Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rocky Starts and Better Finishes...

I've had better weekends.

While I managed to relax a little, this was not the best weekend I ever had. It started with my having to fire someone...that's never good.

I've done it before...fired someone, I mean. Sometimes, it's easy because it makes sense. Then there are the times, like this one, where it makes no sense at all and it simply feels wrong.

In this case, it was my candidate who I'd got to know so well, I knew the contents of his freezer. He's a very nice man. His references were stellar. I was excited that he was going to be working for us. He started work on this past Monday. He reported back to me that he loved his job. We tried to reach out to his boss to find out if they loved him as much as he loved them and...nothing. Repeatedly, my account manager reached out to her to see how things were going and...nothing....

Well, nothing until Friday at 3 p.m. at least. At this time, his boss called us to tell us that we needed to inform him that he no longer had a job and that it was effective immediately.

I was, naturally, devastated. It's one thing when you get a warning that the consultant isn't performing well. Normally, we get a warning and we get chance to reach out to our employee, give them the feedback and give them time to fix their errors.

Not this time. They were done with our guy. Never mind that he'd had five days to get up to speed. Never mind that he'd moved his whole life to take the job. Never mind that he'd taken out a huge loan to cover the expenses of moving his life...he was done.

Without trying to sound dramatic, it was one of the worst calls I've ever had to make. It's a different thing when you know it's deserved. In this case, it was only five days worth of work. He never had any warnings. Neither did we, no matter how much we dried to reach out and find out how things were going. They wanted him gone. I pleaded with my account manager to try to work something out so we offered our client a week's worth of 'free' services. This means we would simply pay our consultant his wages and our client would not have to pay a pennny.

This offer was refused. Sadly, this was the point at which I realized that no matter how good my candidate was, they had an agenda and he didn't fit. Otherwise, why on earth would you refuse a week's worth of free labour with the addendum that if the employee didn't improve, that was it?

My guess is that they either found someone cheaper to fill the position or, more likely, someone who'd left wanted to return.

Either way, it left my candidate stranded and jobless, 2000 miles from home and left me feeling like the worst human in the world.

Telling someone they're now unemployed is NOT the best way to start the weekend. This is a new fact I've learned. I don't recommend it so don't try it if you don't have to do so.

No matter what I did for the rest of the weekend, I couldn't quite shake the dark cloud that had fallen over me on Friday night after I'd fired our candidate. It's a human thing, I think. I am human...thus I felt horrible for treating another human the way that I did. Sure, it was my job. Certainly, it was better coming from me than someone he didn't know but...well, either was not fun.

I did manage to get some fun in...I went back to Farmer's Market. I really need to stop that. My desire for farm-fresh, organic vegetables is far outweighing the actuality in which I can use said vegetables. Yet still I buy them anyway.

I managed to see "Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows Part 2" again. It was just as good the second time because it wasn't so 'momentous' this was NOT the last time I'd see the last move for the first time. This was the last time I'd see it for the second time...not such a big deal. I enjoyed it.

I also got to have dinner with a friend which is always a good tonic for a sad soul. When I returned home on Saturday, I felt infinitely better than I had a mere 24 hours prior.

My Sunday has been great. I worked outside, cleaned inside and managed to conceptualize almost my entire next novel. I'd had an inkling of the plot for a while but only after letting "Emmy" go to fly free into the world of the e-book was I really ready to move on. I'm ready now and I think my new characters are ready for me too. Only time will tell.

In short, it's been an odd weekend that began worse than it ended. I suppose it's better than it ending worse than it began because it means that the week ahead is hopeful. I'm trying to be hopeful too...I just hope that I don't have to fire anyone else. As much as I love my's not always easy.

Then again, I suppose that's true of life in general.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Showing Appreciation for the Good Things in Life

Today has been an interesting day even though it’s been rather quiet at work.

For one thing, I received my official notification that I had made the ‘elite’ group who will be rewarded for my efforts with a trip to London at work. I knew it was coming but it was still a thrill to get the email that congratulated me and made it ‘official’.

It makes me appreciate my job and my company even more than I do already. While I do think that good workers shouldn’t need incentives dangled in front of their faces like a greyhound at a racetrack, I do think that they make things more fun. I’d like to think that I’d do my job just as well with the incentives but it definitely makes the stakes a little higher.

The interesting thing about incentives is that they play a dual role. Certainly, they give us something to work towards. You dangle a free trip to London in front of me and I’m going to bloody well make sure I get to go. Yet there’s another side to it. It creates a huge sense of loyalty and pride in my company that they actually want to reward us like this and that they actually do. Compared to my last company whose main rewards included awkward bagels and even more awkward organized social events, the differences are glaring. Even on my worst days here, I don’t have to talk myself into getting out of bed and going to work. I don’t have to blast rebellious music as I drive in order to psych myself up to face another day. I don’t have any overwhelming urges to throttle my boss with a yoga strap. Nor do I have to retreat to The Most Optimistic Bathroom in the World in order to make myself giggle at the absurdity of it all.

No, even without the rewards, I like this job because they make me feel appreciated. Even without the trip to London or the occasional cash bonuses we get, the fact that my boss tells me that I’m doing a good job does wonders. Our company CEO makes sure he comes to our branch from the main office in Chicago once in a while just to see us all and make sure he knows that our work is appreciated.

So, even though the rewards and incentives are nice, I find that I want to do a good job because I don’t want to disappoint any one. It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes to like and respect your boss because he actually knows what you do on a daily basis. Yes, there’s a little bitterness still there towards my old boss but it’s slowly dissipating in response to my current boss.

I think appreciation goes a long, long way with most human beings. Because there have been times when I’ve done things without so much of a thank you and been hurt, I do try very hard to make sure I thank people when they’ve done something good or nice for me. I try to be a good tipper in a restaurant. I try to make sure people know when what they’ve done means a lot to me. It’s one of those small things that goes a very long way.

Like most humans, I respond well to appreciation. Granted, when the appreciation comes in the form of being granted a free trip to London, I tend to respond rather more excitedly than, for example, with a free leftover promotional favour from a past conference. My old boss once gave me a coaster he found in his office. Sad to say, I was extremely grateful. Needless to say, I’ve made a step up I think.

Another reason my day was rather interesting was because I received another form of appreciation: Fan mail. Now that I’ve made The Reluctant Demon free for e-book download, I’m finding that my “sales” have literally doubled. I’ve had two rather lovely emails already telling me how much the reader has enjoyed my book and demanding to know when the sequel comes out.

It’s a very humbling feeling, I admit. I may not ever make the bestselling lists but to know that people are out there, reading my book and actually liking it is a pretty amazing thing. It’s exciting. My lovely friend, Ms. P, is a librarian and she’s actually put The Reluctant Demon on their library’s “hot summer reading list”. I’m in the company of George R.R. Martin and Jane Austin. I’m slightly awestruck by this but I think it’s pretty fabulous of her. Thanks, Ms. P!

All in all this email is pretty much my way of saying how nice it is to be appreciated. There are times in life when I feel quite the opposite and I do a lot of venting so I thought it would be nice to write about the flipside. I find that one of my flaws is that I’m quick enough to complain and vent but I don’t always remember to be grateful and happy about the things that are good in life. It’s too easy to see the bad sometimes and not so easy to see the good.

So, today, I’m seeing all of the good and appreciating every moment of it. And, to top it all off, tomorrow is Friday and weekends are something else to be truly appreciated, no matter how much we enjoy our jobs.

Happy Friday and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Priorities of Being a Homeowner

The thing with being a homeowner is that it changes your priorities in life.

Just over two years ago, I moved into my house. I’d lived in apartments before and was ready to have something that was actually mine. It has been a joy having the freedom to do what I want whether it be painting, ripping up a floor and replacing it as well as having a garden fit for dogs and for growing vegetables.

It’s just that this has now become my life. I’m not complaining, trust me. I rather love my life. When I lived in an apartment, it was much easier to find time to go to my parents’ for the weekend or take off and fly to L.A. to visit. Nowadays, it’s not that easy because there’s always something to do at home.

I don’t mind. I’ve actually got to the point where I like mowing. If you read back over the blogs I wrote when I first moved into the house and had to start mowing, you’ll see this is quite a departure. I find it slightly peculiar that I now take a weird sort of pride in making sure my lawn looks tidy and looked after. I like to drive home and see my tidy lawn and how it contrasts with Mr. Enormous Trouser’s unkempt one. I find it therapeutic to pull out the mower and cut the lawn.

I especially like the feeling I have after the grass is cut and I can sit on my patio, drinking a beer and admiring how nice it looks while the pups roll in the clippings. Why the like to roll in the clippings, I do not know. When the grass is dry, it’s not so bad. When it’s wet, it makes a mess. It’s most annoying when I give the girls a bath and they immediately run outside and roll in the grass clippings.

If it’s not mowing, it’s laundry. I have to admit, after years of having to pump quarters into machines, including the college years, I’m still thankful that I have my own washer and dryer and that if I forget my clothes in the washer, there’s no one to dump them out on the floor. Since the pups are afraid of the laundry area due to the fact that I accidentally knocked a laundry basket on the floor, narrowly missing them, I highly doubt they’re likely to dump my clothes out. Also, they have no thumbs. This would make it difficult.

There’s also the small things such as remembering on Wednesdays that Rumpke come the next day so I should have my rubbish out by the curb. This is actually pretty easy to remember because my neighbours remind me by putting out their own rubbish. Also, confession time, the pups and I enjoy our Wednesday evening walks because we’re nosy and it’s quite fun to see the boxes and things by the curb and know who bought a new TV, who has a new baby and who got a new puppy. Yes, we’re nosy. I prefer to think of it as “studying humans” in order to be a more effective writer. Ok, fine…it is nosy and probably a little weird but I think I get it from my grandmother.

It’s nice to have the freedom to decide that I want to have DirecTV without having to find out from a landlord whether I’m allowed a dish or not. It’s nice to have dogs without having to pay a deposit for them. It’s nice to decide that I’m fed up with the window coverings and I can change them without having to worry about storing the old ones to put back up when I move out.

Of course, the flip side to having all this freedom is when you have a period of time where you have termites, your dryer dies and your fridge dies in the same week, it’s expensive. When the air conditioning goes out, it’s my responsibility to get it fixed. I have to be the one who’s there to let repairmen into my house because it’s my responsibility.

It’s an up and down journey that has become my life. I’ve somehow transitioned from someone who will splurge on a pair of Vans shoes to someone who’d rather buy a new side table for my Tuscan room. I price the cost of a new bathroom when I go in Home Depot. I get excited by the Lowes advertisement to see what’s on special.

You get it. I just did. It wasn’t until I was sitting at work thinking of all the things I had to do this evening when I realized that they’re things I have to do because I own my house. I don’t mind one little bit but it occurred to me that my life has become rather quiet and peaceful throughout the years. I don’t go out as much after work because I’d rather come home to the dogs, kick of my shoes and curl up with a good book in the sanctity of my Tuscan room.

I don’t know if this makes me boring or not. It probably does. Yet there’s a strange peace in finding a life where being able to own my own grill and use it is a little bit of a delight and where I can sit out on my patio, surrounded by sunflowers and herbs that I planted and know that this little corner of the world is all mine.

Whether it’s exciting or not is irrelevant. It is exciting to me, even in the quietness of the life I have. I think that’s what really matters. And I think the dogs would agree.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mourning Mail

The problem with living in a heavily electronic age is that many things are now virtual, rather than actual.

This thought occurred to me today as I checked my mail and all I had was a circular ad for Lowes, a Steak and Shake page of coupons and a leaflet for DirecTV. Yesterday, I had a coupon from Bed, Bath and Beyond. The day before that…I got no mail.

Even a few years ago, I used to get more mail. Even though it was mostly bills, there was something satisfying in opening up the mailbox and seeing a wad of envelopes in there. You never quite knew what you were going to get. Those were the days where I had files folders for my bills, each labeled with the name of the company who was sending the bill. Then, on payday, I’d get my newest bills, my checkbook and my stamps and I’d make an evening of paying bills. Yes, this sounds rather dull but, oddly, I quite liked it. I never liked the spending of the money part of it but there was something satisfying about sitting down, immersed in paperwork, half-watching something on TV and then maybe having a glass of wine as a reward. Then again, I am someone who quite likes to do my taxes too. Yes, I’m weird. However, I liked homework too when I was in school. We could discuss my giant case of pre-college nerdiness but I’ve made no secret of the fact that I was a nerd.

Nowadays, most of my bills are delivered electronically to me. Not only is this easier but it does save trees. I’m not exactly Captain Greenpeace-let’s-live-in-a-tree-to-protest-them-chopping-them-down. I’m not even someone who necessarily buys the green version of cleaning products. Frankly, while I salute the attempt, vinegar and lemon do NOT clean my toilet as well as Lysol Bathroom Cleaner and I’m not going to mess with bathroom germs. However, I do try to be green when I can and if I can save a tree by having my mortgage statements sent to me electronically, I will.

On a side note, I do wish that the credit card companies who are trying to solicit my business were more green. Chase Manhattan, I am TALKING TO YOU. I do NOT need at least three pieces of junk mail in my mailbox per week asking me to become a) a member of your bank, b) a holder of your credit card or c) a low balance transfer. By all means, if you HAVE to, send me one piece of mail sporadically to remind me that you’re out there but your bulk mailing campaigns are ridiculous. Discover card? You’re not far behind. And Citibank? I already have one of your damn credit cards, I don’t want another. I don’t want to swap my reward card for a Disney reward card or a Barnes and Noble reward card. Here’s the thing: By having a general rewards card that gives me cash back, I can spend it anywhere! A novel concept, I know but this means I can use it for Disneyland or Barnes and Noble if I want! I don’t need a specific card!

(please note, I’m making up the Disney/Barnes and Noble thing. I do get these type of offers from Citibank but it may not be those specific companies. Those may come from Chase Manhattan. CHASE? STOP KILLING TREES!).

Back to my original point and, yes, again- I do have one. The actual real mail that’s directed to me personally rather than “Captain Monkeypants or current resident” has declined dramatically in recent years because of technology, particularly the rapid growth of the internet and the ease of paying bills online.

(That last sentence, right there- THESIS STATEMENT! Yup, I learned something in high school English and it still applies. Yes, I am proud. As should Mrs. Studebaker and the other teachers who taught me the value of writing a paper correctly. I can still do the outline, thank you very much. Now, diagramming sentences…that was always a little daft to me and even though I probably still could try, my total lack of desire to ever diagram a sentence again gets in the way.)

I like doing things online. It’s convenient and simple. I have it set up so that I just login to my banking site and I’ve already got all my payees and bill notifications set up. I can just look at what’s due and boom! Payment is delivered within two days. While this is simple, it’s not foolproof. For example, say your direct deposit is delivered at 12:00 a.m. on a Saturday and you don’t think about paying bills until you’re in your office on a Monday. Then you realize that it’s actually the 3rd of the month and your Verizon bill is due today. If you go through the bank, it’ll get paid by the 5th. However, the beauty of a virtual world is that in this case, I can just go directly to my Verizon account, login and then click on “Pay my Bill”. Boom. Instant gratification.

Life is more convenient now. Before the internet, doing that would have involved a series of phone calls and possibly an emergency trip to the post-office. Now, it just requires going to a website, logging in and taking care of business.

Granted, it’s a little more dangerous but if you’re smart about it and you don’t put in “Password” as your password or something equally easy-to-guess, it’s pretty secure.

All in all, it is easier now. It makes it harder to be late with payments. It makes it harder to forget a payment because my bank reminds me when to pay. I also get reminders from the companies in my inbox.

The inbox has replaced the physical mailbox. It’s a little sad.

While it is nice to see fun, personal emails from friends and family and those nifty “Hey it’s your birthday, have a coupon for a free ice-cream” type of things on your birthday, I find that there’s something not quite as gratifying about email as there is with physical mail. Maybe it’s because email is delivered 24 hours a day, seven days a week whereas with physical mail, you have to wait for the mailperson to put it in your box. It is more convenient to have email constantly being delivered but it’s not as fun as real mail.

No matter how many emails I get, it never quite feels the same opening one as it does having a physical envelope in my hand, and trying to open the seal only to tear the paper. When the email opens, it’s so quick, there’s little time to pause in the anticipation of the letter. You can’t lay it aside and pick it up again to reread without having to log back into your email and reopen it.

And the smell of paper and the occasional accidental papercut is missing. I get it. We need to be green. I get as much email as I ever did physical mail, probably a lot more.

Yet, every time I open my mailbox to find it empty, it’s a little sad. I miss real mail.

And Chase Manhattan? You don’t count. Sorry.

Happy Wednesday

Monday, July 25, 2011

London, eBooks and Other Monday Musings

For a Monday, today wasn’t so bad at work. The day flew by. I think this was probably because I was still playing catch-up from last week. We’re a small office of seven people in the office. When five of the seven go on vacation in the same week, it generally means that I’m going to be a little busy.

Now everyone’s back and I’m still working from the fallout of having to cover so many areas in a week. I’m not complaining. There’s nothing I like better than a Monday that flies by. Given that last Monday, we found out someone who worked for us had died, this was a much better day.

On the plus side, it seems that as of Thursday of this week, I’m going to officially qualify for our “Top Performer’s Trip” to London. These means that my lovely, generous company rewards those of us who’ve met a certain ‘quota’ by a certain date with an all-expenses trip to London.

The trip happens every year. Usually, it’s somewhere in the U.S. but since this year is the 30th anniversary of the founding of our company, our owner decided to splurge and send the top performers to England.

Naturally, I’m rather excited. While there will be some group activities involved, for the most part, the trip is about letting the ‘winners’ have a relaxed trip to London. We get lots of free time, spending money and travel paid for. Since I have family in England, I plan on extending the trip so I can spend some time with my grandparents. I’m trying hard not to think about leaving the pups for over a week but I’m still a little worried about anyway. They’re my babies and it’s not like I can call them on the phone. I’m hoping that my parents won’t mind doggy-sitting for me. I should probably ask them, shouldn’t’ I?

(Hey, mum…would you mind awfully looking after the girls for a while in late September/early October? I’ll buy you and dad dinner. Thanks!)

So, anyway, I got my last placement today to qualify for the trip which made Monday rather pleasant for once. It doesn’t mean I’m likely to stop working hard but it’s definitely been an incentive to work extra hard. Hey, if you wave a free trip to London in front of Captain Monkeypants, I’m not going to let that slip!

Today was also good because I had an important revelation regarding publishing e-books: People don’t want to pay $1.99 for a book but if you give it away for free, you’ll ‘sell’ twice as many copies in a day as you have in the last four months. True story.

Personally, I didn’t think that $1.99 was that steep of a price for a book. I mean, granted, The Reluctant Demon isn’t up there with, say Pride and Prejudice or War and Peace but I thought that $1.99 was pretty cheap for an e-book. I mean, as an ‘author’, it is nice to charge something for your work. Giving it away for free is very benevolent but there’s something rather satisfying about making a few pennies for each book that sells.

I mean, I own a Kindle now. If I see a book for $1.99 that sounds interesting enough to read, I don’t exactly say, “oooh, that’s almost two dollars! I don’t know about that. It’s a bit expensive.” Now, I do that when it comes to bestsellers because I think it’s a bit of a rip-off. For example, I wanted to buy the newest of the “Game of Thrones” series recently. I’m not quite ready to read it yet but I’m close enough to finish book four that I started to panic that I’d finish it and wouldn’t have book five to start reading immediate.

As a sidenote: Yes, I am aware that this might be slightly obsessive but I’ve made no attempts to hide the fact that I have an obsessive personality. It’s just a fact that if I’m reading something that’s part of a series and I’m enjoying it, I simply cannot relax until I have all of the series at my fingertips to read. I can’t help it. It’s the same problem I have when I fly. I pack WAY too many books in my carry-on because I panic at the thought of finishing a book and not having another one to start. Weird? Maybe…but I know I’m not the only one who feels like this.

Anyway, back to my Game of Thrones anecdote. So, I priced the hardback to see where the price was lowest. I mistakenly thought it was Target because the book was priced at $24.95 and there was a “30%” off sticker on the cover. However, apparently the $24.95 is the price WITH the 30% off already. I find this misleading and rather annoying, Target, in case you’re reading. And yes, now I’m picturing a giant store with arms and a bullseye for a head reading this blog which is a weird image to have in my head.

Eventually, it turned out that Costco had the best price. I still wasn’t sure $19 was worth instant gratification so I decided to hold off on buying it until I’d checked the Kindle price. My theory on books is that it does cost money to print a hard copy and thus the cover price makes sense. However, e-books only take the cost of formatting them for this version and since almost 99% of writers tend to write electronically these days anyway, it’s tedious but not difficult to do. Thus, my rationalization was the e-book version of “Dance with Dragons” should be at pretty inexpensive compared to the print version.

Wrong. It turned out it was still almost $15. For the extra $4, I returned to Costco and now have a physical book which seems much more worth the $19 than the $15 it would have cost to have a file on my Kindle.

So, my point is that for my hard copy of Emmy Goes to Hell, I have no choice but to meet the minimum cost of printing the book which turned out to be $12. I literally will make less than 50 cents a book in my attempts to make it affordable. However, since I’m not actually selling anything physical on the ebook version, I can’t justify charging anything close to that. Thus, my e-book version of Emmy is $2.99. Yes, I raised the price of it from my first book a whole dollar. I apologize. Inflation stinks.

Besides, I’m giving The Reluctant Demon away for free at the moment. It’s my shameless attempt to try to tempt more readers to buy Emmy. I figure they might want to read the sequel and if I give them the first one for free and leave them on a cliffhanger, they might buy the next one for the low, low price of $2.99.

All in all, it’s been a pretty good day. Between qualifying for free trips and publishing revelations, it’s been a better Monday than most. Since they don’t happen very often, I’m choosing to be very thankful and appreciate it for everything it’s worth.

Thank you, Monday for not being a typical Monday.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Accidental Early Starts...DirecTV and Other Weekendness

This has been another of those weekends that has just flown by. It was one where I had few plans other than to stay home on Saturday morning and wait for the DirecTV man to come. Since it was time to renew my contract, I called them up to cancel with a secret hope they'd lure me to stay by offering me some free goodies. Since I bought an HDTV after I'd subscribed to my original service, I was hoping for a free HDTV upgrade. Lo and behold, my threat of leaving their service guaranteed me a free HDTV receiver and free service for 24 months.

Thus, that was my plan for Saturday morning- to stay home and wait for Mr. DirecTV to come. My window of time was 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. I was pretty sure they wouldn't be there at 8 a.m. but, just in case, I planned on getting up by 7:30 a.m. to be ready. Well, that was a fine idea. I set my alarm for 7 a.m. so I could doze for 30 minutes. When it did go off at 7 a.m., I changed the alarm so it'd go off in another 30 minutes. At least I thought I had.

I dozed. Then my phone rang. It was an automated message from DirecTV reminding me that I had someone coming at 8 a.m. I glanced at the clock- it was almost 8:15 a.m.! I flew out of bed and got dressed quickly. I didn't fancy the DirecTV man coming while I was still in my pajamas.

I let the pups out and ran around and cleared up. Then, finally, I sat down. I glanced at the clock in my living room. I blinked. It appeared to say it was not quite eight a.m.

Well, it turned out that Silly Captain Monkeypants had accidentally adjusted the time on her clock rather than the alarm and my dozing which I thought had lasted an hour had in actuality only been about five minutes of dozing. Yes, i had been up since 7:10 a.m.

Mr. DirecTV came at 9:30 a.m. He had a bit of trouble with my old dish. Apparently there was a hornet's nest up there and he was deathly allergic so he didn't want to take it away like he was supposed to. Instead, he put a new dish up and left the old one so now I have two dishes. I think when the weather cools and the wasps die off, I may have them come and remove it just because I really don't want two dishes.

The installation of HDTV took quite a while. By the time he left, I was quite glad. He was a nice enough technician but he had been working outside in the heat and he was a little stinky. Also, he put those plastic footie things over his shoes so he didn't mess up my carpet and he ended up wearing right through the plastic so his shoes were only covered at the top. I didn't care but i thought it was a little pointless wearing the footie things. Also, the dogs were penned up in the kitchen/Tuscan room area and they don't like strangers in the house. Sookie likes to have a good woof. I call it her "STRANGER DANGER" bark.

I finally freed the dogs around noon. I immediately headed off to a local farmer's market. I'd made the mistake of spending the morning reading Bon Appetit and it had a ton of recipes for fresh veggies, particularly tomatoes so I really, really wanted some fresh tomatoes.

In the end, my Saturday ended up flying by and it was Sunday. Today, I spent most of the day getting "Emmy Goes to Hell" ready to be published as an e-book. It's a lot of work because you have to be very, very specific regarding format. The format for e-books is pretty much the complete opposite of print books so it's all rather tedious.

I perservered and the book is in the final approval status by my publisher. Once it gets approved, Emmy will be on sale for the low price of $2.99 on every electronic device out there. It's also available from Amazon as a hard copy, just in case you don't own a Kindle, Nook, etc. And yes, that was another shameless plug.

All in all, it's been a good weekend so far. The girls and I are currently enjoying a thunderstorm that brought some wonderful, much-needed rain. It's been pouring for a while and I can already see that my parched garden is drinking it up and appreciating every drop. Even when you water with a hose, it's never the same as organic rain. I expect my vegetables to grow a little more quickly for a while.

I love weekends like this where I have no real plans. I only really had the plan of waiting for DirecTV and possibly seeing "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" again. I didn't end up seeing Harry but that was intentional. I do want to see it again quite badly but I decided that if I wait another week, I'll appreciate more again because it won't be quite so fresh.

For the rest of the weekend, I plan of spending some time with the neglected pups. They hate it when I sit at my desktop and work because I'm ignoring them and despite her best efforts, Sookie is just not a lapdog. I love having her on my lap but the length of a dachshund is not really conducive to comfort or convenience while trying to simutaneously type on a keyboard.

I also plan to go outside in a few minutes and spend a little time dancing in the rain because it's been so long since it rained and it's just so pleasant to feel those drops falling down and cooling everything down. I think that sounds like a lovely way to wind up a weekend, don't you?

Thanks, as always for reading. I hope you had a great weekend. Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Hot Sense of Deja Vu

So, yesterday, I started to write a blog about how hot it was and how thankful I was to have air conditioning. Then I thought that would be a bit repetitive because I’ve blogged rather a lot about the heat lately.

I wrote my blog about my book instead.

This time, last year, my air conditioner died. I blogged about that quite a lot because it was one of the hotter parts of the year and I was not happy.

Well, lo and behold, my air conditioner must have sensed the anniversary of its death and subsequent resurrection because it died again last night.

I blame myself. Yesterday, it was very hot. We had a heat index of 106 degrees. When I got home from work, I wanted to water the garden with the hose. However, since I accidentally bought one of those sprinklers that goes forward and back, I end up watering part of the lawn as well. When I looked at the lawn, I realized it was quite long and it would attract even more pesky bugs when wet than it did already.

So, I mowed the lawn. My rationalization for this was that even though it was rather hot and very humid, it would be ok because I could go inside and refresh with a cold drink in the lovely cool air conditioning.

Silly Captain Monkeypants! What was I thinking!!

The first time I went inside between mowing the front lawn and the back, the air was working just fine. I went back outside. Once I was done mowing, I came inside but was rather hot and tired so it felt fine in the living room.

Then I went outside, took out the rubbish, watered the front garden and noticed that my air conditioner outside was not working. That wasn’t anything to worry about because I have the thermostat on auto so it kicks on and off depending on how the temperature needs to be regulated.

Then I went inside and noticed the air conditioning sounded like it was on. My air conditioner is old and thusly, very noisy. You know when it’s on. At this point, I suddenly realized it wasn’t as cool as it should have been. My heart sunk a little and I trudged outside. Sure enough, the outside fan was not turning and the air conditioner had stopped working.

Panicked, I pulled off the side of the unit and hit the ‘reset’ button the way the repairman had shown me last year. The compressor hummed but nothing else happened. I left it a little while and then hit the reset button again. The compressor tried to work but then it stopped.

Naturally, while I was doing all this activity, I was outside in the heat and got hot. Air conditioning would have been lovely. Alas, it was not to be. I called the repair company and left a message on their emergency line. Call me a baby but with that kind of heat index, air conditioning is almost vital. At least to me.

Someone from the company called me back and said they’d get someone out the next day. I was told it could be any time so I planned on going to work and running home when I was given an estimated time of arrival.

In the meantime, the pups and I spent an increasingly uncomfortable evening trying to stay cool. I put the fans in the windows but when there’s only hot air to blow around, it doesn’t provide much relief.

The dogs blamed me. I got glares and stares all night as they very obviously ‘sighed’ and attempted to sprawl on the lino floor which was cooler than the sofa and carpet.

We didn’t sleep much last night. It was too hot. I knew it would be. Just as I was getting ready for work, the lovely AC repairman called. He was on his way. It was the same nice man from last year. He was at my house by 8:10 a.m. and by 8:15 a.m., I knew what the problem was. The capacitor had blown. Apparently, that reset button I had actually saved me because it stopped the air conditioner from overheating and dying forever. While he was there, he replaced something else that he said would probably cause a problem fairly soon. I trusted Mr. Air Conditioning Fix It Man so I let him fix it.

The whole thing was done in less than an hour and a half. When I left for work, the house was cooling down and when I got home, it was blissfully cool.

The pups are happier now. So am I. I know that we humans are spoiled nowadays. Even thirty years ago, air conditioning was a luxury. I wonder how people survived. Then again, I think that temperatures are hotter these days than they used to be because of that whole greenhouse effect thing so maybe they didn’t need it.

Either way, I have it and I’m grateful for every bit of cool air that circulates my way. I think the pups are too. At least they’re not glaring any more.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Monogamous Reading and Writing

I haven’t really blogged much about writing lately which is slightly ironic since the original purpose of my blog was to talk about writing.

The truth is, I haven’t actually been writing much lately. This is a combination of wanting to take a break. I wrote ten novels in 8 years and I felt like it’d be nice to take some time off. So I did.

Also, I finished my last novel in January and it’s taken a while to deal with that. Since I published The Reluctant Demon, I’ve had several people tell me that it wasn’t edited as well as it could have been and there were typos in it. This is slightly embarrassing, I admit. However, since I just found a couple of typos in the book I’m reading, A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin that’s currently in the top ten best selling books list at the moment, I don’t feel so bad.

However, with my sequel to The Reluctant Demon, I wanted to take more time to edit and make sure it was as polished as it could have been. This is one of my excuses for not having written much lately.

Editing takes time. I’m not a fan of it. My normal process is to finish a book, go back and edit and then leave it for a few weeks/months and then edit again. It’s hard to edit something when you’ve been staring at it. It’s also hard to edit something you know so well. I find that my eyes tend to miss a lot of typos or punctuation mistakes.

This time, I decided to have others help me with the editing. I enlisted the aid of a good friend who is a ‘grammar’ queen. She was very helpful but I did discover when I got the edited manuscript back that while she had found a lot of the typos and given me a lot of constructive criticism, she’d also missed quite a few errors. My assumption is that she got sidetracked by the story and didn’t catch everything.

I was still grateful because she found a lot more stuff than I had. Still, it meant I had to go through and re-edit. It was easier this time since I hadn’t read the book in a few months. I found a lot of typos, punctuation errors and even some continuity problems.

Still, I didn’t think it was quite ready so I decided to run it through a final filter, my friend Saz. She is one of those very organized writers who is excellent at punctuation and detail. I sent her the book. She was kind enough to read it and let me know of other errors/typos she’d found.

When I got it back, I made the changes and, finally, it felt like it was done. This whole process pretty much took from January through June.

During this time, I thought about writing something new. I’ve been percolating an idea in my head but I seriously don’t feel like it’s ready to write yet. Also, the idea of writing something while trying to get Emmy ready to publish just didn’t seem like a good idea. I’m one of those people who simply can only read one book at once. By that, I don’t mean that I’m holding a book in each hand and trying to read both books at the same time. I mean that if I’m reading one book, I don’t like putting it down and picking up something else until I’ve finished the first book.

I just don’t like to do it. I am a decidedly monogamous reader and if I read two books simultaneously, it feels almost like I’m ‘cheating’ on the other book. Weird, I know, but it’s true. Also, I like sitting down and getting absorbed in the fictional world behind the pages and if I’m reading a different book, I have to jump between worlds. I like to read one, get absorbed into that world until I’m done and then move on.

You get the idea. This is why I have the same mentality when it comes to writing. I can’t write two books at the same time. I need to focus my energy and passion on one book and then move on. I can sometimes work on other things like short stories but then again, I’m ok with reading a magazine and a book at the same time. They’re like apples and oranges.

So, since I intend to publish Emmy Goes to Hell, I didn’t feel comfortable starting something new until Emmy was off my plate and completely done.

Well, Emmy is finally done. It should be up for sale on in the next week as well as through online retailers. The last step is to get it up for e-readers like the Kindle and Nook. This is not as easy as it sounds as it involves rather a lot of formatting changes in order to be converted into the many and varied formats for each type of e-reader.

I’ll be glad to be done with Emmy. It was fun to write but I’m ready for something new and different. Once the e-reader version is available, I’ll finally be able to put the book aside and move on. It’s taken a while but I’m pleased with the result. It’ll be nice to get back to actual writing again rather than the nitty gritty of publishing. Of course, there’s the marketing but…well….that’s not the same. That’s not cheating on my new book.

So, aside from this being a blog about writing, it’s a shameless plug for Emmy Goes to Hell. Please buy my book. It’s quite funny, quite dark and, as always, just wee bit twisted. I like it more than The Reluctant Demon because there’s a little more to it. Neither book is ever going to be my magnum opus but I think they’re fun reads.

Now it’s done, I can move on and write something new. I’m not quite sure what that will be but it probably won’t involve demons this time around. I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks, as always for reading!

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bad Dreams and Not So Good Days

I find there is little more frustrating than going to bed early, falling asleep and then waking up not much later and being unable to sleep.

That happened to me last night. I went to bed early instead of staying up late to read too much of my current book, the third in George R.R. Martin’s, Game of Thrones series. Then I fell asleep. Less than an hour later I woke up and spent the rest of the night having on-and-off nightmares.

The nightmares were a direct result of my day at work. It wasn’t a good day. One of my consultants hadn’t shown up to work since Wednesday. We tried to reach him and couldn’t. Finally, our branch administrator called the hotel where he was temporarily living and had them check his room. It turned out that he’d passed away several days before.

I feel bad for him. For one thing, it took a few days for anyone to notice he was missing and then, when they did, it was his employer rather than family. Secondly, how sad to die in a hotel room, far away from home. The police are investigating to find out if it was a natural death or self-inflicted but, either way, it’s a sad thing.

It was an unsettling day at work to say the least. My vivid imagination has a horrible habit of picturing things and wondering how often that happens in hotel rooms. It also didn’t help that another consultant that we’ve just hired is going to be temporarily locating to the same town and thus, staying in the hotel. We’ve asked the hotel not to tell our new consultant what happened. My guess is that they won’t. It’s probably not good publicity for a hotel to have someone die.

It’s an unpleasant thought, isn’t it? The hotel said they were calling in a special company to sanitize and thoroughly clean the room. Yet, the twisted part of me can’t help wondering if the next person to stay in that room will have any idea. I’m guessing not. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

So, combined with my sadness regarding the death of our employee, I was also trying to quash these rather dark thoughts as I tried to sleep. Unfortunately, our subconscious is pretty hard to control so I didn’t do very well.

As a result, I woke up groggy and fuzzy-headed. That’s no way to begin a day. A worse way to begin a day is to find out you have to fire someone.

I don’t like firing people, even when they deserve it. Unfortunately, it comes with the territory. I have the power to find people jobs and to take them away. In this case, it was a lady who’d only been working for us for three months. She had been having some issues already. Then, she didn’t show up to work on Monday and no one could reach her. It became my job to try to get hold of her.

I was a little paranoid by this time. Monday was the day we found out about our deceased consultant so, later that day, when you have another consultant who can’t be tracked down, you can’t help but wonder if she, too, might have passed away and no one had found her.
Fortunately, she was fine. She had just had some extremely personal crisis that she couldn’t discuss. She had forgotten her phone so she couldn’t let anyone know she wasn’t going to work.

I think if this had been a one-off occurrence, she would still have a job. However, it wasn’t the first time and so I was told to let her go.

It’s a hard thing to let someone know they won’t be returning to work again. In this case, she wasn’t surprised but she was still upset. She cried. I hate when they cry. I tend to be overly sympathetic by nature, anyway. This is why they tease me in the office for liking the ‘gutter puppies’- the down-and-out people who haven’t been able to find a job and need something, anything to pay the bills. I just feel sorry for them. I’m a firm believer in that if someone is willing to work and wants to work, they should be allowed to work. There’s far too many people out there who don’t want to work and don’t do so and expect to live on ‘free money’ from the government. I like to help people.

So, this is why I don’t like it when they cry. It makes me feel guilty even when I have nothing to really feel guilty about. I don’t think anyone truly likes being the bearer of bad news and I’m no exception.

I’m hoping that tomorrow, I won’t have anyone die nor do I have to fire anyone. I am meeting with a candidate as a favour to his dad who is another candidate. The son was released from jail last year and has been trying to get back on his feet. His dad wants me to see if we can help him. I might be able to but it’s hard to find jobs for people with felonies on their records. Did I mention I tend to be over-sympathetic. Some people might call me a sucker. I probably am.

Still, tonight, I’m hoping to sleep without nightmares and tomorrow, I’m hoping for a better day. Keep your fingers crossed for me! I’ll keep you posted.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bugs...Bug Me...

It’s been hot and sticky for over a week now and we haven’t had any rain in ages. I finally got tired of going out to my tomatoes with a watering can and I broke down and bought a new hose and a sprinkler.

I’m curious to see how the sprinkler does. I’m more curious to see if the pups decide the sprinkler is a friend or an enemy. Since it’s going to be watering their favourite ‘hanging out and watching for squirrels’ spot in the garden, they’re either going to deliberately get wet or they’ll be sulky because they can’t follow their usual routine.

In all honesty, part of me is tempted to enjoy the sprinkler too. It’s so hot out there that whenever you’re out for more than two minutes, your clothes start sticking to you and you’re instantly sweating. It’d be nice to act like a kid and jump through the sprinklers. However, I’ll probably resist just because even though I shouldn’t, I do care what the neighbours think. This is most likely because it would probably involve me wearing a swimsuit and I’m not sure I want to inflict that on the neighbours. Thus, I’ll just be a responsible grown-up and just use the sprinklers for watering my vegetables.

The heat is making it hard to do much outside. It’s too hot to be pleasant and even if we do brave the humidity and heat and attempt to do something outside, there are these rather unpleasant little gnat things that seem to multiply by the second until you’re so tired of trying to brush them off that you end up running inside.

I’m not a fan of bugs anyway. I find them to be a huge nuisance. When I was younger, I used to visualize how nice it would be to go for picnics in meadows of flowers like you see in the movie. Or I’d visualize running down a meadow-hill like that girl at the beginning of “Little House on the Prairie”. Or running through a cornfield, letting the taller corn embrace me and change my perception of the world for a while.

Why I visualized these things, I can’t tell you. I have a weird way of thinking. If you read my blog, you probably know that. The fact is that I did picture these things.

However, the reality of it was never the same because of the stupid bugs. I have yet to find a place on earth where you can sit outside and have a picnic without having some buggy pest drive you a little crazy. It could be mosquitoes that bite and make life unpleasant. It could be spiders who don’t mean to be ominous but are anyway because, well, they’re spiders. It could be those pesky green flies that seem to thrive on vegetation and the pretty the landscape, the more irritating the green flies.

As for the “Little House on the Prairie”- I have yet to find a meadow without similar bug problems. Granted, when the weather is perfect, the bugs are slightly less prominent but try running through prairie-long grass without having a secret fear of ticks, chiggers and other nasty biting bugs.

And then there’s the cornfields. When my family moved to the U.S., we moved to a house in the country. There was corn on all sides of us. My brother and I decided to play in the cornfields. Then, after a few minutes, we realized between many of the rows of corn were spider webs. Inside the spiderwebs were rather terrifying looking spiders that made the experience suddenly far less fun and far more alarming.

Of course, I found out that the spiders were harmless and wouldn’t bite but, well, would you want to risk having a spider like that crawling on you?

Thus, I haven’t run through the corn since. Call me a chicken. Call me a wimp. It’s just that over the years, all of the pleasant, fun outdoor activities that seem so exciting in theory are never quite as exciting in reality because of the bugs.

I shouldn’t let them bother me but it’s hard not to, really. Last night, I went to a dinner party at a coworker’s and we attempted to sit outside. At first, in spite of the heat and humidity, it was pleasant. And then the bugs decided to join us. It was primarily these little black gnats. I’d kill one and three more would appear. We lit bug candles but that had no effect. In the end, when the flies joined in, we abandoned our outdoor gathering and fled inside.

So, I’m not a fan of bugs. I find them annoying. I’m sure there’s a greater purpose to them than to, well, ‘bug’ us. They probably do some good by at least providing a diet to frogs and things. However, it’s hard to see that when you’re outside and suddenly you’re covered by a layer of horrible, tiny biting gnats.

It’s one of the things in summer that I find the most annoying. However, since it comes with the territory, I’ve learned to accept it.

But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t bug me.

Ok, I’m done with the bad puns now.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harry Potter and The Annoying MovieGoers

I won't make this a long and blithering blog as I often do on Sundays and will try to keep it shorter and sweeter than usual.

As I said on Friday, I did finally get to see the last and final adventures of "Harry Potter" this weekend. It was a great way to end a great series of movies and I enjoyed every minute of the movie. It was sad, exciting, clever, funny and just overall fantastic. That's my review.

My only question about the whole experience was not about the film but, rather, to one of the fellow movie watchers who shared the theatre with us. Here's my question: What would possess you to bring a very young child to a 9:15 p.m. showing of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2"?

I mean, ok, so maybe they couldn't find a babysitter but that's not a very good excuse. THe movie was incredibly dark and I imagine quite scary to a young child. Also, it's 9:15 p.m. Shouldn't the child be IN BED?????

Ok. Rant over. Well, except to ask the young woman behind me who liked to put her feet up on the back of the seat next to me after taking off her it really necessary to talk at almost full voice quite often? Most of the people are there to WATCH THE MOVIE. She was explaining what was happening to her significant other. I'd like to think that if he's watching the same movie as her, he might have been aware of what was happening but what do I know.

In spite of that and the person who had a rather large and uncomfortable sounding coughing fit in the back of the theatre, I still enjoyed the movie a lot.

I'm just turning into a cranky old lady, I think. Either that or I wanted my experience of seeing the LAST HARRY POTTER MOVIE EVER FOR THE FIRST TIME to be, you know, something where I could focus on the movie instead of the habits of other patrons.

At least no one's cell phone rang. Though the girl a few seats down from me was rather distracting while she texted and the glow of her phone lit up. Ah least it was a great movie.

Thanks, J.K. Rowling for making such a wonderful story for us to read and then watch.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Short and Sweet...

I was going to write a lofty blog about being how lately I’ve been feeling much more like an adult than ever and how we appreciate different things in life.

But, really, I can’t say that at the moment because this is one of the things my weekend is going to be all about and that sort of nullifies the original intent of my blog.

So, for today, that’s all I’m going to say. If you see it, enjoy it. As a huge Harry Potter fan, I’ll be sad to say good bye at the end but the beauty of movies based on great books is that you can always reread the book and be reunited with the characters all over again.

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Job Gratitude...

You know, one of the things that I always tell myself if I have a bad day at work is that someone always has it worse than me.

This is not to say I had a bad day at work today. In fact, it was pretty decent. I may have just got another candidate a job if everything goes well. I like working with good candidates; they make it fun. Now I’ve been doing this job a while, I’m learning the way I like to do things. My strategy is simply to get to know the people I’m working with. I was taught in my early training that building relationships is important and I’m finding that to be true. I have one candidate who is going to start a new job with us in a week and he’s so comfortable working with me that he tells me the contents of his freezer. This sounds odd but it’s actually kind of endearing, believe it or not. In a job like mine where there’s a lot of completion to get the good candidates, it’s nice to have that type of relationship with your candidate. It means they trust me and feel like they know me which is exactly the way it should be. Changing jobs is a big decision in life and I like to make it easy for people by making sure that it’s the right thing for them.

I’m sure I’m a bit of a sucker. Some of the other recruiting companies out there are all about the resume. They pull thousands off and each day and just call the people, promising good jobs, high pay and benefits. However, they have a bit of an impersonal approach. Even if the candidate doesn’t really fit, they’ll try to shove them in a job anyway because they have a quota, they need the revenue and their client needs an employee. It’s a quick turnaround.

I could work this way but I don’t. I try to find out what the person behind the resume wants. Are they fed up of their job because they’re bored? Is the commute too long? Do they work overtime and they’re missing their kids sporting events? There’s always a reason and I like to find out. This way, it’s easier to find them jobs that actually fit rather than trying to make them fit the job. My way is slower than the ‘resume farm’ companies but it means I build up relationships and my candidates remember me. In turn, they recommend me to their fellow IT job seekers. It’s a nice feeling to hear that I was recommended because I did my job well.

Granted, hearing the contents of someone’s freezer is a little extreme but it’s all part of a day’s work. It’s nice to have days where I really get to work with people.

As I said before, working with people was one of the reasons I left my last job. I didn’t get to work with people unless you count my coworkers and, well, I really didn’t. Certainly, there were some good people there but it was such a cliquish, awkward atmosphere that the rather insane quiet of the cubicle farm where I worked was just not a healthy environment for me.

Now I have my own office and the buzz of my coworkers is around me. We communicate here. We have meetings. We have gatherings. We chat. We laugh. We do our jobs. It’s the way things should be in an office.

So, I’m not blogging today to whine about my job. My original intention was just to say that I’m quite lucky to have the job I do and I’m thankful for it every time I see someone doing a job I most certainly would NOT want to do.

One of the jobs I find the most baffling are the sign-holders on street corners. They hold signs advertising a store or restaurant. Sometimes, the more interesting sign-holders get bored and do a series of spins and flips with their sign to get attention. Of course, this means you can’t actually read the sign but, well, it’s sort of fun to watch.

I don’t look down on the sign holders. They’re clearly doing it for the cash/paycheck at the end of the day. Instead, I question the need for sign holders. If there’s a big neon sign visible during daylight and darkness only 400 yards down the road for a business from a sign-holder, what’s really the point of the sign-holder? Am I really more likely to go to Bob’s Furniture Emporium because there’s a guy on the corner holding a sign and pointing me there than I would be if I drove by it?

I suppose some people might pay attention to the sign- people who, say, didn’t know Bob’s Furniture Emporium was there. But, really, it seems a little silly.

I’m always amused by the Chick-Fil-A cow too. Someone dressed as the cow is often outside our local Chick-Fil-A trying to get cars to honk at him. I suppose those that recognize it as the Chick-Fil-A cow as they’re driving by may suddenly think, “hey…cow. It’s the Chick-Fil-A cow! Oooh, Chick-Fil-A!!! MUST STOP, TURNAROUND AND GO BACK TO CHICK-FIL-A RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I WANT A #1 COMBO WITH WAFFLE FRIES AND A COKE!”

Most likely, however, people can see there’s a Chick-Fil-A right there and a waving cow isn’t likely to make them decide to detour through the drive through any more than seeing the restaurant might.

Other jobs I’ve noticed lately that I’m glad I don’t have are being a salesperson on those carts at the mall. More specifically, those that sell the lotion-type stuff. If you don’t know what I mean, you’re lucky. They are usually manned by pushy salesmen who have some type of ‘miracle’ lotion and they’re rather aggressive as people pass by, trying to get people to try their free lotion sample. This also applies to the hair straightener sales people and the mineral makeup that isn’t the name brand stuff. What I’d like to see is a stand for something like, cupcakes, where the salespeople chase you down to eat their free cupcake samples. Alas, the closest I come to this is the person standing outside the cookie place with teeny samples of cookies on toothpicks. These people are NOT aggressive and often give you a look as if to say, ‘cheapskate. You know what a chocolate chip cookie tastes like. Just buy a damn cookie instead of eating my free ones.’

I’m also glad I’m not a furniture salesperson. In the extreme heat that we’ve been having, I’m very thankful I don’t have to work outside and I feel bad for people who do.

Though the list of jobs I am glad I don’t have could go on for pages and pages, I won’t bore you any longer. Just watch “Dirty Jobs.” I don’t want any of those jobs. Nor would I want “Billy the Exterminators” jobs because he deals with dead animal corpses, bugs and alligators. You get the idea. What it comes down to is that even when I have bad days at work, I’m still grateful to have the job I do. It doesn’t involve chasing people with lotion, flipping a sign or crawling into a basement to pull out a rotted raccoon corpse.

I admire the people who do those jobs because it means that I don’t have to and, for that, I am immensely grateful to them. I’m also appreciative that I have the job I do. And though sometimes I do have to remind myself of that, all it takes is the sight of the Chick-Fil-A cow outside on a 95 degree day to drive that home.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Doggy Days of Summer

It’s another hot one out there. I have two forlorn looking dogs who gleefully run outside when I first open the door and then they stop and turn and look at me accusingly as if to say, “mummy, why did you make it so hot!”

Then they come in and flop down on the linoleum because it’s cooler and they’re sulking.

They don’t move much when it’s hot, even when the air conditioning is on. I’m trying to figure out if this is normal behavior or they’re getting lazy in their old age. They’re now a year and a half old so they’re technically not puppies although there are times when they still behave like they are.

Mostly, their puppy behavior is when they’re outside. I love to watch them run across the yard. There’s nothing that makes me grin more than when one of my little dachshunds sees me and comes running towards me. Watching dachshunds run is just funny because they have short little legs and such long bodies. It’s an endearing thing especially when they look like their grinning.

They also have a bit of a bad habit of running across my vegetable garden. I’ve tried to protect the plants with tomato cages and stakes but those aren’t much of a deterrent when a rabbit, chipmunk or squirrel has been spotted. No, those little furry critters are like crack to a dachshund and nothing else matters, especially not my tomato plants.

This is why I have one less tomato plant and another that is hanging on for dear life, protected by a tomato cage but still looking rather wilty. I even planted my veggies with a fairly wide berth for the Dachshund Race Track but, alas, it is to no avail.

Speaking of the Dachshund Race Track…fellow dog owners, do your canines also have a set route at which they run around the garden? My two girls have a very specific path that they take from the back door all the way around the garden. They don’t deviate from this path, no matter how fast they run. This is why their paws have worn the path into the grass and my vegetable garden and around the tool shed. My parents’ dogs also have a path so I’m wondering if this is usual.

Anyway, back to my tomatoes. They often get banged about by my little pets. I’m hoping this won’t damage them. I’m all about tomatoes this year. My mother kindly gave me quite a few plants for my garden. The only thing is that she grows several kinds- large and cherry sized but she doesn’t label the pots so I never quite know what type of tomatoes I’ll get until they actually appear on the vines. It’s quite nice- a tomato grab bag if you will. However, last year, I ended up with almost all cherry tomatoes so just in case, I went to this nifty nursery by my house and got a few larger heirloom tomato plants. I adore heirloom tomatoes. They’re yummy. They’re summery. They also incredibly pricy if you buy them from a store or even a farmer’s market.

Thus, I’m trying to grow my own. I just hope they survive the onslaught of the pups.

I’m also growing peppers. I have several healthy plants that already have some fruit on them. The other day, I noticed that a couple of my plants were not looking so healthy and the bottom leaves were dying. I couldn’t figure out why since I make sure they have ample water.

Then yesterday, I went outside and discovered that Sookie was laying happily beside one of the suffering pepper plants and was chomping on the leaves. I’m not sure what about the leaves appeals to her but she seemed quite engrossed in her nibbling. So far, the plants look like they’ll survive but they have less leaves below than they did before.

My dogs are strange in their tastes. Rory has become super finicky with food. She only eats chicken and duck treats. She doesn’t like bacon whether it be the doggie kind or the human kind. She likes pork chop bones but not the pork. She likes peaches and blueberries but doesn’t want to eat dog food.

I know, I should really feed her human food but it’s a bad habit that I shouldn’t have started. I still make them eat their regular dog food but I’m one of the bad dog owners who feeds them table scraps. This is actually becoming much easier now that Rory’s palate has become so fussy.

Sookie, on the other hand, will try anything. She doesn’t like everything but she’ll give it a whirl. She’s not the fruitarian that her sister is and doesn’t care much for peaches or blueberries. She likes the chewbones that have granola on them and will happily munch for hours picking off each piece of granola while her sister prefers the chewbones that are rawhide with a filling in the middle.

Sorry to blog about my dogs again but, like children, they show you something new every day. Today, they showed me that they’re now taking it rather personally that it’s so hot outside and even though they don’t really want to go for a walk, they’ll sulk until I take them on one and then, as soon as we’re twenty feet from the house, they’ll sulk because they’re hot.

There’s really no winning. It’s just the same when it rains. I get accusatory looks for that too- they run outside, stop dead in their tracks as they realize it’s wet and then they trot back inside, giving me the glare of disapproval.

Still, for all their temperamental, vegetable bashing, pepper-leaf chewing behavior, when we’re laying in bed in the morning right before the alarm goes off and I have a dachshund under each arm, snuggled up against me or when Sookie spots me and comes running across the garden with glee to throw herself up against me for a cuddle.’s worth every chewed pepper leaf.

Of course, I may reconsider that if they start on the heirloom tomatoes but that’s if we ever get that far and they haven’t knocked them all over.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Hot Summer Day

I think today is probably one of the hottest days we've had so far. As soon as I go outside, a wall of heat hits me. The air is thick and even the breeze is warm and provides no relief.

It's about that time of year where the weather stays hot for a while. We wait for storms in the simple hope that it means we won't have to water the garden. My garden is currently parched and the plants look wilted from the heat. They'll revive after I water them tonight but for now, they look rather pathetic.

The dogs don't waste much time out there either. As much as I try to take the girls for a walk every night, even if it's a quick one, tonight, they won't get their walk. It's too hot. The pavement is scorching and I'm afraid for their paws. Also, knowing my girls the way I do, it won't take more than a few moments of walking before Little Miss Rory decides that she's had quite enough, thank you very much and she simply sits down. Sookie will join her and our walk will disintigrate into Captain Monkeypants Attempts to Get Her Dachshunds to Stand Up and Walk Without Dragging them.

There's little sign of life out there anyway. This heat is too much even for the kids who usually have no problem running around, riding bikes and spraying each other with the hose. That's for ninety degree days. We're currently over 100 degrees with a heat index of 108.

It's times like this that I am grateful that my air conditioning is working and that I can escape from the heat into the sanctuary of a cool room. I've made a point this summer of trying hard to get outside as much as possible. I'm an indoor girl by nature but I try to at least sit outside and enjoy the summer once a day. At the moment, it's too hot to sit outside and far too hot to work in the garden. Besides, it's not pleasant to do so anyway. There are these nasty little black flies that converge on me the moment I start to sweat and even when I swat them away, they still feel like they're crawling on me. I'm not fond of that buggy sensation that the humidity brings.

It's the type of heat that makes me want ice-cream. I don't like ice-cream much except for when it gets hot. I've still resisted those Magnum Bars mostly because my parents tried them and said they weren't anything special. Here I was picturing them as the most luxurious combination of vanilla ice cream and Swiss chocolate and they're about comparable to a Dove bar. I don't mind the Dove bars but not enough to spend the calories on them- I'll stick with my Skinny Cow treats. They're yummy, low fat and rather tasty. Also, they're nice and cold and that makes them a nice treat on a hot day like this.

Summer is fully upon us. It has been for a while but this is the first time she's truly pulled out all the stops and said HERE I AM! I'M GOING TO MAKE YOU MELT! It does make me miss the days of those 78 degree temperatures and cool nights but then again, without summer, I probably wouldn't appreciate them so much. What I do wish I had, however, was a pool. I'm not much on swimming- I never have been. I didn't learn to swim until I was 11 and I've never much liked swimming. I do, however, like floating in a pool of cool water or doing the dog padde onto a floating raft and letting the cool water slowly evaporate as the sun takes it away and then doing it all over again. One of my favourite hot day memories of late was at a spa in California where my friend and I lay on rafts after doing spa-type of things all day. The air was warm but the wetness of our swimsuits kept us cool and we just relaxed, talking and laughing and enjoying the peace of the day.

I like that feeling. I like that summer makes that feeling even better because of the relief the water gives you from the heat. I don't really want a pool- my garden isn't big enough- but I'd quite like to float again on a raft somewhere. The trouble is, all the public pools are filled with cannonballing kids and there's never enough space to float on a raft. Also, this is going to sound a little snobby but with all those kids and a pool of water, I've always worried how much pee is actually in the pool. I know, I know, I can't think of that and that's why chlorine is good but, well, I still think of it anyway.

I don't even have a hose that works. Stupid me left it out over the winter and it sprung a million tiny leaks when I turned it on in the spring. Besides, since I only have a privacy fence on one side of my garden, the other sides might find it a little crazy if I stand there and hose myself. It's the type of thing you might do when you're alone or if you were playing around with other people but to do it alone in full view of the neighbourhood...well, I'm odd but not that silly.

So, for now, I'll stick to my air conditioning and enjoy the relief it brings. I'll continue with the ice-cream and try to keep the dogs cool. If a storm comes, I'll welcome it and, if not, I'll have to water my plants.

Ah,'re fun but I'm glad you only last three months.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Markets, Salesgnats and Other Weekend tales

It's hard to believe that another weekend has passed and it's already winding down. It feels as though I just got off work on Friday and am about to start relaxing.

Still, for a weekend where I didn't have any plans, it ended up being rather productive, as weekends so often are.

I decided that even though I'd gone to Findlay Market here in Cincinnati last weekend with my mum, I'd go back again this weekend. One of my favourite vendors at the market is Kroeger and Sons who specialize in meats, particularly sausage. They make a wonderful Swedish potato sausage that has the best flavour- I'm not quite sure what they add in with the pork but I know there's coriander in there. The sausage is tangy and delicious both hot and cold. My dad is a huge fan of these sausages and I'd promised we'd get him some last weekend. Alas, being the weekend before the Fourth of July, they were already sold out of the Swedish potato sausage last week just over an hour after they opened.

So, this weekend, I decided to go back and get my dad his sausages. In addition, it was a wonderful excuse for me to go back and get some more fresh veggies from the farmer's market as well as some sausages for my own freezer. Sausages aren't exactly the healthiest thing when you're watching your weight like me but I've learned if you moderate what you eat with them, they make a fine dinner.

So, I got up even earlier on Saturday than I normally do to go to work. This is because of my Fear of Finding Parking at Findlay Market. However, even though I managed to get up, get the dogs walked and hitting the road by 7:30 a.m., the fates were against me. There was construction on the interstate.

This was a nuisance because they had closed two lanes. The annoying thing was that when traffic slowed, the 'smarty pants' drivers all decided, "Hey, look! the left lane is moving fast, why don't I hop over there." These Smarty Pants people clearly hadn't read the giant flashing "Left Two Lanes Closed on S. I-75" sign that I had. These stupid twits in their eagerness to bypass the traffic jam ended up being the CAUSE of the jam as they slowly realized, "Oops, I have to get over, my lane is closed".

I felt like I was back in L.A. Fortunately, this meant that I kicked into my, "sigh...freeway traffic blows" mode and relaxed while caterwaling along with Def Leppard, Green Day and Lady Gaga.

By the time traffic improved and I made it to the market, it wasn't nearly as early as I'd hoped it would be. Nevertheless, the fates decided to be nice and I found a parking space easily.

The market wasn't as bustling as last weekend and I got my sausages, fresh bread and veggies without much bother. I also relaxed with a cup of coffee in the earlyish morning sun with a good book. It was a lovely start to the day.

I decided then to investigate the unfinished furniture store I"d found online. The prices they listed were very reasonable and i had visions of getting a few pieces, staining them in antique-y Tuscan colours and finally finished my Tuscan room.

Alas, this was not to be. The store was a third of the size I'd envisioned and I was...the only customer in there. I'm sure you've experienced this phenomena. It's horrible. This means the salespeople leech onto you and you can't look even when you politely tell them you 'just want to look.'

Sadly, the furniture was over double the price they'd advertised online and, while nice, was not what I was seeking. I was also being watched like a hawk. Thus, I was relieved when another customer came in. I seized my chance to leave while the salespeople were converging on her.

I decided to continue my morning of 'New Things' and decided to give in to the cupcake obsession that Saz instilled in me by introducing me to the Magnolia Bakery in New York. I had done my research and found that the second best place for cupcakes in Cincinnati was downtown. The first best place was, unfortunately, closed this weekend due to vacation.

Thus, I headed to Abby Girl cupcakes in Downtown Cincinnati. I rarely go downtown so it was actually a treat to be reminded of...why I don't go downtown. As most downtowns are, it's a mixture of one-way streets, hard-to-see traffic lights and 'no turn on red lights'. I found the bakery, got by cupcakes and headed home.

I'm sad to say the cupcakes were...ok. They were better than the average grocery store but lacking in flavour. They missed the bite and tang I'd been spoiled with in New York.

I thought I was done for the day but I got a second wind and decided to go to the Value City Furniture by my house to see if they had anything remotely Tuscan.

This was a bad idea. Value City Furniture was even worse than the place I'd been to that morning. The salespeople were like those gnats that find you when you're outside. No sooner have you swatted one and squashed it and there's five more. It made the whole experience extremely unpleasant. All I wanted to do was look and each aisle I walked down had a salesperson waiting. I was approached no less than seven times in ten minutes. This is not an exaggeration. Needless to say, I got tired of being harassed and I left. I simply don't understand why you can't browse without someone trying to help. If I need help, I'll ask which is what i politely told the first four salespeople. I didn't have energy to say that to the last three and by the time the last one approached me, I'd had enough and I walked away, leaving the store.

Still, salesgnats aside, it was a nice Saturday. Sunday has been nice too. I managed to mow the lawns, whack some wheeds, plant some flowers, edit a novel, make my first homemade mojito and am now blogging. I plan on spending the rest of my evening relaxing.

So, even though the weekend whizzed by, I can't say I wasted my time. I find that as I get older, it's harder to sit around and do nothing. In my younger days, I enjoyed turning on the TV and finding something to watch. Now, I'd rather weed, work outside or find something to do.

I'm sure the rest of my evening won't be wasted either. I find that productive weekends make it far easier to go back to work, even though I have to face the start of a Monday. I'm hoping this won't be a tradition, moody Monday but, even if it is, I'll just look back and think about what a nice weekend I've had.

And, also, thank my lucky stars I don't work in a furniture store.

Thanks, as always for reading. Have a great Monday!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Just Because You Can Report it, Doesn’t Mean You Should…

So, I’ve blogged a few times about the speed at which technology moves and how we, as humans, have become far less patient over time because we’ve got used to things moving so fast.

Nowadays, we don’t have to wait for much. In the ‘olden days’ people used to find out their news via word of mouth or, more likely, via the newspaper. Readers used to pour over their newspaper each morning to find out what was going on in the world. Then TV news became popular and people started watching that to find out what was going on. It was a little quicker and the news was freshly reported.

Nowadays, though we still have newspapers and TV news, we also have the internet. You can find what seems to be an infinite number of places to read news online. You can choose the category of news you want to read. It’s a virtual way of thumbing through a newspaper and pulling out only the sections you enjoy reading.

It’s quite useful, really. We no longer have to wait for breaking news to pop on TV with the verdict in a sensational trial or to find out there’s been a mass shooting or natural disaster. All you have to do is click on or or and the headlines can be right there, tempting you to click on the link and read the latest.

It’s a nice feature. It satiates our need for instant gratification. News is posted only seconds after it happens.

Yet, as with so many things in life, here’s a downside. It means that for every useful, worthy piece of news, there’s a lot of junk that goes with it.

For example, let’s just take something current: The Casey Anthony trial. What’s relevant in that news should be the verdict of a trial that’s been going on a while. A little girl died. Her mother was accused. A trial occurred. The jury deliberated. The verdict was reached.

This is the basics of what should be reported. Instead, the internet is saturated with everything from Jay Leno’s bad jokes about the trial to comments from jurors to editorials about why the jurors are idiots, why Casey should get murdered and why her parents are evil.

Today, I was on MSN’s main page. I got there because I sent an email from my Hotmail account and when I log out, this is the default page. I was assaulted by headlines. Yesterday, there was a story focuses on one of the alternate jurors who defended the verdict. Today, there was a story with an actual juror who defended the verdict. Except, they were the exact same article, the lead was different, the headline was different.

Why did I click on it, you ask? Because I couldn’t help it. I was curious. As a human being, it’s interesting to a) form an opinion and then b) have the tools to find out if you’re the only one to have this opinion. In addition, it’s interesting to see what other opinions/news is out there because it’s in my nature to be curious and get all the facts.

Except, the news stories that are popping up aren’t really facts as much as filler. The legal case is hot news so the internet resources are capitalizing on that. Even Entertainment Weekly has a lot of stories on the Casey Anthony case even though, technically, it’s an entertainment magazine and doesn’t really need to focus on current affairs.

What I’m saying is that I think we tend to abuse the instant nature of technology. I confess, I’m an enabler because I do click on a lot of the links because I’m being lured in by the promise of something interesting when, nine times out of ten, there’s nothing new, just more recycled information.

What I think about Casey Anthony doesn’t matter here or anywhere. I’m just using it as an example because it’s new and it’s current.

It’s not just oversaturation of the media with news stories that’s a problem. It’s the fact that some things just aren’t news worthy but they end up getting an article/blog anyway because there’s a precedent to ‘keep up with the joneses” as far as the internet goes.

This means, in short, that there’s a lot of absolute, ridiculous crap that masquerades as news. This is the stuff I don’t click on. For example, today, I saw a headline “Worst Celebrity Sunburns.”

Um, no offense to the poor burned celebrities but, who cares? I’m sure the intention was to show ‘celebrities are just like us’. We get sunburned, they get sunburned. WOW!

Except, again, who cares? Do we really need that? It’s just like an article the other day that I saw on several magazine sites about an actress cutting four-inches off her hair.

Again, who cares? I’m sure it was a big change for the actress but do we really need to know that? Do we really need headlines all over the internet telling how Natalie Portman has finally told the world the name of her baby. I’m happy for Natalie and her boyfriend. I’m more happy for the baby that it has a name because that makes life easier for everyone. Sure, it’s a bit of news, I suppose but does it really rate as many links online as…real news?

Then there’s Charlie Sheen. I find him just ridiculous, honestly. I never thought he was much of an actor and while I find his whole drug-addled meltdown slightly fascinating from a psychological point of view, I think that if the media didn’t report every idiotic thing he said and did, he might stop doing them and get some help for his drug problem.

Generally speaking, most celebrities thrive in the spotlight. They like attention. They do silly things for attention. Sometimes, because of the blur between reality and slanted media coverage, we tend to forget they’re human beings. Take Lindsay Lohan. Everything that girl does is covered by the media whether genuine news or paparazzi-fueled rubbish. I think she’s made some terrible choices. She’s got terrible parents. Frankly, she sort of makes me want to take a shower because, well, she has that effect.

Yet, she has a problem. She’s clearly an alcoholic. Her attempts at rehab have all been spotlighted in the constant presence of the internet news/paparazzi sites. How can she ever attempt to get real help for her problem when she can’t do it in private? She likes the attention, I’m sure that’s part of the reason she’s always doing silly things. Yet she doesn’t seem to have anyone sensible around her to tell her to drop out the public eye, get some real help and work on reconstructing her life.

I’m soapboxing, I know. I apologize. My real point is this: Just because it could be news doesn’t mean it should be. I think every site online that reports news should be forced to run their stories through a filter consisting of the following questions:

1) Is it really news?
2) If it is really news, what is the who, why, what, when, where and how of it?
3) If those five W’s and the H aren’t there, it’s not news. It might be a feature article.
4) If they are there, have they been the same for a story of the same topic in recent days/hours/minutes?
5) If it’s a feature article, is it something that people NEED to know? Will it benefit their life at all to see, for example, Jennifer Anniston with a sunburn?

I’m sure there are more questions but that’ll do for a start. Of course, I can help contribute to the cleaning up of internet news junk by not bothering to read it.

Which is why I refuse to read about sunburns, haircuts, jilted celebrities and who said what about Casey Anthony.

You have to start somewhere, right?

Thanks for letting me rant.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Some Days Are Just Not My Days...

Today was one of those days again where I woke up and needed at least another hour of sleep. This is my own fault for staying up too late. The problem with reading instead of watching TV in the evenings is that with TV, there’s usually a set schedule and when the program is done, you turn off the TV. When you’re reading, it’s so easy to talk yourself into “just one more chapter” that another hour can pass before you realize it.

This is why I’m crotchety today. I stayed up too late reading and then had trouble sleeping for no apparent reason.

When I got to work, I realized I was not in a good mood when I got an email from one of my coworkers with a resume she’d found on and a subject line of “CALL NOW!!!!!!!!”. As soon as I saw the email come in, I had an uncontrolled burst of irritation and I was annoyed.

The reason I was annoyed is that this coworker isn’t a recruiter like me. She’s an account manager. This means it’s her job to bring in jobs for us to fill and the recruiters will fill them. She still likes to recruit though and it’s a compulsion of hers to go on Monster first thing in the morning and find new resumes. Most mornings, it irritates me a little but I don’t let it bother me because that’s what she does. Today, it irritated me because I was already grouchy. The major problem I have with it is that is one of my resources and I have my own system of finding resumes. Half the time she sends me resumes, they’re people I’ve already called and talked to or I haven’t been able to get hold of them. The other half are for jobs we have open that I’m not really working on and the emailed resume serves as a distraction because I’m in the middle of doing something else.

Still, most days, as I said, I can live with it because it’s just what she does.

The rest of my morning, I felt tired and useless. I’m having another one of those periods at work where I’m just not getting anywhere. Even when I find good people for jobs, the companies either move too slowly and my candidate takes another job or there’s something that the company doesn’t like and my candidate doesn’t get the job. Mostly, it’s just part of the package of being a recruiter. Yet there are some days where it just makes you feel beaten down because there’s no real positives happening.

By lunch time, I was hoping for a break to revive a little. It didn’t help that my left eyelid was twitching all morning which, according to Google, is a sign either of allergies or tiredness. Since it only twitches when I’m already stuffy and watery-eyed from allergies and I’d run out of Claritin, I figured that, at least, was something I could take care of to make the afternoon better.

So, I decided to stop at CVS on the way home to buy some Claritin. Because I find that the stuff you can buy off the shelf doesn’t really do anything, I had to go to the pharmacy for the ‘controlled substance’ version with the pseudoepinephrine (sp?) in it. No problem. I got my little cardboard picture of the medicine and took it to the pharmacy county. I handed them my driver’s license with my normal flush of resentment towards the crystal meth makers of the world for making hayfever make me look like a druggie. The pharmacist took my license, swiped it and…it froze. I stood there for ten minutes while she and the other pharmacists tried to get their computer working but, in the end, they couldn’t and I left empty-handed having killed 15 minutes of my lunch hour waiting in line in addition to actually driving to CVS. Irritated, I headed home to let the dogs out. Naturally, at the place where I turn into my neighbourhood, there was a utility truck and the road was closed so I had to go all the way around.

When I did get home, I greeted the pups, let them out and started to make a quick plate of salad for lunch. Then I heard a peculiar sound- it sounded like something heavy fell over followed by a high pitch whine of what sounded like pain.

I abandoned my salad-making and went outside, worried one of the girls had hurt herself. Instead, I was greeted by a small brown rabbit that ran right by my feet, pursued by two avid dachshunds.

The rabbit ran, the dogs followed. Around and around the garden they went. They were whining with their ‘need’ to catch the bunny and the poor creature, no matter how hard it tried, could not find its way out of my fence because of the security measures I’d taken to keep Rory in.

The bunny kept running, throwing itself at the chain link fence to try to find a way out. Seconds later, the dogs caught up and the bunny ran again. Given that it was so hot outside, I was getting worried that the dogs would get overheated but they obviously didn’t share the same concern.

Finally, just as I was about to open one of the back gates to try to shoo the rabbit out, it found a small gap under the fence and ran for its life across Possibly-Joe’s garden.

My dogs proceeded to try to follow it. I checked to make sure that the fence was secure. It seemed to be but the problem with dachshunds is that they’re obsessive. They won’t stop until they find a way out if pursuit of a small furry creature is possible.

Thus, though I brought the girls inside, they insisted on going back out and since they had to do their business still, I let them. This meant I spent the time I was eating worrying about if they’d find their way out. Needless to say, it was not relaxing.

So, when I went back to work this afternoon, I still was not in the best of moods. The afternoon didn’t get any better as my coworker delivered the news that one of my most solid candidates did not get the job for which she was literally quite perfect.

By the time I’d left, I wrote the day off as being ‘just one of those days.’ I’ve had a few of those lately and I need to do something about it.

I think I’ll start by getting more sleep. Even if tomorrow is bad, it’s easier to face if your brain isn’t fuzzy and, well, you have to start somewhere.

Happy Thursday. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Don't Rush Me Through the Seasons!

I never did see any fireworks last night. Instead, as expected, I had two rather frightened dogs curled up next to me- woofing and jumping each time one of the bangs and whistles of the fireworks got too loud.

Now, the skies are silent and Independence Day has passed again for another year. Summer is solidly underway.

As I said in my blog from the other day, I’m learning to appreciate summer a little more with age. Without the heat and humidity, the bright neon shades of plastic tablewear and the sound of children biking through the neighbourhood, I wouldn’t appreciate the other seasons. That’s always the way.

However, there’s a time and a place for appreciating the other seasons and sometimes, it’s just too soon to start doing so. For example, I went in a store the other day and they were selling all their spring/summer merchandise at a discount and were already displaying Halloween and Autumn décor.

Don’t get me wrong. When it comes around, I’m a huge fan of Autumn. I love the cooler, crisper nights, the leaves as they turn colours and the smell of pumpkin-scented everything.

Yet, it’s not time yet. We still need the intense heat and humidity of summer to oppress us to the point that we feel we can’t take it anymore. The grass is still green and healthy. When it’s a dried shade of greenish yellow because the dryness and heat of the summer has taken it’s toll, then it might be time for the autumn décor.

It’s much like seeing Christmas merchandise in stores at this time of year. It has no power over us. In July, the Santa Clauses, the cuddly snowmen and the sparkle of tinsel are just items that might register in our awareness but they don’t matter. Not yet. I don’t know about you but there’s something that happens to me when I find a clearance shelf in a store that’s riddled with super cheap Christmas stuff in July. The thing that happens to me is that my brain simply doesn’t pay it any mind. It simply is just ‘junk’ that has most likely been sitting there so long that it’s broken, chipped or just not worth buying.

It’s interesting because when it’s in season, I love Christmas. I’m always sad when it’s over and I hold onto it as long as I can. Yet, as the weeks pass, so does the urge to eat candy canes and drink eggnog.

Well, actually, since I think eggnog is quite revolting, that’s a bit of a fabrication but you know what I mean.

My point, and I do have a point, is that while time passes quickly, more so as we get older, it doesn’t help when things are unnecessarily rushed. I know there are crafty folk out there who like to get a head start on the seasonal stuff and it makes sense that you can buy supplies for that whenever you need to do so.

However, for the rest of us, it’s unnecessary to be looking at a jack o’ lantern or a witch holding a jack o’ lantern in July.

I know I’ve blogged about similar things before, primarily with the holidays. Stores now start stocking Christmas stuff before the Halloween candy is even needed. I fully expect to go to Target in a month and start seeing the first red and green tones of the festive holiday season creep in and take over the space formerly occupied by lawn chairs and grills.

The thing is, life passes quickly enough on its own. No matter how hard we try onto certain moments, feelings and memories, time keeps moving forward and creating new ones. We don’t need to be rushed forward any more that life already manages to do.

Seasons should be organic and natural. When summer is really winding down, we know. Here in the Midwest, it comes with the slow and gentle fading out of the crickets and cicadas. The grass, as I mentioned, starts to lose it’s green sheen and becomes lackluster. There’s the slightest hint of a chill to the air though it hasn’t arrived yet. The summer clothes and flipflops start feeling wrong. The appeal of a thicker sweater, socks and closed-toe shoes grows.

At this point, it’s time for Autumn décor. It’s time to bring out the scarecrows, the cider and the pumpkins.

The same goes for every season. With winter, no matter how much I love snow, the sudden appeal of daffodils, sunshine and blue skies arrives. The bulky winter clothes start feeling like too much. The taste of root vegetables and gravies is no longer as pleasurable and the longing for a fresh, sunwarmed tomato and the smell of fresh basil grows.

You get the idea. It’s an organic thing. We just know. We don’t need stores to try to force the process. As consumers, we know when it’s time. It’s just as when we go in the store, see Christmas displays and suddenly feel a leap of pleasure at the cute snowmen, shiny Santas and peppermint stripes.

As I said, we just know when it’s time. It’s an innate sense of knowing when the seasons are changing and we must keep up. You can’t force it.

This is why I can continue to enjoy the sounds, smells and taste of summer without feeling a sense of panic that it’s almost over already. There are still several moments of heat. We haven’t even hit the ‘dog days’ yet.

By that time, I might just be ready for pumpkins and scarecrows. But for now…I’m not. I’ll stick with my butterflies and flowers.

Happy Wednesday!