Thursday, June 30, 2011

Embracing the Season...Bugs, Worms and All

I woke up today and thought it was Friday. Needless to say, I was disappointed when I heard the sound of the Rumpke Recycling truck and soon after heard the sound of my recycling bin being emptied and realized as I lay in bed that it was, in fact, Thursday.

I decided to embrace the fact that I still had another day to go until the weekend because, well, I quite like Thursdays. They’re on the downward slide of the climb towards the weekend. Also, during the regular TV season, they’re good nights for TV. Also…I just like Thursdays.

When I got to work and we had our morning meeting, my boss asked if anyone else felt like it was Friday. I was surprised that several people said yes and not just me. It must be the anticipation of the three-day weekend.

Even though we do have to work tomorrow, I anticipate it being rather quiet. That’s the thing with holiday weekends. People leave early and come back late so the days before and after the holiday are pretty quiet.

I don’t mind. In there, for me, are three lovely days away from the office where I get to hang out with my mother and my pups and just enjoy the summer days.

Even though summer isn’t my favourite season, I’m finding ways to appreciate it. Obviously, the best way that I appreciate it is through food. I love summer food. I love going outside, picking fresh basil and tossing it with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella to make the perfect summer caprese salad. I love seeing the cucumber on my vine growing to the size of one you actually buy in a store and knowing that I had a part in that cucumber growing. I love the promise of my own fresh tomatoes as the first flowers on my tomato plants appear.

Most of all, I love that everything is so…fresh.

That’s the thing with winter food. While I love it’s heartiness and the comfort food overtones of autumn and winter flavours, it’s not fresh. It’s heavy as cold-weather food should be.

It’s why I love the seasons. It’s so nice that when we’re finally getting tired of salads and grilled fare, it’s time to bring out the pumpkins, winter squash and stewed dishes. Then, when we’re growing tired of heavier winter fare suddenly the first asparagus and fresh vegetables appear in the stores.

So, even though I’m not a fan of the heat and humidity of the lazy days of summer, I do appreciate the fresh produce it gives me. I love grilling a piece of fish quickly and having it with two sides of fresh veggies.

I also love that I can sit outside in the evenings and appreciate the summer nights. Granted, these evenings are accompanied by the gentle ‘whirr’ of my Off battery operated mosquito fan but it’s still a nice way to spend the evenings. I do think that the mosquito fan works. The only thing is that it only works on mosquitoes. There are still plenty of other irritating little insect life forms that circle but since they don’t bite like mosquitoes, it’s not so bad.

I like to sit outside until it’s just about to get dark when the fireflies first come out. I find there’s something magical about fireflies. One minute, it’s dusk and then it’s filled with these little sparks of green glow that flicker out so quickly you wonder if they were ever there.

My only problem with the fireflies is that I have to remind Sookie constantly not to eat them. Unfortunately, she’s got a certain fondness towards eating bugs. Well, she doesn’t actually eat them as much as like to catch them with her mouth for sport. Of course, she accidentally kills them at which point they’re no longer fun and she spits them out. Sometimes, she brings them as a gift. It’s a little vile but a dog’s got to do what a dog’s got to do.

Rory, on the other hand, doesn’t like bugs. Her preference is worms- dried ones. I discovered when we were out for a walk one night after it had been rainy for a few days and then the sun had been shining for a few more. The rain had caused a mass population of worms to be washed onto the paths and roads. Then, when the sun shone, they dried up and their little dessicated corpses were all that remained.

To me, they were rather yucky little additions to our nightly work. To Rory, they were a sumptuous feast. It took me a while to realize why it was taking my little dachshund so long to catch up to Sookie and I when I realized she was trying to eat all the worms.

Yes, again, this is a little vile. However…worms are supposed to nutritious…right? I did try and stop her for a while but unless we just stopped going for walks, the sheer amount of dried worms that were out there made it impossible. Also, we had some on our patio. I just made sure to give her some teeth cleaning biscuits after she’d had her ‘feast’.

I will say that the eating of the worms and bugs are not exactly one of the best things about summer but, well, in the winter, I deal with snow-covered dogs who like to go out and roll in the white stuff and then come in and roll on the carpet to get the snow off.

Each season has its merits. When summer gets really hot, muggy and comfortable, I might start looking towards Autumn but, for now, I’m enjoying the fact that the summer bring fresh food, long days and fireflies.

I also like that it brings us a nice long Fourth of July Weekend. I intend to enjoy mine. I hope you do too!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

You Can't Please Two Dogs At Once...

I got out on the right side of bed today. I just thought I’d share since I was so grumpy yesterday.

It was actually hard to get up. It was very cool outside last night and I slept with the windows open, a fan blowing the air into the room. I find there’s no sleep better than that with fresh air, while I’m curled up under my covers. It helps even more if you have a cuddly dachshund who likes to crawl under the covers and tuck herself under your arm. Of course, this does lead to all sorts of complications because the other dachshund gets jealous. In this case, it was Rory who was jealous. This meant that when I finally woke up this morning and opened my eyes, Rory was sitting far enough away to indicate she did NOT want to cuddle and she was glaring at me. It may seem odd that a dog could glare but, trust me, they certainly can. When Rory is mad or sad, her ears flatten and she looks very, very dejected or she glares. This morning, she was glaring.

She still hadn’t forgiven me by the time I left for work. I can tell when she’s mad because she makes a point of rudely ignoring me even when I’m attempting to pet her.

Meanwhile, Sookie smugly sat nearby, knowing that she was in favour.

I find the politics of my dogs rather amusing. They love each other but there are times when you can’t actually tell. It’s actually quite peculiar. Sometimes, they fight and play so roughly I’m worried they’ll hurt each other but, moments later, they’re laying peacefully, side by side, resting.

One of their favourite games is “Torment The Beasts Next Door.” This involves tearing up and down the fence line several times while the Dog Whisperer’s beasts try to chase them through the fence. Then, just as Dog Whisperer’s beasts are in a complete frenzy…Rory and Sookie dart away and hide behind the tool shed. Meanwhile, the beasts next door turn on one another, sniping because they’re so wound up they take their energy out on one another. It shouldn’t be amusing but it is.

Some nights, when Dog Whisperer’s dogs aren’t outside, I watch Sookie and Rory run around and around the garden. Last night, Rory was not in the mood to run whereas Sookie was. I watched my peculiar pup run with delight around and around and around the shed. When she was finally done, she decided to go chew on Rory.

The odd thing is that Rory doesn’t seem to mind being chewed. There are often nights where Rory sits happily chomping on one of her chew bones while Sookie sits astride her back, chewing on her ears. There’s no damage done except for a bit of slobber but it still surprises me when it happens before Rory just takes it in stride, placidly ignoring the chewing. Sookie soon gets bored and finds something else to do. It’s just as though Rory is tolerating her annoying sibling’s behavior and deliberately doesn’t react because she knows that eventually Sookie will stop because she’s not getting a reaction. Rory is a smart dog so I wouldn’t be surprised if that was her strategy.

Rory has some fun habits of her own. She likes to jump in the air, completely leaving the ground. This isn’t any hopping…this is full on leaping into the air as though she’s on an invisible doggie trampoline. Her new favourite leaping routine is to run up to me and then leap up by my knees. She loves it when I catch her and scoop her up. She’s got to the point where this is now expected and we have certain cues at which point I know she wants me to catch her as she jumps. The main cue is whenever I go into my bedroom and take my shoes off for some reason. This is Rory’s cue to eagerly leap, all paws off the ground and my cue to catch her under her belly and scoop her up. It took a little practice but we have the routine down now.

Sookie, meanwhile, stares at me with her Very Serious expression. She does not like to jump but she does like to be picked up and cuddled so I must make sure that I play “Scoop up the Leaping Rory,” I must quickly follow it by “Pick up the Serious Sookie.”

Another habit of Rory’s that both endearing and slightly irksome is that she despises it when I’m at the computer. For example, right now as I sat down to blog, she cast me a disgusted look and then slunk off outside. She will continue to sulk outside. Periodically, she’ll come inside and see if I’m still at the computer. If I am, the whole routine begins again. Usually, I end up having to go coax her inside and showing her I’m done with the computer.

For a while, I did think the problem was not so much me being at the computer but, rather, more the chair I was sitting in when I typed. My chairs, you see, are not very heavy. Sometimes, I hang things like my coat over the back. Occasionally, when I take my coat off the back of the chair, the chair tips over. This has happened more than once and it scares Rory whenever it happens. Thus, she doesn’t like my chairs.

However, one night when I took my laptop and sat on the sofa, Rory did the same thing: Gave me a dirty look and ran outside. Meanwhile, Sookie just ignores it. She likes to sit near me while I’m typing. Actually, she prefers to sit on me but that makes it hard to type.

If she does sit on my lap, I thus have to contend with a jealous Rory. She’ll come in from one of her sulks, see Sookie on my lap while I’m working on the hated computer and, well, let’s just say it takes more than a little coaxing for her to forgive me.

I know, I know…I write about my dogs a lot. I also spoil my dogs too much. Some would say I’m exaggerating to say that dogs have moods and that I’m anthropomorphize them too much. However, it’s very hard not to because, well, there’s no mistaking it…my dogs do have moods and they do act decidedly human at times.

I mean, I began my day with a sulky Rory and a cuddly Sookie. At present, I have…a sulky Rory and a happy Sookie because she’s sitting by my feet while Rory is outside, currently yipping her “COME OUT HERE” yip because…she’s bored and wants attention.

One thing I’ll say is that I’m never bored when my two girls are around.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wrong Side of Bed Days

Today was one of those days where I woke up in a bad mood and it didn’t get better. As a child on days like this, my mother would say I got out on the wrong side of a bed. I was a bit literal as a child and would be a bit baffled by this because for many years, my bed was against a wall and thus there was only one side on which I could exit but, as I got older, I realized it wasn’t a literal phrase.

Still, I do try to get out on the same side of the bed every day anyway. This isn’t always easy when the pups are splayed out and I have to climb over them. Since Sookie has taken to sleeping on my legs, this is rather difficult.

Nevertheless, I do feel like I got out of bed on the wrong side. I’ve just felt crabby all day. Work isn’t going fabulously lately. I feel like I’m doing a lot of work but nothing is happening and I’m stuck in a rut. I’m hoping it’s just a phase again and that things will pick up but I do prefer it when I have a lot of things happening.

The problem with work is that even when I don’t mind going, it ends up being the recipient of my bad mood. This is the problem with spending 8+ hours a day in the same place. Even when it’s not work causing the bad mood, I take the bad mood with me.

Still, for a bad moody kind of day, it went pretty quickly. I don’t feel like I got anything accomplished but that’s because it was one of those days where I had a lot going on but nothing to show for it at the end of the day.

On the plus side, it’s a beautiful evening. The sun is shining and the humidity is low. Since it’s July, days like this will become rarer so I am taking the time to appreciate it while I can. This includes mowing the lawn which is a necessary evil. I’m sure I’ll get to relax outside afterwards but, for now, lawn mowing has become less of the bane of my existence and, instead, I actually quite like it. I find it relaxing. Well, I should say, I mostly find it relaxing. It’s not so relaxing when there are three beasts in Dog Whisperer’s yard trying to yap themselves to death as I mow but, generally speaking, I’ve found that if I yell at them, Dog Whisperer comes out, throws me a dirty look and brings them inside. I’m not fond of having to yell, honestly. I’d prefer that Dog Whisperer actually noticed that his dogs were close to apoplexy in their loud, shrill annoying barking but, alas, he rarely does. If I yell, I think he hears that, especially as it’s generally, “SHUT UP!” I don’t think he likes me shouting at his beasts but someone has to do it, I think.

I’m finding that in addition to the fact that the dogs are rather annoying with their frantic barking, my dogs are often blamed as being the noisy dogs. This is because I walk the girls every day and I get out and about. People like to stop and greet us and several times, I’ve had comments such as “Are these the ones that like to make all the noise?”

I have to politely explain that while Rory and Sookie do have a yip on occasion, they are not constantly yipping at everything that moves. I don’t like them getting blamed unfairly. I do confess that lately, Rory has been quite…vocal…outside but it’s by far a different type of vocal that the cacophony of demented barking that comes from next door.

Rory’s barking is more of a summons. When Sookie and I sit down in the evenings or if I’m blogging and on the computer, Rory has taken to going and sitting outside the back door on the grass. Then, without fail, she sends up a couple of barks. Her bark isn’t a woof…it’s more an indignant cry. It seriously sounds like she’s yipping: “Come out here! I’m bored!” And she keeps making the sound until either I or Sookie goes out to see her. Usually it’s me. Rory proceeds to get excited to see me and follows me back inside. If I dare start emailing or blogging, the whole process starts over. Only am I ready to sit down and watch her play with her toys, perhaps joining in, does she settle down.

Yes, my dogs are needy. I probably shouldn’t indulge them but I do. I have to admit that I quite enjoy it. They have personalities and that makes life more fun.

Also, they somehow manage to drive the bad moods right out of me when I get home from work and there’s a lot to be said for that.

If only I could take them to work.

Happy Wednesday and thanks for reading!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Living in a Virtual World...

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again but sometimes, I forget what life was like before the internet came along.

Even though my earlier years of life were spent in the dark ages of having to use typewriters, having to go to the library to look things up using, gasp, one of those old-fashioned card catalogue systems and actually physically gathering around a water cooler to have a water cooler discussion, I’ve almost forgotten what those days are like.

It’s so easy to satisfy our need for instant gratification. You can google anything these days. You want to know what other movies that guy you recognize but can’t identify has been in? Look him up on IMDB. Want to know mostly-correct historical facts about something? Look it up on Wikipedia. Want to talk about a TV episode you just watched but no one you know watches it? Go to or Television Without Pity and join in the discussions there.

The list goes on and on. If you want a certain recipe, there’s a place to find it online. If you are trying to use up an ingredient in your fridge but don’t know what to make with it? Go to and type in the ingredients you have. Voila! Instant recipe suggestions.

Want to see what the weather is going to really do because you know your meteorologist will inevitably be proven wrong? Go online and look at a radar map. Want to know what the time is in Slovakia? Google it.

You get my point. We no longer have to wait to find out anything anymore as long as an internet connection can be found. Even then, the power of smartphones allows us to have Google at our fingertips.

It’s spoiled me. If I’m out and about and suddenly I decide I want to go somewhere else but don’ t know the location, I just google it and then enter the address into my GPS.

We never really have to wait for much anymore. We can make appointments with our doctor online, make appointments at the car dealership, track packages to see when they’ll arrive at home. We can do all our banking from home without having to ever go to a bank. We can order groceries. We can order contact lenses. We can order anything.

In fact, the only thing that the internet can’t do is spit out the item you just ordered from instantaneously and I don’t see that happening in the near future. Also, while you can make travel arrangements, you still have to physically go to an airport and fly on a plane. Maybe in a few centuries teleportation will be an option and thus, the internet WILL be able to do everything but, for now, we do still have to do some things ourselves.

The problem is that I’ve found I get used to things the way they are online. I read a lot of news stories, reviews and TV recaps online. I always enjoy reading the comments below because you get to see if people had the same reaction as you did. For example, after watching “True Blood” last night, I was a little surprised at exactly how far the story on the show now differs from the books on which it was based. It’s not all bad- “True Blood” is not intended to be quality TV but, rather, a fun, quite trashy entertainment experience. However, while I think it’s still pretty entertaining, I’m a little sad that they’re doing some things so very differently from the things that happened in the books. I know, I know…books and movies/TV are never the same and the books are always better but, well, I like them to at least have some things in common. The way “True Blood” is going, all that will be the same are the character names and the fact that it’s a world where vampires, fairies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures coexist.

So, it was cathartic to read other people’s comments on the internet this morning and find out that I wasn’t alone in my opinions. I don’t know why it’s so nice to find out that other people share your mindset but it’s oddly comforting. It’s the same thing as when I read a book and I don’t like it. It’s cathartic to go to and read some of the less positive reviews of the book and find comfort in the fact that you’re not the only person who wishes he/she hadn’t wasted the time on reading the silly thing.

The trouble with doing this type of thing online is that you get used to it- even though you’re not really having a conversation as much as ‘listening’ to other people’s opinions, it still feels like you’ve had a conversation and catharsis is reached.

The problem lies in the fact that I still read books and magazines in hard copy form. When I read an article, I’ve started automatically looking for the comments at the end of an article. This is not good because, well, magazines don’t have comment sections the way online publications do.

It’s a similar situation when I read a couple of books on my Amazon Kindle and then I switch back to reading hard copies of books. It feels weird not to have a button to flip pages and it’s a lot harder to read one-handed.

Technology has spoiled me. I don’t think there’s any other way of putting it. It’s not always a bad thing but I do confess, there are times when I go to a library and I miss that silent thrill that they used to hold. Libraries are never as silent as they used to be because there’s always the ever-present tap-tap-tap sound so keyboards clicking because that’s how you look up books in a library nowadays. I miss those wax-smelling wooden libraries with the heavy drawers crammed full of hand-typed index cards that told you what books the library held. Sure, it’s quicker to look things up online but there was more ceremony involved in the old way. It made it seem more of an ‘event’ to go to the library. I used to hold my breath, hoping that a certain book I wanted would be there on the shelf. Now, I can look it up online and not have to spend the time going to the library.

Libraries aren’t the only place that have been changed by the internet but, for some reason, they come to mind as one of the major places that have undergone a technological transformation in the past 20 years. I’m sure it’s the same for hospitals, schools, banks and other institutions.

It’s not a bad thing. As Bob Dylan sang, “The Times They Are a-Changing…” It’s just that with technology moving at the speeds they are now, they’re changing so rapidly we don’t have time to catch up before they’ve changed again. Life is more convenient with the internet. It moves a lot faster. We get more done. We get more answers. We learn more.

It’s just that once in a while, when I find myself googling something like, “does mulch really stop weeds” when I already really know the answer, I realize that I’m spoiled rotten and I don’t really need to look it up just because I can.

Granted, I do anyway because I’m an internet junkie but at least I know I probably shouldn’t.

And knowing is half the battle…right?

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Another Productive Weekend That Ends With Good Food...

There's nothing better than ending a nice busy weekend with a good meal. I'm currently cooking roast beef with a red wine reduction, parsnip puree and roast potatoes. After the productive and physically active day that I've had, I think I deserve to eat something good.

I spent the day out in the garden. Even though the day began wet and rainy, it cleared up nicely and even though it was wet, it made it easier to pull up the weeds. And I had a LOT of weeds. In the end, I pulled up as many as I could but decided a thick layer of mulch was the best way to cover up the remainders. The easy way out, I know but it looks much better. Also, carrying ten bags of mulch that easily weighed forty pounds each because they were wet was a nice physical workout.

Yesterday was busy too. Mother Monkeypants is coming down to stay next weekend. I'm quite excited by this. It's been a long time since I had a house-guest and it's doubly nice that it's my mum. She's an easy guest to have around and even when we don't actually do anything of significance, we still have a good time in each other's company.

The problem was that since I haven't had a houseguest in a while and I redid my family room, I've been using the guest room as a storage facility. As you can imagine, now that someone's actually going to sleep in there, I had to do something about it. My solution is to move it to my office for now. I've decided to actually have my own yard sale when our neighbourhood has its annual sale in August. I have a lot of junk. Much of it is stuff I've bought at garage sales over the past few years. Someone else's junk became my treasure and now, sadly, it's my junk which can be someone else's treasure. I like circles like that...

I did get the room cleaned out. I also scrubbed the house so it's clean for Mother Monkeypants. Of course, since then I mulched the garden and somehow, those wood chips get everywhere so I have a feeling I'll be cleaning again before she comes down on Friday.

All in all, it's been a busy weekend but I've decided I like that way. It's fun to get stuff done because then, after I've spent the day being extremely produtive, I get to relax outside with a glass of sparkling water or a glass of wine or even a beer, depending on my mood. It's firefly season now and it's a beautiful thing to sit outside, watch the sun go down and then see the fireflies come out.

Tonight, I probably won't catch many fireflies. For one thing, "True Blood" is on HBO and's kind of cloudy out there. There's a chance of storms tonight. I hope we have one just because it'll be good for my mulch but since we had one last night and I spent the entire storm, lying in bed with a dachshund trying to cram herself as physically close to me as possible because she was afraid, I won't be too disappointed if we don't have another one.

Even though the weekend is winding down, I find that I feel a sense of accomplishment because I did get some things done this weekend. The thing with being a homeowner, I've learned, is that there's ALWAYS something to do. I do have plans to start a new novel but, for now, I've decided that it's nice to get outside and enjoy the weather while it's still nice enough to be enjoyed. Soon enough, it'll get hot and humid again so I figure that will be my writing time.

Tomorrow marks another Monday but it's the day before a holiday weekend so even if Monday presents itself in true fashion, I can live with it. The bright light of a three-day weekend is enough to make even Monday bearable.

Although, as always, I hope it's a good Monday that doesn't need to be 'beared'.

Happy Monday and I hope you had great weekends too!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Rain Mower

I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. I live in a nice neighbourhood but I have some odd neighbours.

Sometimes, I feel as though I’m acting like my grandmother because I like to stand at the window and watch what the neighbours are doing. It’s an inherited trait. My mother does it too. Whenever there’s any excitement or, even, something ‘different’ going on, we all go to the window and have a peer out to see what’s going on.

This morning, for example, I noticed the lady across the road was rearranging her rubbish bins. She was taking bags out of one dustbin and putting them in another. This may not seem too odd but she was doing it while the trash collectors were literally waiting to take them from her to empty. I couldn’t figure out why she was doing this. At first I thought she’d dropped something that she didn’t want to get thrown out with the trash but from my perspective, it simply looked like she was playing “Rearrange the Trash Bags.” What was even more strange is that in the end, the Rumpke dustman took both cans and emptied them into the back of the garbage truck which null and voided her rearranging.

I don’t know that lady very well. When I first moved in, she left me a note saying how she’d been friends with the old lady who sold me my house and that she’d love to meet me. We did finally meet when she came over and made a point of telling me how half the plants in my garden had been transplanted from hers. She was nice but aside from her taking me to her church once, she’s pretty much avoided me ever since. I think this may have to do with the fact that I came home one day shortly after the church outing and discovered a neighbour had kindly unlocked my front door to put a package from UPS inside for me. Since I don’t like the idea of strangers having a key to my house, I changed the lock. I think it was Trash Rearranging Lady. I probably offended her. I’m not terribly upset about it, honestly.

The other odd occurrence last night was Dog Whisperer. He truly baffled me.

You see, when I got home from work last night, I decided to take advantage of the fact it wasn’t raining in order to cut my lawn. Lately, it’s been raining a lot and my lawn had become very unruly. I managed to get my lawn mowed just as thunder began to rumble in the sky.

Just as I finished mowing and was pushing my lawnmower back into the shed, I heard a lawnmower start up next door. Dog Whisperer was mowing his front lawn.

Since it was clearly going to rain, I thought that it might have been wiser to wait but, well, sometimes, I guess the urge to mow the lawn is strong. I did have a rather silly minor moment of guilt in wondering if, in my efforts to make my front lawn look nice, I’d made his lawn look even longer and ugly and so he had to go even it up in order to make it match the cut of my grass. We do have a shared strip that runs between our houses. I cut one side, he cuts the other. It makes it pretty obvious when one lawn has been mowed and the other hasn’t.

Of course, I realized my guilt was rather silly since it wouldn’t be the first time our lawns didn’t match and, really, I’m quite sure it had nothing to do with his sudden urgency to mow.

I left him to it and decided to attempt to grill the steak for my tacos quickly before the rain started to come down. By this time, Dog Whisperer had moved to his back yard. I had just pulled the steak off the grill and was trying to lightly grill the tortillas before it started to pour. Quickly, I shut the grill off, sheltered my food and went inside.

Dog Whisperer continued to mow. As I sat down to eat my dinner, the rain started to really come down. And yet, I could still hear the thrum of the lawnmower in Dog Whisperer’s yard. He was determined to mow, no matter what.

As I continued to eat, the rain got harder. It was that really, really heavy type of rain that actually bounces up again after it hits the pavement because of the force at which it is hitting. It’s the type of rain that stings and soaks you in less than 10 seconds.

And yet….the mowing continued. I got up to make sure Dog Whisperer hadn’t had a horrible mowing accident in which he slipped on the wet grass and managed to mow himself in half. I realize that this is an impossibility because you need to be holding the bar thing on the handle to keep the mower going and as soon as you release it, the mower dies. However, I have a dark imagination and I was concerned anyway.

Nope. He was still upright and mowing. He was soaked to the skin. He was hunched over. The rain was coming down so hard it couldn’t have been easy to see and yet….he didn’t give up.

I did worry a little about his mower. I know they’re waterproof to some degree but when it’s raining that hard, surely the water can’t be good for it. Also, wet grass is hard to cut because it clings and the suction of the mulching function causes the grass to clog up. In addition, it was lightning. Mowing the grass in a thunderstorm didn’t strike me as…sensible, per se. Finally, wet grass is slippery and I was a wee bit concerned that he might slip and accidentally cut off his foot. Hey, that one could actually happen.

Wet grass or no, he kept going.

I should commend his determination. I mean, he’s not a quitter. It’s just that…well….truth be told, it seemed a little daft. I couldn’t figure out why he was still going. I understand wanting to finish something up but if it had been me, I would have stopped the mower and waited out the rain.

Well, actually, if it had been me, I wouldn’t have started mowing after it was clearly starting to storm. When I did mow my lawn, the clouds were starting to roll in but it was clear that I had enough time.

Yet even though the rain came down with solid force and the world was soaking wet, Dog Whisperer was the Little Mower that Could. He didn’t give up. He kept mowing. When he wheeled his mower into the shed, he was so wet, I knew he was squelching. He’d abandoned his white t-shirt mid-mow and was mowing bare chested. If it had been ridiculously hot and he wanted to cool down, it might have made sense but, alas, it was actually quite chilly with the rain.

Still, he got his lawn mown and I guess that was important to him. I did notice today that his diagonal lines weren’t quite as straight as usual and were even a little wavery in patches but I suppose when the rain is coming down so hard that you can’t see, that’s bound to happen.

I admit, I probably shouldn’t have been quite so nosy but I was both fascinated and surprised at his dedication to his mowing. I’m quite glad he didn’t get struck by lightning. I’m also glad he didn’t mow over his foot. I am, however, quite baffled about his lawn mowing obsession. Perhaps all will reveal itself in time. Maybe he’s having a garden party directly after work tonight and it was the only mowing time he had. Of course, after the rain stopped last night probably would have been smarter, but what do I know?

Ah well, I’m sure he has his reasons and I’m sure I’ll never learn them. I suppose I could ask but, well, that might reveal me to be a nosy neighbour. It’s one thing to be a nosy neighbour and another thing to have people know you’re one.

And I’d rather do my lurking in secret. You learn more about your neighbours that way. Or, at least, you can watch them do some odd things.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Random Rants: Extreme Air Conditioning

There are some things about summer I will never understand. At the top of my list would be air conditioning.

I’m not saying that I don’t believe in air conditioning. I definitely do. In fact, if you read back in my blog to almost exactly a year ago, my air conditioning died during a very hot period. My whining and moaning definitely indicates that air conditioning is pretty much a necessity when it’s 95 degrees outside and the humidity is high.

No, what I am saying is that I don’t understand Extreme Air Conditioning.

I’m sure you know what I mean. Extreme air conditioning is when you’re coming in from the sultry outdoors and within seconds, you already have goosepimples.

Extreme air conditioning is when you’re sitting in your office and your fingers are numb from typing. Then, when it’s finally time to leave, your hot, greenhouse effected car feels wonderful as you slowly begin to thaw.

I don’t understand it. As I said above, I’m a firm believer in air conditioning. I like to be comfortable. Who doesn’t?

However, Extreme Air Conditioning is not pleasant. I don’t think it’s necessary. Yet, it’s everywhere. If you go to the mall, the cold air feels great at first. Then, once your body has cooled down comfortably, the freezing cold air continues to cool your body down until you’re suddenly regretting not remembering to wear your thermal underwear in the middle of summer.

You should not be longing for a scarf and jacket when you’re already wearing a light sweater. I find this usually occurs in movie theatres. Having been frozen like an icicle several times while watching movies in the theatre, I’ve learned my lesson and, as a rule, I try to take a cardigan or light jacket with me to avoid completely freezing. However, when you find yourself STILL shivering with the sweater or jacket on when it’s almost 100 degrees outside, there’s something not quite right there.

My theory has lately been that malls and movie theatres crank up the air conditioning to cater for the crowds of people that they expect. Crowds of people generally make a place hot and stuff. Thus, to account for this potential, they crank up the AC and thus you have Extreme Air Conditioning.

The thing is that I still find myself shivering in Extreme Air Conditioning even when there are crowds around. Granted, there will always be those pockets in the mall where it gets hot. I find this most often in those malls with skylights that let the sun stream in. These places get hot. However, the rest of the mall still resembles being on the inside of a refrigerator. I’ve wondered if they have it automatically set to a certain temperature and it kicks on much more quickly because of these skylit hotspots. Yet, since these hot spots remain hot and the rest of the mall feels like you’re about to go visit Santa at the North Pole, this theory doesn’t really hold water.
I’ve been experiencing Extreme Air Conditioning at work this week. I’ve mentioned our thermostat wars before. Well, lately, since it’s been hot outside, the thermostat has been cranked to allow for Extreme Air Conditioning. Since I quite like feeling my fingers when I type, sometimes I try to turn the air conditioning down just a little. This will inevitably lead to my next door neighbour/account manager suddenly yelling “HOT!” at the top of her lungs.

She does this a lot. Very occasionally, she shouts “COLD!” but more often it’s “HOT!” She also gets “HUNGRY” and “TIRED”. I’m not sure why she has to yell so we all know but, well, that’s her way.

Interestingly, she’s usually the only “HOT!” person. Yet, somehow, she usually wins. All I have to do is go to the bathroom and when I get back to my office, the air is suspiciously growing colder by the second.

I suppose Extreme Air Conditioning really is relative to a person’s normal body temperature. I’d say that perhaps I tend to just run colder than everyone else which is why I sit in my office shivering but the truth is I’m not the only one. I’ve been told to wear a sweater but, well, it’s summer. I shouldn’t have to wear a sweater to be comfortable in my office.

No, the truth of the matter is that I personally believe that air conditioning is intended to make the room comfortable. Honestly, I think it should just cool the room to a comfortable liveable temperature. Generally speaking, when it’s 75-78 degrees outside and it’s not humid, we consider that to be a perfect temperature. So, why is it indoors where there’s nowhere for the cold air to go but sit between the four walls that Extreme Air Conditioning Enthusiasts decide that 64 degrees is an acceptable indoor temperature?

No. It is not an acceptable temperature. An acceptable INDOOR temperature is when you can wear traditional seasonal attire without being uncomfortable. This goes for winter as well. There is also the case of Extreme Heating in winter. To summarize Extreme Heating basically that boils down to you needing to shed almost every layer of clothing you’re wearing because you’re sweating indoors while it’s below zero outside.

Thus, in summer, I wear t-shirts, short sleeve blouses and capris with open-toed shoes. While I’m inside, my feet should not feel like blocks of ice. My arms should not be covered with little goosebumps and my fingers should not be numb. Just as in winter, if I’m wearing sweaters and boots, I should not be wanting to peel off everything because the heat is cranked high. Now, if I’m wearing the capris in the winter and I’m cold, that’s my own fault because, well, it’s winter. Likewise, if I’m wearing a thick sweater in summer, it’s my own fault because I’m too hot. At no time should I feel I have the right to make everyone else freeze to death because I made a poor wardrobe choice.

Thus, I go back to my original statement: I do not understand Extreme Air Conditioning. It’s rather silly to wish you’d brought a pair of socks to work because your feet are cold. Also, it’s distracting because I find when directly affected by Extreme Air Conditioning, I spend much more time focusing on the fact that my nose is running, my toes are numb and I can barely feel my fingers than I do working.

I’d like to advocate that thermostats not be made to go below 68 degrees and above 79 degrees, please.

Ok. Rant over. Thanks for reading. Here’s hoping you’re not freezing while you’re doing so.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

For the Love of Two Dachshunds...

I think that no matter how much I try to be mistress of my two dogs, it is really they who are the mistresses of me.

I don’t think that’s exactly a surprise.

It’s actually more of a situation that I find occurs with cat owners. In my experience, cats never belong to a human being. Instead, the human being belongs to them.

This is a situation I’ve tried to avoid with my dachshunds. However, I think it might be time to face the truth. Even though I pay the bills, clean the house and feed them, I do, occasionally, feel a little like a sucker.

For example, I’ve mentioned that Rory has lately taken to protesting the heat by sitting down when we’re out for a walk. The walk usually occurs after I’ve already decided it’s too hot and rather than have to deal with a stubborn dachshund, it would be better for us all if we bypass the walk in the heat and just spend time in the garden.

Unfortunately, at about the same time every evening, I am approached by Rory and Sookie who go and sit by the front door, expectantly. They know it’s time for walkies and no matter what I do, they will either sit and stare at me in reproach or follow me around, accusingly, until I give in and walk them.

This may not sound like much of a threat but, trust me, of all the dog breeds out there, dachshunds, in my opinion, are among the most talented at making you feel horribly sad and guilty just by looking at their big, sad, pathetic eyes.

So, I usually give in and take them for a walk. As anticipated, Rory sits down at certain points of the walk because she’s hot. She prefers to sit on longer grassy patches under a tree. I’m sure this is because it’s fairly cool compared to the heat of the pavement.

It was a nuisance but I usually managed to get her moving.

Then Sookie seemed to decide that “if Rory’s doing it, I will too.” And she, too, began to simply lie down when we’d walked enough and she got hot.

This was a wee bit embarrassing, as you can imagine. However, I could eventually get them up and moving. A squirrel or bird got them moving more quickly. It’s amazing how fast they could recover from their ‘heatstroke’ that caused them to lie down when a squirrel scampered by.

Then, last week, it got worse. Rory would not budge. She stubbornly refused to walk any further and plonked herself down on all fours, back feet kicked out in the irritatingly cute way she sits and that was it.

Thus, I ended up carrying her. Sookie, fortunately, walked along behind us while I carried Rory.

Yes, I was a little embarrassed. Well, more than a little embarrassed. When you’re out for a walk with your dogs, it makes far more sense when they actually walk.

I ended up putting Rory down and making her walk the last 50 feet to our house on her own legs. Nevertheless, it taught me a valuable lesson that when it’s hot, no matter how pleading the eyes, we will NOT go for a walk because, in the end, I will most likely be the only one walking.

Last night, on our walk, it was thankfully cooler and I had only one ‘sitting down’ incident which ended up actually being Rory relieving herself and not actually sitting. Oops.

We did, however, have another incident. Someone had thrown some type of pork bone outside one of the houses along our walk. Because I don’t usually look down at the ground when I walk, I didn’t notice it until Rory seized it and started to chomp on it.

I hate when this happens. I mentioned in an earlier blog that we’re always running into chicken wing bones and that irritates me. Those also worry me because in addition to it being rather vile when one of the girls tries to eat it, I know chicken bones are bad for dogs because they splinter.

I’m not happy that my dogs eat bones that they find. However, the reality is that they’re dogs and, well, that’s what dogs do. They like to eat bones. Dogs eat bones. Cat eat fish. At least this is what cartoons have portrayed for many years.

Anyway, when I saw Rory with the pork bone, I did not really want her to eat it because, well, you don’t know where that bone had been. So, as I usually do with the chicken bones, I showed her the treat I had for her to try to get her to drop the bone. This usually works 75% of the time. The other 25%, I try to grab the bone from her mouth, toss it away and give her a treat instead.

That didn’t work last night. Instead, Rory bit down on my fingers and I ended up with two puncture wounds and she ended up with the bone.

The wounds weren’t deep but I was a little upset. I knew instantly that it was an accident and my fingers were just in the way of her bone. It was a little silly to reach into her mouth anyway- normally, I don’t have to- I can grab the piece of bone that’s sticking out of her mouth and gently pry it away.

We were almost home when she found the bone. By the time we got home, my finger was bleeding, I was upset that my little pup had bitten me even though I knew it was my fault and I was just generally feeling horrible.

Rory, being the smart creature she is, knew she’d done something wrong. I tried not to be upset with her but it was hard because my feelings were hurt. It’s the same type of hurt I felt when they escaped out of the gate for the first time when I brought them home: Rationally, I knew that they didn’t understand and were just hunting prey. Irrationally, I felt like they were trying to get away from me.

Last night, even though I rationally knew Rory didn’t mean to hurt me, the irrational side of my brain was hurt anyway. I was bleeding and my little ball of fluff had bitten me because of a stupid bone.

I tried very hard to stay mad at her but, well, as I said, I’ve realized she’s really the mistress of me and as she attempted to cram as much of her body up against me in the strange way she has when she needs comfort and love, I realized that I was being silly. As such, a few mouth cleansing biscuits later, we’d made up.

I suppose that it’s like any relationship that involves unconditional love: No matter what she does, I can’t help but love her and forgive her. As I said, she didn’t mean to do it and she made sure I knew she was sorry. Sookie, meanwhile, just watched us in the way she has. She gets very serious and watches me solemnly, trying to figure out if I’m a) ok, b) angry with HER and c) willing to give her a cuddle to prove everything’s ok.

I know, I know…my dogs are spoiled rotten. I know this. I can’t help this. This is why I end up carrying my poor, lazy, heat-suffering pup a block or two instead of dragging her along on a leash. This is why I often end up stuck in a small corner of my bed while my two dogs stretch out and make themselves comfy. This is why my dogs have an overflowing toy box including a new orange monkey because I couldn’t resist.

Yet for all that I give them, they do give it back to me. This morning, I woke up to discover Rory lying parallel to me, her head on my pillow and her nose just very barely touching mine, her eyes watching me sweetly, waiting for me to wake. For non-dog lovers/owners, that sounds weird but, for me, it makes me feel very loved and needed.

And no matter who the mistress of the house really is, that’s worth every treat I give them.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Great Expectations of Mondays...

It’s been a dark and stormy day out there for most of today. It seemed quite fitting for a Monday morning, honestly although it did make it rather hard to get out of bed.

As any of my regular readers go, I don’t like Mondays much. In high school, I had an English teacher for the first two years who was a bit of an eccentric old lady. She used to pronounce “ego” as “eggo” and then whenever someone would mutter “leggo my eggo”, she used to laugh and think that it was a clever philosophical joke rather than quoting a waffle commercial. Anyway, she also had another saying she used fairly often. Whenever someone would complain about not liking Mondays, she’d say, “don’t blame Mondays. It’s not Monday’s fault it’s not a good day.”

She’s probably right. It’s just the misfortune of Monday to be…Monday. The way I look at it is that if the weekdays were represented as humans, I see them as siblings. Monday would be the anti-social sibling who was the runt of the litter and had a rather sour disposition. He probably also accidentally killed his mother while being born and thus, he has that chip on his shoulder to bear. Thus, it’s not really Monday’s fault he’s the way he is but…he could be nicer.

That was a little weird and yet another ‘too much information as to how Captain Monkeypants’ brain works’.

Nevertheless, I should try to not be so negative towards Mondays.

In this case, Monday came after a nice weekend. It was a busy one but fun. I think those make Mondays harder to bear because I didn’t have much down time and I would really prefer Monday to come a little later and be, say, Tuesday instead.

Still, if it’s the price we pay for having weekends, it’s a small one. A world without weekends would not be a good thing. Sometimes when I’m reading books about the olden days and I see that people used to work every day but the Sabbath, I feel guilty for whining so much. We really do have it easy now what with employment practices and guidelines that mandate rules for time off and permitted hours we can work.

It’s probably softened us up a little. We don’t do nearly as much manual labour as we used to and you no longer hear of kids leaving school to work in the fields at the age of 14 the way they used to in Thomas’ Hardy’s time.

Things have changed a lot since then. I think about that quite a lot too. Back in Jane Austin’s era, the ways people spent their free time was considerably different than how we do now. Back then, ladies would spend endless hours doing needlework and arranging flowers. They would read and ‘take a turn about the room’. They did not spend hours watching “Top Chef”, mowing the lawn, tiling floors or think about food all the time the way I do. I would have made a terrible lady back then because I can’t really sew very well and when I try, I end up pricking my fingers and bleeding quite a lot. I’ve tried flower arranging but, well, once they’re in the vase, they always look fine when I plop them in with no gaps. I don’t really know where the arranging comes in, honestly. I do think floral arrangements from florists look nice but I don’t have time to get those Styrofoam thingies that you stick the flowers in so they don’t flop around.

I suppose if you were an Austin-esque ‘lady of leisure’, you wouldn’t necessarily need to appreciate weekends. I mean, the whole point is to take a break from routine and have two days of leisure. If you spend all day at leisure, would they be the same?

I don’t know why I’m thinking of Thomas Hardy and Jane Austin, to be honest. I’m finding that, once more, I have gone off on a weird tangent. This is a fact for which I apologize. Maybe it’s because I referenced Mrs. Studebaker, my eccentric high school English teacher and my brain decided to honour her by thinking of literature. Of course, if that were the case, I’d be thinking more of Charles Dickens and Great Expectations which I remember vividly studying and reading in far too much detail. What stays with me from that book is the mouldy wedding cake from the lady who never got married. I think her name was Miss Havisham.

I wonder if Ms. Havisham was supposed to get married on a Monday. I bet she was.

Sorry, Mondays…I really must work harder to like you more. My apologies.

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Random Ramblings of An Uneven Week

I’m very glad that it’s Friday tomorrow. This has been one of those weeks that has been uneven. Sometimes, time has rushed by so fast I can’t seem to catch it and then there are other times when it’s slowed down to a crawl. Even though I know the weekend will go by way too fast, I still am looking forward to it.

I have a busy weekend ahead since it’s Father’s Day. The pups and I will head to my parents’ tomorrow night. My mum and I will be garage-sale-ing for part of Saturday and then I get to cook my dad a Father’s Day dinner. Interestingly, I don’t have the menu finalized the way I did with my Mother’s day meal. I have a rough idea of what I want to make but nothing completely finalized. Since I’ll have far prep/cook time than I had last time, I have to adjust.

I’m sure I’ll figure something out. My dad is a lot fussier than my mother when it comes to things like cooking. He can be a little…difficult. If he doesn’t like something, he’s not terribly subtle about letting people know. He tends to make faces and not eat it. Sometimes, he gets a bit dramatic and refuses to eat it. When we cook for him, my family has learned to make sure to always make things he’s going to like. It’s just easier that way.

Since it’s Father’s day, I’m going to try hard to make sure I do cook things he likes.

Still, before the weekend, there’s one more day of work to get through. I’m hoping it’s a good Friday since today wasn’t necessarily a good Thursday. It was a very inactive Thursday meaning that I didn’t have any luck filling any jobs nor finding anyone who was likely to do so. Like I said in the beginning, this week has been uneven- full of activity one day and then dead as a doornail the next.

So, it’s no wonder I’m already looking forward to the weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing my parents’ again since it’s been a couple of weeks as well as the rest of my family who will probably stop over on Sunday before I leave to pay court to my dad on Father’s Day.

Speaking of paying court, I also can’t wait for Sunday night when the season final of “Game of Thrones” airs. I’ve become quite addicted to that show even though last week, the ending made me gasp out loud with shock. Even though I love to read and I’m usually horribly impatient to find out what’s going to happen next, I’ve enjoyed watching “Game of Thrones” so much that I’ve avoided reading the book ahead to see what was going to happen. However, since it’s going to be a year before I see the second series, I know for a fact I’m going to have to read the books. I can be patient…but not that patient.

I’m rambling but, as I always say, knowing is half the battle, right? Days like this inspire me to ramble. It’s actually quite nice to let my brain shut down and just wander freely through the odd thoughts I have sometimes. For example, I was wondering again if there are ever male miniature poodles. I posed this question to my mother. I suppose there are but does anyone ever picture miniature poodles being boys? I mean, they’re usually all frilled up and dressed in pink.

Also, why do people leave chicken bones all over the place? It seems like whenever I walk my dogs, there’s some bones discarded left over from a chicken wing and I have to drag the dogs away before they try to eat it. This is not fun. I’ve never actually seen someone walking down the street munching on a chicken wing so where do they come from?

Also, Possibl-Joe, the neighbour who lives behind me is chopping down most of his trees. He keeps cutting them down and then dragging them to the front of his house and dumping them on the strip of grass between sidewalk and road. There are so many, the sidewalk is impassable now. Yet he keeps going. There’s nowhere to put them so he’s putting them in front of his neighbours’ houses. At some point, the City will pick them up but I’m a little surprised he doesn’t wait until he has more space. Also, it’s a pain when I’m walking the dogs because we have to either cross the street or walk in the road. I don’t like doing either.

Also, I liked his trees. I don’t know why he’s chopping them down. I’m thinking he may be getting ready to put a fence up so his dog can run freely without being tied down. I’m sort of hoping he builds a privacy fence because while he’s pleasant enough to chat to, it would be quite nice to have a bit more privacy. If the neighbour puts up the fence, I don’t have to. I wish Dog Whisperer would follow suit but that will NEVER happen.

I’m also wondering about my seeds. This year, I planted several packs of vegetable seeds and yet, of all of them, I managed to grow four zucchini plants and two tomato plants. That’s it. Usually, I have far more success than that. Why didn’t my seeds grow?

I have a lot more random thoughts in my head but you probably don’t want to hear them. I actually apologize for sharing as many as I did. It’s just that, as I’ve said before, there are times when I blog that I don’t really know what to write and then it just comes out.

Hopefully, since tomorrow’s Thursday, my blog for Monday will be a bit more focused. Of course, it may be about food since I’m cooking this weekend but I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to see what comes out when I start to type.

I do appreciate you reading though. Thank you.

Have a great weekend and happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It Doesn't Matter Where You Live..

I’m still constantly surprised by Midwestern weather. Last week, we were struggling with near 100 degrees and high humidity. Today, it’s rainy, grey and a was around 64 degrees all day.

I’m not complaining. In fact, even though I’ve lived here for almost 3 years now, it still delights me that the weather can change that much. As I’ve said before, it’s nice to have variety and for the eight years I lived in L.A., I certainly got tired of those sunny days. I even got tired of the days that started out gloomy and finally got sunny later on because there was never any real promise of rain: There was only the empty tease.

There are a lot of differences living in the Midwest to California. Not all of them are good but I still wouldn’t move back for anything. I do miss the ocean being within a 45 minute drive. I miss seeing the mountains that were tinged purple on clear sunny mornings. I miss the rosemary that grows wild everywhere and the fact that, even in December, there are flowers blooming.

What I don’t miss is the traffic. When I talk to candidates who are looking for new jobs, many of them find themselves job seeking because they have to commute downtown to Cincinnati and as soon as I hear that, they immediately have my sympathies. I’m lucky enough to live six minutes from work nowadays but for the time I lived in L.A., my commute being little over 14 miles took me at least an hour each way and that was when traffic was actually moving.

I also don’t miss the expense. I’m still constantly amazed that my mortgage payment is still less than that which I paid for rent. In fact, in 2001, what I paid for my first little studio apartment in North Hollywood is approximately the same as my house payment now.

I could spend this entire blog on the good and bad differences I find between L.A. and the Midwest but, really, I don’t want to because I’m content where I am. The only thing I really miss is the more open, single culture of L.A. As I’ve said before, being in my mid-thirties in the Midwest makes me a bit of a weirdo and, gasp, bordering on spinster territory. In L.A., it was, dare I say it, very normal.

This doesn’t make the Midwest bad- it’s just different. I know someone from high school who is a grandmother at my age. Here, it’s very traditional to get married and have a family at a much younger age than in big cities. It doesn’t bother me except when it comes to making friends. When I first moved here, two of my similar-aged, married coworkers used to invite me to their houses to hang out with them, their spouses and another member of their ‘gang’- a single woman who, like me, wasn’t married. It was nice, at first until I realized that I was being invited so that the other single woman didn’t feel like a third wheel and she had ‘a buddy’. I know this because I accidentally overheard it one day.

It bothered me just a little. I wanted to make friends because they liked me, not because I made an even number of people. Over time, I stopped getting invited and, in time, I was treated like an ‘outsider’ at work when the three women got together. Because it felt like a high school mentality, it irritated me for a long time. It was clearly a clique and I wasn’t ‘cool’ enough to belong. Fortunately, since they all acted a little like children who had decided they were the Coolest Gang on the plant, I got bored.

As such, I ended up actually making friends with two of my other coworkers. They were both a little older than me- one married, one divorced…both great women. It took a little trial and error but, with patience, I got it right in the end.

Now I’ve been here a while, it doesn’t really bother me that I’m single. It’s interesting- in my current office, only two of my seven coworkers are actually married. Two of the others live with significant others and three of us are single. It’s just a different environment.

Granted, it still doesn’t make me ‘normal’ according the median age of married couples around here but it still helps.

In truth, what I’ve figured out and what it took me years to figure out was, in truth, where you live isn’t as important as being happy where you live. I fit in more in L.A. I liked the geography. I miss my friends. There are even occasional days during weeks of nothing but rain, I miss the sun of L.A.

Yet, despite all that, I never felt as content and happy there as I have in the time I’ve lived back in Ohio. It’s not just being a homeowner. It’s not just having two fantastic pups. It’s not even having my family within a decent driving distance.

It’s just that I feel like I’ve found myself here. I’ve never felt as relaxed and content with myself and where I live than I have in the past two years.

And no matter how great L.A. is/was…nothing and nowhere can replace that feeling.

Happy Thursday

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Beautiful Weather, Mundane Days...

Today was one of those sort-of-nothing days where not much of any significance happened at all. I was woken early to the wonderful sound of Dog Whisperer’s Beasts barking themselves into a frenzy very close to my bedroom window. They like to stand at the gate and bark. My window is probably six feet from the gate. Thus, when they bark and I’m trying to sleep, it’s frustrating. Even Rory had a good moan about it. My pups used to sit upright when they’d hear the yapping. Now, like me, they grumble and try to shut it out so we can sleep longer. I find that amusing.

When we did finally get up, it was to a day at work that was busy but not terribly productive, if that makes sense. I’m trying hard to fill jobs but the ones we have are the hard ones that no one in Cincinnati has been able to fill. I did manage to get two interviews set up for candidates but since it’s for the same job, it really only counts as one since only one of them can get the job.

I also did lose a candidate who my account manager and I have been working very hard to make happy. He got an offer from our client which was a very good offer. Unfortunately, he had another job offer- ironically from my old company- for a lot less money.

For some reason, he decided to reject our offer and take the one with my old company. I’m sure something about it appealed more but, well, I can’t help but think he’s making a bit of a mistake. It’s not just about the money. When we met with him, he told us he was looking for a position where he could move up, learn new technologies and rise in his career. I don’t think that’s possible at my old company, honestly.

Still, it’s his choice. I didn’t tell him that in my soon-to-be-published novel, Emmy goes to Hell, there’s a whole level of Hell dedicated to my old job. Maybe I should have done. Still, he made his choice and as frustrating as it is, there’s nothing I can do about it.

Aside from that, my day was rather dull. I had another candidate come in who’s been out of work for a while. He actually lives in my neighbourhood and the dogs and I walk by his house on our sojourns fairly regularly. He was very nice but a little odd. Still, at the very least, it was nice to meet another neighbour.

All-in-all, it wasn’t the most exciting day on the planet. My boss is out of the office. This, of course, means that Mr. Lazy Account Manager in our office left at 1 p.m. Today, he had a stomach ache. Last week, he left each day by 3 p.m. One day, he had to pick up his kids, another day, one was sick, another day, he had to go help his wife, another day, he had a meeting. He’s very good with excuses. He only does it when my boss isn’t around. Also, since he tells our administrator his reason for leaving, it’s oddly different from what he tells the rest of us. While I think it’s nice to get out of the office early once in a while, he’s got to the point where everyone knows he’s just not doing any work. Well, everyone except my boss and I have a feeling that, thanks to my endearingly interfering coworker, he’ll know very soon.

Fortunately, it’s a beautiful day outdoors which redeems the somewhat dull indoor day. On days like this where it’s in the mid 70 degree range, my favourite thing to do is sit outside and either read or, as I’m currently doing, edit the proof copy of Emmy Goes To Hell. I got it back from the publisher last week and while I like the cover, there was still quite a lot of edits to make inside. It’s nice to sit outside with a cold drink, my book and my pen. Usually, I have a Sookie trying to sit on my lap which not only makes it a little hard to edit but, also, makes her sister rather jealous and having two dogs on my lap is just downright uncomfortable. I don’t have that much lap.

The trouble with the evenings is that they go so fast. By the time I get home, walk the pups and make dinner, the evening is waning away. I probably could cut down on the time I spend making dinner but where’s the fun in that?

On the plus side, after a slightly dull day at work, it’s a sheer pleasure to sit outside and relax with the pups milling around my feet. Except for the barks of the Beasts next door, it’s a peaceful thing to do. While I still hate their incessant yapping, I’ve got to the point where I can literally ignore it when I’m outside. It’s all I can do.

Besides, it’s an even nicer pleasure when they finally go inside and, suddenly, there’s a blissful silence.

That makes it almost worthwhile.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, June 13, 2011

With Age Comes a Touch of Wisdom

Some days, it’s hard to be a grown up, especially during the summer.

When I drove home at lunch today, there were several houses with children playing outside. Summer vacation is here and as far as they’re concerned, time is a wide open expanse filled with play time, swimming, late nights and sleeping in the next day.

I miss that sometimes. I don’t think it matters how much you like your job, I’m sure there isn’t a working adult out there who hasn’t, at some point, longed for the carefree days of summer vacation. Certainly, most of us can use some of our precious ‘vacation time’ at work and take some time off but…it’s not the same. Having those seemingly endless weeks without anything firm to do just seems like a luxury we didn’t really appreciate when we had them.

It’s ironic, really. The old adage goes “with age comes wisdom.” The trouble is that it would be nice if we’d had the wisdom earlier so we could appreciate things a little more. The older I get, the more I appreciate the small things. Being a working adult for the better part of 15 years has made me remember the days of summer vacation and wished I’d appreciated it a little more when I had it.

The same goes for school though. In high school, I was shy. I was one of those unfortunate individuals who cared too much about what other people thought. As I’ve grown older, I’m far less shy and I’m far less worried about other people’s opinions of me. I still care, naturally but I don’t care enough to let it stop being me.

I suppose that’s a form of wisdom that I’m slowly gaining as I age. It’s just that I wish I’d known that when I needed it back then. Yet without that experience, I probably wouldn’t have gained the wisdom in the first place. It’s a strange circular pattern.

I didn’t waste my summers when I was a child by any means. There were always friends to be played with, books to be read, games going on in the street in the evening. There were trips to the park, to my grandparents’. There were long walks with my dad in the evenings when the sun didn’t start to set in England until way after 9 p.m.

When we moved to the States, our summer vacation was longer. In the UK, it was always 6 weeks. Here, in the U.S., it was closer to 12 weeks. Those summer vacations were filled with trips to the swimming pool to escape the heat. Trips to the mall because we didn’t have air conditioning at home yet and the mall did. There were get-togethers with friends. I had one friend who had MTV and we didn’t have cable so I’d go over hers and watch MTV while her parents’ were at work. They didn’t really approve of her taste in music- she was into Hair Metal. I learned to appreciate it during those MTV times.

As I got older, responsibility stepped in and I started to babysit a little to earn some money. Then, when I was old enough, I got a job and from then on, summer vacations stopped being a stretch of disorganized time and it became time that was blocked off based on my work schedule and my friends’ work schedules.
I don’t think I can say I truly wasted my summer holidays as a child. It’s just that I don’t think I really appreciated it quite enough. I had that sense of entitlement that children often do in that it was something I was just handed because you couldn’t go to school ALL the time.

I think if I had 12 weeks off now, I’d try to savor them more. I’d use the time to write a lot, to work outside, to spend with my family and my dogs. I’d do all those little things I keep meaning to do but never quite have the time, all those little projects that we’d all like to do but whenever we have any free time, something more necessary comes up.

Yet, the truth is, I don’t have those 12 weeks. I have two weeks’ vacation time per year which is not a bad amount of time but it’s time that must be spent wisely and not squandered. It’s not like those 12 gaping weeks that used to happen every summer from the time I started going to school until the time I stopped and became a working adult.

For the most part, being a grown up is definitely better than being a child. I mean, nowadays, if I want ice-cream, I can go get ice-cream. Granted, I tend to try and go for the Skinny Cow type of treat because, well, with age comes a slower metabolism. However, I can have it whenever I want it. If I want to see a movie, I can go see a movie. If I want to go to the library, I go to the library. You get the picture.

It’s just that sometimes, on beautiful days today when the sun is high in the sky, the temperature is 78 degrees and the breeze is perfect, I do have a bit of envy to those children I see playing carefree in my neighbourhood because they can stay outside and enjoy the day and not have to go back to work after lunch.

They really don’t know how lucky they are. But they will, someday when wisdom catches up to them.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Perfectly Ending Weekends...

There's little more satisfying than sitting outside on a beautiful Sunday evening with a glass of sauvignon blanc and a feeling of accomplishment.

At long last, the weather has turned into the beautiful spring days expected of early June. The humidity is gone, the breeze is cool and the temperature is reading 78 degrees.

I can't argue with that. This is the weather I've been craving and now it's here, I took full advantage of it.

We did have a hot and humid day yesterday. I decided to forge ahead and lay down the vinyl tiles on the floor. It was hot work but with the help of some upbeat music such as Guns n' Roses, Bon Jovi and, of course, Green Day, coupled with some Frank Sinatra, it wasn't too bad. Of course, Sookie and Rory were of no help at all. For some reason, they decided their job was to lie and doze in the exact spot that I was intending to tile. Also, they decided it was their job to show me that they loved me by trying to climb in my lap. This was appreciated except my fingers were always a little gluey from the sticky tiles and dachshund hair is not fun to have to scrub off with the glue.

Still, I got the job done. The only minor mishap was that during a particularly enthusiastic moment with my Fat Max knife (it's real name!) in which I was cutting a tile to size, I accidentally sliced off the top of my finger. Fortunately, my nail was long and that prevented too much damage but as it stands, I now have a bit of a flat finger and rather a deep cut which went several layers deep. There was quite a lot of blood too. I'm not particularly squeamish but it was not the prettiest thing. Since I originally thought I'd actually sliced my finger off, I was, however, relieved it wasn't that dire.

By the time the room was done, so was Saturday, for the most part. I was pleased with my handiwork. Even though it's not perfect and completely flawless, I love the way the new tile looks and, even better, I did it myself.

Today, I bought some rugs for the room. I bought a 5' x 8' rug and two 2' x 3' rugs for $50. I have a great store nearby for stuff like that called Old Tyme Pottery. It's also fantastic for dinnerware. If ever I'm cooking something fancy and don't have the right plates, that's where I go.

So, with the addition of the rugs, at long last, I can say my Tuscan room is complete. The last touches will be two pieces of unfinished furniture that I want to get and stain myself in a rustic green colour. I need a chest of drawers to hide some of the 'contempory' stuff that I want to store in the room and not display such as my Playstation 2 and I'd like a free standing cupboard for all of my kitchen applicances that don't quite fit in my kitchen cupboards.

Still, even without the furniture, it's a pleasure to sit in that room now. Before I redid it, the room had 1970's dark panelled walls, orange-green shag carpet and rather frumpy flowered curtains that were lovingly made by the former owner of the house but just not my taste. Now, the panellng is a sunny yellow, the floor is mock-teracotta vinyl tiles and the curtains are simple white muslin tied backed with red raffia. I like the final effect. On each wall is a variation on a picture of Tuscany with poppies in the forefront. I love poppies. Poppies are one of those flowers that just make me smile when I see them.

Even though I woke up today stiff and sore from my tiling, I still had an odd need to be productive. Some weekends are like that- I just want to get things done. Thus, I spent the day doing the following:

1) Buying rugs
2) Exchanging the propane tank for my grill. I've become a huge fan of grilling lately. It's quick, easy and the result is pretty darn yummy.
3) Grocery shopping at Jungle Jim's/shopping for my dad's Father's Day present. I'm making him lunch as part of his gift but it isn't as complex as the five-course meal I made for Mother's Day so I got him a bottle of Santa Margherita Chianti to try. He loves the Pinot Grigio and he's a fan of Chianti so it seemed like a smart choice.
4) Mowing the lawn.
5) Weeding the front garden.
6) Making a yummy Fourme d'Ambert baguette sandwich for lunch. Fourme d'Ambert is my current favourite cheese- it's a blue, creamy cheese from France and it's heavenly. I've decided my next culinary challenge is to learn about cheeses. (side note: I need a good book about cheese- any recommendations?)
7) Planting my vegetable garden- I planted peppers, heirloom tomatoes, squash and cucumbers.
8) Cleaning my patio, finally putting my outdoor rug down and setting out the furniture.
9) Cleaning my house- mopping, vacuuming, dusting and bathroom scrubbing.
10) Walking the pups.
11) Sitting outside with a glass of wine and being happy that I've had a productive weekend.

Obviously, the last one is where I am now. I'm smelling both the scent of fresh-cut grass coupled with Pine Sol. It's a good smell. I find that some weekends are best for relaxing but others, like this one, are best spent getting things done. I have to say, I like being productive. It's a wonderful feeling.

Even though it's back to work tomorrow, I can live with that because even though the weekend is waning away, it's waning away as I continue to sit outside, with my laptop, a glass of wine and a dachshund on my lap. It's another one of those moments that's as close to perfect as life gets.

And you just can't beat that, even when a Monday is looming.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Up and Down Sort of Days

Some days are harder to blog than others. I can’t explain why but it just happens. It’s not that I can’t find anything to ramble about, it’s just that every time I start to ramble, I suddenly feel like it’s an asinine topic and no one will want to read it.

Today is one of those days. It’s been a weird day. It has been an up-and-down day at work. In our morning meeting, our boss, away in Chicago at the moment, attended via phone. We have a couple of new jobs to fill and so, during our morning meeting, I got to select which ones I’d work on while my fellow recruiter, who was out of the office, would get his assignments later. My boss is a little worried we’re not getting many candidates to fill jobs lately so he was in his most extreme, “work hard, get candidates” mood.

This would have been fine except what we’re working on at the moment is very hard. They’re the type of jobs where there’s maybe 5 or 6 people in a city who can do the job. I spent all morning trying to fill a job because my boss said I needed to have at least one candidate by tomorrow. Taking him seriously, I did absolutely everything I could to find someone…and still had no luck.

Then, my fellow recruiter comes into the office, gets his assignments and…manages to find a candidate for the job I’ve been trying to fill all morning. This is annoying by itself but given that he wasn’t even supposed to be working on it, I was a little frustrated. Our office is generally not competitive so I don’t begrudge him filling the job and not me. It’s just that he has this horrible habit of pretty much doing what he wants despite what he’s supposed to be working on and this happens quite a lot.

My boss doesn’t mind who gets the candidates, as long as someone does. Thus, I can work on my fellow recruiters’ jobs too and fill those. It’s just that…I don’t. I think it goes back to the fact that I have a touch of the Hermione Granger in me. I always worried about breaking school rules as a child and I always saw the teachers as points of authority. As I got older, even if I didn’t like my boss, I’ve always respected that they were, in fact, my boss and even if I thought them the worlds’ biggest idiot, I still did what I was told because that was my job.

This job is no different. It’s just that in this case, I like my boss and, again, like Hermione Granger, I want to be top of the class to prove that I’m good at my job.

It just doesn’t always happen that way. My fellow recruiter is not a rule-follower. He doesn’t have to be because he’s been working as a recruiter for 17 years. I, on the other hand, am now approaching my 8-month mark and I still feel as though I’m learning.

On the plus side, I did manage to find out that one of my favourite current candidates was offered a position for which I submitted her. This is a good thing on many levels. Mostly, I’m just happy because I really like her and she’s been a pleasure to work with. Also, she really, really wanted the job and even postponed another offer to see if this one would pan out. I like it when someone gets a job when they really want it. As an added bonus for me, it’s a new company which means I get a little boost in my commission at the end of the year. I really do count that as a bonus because as corny and altruistic as it sounds, I really do like my job because I get to help people more than I like it for the money.

I don’t think all recruiters have this approach. It’s probably not a good thing I do have that approach because it means I’ll never be as successful as some of the other recruiters in the field. I met one of them the other day. He’s just been hired by one of our branch offices and he was in town to do some training with my boss. All of the staff of our office had to meet with him and talk about how we did our jobs.

It became quite apparent about five minutes after meeting with him that I did not like this man. For one thing, every time I started to talk, he’d bulldoze over me with a story of how successful he’d been in his past job and how fabulous he’d be working for us. He really is quite fabulous according to himself. Also, it sounds rather rude but he was just…creepy. He had a bit of an air of “hey, little girl…do you want some candy?” if you know what I mean. By the time he left my office, I was very relieved and also quite glad he wasn’t going to be working in our office permanently.

It turns out that all my coworkers had the same impression. The younger account manager even got the same pediophilic vibe from him that I’d had so it wasn’t just me. He was just unpleasant. It didn’t help that he told me lots of stories about as a recruiter, you have to show your candidates who’s boss and if they didn’t like it then tough, he didn’t want to work with them.

That is not the attitude I have. To me, being a recruiter is a partnership. There is no boss. Sure, the candidate will end up working for our company in due time if they’re successful but as far as the job interview process goes, there are no absolutes. If they hear the description of a job during an interview and it turns out to be double the amount of work that we were originally told, they have every right to think they should probably get paid a little more than we’d initially agreed. It doesn’t mean they will get paid more but it’s not unreasonable to try. According to Mr. Slimeball’s philosophy, “They’ll get paid what I want to pay them and that’s all there is to it.”

So, you can see why he rubbed me the wrong way. That’s not my approach. While I’m not a doormat who does whatever my candidates want, I do try to listen to their needs and try and approach them in a way that works out best for all. I don’t like to bully them. I’m a firm believer in the fact that when working with humans, for better or for worse, it’s best to let them act like a human. It comes back to haunt you later on if you don’t. It’s best to build a relationship with someone rather than treat them like a commission check. That’s my philosophy, anyway.

It might be a childish, inexperienced philosophy but, for now, it’s working for me. It means I can be excited to call my candidate and be happy to hear the joy in her voice when I tell her she got the job. She earned it and I’m glad that she was rewarded for her efforts. So, even on days when things don’t go quite my way in other areas, there are these moments that make it worthwhile.

It’s nice to have a job where no two days are the same even when the days don’t always go completely your way.

Best of all, even if you have a string of days like that, there’s always a weekend at the end of the tunnel. I, for one, am looking forward to the weekend even if it does involve tiling a floor and most likely very little else.

Thanks, as always for reading and I hope your weekend is a good one!

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hot Days and The Politics of Childhood Friendship

It really is a hot one out there today. This morning, Mr. Weatherman said it was going to be about 95 degrees by 5 p.m. tonight but it would feel more like 100 degrees. He was right. It is a sauna out there at the moment. I’m a little amazed that he was right but, as with everything, if you try hard enough at something, eventually you are right about it once in a while.

I find super hot days like this change the vibe of a neighbourhood. Normally, when the weather is cool and manageable, my little ‘hood is full of activity. There are a lot of kids who walk home from playing baseball or basketball at the nearby community centre. There are parents fetching and driving their kids to sports, ballet and whatever activities the kids do. There is a buzz of mowers. There are people walking dogs, stopping to chat, jogging…you get the picture.

However, on hot days like this the neighborhood pretty much just stops. The lawns look dry and crispy and even those that desperately need to be mowed are ignored. There are fewer people thronging around and far more sitting on their stoops in lawn chairs, lazily watching the world. It’s like for a brief period, everything slows down.

I don’t mind it at all. I find it fascinating. People get up much earlier when they know it’s going to be super hot. When I drive to work at 7:50 a.m., there are a lot more dog-walkers and joggers than normal because they know later on it will be too hot to walk/jog.

When the heat hits later in the day, it’s hard to explain exactly how the vibe feels. The closest I can come is a scene in a movie where there has been a mass disaster that’s killed most of human life and only a rag-tag bag of survivors scuttle and hide in the buildings because, at night, the zombies come. While there are no zombies in my neighbourhood (that I know of, anyway), the deserted daytime feeling seems to be there. There is little life force outside- it’s too busy hiding inside in the sanctity of the air conditioning.

The pups and I tried to break this deserted feel last night and we went for a walk anyway since it was only 93 outside. It was still hot enough that Rory plonked herself down on the ground and decided she was too hot and tired to continue. This was about five minutes after we left the house. Normally, it takes at least ten minutes of walking.

We did run into a few brave souls who were trying to conquer the heat and work outside anyway. We met a new lady who lives in the pups favourite house- it’s got a lot of trees with squirrels and bunnies have often been sighted in the yard. She used to have dachshund so we had quite a chat. She used to have males and she told me a couple of horror stories about their viciousness that made me shudder a little because of what happened with Sausage. I do know that male dachshunds are known to be one of the more vicious breeds which is why I have females.

She was a nice lady though and we had a chat. She also told me it was quite ok if my dogs wanted to poop in her yard. I didn’t even have to clean it up. That was nice of her but I’m a firm believer in the scooping of the poop- leave no evidence behind.
We also met a rather nice, sad little boy named Raymond. He was riding his bike with a helmet on. Raymond is one of those kids you just know doesn’t have it easy. He’s a little heavyset for his age, had a slight lisp and has a wide eyed sweetness about him. Raymond asked me if I’d seen two boys on bikes. Given that Son of Dog Whisperer and his little friend had almost mowed us down on the other side of the block, I said I had seen them but I wasn’t sure if they were the same boys he was looking for.

When he told me their names, he confirmed that he was, in fact, looking for Son of Dog Whisperer and his friend. Apparently, Raymond was supposed to ride bikes with them but as soon as he’d gone to get his bike, they’d ridden off and ditched him. Just looking at him, I could see how hurt he was by this. He kept asking me where I’d seen them and I told him. They had been riding awfully fast so it was clear that for whatever reason, they didn’t want to play with Raymond.

Naturally, I felt horrible for the poor little boy. I think he is about eight or nine. He told me that he didn’t have many friends and how he thought he’d found some in Son of Dog Whisperer and his buddy. His lip quivered and my heart just went out to the poor boy. It’s been a few years since I was a kid but I remember times where I got ditched by friends or they basically ganged up and decided I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with. It’s a heavy feeling that just hangs over you and makes you feel unwanted.

There wasn’t much I could do for poor Raymond. He asked if I knew Son of Dog Whisperer and I told Raymond that he was my next door neighbour. I wasn’t sure of the politics of the friendship between Son of Dog Whisperer, his buddy and Raymond but I did ask Raymond if he wanted to ride his bike while I walked back home with the pups so I could show him where Son of Dog Whisperer lived. Raymond, lip quivering a little, was too proud to do that and I was pleased for him. Instead, he asked me that if I saw the other boys, I could please ask them to go back to Raymond’s house.

I didn’t see Son of Dog Whisperer and his friend so I couldn’t pass along the message when I took my poor, lazy, panting pups home. My guess is that if I had, the two boys would have cackled and said, “No Way.” Kids can be very cruel when they have a peer to back them up and it was quite obvious they were happy with just their own company.

My heart goes out to young Raymond. He’s the type of boy you know has a hard time making friends because he has a wee aura of neediness to him. Yet I bet he’d be a loyal friend to anyone who would let him. He also has an aura of sweetness and gentleness to him that the other two boys lack. It may sound strange and blame it on my need, as a writer, to watch and observe people. I’ve watched Dog Whisperer and his buddy and they’re a little wild- they have parents but their parents are too busy to pay much attention to what they do. This is why they can go bike riding, shoeless, shirtless around the neighbourhoods, occasionally veering into the road and always riding with determination. Raymond, on the other hand, seems well cared for- he might try to ride his bike ruthlessly without worrying about cars and such in order to keep up with his friends but, really, he’s very meticulously about crossing the street and being safe. That’s how he was last night when he talked to me. He was on the other side of the street and he looked both ways before crossing over.

I hope that Raymond finds some friends who appreciate him and won’t ditch him when they promise to play. It was hard to watch him walk off after giving me the message to deliver. His shoulders slumped and he walked with a very dejected air.

I know he’s just a strange neighbour kid but something about Raymond got to me. Maybe it was because he took me back briefly to some painful friend politics of my own childhood. Maybe it’s because no one wants to see a lonely kid. But, mostly, I think it’s because he seemed like such a sweet little boy and seeing those sad, hurt eyes made me just wish I could make Son of Dog Whisperer and his buddy change their minds and include Raymond.

But the world doesn’t work like that and I only have one side of the story. Besides, it does not do to meddle in the friendship politics of eight-year-old boys.

It still doesn’t stop me from hoping for good things for little Raymond anyway. Hopefully, the rest of the long, hot summer days will be a little kinder to him and he’ll find someone else to play with.

Although, hopefully, not all the days will be this hot. Especially as it’s not even really summer yet.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Really Random Musings...

There are times in life when you are engaged in activities that allow for a form of meditation. I’m not talking about the ‘Zen’ type of meditation or any other type of spiritual meditation. I’m talking about the type that happens when you’re doing something like, say, driving or even tiling a floor that requires concentration but also allows you to empty your brain and let the thoughts flow.

Since I had a lot of time this weekend to ‘mediate’ while tiling a floor as well as on my short drive to work each day, I realized I had quite a few random thoughts that tended to occupy my mind. Since this blog is called ‘random musings’, I figured that I might as well share them with you because making lists is sort of fun. Please don’t judge me for some of them. We all know I’m a little odd at times.

Things that popped into my mind either while I was tiling the floor or driving to work:

1) Why some songs just get stuck in your brain for no reason. I currently have that annoying “Keep on Keeping On” jingle from Chase Bank in my head. It keeps going around and around. I don’t even bank at Chase. Grr.

2) Why there are vans for FedEx with FedEx Express printed on them. Does that mean it’s a Federal Express Express van? Why the repetition?

3) HBO’s Game of Thrones. For a show based on a book I’ve never read, it certainly does take up a lot of my brainpower. When I was tiling this weekend, it pretty much kept cropping up. It’s like my brain is trying to solve a mystery that I don’t think really exists. Most odd.

4) Why does one side of my lawn grow much faster than the other? It’s weird. I mow the whole thing to keep it even but it’s only one side that really needs it.
5) Why does Rory Gilmore, my somewhat active dachshund, suddenly decide to plop herself down on the grass and refuse to move when we’re on a walk whereas Sookie wants to keep moving?

6) Why does Mrs. Enormous Trousers insist on telling me everything when I step outside to walk the dogs? Last night, I learned that her daughter thought she needed to wear a better bra, that Mr. Enormous Trousers had to buy new pants and that he got a haircut. All of this while it’s 93 degrees out and the dogs clearly aren’t in the mood to stand around.

7) Why Son of Dog Whisperer is surprised when he falls of his bike because he’s riding around, trying to do it no handed with his eyes closed while wearing no shirt or shoes and resembling a lobster because clearly he didn’t have any sunscreen on all day.

8) Why Canadian geese will decide to settle and nest in the most random places. Also, why is their feces green and why is it so messy?

9) Why I despise Gordon Ramsey so much. I tried to give “Masterchef” a go last night and it made me cringe. He’s so clearly acting up for the cameras with his drama of “TRUFFLE OIL OFFENCE! YOU SHOULD BE SHOT” and his dramatic fingers to his mouth exclamations of “Damn” when he clearly is disappointed in a contestant. Also, these are HOME COOKS- they may not know that in the cheffing world, Truffle Oil is the Oil of the Devil. Perhaps, if you stopped gagging and exclaiming over how offensive and wrong it is, you might politely TEACH her something.

10) I can’t stand fishlips on people. This is a mean and horrible thing today but there are people- mostly men- who have these tiny little lips in enormous chins and they give me the icks. The large judge on “Masterchef” has fishlips and I find them just…unpleasant.

11) Worms. After our last major rainstorm a couple of weeks ago, there was a huge population of worms writing on the sidewalks. Then when it got hot, they dried up and died. Why didn’t they wriggle to safety? Also, I really wish Rory would not try to eat these dried up worms on our walks. People will think I don’t feed her properly when, in fact, I feed her a little TOO well.

12) Squirrels…I’m not a fan but I’m amazed at their ability to climb a tree while holding onto a large object. In recent months, I’ve seen squirrels race up a tree holding a drink can, a near-empty can of Busch’s baked beans, a whole slice of pizza and a bunch of grapes. I’m not sure where the grapes came from.

13) Weeds. Why didn’t my seeds grow but weeds have no problem propagating and multiplying in the same soil?

14) Food. I think about food a lot. Usually I plan my dinner ahead of time. Yesterday, I planned on arroz con pollo tacos for dinner and since I used the tomato juice for the marinade, I had leftover tomatoes in a can so tonight, I’m having gnocchi with roasted red pepper and tomato sauce. Tomorrow, I’ll probably do something with asparagus, gnocchi and white wine. Yes, I’m obsessed. However, healthy good cooking takes some planning and creativity.

15) Why I lost my love for going to the cinema to watch a movie. Aside from “Harry Potter,” there’s nothing on my summer “Must See” list. A couple of years ago, I saw most of the major releases in a theatre. It might have something to do with the fact that ticket prices seem to creep up 50 cents more each time I go.

16) Is a movie in 2011 that is #1 at the box office really breaking records or is it that ticket prices are almost double what they were ten years ago and it just looks like movies are making more money?

17) Where are my hubcaps going? I’m now missing two. I have no idea where one of them went. One, I suspect, was pilfered when I left my car overnight in a train station car park a couple of years ago. The other one…it was just gone.

18) What do those Magnum ice-cream bars taste like? Since I’m trying to be healthy and watch my calorie intake, chances are one of those things would either have to be consumed by me on a ‘cheat day’ when I’m allowed to eat what I want or as an entire meal on a normal day. They look yummy but is it worth the calorie expenditure?

19) Chewing tobacco. That stuff is nasty. My coworker chews it and has a cup in his car that he spits in. He knows it’s vile but he does it anyway. What possesses someone to start doing it in the first place? Smoking…well, not that I’m a fan but it seems to make more sense. Why not chew Big League chew or something?

20) Writing. I still do it although I’m currently waiting for my proof of “Emmy goes to Hell” to arrive so I can move on to a new project. Is it worth writing a new novel or should I consider retiring into the oblivion in which I feel that I belong?

21) What should I do with my bathroom? It’s hideous. My dad has plans to help me remodel but while I think it’s lovely of him to help and he will eventually get it done, his timetable always needs to have a couple more weeks or even months added to it. Since it involves taking out my only bath/shower, I’m a wee bit worried about how long it’d take to replace them. Also, since his plan includes taking out wallboard and sawing the bath in half, methinks a weekend will NOT be enough to get it done.

22) Why do I like Target so much and why is it impossible to leave there without getting at least double the amount of stuff I planned to buy?

23) Will teleportation ever exist? It’d be nifty to get somewhere distant without hopping on a plane.

24) When the pups and I were walking the other day, there was a sock lying in the street several blocks away. I’ve been missing one of those socks for a while and I bought them in the wholesale district of Los Angeles a couple of years ago. What is the likelihood that it was actually my sock and, if so, how on earth did it get there?

25) Why don’t they make seasonal summer pencils? I like to write with pencils and I have pencils that reflect the major upcoming events (Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Valentines’ Day…). Why can’t I find pencils that reflect summer. It’s not fun to write with a boring pencil or one that’s out of season.

Thanks for reading!

Happy Wednesday!