Monday, February 28, 2011

Tornado Sirens and Souffles

As is so often the case on a Monday, this day and me had a case of…the Mondays.

I don’t think it could be avoided. I stayed up too late last night watching the Oscars. I was pleased with the winners since I really liked “The Kings Speech.” I wasn’t so happy with the Oscars overall because they were just…boring. They were shorter than they have been in a while, I think but it also felt like a lot of stuff was missing. Also, the two hosts were not…very good. I like both Anne Hathaway and James Franco as actors. As Oscar hosts, they’re just…well, they should stick to acting. Anyway, long story short is that I should have gone to bed earlier.

Then, this morning at 5:00 a.m. we had rather a massive thunderstorm which woke me up. I was just drifting back to sleep when suddenly the tornado alarms started blaring. Needless to say, this scared me since I’m not used to hearing tornado alarms. My parents live too far out in the country to hear the alarms in their town and when I lived in L.A. there were no sirens because theoretically, there aren’t tornadoes in Los Angeles.

So, when they started blaring, I sat bolt upright. Rory joined me, clearly quite alarmed. Sookie…well, that dachshund can apparently sleep through anything. She sleepily lifted up her head as if to say, “WHAT IS THAT NOISE. I AM SLEEPING!”, groaned and went back to sleep. Rory and I, however, stayed up. Since I was unsure if the tornado sirens meant there was an actual tornado or just that it was possible we could have a tornado, I turned on the TV. There was…nothing on there about a tornado. I waited to see if one of those alert thingies would scroll across the screen but it didn’t. Thus, I decided that I’d just be alert. If I heard the sound of a freight train which, apparently, is how a tornado sounds, I’d take the pups and go into our spare bathroom which is the only room in the house without an outside wall. Since I live in a town that was built on a water spring, there are no basements. Thus, an interior room is the best I’m going to be able to do.

Fortunately, the sirens stopped. I figured that was a good sign that we were out of danger. I went to bed with a rather scared little pup named Rory curled up tightly next to me. It’s nice to have doggie company during scary wake-up calls. It makes me feel a little less alone.

Naturally, I had trouble sleeping. I dreamed I called in sick. When my alarm went off, I thought about actually calling in sick since I was tired and had a slight headache. As is my usual habit, I talked myself out of it because I couldn’t justify doing so without actually being sick. I get the guilts, you see. The guilts tend to fade a little when I’m in a job I don’t like (like my last one) but I actually DO like my current job so I feel guilty if I call in sick when I’m really ok.

I think I should have called in sick. Everyone had a case of the Mondays. Our usually chipper branch administrator was crabby, everyone was quiet and there was nothing really happening. The phone barely rang, I didn’t get many emails and I just felt like I wasn’t getting anything done.

It didn’t help that it was rainy and dreary outside and the sun didn’t appear. It was definitely a stay-in type of day.

Still, as is the nice thing about Mondays, they only last 24 hours, the same as every other day. Thus, the 8+ hours I spend at work is over and the rest of Monday is reserved for more relaxing, unproductive things like watching “Gossip Girl” (please don’t judge me), making dinner (Thai Chicken soup) and snuggling with puppies. Some might argue that making dinner is productive but since cooking is a hobby for me, it’s really just relaxing so I consider that unproductive… in a sense. I get to eat it though which is the productive part.

I find cooking is a good way to ward off a case of the Mondays. Food is soothing and food is good. I don’t do anything too daring on a Monday in the kitchen but usually try to plan something comforting and fun to make. I enjoy chopping and mixing ingredients so Mondays tend to be soup days a lot.

I usually save my daring cooking projects for weekends. Hence, that’s when I made gnocchi, when I make pasta and when I attempt things like soufflés. I did that yesterday. Souffles are on my ‘bucket list’ of things to try in the kitchen in my lifetime. I’ve never made a soufflé so I made a cheese one yesterday. I have to say, I think it turned out well. I say “think” because, well, I don’t think I’ve actually ever had a soufflé so I had no basis for comparison. It did, however, rise a lot. It also had a nice slightly goey cheesy middle that blended well with the crust on the top. It also tasted rather nice but I’ve discovered when you put gruyere cheese in anything, it tends to taste nice.

But tonight I won’t be attempting a soufflé. Given that it’s a Monday, chances are it would not be a good day to attempt it. Mondays are the days when things like soufflés run amuck and don’t turn out right. Sorry, Monday but it’s just a fact….I’m afraid you’re the unpopular kid in school. It doesn’t help when you begin with an alarming wake-up call either.

Ah well, if Mondays weren’t Mondays, where would we be? The universe would be out of whack and things would be a little weird. There’s always got to be one day in the week that’s “that” day and, for me, it tends to be Mondays.

Here’s hoping Tuesday goes a little better. No tornado sirens, please!
Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Unplanned Weekends.....

As I always say, weekends fly by too quickly. It's always nice when they arrive and they lay ahead, wide open for the taking.

Then Sunday evening arrives and you realize that you didn't do half the things you planned and it's almost time to get ready to go back to work.

Still, I'm not complaining. Regardless of their swift progression, I love weekends. I find they're nicest when you don't have anything really planned and just play it by ear.

My weekend was just like that. I had no idea what I was going to do. I'd originally planned on taking my car to the dealership to get a long-overdue service. Unfortunately, when you schedule an appointment at my dealership, you need to not only have your car's VIN on hand but also the license plate number. By the time I managed to have these bits of info on hand to schedule my appointment, the dealership no longer had any appointment times available. Alas, such is life. My car will have to wait a couple more weeks.

Instead, I decided to explore a new grocery store near Dayton, Ohio. This may sound a little weird but I adore grocery stores and find them as fun as some people find amusement parks. Thus, I'd heard a lot about Dorothy Lane Markets which is a local Dayton chain. The reviews I read compared it favourably to Jungle Jims and if you've ever read my blog, you'll know I'm a devotee of Jungle Jim's.

So I made the 35 minute soujourn. Well, while I enjoyed my trip to the market, I have to say at the risk of offending many a Daytonian but, well, it's really not THAT much different to Whole Foods. Sure, it had some more personal touches but as far as the selection of everything went, both the prices and merchandise were rather similar. Still, it was definitely not a wasted journey. I found some crumpets as well as some spices I needed. It was fun to explore the store. If I'm ever in the area again, I'd definitely go back but I'm not so sure I'd make a special trip there.

Still, being in that area gave me an excuse to go to a Vietnamese restaurant that was nearby. I developed a love for Vietnamese pho when I lived in L.A. It's been hard to find in this area but I finally found some on Saturday. It was like getting to hang out with an old friend and I enjoyed every minute.

The rest of my weekend was spent cleaning my house. The few days of spring sunshine we've had made me realize how dusty my house was. I hate dusting but I decided to do some dusting. This somehow led to a reorganization/inventory of my spice cupboard and an organizing of my dresser drawers. It's nice to be organized, even if it takes a while.

And, of course, there were the walks with the pups. Due to some expected sunshine and warmth today, we took a spontanous walk to the park. We had fun although I realized that, once again, in the nature vs. nurture argument debate with dogs, nature wins every time. You see, dachshunds were bred to go down rabbit holes and other underground dwelling spots for prey. Thus, they have long, narrow bodies. You'd think that two dogs like Sookie and Rory who've been raised in suburbia, sleep in a human bed and eat high end dog food would have no clue about this part of their nature.

They do. It's intrinsic. Every time they find anything remotely like a hole be it a sewer tunnel, drainage ditch or general...hole...they try to burrow into it. Today, I almost lost Rory as she ascended quite quickly under a footbridge before I could tug her leash backwards. She wasn't happy at being deterred on her hunt. I, however, was happy to deter her.

We still managed to have a lovely walk. The park was busy with other dog-walkers, runners and strollers. We managed to get our exercise and enjoy the sun before the clouds arrived again and the sun disappeared. Now it's raining outside and the puppies have fallen asleep, exhausted, on the couch.

For the rest of my Sunday, I plan on watching the Oscars. I've seen almost all of the nominated Best Picture films. My favourite was "The Kings Speech." I greatly disliked "True Grit." I know. I'm one of the few who did. However, just like I said with "There Will Be Blood," I prefer my movies with less mumbling, less long periods of silence and...more plot. Also, I couldn't understand half of what Jeff Bridges said because he mumbled.

Still, who knows what will win? This time tomorrow, we'll know. For now, I'll wait and see. Chances are it'll much at the end of the Oscars which means I'll be up late tonight because even though I'll tell myself I should wait and find out tomorrow, I won't.

Nevertheless, even if the Oscars go on longer than they should, it's a nice way to end the weekend, particularly a weekend in which I had nothing planned and had a lovely time anyway.

It's nice to play it by ear sometimes. You never know what will happen.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Planning Ahead For Springtime

So I think Spring has gone away again. Here in my area of the Midwest, this just means lots and lots of heavy rain and grey, gloomy days. Further north where my poor parents live, they’re getting predictions of snow. Not just a snow shower either but significant snowfall.

I actually feel bad for them. I think I’ve crossed that line from my love of winter to seeing the tempting light of spring at the end of the tunnel. Snow is lovely but it’s much lovelier in January and the months before.

Still, as I keep reminding my mother who tends to be a little like Eeyore at the mere mention of the S-N-O-W word, even with this latest onslaught of wintery precipitation it can’t stick around indefinitely. Unlike the snow falls we get in December and January which stick around and just make the world into a frozen blanket of whiteness, the snow that falls in February has an end date…that of the oncoming spring. While the cold temperatures can continue through April, they’ll be interspersed with warmer, balmy days that let the daffodils bloom, the tulips bud and the lilac to appear from nothing.

That doesn’t seem to help my mum though. I can almost hear her curling up in the fetal position whenever I talk to her and mention the snow. It’s just a fact of life, one I’ve come to accept over the years.

The thing I like about spring is the newness of everything. What lay dormant and grey in winter is suddenly budding with green. Even now with the reappearance of wintry weather, my garden shows the first sign of new life. My grass is greening up. The roses have the teeniest little buds of new leaves that have appeared on the brittle brown stalks of last year. The daffodil stalks have poked their heads out of the earth ready to respond to the sun the next time it appears.

For me, I like that spring gives me the chance to try new things. This year is going to be the time when I actually turn my outdated, senior-citizen decorated family room into a Tuscan villa room of relaxation. I was going to attempt this last autumn and went so far as to buy a paint sample in the colour I thought I wanted. Silly me, however, went to Lowes. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson there. I’d like to state, for the record, that despite the fact that Lowes states they can match any paint colour if they have a sample, they actually can’t.

I took in a pretty orange paint chip that I’d actually found at Home Depot. Since Home Depot isn’t as close to my house, I figured I’d see how Lowe’s did at matching it, just for a sample. Well, they did horrible. The colour was more of a peach than an orange colour. I dabbled quite a large spot on the wall. I subsequently hated it. I’ve decided not to go with orange but more of a yellow colour. I’ll be going to Home Depot for my paint.

I just have to wait a little longer. My family room isn’t heated. I have one of those portable oil heaters in there which helps but it’s not warm enough to stay out there for any length of time.

So, I’ll have to wait until it’s spring and it gets a little warmer.

I also want to embrace newness in the garden. This year, I plan to try to banish Mr. Bunny from my vegetable patch and prevent him and his squirrel buddies from devouring the seedlings of my vegetables before they become more than a seedling. I’m not quite sure how to do this but I’ll figure it out.

I have some landscaping I’d like to do and some planting.

I also want to steam clean my carpets which bear the reminders of the winter in the form of puppy prints and other debris from wet and frozen days.

I’d also like to slowly start to redo my bathroom but I recognize that this might be beyond my skill level. I’m also a little afraid because this is my only full bathroom with a shower and if I start to redo it, I won’t have a shower for a while. I’m fond of taking showers, The idea of standing outside with a hose does not appeal.

I’d also like to do the inevitable spring cleaning that comes when the sun begins to shine and the dust and cobwebs that have been slightly easy to ignore as they’ve arrived slowly over the winter suddenly become more prominent.

So, you see, I have lots of things I want to do this spring. It’s just too soon and I need to be more patient. Spring will come when its ready and it’s not quite time yet. I should let winter finish having her say and embrace the excuse of being able to stay inside and semi-hibernate. That’s one of my favourite parts of winter.

It’s just that when you start seeing the first fresh asparagus in the stores, the first blooming tulips and other signs of spring, you can’t help but want to jump the gun a little. It’s inevitable.

But, for now, I’ll just sit back, enjoy the heavy thump of the rain and let my mind start planning. It may not be time to actually do anything yet but it never hurts to plan.

Maybe it’s not so bad that winter is back for another spell. Given my list of projects, planning might take a while.

Ah well, I have to start somewhere.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dog Days of Winter

Well, the good news is that I got out of bed on the correct side today. This means that I was in asignificantly less crabby mood. Also, the sun did actually shine today and having just a little brightness on a February day is definitely a bonus.

Of course, even in a good mood, I managed to lose my dogs today for ten minutes and that definitely made the day a little less bright.

How did I lose my dogs, you ask? Well, let me tell you.

Since I have the luxury of working six minutes away from my office (unless the traffic lights don’t cooperate), I also have the luxury of being able to run home midday to release the hounds. On a normalday, this is also when I take my lunch. On days when I have a work obligation at lunch, it’s a ten minute break so the pups can go outside and do their doggie business.

Today was a normal day. Since the sun was shining, I expected the pups to spend more time outsidethan they do when it’s grey and cold. Thus, as usual, I made my lunch- a Lean Gourmet frozen entrée today- and sat down to eat it.

At this point, the pups usually appear to see what I am eating and try to look cute so I give them some.This rarely works. However, I do give them a couple of treats since, well, they’re spoiled.

Today, they didn’t come in. I wasn’t too worried since sometimes, they get distracted by their bunny hunts and stay outside. Yet when they didn’t appear for a while, I got worried. I went to hunt them down.

They weren’t in the back garden. I looked in their normal hiding places- wondering if Rory had managed to bypass the Bunny Security Protocol I’ve used to block up access to the ground underneath the toolshed but I couldn’t see an opening. Nor could I see Rory and Sookie.

I began to get worried. I ran inside to see if they’d crept in when I wasn’t looking. They weren’t there.

I opened the front door, terrified that they’d found a way out and they were in the street.


By this time, I was in full panic mode. I ran outside again, calling them. My tone of voice was more frantic now and I began to feel that nauseated lump in my chest that you only get when you’re really scared.

I called for Sookie and Rory, my imagination going wild. There had a been a coyote in our neighbourhood- had it got the girls? Had someone stolen them? Where were they?
Then, as I turned to go into the house, prepared to walk the neighbourhood to look for them, there they both were, tails wagging, unscathed.

Obviously, I was so relieved that all I could do was scoop them up to make sure they were ok and they were really there. Then after the relief had subsided, the anger kicked in. Where had they been? I KNOW they weren’t in the yard the whole time. I walked the perimeter of the fence, looking for their escape route. They watched me, curiously. I brought them in, shut the back door and finished my lunch.

Then, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to relax until I knew where they’d been, I let them outsideagain. This time I watched them. Rory made her usual beeline for the toolshed under which the infamous Bunny resides. Sookie followed. I stayed back. Then I noticed Sookie scampering towards one of the gates.

Lo and behold, before I knew it, she’d ducked out of it and was now loose in the front garden. Rory followed. I ran to the gate only to discover that it was unlatched and open just enough that two dachshunds could easily slip out but not enough so you’d notice if you glanced at it.
I got the girls to come back in and quickly fastened the gate shut. The girls were upset. I was relieved.

I’m very glad they’re safe. I’m also very, very glad that they came when I called them. I think this provesI might be a terrible mother because I got so upset about the whole thing. However, the relief at seeing them again was indescribable.

Now that the worry has passed, I’m angry. My gates have been puppy-proofed and haven’t been opened since the summer. The only time I ever use them is when I mow the lawn and have to wheel the mower through. Even when I get the dustbins ready for the rubbish pickup on Wednesday nights, I lift the trash cans over the gate to avoid opening them.

So, my question is how did that gate get opened? It’s a very stiff latch that doesn’t blow open. It hadto have been opened by a human being. It’s one one of those horseshoe shaped ones that wraps horizontally around the vertical post. Thus, it takes some effort to lift it up. My water meter and my electric meter are not behind the gates, they’re on the sides of the house.

Thus, someone opened the gate and didn’t close it. This worries me, I admit. I don’t know who it was. I don’t like the idea of someone on my property, opening my gate never mind the fact that they left it open.

All I can say is that I’m so glad that the puppies got distracted by the sent of bunny in the front gardenand didn’t venture any further than that so that they heard me call and came running. I’ll also say that I plan on a quick stop at Lowe’s tonight to buy some chain and a padlock so that it doesn’t happen again.

It’s probably a little dramatic but I care about my dogs and I don’t want to lose them again.

Even for the ten minutes I did lose them, it was terrifying.

What a relief to have them home!

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wrong Side of Bed Days

Today was one of those days where I feel like I got out of bed on the wrong side.

It’s not that I didn’t get enough sleep. The pups and I went to bed at a very decent hour. Granted, we had a 4:00 a.m. bathroom break but we went back to bed right afterwards.

So, I don’t really know why I woke up in a crotchety mood. I just did. It continued through most of the day . At work, I felt disgruntled because I’d found a few good candidates for positions only to have them rejected by my account managers. Meanwhile, my fellow recruiter is swimming in successes and I’m feeling like I’m just sucking at my job lately.

Of course, I’m not really sucking at my job. At least, I don’t think so. It’s hard at the moment because we don’t have any really good job openings. Most of what we have are the same as what most of the other major recruiting firms have and there’s only so many people in Cincinnati who are qualified. Also, since the jobs are still open and no one’s been able to fill them for months, that tells you just about how hard they are to fill.

Every now and again, I get an email at work from someone applying for one of our jobs. Thus, I get quite excited. Then I open the email and discover that a) It’s from someone who clearly just needed to apply for a job for unemployment purposes or b) It’s from a candidate who didn’t read the posting closely to see that it’s a permanent position which requires a U.S. Citizen or Green Card holder.

Thus, I’m feeling cranky. It’s a grey and gloomy day out there which doesn’t help. Stupid me naively believed Mr. Weatherman who promised we’d see some sun today. Since he’s been wrong almost every day for the past few weeks, you’d think I’d have learned that he’s wrong. But no, I listen and plan my day/wardrobe around the type of day he SAYS it will be rather that the type of day it actually is.

I think everyone’s entitled to be in a crotchety mood once in a while. The only stipulation is that they have to acknowledge that they’re a foul-tempered beast. I know exactly when I’m feeling foul-tempered and thus, I warn people. I think that’s only fair. There are people who swear up and down they’re not in a bad mood but proceed to snap at you and bite your head off whenever you talk to them. Thus, they’re in denial about their mood. Knowing is half the battle, as G.I. Joe said.

Also, I find that if I acknowledge I’m in a bad mood, it makes me feel less like I’m in a bad mood. I usually allow myself license to have a bit of a whine and a moan about silly things that annoy me. I usually keep my moaning to myself although I do occasionally unleash it on my dear and patient mother who listens, says, “oh dear” in the appropriate place and sympathizes. This is one of the myriad of reasons I love my mother.

However, sometimes, I just like to complain about things that she wouldn’t really ‘get’. This is when my lucky dogs get to hear their ‘mother’ talking a lot. I know to them, it sounds like this: “Blah blah human sounds blah blah hey, did she just say treat? Blah blah blah. Something that sounded like walk. Blah.”

To me, it may be about something as silly as the TV show “Glee” which for reasons unknown to me, I continue to watch weekly even though it’s gone from being fun and clever to being preachy, non-sensical and completely over-the-top. Or it may be about Facebook which I used to enjoy because it was a good way to check and see if all was well with family/friends and see what they were up to at any given time. Now it seems to have become a series of political statements, links to Facebook apps that “show you what your first ever Facebook status was” or “Click Here to See Who Unfriended You Lately!” or news articles about political statements. It’s not that I don’t care per se but, really, I don’t care. There, I said it. It’s one thing if it’s something personal to my friends- i.e. they have a success. For example, my friend, LadyAero just won a song writing contest. Now that’s the type of thing I WANT to read.

However, I don’t really want to read how Obama screwed up or read cryptic status updates that need to be translated by an “Inside Joke Handbook.” Darn it, Facebook used to be WAY more fun!

Either way, it’s actually quite nice to have something so…unimportant to moan about. I do recognize that I’m quite lucky when all I really have to complain about are superficial things and that my bad mood is just a result of getting out of bed on the wrong side especially when I have friends who are dealing with much more serious stuff. I’m sure if I wanted to find something more serious to moan about, I could but that’s not nearly as therapeutic as unleashing my pent up irritation on Facebook, Glee or Justin Bieber. I still don’t get the fuss with The Bieber but, then again, I’m not ten years old. Perhaps I’m not meant to get it.

Still, even though I got out of the wrong side of bed today, tomorrow is another day. Hopefully things at work will pick up and I won’t be quite so crotchety. Also, perhaps Mr. Weatherman will be right.

Though that... I very much doubt.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wet and Soggy Days

It’s a very wet and cold day out there today. From the time I got up to right now, it has done nothing but rain steadily.

It’s the type of rain that his heavily against the windows and steams them up. It’s soothing to hear it and see it dance off the puddles as it cascades down.

It’s also the type of rain that makes you want to go home, make soup for dinner and curl up with two puppies. Of course, the problem with it being wet means that the puppies are also wet. They don’t like to spend too much time outside when it’s raining this hard. It doesn’t help that our back yard floods a lot when we get heavy rain. The storm drain in my neighbour’s garden overflows constantly which means my lovely vegetable garden floods in the summer, drowning my produce. I’ve complained about it to the city but so far, nothing has been done. In winter, however, it just means that we have rather large oceans of puddles in the grass as well as in the mud patches that will eventually evolve back into a vegetable garden.

It’s interesting to watch the puppies. They definitely don’t like to get their feet wet so they avoid the massive puddles. Rory, Mistress of Mayhem, is surprisingly dainty for such a mischief-making canine. She steps cautiously out, looking for the driest spots and seems to tiptoe to where she’s not going to get too wet. Sookie, on the other hand, just stomps out and then stops and looks about as if to say, “dude! What’s all this wet stuff?”

Needless to say, they don’t spend much time outside during heavy rain. It means we can’t take our evening walk either. This means I have bored pups on my hands. When Sookie is bored, she sleeps. When Rory is bored she lies on the floor, glaring at me and Sookie and, finally, begins to “arrrff” at us. This means, “Entertain me!”

It’s hard to entertain a dog for too long. I went to Petsmart on Sunday to see if I could find a toy for them that involved a little bit of a challenge. I ended up with something called an Occupi. This is a rubber device in which you can insert little treats, insert big treats or coat with some type of edible gel. I bypassed the gel because there were only two flavours- Chicken Liverr, which sounded revolting and Peanut butter which neither of the girls particularly like. I did buy the little treats to go inside. Unfortunately, the toy must be smarter than me because there’s nothing to hold them in there. Theoretically, the dog is supposed to roll it and try to get the tiny treats out through the little holes in the side. However, I’ve found that since there’s no stopper on the bottom, they pretty much cascade right out. This is rather silly. Thus, I’ve taken to inserting a healthy treat that’s long and skinny into the toy. It’s hard to get out. Also, it’s fun to watch Rory get a bit stroppy when she can’t get to it. She’ll figure it out eventually but, for now, she’s puzzled. Puzzled Rory=occupied Rory.

For me, I don’t need rubber toys. I just need a good book or something nice on TV with which I can curl up. The book is the best option because it means I can listen to the drum of the raindrops on the window. There’s nothing nicer than that on a chilly night unless it’s lying in bed and hearing the rain.

It’s supposed to get colder later tonight which means the rain will turn to snow. As much as I love snow, I’m hoping it doesn’t stick around. I’m ready for spring now. Target is starting to get their garden décor and supplies in and I’m already planning my landscaping attempts.

However, if it does stick around, it won’t bother me either. After all, there’s not too many weeks left where snow is an option and I’ll miss it when it goes so a few more encounters might not be a bad thing. Either way, snow or rain, I’m happy. It means I get to stay inside and enjoy the warmth and comfort of a cozy home with two (wet) puppies beside me.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Homemade Gnocchi on a Home Made Weekend....

As I always say, weekends fly by far too quickly.

Tomorrow is, technically, a holiday. Unfortunately, it's not one that my company gives so I will be at work as usual. I'd complain but the alternative would be my old job- one that made me miserable and sad and bitter.

So, I'll take a two day weekend from a job I love vs. a three day weekend from a job I despised.

Besides, it's not like I haven't had a good weekend.

Like most unplanned weekends, this one was nice. Saturday was a gorgeous day. I got up early hoping to run my errands- a trip to Jungle Jim's and Costco- early. This is my usual trick- not only do I get things done early but also, I normally beat the crowds.

Not so much this weekend. It turned out that I wasn't the only one who thought an early trip to Jungle Jim's was in order. It seemed that half of Cincinnati had the same idea. Still, I did get my shopping done early even if I did have to navigate around people who were gawking in the aisles at the vast supply of hot sauces and the plethora of international ingredients available.

I shouldn't complain. I always have to remind myself that I used to be one of those gawkers before I became a 'local'. Of course, I don't usually expect so many gawkers at 9 a.m. but, well, I got my shopping done and that's what counts.

After the required shopping was done, I decided that the pups and I should take advantage of the beautiful day by taking a jaunt over to the park. We had a long, leisurely walk though the woods that lasted a couple of hours. I think by the time the day was done, the pups and I must have walked at least four miles together and that doesn't count my separate trip to Jungle Jim's which feels like a mile unto itself.

Needless to say, we were all a little tired by the evening. We took it easy and just enjoyed the quiet time.

Sunday turned out to be the opposite of Saturday. We woke to the sound of pouring rain. When I finally got out of bed due the fact that Sookie had become a living scarf on my neck and Rory a hat that was licking my ear in a desperate attempt to get me to let her outside to do her business, the temperature had dropped a little and there were big fat fluffy snowflakes mixed with the rain.

That didn't last for long and the rain ended up staying as rain but for most of the day, the pups and I were confined inside except for their odd trip outside and our twice-daily walks around the neighbourhood which were cold, damp and chilly but good exercise nonetheless.

I filled my day by watching some TV, doing my taxes, making some gnocchi and doing some laundry. That's a good Sunday, if you ask me. I was going to go to H&R Block for my taxes like I did last year but it turned out that their online site is less expensive and much easier. Thus, I'm now done with my taxes. It's a nice feeling. I'm not sure about the gnocchi yet. It looks like gnocchi but I've yet to cook it.

Gnocchi is one of those things that I see almost every week on Top Chef. I've had premade gnocchi and restaurant gnocchi but never made my own. I decided to give it a go. It was slightly easier than pasta but working with potatoes tends to leave a bit of a starchy, gluey coating on everything. My next experiment I'm hoping will be a souffle. I've decided to make it my mission in life to cook everything that appeals at least once. Hence, the gnocchi. If I attempt a souffle, I'll let you know.

Now, Sunday is wrapping up. I have two drowsy puppies on the sofa next to me. My beef short ribs to go with my gnocchi are simmering in the crockpot and I'm ready to finish up this nice and relaxing weekend by curling up with the pups, watching some TV and enjoying the fact that on this damp, cold February night, we don't have to go anywhere. Even if I do have to work tomorrow, it doesn't get much better than that.

As I always say, it's the simple things in life that make you happy. It's nice to be happy.

Happy President's Day to those that have it off and Happy Monday to those that don't!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Concrete Pig and Other Walking Adventures

This has felt like quite a long week. I don’t know if it’s because the weather has been so much like spring and I’m feeling more trapped indoors than usual or it has, in fact, been a long week.

Still it’s Friday tomorrow and that means that the reset button will be pushed and work won’t begin again for two days. There are far worse things in life than a weekend.

So far, my weekend is wide open. It’s supposed to be beautiful on Saturday and rainy on Sunday. Of course, today’s forecast was for it to be near 70 degrees and sunny when, in actually, the thermometer is lurking right around the 58 degree mark and it’s gloomy and rainy looking out there.

I’m hoping it doesn’t rain. It’s been nice to be able to walk the pups around the neighbourhood each night when I get home from work. For a while, we seem to have been the lone walkers and though we might run into the odd neighbour or squirrel, there haven’t been many dogs and their owners walking. Last night, that changed. The weather was lovely so it must have seemed like a good walking opportunity for everyone else in the neighbourhood. Thus our normally peaceful soujourn around the ‘hood turned into a case of “dodge the other dogs.”

With Rory, that’s easy. She’s a peaceful little soul, happy to sniff the path on which we walk, wag her tail at squirrels and to check and make sure I’m still behind her at certain intervals. Sookie, it’s not so easy. Sookie has become far more worried about other dogs over the winter. Before, she used to get a little worried as we passed other dogs on leashes. Now, she gets very upset and barks and tries to chase them.

It’s a little stressful as a dog owner. I know the correct response is not to yank her back on the leash but, instead, condition her to look at me instead of at the other dogs. However, we’re at the beginning of that training so at the moment, she’s going a little ballistic.

I’m noticing that a lot of dog owners and their canines are crossing the street before they pass us so we don’t have an up-close-and-personal growling and lunging encounter. I choose not to take this personally because I’m noticing that the other dogs are going just as crazy as Sookie when they see not only my girls but any other dogs in the neighbourhood. This does not even include the dogs that are home as we walk by.

My neighbourhood can only be described as “dog friendly.” For every three houses, there seems to be at least one dog. We have come to recognize the house where the giant, angry German shephards live and we’ve come to expect that they’ll hurl themselves against the fence to try to get out to chase us. We know where our friend, the beagle with the mournful bark, lives. We say hi to him because he’s sweet and friendly and we can tell he’s just saying hello when he barks. The big black dog of unknown parentage is another story. He is mean. He can also jump rather high. I’m a little worried about him because his growl and bark is definitely very hostile. Sookie, who somehow is ok with the confined dogs, does not like him. As soon as he hurls himself at the gate as though to jump over and get us, she looks up at me, her ears go flat and she growls in defense.

We walk by that house quickly.

We’ve also taken to walking quickly by the house with the concrete pig. It’s a cute lawn statue that’s not quite life-sized but still a substantially sized pig. Sookie does not like this pig. She has decided that Concrete Pig is her enemy. She is not afraid of Concrete Pig but she does try to go after it the same way she does with the broom when I’m sweeping the floor at home. That is to say, she bravely lunges at it when it’s not moving but as soon as I start sweeping, she runs away in fear. With Concrete Pig, she edges close to it and barks her “I’m not afraid of you,” woof but if I so much as say “Oink!” in response, she’s backed away quicker than if you can say, well, “Oink.”

The one lady I will always make sure we don’t encounter too closely is the lady who, at first, I thought was a professional dog walker. She has five large dogs and one small one that she somehow manages to guide around the block quite regularly. It turns out…they’re all hers. They’re rather angry dogs and I’ve seen her get pulled along behind them as they spot some prey down the street. Thus, we make sure to make her walk easier by getting out of her way as well as making it less terrifying for the pups.

Mostly, our neighbourhood dogs are friendly so it’s not a huge problem. I’d just like to be the pet parent with the well-behaved dogs, not the growler who doesn’t play well with others.

In short, the warm weather is nice but it’s made our solitary walks a little less solitary. I suppose with the warmer weather, that’s to be expected. It’s just something we’ll have to get used to. I’m hoping Sookie gets used to the company too. She tends to be ok when we go over the park after we’ve passed by a certain number of dogs. She settles down. Thus, I know it’s possible. It’s just going to take a little training, that’s all.

Sometimes, I really wish I lived next door to the real Dog Whisperer. That would make life easy. Also, it’d make life much quieter because it would mean there weren’t three yappy dogs next door.

Still, if life was that easy, it wouldn’t be much fun…would it?

It might be a little quieter though!
Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spring Awakening

Spring is usurping Winter’s territory.

Two weeks ago, our lawns were covered with piles of shoveled snow. The roads were matte white with salt. It was too cold to stay outside for long, even when wearing a thick winter coat and gloves.

Today, it was over sixty degrees, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. Even the most stubborn piles of snow and ice relented and disappeared. I caught sight of the first green of daffodils poking up in my back garden.

I will say, it’s a nice change. I could actually wear something other than bulky sweaters and trousers to work today. My coat was a lighter one than usual. The puppies are spending much longer outside than they have been and are having the best time playing and tussling in the balmy air.

It’s no surprise or secret that I love snow. I blog about it far too often but I do love it. However, I also love Spring. I love the creeping greenness that begins to take over the gloom and spreads until the lawns are a carpet of new grass and the trees are a haze of new leaves. Normally, Spring doesn’t get her due- Summer greedily pushes in with her humidity, dry earth and heat. All of a sudden, it’s not longer time to plant but, instead, time to maintain things that you’ve planted. The weeding you intended to do isn’t finished but it’s too hot outside to do much for long periods. So, despite my love of Winter and her snowy magic, I’m quite happy if Spring starts a little earlier this year. I’ve been very fortunate and have had lots of snowy days this winter. If I didn’t get any more, I’d still be satisfied.

I know it’s too early to celebrate the change of the seasons. Calendar-wise, Spring isn’t due for another month. However, these days, whether it’s global warming or just the evolution of the earth, the seasons seem a little different these days. Summer seems a little hotter. Winter doesn’t seem quite so cold.

When we first moved to the States, I remember days when the wind chill was 30 below and they cancelled school because it was too cold to be exposed to the air. Now, it seems that it just doesn’t get that cold anymore. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still frigid but it lacks that Antarctic slap of cold that I remember. I know in England, their seasons have changed a little too. It used to stay mostly in the 70’s during the summer. Sometimes, it would climb into the ‘80’s but not frequently. When we’d go to the beach, we’d wear our swimming costumes with a towel over us as we shivered. The ocean was freezing but after a while, we adjusted and it started to feel warm. Yet when we weren’t swimming, we’d often be covered with goosepimples because it wasn’t really warm enough to be at the beach but, well, we wanted to be and it was summer and that’s what you did.

Now, for the past few summers, it’s been downright hot there. Last summer, our relatives were complaining of it being in the ‘90’s. There isn’t much air conditioning in England so I can only imagine how unbearable that felt. Winter too has evolved. We used to maybe get one or two snowfalls a year in the UK. Sometimes, it’d be deep enough to build a snowman but not terribly often. This year, they had a massive snow/ice storm that stranded people at airports, kept people stuck inside their homes and pretty much crippled the southern part of the country.

So, I think it’s true that the climate is evolving, at least in the evidence I see. Thus, following this logic, I think it might actually be ok that Spring is spreading her wings over our part of the world and making us forget the dreariness of winter. It’d be ok if she stayed, too. It would give us longer to plant and get our gardens ready and give us more flowers.

It’s easy to forget the dark days of winter when the world is blah and grey, there’s only cold and damp, no snow to make things seem even remotely magical when the sun is shining and you can throw your head back, soak up the sun and enjoy the warm breeze on your cheek.

Of course, despite the fact that I say it’s ok if Spring stays, the truth is that she’s still treading on Winter’s territory and, at any time, Winter can stand up and take control again. Granted, it would be the type of control that an ousted leader who is waiting to be replaced has but nevertheless, she has the right.

Still, for now, we have a taste of Spring and even if Winter edges her way back in, it’s going to lack the oomph that she had before because we now know that no matter what she throws at us, it’s only a short while before her time is up and she has to step back and let Spring have her say for good.

I, however, don’t mind if Spring borrows a few of Winter’s days. It’s a nice change and change can be a very good thing indeed.

Happy Thursday

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Nuisance of Airlines

It’s never easy to book a flight. I think airlines do it on purpose. On one hand, it’s nice that these days anyone can book a flight themselves with a credit card and access to the internet. Of course, it’s not good for the travel agents who have gone out of business because of this newfangled technology but for the rest of us, it’s nice.

For me, when I’m planning a trip for pleasure, part of the fun is the research. Once you make up your mind to go somewhere, checking out flights and prices becomes part of your daily routine. When you get the right deal, you book. It’s that easy.

Except…it’s never that easy, is it? In my case, my friend Saz and I have decided to go to New York this year. Before I moved to Los Angeles, Saz and I used to take trips to New York together in the spring and sometimes to L.A. in the Fall. Then I moved and life and finances got in the way. Now, we’ve decided it’s time to go back and celebrate our friendship in style.

So, I’ve been looking for plane tickets. There are some good deals available at the moment. The problem is, they’re not exactly what I’m looking for. Ideally, I’d like to fly from the airport near my parents’ house- Fort Wayne, Indiana. This means I could drop off the pups, stay overnight and then head out in the morning. Then when I fly home, I can pick up the pups and then head home with them. However, because they live near a smaller airport, not a major metropolitan one, this means flights are a lot more expensive.

This is not a surprise. It’s a common fact that major airport hubs have more options and therefore ticket prices to and from them are less expensive.

What is a surprise is that if I do fly Fort Wayne, I connect through Cincinnati.
Not so odd? Well, I live in Cincinnati.

So, naturally, my thinking is, “well, if it’s X dollars to fly from Fort Wayne through Cincy, it will be less to fly direct from Cincy…right? Because, clearly, there is a direct flight from Cincy.”

Silly, silly Captain Monkeypants! What am I thinking. It costs MORE to fly from Cincinnati than if I connect through this airport on my way to New York. Also, I can’t get on this flight because according to Orbitz, Travelocity and Delta’s website, there is NO direct flight at this time.
Hmm….colour me confused. I suppose it’s to do with hubs and traffic and airport taxes and all that. I don’t know. If you ask me, since I’d be using more airline fuel to hop from Fort Wayne to Cincy to New York, I’d assume I should have to pay less than if I just fly from Cincinnati to New York.

Also, I’d be utilizing less manpower if I just took one plane.

Also, it just seems silly to drive to my parents only to fly home and then catch another plane when I could save myself the bother and just drive to the Cincinnati airport.

Still, this doesn’t help with the issue of the puppies. I’m trying to now plan a trip so I can drop the pups off, drive back home the same day, fly out the next morning and fly home with enough time to head up to my parents to pick up my fluffy canine bundles of joy. This is working out a lot less expensive. However, time-wise, airlines aren’t making it easy.

I know that airline ticket prices aren’t arbitrary. There’s a ‘prime time’ to travel and an ‘off-prime time’ to travel. What I don’t understand is that on the ticket prices I’m seeing, I can leave earlier in the day and get home at a reasonable time for a decent price. Or, I can pay a lot more, take the same flight but sit at a connecting airport for a couple of hours and then get home late at night.

It doesn’t make sense. Perhaps if I worked in the travel industry, it would make sense but…I don’t and it doesn’t. Why would I want to pay more to hang out at an airport only to get home later? I’m grateful that the option I’d prefer- nonstop- is cheaper at the moment but I’m still scratching my head as to the logic behind the ticket pricing.

It’s the same thing as baggage. I heard a story on the news that said some airlines would start charging for carry-on bags as well as checked luggage. I don’t understand that. I know airlines need money but, well, we all need money. We also need clothes and underwear when we travel. It’s almost like we’re being blackmailed to be allowed to have the basic necessities on a trip. “Hey, you- give us twenty bucks or you’re going to have to either wear the same underwear for your entire trip. Or you could buy a whole new wardrobe. Except then you’d have to leave it behind because we’re going to charge you to bring that home!” (insert evil villain laugh here).

I know that airlines need every penny that they can get. This is why they now charge for snacks. Also, this is why they squeeze in those extra rows of seats in Coach so that you feel like your elbows and your knees are one, why you feel like you can’t move for fear of accidentally elbowing your seatmate and why when you bring down your tray table, you have a moment where you are greatful that you aren’t any bigger than you are because otherwise, it would be resting on you and that would make your drink a little unstable.

They do have us hostage because there’s really no other convenient way to travel. In some countries, there are trains. In the U.S. there are trains in some places but not everywhere. It’s sporadic. Driving takes a while. Also, you can’t take a train or a car to most of the other continents so, pretty much, flying is our only option.

Still, I always look for the best deals. It’s just a delicate balance of the right deal from the right airport at the right time. It’s like a puzzle where, at any time, the pieces can shift and the prices can change. And they do. Constantly.

Have I mentioned that I think airlines like to make things difficult? Ah well, what fun would there be if everything was easy?

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Puppy Love on Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine’s Day. That’s pretty much the extent of my acknowledgment. It’s a day where there are lots of pink hearts, red roses and love in the air.

My two valentines are furry, black and have four legs. They can’t send a card nor send me flowers but in their own puppy way, they can tell me they love me. It can be as simple as the lifting of the blankets in the night and feeling the little warm body curl up next to mine so that when I wake up, there’s a puppy nose only inches from mine. It’s in the wagging tails and excited greetings I get when I get home at night. It’s sitting on the sofa on a cold winter night and having two dogs sleeping splayed on their backs, feet in the air and letting me know they trust me absolutely.

I’ve never been much of a Valentines girl. We never really did the card exchange in school in England the way that kids here in the States do it. We occasionally used to make heart cards for our mums and dads but that was it. When I got older, it was always whispering and giggling to see if anyone would get a Valentines card. There were maybe a couple of girls who did but that was about it.

In high school when I moved to the states, it was all about carnations. For $1, you could choose a white carnation (meaning friendship), a pink carnation (indicating someone liked you) or a red one to say that someone loved you. I got white ones. I think I even got a pink one once. That was exciting. Granted it was from my boyfriend at the time but it was still quite nice to get a carnation even if I didn’t like the boy much. College was nice because I did have a boyfriend for a couple of Valentines’ Days. He was generous and always got me roses or a CD or something he knew I’d like. But…that was it. I think I went through the embittered period of resenting the holiday because I didn’t have anyone to share it with. It was a Hallmark holiday, designed for people to spend money.

I don’t think like that anymore. I’m not sure when it happened. I think even last year, I was wistful and a little sad that, yet again, I didn’t have a real Valentine.

This year…I don’t really mind at all. It’s a nice holiday for those that celebrate it romantically. It’s also a nice holiday to just celebrate love in general. Granted, we shouldn’t need a holiday for that but, well, we have one. It’s just like when people say we shouldn’t have to wait until Christmas to give gifts. I agree with that which is why I, personally, accept gifts year-round. However, I also think it’s rather nice to have a day that’s slightly different from every other day, a day which is dedicated to something.

It’s like birthdays, really. Why choose to celebrate the day as a particular anniversary, to say, “I have been on this earth X years!?. Sure, that’s nice but we can do that every day, right? I mean, today, I can say, “Today, I have been on this planet for 36 years, 1 month and 4 days!” Of course, they don’t make cards for that. It’d take up a lot more room that “Happy 30th birthday!” wouldn’t it?

So, regardless of whether you think we need a holiday to celebrate love, we have one. It’s called Valentine’s Day. I know there’s that whole “Sweetest Day” thingy too but that one is completely made up by Hallmark and doesn’t really exist. It’s not even on the calendar. Most people don’t really know when that day is. I’m sure almost everyone knows that today is Valentine’s Day.

I’m not planning on doing much to commemorate the day. I’ll probably give the puppies a cuddle but I’d do that anyway. They don’t know the difference between today and any other day so, to them, it’s just business as usual. This means foraging in the garden for treasures, sniffing for bunnies and digging the odd hole in the ground which is finally starting to thaw. It also means squabbling about who gets to sit on my lap (if it’s Rory, this means Sookie will sit away from us, staring balefully at me as though I’ve wronged her. Whereas if Sookie gets to sit on my lap, Rory grabs a toy, starts grumbling at it and nipping it.)

But I can’t complain. It’s nice to be squabbled over, even if it is by my four legged friends. It makes me feel very loved and when you feel that way, who needs a card or flowers to prove it?

Happy Valentine’s Day! (And Happy Tuesday too!)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Preview of Spring

This weekend, here in Cincinnati, we had a preview of spring. As much as I love snow and the permitted indoorness of winter, I can't say I minded the preview at all.

It was in the 50's for the first time since, I think, November. By some climate's standards, that's not warm at all but for us Midwestern folk, after weeks of below zero temperatures, it felt balmy, warm and just plain wonderful.

I took advantage of the weather and made sure that the puppies and I went for as many long walks as possible. We took the one mile route around our neighbourhood twice on Saturday- once the regular way and the other in reverse.

Then, today, we went over to the park for the first time since the beginning of
November. We clearly weren't the only ones with the same idea because it was very busy with runners, walkers and dogs.

We had a lovely walk. The paved part of our walk was nice. The pups had the best time walking on the grass which, until this weekend, has mostly been hidden by snow.

It was actually interesting to see that the lakes and ponds in the park were still frozen over. Given the warmth of the day, it felt surreal to see a winterscape in an other wise springlike day. The boathouse was abandoned and the boats outside it were stuck solid in a bed of ice. I suppose I always thought that once winter fell upon the land, the days of going to the park was over. Being an indoor kind of Monkeypants, it never occurs to me that there are things to do outside in the frigid temperatures. Yet everywhere there were signs that activities had continued in the park during the icy times. The lakes had signs on them warning people to stay off the ice. There were places for 'designated ice activities.'. I suppose I should have known but it was still somewhat of a surprise.

It seems that people also continue to take their dogs to the park in the winter. I walked the pups outside when it was doable. I did think about taking them over to the park but it seemed a little daft in the snow and ice.

Yet, clearly, it wasn't daft to some people. The evidence of their winter activities was everywhere. Clearly, people don't feel the need to pick up after their dog when the weather isn't great.

Well, actually, in my experience at the park, it doesn't really matter about the weather. There are responsible dog owners who do clean up their dog's poop and then there are the ones who just don't care.

It's annoying. As disgusting as it is, dogs like to smell other dogs' poop. When there are mounds and mounds of it along a trail, it's a little irritating to constantly have to watch where Rory and Sookie are heading. I had to yank them back quite a few times. I also had to watch where I was stepping because it was all on the paved trail as well as on the grass.

I don't get it. I take several grocery bags every time I walk the pups. I use one as a 'glove' and one as a recepticle for the poop. Then, when it's done, I drop the bag in the nearest trashbin and use my handy dandy hand-sanitizer to clean my hands. It takes less than five minutes. The park even provides bags for dog owners to clean up after their animals. So why is it some people think it's ok to let their dog make a mess in a public area and then leave it?

Ok. Rant over. Once we were past the main part of the trail, we got into the more wooded area. I had expected it to be muddy but I hadn't considered that it'd still be snowy and icy. I should have realized because much of the trail was in the shade but in the giddiness of finally having a nice warm day, my brain hadn't considered that it was actually still winter.

Still, the puppies and I navigated the ice and mud quite well. The puppies, having four legs, managed better than me. I had to make them slow down a few times so I didn't slide on the ice. Fortunately, I never fell which was quite an accomplishment. The puppies had a field day exploring the mud and grass and smelling the smells of the winter.

By the time we were done, the pups looked like they'd been off-road trucking. They had a coat of mud all over them. They didn't seem to mind. By the time we made it back to the car, they were wet, muddy and covered with debris from the trail. Yet their tails were wagging and their eyes were bright.

We went for another walk this evening, just to appreciate the fact that the day wasn't yet over. Even though I'm certain winter will be back to reclaim her season a few more times, I think spring is definitely starting to let us know it's her time soon. I saw the first shoot of a daffodil as we walked this evening and the first teeny buds of spring on the trees.

No matter how much winter fights it, I have a feeling she will lose and before we know it, spring will have her hold. I don't know about you but I'm ready for it.

Although I wouldn't argue if we had one more snowfall first.

Hey, I can't help it. I love snow.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Delivery Envy

There’s something about a flower delivery in the office that definitely seems to have more effect on women than men.

With men, I dare say that they see flowers and think. “Oh, flowers.” Maybe they think something like, “I hope they don’t make me sneeze,” or “What schmuck sent flowers?” but, mostly, they just identify the item and carry on with their daily life.

With women, I think it’s different. The flowers arrive and, when seen, they alight just a tiny flicker of hope that, hey, maybe they’re for you. Even though there’s a louder voice that says “Who on earth is there to send you flowers?”, it doesn’t matter. When the delivery arrives and the recipient is not identified, the hope happens.

Then, when the recipient is identified, the process continues with disappointment and a slight bit of envy. Certainly, it’s nice that the woman in your office got flowers but you didn’t and it’s sad and you wish they were your flowers.

Even when it’s not flowers but cookies or chocolate covered strawberries and chocolates and the recipient says she’ll share, there’s still a little bit of “Delivery Envy” going on. You may eat the fruit/chocolate/cookies but you won’t eat much because they’re not your sweet goodness but those of the loved recipient who received the delivery.

I know it’s not just me, either. This morning, one of my coworkers got a lovely big box of fresh flowers. When they arrived, my fellow single office coworker and I both had the same brief look of hope and then disappointment when we realized they weren’t for us. When we met in the break room, we both consoled each other to the fact that neither of us gets flowers and though we were happy for our coworker, we had Delivery Envy. At this point, my boss overheard us and sweetly offered to send us flowers but, well, it just wouldn’t be the same. When you get flowers, it makes you feel special. You don’t have to tell people who they’re from. Granted, it’s extra nice when they’re from a beau or male friend but no one HAS to know they’re from your mother or your friend unless you tell them. Having that big vase of flowers on your desk is like a badge of honour. Someone loves you enough to send you flora.

So, even though it was really nice of my boss to offer to send us flowers, we’d know they were from our boss and having them on our desk wouldn’t be the same.

Does that make sense? When I read it, it doesn’t sound like it does but I know what I mean.

In my last job, one of my coworkers got flowers almost every third week. If it wasn’t flowers, it was deluxe chocolate covered strawberries or chocolates. She had a nice husband who liked to send her things to let her know she was loved.

It was nice to see it but it was also interesting to see that I wasn’t the only one with Delivery Envy. After the second or third delivery within a couple of months, the comments from other women in the office stopped being, “Aw, you got flowers/chocolates/strawberries,” and started being more like, “you got flowers AGAIN! What did you DO?”

This is how I realized that Delivery Envy affects us all. We want to be happy for our coworkers/friends but, gosh darn it, we want flowers too!

In my case, my last flower delivery was on my birthday last year from a good friend. This was nice. They were delivered at home and they made me happy to see them on my coffee table.

The last flower delivery before that was from a male friend when I moved into a new apartment. This was three years ago.

It may seem pathetic that I remember all my flower deliveries but, well, I don’t get many. I’m never going to be the type of Monkeypants that gets bouquets from mystery men after exotic nights. This is because, well, I don’t have exotic nights and I don’t have any mystery men.

The reality of it is that most people don’t get flowers at work on a regular basis. This, I think, is why Delivery Envy occurs. It’s a pattern of “ooh! (hope), “Oh!” (disappointment) and “Ah, pretty” (Envy)”.

Example: Delivery person arrives with flowers. “Oooh!” say the females who seem him/her arrive. Then he/she speaks. “Delivery for X”. “Oh,” say the females in the office who aren’t X. Then X receives the flowers. “Ah, pretty,” say the females in the office which, in girlspeak, really means, “They are pretty but I really wish they were my flowers. I never get flowers. Why are YOU so special that you get flowers?”

It’s much easier when you work in an office where the men outnumber the women especially when there’s two single women out of three of us in the office. Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, it means there are far less people to solicit the “ooh, oh, ah” pattern of Delivery Envy.

It also makes it a little easier to be determined that, one day, some day maybe, just maybe, you’ll be the one with the bouquet of love on your desk. Hey, it can happen…I believe it can. I believe it can!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Variety is the Spice of Life

It’s nice to work in a busy office building where our office isn’t the only one there.

My old job was in an office park that was, at the time, being refurbished to bring in new tenants. We rarely ventured into the other buildings except for the time we went to scope out the koi pond/Japanese style water-garden in the atrium of one of the buildings that our CEO felt was very necessary to entice tenants. Personally, I thought the whole atrium smelled like fish and not the good and yummy grilled-with-lemon-and-rosemary type of fish smell but, rather, the type of smell that comes from having a badly ventilated area with a fish pond in it. It was not pleasant.

Anyway, that was as much interaction as we had with other companies there. That is to say…none. It was pretty boring to see only the people you had to work with every day without the hope of running into anyone interesting that I didn’t know. There was hope at times. Our CEO also thought that clearing the area around a forgotten pond that was attached to the office park would make it a very social area while also making it appealing to would-be tenants. Of course, the reality of that was that the pond was unearthed for a while but lack of maintenance made the walking path around in impassable after a few months. Also, said pond was really just a rather large, muddy body of water. There was a little deck built to extend over it but only in the spring/fall was it appealing to stand on because otherwise you’d a) be bitten to within an inch of your life by hungry mosquitoes that used the pond as their spawning ground or b) be subjected to the smell of the pond which was not terribly pleasant.

I’m not bitter about it. The money for these renovations came from a different budget than that which funded my old company. It just seemed as though this money could have been put to better use. It was the same budget that funded the building we moved into that hosted The Most Optimistic Bathroom in the World and forbade us to complain about anything in this ‘perfect’ building for fear of getting fired.

It’s just nice to work in a building in which you don’t feel it necessary to occasionally drop to your knees in front of the CEO, splay on the floor and say “Thank you, oh Spanky for this beautiful building!”

Instead, I get to go to work in a building that has a bathroom that’s unadorned by anything. We can get things fixed by simply calling down to the property management office without feeling ike we might in trouble because it might be considered a ‘complaint.’

Also, it’s just nice to be in a place where I don’t know everyone in my building.

This makes life interesting. Sadly, book lady was fired from her job so I haven’t seen her in a while. Apparently, she was not the most pleasant HR lady in the world and was relieved of her position. I wish her well and hope she finds a new job where she has no pesky stairs to have to navigate while reading. At least now I don’t have to worry about her falling.

Our office is actually on a floor that has two other companies on it. It’s quite nice because one of the companies is large and there’s a plethora of people to watch. Also, our branch administrator knows everyone so all I have to do is say “who’s that?” and I can get a short biography of them.

What’s nice is that the office across from us is IT related and there are a nice lot of men who work there. This may not sound like a big deal but as a Singleton who’s been working in an office where the only men are the ones you work with and there’s no one particularly eligible or interesting, this is a very big deal.

It’s not that I’m expecting to meet Mr. Right but it’s just nice to look if that makes sense. The fact that our branch administrator is also a single woman makes it more fun because we can have little sessions where we just watch to see who passes by the clear glass doors of our office and wait for the elevator which, conveniently, is located right outside our office door.

It just makes the day more interesting. I’ve learned that the older gentlemen who dresses well is actually British and he flies home to the UK every other week to see his family who still live there. I’ve learned that the crabby little man who I see often and who always buttons his coat wrong is actually a developer that my old company interviewed for a job but didn’t hire him. I’ve learned that Book lady was actually Bad HR Lady who treated everyone rudely, smoked like a chimney and read her book so she didn’t have to acknowledge anyone. This is ironic for a human resources person, I find.

I’ve learned that the company next to us does market research and occasionally they get samples of products they don’t want so they give them to us. We currently have a large supply of off-brand mayonnaise in the office that has been here a while because no one wants it.

In short, it’s fun to work in my building. It’s as unpredictable as my work day- I never know how busy I’ll be when I walk in the door. I like life like this- it’s fun to be completely swamped on day and then have a day where the phone is quiet, no one returns email and I have to find new resources to find resumes.

It’s as unpredictable as the conversations we have in our office and the impromptu gatherings we have at the front desk in which we find something to Google or in which we take a brief Cosmo quiz.

It just makes life fun when it’s not the same old thing every day. I kind of love that.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Food Musings

Have you ever noticed when you can’t have something, it’s all you seem to want in the world?

In my case, at the moment, it’s bad food. Since the new year, I’ve been working on being healthy and trying to lose a little weight. Since I’ve finally had to acknowledge that the days of having a super fast metabolism that lets me eat pizza with French fries and cheese sauce for lunch and not gain an ounce are gone, I now have to watch what I eat.

Also, now I’ve learned the glorious ways of The Food Network and what it is to really cook, I confess that I cringe at the idea of pizza and French fries with cheese sauce. Separate, they’re ok. Together?...What was I thinking???!

Still, food is different in our youth, I think. Unless you’re born knowing that you love food and want to spend your life cooking it and appreciating it, food is a learning process. This is why, as a child, I preferred things like fishfingers and chips and frozen pizza over more exotic things like, say, beef casserole or meat pie. I think there are two types of children: The picky eaters and those that will eat everything. My nephew who will be eight this year is a picky eater. He eats Oscar Meyer Weiners, cheese puffs, cheese and a few other very select things. My niece, on the other hand, will eat almost anything.

I was a picky eater. I didn’t like very many things at all. I wouldn’t eat mashed potatoes. I didn’t like ‘gravy’ dinners. I didn’t like anything remotely different so Chinese food was out. I used to think lasagna smelled like vomit. You get the idea.

I stayed a picky eater all through high school. I remember in my last years of high school, I went on dates to exotic places like The Olive Garden (don’t mock- in high school in Indiana, that is exotic). I would order fettucine alfredo because it was ‘safe’. There was no scary tomato sauce or meat or weird vegetables in it, it was simple.

Then, in college, something changed. I hung out with a group of friends that liked Chinese food and Mexican and seafood. Our dining hall offered things to eat I’d never tried and since it was ‘all you can eat’, I started to try new things.

From then onwards, I was no longer a picky eater. I don’t even know the moment of revelation where I realized that I was now eating ‘different’ food. It just happened. I don’t know if it’s because, in college, I was always hungry because I was quite active and busy or because I was just exposed to more. It’s hard to say but I do know that that time period in my life changed my food habits.

Of course, college is also the time when it’s ok to eat junk food. It’s ok to have pizza several times a week or to eat an entire bag of Doritos and wash it down with Mountain Dew while you’re studying. It’s ok to run to the express area on campus and grab a Pizza Hut personal pan pizza and a bag of barbecue potato chips for lunch. There’s no one standing next to you saying, “Where are your veggies?” My eating habits weren’t that unhealthy though. I liked veggies and fruit so even with the junk food, I still got some nutrition in there.

But, even with the occasional injection of healthy eating, my college years were filled with the food that belongs to the young: pizza, hamburgers, tacos, Doritos, etc. This is not to say that older people don’t eat those foods but hopefully you know what I mean.

Nowadays, I don’t eat like that. It’s partly because I can’t eat like that and partly because I don’t want to eat like that. Now that I cook and like to expand my horizons as to my cooking techniques and habits, food is no longer just something I have to eat to keep going or because my stomach is rumbling. Food has become a pleasure to both eat and to cook. I’ll never be a chef because the idea of working in a kitchen being screamed at by a Gordon Ramsey wannabe makes me cringe but I do love to cook. It’s become one of the ways I unwind. I write. I read. I watch TV. I cook. These are the simple things in life that make me happy.

I like to buy things like fish spatulas and ricers. I will treat myself to a new Calphalon pan rather than a new pair of shoes. I will appreciate things like Maldon sea salt and Spanish sweet smoked paprika because they really do make food taste better.

Now, for me, the hard part is trying to balance my love of cooking and flavour with trying to lose some of the extra weight that the holidays and indulging in too much bad food have helped me gain. It’s not that hard, really. I tend to cook a lot of vegetables and vegetable based dishes anyway so as long as I’m in control of the food that I eat on a daily basis, it’s not hard to stay within my calorie/fat range for the day and still try to lose a little weight.

The hard part is that the minute I know that I can’t have something, I suddenly think I want it. Chocolate, for example. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. On occasion, there are times when I want chocolate more than anything but that’s not too often. So, when I plan to watch what I eat, it’s automatic that chocolate won’t figure in because I don’t eat much of it anyway.
So, of course, what happens? Yes…all I can think about is chocolate whether it’s those yummy Lindor Truffles (the red ones) with the melty milk goodness in the middle or a rich bite of Cadburys with it’s singular sweet flavour.

It’s not just chocolate. It’s things like bacon. I love bacon. Bacon is the meat that will always prevent me from being a vegetarian. Sometimes, you just need bacon. When you’re trying to eat healthy, bacon is not a huge part of your life. Sure, you can substitute turkey bacon but unless your taste buds are lifeless and dead, it’s NOT the same, regardless of what JennyO might say.

There are other things too: French fries, pizza and salty potato chips. I try not to eat them. It’s hard when suddenly your brain fixates on the idea of McDonald’s fries and you can almost smell them or, worse, you go downstairs at lunch and the lobby smells like fries.
It seems that the more I try to resist, the more my brain says, “oooh, go on! You deserve it!”

Sometimes I do. I’m not being so healthy that I’m denying myself everything. Complete denial leads to binges. It’s just that I have to balance the bad with the good so I have to ‘plan’ for the indulgences. If I want French fries for lunch, then I will have a salad with light dressing for dinner. That’s how it goes. It’s working out well so far. I just need to get my brain to cooperate with me a little more and try to get it to convince me that baby carrots ARE just as good a snack as potato chips (though I still think the TV ads that are promoting them that way really need to face reality- they are NOT the same) or that apples with honey are a much better TV snack than salt and vinegar potato chips.

It’s an ongoing process. It’s just interesting because before I was watching my food intake quite so much, I never craved bad food as much when I actually let myself have it often. I suppose it’s true: We always want what we can’t have.

Even though every now and again, it’s ok to cheat…just a little. Life’s more fun that way.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tree Climbing Pizza and Other Randomness...

I won’t waste too much complaining about it being a Monday. It’s been a typical Monday. It’s wet and grey and non-committal as far as whether it wants to rain, snow, both or neither. I had one candidate at work decide that the offer from us that he accepted on Friday was no longer his best option and, instead, accepted another position with another company instead. I also have another candidate who is acting squirrelly. This usually translates to the fact that he may have received a counter offer from his current company.

Counteroffers are a pain. They’re tempting in their lure. They offer more money for the same job that you did before. They can make everything seem better. However, as we always tell our candidates, there are lots of statistics/reports to support the fact that 80% of people who accept a counteroffer end up leaving within a year anyway. Whatever was wrong enough with the job to encourage the employee to look for a new one doesn’t get solved with money. Take my old job, for example. Even if my boss had given me a counteroffer, I think I probably would have rejected it. It was never really about the money. It was about the fact that I was bored, the office was a corporate version of high school where cliques ruled, brownnosers climbed to positions of power and those who were really keeping the boat floating were stepped on and ignored.

Also, I had a bad boss. He was nice but he was not meant to be a manager of people and as someone who likes to take action when problems arise, I had a hard time sitting back watching him dither over something that a real manager could easily have decided.

It’s easy for me to look back and say I wouldn’t have stayed for a counteroffer especially as I didn’t get one. I would have been tempted, certainly. However, in my past jobs, I have received counteroffers and I’ve always moved forward because, ultimately, it’s never about the money.
So, this is what we tell our candidates who dither. When they have families and little children, it’s easy to understand why they are tempted to stay at their current job for more money. It’s comfortable. It’s secure. It’s safe.

It’s just hard as a recruiter when you work hard to get them in the running for a position, set them up for interviews, coach them for the interviews, follow up with the interview and constantly try to keep things in motion for them and then, when they actually get the offer from a company, they decide they don’t want it. It’s like arranging a party and having no one show up.

Still, it happens. It happens to me and the other recruiter in the office. People aren’t predictable. This makes them more fun to work with because things stay interesting. It also makes them more infuritating because I have no control and, as we’ve established, I’m a control freak.

Still, it made Monday slightly more eventful than the average Monday upon which people have a hard time coming back from the weekend and they don’t start returning phone calls/emails until late in the day.

Besides, it wasn’t a bad day. It was just, well, a Monday.

Still, you have to find small things that make it interesting, besides the unpredictable nature of people. Today, for example, I was surprised to find that there is a rather large bunch of balloons stuck rather high up in a tree in my neighbourhood. This may not seem so surprising but that bunch of balloons has been there a week. I was more surprised that it was still there. They have managed to survive a minor ice storm, gusty winds, heavy snow showers, rain and frigid cold temperatures. Every time I drive by the balloons, I wonder exactly how they got up so high and didn’t pop. They’re black and red and there are about seven altogether. I’m intrigued to see how long they last. They’re starting to shrink as balloons do which, in my experience, makes them more durable than heavily inflated ones. I’m wondering if they’ll shrink to nothing before they pop. I’ll keep you posted, if you like.

Also, today on my drive, I noticed another interesting thing. A squirrel with a slice of pizza. It wasn’t just a small slice. It was one of those whopper slices you get from places like Sam’s Club and Costco. It was actually fascinating to watch this rather tiny rodent carry a slice of pizza that was at least double his size and still manage to climb the tree with it. What caught my attention was that I didn’t actually see the squirrel at first because the pizza slice was so large. It’s a surreal thing indeed to watch a slice of pizza ascend a tree trunk. I actually had to stop my car for a second and just stare. Naturally, I realized it was a squirrel holding the pizza right away but I admit, for a second,I really thought the pizza was climbing a tree. I was fascinated. I supposed I also didn’t realize that squirrels ate pizza. I pictured them as more the acorn and berry type but this is 2011. Pizza eating squirrels are probably not terribly unusual. I just wonder if someone from 1940 time travelled to our time, what they’d make of squirrels eating pizza.
It just doesn’t seem like something that would have happened back then. Is this a form of evolution, do you think?

It’s amazing the random things that catch our attention, isn’t it? Still, on a bleak and dreary Monday, it’s the small things that make the day interesting.

Sometimes, that’s just all you need.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lovely Lazy Weekends

It's been a very grey sort of weekend. The sun peeked out for a few moments today but, aside from that, it's been grey and rather angry looking out there. We were supposed to have some snow on Saturday but although we had a heavy snow shower, it ended up alternating between rain, snow and greyness. In the end, the tiny bit of snow we had melted and it turned into a mushy world outside.

I'm not complaining though. I took advantage of the greyness and decided to have a very lazy and relaxing weekend. Even though I did useful things like laundry, grocery shopping and cleaning, I also made sure to watch some dvd's, do a jigsaw and generally just take advantage of the fact that I didn't have to do anything.

It's been a while since I had a weekend like this. During the summer, it's harder because I feel like I should be outside doing something productive. In the autumn, there's still enough warm days that I try to take advantage of them by being outside. When spring rolls around and the weather gets a little warmer, I tend to feel like I should get outside and get some fresh air because the winter makes us feel cooped up.

Thus, winter is the only season where it's mostly acceptable to pass a day with the TV on, a puppy in your lap and a jigsaw in front of you. Certainly, there are more productive things that I could be doing but there's nothing pressing. Granted, I probably should be taking advantage of being inside by writing but between books, I like to have a hiatus to recharge my creativity and mind and I'm still on that hiatus after finishing "Emmy Goes to Hell." I'll probably pick up with a new novel in a couple of weeks but, for now, I'm allowing myself a mental vacation. These are necessary, I think. They help avoid writers' block. They help make sure that the new book is 'fresh' and not writing on the waves of the one I just finished. Also, they help my brain just get back to a place where it's open to all new ideas.

So, I didn't write. I simply enjoyed the greyness of the day by being inside, warm and cosy in my house. I cooked because what's relaxation without a little cooking? I made soups- butternut squash on Saturday and the Olive Garden's zuppa toscana recipe for dinner tonight. For me, soups are my very favourite comfort food. Thus, having a comfortable weekend requires soup.

The only problem I'm having is that the dogs seem to be feeling cooped up. I did walk them even though it's been cold but Rory especially seems...bored. Sookie will curl up the sofa to sleep but Rory will sit on the floor, watching us. Then she'll start barking to let me know I should be paying attention. Or, she'll bark at Sookie because she wants her to play. I've been playing a lot more with her but it still doesn't stop her from sitting on the floor and sighing. It's a little...perplexing. She and Sookie still go outside and play but the garden seems to lack the excitement it usually does. They don't seem interested in their usual activities of hole digging, bird/squirrel/bunny hunting and chasing or their favourite game of tearing around the garden running after one another and then rolling around in the grass.

Since they're both eating and playing at times, I know nothing is physically wrong. I can only assume that they're feeling a little trapped by the greyness of winter. There's no snow to burrow under, only soggy flat grass which makes their paws wet, muddy and cold. The squirrels aren't out much. The bunny is mostly hibernating. They still chase birds but they fly away and then they're bored again.

The problem is...they're dogs. They're not like little children with cabin fever who you can take out to a movie or the mall or the circus or something. You can't sit down with a dachshund and do crafts to engage their minds- they'd just eat the paper and glue and be done with it. I play tug of war and "hide the squeaky" toy but this does not last long.

Thus, I think we'll just have to find activities. I'm making sure to take them on walks so they're at least getting exercise and I don't feel like they're sleeping the day away. I just wish, sometimes, they could talk and they could tell me what they wanted to do.

Ah well, half the fun is trying to figure it out. I tried to show Sookie my jigsaw but she tried to eat the pieces. Rory is having quite a lot of fun attempting to sit on my head whenever I sit on the sofa. She jumps up and sits on the back of it and then, lo and behold, I'm wearing a dachshund hat.

Still, in a few weeks, spring will be nearer and the days will be longer, the ground will dry out a little and outside will be filled with the first signs of spring. I'm sure this will bring new bunnies, squirrels and birds for them to hunt and chase.

In the meantime, it's still winter and I'm planning on taking advantage of the comfort of having to stay indoors.

Now, if I can just convince the pups of that. I'll keep working on it.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Monkey Massacre!

So, as is the nature of life, today was the complete opposite of yesterday at work. This is to say things were rather slow in the office. It also didn’t help that our boss is currently taking a few days’ vacation. Even when you really like your boss, there’s something rather nice about it when he’s gone. Things become more relaxed.

This is actually quite a feat for us. Generally, on most days, we’re quite relaxed in the office anyway. However, when he’s gone we’re even more relaxed. After the busyness of the past few days, I admit it was quite nice to have a breather. I clearly wasn’t the only one who felt this way because by 4 p.m., we were all gathered around our coworkers desk looking up each other’s addresses on Google maps so we could see each other’s houses.

In addition, our daily meeting was also more relaxed. This is probably why we all shared what we’d had for dinner last night. This stemmed from a description of our coworkers dream in which we were all at some mystery wedding and one of our salesmen was trying to convince the bride and groom that they wanted fish sticks at their reception.

As I said, things are more relaxed when the boss is gone.

It’s fun to work in an office where everyone gets along and there aren’t any awkward politics. There’s no one sucking up to the boss to try to climb to the top of the corporate ladder and there are no cliques. It’s a refreshing change of pace from my last office which was a mess of tangled politics and loyalties, not to mention the alliances and cliques.

Since I still keep in touch with some of my former coworkers, I do hear about some of the things that are going on in my old office. Suffice to say when someone mentions the name of the product you used to have to work on and you get a shudder running down your spine, you know you made the right decision to leave.

I’m very thankful that I found this job. While there are some days where I feel like banging my head against the keyboard because no one is returning calls or emails and I’m not getting anywhere, there are days like yesterday where good things keep happening and you actually feel exhilaration at your accomplishment.

And then there are days like today where even though no one is answering my phone calls and all the resumes I’m getting in response to my job postings are completely unsuitable, it’s ok because I’m having fun.

I’ve learned, by the way, why it is that I get the resumes I do. I did not realize that when some folks are at a certain level of their unemployment compensation that they are required to apply for a certain amount of jobs per week. Now I know this, it explains why Mitch the forklift driver from Idaho is applying for Java developer position in Cincinnati. While I have compassion for Mitch, it’s rather tiresome to have to wade through the large pile of completely unsuitable resumes to find the ones that are actually from people who genuinely are interested in the job I have posted.

Still, you learn something new every day. Today was no exception. Today’s lesson was actually not at work but, rather, at home.

It was this: Never leave two playful dachshunds home alone with a one legged monkey.
You might think this sounds strange. It makes perfect sense. You see, Rory and Sookie have a favourite toy. We call him Monkey for that is his name. This is actually Monkey 2.0. Monkey 1.0 met an untimely death because Rory and Sookie had a tug of war with him. I felt bad for the pups since they really loved their monkey. So I found another one at Petsmart.

Monkey 2.0 lasted a good three months. Then, early this week, I looked out the window at the snow-covered backyard and noticed a small blue thing lying there. Curious, I investigated to discover it was one of Monkey 2.0’s legs. Since it was frozen and stiff, I brought the limb inside and put it somewhere safe so that I could stitch it back on when it was a)defrosted and b)I had time.

Alas, that time never came. When I came home at lunch today, I discovered poor Monkey 2.0 disemboweled on the living room floor surrounded by the polyfill that used to be inside him. In my absence, the puppies had their own private Monkey Massacre.

It was my fault. I should either have confiscated Monkey 2.0 or stitched his leg on in a more timely fashion. I could have saved that little blue monkey but, alas, he is no more. I laid him to rest in the rubbish bin. His time of death is estimated to have been between 8:10 am. and 12:20 p.m. No autopsy will be necessary.

Now I’m trying to decide if we should think about a Monkey 3.0 or we should find something a little more durable. It’s just that the puppies clearly favour Monkey above all their other toys. It’s fun to watch them share him as they trot outside, each one carrying a limb in their mouth as trot off proudly.

Of course, this is probably why I find little monkey limbs outside in the snow on occasion.

Ah well. Like I said, you learn something new every day. My lesson today was that perhaps Monkey is not the best toy for two dachshunds who love to play tug of war and can grip an object very tightly in their teeth for ages. Sookie, especially, is very determined and when she sets her mind to holding onto her toy, she’s not letting go for anything.

This time, it was poor Monkey 2.0 who paid the price. I vow to not let it happen if there should be a Monkey 3.0.

Monkey Massacres are no fun to clean up.

Poor Monkey. May Monkey 2.0 rest in peace.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Online Training Makes for a Chaotic Day...

Well, we never did get our bad weather here in Cincinnati. The freezing rain was gone by morning due to some extremely gusty winds that dried up all the moisture. This was good news for driving, bad for the very distant hope of a snow day. The winds, while quite nice to listen to while tucked up warm in my bed, disturbed the pups who bolted awake anytime a gust hit the house during the night.

We also had a slight emergency when the fibreglass cover over my outdoor pipes unsecured itself from the house and started to blow across the yard. I ran out in my boots, pajamas and coat and secured it but, needless to say, at 5:30 a.m., this meant I wasn't going to get much more sleep.

It seems that many of my friends to the north had bad weather and thus had a snow day. I tried not to envy them as they posted on Facebook. I could have used a snow day just because I had completely forgot until I got to the office that my boss had signed me up for online training not long after I started and the training

This meant six hours of my day were to be spent listening to a lady walk me through a PDF presentation about how to be a recruiter. If I'd have done the training when I first started, it would have been very helpful. However, having been in the job for over three months now, much of the training was more of a, um, "well, duh!" type of situation.

It also didn't help that I had to keep the phone receiver glued to my ear for periods of up to an hour and a half without a break. My ear is still hot from listening to the lady talk. What made it worse was that there were these periods when we had to read some of the worksheets before we could move on. It really only involved skimming. I did this in two minutes. The lady gave us eight minutes of radio silence before we could move on.

On the plus side, I could multitask. While I was training, I scheduled one candidate for a follow-up interview, got feedback from another candidate about his interview that happened this afternoon and also got the good news that one of my candidates had been offered a position.

This, on a normal day, is considered pretty good activity. I'd say that since I was multitasking, it was pretty darn good activity.

After the training finished, I had a ton of work to do including talking to my candidate who had the job offer. She's an Indian lady who is very nice but as is quite typical in her culture, defers to her husband. This meant that I had to talk to her husband and tell him every detail about the job as well as negotiate her rate with him. He ended up agreeing which means his wife will accept the job. This was my first time dealing with a husband. I've been told it will happen many more times.

I finally left the office late only to discover it was snowing. I took time to turn my face up and greet my favourite white frozen substance before I got in my car. I'm glad I did that because by the time I got home, I had an email from my boss with a new job opening and a strong suggestion that I start working on it tonight. He also sent it to my fellow recruiter. Thus, since I got home, I posted the job on, posted it on my Linked In profile and contacted seven potential candidates.

I'd like to think I'm done now. The pups are feeling neglected. My Szechwan chicken stir fry needs to be prepped and cooked and, well, I'd quite like to sit down so I can enjoy "Friday Night Lights" and "Top Chef."

When I look at my day, it's probably a very good thing it wasn't a snow day, really. Even though the idea of sitting at home, doing very little but enjoying the excuse to do very little sounds nice, there's something to be said for having a good, productive day at work. There's something else to be said about having to come home and work for a little while and not minding.

I find this to be a pleasant realization. I find it even more pleasant that I can say after three months of learning and working, I actually love my job. It's been a long time since I've said that and it feels really good. It definitely makes up for not having a snow day.

Since it's still winter, I could still get my chance at a snow day. However, Punxatawny Phil might contradict that since he saw his shadow today and this means we should get an early spring.

Ah well, that would make a lot of people happy so I won't complain. I love spring as much as winter in it's own way.

Besides, no one said it didn't ever snow in the spring.

Happy Groundhog day!