Sunday, November 29, 2015

This, Too, Shall Pass

Sadly, that's how I tend to feel about long weekends.

On the one hand, I'm thrilled that I had a long weekend and that I no longer work in retail. I was able to avoid almost every kind of shopping this weekend. The only thing I did do was go to the grocery store early on Saturday morning (about 9:30), when it was still almost completely empty. (Christopher can attest to the fact that I find wandering around a grocery store when I'm not in a hurry to be incredibly relaxing.)

I did a little bit of online shopping, and we went out to lunch at an out-of-the-way hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant for lunch. And that's all the spending I did.

But I unfortunately didn't get a lot else done.

Whenever someone tells me that he/she had an unproductive break from work I point out that, you know, it was supposed to be a break from work. So, logically, I get that.

Even so, I'm pretty sure that I'll get to work tomorrow and spend half my time thinking of all of the things I should have gotten done.

Thankfully, that, too, will pass.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Day By Any Other Name...

With all due respect to Shakespeare (or whoever wrote the stuff attributed to him), for my blog, it seems like a day by any other name is almost always the day that I'm supposed to be writing on.

I try to post every second day, but since most of my life deals with days of the week - not dates in the month - I don't always know which day I last wrote.

Tonight, for instance, my blog was telling me that I last wrote "one day ago" - but also that I last posted on 11/22.

I didn't remember posting last night, though, so I checked the calendar and - you guessed it - found that today is actually 11/24. That means that my last post was two calendar days ago.

The blog, however, is very literal, and simply goes by 24-hour periods, not calendar days. So, since it has been less than 48 hours since my last post, it feels that I wrote just a day ago.

Usually, of course, this isn't a really big problem. Lately, however, I seem to be all sorts of off my game when it comes to knowing what day/date it is.

With that in mind, I apologize in advance for the number of erratic posts that might happen in the next few weeks during the chaos of the Holidays.

Though, who knows . . . maybe the busier schedule will actually keep me more on task. We'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Rooting for the Home Team

In case I haven't mentioned it, lately, I live in Minneapolis - home of the Minnesota Vikings.

Whenever they're playing, the hoopla is everywhere. It's on the TV, obviously, and suddenly purple and gold show up everywhere around town. Banners outside otherwise sedate houses, newscasters wearing inexplicably bright purple ties, and - wow - my social media feeds go crazy.

I... well... I like football. I do. But I don't really get into the hometown hype of it all. I don't feel like I need to support a specific team just because of where they're based. Right now, while we're watching a multi-million dollar stadium go up, I figure I'd be more likely to support them if, well, if I felt they were supporting me.

Instead, when they're playing in town, I find myself dealing with a ton of traffic and most newcasts spending a third of their time recapping the play-by-play, which - if I were really interested in it - I'd have already watched live.

So, instead, I tend to root for the home team - you know, me, Christopher, and the pup - and hoping that we can get through the game day without too much hassle. To me, that just makes a lot more sense.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Heat is On

I fully admit that when I typed the headline to this, I sang it in my head. (You know - it's a song from the mid-80s. If you still don't know it, I pasted a link down at the end of this post.)


The heat has been turned on at my office at work. In the summer, when it's 90 degrees outside and you want to wear shorts (because we can), it is frequently about 65 degrees in the office. There are two people who sit under air conditioning vents who actually sit at their desks with blankets around their shoulders all summer. It looks like they're working in Siberia or something.

Then the seasons change, and for about a month the office is both too cold and too hot. I'm not sure how they do that. But there are days where the (mostly wide open) office space has pockets of different temperatures, where the air is obviously not mixing. Want to cool off? Go into the small conference room. Want to warm up? Go into the men's room. (For the record, there was a time - 20 years ago or so - when heating things up in the men's room meant something very different to me.)

Now, of course, we're into the winter, so the heat is on at work. I do realize that this has been a strange year, and the heating and cooling systems have probably been under a lot of stress with the wildly fluctuating temperatures. Perhaps this is their way of either getting their revenge or simply sighing and saying "get on with it, already." Either way, now that I'd love to start wearing sweaters to work, the indoor temperature is more conducive to shorts.

I'm thinking of taking in a fan. Maybe I can get one that has dual modes and includes a heater - then I'll be able to use it next summer, too.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

At Least I'm Using My Jacket

I bought a light, hooded rain jacket a few years ago before we went to Alaska. It was perfect for wearing on warm-ish days when it was damp out.

I haven't really worn it a lot since then, because Minnesota seldom has warm-ish damp days. We tend to have cold, snowy days or hot, steamy days. Very few are somewhere in the middle when it's warm enough to wear a light jacket but you need to be kept dry.

This year, after going out and shopping for a new winter coat, and after wearing each of my leather jackets for about four days, I have found that it has been too warm for any of them for most of the past few weeks.

I've broken out a sweatshirt or two, but then it decided to get kind of drizzly, and I didn't really want to carry my umbrella everywhere - not to mention that during a hard drizzle an umbrella doesn't exactly do any good.

So I have decided to celebrate the one benefit of this crappy weather: After two years of mainly leaving it in the closet, I've been wearing my rain coat a lot.

It's not exactly lined with silver, but I'm taking that as this cloudy stretch's shiny lining.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Remember Those Tomato Plants?

I was clearing out the yard, today, getting ready for winter. After all, it was in the 50s for what could be the last time this year, so it was the perfect day to do it.

I pulled up the tomato plans which have offered me three red tomatoes and a bunch of "are they ripe or aren't they?" green tomatoes over the past couple of months.

Today, I found another TEN green tomatoes.

Have I mentioned that it is the 15th of November?

I have no idea what to do with them - they feel hard, so I don't think they're actually ripe. And I'm not going to have any time to try out a fried green tomato recipe any time in the next week.

Maybe I should put hooks in them and use them as Christmas decorations. After all - at the rate we're going, they might just be ripe by then.

Friday, November 13, 2015

No Words

There are days when I simply have a little bit of a block and can't figure out what witty thing to write on here. Most days I push through and find something. Some days I don't.

Today, though, as I saw news reports of the attacks in Paris, I was trying to figure out what to say. I looked at some maps and realized that a couple of the attacks were in the neighborhood near where I lived when I lived over there.

I found out this evening that two of the restaurants were within less than a block of my old apartment. One of the news reports listed casualties in my old street.

Christopher asked me whether I was okay - whether there was anything he could do - as I was scrolling through the news feeds with tears running down my face.

I tried to explain what was going on in my head - in my heart - but it's too irrational, emotional, visceral.

I simply have no words.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I'm Dyeing, Here

I may have taken my first foray into covering some gray today.

In part, I attribute this to the fact that so many of the women I work with are constantly changing their hair colors. Sure - they are all in their 20s and are choosing colors like blue and pink - but I'm surrounded by it all the time.

And there have been photos circulating online of men dyeing their hair and beards all sorts of bright colors - think neon green, bright blue, or flaming red.

I'm not really sure that any of those would look good on me. But I do know that, in the recent past, I've been getting kind of tired of seeing the entire front of my beard turning more and more white. I mean, it's not even gray at this point. My mustache is still a bit dark, but the chin area is pretty much white.

For those of you who haven't seen me, recently, here's what I'm talking about:

Okay. No. It's not all that bad. And when I keep it more closely cropped the whiteness of it doesn't seem quite so white (see my "author photo" in the righthand margin). But it's just not really what I think of when I think of me, you know?

So, with a little time on my hands, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I went to the store and did a little shopping around. I opted to see what I would look like with "dark brown" instead. 

Having spoken to a friend who apparently has been doing this for a while, I knew it might take more than one round of color to get it to turn out the way I'd want it. Round one - to quote Christopher - looked a bit "darker gray" in most areas, but not brown.

The second round definitely covered a bit better. And I'm kind of enjoying it at the moment. Is it as  dark as my original beard? I don't think it is. (Christopher says it looks different - like maybe I should have gone for "black" instead of "dark brown.")

Here's what I've got:

Not sure how long I'll keep it this way. I'm really not certain how much upkeep I want to deal with. After all - one of the reasons I keep my beard is because I don't have to shave every day. But, at least until this washes out, we'll see how it goes.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Pasta Nachos

I sometimes eat things that are a bit questionable from a food value standpoint. Most of the time, I do this when Christopher is not around. I find it's truly best to do it when he's out of town for a few days, so that I have time to prep, eat, and remove the evidence of the meal.

Today, as I was driving home, I was contemplating what we had to eat in the house that needed to be eaten before it went bad. Some leftover pasta (no sauce), some cheese, and some salsa.

We live in the land of the casserole/hot dish, so I thought that that could all go together pretty well. And - honestly - it did.

I sprayed a pan with nonstick spray, tossed in the pasta, layered on some American cheese singles (don't hold it against me, remember, I was cleaning out the fridge from random past events) and some shredded cheddar, and then poured on some garlic and lime salsa. Tossed it in the oven until the cheese got all melty, and - boom - pasta nachos.

The only problem was that Christopher got home from what he was doing while the food was in the oven. I guess after 10 years, it was about time he found out what I do for dinner when he's not at home.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Catering Customer Conundrum

Hiring a caterer (or at least considering hiring a caterer) is weird.

You spend a bunch of time doing research and asking for possible menus and trying to figure out what they supply (do they bring silverware? do I have to rent napkins?). 
Then, when you decide you're ready, you have to send in a request for a proposal. Because, apparently, they may or may not want to do a proposal for you.

Then, you wait for a reply. Lots of times, they seem to reply (at least with an automated notice saying they've gotten your request) pretty quickly. And you move forward.
But if they don't respond within a few days, you have to decide whether or not to follow up with them. If you do have to follow up, you get one of two responses: "Sorry, it's on its way," or "I've been busy, but I'll get it to you in a while."
Unfortunately, neither of those responses guarantees you'll get a response any time soon. 
Okay. I get it. This is all customer service. I've been in customer service jobs for most of my life. Retail. Box Office. Editing. It's all Customer Service. 
I know that some times you get busy and you drop a ball or two. And that you have to push through and get things done. So I'm prone to giving a lot of leeway to most people in that kind of position.

And, with this in mind, on October 3rd I sent off for a proposal from a company whose food we really like. We've toured one of their venues and met some of their staff and thought they could be a good, fun fit for us. Having not heard from them for a few days, I followed up the next week, and received a kind of snippy email saying, in essence, "I've been busy, I'll get back to you."

Today, however - after waiting a month for that proposal - I tried calling the company's main number, instead of emailing the person I had been going back and forth with. The woman on the phone offered to have me talk to the same person who has ignored me for the past 4 weeks. I re-explained my situation, and flat-out told her that if that was my only choice at this point, then I would go to a different caterer. The person on the phone didn't sound happy when she said she'd have someone else get in touch with me. No apology. No "not sure why it's taken so long." Nothing. 
I'm trying my best to not completely write them off right now (after all, their food is good - and the pricing that we've seen so far was also good), but at this point... wow... that proposal better be stellar - and fast.
UPDATE: Barely an hour after my phonecall, I received a very polite follow-up call from someone else in the office. No apology, technically, but a guarantee that if I send him my info today (not sure why he can't get it from the other person...) he'll get me a proposal by the end of the day tomorrow. It's a start.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Bulb Went Off...

No, really.

Not like an imaginary light going off over your head like they have in the cartoons. An actual bulb. A little, teeny-tiny light bulb with two little prongs that stick out of the bottom and into the flashlight.

It happened a few weeks ago.

I turned on the mini-Maglite flashlight that we keep in the kitchen so that we can use it when we take the pup out for walks in the dark (not only is she black, but... well... it's hard to clean up after a dog if you can't see the ground) and after more flash than light it was dark.

I looked at the bulb and the lower half of it had turned a kind of milky white. (I do not mean it became the cow from Into the Woods. I mean that the clear bulb turned kind of translucent white.) (Feel free to google it - the cow, not the bulb.)

Today I finally had a chance to stop at the hardware store for a replacement. Just in time, really, because starting tomorrow - thanks to the end of Daylight Saving Time - our evening walks will be in the dark.

So I stopped in and said "I need a new bulb" and the guy behind the counter - who has obviously dealt with this way too many times responded with "Are you sure it's not the batteries?"

I showed him the milky white bulb (again - not the cow), and he said "Oh. Yeah..." and we headed off to find a new little, teeny-tiny light bulb with two little prongs. I stuck it into my flashlight and proceeded to try to blind myself.

Sadly, sometimes that other, imaginary light bulb is just a tad slower in going off.