Friday, March 30, 2012

What March 30th is like.

This morning my desk is such a mess I put on some music from the 1980s and danced while I got vicious tearing up little Post-It notes with cryptic messages and names of people I should probably know who they are.  I'm done with them.  (The notes.  Not the people.)

Nothing's wrong, I just can't hear my own voice any more. 

I made coffee with a spoon I thought might be dirty OK FINE I knew for sure it was dirty I used it yesterday.

Mercury is in retrograde and the people OH MY GOD the people are crazy.  I didn't used to believe in this stuff until I worked in retail for 20 years and now I can tell you HELL YES I don't know why or how but people change.  You can Google that if you don't believe me.  Or just continue to don't believe me if you want.  We can still hang out.

But a woman brought her kid into my store and let her play with the toys on the windowsill for TWO HOURS.
A man refused to pay his bill and then he sent me an email saying he thought I was pretty rude about that. 

So they're gone now and I stop and I listen and I think, where am I?  Not physically; I can point myself out on a map thank heavens.  But the part that makes me ME, the girl who used to have interesting thoughts and a few friends, whose day wasn't taken up with a colour-coded to-do list arranged in priority sequence. 

I have voicemail now, the light flashes and it's very distracting.  Who can think when there's a red flashing light on her desk?  And isn't every single item on this to-do list actually a red flashing light?

And now I hear a voice.  It's quiet, and it comes from the warm place just behind my ear. 
The only way out is through, that's what it says.  So I sigh, and reach for the phone.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I need to see something grow.  Something green and honest and healthy.  Something unique and precious.

On my way to work I drive past a business park.  With the leaves all gone and roads stained with salt, what a sore it is on the landscape.  A festering infection of commerce and materialism.  Big box stores, chain restaurants, traffic lights: a scourge that feeds on need and greed.  And the cars go. Stop. Go.

There on the crest of the hill, a little brick office building has been minding its own business for twenty years.  Suddenly, a monstrosity of sheet metal and plexi-glass has sprung up right next to it, close enough to touch.  Close enough to block out the light.  It's square and ugly in a What The Hell Is That kind of way.  It's a pustule on the bony shoulder of the city.  It even has the audacity to be orange. The sign says Metro Self Storage.

I wouldn't store my Self there. 

I'd prefer an Adirondack chair in my back yard. Or, better yet, on the shore.  As long as my kids can play nearby, and I can listen to their voices, close my eyes in the sunshine and just be grateful for a little while.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Just For me.

Now I know for certain 'cause I've been around,
That the sun shines every day even though you might not get to see
No matter who, no matter what, no matter weather permitting,
The miracle is that sometimes it can burn just for you

...or just me
Oh this one's burning just for me
yeah, yeah, yeah, me
Some things, some things are just for me.

~ Blues Traveler, Just for Me

The past few days it's been 27 degrees (Celsius) - which is 86 Fahrenheit - in my neighbourhood.  It was 26.5 inside, because we're situated such that the sun shines on the front of the house all through the afternoon.  I can't tell you how nice it was to sit on my sofa while the sun went down, with a warm breeze coming in the window.  I can't tell you how much I needed that. 

It's been busy, as usual, and a week ago I was feeling pretty melancholy.  I prefer to be upbeat, energetic and happy.  (You say "Doesn't everybody?" but I've met many folks who seem quite content being sad and sullen.  Like Eeyore, for instance.  I know lots of people just like that.)  Anyway, I figured it's just been a long winter, and I needed some vitamin D and fresh air.

When the sun came out and the world warmed up it felt like an answer to a prayer.  It won't last; it's already cooler today and the whitecaps are moving from the north.  But the sun is still shining today, and I hope you're getting some of this great weather too.  I have lots to accomplish today and I feel - for the first time in a while - like I can totally handle it.

have a great day!

Monday, January 09, 2012


Stymied.  Good word, don't you think?  STY-MEED.
I feel stymied today.  And frustrated and resentful.

I work in service.  I run a very small company, and I've been doing it for about 18 years.  I don't know how it happened, but here I am, still running this company.  I often feel blessed and grateful, but not today.  Not lately.

Here is the thing:  I am too nice.  Way back when, I used to think that if I really did my best for people that they would appreciate it and I could earn their future business that way.  I really believed that.  I wanted to show people what I was capable of.  It was a strategy that reflected my personality and my values, it gave me room to have faith in people and enjoy my interactions with them.  It was comfortable for me, and it served me with varying degrees of success for a long time.  Lately, I think it's broken and it needs to change.

What I find now is that when I do my best for people, when I make an effort, when I share my expertise - people take everything I am willing to give and do and explain, and most of the time it doesn't lead to them spending money in my shop.  They may walk away having benefited a great deal from their conversation with me, but it doesn't mean they feel like I have earned anything at all from them.  All many of them have learned is that I am a great person to call when they can't figure something out and they want free advice.  When they are going to buy something, they go to a Big Box Store.  Then when it doesn't work, guess who they call?

People also become more demanding according to how much (of anything) you are willing to provide.  For instance, someone may approach me with a question, and if I don't seem to mind giving them a detailed answer, they will come up with another question, and then another.  And would I mind showing them on the demo computer how to do X,Y,Z?  And perhaps they could use my washroom?  It's ridiculous how far people will push, without even seeming to notice that they're doing it, that they're taking advantage.  And it's starting to make me angry.

I read somewhere that anger is a sign that you are not setting proper boundaries.  Amen to that.  I do recognize that I am allowing people to do this. I'm just not sure how to stop it.  I have to be nice, because I do need people to shop here, get their work done here, and recommend us to other people.  So where is the line between "nice" and "too nice?"

I've given this a lot of thought, and I think I will have to work on a few key areas:
1.  Limit or eliminate small-talk.  I need people to realize I am not here to chat.  I need to work - and get paid. This one is hard for me, because I am naturally very friendly and chatty.
2.  Work out exit strategies for conversations that go too long. 
This can be done with body language for some people, but it's completely lost on others.  For the others, I guess I'll actually have to start saying "Listen, I'm sorry but I have work to do."  There are a lot of other handy tricks I use such as "The Repeater" - an approach in which, once I have said everything I am going to say, I reply to everything a person says by repeating one sentence, such as "You should contact your ISP about that."  Or "Perhaps the people who sold you the computer/printer/hippopotamus can help you."  Or "I'm sorry, I don't do telephone support for Hotmail."  Sometimes I have to do that five times before the caller catches on, but they eventually do.  
3.  Smile less. I know, this one is weird. I'm still trying to puzzle out the science behind it, but there is something about having a smile that is too ready that just makes people feel very comfortable.  And sure that's nice, but I think things have gone a little too far in that direction.  I find if people feel like we're friends they expect me to do favours for them, or do the work at a discounted rate.  If there is a scale that moves from "Pleasant" to "Professional," I need to push that needle farther to the right.

It's sad to think, but lately I find that a friendly demeanor just makes me vulnerable, somehow.  There are people out there who think that because I'm doing good work or going the extra mile or even just taking more time than many would, that it means I must really need their business and they're going to use that.  And that's really tricky for me, because I have a strong work ethic - I like to do my best for people. I'm not even sure I know how to just shrug out of a conversation that I know isn't going to be profitable - but I need to start thinking about that.  Sometimes there are "customers" you can't afford to have. 

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Happy 2012!

Happy New Year!

I don't really have the time to write a meaningful post about the things I learned and the ways I grew in 2011.  I'll just have to say I loved and was loved, I laughed, I cried, I read, I cooked and I ate.  According to my scale, maybe I over-achieved on that last one.  BUT I did get asked for ID twice this year at the liquor store.  (I'm 38, so that makes me really, really happy!)

That looks so weird.  Am I really that old?

The one thing I know so far about 2012 is that it's going to be a Big One.  Big decisions, hard choices, and long days are what's in store for me right now.  I'd be terrified except I married the right man, and he makes sure I am always better than ok.  I have such a very good life that even if I break everything, my kids will still be healthy and I will be all right.  (Remind me later I said that, ok?)

So.  Monthly Goals.  For January:

I will finish my beta-read by January 15th.
I will reach 30K on Rundiamair.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Creamed Lobster on toast

I have no photos of this most incredible Nova Scotia vice - call it a meal if you want to, but once you see my recipe you'll understand.  Anyway, I looked around the internet to see if I could find any pictures I could use, and that's when I discovered that we prepare this differently than what seems to be the official way.  This doesn't bother me one bit, and I invite you to try my very unscientific and completely unofficial way.

First, get some fresh lobsters from the man at the bottom of your street for $5/lb.  Can't do that?  Oh, I'm so sorry.  Acquire lobster.  If you must, you can use the frozen, canned stuff but be advised there is no tail meat in there.  Still, for our purposes the frozen stuff beats no lobster every time.  If you're using fresh lobster, 3 ~1lb lobsters will give you about 2 cups of meat.  That (or one can) will feed two easily.  Maybe more.

If you're using fresh lobster, I recommend having your husband buy it, cook it and get it out of the shell before you get home from work.  Saves a lot of time.  Actually, why don't you just have him do the whole job.  Here's what he should do:

Get a medium saucepan and put about 4 Tbsp of butter in it, melt that.  Cut the lobster into smallish bite-sized pieces and put it in the butter. Sprinkle with a pinch each of salt and pepper.  Pour enough coffee cream to just about cover it, and heat it on medium or a tad bit higher.

Now the Experts say don't let it come to a boil, lest it curdle, but I am not an expert.  (I've never had mine curdle.)  Good thing, because I want you to simmer this and reduce it down by about a third.  Then taste it and decide if you want more butter.  (Hint: yes!)  Now comes the hard part - stay with me - add more cream.  Back to where it was before, just about covering the meat.  Simmer.  Repeat.

Serve Hamburger Helper to your children.

Once in a while, come over to the stove and poke the mixture with a wooden spoon.  You want it to know that you don't have all night and you're hungry.  Careful, don't drool into the pot.  You'll know it's ready when the meat begins to sort of come apart and become one with the cream.  It all turns pinkish.  Taste it, check your seasonings.  You can add more butter if you want - that's between you and your conscience.

Now you get some white bread and put it in the toaster.  When it's toasted you can butter it.  (I mean, why worry about it now?)  Spoon some of the creamed lobster over the hot buttered toast. 

At this point your husband will probably offer you the first plate.  You should refuse, but just enough to be polite and not enough that he actually eats it himself.

Then you should take your bathroom scale and hide it in a safe place.  In case there's leftovers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Carbs: How do I love thee?

I was getting ready for work this morning when my husband asked me if I had made a lunch.

"Yup!" I huffed, stuffing my leg into my jeans and buttoning up (with a little difficulty) on my way down the hall.  Then I paused in the kitchen to pack what I had assembled.  I laughed. 
I had:
A bagel (bread)
Crackers (fried bread)
Cookies (bread with sugar)
and a sandwich (bread with meat)

My husband rolled his eyes and helped me make a salad.

I think maybe I should cut back on the carbs a little.  It's just, I love them.  I love toast with my tea.  I love toasted cheese buns with hot chocolate.  Ooh, you should try this: crush up some Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips in your tomato soup.  I love sweets, and chocolate.  Yes, I do.

Don't get me wrong, I also love meat.  And cheese.

Vegetables?  Not so much.  Not at all, really. 

BUT there's good news!  There's an app for this.  A free app!  If you're an All Recipes junkie (like me) you'll enjoy this: try the DinnerSpinner.  You pick your dish type: main dish, side dish, soup, or SALAD - then ingredients: seafood, chicken, beef, cheese, VEGETABLE - and the time you have to spend: 20 minutes or less - and it brings you suggestions.  It's fun, which helps when you're faced with the prospect of preparing food that you don't really want to eat. 

Want to share?  What are your favourite vegetable recipes?