attendees came back and were somewhat quiet although my coworker couldn't resist telling me about all the connections she made and how many people wanted to talk to her. That's very nice for her. In the meantime, I have my 'silver' olympic medal hanging up in my cubicle to remind me that we had fun last week too.

Here's hoping that tomorrow isn't quite so soggy.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Hot Weekend...

It's really hot out there. The thermometer on the bank as I drove back from my parents' said it was 93 degrees. Of course, trying to be an energy conservationalist, I turned off my air-conditioning on Friday night as I left for my parents and now, in an effort to stay sane in my house, I turned it on. I think anything I saved by not having it on all weekend is probably going to be spent trying to cool the house down. Ah well, it's starting to get cooler, at least.

I had a fun trip to my parents' though. Saturday was another citywide garage sale day, this time for a neighbouring town. I went last year with my sister and brother-in-law, my garage sale gurus. This year, my sister couldn't make it due to some pretty massive homework commitments- she's in her last weeks of school before graduating with her nursing degree. Since I've become a bit of a garage sale junkie, I ended up getting my mother to come along. She's only gone to a few in the past so I thought she should have the experience of a whole lot of them.

It was a very successful trip. I managed to spend less than $30 and I managed to get the following: a Giada DiLaurentis cookbook, some Harry Potter bookends, a Harry Potter jigsaw, an oil-filled heater, four paperback and two hardback books in mint condition, some copper butterflies to decorate my future-Tuscan-villa room, some mini mirrors in antique frames for the same room, a combination immersion whisk/blender, a plant basket and a very nice opera CD (for which I paid a whopping 5 cents). I'm sure I got some other bits but that wasn't bad going for a couple of hours work, I think.

It was pretty hot though, traipsing through the sales. My favourite one was the people who will always be "The Cat People" in my head. They had a box of books for perusal. In this box, they had two copies of How to Live with a Neurotic Cat, as well as books entitled, Talk to your cat!, How to Communicate with your Cat. Also, there were, Correcting Behavioral Problems in Problematic Cats and Chicken Soup for the Pet Lovers' Soul along with Cats have Feelings Too!. Something told me that they were very serious about dealing with their troublesome cat. I don't know why that amused me but, as a dog person, I couldn't help but wonder if it was possible that a cat could be that problematic that they had so many books. Perhaps they were gifts? Who knows. It amused me.

There were also a lot of underwear people. Note to anyone selling stuff at a garage sale. It is NOT cool to sell used underwear. People like cheap stuff and I get that but, uh, it's used underwear. That is disgusting.

Still, I like citywide garage sales. You learn a lot about a town. In this one, they're hardcore romance readers. There were so many garage sales with nothing but Harlequin romances, Danielle Steel, Johanna Lindsay and all the brain-candy/trashy novels that provide escapism. However, in contrast, the citywide garage sale a while ago in my parent's town revealed that people really, really like Christian fiction and, even more prominantly, Christian non-fiction.

I had fun showing my mum the ropes. She was a little timid. I couldn't blame her. I used to be like that. Then I became a junkie and I don't mind anymore. I have no problem rifling through people's stuff when it's for sale. I hope that doesn't say anything bad about me.

The rest of the weekend was nice. Today, being Father's Day, brought my siblings to my parents. That's always fun although my older brother can sometimes be a little oblivious. He arrived at lunch time and, thinking he and his wife wouldn't stay too long, we decided to wait until he'd left to eat since they'd already eaten. Well, today, apparently, my brother was in a chatty mood. He also did a slide show of his recent trip to Japan. Long story short, we probably shouldn't have waited for lunch since by the time he left, it was almost 4 p.m. Nevertheless, it was fun to see him since I don't always get to spend much time with him. My sister and her family arrived after he left with my almost-ur-year-old niece was pretty hectic. The puppies get a little overexcited when she comes over to play. Getting them in their carrier to come home was not as easy as usual.

All in all, it's been a nice weekend even if it is hot. I had to drive through another scary storm on Friday night to get there. The sky was so purple, I thought we were going to have a tornado. As it was, we were hit with gusts of wind that blew branches in our path, gravel from the rural roads against our windows and, at times, almost blew us off the road. We forged onward and ended up having a nice weekend.

Now we're home and the house is cooling and I think it's time to see what the puppies are up to. I hate that the weekend is winding down and that tomorrow starts a week of work. This week, I'm a little afraid that the conference attendees are going to be a wee bit superior and full of their news about how awesome it was. I'm sure it was. Still, our week in the office was pretty awesome too. We wound up the Office Olympics on Friday with rubber band archery, paper plate discus, paper plane flying and guess who contests. I'm proud to say I took the silver due to my ability to flick rubber bands. I did have a former coworker who used to be a target so I have had plenty of practice. It was nice to stand up and get my medal though- as a group, we had a lot of fun.

Still, whatever the week holds, there's always a weekend at the end of it. Which is a sad thing to say on a Sunday night but, let's face it, I think we all prefer not working to working...right?

Happy Monday!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fun Days at Work

This week is definitely adding up to be more fun at work than any I’ve had so far. Today was day 1 of the the office Olympics . The ‘sport’ for the day was a scavenger hunt. We randomly drew teams from a hat. As luck would have it, not only was my team one person less than anyone elses’ but one of my teammates turned out to be our HR manager. As I’ve mentioned in the past, she’s not the, um…brightest bulb in the box. She can be very sweet but sharp thinking is not her forte. Thus you can imagine that I was exactly ecstatic that she was on my team.

Nevetheless, we had fun, which was the point. The scavenger hunt involved things like making pictures of a turkey with a Xeroxed copy of your hand and making paperclip men. Our team didn’t quite meet all of the challenges but we tried. The problem was that the HR manager didn’t really understand the concept of it being a timed event (we had an hour) and she got a little too focused on tasks that really should have been done super fast.

We managed to come in last but we were given ten extra points for being handicapped due to the fact we were short a person. We still came in last.

I like scavenger hunts. They’re a lot fun. It’s also nice to get to do one with coworkers I normally don’t get to spend much time with and to not have to be working.
Well, technically, we were all supposed to be working but we’ve been so quiet and diligent all week, we deserved a break, I think. Tomorrow we have some more scheduled activities. I’m hoping I can climb up from the bottom of the pile and manage to get some points to win a ‘medal.’
Even if I don’t, it’s made me realize that this job can actually be fun. Most of the jobs I’ve had in the past have been fun at times. There’s always been moments where you can be silly or laugh and take a break without feeling like you’re being watched. I can’t say this company doesn’t try to make things fun but they’re usually forced attempts to make us socialize instead of organic moments of silliness like our office Olympics.

I suppose we should feel bad that we’re taking extra long lunches to play games in the office but, truth be told, I don’t think any of us do. I think we all quietly agree that while we’re relieved we didn’t have to go to the conference and to a presentation, we all feel like we’re on the ‘reject’ list in a way. It’s a strange mixed bag of feelings. I’m ridiculously glad not to have to have gone to the conference because all that forced socialization is exhausting. Yet, at the same time, there’s a teeny voice in my head that wonders if it’s going to count against me, whether my smarmy coworker who loves to steal my spotlight is going to climb even further ahead of me on the political ladder of the office.

Then I come home from work and release the puppies from their crate and I realize I don’t actually care. Usually the realization comes somewhere between the time the dogs go scurrying from their crate to the back door from where they spurt outside in pursuit of potential bunny sightings. Usually after this initial activity and after she’s done her business, Sookie will come and find me and want to sit on my lap for a moment to be petted and to let me know she missed me. Lately, Rory’s been doing this too. It’s a lovely feeling to know you’re loved and needed by two such cute beings.

It really does put things in perspective. Work is only important while I’m in the office, being paid to do my job. When I leave, it doesn’t have to follow me and I refuse to let it. I might need to have a vent to my mother or friends but after that, I go back to my real life.
This week has been a refreshing reminder that even though my job may not always make me happy, it isn’t all bad. After all, it’s been a week of ice-cream, scavenger hunts, Olympics with some work thrown in between. It’s made me realize that without the normal politics of the office, we can all get along fine and have fun while doing so.

Bring on the paper plate discus contest tomorrow!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hot Summer Days...

It was another quiet day in the office. I’d complain but I have to admit, it’s pretty nice. Tomorrow brings the start of the Office Olympics. Today, we decided to create a pre-Olympic event called “The Eating of the Ice-Cream.” There’s apparently a great ice-cream place in Cincinnati that even Oprah cites as her favourite ice-cream in the world. It’s called Graeters and I have to say, it is pretty fine ice-cream. Most of the people who sang its praises added the addendum: “It’s expensive though.”

I think I lived in L.A. for too long because a scoop of ice-cream- a generous scoop, I’ll add- was $3.25 and two scoops was $3.75. To me, this seems to be a reasonable price for a bowl of delicious ice-cream. It’s no more expensive than Cold Stone Creamery, Ben and Jerry’s or Haagan Daas. Also, it’s still cheaper than a large cup of fancy coffee at Starbucks.

It was a nice treat on a warm, quiet afternoon in the office. I’m starting to get used to the quiet. It’s nice to have freedom; all of the managers are at the conference. We’re policing ourselves which is rather a nice luxury.

I’m really quite enjoying not having half the staff in the office. The week is going quickly. Normally, I wouldn’t mind but next week, everything will return to normal. The conference attendees will return, full of information and stories and we’ll all have to listen to them. I’m sure that I won’t be the only one who will try to appear interested but wish I could just walk away because I honestly don’t care that much. It’s a sad thing but true. I’m sure that, as usual, there will be drunken evenings, stories about clients, inside jokes… the usual thing.

The rest of us will probably sit here with our own inside jokes. We’ll know who the best rubber-band archery shooter is or who can win a race by wheeling themselves in their chair down the hallway. It’s a trade-off but I can’t help but be glad I came down on this side of the trade.

Still, with the week going quickly and the weekend approaching, things are definitely looking up. The humidity faded a little this afternoon and it’s finally tolerable to be outside without feeling as though you’re going to burst into flames because you’re spontaneously combusting from the closeness of the air. It’s been horrible for the past week- damp, muggy, buggy and hot.

The puppies don’t seem to like the heat either. They run outside and within a few minutes, resurface in the living room, their tongues lolling out of their mouths to show how hot they are. They run out again and run back in again quickly. It’s a constant routine. They’ve taken to hunting the evil bunny that steals my vegetables and flowers. It ate all my swiss chard, my corn and now my lone sunflower. I see it running through the yard at breakneck speed every so often, usually chased by two little dachshund puppies. They’ll probably never catch it but they’re certainly trying.

Of course, they don’t just hunt bunnies outside. They dig holes. Rory has become a champion digger. She’s quite amusing to watch because she has a bit of a temper. If the ground doesn’t give way to her furious attempts to burrow, she starts yipping and ‘yelling’ at the dirt, clearly upset. She stomps and whines at it and then tries to bite it. She’s awfully cute and I don’t mind because it means there’s going to be less of a hole if the ground doesn’t give way.

Fortunately, she does seem to have given up digging up my plants which is nice. Instead, she digs near them instead, sometimes accidentally flattening them. If she isn’t the one to sit on them, Sookie is. She likes to watch her sister try to dig a hole. I now have several squished squash plants from Sookies’s observations.

I’m trying to train them to dig weeds which is a losing battle. We’ve had so much rain that the grass and weeds are growing way faster than I can keep up. The weeds are the worst. No matter how many I pull up, there’s ten ready to replace them. I’m trying but I’m losing. Some of them are quite pretty but others are mean little invasive things that try to choke my actual plants.

Nevertheless, summer officially starts in just a few days. It now means that I’ve made it through an entire year of seasons in my house since I moved in during summer of last year. The summer is the hardest because of the heat. It’s hard to not put the air conditioning on because otherwise, it’s just miserable. Winter was hard because of the snow but I didn’t mind the shoveling and I love snow so no complaints there. Autumn was nice with an unexpected Indian summer tucked in there. Then there was spring…that’s one of my favourite seasons and it felt like it barely got a chance to stand up between Winter and Summer before Summer kicked it out of the way and tried to take over. I’m hoping Spring wins back a little and can inflict some cooler days on the calendared days of summer but we’ll have to see.

In the meantime, I’ll take today’s lesser humidity and sunshiny day as a sign that Spring is still trying to win. Even though it’s hot, it could be way worse. Besides, today there was ice-cream to cool things down.

Ice-cream makes everything good. Having the office to ourselves makes it even better. Sometimes, I actually like my job.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Random Researching...

It’s quiet in the office this week. While I think it’s quite lovely to have the place to ourselves while the other half of the staff is PowerPointing it up at our annual conference, it’s so quiet, it’s almost eerie.

There seem to be clusters of us in the building, spread apart by large gaps of emptiness. It’s not that bad, it’s just not what we’re used to. I think we’re going to try to liven things up over the next couple of days and have some Office Olympics- chair racing and the like. I suggested it to our receptionist who agreed it would be fun. She’s now organizing it. I don’t see why we shouldn’t. There’s no better way to boost morale than playing Paper Plate Discus Throwing with your coworkers.

Today, however, dragged on in its silence. While I have plenty of work to keep me busy, there is a part of me that wants to go back to its old ways of surfing the internet while I’m working. I broke myself of that habit since we’re always being watched. However, this week, I don’t think we’re being watched quite as much. I hope not, anyway. If so, my boss is going to discover that while legitimately surfing the net for information on the Black Widow software tool that will help me in my new job at work, I began to think about black widow spiders. This led me to Wikipedia where I discovered there are different types of black widows and not all the females eat their husbands after they’ve mated. Some of them are more poisonous than others. This made me want to know if they were less dangerous than the Australian Funnelweb spider so I had to Wikipedia funnel web spiders. While dangerous and potentially deadly, Funnelwebs are not the most venomous spider.

This of course, made me wonder what was the most venomous spider in the world. For the record, the answer is the Brazilian Wandering Spider.

Of course, I didn’t stop there. I had to know, aside from this spider, what was the most venomous creature in the world. The answer is the Box Jellyfish. The jellyfish is followed by the King Cobra and then, of all things, the Marbled Cone snail. Yes, I said snail…not snake.

This was an epiphany to me. I had no idea snails could be deadly. I always loved snails. This particularly deadly creature lives in warm salt water environments. There is no anti-venom. So far, 30 people have been killed by these snails, at least these are the recorded death.

I personally find the idea of a toxic snail somewhat less intimidating than a snake or a jellyfish. Further down the list of venomous creatures is the poison dart frog which is rather cute and very psychedelic-looking. Even though it’s a pretty frog, if I knew it was toxic, I’d believe it. I’d also be a little worried because frogs can hop quickly and, theoretically, chase you.

That sort of puts a bit of a damper on the Marbled Cone Snail, doesn’t it? I mean, seriously, unless you’re barefoot in a pool of warm salt-water, it’s not exactly an intimidating threat.

I can’t help but picture an imaginary gathering of delegates who represent the World’s Most Venomous Creatures. They’d sit in a circle and compare stats and rankings. How would you think the snail would feel? It’s venom might be so powerful it can kill 20 humans but…well…it’s a snail. That’d be a little like choking to death on a gummi bear- horrible but not an easy story to tell without having the urge to bite back an inappropriate surge of laughter.

Anyways, this is all because I was doing my job and researching software the way I’m supposed to be. On a normal week, I’d probably think about looking up more info on black widow spiders and I might do that but I’d never have the courage to go all the way through my mental process and actually find out that the Box Jellyfish is to be feared above all other creatures. Although the stonefish is a pretty cruel sea dwelling creature too. That thing is not only ugly but it’s very dangerous.

I did all this today. I did manage to get some work done but it was rather hard just because my mind isn’t quite on my job. I had a three day weekend and my brain would still like me to think it was the weekend. Personally, I’d like to think it was still the weekend but, alas, reality calls.

I’m hoping tomorrow will be better and I’ll be less distracting. Of course, it is going to be this quiet again. Hmm….I’ll have to find something else to research.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Oh, Those Summer Nights....

It's back to work tomorrow for me after a nice long weekend. I'm currently watching three boys, probably around age nine, wheel their bicycles down the street, candy in hand, chatting casually as they stroll. For them, it's summer. There's no school tomorrow and even though they probably have to be in at a certain time, chances are that tomorrow they'll wake up and have another lazy summer day.

I miss those days. When I was in England as a child, our summer holidays were only six weeks long but that seemed like an eternity when it started. I remember waking up, the dew on the grass, not having to do anything resembling a scheduled activity. If my mum didn't have anything planned for us, I'd either spend the day reading or, if I felt like being social, I'd go around a friends and we'd while away the day doing very little of any consequence.

We lived on a crescent street which meant it was basically an open ended semi-circle. In the evenings during the summer holidays, all the kids who lived close by would gather on the communal grass outside the houses and we'd play games like Red Rover or clockworks or "It" (which is what we called 'tag' in England). Sometimes, we'd play cricket or football (aka soccer) or we'd make up games of our own. Since the summer evenings in England are much longer than they are here, it would sometimes be almost 10 p.m before it got fully dark but most of the time we were all summoned in by our respective parents just as the sun started to go down and the shadows grew longer.

Those were great days, full of ease and freedom. There were a core group of kids who'd play in the evenings- I was usually one of them along with my older brother- but other kids would join us when they were allowed. Some would also live on our street, others would be our friends from other streets. Regardless of who played, it was, as so often it seems to be when reflecting on childhood, an idyllic time.

Seeing those boys wheeling their bikes takes me back to those times. The cool of the night would be falling as we'd be going to bed. When I was too young to really play games on the street, I'd have to be in bed by 8:30 p.m. and some nights, it was still fully daylight out which made it very hard to sleep.

Nowadays, even when the days are long as they are now, the freedom that came with youth has vanished a little. As an adult, I get to make my own choices about bedtime as well as more important choices such as: Do I dare try to wire my own ceiling fan or should I wait for my dad? (answer: wait for dad). I get to choose my own meals and clothes and pretty much everything in my life. I have freedom over my life but it's not the same type of freedom found in those lazy summer evenings where sometimes all we'd do is lie on our backs and look up at the clouds to see what we could make out in their billowy forms.

I still do that on occasion although it's harder now. For one thing, I have to worry about if the grass is too long to lie on and, if it is, I have to mow it. Also, I have two puppies that can't resist a face dive if they seem me lying down within reach. I still look up at the clouds and I still can find shapes but it's not the same as lying on an English patch of grass, head to head with my friends and trying to out-cloud one another.

In some ways, I do envy those boys outside with their bikes. It would be nice to have the summer off without commitment until school starts creeping its way back into their consciousness at the beginning of August.

But in other ways, I can't help but feel glad that I'm through the adolescent years ahead of those boys and living my life the way I want. It's a tradeoff, I supposed- the granted freedom of youth vs. the earned freedom of adulthood. Being an adult is not a bad thing at all.

Of course, it doesn't mean I wouldn't say no to a summer vacation.

Happy Wednesday!

Puppy Wake-Up Calls...

The rough things about puppies that even on days off, I find myself up and awake by 7:30 a.m. Take this morning, for example. Having a friend in town to visit, I took today off from work to spend time with her. Not getting up on a Monday morning is always a luxury. Except...I am up.

Granted, I did get to sleep in past my normal weekday wake-up-time of 6:03 a.m. But I was awoken by a furious licking on the ear at 6:13 a.m. because Rory needed to go. I got up, took them outside then shepherded them back to bed, hoping to steal a little more sleep. I got about 30 minutes before Rory decided that was enough and started nipping at my toes under the covers.

You might ask why I don't let them out and go back to bed. Well, I've tried this but it results in them disappearing outside for a while and then, when they realize they're 'alone' in the house, they start yipping and trying to find me. Since I have a guest, I try to keep the noise to a minimum. Hence...here I am at 7:45 a.m.

It would help if we'd gone to bed earlier. However, last night was one of those nights where we just hung out watching silliness on TV and got sucked in to something silly.

Last night's something silly was poodle grooming. Yes, you read that right. There was a show on The Learning Channel about a poodle grooming contest. Have you ever seen what people do to their poodles? They basically decide what the poodle is going to look like and then they dye and trim the poodle to match their design. Last night, there was a buffalo, a lion, a roller derby poodle and a camel. The owners dye them every colour imaginable and then on the day of the contest, the poor multi-coloured creatures stand there in front of an audience while they're shaved, cut and groomed to ridiculous proportions.

I admit, the poodles looked pretty interesting after they were groomed. I mean, that's some commitment right there. What I was amazed at is that the poodles didn't seem to mind. They seriously must be the most patient and docile dogs on the planet. They stood there, amiably letting their owners prod and pull them. It was pretty amazing. Given that Rory and Sookie hate being bathed, I can't imagine even thinking about grooming them. Then again, aside from sticking a hot dog bun on them, there's really not much you can do to groom a dachshund...thankfully.
We also watched the Tony Awards last night since Green Day's American Idiot was nominated and I wanted to see if it was as bad as I feared. It turned out it's not...bad, per se. It's just not what I associate with Green Day. I'd rather just watch the band sing than a bunch of mugging 'slackers'. Also, given that the American Idiot character on the album is an apathetic slacker, those kids representing him with their choreography sure do have a lot of energy.

Aside from the 'bad' TV, it's been a fun weekend. We saw "The A-Team" yesterday since we both were fans of the terrible '80's TV show in our youth. I have to say, it was a lot of fun. It wasn't cheesy the way the '80's show was but rather tongue-in-cheek about its own ridiculousness and there's something quite entertaining about that. It's not on a par with, say, Jane Austen but sometimes you need a little mindless escape or, in the case of "The A-Team" a complete mindless escape.

Today, we're planning on just staying local since she flies home tonight. We didn't manage to get the household stuff done for which I'd enlisted her help orginally. We did get the broken ceiling fan off the ceiling but the wiring was far more complex than we felt equipped to handle so I'm waiting for my dad- my household hero- to come down and help since he nicely offered. Also, we decided that the kitchen faucet was not going to be easy to I have to wait on that too.

This means my Thursday hootenanny might be cancelled. With no kitchen light or fan and water that squirts from the sink if a cloth is not wrapped around the joint, I'm not sure entertaining is a good idea. I'll be sad but I'm hoping we can do a happy hour instead or something instead since we should do something to celebrate, uh, I mean recognize the fact that we didn't go to the conference at work.
Which is good because otherwise, it would mean today, I'd be on my way to the conference, the idea of being forced to smile and be social for 3 days, non-stop weighing heavily on my shoulders. Instead, we're going to go to Costco, hang out and play with puppies.

I'd say I got a fair deal in the end, wouldn't you?

Happy Monday!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

One of those Evenings...

This has officially been one of those evenings." I'd say it had been one of those days but work wasn't so bad even though we had to sit through more practice demonstrations, one of which was for one of the products I work on daily and didn't exactly need to see a demo of it. It was done by my coworker who usually does all the demos for this piece of software. I could gripe about how I do a great deal of work on the software but she gets the credit but I don't feel like it. Besides, I had a good old whine and a moan to my lovely mother and I feel better now.

Anyway, enough griping about work. I came home with a checklist of things to do since my good friend is coming in tomorrow from L.A. to stay for a long weekend. I needed to mow, do some cleaning, do some laundry and, somewhere in there, make dinner and spend time with the pups.

Well, I did manage to get the mowing done although I had a scary black-smoke incident after I accidentally ran over another tree root. The end of my garden is filled with these from the big old trees that were fairly recently chopped down before I moved in. It makes mowing a nightmare because when the grass is long, it's hard to see the roots and I only know they're there by the big old clunk of my mower, the scary whine it emits and the black smoke that pours out. Fortunately, it was a minor black-smoke incident and I was able to keep mowing.

It was a hot night for mowing. I didn't realize how hot it was and by the time I came inside after finishing, I was drenched with sweat and I had that alarming fuzzy-head feeling and ringing in the ears that comes with getting overheated. I quickly sat down and drank a lot of water and then took a cool shower.

It all went well until after I'd made dinner and started cleaning. My kitchen faucet has been leaking for a while from a crack. Tonight, I must have hit the faucet the wrong way by banging it accidentally with a plate as I lifted it up to put on the draining rack and, clang!, my tap bent the wrong way and water began to seep out. I nervously turned it on to see how bad it was and instantly, water began to seep out of the crack, turning into a gush and flooding the back of my sink and the countertop.

I was horrified. This past week, I went to turn on the light on my kitchen ceiling fan by pulling the light cord and it came off in my hand. Since it's an old fan, the only thing to do is replace it because the pull cord was really, really broken. This is the same fan that almost knocked me unconscious after moving into my house by having the dome fall down and shatter into a thousand pieces, barely missing my head by a foot.

Unfortunately, since the fan was on in the kitchen when I went to attempt to pull the light cord, this now means I have no light though I have a fan. It sucks not having a proper light in the kitchen. I'm limited to a small one above my leaking sink and the one in the nearby hall.

Now I have a badly squirting faucet. I have to replace that as well as my fan. Since I was still a little het up and crotchety from mowing the lawn in the heat, I am ashamed to admit, I had a minor meltdown and called my dad. He wasn't available so I ended up having another whine, moan and meltdown on my poor mother.

I hate meltdowns. They catch you off guard and make you feel very silly afterwards. Fortunately, I do have to say that I have two of the sweetest puppies in the world. When they heard me getting upset, they ran in to find me and then proceeded to give me a ton of puppy kisses. There's nothing better than two adorable furry puppies when you feel like you just want to lay on the floor and kick your legs and have a tantrum.

I didn't have a tantrum. I'm not sure I was every really prone to those. I'd have to ask my mother. I don't remember having many laying on the floor-kicking type of tantrums but it's entirely possible I did.

In the end, my dad ended up calling me back and helped me figure out how I might go about replacing the faucet. He's good like that. If all else fails, he's promised to come and help me. I felt better after that.

And then I tried to turn on my Dell Mini laptop to type this blog. First, I couldn't get Internet Explorer to come up. I only use IE because the silly little machine hasn't enough memory to let me install Chrome or Firefox. I tried to fix it but it froze. I rebooted and then discovered that my user profile has been lost and now I have to try to find a way to get it to let me open up windows.

So, I'm now sitting at my desktop. Except my monitor is doing this strange thing where it's flickering and changing colours which is NOT a good thing and makes me a little worried. I have a horrible feeling that's dying or it's going to pop or something. I certainly hope not but given the evening I'm having, I would not be surprised.

I think the only solution for this type of evening is to pour a glass of wine, finish watching "Top Chef Masters" on the DVR and then go to bed and hope tomorrow's better. At the very least, having my friend come and stay is something to look forward to. Also, since she's terribly handy and logical, I know she'll help me figure out this faucet thing. And the ceiling fan thing. I'd feel bad about asking her but she volunteered. Hopefully between the two of us, we'll figure it out.

But for now, I think I ought not to touch anything. It's been that kind of night.

Happy Friday. And have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Hot, Sweaty Evening...

It's starting to get muggy again here. I woke up to a thunderstorm with heavy rain. This posed a problem because the puppies do not like to go out in the rain but, when they first wake up, they really need to go out, even when it's raining. When I opened the door so we could go out, the rain was pouring so hard, it was bounching out of the rapidly-filling puddles. The puppies looked at me like I was mental and had a very easily-decipherable, "You want us to go out? In that? Who are YOU kidding?" look on their faces.

They sat under the shelter with me for a while. I can't say I'd blame them. Since I wasn't willing to go out and get soaked, it did seem a little unfair that I wanted them to do so. In the end, I went inside and fetched my cute pink and white striped umbrella and escorted them outside so they didn't get too wet. Yes, I know...my puppies are spoiled.

As the day progressed, the rain tapered off, leaving behind a thick, sultry atmosphere. By the time I got home from work, the mosquitoes were buzzing and the air was humid and damp. It wasn't the type of evening you want to be outside but, stupid me, I decided that it would be a good night to garden/landscape.

As I said last night, I had chopped down the ugly pampas grass that was taking over my front lawn. As I chopped it back, I'd noticed that it had originally been planted in a rather nice flowerbed that had once been mulched with a pretty red wood. The soil beneath the pampas grass was fine and fertile. Thus I decided that I didn't want the pampas grass at all and I wanted to plant flowers that had colour instead of having a ten-foot tall bunch of grass that would cut you if you happened to slide your fingers along one of its' blades. Trust me, pampas grass is sharp. It's worse than getting a paper cut; my granny has some in her garden and I remember very well how my brother and I would dare each other to slide a blade between our finger and see who would bleed first.

And yes, I know, with that statement, I'm revealing the fact that I've been a little dark in my nature, even from my youth.

Anyhow, tonight, I decided to dig up the pampas grass and begin my landscaping efforts. I stopped at Lowes and bought some perennials and a couple of butterfly bushes which meant that I had no excuse for procrastination. I also bought some insect-killer. The nice lady who used to own my house had splurged and had these neato tube things inserted into the foundation. They're designed for Terminex to come out and spray their bug-killer into the spikes so that the house stays bug-free. However, I think Terminex charges way too much so I stopped and bought my own bug-killer. I spent a large part of the evening spraying my spray into the little spiky things. I hope it gets rid of the bugs. Unfortunatly, it doesn't get rid of people who bug you (ha ha, see what I did there?). Case in point, Larry the Potential Serial Killer was just drivin' by on his way to the Aldi supermarket when he happened to see me 'out and about' so, naturally, he had to stop and say hi. He also stopped to chat. He'd noticed I'd chopped the pampas grass last night and wanted to tell me he'd noticed. This would have been sweet if he wasn't quite so creepy. Also, even though I was clearly hot, sweaty and grumpy, he just wanted to tell me all about his butterfly bushes because he'd noticed the ones I purchased at Lowes, just waiting to be planted. He finally left. I continuted to spray bug spray in the spike things in my house's foundation.

By the time I was done spraying the spiky things, I was hot and sweaty. Nevertheless, I decided I still wanted to try to get rid of the pampas grass.

Silly me.

My pampas grass bed consisted of what turned out to be four individual clumps. Clump #1 came out with little argument. I grew cocky.

Then I tried to dig up clumb #2. My cockiness vanished. The blasted thing would NOT come up for anything. I used my fork, I used my trowel, I used my garden shears and still, the roots remained firmly embedded in the earth. After much sweat, growning, pulling and heaving, the bloody things came up, arguing all the way.

Clump #3 was worse. I dug, I stabbed, I unearthed and I pulled. The stupid grass wouldn't budge. In the humidty, I was sweaty. I actually had beads of sweat on my forehead before I was done. Given that I sweat only under extreme circumstances, this was unusual. I felt crotchety. I had a film of dirt on my skin that felt disgusting. Yet, even with all this, I felt like I had to finish. I had to win over the pampas grass.

Clump #3 was hard work. There's no doubt about it. I finally made progress. Pampas grass tends to grow with its' base forming a circle. I managed to dislodge a third of clump #3's circle. Then I got stuck. I dug. I pulled. I used every tool I had...nothing. I grew angry and frustrated. I wanted to rip the pampas grass up by its' roots and show it no mercy.

Naturally, this was the time for me to meet a new neighbour.

Yes. I met Mike. Mike lives next door to Larry. Mike had seen that I'd cut down my pampas grass yesterday but he didn't want to knock on my door to tell me how he felt about that. Tonight, as he walked by on his evening soujourn, Mike saw me outside. He proceeded to tell me how "people would pay a lot of money for the grass" I was ripping up. I realized he was hinting. I told him that the grass was all his. Truth be told, I was quite excited at his obvious desire to take my discarded pampas grass. This meant I didn't have to find anywhere to store the grass I'd dug up.

Unfortunately, Mike was a chatter. Even though I was covered in sweat, bright red from the heat and covered with dirt, he didn't seen phased. He just kept on chatting. He was delighted I would give him my grass and so, finally, he excused himself so that he could get his van to pick up the discarded pampas grass that I had intended to throw away.

I kept on digging. I made no progress. I got sweatier. I took a water break. Clump #3 was just evil. I kept attempting to get to the roots but no luck. I grew crankier and more irritable. Then Mike returned.

Mike did not care that I was sweaty, in a bad mood and clearly not very chatty. He just kept on talking. While I welcome the chance to meet new neighbours, there are some times when you just want to be a hermit so that you don't have to talk to anyone. This was one of those nights for me. For Mike, it was a free-for-all of chat.

The thing is, he seemed nice. Yet when he came, I was sweaty, hot and irritable. I wanted to get rid of the pampas grass but I also wanted to go inside to the puppies who were yipping with indignation that I'd dared leave them alone.

He finally took his grass, chatted some more and left. No matter how hard I tried, I never did manage to dig up clump #3. I got a little of it dug up but, alas, it looks like I couldn't competely lose it. Also, I broke my fork. This does not make me happy as the fork was a house-warming gift from my sister. I'm wondering if superglue will work though I suspect not.

Still, even with my lack of progress on clump #3, it's an improvement. However, I can honestly say that I'll be surprised if it's calmly accepted by the neighbours. As I was digging tonight, I recieved two "why are you doing that?!!! responses and two, "wow, you're brave" responses.

I honestly have to say, I don't really care about the neighbours. They're nice but I've started to realize, finally, that this is MY house. I can do what I like. That's the whole point of being a homeowner...right?

Of course, Mike (he of the pampas grass adoptee program) did introduce me to a new concept: That of the RENTERS.

Apparently, our neighbourhood is divided by the BUYERS and the RENTERS. The BUYERS are people like me, people who bought their house and owned it. The RENTERS are the lowlifes who just...rent their home.

To me, there's little distinction. To Mike, there was a lot. He's been around our 'hood longer than many people. Thus, he can tell the difference between a RENTER and a BUYER. Apparently, RENTERS don't care about the property and constantly need to mow their lawn. My non-Dog Whisperer neighbours are RENTERS. I did not know this. Mike took one look at their lawn and declared them so and who am I to argue?

I don't care, honestly. I do care that Mike scavenged my discarded pampas grass in order to plant it along his fence which, apparently, borders that of The Dog Whisperer. Mike gets tired of the constant yapping. He hates it. He's hoping that the pampas grass will privide some privacy. I wish him luck with that although, based on my Dog Whisperer experiences, I'm not going to hold my breath.

Mike, however, seemed rather annoyed with the Dog Whisperer and his yappy beasts because apparently, he can't go out into his yard without being barked at either. I'm hoping he gets REALLY annoyed and calls the police. As awful as it sounds, I think that would be good for the Dog Whisperer and Wife of Dog Whisperer. They've stopped hearing their dogs' desperate cries for attention and begun, instead, to stay indoors and get wrapped up in something else.

Nevetheless, I now know another neighbour. I do wish he'd have come by when I was decent and not hot and stinky. Still...he got his pampas grass and, in doing so, I managed to minimalize my refuse by donating my plants. I wish Mike luck with his endeavors.

In the meantime, I think, for now, I'm done yanking up pampas grass. At least until it grows back.

I'm really hoping it doesn't.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Days of Unaccomplishment

Today was a muddle at work. It was one of those days where you go into work with a mental list of things you plan to accomplish and as soon as you settle in for the day, you realize that it's not going to be that kind of day.

I ended up getting little bits of everything done but no overall progress, if that makes any sense at all. By the time I left this evening, I felt like I hadn't done much but the day went so fast, I must have done something.

Of course, part of my day was spent watching 'practice' presentations from those who are going to be presenting at our conference next week. One of them was good, one of them was awful. I might be a little bias because the awful one was for the software that I've always presented in the past and feel like it's my jurisdiction. Our staff member who is going to present it is one of the few people in our company I really don't like mostly because he's horribly arrogant and condescending. Case in point: Last time I had to do a co-presentation for one of our awful staff in-services, he made a point of asking my co-presenter and me questions and then, as I started to answer, he'd completely ignore me and direct the question at my boss.

Anyway, his presentation today was definitely a little...bad. It was clear that he was winging it instead of actually having prepared and, as is his habit, if he noticed something he didn't like, he didn't accept it as part of the software the developers have spent so long building and I've spent so many hours documenting and testing. Instead, he demands that changes be made because he doesn't like it and it's not the same as the old version.

That's my biggest problem with him, I think. He's been working with the software for a very long time and he's used to the old version. We've built a new version and even though I think it's good to improve things, he's such a stick-in-the-mud, creature of habit that he doesn't stop and see if he likes the change. Instead, he says, "it's not the same. We need to fix it."

He does that a lot. I tried to watch his presentation through unjaded eyes but, alas, I failed. It also doesn't help that he thinks he's a good presenter and he's actually extremely boring and he mumbles. I ended up planning my dinner (salad, sausages on the grill, corn on the cob and mushrooms) and coming up with new ideas for my novel. It was actually quite a productive session.

We have more practice presentations to sit through tomorrow. I'd like to say it'll be a nice diversion but at the moment, I've actually got a project to work on that makes me happy and I would rather spend the time working on it. I get to learn all about ethical hacking and try to find ways to break our software. I think I already accidentally did last week when I was dabbling with some of the techniques I was reading about. Oops.

Still, the day did go fast and when I came home to the puppies, it didn't seem so long since I'd seen them since lunch whereas some days it seems like forever. I decided to spend the evening making up for my lack of accomplishment at work so I cut down the pampas grass that's been growing steadily taller and more unruly as the days pass. I ended up hacking it down completely. I'm not a fan of it and it makes my garden look messy. I'd like to dig it up and plant a tree and shrubs there.

It took a while but the grass is no more. I'm a wee bit worried about how the neighbours will take it- it seems to be the way they identify where I live: "You're the one with that tall grass plant in your yard." Now I have no tall grass plant. Also, the lady across the road was super good friends with the former owner of my house and she was the one who gave her the grass to plant in the first place. I'm not a huge fan of this neighbour anyway. At first, she seemed nice but I've realized she's not terribly impressed by me. After the first time I met her and she insisted on showing me around her immaculate garden and then insisting she saw what I'd done with mine last year, I think I disappointed her. At the time she came over, I'd only been living here a couple of months and though I'd started on the garden, it wasn't exactly my top priority. I didn't see her again after that until just after I got Sookie and Rory. She's the only person who has met them that didn't say, 'aw, how cute.'

In fact, I could see the disapproval in her eyes as she said, "they're going to tear up your yard." Last time I saw her, she said to me, 'if you need help with that tall grass in your front yard, let me know." If it had been anyone else, I would have been pleased at the offer. However, I know it was her way of saying, "your grass is tall and ugly and you need to fix it." I know this because she's what I call a 'jellyfish' who slams you when you're least expecting it. I noticed that when I first got to know her.

Thus, I managed to do something with the tall grass. I probably should just have trimmed it as she'd thought I would but, nope, I decided that this is my house and there's no point in keeping something the neighbour gave the former owner just because I'd feel bad. I won't mind if a little of it grows back but it was just out of control.

So, I did manage to accomplish something today which feels better. I'm hoping tomorrow at work will be a more productive day but I have a feeling that as the conference draws ever closer, things are going to get even more frantic and even those of us not attending will be expected to drop everything to assist.

But, in the end, it means next week should be super quiet at work since over half our staff will be gone. I intend to make the most of that time. I might even get to be productive.

Happy Wednesday and thanks for reading!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Peaceful Mondays....

It was a pretty day out there today. Sadly, the humidity is already creeping back in but we did manage to enjoy a rather nice Monday. It was rather nice at work too; next week is our annual conference and because of budgetary issues, not everyone from our company gets to go this year. Naturally, I'm one of the no-goers. I'm not terribly sad about it because it involves a lot of work as well as getting up in front of an audience and talking about our products. I actually don't mind the actual talking in front of an audience thing anymore. It's more that I don't really have a whole lot of enthuiasm for our products and it's hard to get excited when talking about them.

Still, it means there's a buzz of activity in the air in the office and those of us not going feel a little like we're on the outside looking in. Even with all the work the attendees have to do, they still get a trip out of the office for a week with meals and a nice hotel. In the meantime, us lowly left-behinders get to keep everything going. The only problem is that we sort of need the attendees to help keep things going and, at the moment, they're all far too busy to stop and help us do our jobs. They're all abuzz and the rest of us quietly sit at our desks, working peacefully until one of the slightly panicked attendees asks us for help on their presentation. That seems a little fundamentally wrong; we help with that part of the work as well and yet we still don't get to go.

I'm actually not bitter. It means I don't have to leave the pups for a week. It means my good friend can come and stay this weekend. It means next week, I can throw my first bash or, as my evite stated, a hootenanny at my house. I invited all the conference rejectees and we'll just have a happy hour with snacks and puppies. The puppies won't be the snacks of course because that would be silly.

Of course, throwing a hootenanny means I have to make sure my house is spiffed up. I'm currently working on the garden. I'm starting to lose my veggies in the weeds which grow very, very fast. I weeded tonight and planted some donations from my mother's lovely garden only to discover that the bunny I so enjoyed seeing in my garden not so long ago had eaten half of my plantings.

Yes, the stupid rabbit ate my corn which was coming through. It also ate every last piece of my swiss chard which I was very excited to plant. To eat my veggies, it sat on the ones around them so in addition to losing my chard and corn to the teeth of the bunny, I now have several flat zucchini plants and tomato plants.

I'm not happy with the bunny. I was quite excited about the corn. I was going to be a good Midwestern transplant and grow the traditional vegetable of this area. Apparently, I'll be buying my corn at the farmers market again. Sigh.

Still, even with the weeds, my garden is starting to take shape. Thanks to my mum's generosity, I have flowers, herbs and vegetables all slowly starting to choke out the weeds and make my garden look nice. I even managed to weed my front garden. As I was doing so, I met a new neighbour, Bob. I know his name is Bob because he introduced himself and, not wanting to run into another Possibly Joe situation, I said it to myself several times so as not to forget it. He seems nice. He's retired from a university where he was a public safety officer. He's lived in my 'hood for eight years and he's recently taken up golf. He sucks at golf, he said. He seemed very nice. He also doesn't seem the type to get up close and personal when he chats or use human hair on his plants. Perhaps we will begin a new walking route where we walk by Bob's house instead of Larry's in future. We shall see.

All in all, it's been a fairly nice Monday. Tomorrow it's supposed to rain and the humidity is supposed to build again. Still, as long as we have days like this in between the mugginess, it's bearable.

Of course, ask me how I feel in a week.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Driving in a Storm...

As I always say on a Sunday evening, I cannot believe the weekend is already winding down. It always goes by so very quickly.

This weekend started out very sticky and steamy. The humidity was sky high on Friday and you couldn't move without one of those nasty, horrid little mosquitoes zooming in on you and sucking your blood away. As a result, I am covered with horrible little bumps that won't stop itching.

Then the storms came. I was going to leave for my parents' house on Friday night but because I worked late and didn't have the heart to put the puppies back in the crate for the 2.5 hour drive, I decided to get up very early the next day and head out then. We did so, leaving at 5:30 a.m.

This is slightly insane, I know. Yet the truth is, the puppies have made me become a morning person. I won't say I'm happy and chipper first thing in the morning because I don't think that's in my genetic makeup. However, we tend to go to bed early and get up early. I like this because it's fun to be productive at 9 a.m. on a weekend and then come home and have the rest of the day to do what we like. I've discovered that the majority of people prefer to NOT be productive first thing in the morning and so grocery shopping, shopping in general and running other errands tends to take far less time than it would later in the day.

So, even though getting up at 5:00 a.m. is a bit difficult, even for me, once we were up, we were up and it was rather nice to hit the road and have it mostly to ourselves for the whole drive.

Although, I was amazed to see that, around 7 a.m., how many people are up, around and walking their dogs.

We did mostly well on our drive except for the huge storm we hit about 20 minutes away from my parents'. It was the type of storm you can see in the distance and you know there's no way to avoid. The sky ahead is almost black, the road is soaked with the rain that fell earlier because the storm is moving away from you but you're rapidly catching up. Then when you do catch up, you drive into an eerie place. It's so dark, automatically programmed headlights come on because they think it's night. The ground is wet but no rain is falling. Lightning dances up ahead, forking to the ground but so quick that you really only see it as it remains as an image on your retina for a few seconds.

The whole time, you know that you're going to hit a storm but you don't know when. Your body tenses and your hands clench the steering wheel and you wonder if you should stop.

But just as you think that, the storm shows itself. The rain pours down so heavily that the window wipers, at their fastest speed, still can't keep up. The noise of the rain is so loud, you can't hear the audiobook you're listening to. It bounces off the car, a vicious drum. The road is a mass of raindrops, puddles and running water and you debate whether you should pull over but then you realize you can't because you can't actually see the side of the road. You can, however, make out the white line in the middle of the road and as long as you stay on your side of that, you know you'll be fine.

It's scary, no matter how much you might love storms. The thunder crashes, competing with the rain's constant pounding. The lightning flickers and you wonder if it's likely your car will get hit as it suddenly seems close.

Then, just as you feel so tense, you don't think you can take it, you've driven through. The sky is suddenly a strange shade of grey-white, the dark of the storm behind you.

Yes, we hit one of those on the way to my parents'. It was scary and the puppies whined. I would have liked to have joined them but I had to focus on the road. We made it through.

Scary as it was, I'm always in awe of a good storm. It's amazing to watch and witness. It's terrifying but amazing.

The whole day was made up of storms yesterday, each one bringing a new wave of humidity so that by nightfall, it was hard to feel like you could breathe fully.

Finally, in the night, the wind crept up and a final storm came and with it, it brought relief. This morning, we got up and the wind was strong, the clouds fluffy. The ones overhead were white and fluffy but the edge of the storm still loomed in the distance, still grey. But it felt amazing. The sun shone down on the type of morning that only a good storm can bring. The grass seemed much greener, the water in my parents' ponds richer and everything just looked new.

I love days like this. They're beautiful and they almost make up for the humidity with their freshness and cleanness.

This evening, when I got home, we actually went outside and enjoyed the evening air for the first time in a while. There's no humidity. There are, naturally, still mosquitoes but I don't think they're likely to vanish. I get bitten here, I got bitten at my parents. I think it's the penalty for being outside in the garden. I'm tempted to get one of those fan thingies that have Off repellent built in but I'm not sure if they really work or they're a device designed to make you feel like a twit when caught in public, rather like a fanny pack.

Still, even with the mosquitoes, it's a beautiful evening. The puppies are outside, digging new holes in the garden. Monday morning doesn't seem so far away which is a shame but, for now, there's still a few hours left to enjoy the weekend and I intend to do so. I hope you all had good weekends.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sounds of Suburbia...

Oh, the sounds of a surburban neighbourhood. Birds chirping, music pumping, squirrels squawking and...

...oh yes, barking. I'm currently listening to an orchestra of dog yips. Well, orchestra is a wee bit poetic. Not unless it's one of those orchestras where someone plays the saw, someone else plays a pickle-tub drum and someone else is attempting to play the trumpet without knowing how. Needless to say, it's a horrible sound.

Yes, the Dog Whisperer's beasts are at it again. Sadly, this week, we don't even get a break at lunchtime. Apparently, because Son of Dog Whisperer is done with school, it seems that his parents are rotating schedules to stay home. This means the beasts aren't crated and are free to run out at lunch and yip at my puppies who HAVE been crated and merely want to do their business and have a short time outside before I have to re-crate them.

Still, there are other sounds I can hear. The squirrels, for example. They do, in fact, squawk. Well, actually, it's more like they click. It's a peculiar thing but they go up in the tree and click at us, sounding like they're trying to spit. It's a weird sound but it happens rather a lot. Also, the squirrels seem to not be as agile as you'd expect squirrels to be. We've now witnessed several of them trying to play trapeze in the trees but wildly swinging instead, missing the branches and falling several levels below before finally getting a grip. It makes a weird rustling sound, sort of like you'd see on Lost when the smoke monster was approaching. If you didn't watch Lost, you're probably not sure what that sounds like. It sounds like trees rustling.

Naturally, there's the sound of lawnmowers too. I mowed tonight too. It was a bad night to pick. It's humid again and I think another storm is on the way. This is the kind of humidity that leaves you sweating and lightheaded after you've only mowed a little. Still, the lawn is mowed for now. It grows so quickly, I'm constantly amazed. The grass and the weeds grow quickly, my plants don't. I'm not sure how that works.

The puppies are ok with the lawnmower. They're still terrified of the hoover but they don't mind the mower. They like to lie down in my path and then scurry away as I approach. They've taken to digging holes in the lawn now. I think it's because they can smell bunny. The rabbit who used to live under my toolshed rather likes to taunt my puppies. He lays down right where Rory's favourite hole-digging spot is and waits until the puppies come out. Then he lets them get a couple of feet away and then he runs. He's fast and I don't think the puppies will ever catch him. I'm also amazed at how he seems to get through a solid fence with no holes. That baffles me at my parents' house too. They have rabbits and they're always running through the fence but I can never figure out how they get out.

Nevertheless, until the bunny starts eating my swiss chard or squash, he's welcome. He's an ok sort of pest. I'm constantly thankful that we only have furry squirrels and bunnies to worry about. My good friend, Ms. P, lives in Texas and has a dog named Burt who is part dachshund, part chihuahua. He's a lovely little thing. He got bit by a copperhead snake two days ago. He's going to be ok thanks to a trip to the animal ER but I can only imagine how scary it was. We have some rather large worms in our backyard but, thankfully, no snakes. I'm hoping Burt makes a speedy recovery.

Ah, there, finally, the dogs next door have stopped yipping. And yes, they WERE barking the entire time I've been blogging. Welcome to our life. I've given up on the privacy fence. Given that the dogs bark at any noise or movement, I have a feeling it wouldn't do very much anyway. On the plus side, Larry-the-potential-serial-killer has volunteered to raise a secret neighbourhood campaign to get the police involved. I'm not sure I'm ready for such drastic action but it's nice to have an ally. The thing is, I like the Dog Whisperer's wife and Son of Dog Whisperer is a little odd but he seems like a nice kid. I want to like the Dog Whisperer himself but he's sort of, uh, well...hard to like. I think it's his blatant ignoring of his yippy dogs combined with his desperate attempts to lure my dogs to the fence. Sookie barks at him. She doesn't bark at anyone else like that- not Possibly-Joe, not Larry-the-potential-serial-killer or Wife of Dog Whisperer. It's just him. Then again, sometimes I'd like to bark at him so I can't blame her.

If you can't beat them, join them...right?

Happy Friday!

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