Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thwarting Murphy's Law

So, my strategy for dealing with this Homeowner Month of Doom is to not tempt fate. There are still two days left in April. These are two days for my washing machine and oven to die.

Thus, I have decided not to do any laundry. It wouldn’t do much good anyway. I ordered a new dryer from Lowes and it will be delivered on Saturday. I love Lowes at the moment. While their paint is not my favourite, their applicance department is rather nice. Also, the people are very helpful.

When I went to order my new dryer, they offered me next day delivery. Given that this month I have already:

1) Missed two hours of work for a termite inspection
2) Missed half a day of work while inspected termites were treated
3) Missed half a day of work because my fridge was being delivered
4) Missed two hours of work because I had to be home for my lawnmower to be delivered

I couldn’t help but think that saying to my boss that I had to miss yet another half day of work while my dryer was delivered and installed would not go over well also, not terribly believable. I mean, no one has that many homeowner issues in one month…right?

Ok, fine…yes, they do. That would be me…Captain Monkeypants, who I think might be a contender for the “Survivor of the Homeowner Month of DOOOOOM” award.

Anyway, back to my original point. I’m not doing any laundry due to not having a dryer. Also, due to the fact that if I try to use my washer, I’m expecting it to break.

I’m also not using my oven. I think it’s safe to use the burners because it’s an electric stove and I think they’re all wired separately so even if I kill a burner, I have three others that work. This is my theory at least. So far, it’s working.

Of course, I’m not taking any chances by actually using my burners tonight either. I will be using my microwave. I probably should be worried that the microwave will explode but it’s a fairly new microwave and, well, I do have to eat something.

In short, while I might think getting a new washer to match my dryer would be nifty, it can remain a nifty fancy for a while. And while my oven may not match my fridge, my oven is my old trusty that works rather well for an older oven. I’m quite fond of it with its little wind up clock that doesn’t work and built in wind-up clock-timer that also doesn’t work. Also, the self-cleaning function doesn’t work. However, the oven itself works and, as I recently discovered, so does the oven light.

The oven light discovered was more because I discovered an odd little sticking-up thingy on the top of my oven. The top of my oven has this nice little flat ridge where it’s easy to store things like olive oil, my Alton Brown Sodium Chloride Containment Unit, my peppermill and all other useful things you need to have readily available when you cook. The little sticking-up thingy was actually hidden under my teeny mortle and pestle that I got from TJ Maxx. One day, I moved the mortar and pestle and found the little sticking-up thingy. It appeared to be a button. So I pushed it. Lo and behold, it was an oven light!

This was actually about a year after I moved into my house. You may think it odd that it took me that long to notice it but, well, it did. I often see things I didn’t notice before in places I visit frequently. I find it a joyful process of discovery. This is another reason why I didn’t realize that the vent thingy on top of my house was a dryer vent. I never expected to see it there so I didn’t notice it. I only discovered it after my dad came down and I’d asked him to help me locate it. It was quite exciting to realize that the silver vent that had never registered in my notice but had always resided on my roof was a dryer vent.

I like things like that. It’s like in Rumplestiltskin really, isn’t it? I mean, in that story, the queen had to guess his name or give up her first born child. Even though she cheated and someone told her his name, she won and got to keep her baby.

Not that my dryer vent is like Rumplestiltskin. I mean, it’s not holding me hostage to a promise I made because my idiotic father told a king I could turn straw into gold. For one thing, there aren’t many kings around these days. Secondly, my father knows that telling anyone I could something as complex as spinning thread would be a little silly. Thirdly, who the heck really spins things on a spinning wheel these days anyway?

Uh, sorry….I digress. What my point is (and I DO have a point) is that everyday things that we don’t notice suddenly become Part of Our Lives once we know what they are and have meaning to us. They’re part of the background until something brings them to our notice and then they’re always there. We know where they are and can identify them readily.

So, anyway, this is all an explanation of why I didn’t know I had an oven light until I’d been using my oven for a year. It’s not like I had a manual for my oven- it’s over 20 years old.

Yet, it still works well enough for me to make a soufflé and have it rise perfectly. It also, so far, works well when I turn it on and try to cook things. This is why I will not be using my oven until April is over. It may not have anything to do with it being April but I have to grasp at something to blame for my expensive homeowner woes of late.

It’s either that or it’s my ghost that my dogs see and I do not.
I think I’d rather blame it on Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. It’s just the way things work sometimes.

Of course, I’m quite ready for things to start going right. Nevertheless, I think I’ll stay away from my still-working major household appliances for a while just in case. It’s safer.

Happy Friday, have a great weekend and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Illicit Affairs of the Major Household Appliance...

So, I have reason to believe I might have been living with an appliance scandal right under my nose.

I think my tumble dryer might have been having an affair with my fridge.

I have reason for my assertation. You see, often, in the news, when an older person dies, leaving behind a spouse to whom they were married for many, many years, that the spouse passes away soon afterwards. The couple have been together so long and are such a part of each other that one cannot live without the other.

In my case, I wrote an obituary to my fridge on Monday because it passed away on Sunday.

Well, tonight, my tumble dryer passed away. It was a quick, painless death. I simply loaded in my wet clothes, hit the button, it tumbled for a moment and then...a death knoll sound rose up and it died, leaving behind only the final wheezes of life before it gave up completely.

I think it must have missed my fridge so much that it decided it could not go on without the loud, obnoxious buzz that used to pervade the kitchen and it, too, went to the Appliance Great Beyond.

I feel sorry for my washer. I always sort of think of the washer and dryer as a couple. They usually sit side by side. They work together to get the clothes clean and dried. They usually match.

In my case, both my washer and dryer were White Westinghouses. They don't make those anymore I'm told which made me look up the purchase date. They were both purchased in 1995.

My fridge was also a White Westinghouse. It, too, was purchased in 1995.

So, you can see why I have my suspicions about the infidelity of my appliances. Now, if it were my washer that died and the dryer immediately followed, it would make sense in a very sad, tragic way: They loved each other so much that they couldn't survive without being by each others' side. They were a pair, a couple united by laundry and togetherness.

I think the problem is that I saw a rerun of "Grey's Anatomy" lately where a woman would have a false heart attack every year on the same day. It turned out that it was the anniversary of her next-door neighbour's death and that they'd been secretely in love for years.

So, given the expiration of my fridge, followed by my washer...surely you can see that I might have a reason for my suspicions.

Or, perhaps, more likely, I'm just being silly. However, I find that when faced with yet another unforseen household expense in the same week as the last one, rather than have a meltdown and curl up in a fetal position, pumping my fists at the sky and yelling, "WHITE WESTINGHOUSE, YOU SUCK," I find that making up stories about applicance infidelity is a much more sane coping mechanism.

Well, ok, it's not sane. Not really. Even I recognize that. However, as a writer, creativity is sometimes the best way to avoid a complete and utter meltdown. As I said the other day in regards to my fridge, I know it's not a huge issue in the grand scheme of things: Tumble dryers, like fridges, can be replaced. They cost a fair amount but, well, it's doable.

It's just that, like with the fridge, I know all that and it still stinks.

So, I choose to make up stories about my appliances and their illicit activities. I find it both therapeutic and entertaining. Of course, it leaves me very sad for my washing machine because it will now have to sit next to a new, unmatched partner that is a Whirlpool.

Oh dear, I've just realized that my fridge is also a Whirlpool. By that token, does that mean history is going to repeat itself and my fridge and dryer will, once again, undertake a forbidden romance?

Then again, who's to say that washing machine didn't know about the affair and it was more of a menage a trois?

On second thoughts, scratch that...entertaining and disturbing implications of that menage a trois aside, that might mean my washing machine can't live without the fridge and dryer and commit seppuku.

I definitely do not want that. April isn't over yet and there's still time for another appliance death in this Month of Homeowner Doom.

I'm just glad my oven's a Kenmore and minds its own business. Still, perhaps I best not use it until the month is over...just in case.

You never know what goes on in the complicated tangles of appliance love.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Money Lessons from Childhood

I’m very pleased to report that even though I should still be mourning the loss of my old refrigerator, I’m already in possession of a newer fancier one.

This seems rather cold (pun intended), I’m sure. After all, my prior fridge was a good fridge. It chilled things nicely and rarely accidentally froze anything. It was just a bit old. Also, after I had to unplug it because it wasn’t working and instead was making a rather scary death-knoll sound, it smelled. It smelled like stale…fridge. When the men from Lowes wheeled it away and replaced it with my new fridge, I wasn’t really sorry to see it go.

I’m much less harsh when it comes to living things, I promise. It’s just hard to be sad to see something go when something much shinier and newer and actually works is wheeled into its place.

I’m pleased with my new fridge. For all their failures with paint, Lowes have an excellent appliance service. I managed to get 25% off because I chose a rather high-demand fridge and the only one in the immediate radius of my Lowes was ‘damaged’. The ‘damage’ was a tiny dent in the side that would face the wall anyway. The nice Lowes’ man helped me with everything and, voila, I had a new fridge by noon the next day.

I’ll stop talking about my fridge in a minute, I promise. It’s just that a fridge is a large purchase. It’s a ‘grown up’ purchase. It reminds me that even though I should know it by now, I really am a grown up.

It’s interesting to think that my first purchase ever with my very own ‘pocket money’ (what we call an allowance in the UK) was a Woofit toy. It was when I was around age nine, I think. I didn’t think about saving my money. I saw the toy, realized I had enough money in my pocket and the toy was mine. Then when my mum reminded me that since I blew my entire pocket money for the week, I wouldn’t be able to buy any sweets or treats until I got my next pocket money, it sunk in: it’s better to save and spend when you really have to than spend for the sake of spending.

It was a valuable lesson and one I still remember. As the thought of not being able to get my penny sweets or my crisps for the week or splurging and buying a can of Coke sunk in, I realized that by buying the Woofit, I hadn’t spent wisely.

I have to thank my mum for that. I think that’s why, to this day, I’m a cautious spender. I only splurge when I know I can really afford it. I’m not one to go out and spend my money on one pair of shoes and have to eat canned food for a week. I’d rather buy a less expensive pair of shoes and have some money left over. Certainly, it means I’ll never be a trend-setter but I’m really not a trend-setter type, anyway.

I suppose my Woofit incident wasn’t really the first lesson I had with money. That came when I was either four or five. My older brother was old enough to go out and about with his friends and ride his bike places. He’d often come home with a bag of sweets and he regaled me with tales of ‘the petrol station’ where they had all kind of sweets, chewing gum and snacks galore. To a child with a sweet tooth, it sounded like heaven. It’s amazing that something as simple as a gas station can be a destination to a little kid but there you have it…it was.

So, one day, I happened to have a 5 pence piece which is about the same value in the UK as a nickel in the U.S. even though with the exchange rate, it’d come closer in value to a dime. I gave it to my brother to get me some sweets. I waited for ages for him to come home. When he did, I immediately said “where’re my sweets.” My older brother stopped and smiled. Then he reached into his mouth and pulled out the piece of chewing gum he’d been chomping on and said, “here they are.”

This is a true story and ironically, I remember it much more clearly than the things I did yesterday. It’s something I tease my brother about to this day. He, too, taught me a valuable lesson about money that day: Be careful who you trust with your money.

Oh, and I don’t think I took the chewing gum he offered me. I don’t remember that part. I’d like to think my sense of hygiene was prevalent then but I have a horrible feeling I might have taken it. Either way, let’s just pretend I didn’t.

I think those money lessons from both the used chewing gum and the Woofit have helped me in my life. It’s true that the things you learn when you’re young help define you as you grow older. I was fortunate enough to be blessed with a cautious mother. My dad is not so cautious. He tends to be more of the Woofit buying type. He’s not dangerous with money but he has a tendency to spend before he really thinks about it. It’s not all bad. My dad’s philosophy is that if you buy cheap, you get cheap. While I think there are some cases where this is a fallacy, I think in many cases, unfortunately, he’s right. It’s hard sometimes to shell out more for something when there’s a much less expensive version next to it but most of the time, there’s a reason why it is so expensive.

I like to think I’ve learned the best from both of my parents. While my mum hesitates and tends to buy the inexpensive version, I go online, research the purchase and figure out if it’s worth paying more. This came in useful with my recent lawnmower and fridge purchases. I could have got a lawnmower for less but I got the cheapest one I could find the last time and it ended up exploding. I could have got a simple, cheap fridge but my research taught me that if I did save money now, I’d be paying more for repairs later.

So, I ended up with a nice, solid fridge. It’s not top-of-the-line by any means but it’s fancier than my old fridge which had the rudimentary shelves in the door and two buckets for fruit and vegetables. My new fridge has a lot more space, a lot more compartments and drawers and, best yet, humidity controls for my vegetables. Given that I tend to centre my meals around my vegetables, this is going to be great for making them last longer. Also, the best thing is the freezer is on the bottom and is a slide out drawer. I never realized that something as simple as not having to stoop down to go into the fridge would make such a huge difference but it’s a treat to open the door and immediately see what’s in my vegetable drawers rather than having to crouch and open them up. Having the freezer below makes more sense because, well, you open the fridge WAY more than the freezer anyway, right?

The moral of the story is that while I still had to buy a fridge when I really didn’t need to be spending a lot on a new appliance is that it turned out happily-ever-after. I’m enamoured with my new fridge. My food is cold. I got a great deal.

It was a grown-up purchase, a far cry from the days of shopping for penny sweets and Woofits. I do miss those days where my toughest decision was would I have enough money for a hot dog AND a milkshake when I went out with my friends or should I save the money for something else instead. But there are days when being a grown-up has its advantages.

Like today when I go home , have a glass of chilled wine from my new fridge and reflect that another minor crisis has been averted.

That’s a nice feeling indeed.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Death of a Refridgerator

It’s official. My refrigerator and freezer passed away sometime between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. yesterday.

I’m not actually sure of the time of death but based on my rather limited CSI abilities, the fact that my food in the freezer was still cool but mostly defrosted leads me to think it had been out most of the day. Also, my fridge was still cool-ish when I got home from my parents around 7 p.m.

Either way, my fridge has hummed itself to wherever it is that fridges go when they die. It was a good fridge. It was prone to making rather odd noises at times. It buzzed very loudly most of the time. However, it kept things cold and did the job and I suppose you can’t really ask more of a fridge, can you?

Of course, while I mourn the loss of my fridge, most of the loss is born of inconvenience rather than a strong personal connection with the fridge itself. This is what happens when you move into a house and the fridge is already there. It’s useful and I was glad I had a fridge but it never felt like my fridge, per se. Also, when I moved in, it was still quite full of things the previous homeowner had left behind so I had a lot of cleaning to do. While this provided a bond of sorts with my fridge, it never felt new because it was full of half-eaten lunch meat and such when I first ‘met’ it.

I’m very lucky. I didn’t lose everything in my fridge and freezer. While I lost a lot of things, including a collection of homemade soups I’d put in the freezer, some things were salvageable. Also, I have a little chest freezer in the garage so what could be saved went in there. For the fridge’s part, I’m temporarily using my little wine fridge as a fridge-fridge. It doesn’t get super cold but it’s cold enough to keep my food safe and uncontaminated.

I’m trying to look on the bright side of all this which is a bit of a challenge because firstly, it’s Monday and I’m not fond of Mondays as my regular blog readers will know. Secondly, it’s a very, very wet Monday. The lake in my back garden has just become even lake-ier and when you walk on the grass even where there’s no puddles, there’s enough water that it seeps up over your shoes. Finally, this has been a rather cruddy month for me as a homeowner.

I tried to smile through the termites. After all, I caught them before the damage was severe and they could tell all their friends that my house was free for the eatin’. I tried to laugh at the lawnmower. After all the hot-metal-piston-thingy didn’t hit me in the head, my neighbour loaned me his mower and I was able to get a new mower with no trouble. I’m trying to smile about the fridge. On the plus side, I get a shiny new appliance out of the deal.

On the negative side, it’s adding up financially. Certainly, I’d probably want a new fridge eventually but there’s a big difference between wanting a new one and needing one. Nowadays, fridges are essential. I’m sure there are arguments against that statement but unless you’re Amish and don’t believe in electricity, it’s rather hard to live without a fridge. I’m not really sure how the Amish do it, honestly. It’s not that I even like my beverages that cold. It’s more that I like my food to be uncontaminated by bacteria and keeping it cold prevents that. Also, it’s a great money-saver for a single person- it’s hard to find single-serving portions of things and it’s usually more economical to buy a package of chicken and then split it in two or three before I freeze it.

Still, I’m fortunate that I changed jobs in October. If I’d been on my old salary without the beautiful benefit of a commission check once a month, I’d be completely and utterly panicked and stressed. Fortunately, I was raised to save rather than spend when I have a little extra cash (thanks, Mum!) and so the fridge won’t hurt as much as it would have if I was living paycheck to paycheck.

It still sucks though. I’m just saying that because it feels good to say it. It sucks. That’s all there is to it. I know it’s easily fixable and in the grand scheme of things, far worse things could happen but, well, I just want to say it. I spend much time trying not to whine and complain because friends and people I know always have it worse: sick parents, husbands, spouses….overworking, being stressed, etc. but sometimes, I just have to take five minutes and let myself feel a teeny bit sorry for myself that I have to buy a new fridge and a lawnmower and there are termite holes all over my windowsill.

I feel better already. Like I said before, my fridge situation is definitely not the end of the world. I’m not going to sit there and whine, “Why is my house against me?” when, really, it’s not. To quote “Phantom of the Opera” (the musical): “These things do ‘appen.”

Of course, just like my air conditioning woes last summer, the death of my ceiling fan and the broken kitchen sink, these things do seem to ‘appen all around the same time and I sort of wish they’d spread themselves out but, well, hopefully this will be the last ‘appening for a while.

If nothing else, April is almost over. I’m christening it “Anti-Homeowner Month.” Fingers crossed that May will be better.

At the very least, I’ll begin the month with a new fridge.

Rest in Peace fridge that belonged to the nice old lady who sold me my house. Thanks for keeping things cold and making a lot of noise while doing so. It was only when the silence of your hum was deafeningly loud that I realized I had lost you for good. May you enjoy your days of never having to cool anything again.

Happy Tuesday and thanks for reading (and letting me vent)!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Water, Water Everywhere (Even for Elephants)

It's the eve of Easter Sunday and I can't believe the weekend flew by again. As is usually the case when I visit my parents, I had a very nice weekend but, again, as is usually the case, I wish it were longer.

Still, I shouldn't look ahead to Monday while Sunday is still all around so I'm not going to do so. Instead, I'm going to relish the waning hours of the weekend. It's the perfect night to curl up and relax since it's raining outside and from the look of the giant lake that used to be my lawn, has been for quite some time.

It wasn't raining at my parents. While I would have had a wet Saturday had I stayed home, instead I enjoyed a lovely, windy, warm spring day in Indiana. My parents and I took advantage of it by going out and about, stopping at Menards, the home improvement store and browsing the garden centre. It was the perfect day to be outside, planning the spring garden.

Afterwards, we decided to go see "Water for Elephants" at the cinema. Both my mum and I had read the book and enjoyed it and we were curious to see how it did as a film. My quick review was was ok. It's redundant to say the book was better because nine times out of ten, that's usually the case. The movie version seemed to just lack...something. Perhaps it was dirt and the other signs of a depression era circus. Having been a big fan of HBO's cancelled series, "Carnivale," I was expecting "Water for Elephants" to be more like that which was also set around a travelling carnival. It wasn't a bad movie per se. It was just a little lifeless. I've been trying hard to keep an open mind about Robert Pattinson. Given my intense dislike of "Twilight", I've still tried hard to not judge him solely on that. I liked him as Cedric Diggory in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire", after all. Then I recently watched "Remember Me," another movie in which Pattinson stars. I wasn't impressed. Still, I thought perhaps he'd win me over in "Water for Elephants."

Sadly, he didn't. I think it's official: He's just not a very good actor. It's not that he doesn't try. It's just that he lacks charisma and is rather stiff. He seems to work very hard at his acting but it shows that he's working hard. He's a brooder without many interesting qualities. It also didn't help that Christoph Waltz played August, the villain of the movie and was fantastic.

Overall, it was an ok movie but just didn't make me say, "Wow, they did a great job with that." However, given the sad lack of good movies being made, it was definitely one of the better ones I've seen in a while.

The rest of the weekend went by fast. Today, being Easter, was nice and Easter-y and full of family. I got play with my niece who has very strict rules to the games she makes up. We played "Princesses" in which I got to be a fairy godmother to my nieces' princess- I got to make up wishes to give to my niece. It was all rather fun. I love playing with my niece because she's so uninhibited. She loves to dance and sing and she likes me to join in her dancing. Dancing with a four-year-old is fabulous because flailing is encouraged and this happens to be my specialty in dancing.

It was sad to come back home after such a nice day but that's part of being a grownp. The pups and I returned to a deluge of rain, loud thunder and a washed-out back garden. Also, I have a horrible feeling my freezer is broken because all my food was defrosted in there. I'm hoping it's because I was silly enough to leave the door open a crack before I left for the weekend. I've done it before. It's annoying but at least it doesn't require a new freezer. I'm hoping that it starts freezing again but given the rather eerie silence that's usually filled with its buzzing, I'm not holding out much hope. April has not been the best month for me as a homeowner with termites and lawnmowers and perhaps a need for a new freezer.

Still, I'm not worrying about it. I'm fortunate enough to have a little deep freezer where I keep my meat so at least I didn't lose a lot of valuable food- mostly just junk food and such. I'm trying to look on the bright side. After all, there's no point in worrying about it because there's nothing I can do...annoying things happen. It's how we deal with them that matters.

I'm choosing to deal with my freezer by saving the food that I can and throwing the rest away and hoping it's an easy fix. If not, like Scarlett O'Hara, I'll worry about it tomorrow. There's no point in wasting the last of the weekend with worry!

Happy Monday and I hope you had a great Easter!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Technology... Evolution...Reflections

Sometimes I wonder what we did before we had the internet.

I know there was a time when it didn’t exist because I actually remember that time. Sadly, I can remember computers when the movie, “War Games,” almost seemed like science fiction. I mean, that movie has Matthew Broderick hooking up a phone to get his computer to talk to another. Nowadays, people would laugh at it and say, “wow- that’s the olden days!”. (Confession: I watched that movie last year and actually did laugh at it and say “that’s the olden days!”)

However, back in 1980-whatever when that film came out, it was amazing to consider that a computer could talk to another one. I’m revealing my age here but I remember when the first home computers started coming out. We used to load games with a tape recorder on a cassette tape. If you bumped the tape recorder, the game would crash and you’d start over. It would take up to a couple of hours to load a game. Anything under an hour was amazing.

I feel like my generation has actually watched this evolution of technology from the very beginning. Certainly, there were computers way before my family owned their first Sinclair Spectrum (that ended up being defective so we swapped it for a Commodore 64). However, the Commodore 64 was one of the first mainstream machines to actually be small enough and usable enough that it could sit in the living room and be used for games and other purposes.

After that, things started moving fast. Cassette recorders gave way to rather large floppy disks that you could cut in half with a pair of scissors and loaded WAY faster than cassette recorders. Then the floppy disks started shrinking and, finally, after several different versions are now becoming obsolete in favour of flash drives and portable hard drives.

It’s interesting to be from this generation because we know what life was like before the internet and we know what life is with it. It was only when I was in college that we were really able to get online. It was before the world wide web even really got going that I got my first email address and all we could do were find usenet groups and use Unix to do stuff online. Then within a year, there was Webcrawler and Lycos and, well, that’s pretty much where the internet became a part of life.

Yet before those days, we used to have to physically go to stores to buy stuff. We used to have to go to the library to look something up. We used to have to discuss TV shows, books and movies in person or over the phone. We had less self-diagnosed ailments because it was way harder to self-diagnose without Web-MD and way more work. If someone had termites in their house, they’d have to wait until the next business day to call someone to take care of them. They couldn’t make an appointment online five minutes after the termites were discovered.

You probably get my point: Life moved slower. At the risk of sounding like an old cranky grandmother, back in the olden days, we had to do more for ourselves and we had to have more social interaction.

It’s a toss-up as to which was better. I’m a self-confessed internet junkie. It supports to my need for instant gratification of information. If I’m trying to figure out what that weird metal thing is that flew up out of my old lawnmower when it exploded, I can go online and do a quick Google to discover it was a piston. If I decide I’m craving cauliflower cheese for dinner, I can go online and find a good recipe and figure out if I need to go to Kroger before I go home.

The internet does make it easier to avoid talking to people. In my job, we can approach candidates via phone or email. I tend to choose email. My coworker prefers the phone. He’s older than me. This is not an insult, just a fact. I don’t choose email because I’m a coward or I’m shy. I choose email because it’s what I’m used to and from my point of view, I find it far less intrusive than a phone call. I make calls when they’re necessary or I need to move really fast but if I’m just trying to see if someone’s interested in a job, I think email is very effective. When you cold call them, they tend to be irritated because you’re bothering them at work and they say “Send me an email” anyway. Also, email gives them a way to get in touch with you whenever they have time which is why I get a lot of emails after midnight.

Yet I don’t hide behind email. I use it as the tool for which it was invented. I still make sure I interact with people. The idea of not being able to meet people and talk to people is a little alarming to me yet it’s becoming more and more frequent. Sure, the younger generation interacts but they do it on Facebook and via text and via instant messenger. It makes it far easier to stay inside and be a hermit than it used to.

It’s just weird to consider life without the internet. I was reflecting back on that today which is what inspired this blog. I remember life without the internet. It really wasn’t so different just a little less…virtual. I used to be addicted to the set of Encyclopedia Brittanica’s that had been left in our house by the previous owners. They were missing one of the “M”’s which was a pain in the rear but I still made full use of them. I went to the library a lot more. I went to the mall. I read more magazines.

You get the picture. There was life before the internet and it’s a life I remember. It’s just now, I use it constantly at work and at home. For work, it’s our lifesource- it’s how we find resumes and resumes find us. At home, it’s my tool for everything from the pups having an upset tummy to me having to order a new Lawnmower from Home Depot and finding out which is the best model and value for money.

It’s really amazing how life evolves and it happens so quickly but, simultaneously, so gradually that we don’t really notice. It’s only when we stop and actually look back that we see how far things have come and in how short of a time. I’m sure the same can be said for many things in life but, for me, it’s in technology I notice it most. It’s not just the evolution of life from the actual to the virtual but the streamlining of the technology itself. We no longer have the giant, clumsy computers and mainframes from “War Games.” We have tiny, thin, light-as-a-feather laptops that we can shove in a backpack. We now watch movies without having to insert anything into a machine instead of massive videotapes that could get chewed up if you forgot to clean the player.

I could go on and on. It’s just weird to look back to less than 20 years ago and think that there was yet to be a Google or an or an iTunes when these things are such a part of our lives nowadays. In a way, it forced us to be more self-sufficient but, in a way, we wasted a lot of time and a lot more gas to get places.

As with everything there are pluses and negatives. However, even though it’s a massive time waster and allows us to hide behind our electronic personas, I choose to think that the invention of the internet is a good thing.

After all, without the internet, I wouldn’t be blogging about there being an internet. Which is actually quite surreal when I stop and think about it.

Perhaps I better not. This blog is long enough already.

Happy Friday, have a great weekend and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sometimes, You Just Have to Make a List...

Since I had one of those days that would normally inspire some whining, waxing poetical about grey days and being in a funk, I've decided I don't want to subject my readers to that. Instead, I'm going to make a list. It's therapeutic in its own special way.

Things that irritate me by Captain Monkeypants:

1) People that don’t use turn signals.

2) People that do use turn signals and forget to turn them off so you get stuck behind them wondering if they’ll ever turn.

3) Canadian Geese that fly down in front of your car and stand in the road without moving as you’re driving.

4) UPS. For some reason, my package that was “Out for Delivery” yesterday morning at 7:03 a.m. ended up not being delivered, went to Columbus, OH for the night and returned to be “Out for Delivery” this morning. It finally arrived at 4:42 p.m. today.

5) Nickels. I can’t explain that one. I just despise nickels. They’re irritating little coins.

6) Olive Garden. Italian food is supposed to be simple. It’s not supposed to be stuffed puff pastry in a sauce on top of pasta. That’s, like, three dishes in one. Also, it’s very unhealthy. Also, it’s a little bit vile. It’s like an appetizer on top of an entrée. Next thing you know is it’ll come with a side of pudding to dip the puff pastry thingies.

7) That dog from the Cesar dog food commercials. Its head is enormous. I find it offputting.

8) Termites. They eat your house and they’re creepy. And expensive.

9) Craftsman Lawnmowers: Lawnmowers shouldn’t have the piston explode when you’re innocently mowing and almost hit you in the head. Since my boss had the exact same experience with Craftsman, I’m irritated with them.

10) The lady in my neighbourhood who walks all four of her dogs at once and thusly can’t stop to pick up their poop. This is even more annoying because the poop is always in the middle of the sidewalk and it’s disgusting.

11) Candidates who say they really want a job and need it and then they’re offered the job, they decide “it’s not for them.” I know it’s their choice but, well, it takes a lot of work to get them to the point where they’re offered the job.

12) Rats. I know it’s not their fault they’re vile and disgusting but those nasty little tails disgust me.

13) The fuss about cupcakes. It’s probably because I don’t like cake much but, really, cupcakes are just muffins with a ton of frosting on top. Why all the fuss?

14) Lima Bean Respect Day. I’m just typing that because it’s what my Food Network calendar is calling today. It’s hard to respect a lima bean, honestly. They just don’t command it. Maybe if they made your pee smell funny like asparagus, they’d be more interesting.

15) When my rainproof wellington boots become non rainproof and the water oozes from the ground up, making my socks wet.

16) Bad grammar. I don’t care if it’s slang, I simply cannot get used to people saying, “Where you at?”

17) Having those dreams where you really, really need to call someone on the phone but no matter what you do, you can’t seem to dial the number right.

18) Gordon Ramsey. Horrible man. I don’t know why he has to shout and swear all the time. Also, he seems unable to make a decent Yorkshire pudding.

19) The people in my neighbourhood with the large German shepherd that isn’t on a leash and, when it sees me and my pups, chases us. This has happened twice now. It’s scary.

20) Days like today where no matter how hard I try, I feel like I’m stuck and that I’m horrible at my job because I’m not getting anywhere with anything.

Thanks for reading. Hapy Thursday!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wet Days and Offended Dachshunds

Today has been a very wet sort of day. We started having thunderstorms around 2 a.m. I know this because I have a little dog who is not fond of thunderstorms and I awoke to find her struggling to find her way under the covers (She tends to get tangled between the sheet and the comforter and can’t figure out how to get under the sheet) while simultaneously trying to sit on my chest. Soon afterwards, I saw a flash of lightning, heard the crash of thunder and discovered that Rory had, in fact, found her way under the covers where she proceeded to burrow down by my knees which is her place of safety.

Sookie, meanwhile, leisurely wriggled herself under the covers where she spooned up against me in her favourite position. Sookie has an amazing ability to wriggle into a comfy position with very little movement. Rory, on the other hand, tends to live up to her middlename of Wrigglebottom and thrashes, wiggles and squirms her way to where she wants to go.

For the rest of the night, the storms rumbled. I woke up sporadically, as did the dogs. By the time my alarm went off, the thunderstorms had subsided but the rain continued to pour down.

It finally stopped for a while around 1 p.m. We’re supposed to have more storms tonight through tomorrow. I like a good thunderstorm and I love heavy rain. My only problem is that I’m having a wee bit of a problem with flooding in my back garden.

My area of Cincinnati is built on a spring. This means that the water table is high to begin with which is why we can’t have basements or anything. This also means it can get quite wet when it rains because, eventually, there’s nowhere to where the water can drain.

I’m a little sad about my Soggy Lake of Wetness that has taken over the back garden. I planted asparagus last year. It requires a trench to allow the ferns to grow and drop seeds. Unfortunately, this provides a nice place for water to gather, sit and then flood outwards. Since we’ve had a ton of rain already this spring, I’m pretty certain my asparagus is no more.

Also, it means I have little Ponds of Wetness all across my lawn. I watch the dogs try to dodge the Ponds as they do their business. For two dogs that enjoy getting down and dirty when they dig in the mud and who can tear through a giant puddle without thought if a squirrel appears, my two girls are decidedly finicky about rain. They don’t really like it. They do not like to get their feet wet. Being dachshunds, their tummies are quite close to the ground so, chances are, if their feet are getting wet, so are their tummies. Thus, as soon as they tear out the back door and discover the grass is soaked, they stop dead in their tracks, stare disdainfully around and then stare at me reproachfully as if the rain is my fault.

I’d expect nothing less, honestly. Dachshunds tend to take things personally. They sulk if you offend them and you must bribe them to forgive you with either lots of cuddling or with a treat. Usually, it takes both a cuddle and a treat. The problem is that you don’t always know what it is you’ve actually done. Some nights, I’m sitting on the couch with Sookie sleeping draped over the back of the couch and Rory sleeping beside me when, without prompting, Rory will sit up, give me a filthy look and then go sit in her crate in a huff.

The thing is I know I should just ignore her and let her sulk. After all, I haven’t done anything.

It’s not that easy, of course. She usually stays in her snit until I end up laying on the floor with my head in the crate whispering sweet nothings in her ear while petting her. Yes, I am embarrassed to admit this but there you have it. Captain Monkeypants often sticks her head in a dog crate. At least I’m honest.

Anyway, going back to the rain and our soggy back yard. At present, the water has drained a little since it’s not raining. This means that there are still puddles all over the place but the Soggy Lake of Wetness has drained. If I do walk across the grass, there will be squelching and splashing.

Naturally, it doesn’t help that my grass is also a little jungle like at present due to the exploded lawnmower situation. I was hoping to remedy the lawnmower situation soon but, unfortunately, silly Captain Monkeypants trusted that when UPS says a package is "out for delivery", it means it might be delivered. As I write this blog at almost 8:30 p.m., my package is to be delivered by "The End of the Day". I'm not sure how that translates in UPS time but, well, let's just say I figured it'd be here by now and it's not. If it does get here tonight, it's going to be too late to do anything but attempt to get the 100 lb box into my living room. Which is likely to be an adventure unto itself. One that is reliant on UPS. Which is to might not happen. Anyway...moving on...

The sad fact is that even though I have a nice unexploded mower due to be delivered any moment now (or tomorrow, depending on how long UPS "Day" actually is), I can’t use it. I’m afraid if I subjected it to the Soggy Lake of Wetness, I might accidentally explode this mower too. I don’t want to blow up another mower especially a new one.

Thus, my poor dogs have a small reason to give me dirty looks when they have to go outside during wet times at the moment. The grass is about as tall as they are and rather than just get wet tummies, they also just get…wet.

On the plus side, it does deter them from escape attempts and from barking too much at the squirrels and bunnies that taunt the girls by showing themselves and then staying out of reach. It also means I don’t have to keep checking on them to make sure they aren’t Up to No Good because most likely, they’re in the house.

Of course, when they are in the house, they’re generally sulking because the rain means they don’t get a walk and they’re bored.

Have I mentioned that dachshunds take things personally?

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Invisible Distractions...

Today was a strange Monday. It was very slow and quiet in the office and yet the time seemed to move fast. That’s never a bad thing, honestly. I find that the world seems to be sluggish on Mondays; People are slow to return calls and emails and, when they do, they inevitably end up deciding they need to get back to me.

I can’t blame them. I’m sluggish on Mondays myself. Today was a very sluggish day on account of the fact that I felt like I was walking like Iron Man. This is the result of doing mass amounts of landscaping yesterday. On the plus side, it means I was using my muscles and getting a workout of sorts. On the negative side, it hurts to move and I feel like I belong in the Ministry of Funny Walks.

Still, as the day winds down, it’s a non-rainy Monday which is something for which I am thankful. Given that a week ago, I discovered those nasty termites in my house, I’m hoping that my day doesn’t end so eventfully as it did last week when I went to bed with visions of termites crawling and flying in my head.

We haven’t seen any of the little buggers since Terminix came and saved the day. It’s much nicer to know there aren’t horrible buggy intruders hiding in my woodwork.

Of course, I’m a little afraid I might have an intruder of another nature but I’m choosing to ignore it. Ever since I watched “Paranormal Activity” which, in turn, inspired me to write The Reluctant Demon, I’ve been just a wee bit paranoid that the creaks in my house are more than creaks. Sometimes, there does seem to be an awful lot of noise coming from the attic.

Still, I’m quite good at talking sense into myself. Most of my brain does not believe in ghosts and paranormal creepiness. There’s a teeny-tiny portion that does wonder if such things exist since there are so many accounts and stories of such things and I can’t help but wonder if any of them are true. Also, I like the possibility that there are such things as ghosts because, well, it makes life more interesting. Yet, I’m also surprisingly quite rational and logical and thus, the other side of my brain kicks in.

However, there are times when rational thought tends to get a little overruled. In my case, it, as so many things do, involves my dogs.

Rory, my overly clever and mischievous dog is also very sensitive. For example, one time I had a bucket in my hallway because I thought my roof was leaking (it wasn’t- it was my air conditioner) and I thought I could catch the drips with the bucket. One morning, I accidentally kicked the bucket (literally, not figuratively, thank goodness) and it headed towards Rory who was watching me get ready for work in the bathroom as she usually does. The kicking of the bucket terrified Rory and, to this day, she’s afraid of the hallway and very jumpy whenever my clodhopping feet accidentally kick something towards her.

Also, she seems to see things which is where my rational thought gets overruled. Not long after I got the puppies, we were staying at my parent’s house for the weekend. It was just after midnight, my dad had gone to bed and my mum and I were enjoying the peace and chance to chat.

Then Rory started watching something move across the room. She was very intensely focused on it. Her eyes were moving slowly as though they were following something. To make matters more creepy, Sookie also sat up and began to watch.

It was most peculiar and it gave both mum and me the creeps. Still, when your dogs are seeing an invisible entity move across a room, there’s really not much to do about it other than hope that it’s just a shadow that moved or something equally less…creepy.

The problem is that Rory has been seeing something in our own house lately. On Friday night, she was very restless. It turned out that the poor thing had a very upset tummy and there was a reason for her restlessness- at least that’s what I’m telling myself. Otherwise, I might be slightly freaked out that she woke me up in the middle of the night, shaking with her eyes fixed on a certain spot in my room for a long time. My room isn’t completely dark at night. There is filtered light coming in from outside. It’s enough light that I could see Rory turn her head slowly, shaking the whole time as though she was following something with her eyes.

She did this for a long time. At one point, I turned on the light to see what was bothering her. She continued to shake and watch the one spot in room.

It turned out that not long after, she had to make several emergency trips outside because of her tummy. I’m choosing to believe that she wasn’t feeling well and that’s why she was shaking.

Of course, the fact that both dogs often come into my room when I’m getting changed, making the bed, etc. and both stare transfixed at the same area of my room where Rory was fixated the other night, is a little disconcerting. The rational part of my brain thinks it’s because I have a decorative pewter goblet on a small wall shelf hanging there and it reflects the light and it catches their interest.

The non-rational part of my brain has decided that it’s not going to entertain any other possibilities and that it’s going to listen to the rational part of my brain. Also, it’s caused me to make plenty of invitations to whatever it is that Rory stares at to communicate with me. I mean, say it is a ghost. Which is very silly and most unlikely. But what if it is? What am I supposed to do about it? Usually, ghosts have a reason for being somewhere, according to lore, right? There’s really not much I’m going to be able to do about it. I will admit, on the days when I’ve been creeped out by Rory’s staring-at-the-invisible-thing, I’ve been less rational and more…open-minded.

However, honestly, even if I did have a ghost, I wouldn’t know what to do. I think it would be nifty to come home and find a note typed on my computer in Microsoft Word that says, “Captain Monkeypants, thanks for letting me haunt you. By the way, I need you to get rid of the fan in the family room because it caused me to accidentally get electrocuted and die and until the issue is resolved, I can’t move on.”

Naturally, this might also make me a little nervous since it’s one thing to occasionally allow yourself to entertain the fact that you could have a ghost and completely another to have a note from a ghost on your computer. However, in my vast knowledge which, admittedly has been obtained from occasionally watching Ghost Hunters, ghosts do not use computers. I could say that my first thought to that was probably because ghosts are older folk who died before computers took over the world but that would sound weird. Most likely ghosts just don’t use computers because…they don’t.

Speaking of Ghost Hunters, by the way, I often wonder why the Ghost Hunters run away and scream so often when they’re supposed to be professionals. I mean, you don’t see Billy the Exterminator squealing like a girl when he has to crawl under a house to pull out a dead animal that’s infested with maggots. Nor do you see the Ice Road Truckers pulling over and sobbing hysterically because they’re on a scary ice road.

(And yes, I just admitted that I have seen episodes of both Billy the Exterminator and Ice Road Truckers. I’m not proud. I far prefer Billy by the way. He’s like a car accident with really, really bad hair.)

Back to my ghost issue. I don’t think I have one. It still makes me wonder what my dog is actually seeing though. It’s worse when both Sookie and Rory seem to be staring at the exact same thing and moving their eyes at the same time. Those are the times when Rational Brain tends to lose out to Non-Rational/Non-Logical/Overly Imaginative Brain.

Still, in the end, I let Rational Brain win. I find it far safer and far less creepy. Of course, it doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally wonder if I’ll come home and find a note on my computer. Of course, that leads back to the comment I made earlier about ghosts not using computers. Which is why I often check to see if the pen and paper on my table is still blank.

Oh, don’t judge me. I’m a writer. I can’t be rational all the time.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Busy Project Days

I'd say that I can't believe the weekend is over already but, really, I can. I can't say I haven't used every minute of it either because...I feel like I have.

My busiest weekends always end up seeming to be the ones where I don't have anything planned. My original intention was to get the tiling on my Tuscan room floor done. However, due to the unexpected expense of a termite extermination as well as having to buy a new lawnmower, the floor tiles were a little else on which to splurge.

Besides, Saturday ended up being a rainy, gloomy day and I needed to have a sunny, warm day on which to tile so the pups could be outside and I could put all the stuff currently on the floor of the Tuscan room outside so I'd be able to work. In the end, I had a very pleasant indoor sort of Saturday in which the pups laid around being lazy while i cleaned. I did some reading. I watched some movies. It wasn't the most productive day but I don't feel like it was a wasted laze. I needed that laze quite badly.

Sunday was quite the opposite. I decided to make it Project Day. I ended up building a nice trellis on the edge of my patio so that I could sit and have a bit of peace from the yappy dogs next door. I also made a neat little garden around the trellis so I can plant some honeysuckle and have it grow to give me complete privacy. During the trellis project, I realized that in order to move all the sod that I'd dug up to make room for the trellis, I really needed a wheelbarrow.

This is something that's been on my list of things to get since I moved in. So, I went to buy a wheelbarrow from Lowes. It turns out that wheelbarrows don't always come assembled. I did not know this. The particular wheelbarrow I wanted (read: The most inexpensive) was all sold out of the assembled model so I ended up buying it in three parts: The buckety part, the handles and the wheel and assembly stuff.

I thought, "Oh, it's a hard can it be to build?" And I loaded the pieces up in my car and headed home.

Silly Captain Monkeypants. Considering I have trouble with even the simplest instructions from IKEA, I should have realized it'd never be easy. Building a wheelbarrow is quite complicated. There are cross bracy thingys, handles and all sorts of nuts and bolts. Long story short...I was successful. In between the taking all the parts out of the box and being successful is a series of rather rude words that I shouted a few times, a couple of minor injuries to my fingers and several "oops, I did that backwards" moments.

Still, I have a wheelbarrow. I also have a trellis. I have no honeysuckle because Lowes didn't have any. I will have some soon. I also have two very tired pups. They decided the best course of action for themselves while I went about my project business was to run around outside the whole time. Now they're sleepy. I am too, for that matter. I'm also a little sore.

However, in the long run, I'm very pleased with my day since it was absolutely perfect outside- sunny, warm and breezy. I find that on weekends with days like this, it makes the thought of Monday much more bearable.

Also, I'm tired enough that my brain has shut down and doesn't have the energy to be disappointed that I have to work tomorrow which definitely helps with the Monday thing. It also means that my blog will be a little shorter than some of my waffles because, well, forming cohesive sentences is getting harder by the minute.

Which, really, is how I usually begin Mondays anyway so I'm in good shape.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Termites, Lawnmowers and Work...Oh My!

I think this is just going to be one of those weeks. I’ve resigned myself to it and I’m ok with it. I’ve been trying to think more positively these past few weeks and it’s working out well. Or, at least, it’s preventing me from going a little mental and throwing things and whining to everyone I know about how much my life sucks. My life doesn’t suck. I know this and I’m very grateful to that.

I’m also grateful that Terminix came today and though I discovered that I had nasty termites in another area of my house, it’s not untreatable. Also, my house isn’t going to fall down. By this time tomorrow, my house will have been treated for the nasty critters and I’ll be far less itchy.

I find that a fascinating thing, by the way: The Itchies. I find that I get them under the following circumstances:

- Seeing large quantities of creepy crawly things on TV
- Seeing large quantities of creepy crawly things in real life
- Seeing a creepy crawly thing that takes me by surprise in a place where I didn’t expect it (spider in my bed, for example)

Basically, The Itchie’s make me feel like the creature/s are crawling on me even though I rationally know they aren’t. This is why that, ever since I discovered the termites, I’ve had a case of The Itchies.

Fortunately, Terminix is coming to save the day. I’m not thrilled that it’s going to cost a lot but it’s reasonable to make sure my house doesn’t get eaten by termites and it is one of the expenses homeowners have to face. Other expenses are things like new lawnmowers, new air conditioners and other things that I used to be able to call my landlord to get fixed.

All in all, the termite issue, while yucky, is under control. My new mower is on its way. I’ve solved the frustrations fairly easily.

It still doesn’t stop me from being very glad that tomorrow is Friday. Last week wasn’t a great week as far as work went. This week hasn’t been so bad but it’s been a lot busier and a little more stressful because I’ve been going it alone due to my coworker dealing with his mother’s death. I don’t mind covering for him, naturally. It’s just a lot for one person to handle, particularly when we’ve got some urgent things going on in the office.

The nice thing is that even though it’s meant bringing work home with me, making some phone calls in the evening and staying late at the office, I don’t mind. I think that’s the difference between my last job and this one. Working extra hours and extra hard doesn’t bother me because I LIKE my job. I don’t feel as though I’m watching the clock, waiting for it to hit Going-Home-Time.

Yet, tomorrow is Friday and I’m quite happy about that. It’s supposed to be cold and gloomy this weekend. I’m not sure what that means for me and the pups. My original plan was to start replacing the hideous mustard coloured carpet in my Tuscan family room with the vinyl terracotta tiles I’ve picked out. I have half the tiles. I need the other half. Unfortunately, between checking three different Lowes’ (who are the exclusive sellers of this tile), no store carries enough for a decent sized room at one time. Thus, I bought half at one Lowes and was planning on getting the other half this weekend. However, the extra expense of the termites as well as the cost of a new lawnmower means I might have to put Project Floor Tiling on hold for a couple of weeks.

It also doesn’t help that I’d need to be able to leave the dogs outside while I tiled since that room is their passageway to the garden. If it’s raining, I’d end up with two wet, soggy, unhappy dogs.

So, it means I’ll have to come up with another plan for my weekend. My alternate plan if I couldn’t do the floor due to rain/cold weather was to wrap up warm and do some landscaping. Unfortunately, I need to mow the lawn to do that and without a mower, that will be hard since the mower isn’t due to arrive until Tuesday.

Ah well. My homeowner mishaps this week have put a wrench in the plans for the weekend, it seems. The best laid plans and all that, I suppose. Sometimes, the best weekends are those that aren’t planned at all. Given the chaos of the week, perhaps that’s not a bad thing and perhaps I should just accept that I can’t control everything.

It’s just hard because, as you know, I’m a control freak. Which is probably why busy work weeks, termites and exploding lawnmowers have thrown me through a loop.

You just don’t see them happening until it’s too late. But they keep life interesting…right?

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When it Rains...It Pours (and the Grass will Continue to Grow)

So, I’m realizing this is not a good week for me as a homeowner.

On top of my unfortunate problem with termites, I now have another expense: A lawnmower.

Yes, readers, last night I decided that it was dry enough to mow my front lawn which was quickly earning the title of “ugliest lawn in the neighbourhood” due to a rather prolific dandelion problem that seemingly sprung up overnight.

So, I got out my mower. I’ve never really liked my lawnmower. It’s only two years old but has never really liked me. It’s leaked oil a few times. Due to some tree-roots, I managed to bend the casing so that the blade lightly rubbed up against it as it ran and made a funny noise. Also, it’s just plain temperamental.

However, I’ve used it once this year already on my back lawn. It had a few problems but it ran fine. The back lawn looked good when I was done.

So, silly me, I assumed it would be ok to use it because, well, as you can imagine, there was no reason to assume it wouldn’t be fine. So, I began to mow the front lawn.

It went fine at first after one slight hiccup of me realizing that the strange plastic wingnut thingy I’d found in the back garden last week was actually part of my lawnmower. This explained why the handle was hanging off the mower until I reattached said plastic wingnut thingy.

Once the handle was on again, I began to mow. I was pleased that the dandelions were quickly disappearing and I began to have the semblance of a tidy lawn.

And then, halfway through my mowing, there was an enormous “BANG” and this very dangerous, very hot piece of metal flew out. Black sludge began pouring out of my engine onto the grass very quickly.

I quickly realized a couple of things:

a) The large piece of hot metal was quite important to my lawnmower as it was actually an Official Mechanical Thingy that was Vital to my Engine’s Performance.
b) I was quite lucky that the exploding Mechanical Thingy hadn’t hit me because not only was it very hot but it had also shattered and flown in several directions. It was also quite sharp.
c) My lawn was going to have a rather nasty black pile of slick oil on it for a while.
d) My lawn was going to have to go unfinished
e) My lawnmower was dead.

Needless to say I wasn’t terribly happy. I suppose I could have tried to restart the mower but the black sludge and suspicious looking shattered mechanical thingy had me rather afraid that I’d create a fire hazard or, worse, have an actual explosion.

So, I did what any dejected Monkeypants would have done. I cast a sad and pathetic look over my half-mown grass and started to push the dead mower towards the toolshed.

During this time, I was being maniacally barked at by the Dog Whisperer’s beasts. This is irritating. I cannot go through my back gate without three nasty rat-terrier type dogs going insane and barking like rabid maniacs at me. It’s always irritating but when you’ve just killed your mower and are suffering from a termite infestation, it’s even worse. During the maniacal barkfest, Wife of Dog Whisperer happened to pull up in her driveway and witness her dogs going mental. She told them to be quiet. They did quiet down a little as they usually do when their owner yells at them. The trouble is, they can’t always be yelling so the dogs will always be yappy. Still, for the time, they were a little quieter.

Anyway, back to my mower woes…even with Wife of Dog Whisperer’s intervention, the horrid creatures still continued to barkingly narrate my pathetic, oil leaking mower push back to the toolshed where I ended up stowing the mower for lack of anything better to do with it.

It’s still in the shed. Obviously. I should do something with it. I could take it to be fixed. There are small engine repair shops around. However, I did some research on the internet to discover what the Flying Hot Mechanical Part of Doom was. Also, I asked my dad because, well, he’s very mechanical. Also, I had absolutely no idea where to start researching. When you’ve been calling it the Flying Hot Mechanical Piece of Doom, that’s a little vague to start researching.

My dad suspected it was the piston. It turns out that it was, most likely, the piston. Since it’s in quite a few fragments around my lawn, I probably would have had to do some CSI work to determine the final decision on what it actually was. However, it sort of looked like the piston. Although, it might have been the carburetor. I still don’t know. I’m not mechanical.

Regardless of what it was, what I discovered is that it would be quite expensive to fix. In fact, it would cost more than the lawnmower did originally.

Thus, I decided that since I already disliked this mower and was going to have to pay a significant fee to get it mowing, I might as well just look for a new one. The bent casing/rubbing blade was more than enough to help me make that decision.

This time, I will not buy the most inexpensive mower I can find because I’ve never owned a mower before and didn’t know better. I did my research online to find out the best brands and value for money and low maintenance mowers that do not regularly blow out black smoke, putter and die on a fairly regular basis.

I’ve decided on a Toro. This probably doesn’t mean much to you. I know Toro means bull in Spanish. That’s what it means to me. However, it’s also a mower made for rougher terrain (like tree roots) and self-propelled so it won’t require massive amounts of Conan strength to get it moving on long grass.

Now all I have to do is wait for it to arrive. I ordered it from Home Depot. I was going to go get it from the store but it turns out that since it’s on sale, nowhere has it in stock. Also, I get free delivery.

Thus, in a few business days, I should have a new mower. I’d worry that my front lawn will look like an oddity being half mowed and half jungle but Dog Whisperer himself came to my rescue, kindly loaning me his lawnmower tonight to finish up. He offered to let me mow my back yard too but given my luck this week, I was a little afraid that if I used his mower too long, I’d blow that one up too. Also, my back garden is still soggy from recently flooding in the heavy rain so it was safer not to mow. The way I look at it is that the back yard isn’t visible- there’s no peer pressure to mow until I can get a new mower.

Still, on the plus side, even though I temporarily have no mower, it was an easily fixable problem even if it was expensive. Just as I’m sure that the termites should be relatively easy to kill. Just expensive. It also taught me that even if my neighbour’s dogs drive me crazy, my neighbor himself can be very kind and generous. That’s a nice thing to know and very much appreciated by me.

All I can say is that I’m desperately hoping that this evening will not behold another difficulty in my life as a homeowner. I’m a little afraid to do anything at home in case it breaks. Still, that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger…right?

And my lawnmower didn’t kill me. I killed it. So I triumphed really if you look at it that way.

Even if I don’t have a lawnmower.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Oh, What a Creepy Crawly Night

I spoke too soon about my Monday evening. That’s what I get for blogging before the evening was over.

On the last episode of “Captain Monkeypants Babbles…A Lot”, I was talking about how I appreciated “24” because Jack Bauer had really bad days and he put my bad days in perspective.

However, last night, I had to deal with something that Jack Bauer NEVER had to deal with and, I tell you, I think I might prefer lopping off someone’s head with a hacksaw.

I’m just kidding about that. Decapitation is not funny. Especially with a hacksaw because that would take not only a lot of upper arm strength but would also be messy.

Anyway, you might wonder what horrible thing might make manual decapitation seem slightly preferable. Well, let me tell you.


Yes. I have termites in my living room.

And yes, thank you, I am disgusted, horrified and plain unhappy about my termite situation.

The ironic thing is that I have these little bait thingies all around my home because the lady from whom I bought my house was very worried about termites. She had an agreement with Terminix and they sprayed/checked yearly.

I didn’t renew her termite agreement with Terminix because, well, at the time, I was working in my old job and didn’t have the income to pay for such luxuries as termite control. Also, I thought the spray/treatment was likely to last a few years because that’s what I read on the internet. Also, I bought my own termite spray to put in the bait thingies last year.

So, you can see why I was a little taken aback to find termites anyway even if I didn’t have a Terminix agreement anymore.

The way I discovered them was quite innocent. I have a large windowseat type of space all the way across my living room window. I don’t really sit there as much as I use it for storage of magazines and my mail. Also, it makes an excellent surface for junk. I usually clean it off weekly.

Last night, I was working on my lap top because even after I got home from work late, I still had work to do. When I was finally done sending resumes and emailing my boss, I left the laptop on but put it on the windowseat so I could make dinner.

Then, after dinner, I went to pick up my laptop to do some surfing. Then I noticed this little row of holes in my windowseat. I’d never noticed them before. At first, I thought it was just the paint cracking. My windowseat was part of the great Cranberry and Sage Painting Fiasco of 2009 and it was before I learned that it’s better not to pile on the paint but, rather, see if I need to touch it up instead. Thus, cracking paint would not have surprised me.

However, upon my closer peering, I noticed that the trim on the windowseat had a hole in it and there were little teeny shavings of wood all around it. I peered even closer.

Then I promptly squealed like a girl and jumped back because there were things moving in the hole.

I’m no stranger to termites. In college, my roommate and I had The Worst Landlord Ever and we had termites. It was vile. They were in our bathroom. We moved out quite soon after that.

This time around, I was still disgusted. The pups were looking at me like I was nuts because of my sudden squeal. I began to tentatively move all of the papers and junk from the area where I found the holes. There were more holes underneath.

I’m a grown woman. I own my own house. I am responsible for two dogs. I have a steady job. Thus, I am an adult.

This still did not stop me from immediately dialing my mother’s cell phone and saying, “mummy! I’ve got termites! What do I do?”

The things is, I really did know what to do. I even had spray in the garage. Yet it’s at times of panic and bugs that I find it somewhat calming to talk to my mummy and daddy. My mother was very calming. My dad was, as I knew he would be, quite instructive. He told me to spray the termites and then call Terminix.

I knew this is what I should do already but it’s somehow nicer when it comes from an authority figure like my dad. After a few sympathetic closing sympathetic words from my mother, I had to go deal with the situation.

I sprayed the termites as carefully as possible while simultaneously making sure that the dogs wouldn’t get near the spray. I also went outside in the pouring rain and tried to spray into the bait thingies that were closest to the windowseat.

Then when I was content that I’d killed all of the nasty, disgusting things that were moving in the holes, I went online and looked up Terminix.

The quickest they can come is Thursday. Eek.

I’m trying to be ok with the termites. It’s hard. After my initial spray last night, some tried to get out of the holes to escape the poison. This determined that they were, in fact, termites and not flying ants. I know this because I looked them up online and the nasty winged creature that was dying on my windowseat looked much more like a termite than an ant.

I haven’t seen anything move in there since last night. I went home at lunch today and didn’t find any new holes nor any new termites. It is not stopping me from being paranoid.

Also not stopping me from being paranoid was the fact that when I went to bed last night, I slept horribly and kept thinking that I was hearing the termites chewing through my house. Since I’d done a thorough inspection before I’d gone to bed to make sure there weren’t any more visible holes/termites, I rationally knew my imagination was playing tricks on me.

In addition, I’m certain that you can’t actually hear termites chewing. Nevertheless, at 2 a.m. when it’s dark, bucketing down with rain and every tiny itch on my body makes me wonder if there’s a termite on me…I feel like I can hear the termites.

It also didn’t help that when I did sleep, I had a very vivid dream in which termites began falling out of the ceiling onto my bed in large, plopping clusters . To make it even worse, in my dream, I knew I was sleeping and I even checked to see if they were real and they were. It was an Inception type situation where it was a dream within a dream.

It is unpleasant to know you’re asleep but still feel like there are large, nasty hives of termites falling on you. Even when you have two pups spooned against you, teddy bear style, for comfort, it’s still unnerving.

When I did wake up, it was still raining. I know the rain is partially responsible for the termites. They came indoors to escape the rain and they found my windowseat. I like the rain a lot…normally. However, when each drip drip drip of the rain splashing from the gutter sounds like “crunchymunchycrunch” of the wood of my house being eaten away by nasty little winged creatures,” it’s hard to like the rain.

Still, as I said, since last night, I haven’t seen a termite in the house. There are no new holes. There are only old ones that are still shiny from the spray that I enthusiastically used to destroy the little…buggers. I’m hoping that I’ve provided a stopgap until Terminix can come and tell me that my house is not falling down or being eaten from the inside out or that I need to spend thousands of dollars so that my house is not going to fall down.

Either way, I’d be much happier without the termites. Also, if I’d seen Jack Bauer face such a formidable enemy, I’d feel better. He’d probably reach in those holes, individual pull out each termite by the wing, rip it off, stomp on them and then set fire to them.

Then again, perhaps calling Terminix is a little destructive.

Now all I have to do is wait.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Muddled Mondays

Today was definitely one of those days where staying home, sleeping in and being lazy would have been a lovely thing to do.

It started with the Dog Whisperer. He has taken to letting the dogs out around 6 a.m. They inevitably run around yapping as they do every time they go outside. Unfortunately, they like to yap by their back gate which, sadly, is probably less than 20 feet from where my bed is inside my house. This means that not only do the beasts wake me up but they also get Rory and Sookie on edge.

When we did get up, it was to a very grey and gloomy day. Our forecast was for severe storms. We ended up just having lots and lots of heavy rain but even without the thunder and lightning, it was the type of weather that’s best enjoyed being lazy indoors.

Nevertheless, I went to work. It was a busy day. The solution to a grey and gloomy day is to be so busy that you don’t have time to think about it being a Monday. Because the other recruiter is out of the office due to his mother’s passing away, I’m the lone body trying to put people in jobs. This isn’t so bad- I like being busy. It’s just a little difficult when everyone wants me to do everything and there’s only so many hours in a day.

Still, I’d rather be swamped than sitting at my desk, twiddling my thumbs. It’s nice when you look at the clock and realize the day is passing in a blur.

On the downside, it was still one of those days that felt…muddled. Even though it began with a job offer for a candidate who badly wanted a job, it was one of those days where things just weren’t smooth. For this particular candidate, the company who wants him to work there is a huge pain in the bottom. Their HR manager is the type of person who expects everything done IMMEDIATELY. She wants things RIGHT NOW.

And yet when it’s her turn to provide information or something else, it takes ages. This is why our poor candidate has waited 2 months since his initial interview to find out if they actually wanted him. Even when we found out he’d got the job, we still didn’t know how much they wanted to pay him, when they wanted him to start and if they were going to have him work on a contract basis through us or they wanted him to start directly with them.

This makes it a little difficult to tell someone they have a job offer. It pretty much whittles down to, “Hey, X…good news. X Company wants to make you an offer. I don’t know how much money they’re offering, when you’d start or who you’ll actually be working for but, hey, none of that matters…right?”

Of course it matters. It’s hard to be vague when a job hangs in the balance. Still, the candidate was excited enough that he was happy to provide his own start date and salary requirements. Now all we need to do is hear back from the company.

This is the type of thing that can turn a day into a muddled mess very quickly. Also, when you have an interview scheduled for a candidate who doesn’t show up because he had a childcare emergency, that can also muddy up the schedule.

Then, finally, when you have to wait at work for a candidate to show up after hours, this can muddle up everything the most. It’s hard to wait because by around 5 p.m., I’m already planning on how I’ll go home, change into comfy clothes after having a happy reunion with the pups and vegging with a nice healthy but tasty dinner.

Still, as Mondays go, even with the muddle, it wasn’t a bad Monday. It was gloomy and grey. It was a little hectic but I’ll take that any day over a Monday that drags by without any type of forgiveness or redemption. Those days are tough. I actually miss the fact that the TV show “24” is no longer on Monday evenings- I’m still convinced that it was a marketing strategy to say, “Hey, you think YOU’RE having a bad day? Jack Bauer is having a WAY worse one than you.”

Jack Bauer was usually having a worse day than me. My bad Mondays usually consist of slowness at work, irritating but non-severe problems and work and a general desire to be anywhere but where I am. Jack Bauer’s bad days had things like decapitating suspects with hacksaws, having to deal with radiation sickness, watching your wife be murdered by your partner and finding out your daughter was held hostage by a mountain lion.

You can see how all that can make me feel a little shallow when I wine about being tired and cranky because my candidate didn’t show up for an interview. What’s that compared to having to singlehandedly save the U.S. at least a couple of times a year on a really bad day?

I miss Jack Bauer. He made me appreciate the goodness in a bad day. Also, he made me wonder simple things like whether he had to go to the toilet, whether he ate food or if he ever just went to bed and stayed there for a week or two without worrying if evil enemies would find him hiding underneath he covers.

Even though Jack Bauer is no longer around to put things in perspective, I’m learning to try to appreciate Mondays for what they are. At best, they’re good days that don’t feel like a Monday. At worst, they’re a day full of faltering before the week begins to hit its stride.

While I didn’t get to stay home and be lazy with the pups, I think going to work and getting things done was a good alternative.

Even if it wasn’t nearly as comfy.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring Reflections

It's officially spring. Even though the calendar, weather and nature has ascerted this fact for several weeks now, as I sit in my new Tuscan room typing this, I can currently hear a cacaphony of lawnmowers performing the first mow of the season. I mowed my grass last week just for the sake of my low-to-the-ground pups who were having trouble maneuvering through the lawn. I didn't, however, mow the front yard because it really didn't need it. I just got back from my parents'. In the short two days I've been gone, my lawn seems to have grown about three inches and the dandelions are thick. Of course, because literally everyone else on my street mowed today or are currently mowing, my lawn looks doubly bad. I suppose I should mow but it will have to wait. It's been a beautiful weekend. Today, it actually got up to 85 degrees. This was a little too warm for my tastes especially given that only three days ago, it was only 45 degrees outside. Still, even with the mugginess of the sudden heat, it's lovely to be outside. It's nice to sit outside and enjoy the fact that winter is truly behind us. I also love that my herbs are starting to be ready to use. That's the one thing I miss dearly during the winter months- having a herb garden from which I can pluck a handful of whatever I need for my recipe without having to go to the store and pay ridiculous prices for some not-so-fresh-but-wanting-to-be herbs. It's also nice to sit in my Tuscan room. Changing the room over from being a retro '70's disco den was a good idea. There was no disco ball in the den but there might as well have been. It had that dark, fake wood panelling so popular in the '70's. It also had very thick, flowery curtains which I'm sure were nice but were far more to the tastes of the 70 year old lady who formerly owned the house than mine. Also, there is thick mustard-yellow carpet. All that remains of the '70's is the carpet which I'm hoping to fix by next weekend. The panelling is now a sunny yellow that matches my poppy-laden paintings of Tuscany perfectly. It feels like a completely different room. For the first time since I moved into my house, I want to sit in the room instead of using it for storage and a passageway to let the dogs out. It's amazing how much something as small as a coat of paint and some new curtains can change a room. It's now a great place to sit with a glass of wine and feel the breeze blow through while having a quick way to glance outside and make sure that the pups aren't Up to No Good. Sitting here writing this is a nice way to wrap up a weekend spent with my parents and my siblings that was already pretty great. It was one of those unplanned weekends that turned out to be a lot of fun which also served to remind me how glad I am that I moved back from Los Angeles. Even though it's only been a couple of years, it's amazing how much my life has changed since then. It was something I was reflecting on during the drive back from my parents. I still miss my friends in L.A. I do miss the variety of landscapes and the balmy Santa Ana winds. I miss the ocean. There are a lot of things I do miss. However, there's also something to be said about being able to hop in the car with the dogs, crank up the iPod and drive two hours to spend a lazy, sunny, spring weekend with my family. It's just another series of small things that makes life wonderful. Happy Monday and thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bad Days are Relative...and Often Fixable

Today was a much better day than yesterday. It was still wasn’t one of the best days I ever had but if I had those all the time, they wouldn’t be best days, would they?

Granted, I went to work in a somewhat dour mood, still a little under a cloud from yesterday. I also realized halfway through the morning when I went to the bathroom that the cute little outfit I’d assembled was a little different in effect that I’d intended. Normally I, Captain Monkeypants, and a somewhat, um, under-endowed female. This is to say that never would anyone look at me and say “Those aren’t REAL!” They’d have a bit of trouble really find them in the first place. However, thanks to the miracles of female undergarments and the wonderous push up bra, today’s accidental effect was for me to look in the mirror and realize that I had a bit of a, uh, ‘boobs mcGee’ effect going on. My top was cut a little lower than normal and the ‘pushing up’ was a little more extreme than intended.

Needless to say, it made me think, “oops,” and so at lunch, I remedied the problem a little. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with being a ‘boobs mcGee’ but, well, it is the office and, well, I’m not exactly someone who goes for that effect very often. If at all. It was almost as bad as the Gold Shirt Wardrobe Mistake of 2010 but it was the type of thing that made me walk around all morning with my arms trying to hide my extreme cleavage effect and made me, well, horribly paranoid that a) people were wondering where the cleavage came from and b) that I was dressed rather inappropriately for work. Chances are, they didn't really care but, well, it's the type of thing you can't stop obsessing about until you remedy it which I did at lunch time. It was a small fix but made things feel better.

So, aside from that slight hiccup, the day wasn’t nearly as bad for me as yesterday. Also, my coworker’s mother passed away unexpectedly and as these tragic events are wont to do, it put my ‘bad day’ in perspective.

That’s the thing with having a bad day, really, isn’t it? Someone’s always got it way worse. The worst feeling is when you have a whine or moan about how irritating your day was because it didn’t go as planned and then you find out the person you’re whining or moaning to has just lost their mother or someone they’re close to has cancer or they just got fired or laid off.

It puts things in perspective.

In my case, it makes me feel instantly guilty and horrible because while I’m complaining about petty little stuff. I hate that feeling because it makes me feel like I’m a lousy human being.

Of course, people are nice and they politely listen and sympathize but even when they say it’s ok to vent because it helps, there’s that voice in my head that says, ‘you’re horrible! How can you whine that your candidate backed out of a job and made you look stupid when [person to whom I am whining] is dealing with [REALLY bad situation]?”

The benefit of this is that over time, I’ve learned to hold back on my venting unless I know it’s safe. If worst comes to worst, I feel sorry for myself for a bit, hug a dachshund and try to put it behind me. I also call my mother because she’s the one person guaranteed to love me even when I’m complaining about silly petty things. Well, I think my dogs love me too but since I’m pretty sure that they don’t understand a word that comes out of my mouth unless it’s one of their favourite words like, “Dinner,” “Walk,” “treat”, “Rory” or “Sookie,” it’s a little different.

The moral of the story is that my day yesterday felt horrible while it was happening. It slowed me down a little at work but, really, it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t fend off with an evening spent mowing the lawn, watching TV and having a nice glass of wine.

It helped that it was the first mow of the season. I hadn’t planned on mowing but the dogs being relatively low to the ground have been having a spot of trouble getting over the rather large, tall clumps of grass as they run around the garden. Sometimes, I’ve lost them and gone out into a panic only to discover they were lying in a tall patch of grass.

So I mowed. My mower was angry. It ran out of oil. I added oil. Mower and I fought. I won. Mower had to mow.

Of course, given the fact that I’m not overly fond of mowing, I wouldn’t say I really “won” per se but, well, the grass is pretty even and the dogs can run freely. Next time I mow, I’m determined to make it more even. It’s hard when there are holes from digging dogs all over the place.

I figure that getting the grass cut was a victory. Also, spending quite a long time yanking the mower’s cord and trying to get the bloody thing to start is definitely a good way to take out some frustration even if a new breed of frustration arises when the mower doesn’t start. It’s worth it the minute the motor catches, finally and begins chugging along.

Also, when I’m mowing, it means I can watch the pups to make sure they’re not trying to find the latest and greatest way to escape. That, I think, is a double win.

In short, with the help of a stubborn mower, a wonderful mother, two cute dogs and a sobering reminder of what a bad day really is, I’m back to normal and grateful that a bad day for me could be solved so easily. Even if I did have an emergency clothes change at lunch.

And it helps that it’s almost the weekend.

Thanks, as always, for reading. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Focusing on the Small but Positive Things on a Bad Day At Work

Some days just fight against positivity. This is one of them. My small pleasure for the day that I’m focusing on is that I get to leave work and go home. It’s not much but it’s definitely seeing the positive in a vast array of negativity.

It was just one of those days. If something could go wrong, it did. I’m not going to bore you with the details because, well, I don’t want to bore you with the details. It was just the type of day where I found myself wanting to hide in the bathroom in case that made it get better or I just kept counting down until I got to go home.

I’ve had days like this before. I’m sure you have too. They’re unavoidable. Even when you try very, very hard to stay happy and positive and tell yourself that ‘this too shall pass’ and ‘well, it could be worse,’ it’s hard to remember that when the next annoyance occurs.

The nice thing is that this type of day will pass and it could be MUCH worse. It’s nothing that can’t be solved by going home, scooping up a dachshund and hugging her, making something good for dinner and drinking a glass of wine.

The trouble is that while you’re at work and the domino effect of frustration is in full-swing, it’s all you can do to not put your head down on your desk and either weep with frustration or beat your forehead against the desk repeatedly. Either way, you’re going to look strange to coworkers.

I didn’t do either. Instead, I focused on the fact that the day would be over eventually and tomorrow would be a whole new day.

Also, it wasn’t all bad. Despite the fact that my one candidate I had to interview today got lost on the way here and was almost an hour late which really screwed up my schedule…he was a nice guy and I was glad I got to meet him.

I suppose it’s all about seeing the sunshine instead of all the clouds it’s shining through. It’s all about perspective. My bad day was a haze of rejections and mistakes but in that, there were things I did right as well.

It goes back to what I’ve been saying all week. It’s all about the small things. If I focus on the small positives, the day doesn’t seem quite so bad.

In my case getting to go home is the biggest ‘small’ positive. Yet the day had a few others of those. I got to make a terrible “That’s what she said,” joke and have my coworker walk away, rolling her eyes. I got to leave my Diet Coke out of the fridge all day and enjoy it’s room temperature-ness at the end of the day. (Yes, I find that a big positive).

And then there are the non-work things that helped me get through the day. The fact that I’m going to make salmon with asparagus, sautéed spinach and a baked potato for dinner is a positive thing. The fact that the “Top Chef: All Stars” reunion is on tonight and the start of “Top Chef: Masters” is another. The fact that I can call my mother to complain about my bad day and know that she’ll listen, sympathize and be there for me is a big ‘small’ positive.

Finally, the fact that no matter how bad the day is, it’s never enough to make me hate my job and not want to come back tomorrow. That’s a HUGE small positive.

So, what it really comes down to is do I want this day to defeat me or will I conquer it and start it all over tomorrow?

I think that answer is pretty obvious. That, in itself, is the biggest small positive of all.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cures for the Grumps...

Today I almost veered off my attempted course of positivity by being in a cranky mood. It happened because I was trying to get things done at work and the website I needed to use kept crashing. Also, our office was cold. Just as it’s the small things that make life better, it’s also the small things that can make us crotchety.

Still, when I went home for lunch, I was bound and determined to be in a better mood when I got back. Having two waggy-tailed pups greeting me when I got home was a help. Also, after my healthy lunch of carrots, broccoli and cauliflower in low-fat cheese sauce, I splurged and ate a Cadbury Crème Egg. I shouldn’t have splurged because Cadbury Crème eggs don’t exactly fall under the “lose 15 pounds by eating healthy” diet that I’m on but, well, sometimes, you just have to ignore the schoolmarm voice in your head that says “Put. That. Egg. Down. Now. It’s BAD for you!!!!”.

So, I ate the egg. And it was very tasty. Of course, I miss the days when I used to eat four or five of the things and not gain an ounce nor feel guilty but, well, it’s probably better that those days are behind me.

After I ate my egg, I spent some time dropping stones into the sewer grate for the pups. Today had the added bonus of water sloshing down there because it rained a lot yesterday. Rory and Sookie get VERY excited when there’s water sloshing down there. Our stones made a very satisfying PLOP whenever we dropped one.

Then I walked around the garden. It’s amazing to see how much spring has taken over. The lilac bushes have the first teeny tiny signs of flowers coming on them and the hyacinths and daffodils are proudly blooming.

Best yet, my very first piece of asparagus had pushed its way up. I planted the asparagus last year at the beginning of the summer. I had to let it grow and not pick it so it would have seeds. This year, I have my very first edible piece. I’m going to let it get bigger but it’s very exciting. I’m a little addicted to asparagus anyway but to have my very own makes me feel like, well, a grownup.

Fortunately, with the help of my dogs, the crème egg and the asparagus, my bad mood had gone and I spent the afternoon in a much better mood.

It also helped that I decided that a little singing was in order in my office. Thus, I sang a selection of Mumford and Sons songs quite loudly and off key for a while in my office. That helped. Everyone in my office has a sing at some point so it’s not like anyone notices. My fellow recruiter was belting out “I will Always Love You” to his computer earlier. We’re a singing kind of office at times.

My singing helped my mood a lot. I like being in a good mood at work. It helps me get back to my enjoyment of the small things. Today’s small thing was that our branch administrator went to Sam’s club and stocked up on drinks for the office. She bought Coke Zero. I got to get a Coke Zero right from the box rather than from the fridge. I don’t like cold drinks too much unless it’s very hot outside. I like them room temperature. I often get one out of the fridge in the morning and sit it on my desk to warm up. Thus, getting a fresh Coke Zero and not having to wait for it to warm up was quite exciting.

I am aware that this is an odd thing to get excited about but, well, if you read my blog, you’ll know it doesn’t take much to get me excited. Even a lukewarm Coke Zero can do it.

Also, my branch administrator bought a giant box of Cheez Its. I like Cheez Its. They involve cheese and salt, two things of which I am very fond. I find them tempting but, well, I had a Cadbury Crème egg at lunch and I don’t think the schoolmarm in my head would allow a second breach with regards to eating healthy.

I seem to be the only one resisting the Cheez Its. Everyone has little cups on their desk filled with crackers. Their fingers are slightly orange. I find that amusing. I don’t like orange fingers which is why I eat my Cheetos and Cheez Its with chopsticks, toast tongs or a fork, depending on what is on hand.

The nice thing is, I wasn’t sitting at my desk thinking, “I’m SO good for resisting the Cheez Its.” Instead, I was grateful I didn’t have orange fingers. Like I keep saying, it’s the small things in life. Not having orange fingers is a small thing that I appreciate. Then again, I’m a wee bit obsessive compulsive about hand cleanliness anyway. I wash my hands a lot, particularly when I cook. Also, I carry around those little anti-bacterial gel thingies from Bath and Body Works. They make these nifty little silicone carriers for them now. I have a lot of them. I can’t decide if I like my hands to be clean or I simply love the smell of the Blueberry and Strawberry gels that I have.

Either way, I have clean hands. Which is a nice thing. I was reading about unclean places and where the most germs could be found. Bathroom doors, shopping cart handles and free sample bowls in stores are the worst. This is why I won’t try those communal bowls of chips/pretzels and dip in stores.

I’m not a germaphobe. I just don’t like germs. Who does, really? They’re one of the more unlikeable things that we have in our world. Those and mosquitoes which aren’t so different from germs, when you think about it.

Anyway, I’m rambling. I ramble a lot. I apologize. My point of my last ramble is another small thing I am grateful for is that Bath and Body works caters to the scent-tramp like me and provides smells for every occasion- licorice at Halloween, gingerbread-mint at Christmas and blueberry for spring and summer. There are plenty of other scents- it’s usually five for $5 so I have quite a selection. I like selection. This is why I have at least four or five different types of shampoo in my shower at a time. My overnight guests have often commented that they enjoy the ‘smorgasboard of shampoo selection’ that I provide in my shower.

It’s fun to have a choice. I can choose my scents, my shampoos, my guilty food-pleasure for the day and whether or not I want to have orange fingers.

Best of all, I can choose if I give in to a bad mood or I make it go away. Whether it’s by singing or a lukewarm Coke zero, a Cadbury egg or some puppy time, there’s always a solution for the grumps.

You just have to find it, that’s all.

Happy Wednesday!