Wednesday, March 30, 2011


That's the sound of me bouncing back.  I just wanted to let all y'all know that your prayers and good vibes worked like a charm.  I am back at work today and feeling surprisingly good.  I guess I just needed to hit the snooze button for a day.  I am grateful for all of your moral support.  Take care!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Last week was excellent.  From the Monday after the Purim Party, I had energy.  By the weekend, I even had a spring in my step.  For the first time in two months I could walk at a "normal" pace, picking my feet right up and even passing other people on the sidewalk.  It was fantastic.  I was so grateful just to be able to move around freely.

I was a little tired after staying out late for the Turkey Dinner, but I snoozed all of Sunday and by yesterday (Monday) I was feeling great again.  Like my old, healthy self.  I had almost forgotten what that felt like.

But you know what's coming, since I'm writing about these good, peppy feelings in the past tense.  Yesterday afternoon I went to get my blood drawn for the tests Dr. H (the homeopathic MD) ordered, and my energy levels are now flat as a proverbial pancake.  :-ppppppp

Ken drove me to my favourite lab, where all the blood-sucking technicians have a light touch and are patient with my Fainty McFainster tendencies.  In the past I've had to wait as long as 45 minutes for my turn, but this time there was not a single other patient on the premises when we walked in, so I didn't have time to sit around fretting about getting jabbed.

A lovely lady brought me in, settled me down on the examination table, and within one almost painless minute the process was complete. Easy as pie.  They only took 3 tubes.  That's like, almost nothing.  After a minute or two I levered myself up to a 45 degree angle, at which point my loving husband brought me a bottle of guava juice to sip from to get my strength back.  A few minutes after that I was on my feet and out the door.  Success!  Victory!  No tears, and no drama!

But as we left the lab, I felt the gravity-enhancing field clamp down.  I told myself: "It's temporary.  Get home, put your feet up, have a good dinner and a good sleep, and tomorrow you'll be running for the bus like today never happened."  So I got home, put my feet up, and relaxed.  When I started to shiver, I hauled myself up and put on another sweater.  A few minutes later when I still felt chilly, I pulled on a blanket.  When that didn't work, I took my temperature.  Fever.  Crap.

It doesn't take much these days to throw me back into the symptoms.

I went to bed at 9:30 pm.  Set my alarm for 6:30 am like usual, but couldn't bear to get out of bed until 7:30.  Had a shower, and now I'm exhausted.  I'm still cherishing a remote and perhaps ridiculous thought that maybe I'll get myself in to work for this afternoon, but I'm not counting on it.

I'll probably end up lazing around on my couch, regenerating hemoglobin and praying that this time the symptoms bugger off in a hurry.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Turkey Dinner

Let's go shoot some turkeys!  I've got my turkey huntin' hat.  I've got my turkey huntin' end tables.  I've got my Turkey Plinko tickets...

It all makes perfect sense, if you were at Friday's fundraising dinner to support the conservation of Canada's wild turkeys.  Save the turkeys!  So that we can shoot them later!

Right.  So, Ken got involved because he feels strongly about gun ownership rights, and is actively involved in a few organizations that lobby the government in this regard.  He has never been hunting, so far.  He does target practice at an indoor shooting range.  But if supporting the turkey people will support gun rights, then by golly he'll support the turkey people.

Last night we went to the turkey peoples' banquet.  Ticket sales for the dinner were supplemented by several raffles, a silent auction, and a live auction. Our first order of business was a tour of the hall to view all the loot and decide which raffles we wanted in on.  We bought a bunch of tickets and dumped them into open buckets by the most appealing prizes: a set of memory foam pillows, a sleek gun case, and, among other things, a two-foot-long flashlight with a bulb the size of a dinner plate.  The "Cyclops Thor X Colossus" offers 18 million candle-powers' worth of blinding brightness.   Ken really wanted to win The Cyclops.

We entered separate raffles for the big prizes: various types of expensive shotguns and hunting rifles.  To spice things up, instead of paying a fixed price per ticket, you paid to play a game which would determine how many tickets you could put into that raffle.  I rocked the Turkey Plinko board and won a ton of tickets for a pump-action shotgun. 

We toured live auction items to see if there was anything we'd like to bid on.  It was mostly artwork, of a style that would look at home in an old-fashioned, log-cabin cottage or farmhouse.  For example, there was a bronze sculpture of three Canada geese in flight.  There was a photo-realistic painting of a blond Labrador puppy with his head cocked to one side and a beseeching look in his eyes.  I fell in love with a print called "Evening Echoes", which featured a herd of moose grazing at sunset in hilly terrain.  The focal moose was bellowing with his neck stretched out long and low.  It was as kitschy as they come, but the artist had truly captured a moment there.  I could practically hear that stupid moose holler.

We found seats for dinner with some very pleasant company.  I was thrilled to discover that the quiet, 60-ish gentleman seated to my left was the auctioneer.  I've never met an auctioneer before.  Our other tablemates immediately launched into turkey tale-telling.  Like there's this one guy who lives in the country and he feeds wild turkeys in his backyard.  At any given time you can go over to his house and see between 30 and 50 of them wandering around out there, no word of a lie.  They come up and peck on his glass patio doors to get fed.  But he's a little scared of them so he never goes out to refill the feeders without a big stick.  Wild turkeys can be vicious, I heard.

One of the women at the table had helped to set up the event.  Between the live auction, the silent auction, and the raffles, there were quite a few firearms on display at the banquet hall.  Apparently they were all couriered to her home, and when she wasn't there to sign for the packages, including all the expensive guns, the driver left the boxes stacked on her front porch and took off.  Anyone could have helped themselves to an array of high-class weapons.  Fortunately nothing was stolen.

When all was said and done, Ken dropped a lot of cash, but got good value for his money.  My Turkey Plinko tickets won him that pump-action shotgun worth several hundred dollars.  He scored some items in the silent auction at bargain basement prices.  And in the live auction we ended up impulse-buying a set of wood-and-glass end tables at $150 for the set.  I swear they would have gone for at least $500 at the fancy stores on Queen St. East.

We did not buy "Evening Echoes", though I was sorely tempted.  Almost all artwork went at the reserve bids.  It was not an art-lovin' crowd, for sure.  All the love in that room was reserved for the turkeys.

The proceeds from the evening will be put towards various means of conserving wild turkeys and their territory.  I even heard talk of plans to introduce wild turkeys into Toronto's Don Valley river system.  Wouldn't that be a blast.  Maybe a few years from now I'll be turkey-spotting on my way to work.  Or running from them, since they're so mean.  Good thing I've got a turkey huntin' cap now (free with the purchase of raffle tickets).  That'll scare'em good.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Purim Party

This weekend I went to my very first Orthodox Jewish Purim party.  Purim celebrates an ancient event which you can read about on Wikipedia if you like.  The bottom line: on Purim, Jews have an obligation to PARTY.  We're talking get drunk*, dress up in silly clothes, sing and dance partying.  And eat a lot.  It wouldn't be a Jewish party if we didn't eat a lot.

*Technically only the men are supposed to get drunk and dance around.  This difference was observed in my family, but I can picture a more modern Purim party that might be possible.

My mother's cousin used to be a hippie.  When I was a child there was a minor scandal amongst our family members when he got involved with a shiksa and proceeded to have two children out of wedlock.  At that time, the family standard was not to go to synagogue every week, but it was expected that you would belong to one and attend on the important holidays.  Also, most everyone socialized and married within the tribe.

Then something happened, and my mother's cousin, who now goes by the Hebrew name "Nacham" (pronounce the "ch" as that throat-clearing sound that doesn't exist in English), swung to the other extreme and went hardcore orthodox.  His wife converted (a process which takes years of preparation and study if you're not born Jewish), and they had five more children.  Their youngest is now 9.  Their eldest is 29 and is currently pregnant with her 7th child.  There are 11 grandchildren and counting.

As the kids grow up, they are all married off as teenagers in arranged marriages.  You may or may not be surprised to learn that all the grown-and-married children appear to be amazingly happy and fulfilled.  I guess their parents are good matchmakers.  They are warm and smiling people, surrounded by happy and well-adjusted children.

Their community is closely-knit. Driving on the sabbath is not permitted, therefore all observant Jews need to live within walking distance of the synagogue.  All up and down the street where this family lives, doors were flung wide open and young men dressed up in costumes (such as you would expect to see on Hallowe'en) romped from house to house, having a glass of wine here, a bowl of chicken soup there, and generally whooping it up.  Everyone was welcome in every house.

The 24-year-old son of my mother's cousin did not wear a costume, but made up for it by wearing a stack of three hats on his head.  He was dressed in the traditional orthodox garb: white shirt, black knee breeches, white knee socks, and a long black overcoat.  As all the men do, he wore a long beard.  At 6'4" he cut a striking silhouette.  He put away a lot of wine over the course of the evening, and then loudly serenaded us with traditional Jewish songs, (out of tune) while accompanying himself on an electronic keyboard (well-played, but it was a little odd to hear these songs on the Pan Pipes setting).

His audience included his three youngest sisters dressed as a farmer, a cat, and one who was either either a sheep with very long ears or a woolly bunny.  The girls introduced me to their real bunny, a lop called Snowball.  One of the other guests had brought along their dog to the house.  I made the acquaintance of Paddy, the Jewish Golden Retriever.  Paddy got a bowl of challah bread soaked in chicken broth as her reward for good behaviour.

I have never been to a party quite like that before.  I'd go again next week if they asked me.  I don't regret my upbringing, but sometimes I get a little jealous of my healthy, hearty orthodox kin.  They sure know how to have a good time.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fried Green Potatoes

I took Friday off as a Relax Day.  After a luxurious sleep-in and unrushed yoga session, I settled in at the computer to check my work messages, just in case.

When heard on my voice mail that the assistant manager had called in sick, I almost cried.  The day was toast.  Who would change the backup tape?  Who would take care of that important financial deadline that only she and I know how to handle?  Me, that's who.  Whimpering at the injustice of it all, I called in to inform the troops that I would throw on some clothes and come rushing to their rescue.

My troops, bless them, encouraged me to find a better solution.

The day was saved by my paranoid, compulsive writing of stupidly detailed protocol instructions.  I always write protocols under the assumption that someone who has been on the job for only one week should be able to read and follow them without confusion.  I e-mailed my Changing The Backup Tape Protocol (Go into the server room.  Open the door to the big black rack by turning the handle counter-clockwise.  Halfway down there is a shelf-like thing that says IBM.  Press the blue button on the left side. Etc.) to a responsible secretary and she took care of it for me.  I called her back to confirm that the tape drive made the sound "ZZZZHHH, ZZZZHHH, ZZZZHHH" when she put the new tape in.  It did.  All was well.

Then I e-mailed my Complex Financial Thing instructions to someone else, who only had to call me with one question. This operation involves creating floppy diskettes and she wasn't sure how to access the A: drive.  Understandably; who the hell uses diskettes these days?  It's not my choice to do so.  You'll just have to trust me that at the moment there's no getting around it.  Anyway, after I pointed her in the right direction the Financial Deadline was taken care of, and I was able to carry on with my day off.  Hurray!

Ken and I went downtown for lunch.  The place we really wanted to eat was overfull, so rather than wait for a table we walked a little further south and went into The Brownstone.  It looked promising, but did not deliver.  We waited a long time to receive our simple orders: burger/fries and bacon/eggs.  Ken's bacon was limp and disgusting.  My fries were green at the edges, just under the skin.  I wasn't concerned about that - greenness isn't usually a problem in vegetables.  Until Ken said:

"Don't eat that!  Green potatoes are poisonous!"

No, seriously?  If that were the case, wouldn't I have heard about it by now?  But he was insistent, so I didn't eat the fries.  Later I went online and confirmed the information.  How many of you knew about this?  I had no idea.  Anyway, The Brownstone gets a big FAIL for serving me poisonous food.  I ate half of my mass-produced, from-frozen, under-seasoned-over-salted burger, and then gave up entirely.

After lunch, if you care to call it that, Ken and I parted ways.  He was off to the Sportsman's Show at the convention centre, and I had a couple of hours to kill before my naturopath appointment.  I went up to 8th floor of The Bay department store where there's an old-school yet classy cafeteria.  I bought a slice of sour cherry pie on a thick white plate, and picked a battered stainless-steel fork from the cutlery station.

The dining room is all vanilla white: white floor; white plastic tables and chairs.  The ceiling is around 15 feet high, and the longest wall of the room is floor-to-ceiling plate-glass windows, looking out onto the grand facade of Old City Hall.  You can also look straight down onto Queen St. and spy on pedestrians from above.  It is a very peaceful, spacious-feeling place, which is a rare thing in downtown Toronto.  I'm sure it must get crowded at lunchtime, but at 3pm there's hardly anyone in there and there were plenty of empty tables right next to those enormous windows.  The mall downstairs, including the dirty food court, was swarming with tourists and high school kids cutting classes, but the 8th floor cafeteria was a hushed sanctuary.

Eventually I packed up and went to my naturopath.  Let's call him Dr. N.  He's not a medical doctor, and has no connections to Dr. R and Dr. H.  I usually see him once a month.  We talk for an hour, and then he asks me to open wide and tosses some homeopathic pellets into my mouth.  I don't know how much good the pellets do, but I do like talking with him once a month to take stock of my situation.  It's kind of like psychotherapy, without all the tricks and whistles.  He's never asked me to switch chairs and speak from my mother's point of view, or beat a pillow with a Nerf bat.  He just asks thoughtful questions and provides some gentle feedback.

He analyzes my life as if it were a dream or a poem, and then selects a homeopathic remedy to cure like with like.  For the last few months he was giving me homeopathic canary feather because I'm like a canary in a coal mine*.  This time I said that I was craving more art in my life.  Why, he asked?  Because it makes the difference between living in black and white and life in colour.  So he gave me a homeopathic essence called spectrum.  Homeopathic rainbow!  See why I like this guy?  How could rainbow medicine not cheer me up?

*First to fall over when the atmosphere is less than perfect
Your sensibilities are shaken by the slightest defect
You live your life like a canary in a coalmine
You get so dizzy even walking in a straight line
- Canary in a Coal Mine, by The Police

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Doctor vs. Doctor

Yesterday I went to see my family doctor, Dr. R.  I brought along a note from my new homeopath/ex-MD, Dr. H.  The note consisted of a list of blood tests Dr. H wants done.  Because Dr. H is officially retired according to the Ministry of Health, he can't requisition tests from publicly funded labs anymore.  I went to Dr. R hoping that he'd want to be involved in my dealings with Dr. H, so that the three of us could team up together to fix me.  I needed an MD to write test requisitions for Dr. H's blood tests, and I was hoping Dr. R. wouldn't mind doing it.

It was awkward.  Doctors are used to being the expert.  They don't appreciate being told what to do.  Dr. R tried to hide it, but I could see him bristle at the prospect of writing test reqs for some other dude, like, what is he, not even a doctor anymore!  A homeopath!  (Most doctors don't think very highly of homeopaths.  It was not much better than me saying "Please write these blood tests - my psychic said I need them.") 

He looked at the list, and couldn't see any reason not to order any of those tests, but he did assert himself by adding a number of tests of his own choosing.  That number was greater than Dr. H's number.  Dr. R definitely dominated the blood test req.

Don't get me wrong.  I like Dr. R.  I can see his point of view.  I think he might be feeling insecure because he's been unable to satisfy my health care needs.  I've been seeing him for years, complaining of these same symptoms on and off, and he hasn't been able to do much for me.  To be fair, I didn't push him very hard to take things to the next level.  I figured that modern medicine probably wouldn't have much to offer me, considering that I react badly to 99.9% of all pharmaceutical medications.  What could he do other than prescribe pills?  Operate? 

I have always had my best luck with natural solutions.  Herbs, health food, and supplements.  Dr. H knows that stuff.  Dr. R, not so much.  I can only hope that they'll work together to help me.  If not, well, I could go behind Dr. R's back and get one of my relative doctors to swing something for me, but I'd rather not start up with that kind of underhanded stuff.  I hope we can work this threesome out.  It's like Big Love.  Call it Big Health.

As for the day to day, my energy is up and down like a yo-yo.  There are hours at a stretch when I feel almost normal, and times when I feel like I just can't make it through the day.  Fortunately I have a sedentary job, and my brain is pretty clear.  Physically I don't have much stamina.  I get winded if I walk too fast, or too far.  I'm rationing my energy.  What do I want to do today?  I could clean the bathroom or I could cook something for my lunch the next day, but not both.  Let's see: a bagel, carrot sticks, and a tin of tuna works fine for lunch.  So I'll clean the bathroom.  I'm also waiting for buses to travel short distances I would ordinarily walk without a second thought.  Whatever works, right?  One day at a time.  As long as I can continue working, I'm grateful.

To end on a positive note, life is still good.  I went to the birthday party of a good friend on the weekend, and had a fabulous time.  The hostess was incredibly thoughtful.  She had made an ice-cream cake, which neither Ken nor I could eat because we're non-dairy folks.  We're used to that kind of thing, and don't mind skipping dessert.  But this friend of mine went to the extra trouble of making a second, mini-cake out of soy ice cream so that we could have some too.  It was fantastic!  First ice-cream-cake I'd had in 15 years.  Totally made my weekend.  :-)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

First Impressions

First of all thanks to everyone for your supportive comments on my last post.  As you can imagine, these days I'm rationing my time and energy, so I may not always reply individually to each comment (as I would like to in an ideal world), but I am very appreciative of your kind words.

Due to something going on at work, this week I've been thinking about how difficult it is to judge someone by their resume and one or two interviews.  Over the course of many years, my first impressions of job applicants have been hit and miss.  Most of the time I can judge well enough that the hire works out, but certainly not always.  That's what the probation period is for; so that when unpleasant surprises crop up you can cut your losses and move on.

I've had good luck with people who took the initiative to send in their resume when there was no job opening posted.  I can recall at least two people I've hired that way, and they are both intelligent, resourceful, and responsible.  I always hang on to resumes that are sent to me in between hirings because you never know when someone's going to give their 2 weeks notice and then you're scrambling to find a replacement.

I've had mixed luck hiring friends and relatives of myself and the people I work with.  Usually it turns out well, but when it turns out badly, it's very bad.  Once I hired a girl who was the daughter of a co-worker, and she turned out to be a good worker under my watchful eye, and a hysterical drama queen when unsupervised.  One time, at the end of the day when she thought I'd gone home, she had a screaming fight with another employee and threw a chair across the office.  She was out the door pretty swiftly after that.

I am almost irredeemably biased against a certain type of girl: she shows up at the interview dressed impeccably, with professional-calibre makeup and a binder containing documentation of all of her accomplishments, each page sheathed in a shiny plastic sheet protector.  These girls have rehearsed their answers to common interview questions, and inevitably their references do not have a bad word to say against them.  Hire one of these too-good-to-be-true young beauties, and within the first week she'll be slacking beyond belief.  I can recall one such girl, who wore a different shade of metallic eyeshadow every day, who would scratch down phone messages, shove them into her desk drawer, and then forget about them.  We found stacks of them jammed in there one day when we went looking for a missing document.  Fortunately I only wasted a week of training on her before showing her the door.

How accurate are your first impressions of people?  Do you find they're bang on, or not quite what you thought?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


This morning I went to see that doctor I mentioned previously; the one who specializes in freaky problems like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Fibromyalgia, and Environmental Sensitivities.  In other words, he deals with diagnoses that are looked upon with suspicion and confusion by the mainstream medical establishment.

This doctor is an MD, however he is no longer practicing as such because his alternative methods were not to the liking of our local medical regulatory body.  He is officially retired, and practicing under his license as a homeopath.  He has made quite a name for himself locally, and is well-respected by one of my doctor relatives.

First off, Dr. H. asked me to tell him my whole story.  Everything.  When did my symptoms start?  How did they change over time?  It was literally the first time that any medical professional had spent that much time with me going over the big picture.  G.p.'s in Toronto generally spend no more than 15 minutes with a patient at any visit, and usually less than that.  We talked for two hours.  It was amazing.  He really listened too; made lots of notes and marked them up with yellow and purple highlighter; stroked his chin and said "Interesting.  Now tell me more about [insert symptom of choice here]."

His impressions from our interview seemed to point to a hormone imbalance.  I'm going to get some blood tests done to see if he's on the right track there.

Next up was the electro-dermal testing.  This is a technique of testing for sensitivities that has been subject to criticism and is not widely accepted as a standard for medical truth.  However, 15 years ago electro-dermal testing was a huge help to me by identifying a number of food sensitivities that I hadn't been aware of.  Eliminating those foods from my diet made a major positive difference in my health, so I'm convinced that this type of testing can be illuminating.

In a nutshell, the technique involves running a weak electrical current through the patient's body and the testing machine.  A baseline test is done to establish a null response, and then various substances are inserted into the testing machine to measure how they affect the patient's electrical resistance.  The output is to a needle on a gauge, and a sonic response.  If the machine goes fwooop if means you're doing fine.  If the machine goes FWEEEEP, that means you have a sensitivity to that substance, i.e. it stresses your body and you'd be best advised to avoid it.

My friendly tester, Wendy, informed me that they would start by testing various viruses.  Obviously all viruses are bad, so I gathered that this particular test is supposed to tell them which viruses you may have been exposed to.  There were around two dozen items listed on the recording sheet.  I got comfortable and Wendy got started.  I was feeling alright initially.  The room was warm and the chair was comfy.  I waited for the fwoops and FWEEPS while we made idle conversation.  I've had this type of testing done twice before and it never felt like much of anything.

This time.  OMG.  I don't know what was in those test tubes, but as she tested me on certain ones I literally felt waves of horrible, overwhelming physical stress break over my body.  At first I thought I could tough it out.  Just breathe through it.  I would be fine.  But then I got to that point where you don't know whether you're going to cry, scream, barf, or faint, or maybe all four at once, so I called a break.  Then I broke down and cried because I felt so awful I didn't even care about preserving my dignity anymore.

Wendy got up and conferred with the doctor.  Apparently, even in the context of this practice, where Dr. H and Wendy have both worked for thirty years, where the clients are self-selected to be among the most sensitive, reactive humans in southern Ontario, I am VERY SENSITIVE.  I am the most sensitive person of the Sensitive People. Not that there was ever any doubt.

We persevered, with several breaks for me to collect myself.  With Wendy patting me on the arm encouragingly, we made it through the entire list. To be clear, I have no idea how to interpret the results.  They could mean anything, and I won't know until I talk to the doctor at my next visit what it all means.  However, I noticed that for every FWEEP Wendy marked a little + sign on her paper.  Once when she left the room for a minute I peeked at the results so far.  There was a + next to Chronic Fatigue Virus, among others.  I felt a certain grim satisfaction in that moment.  Although, who knows what it truly means.  It's probably too much to hope that anything can be conclusive from this one, slightly sketchy test.  At this point I'm still reserving judgement.

The bottom line is that it's going to be a while before I can learn anything further from Dr. H.  First I have to get my blood tested for a bunch of things, which means going to my g.p. to get test requisitions (Dr. H. can't do it since he's not a practicing MD officially anymore).  I'll have to split the blood tests up into two or three lots, since having a lot of blood drawn in one sitting is something that can trigger my symptoms, so that means several trips to the lab, with time in between to regenerate my precious hemoglobin.  Then I have to do at least two more rounds of electro-dermal testing, because I don't have the stamina to tolerate it all in one go, which means driving out to Suburbton and back each time and poor, patient Ken kicking around in the waiting room for the duration because I don't have a driver's license.  Once that's all done I can reconvene with Dr. H. and find out what all the puzzle pieces are saying to him.

I'm guessing this whole series of shenanigans and fooferah will take a couple of months.  So, stay tuned.  The special doctor visit is now a mini-series.

Friday, March 4, 2011

5 days down, none to go!

It's a miracle that I got through this week.

No one slept the night before our big inspection.  I arrived early to ensure that seven boxes of files had been prepared for the assessors as per the instructions we received.  I counted the boxes, one for each professional who had been named in the inspectors' letter.  Perfect.

A little later I returned to the file room for one last check - and there were eight boxes of files.  What the...?  I spotted the extra box.  It was labelled with the name of a professional who wasn't slated for inspection.  I went immediately to his secretary to find out what was going on.  Having overheard some of the other secretaries talking about preparing 12 files for each of their bosses, she assumed that she was supposed to too. Essentially she volunteered her boss to be inspected.

This lady's boss would not have appreciated that.  I mean really, really not appreciated it.  I set her straight and she took off at warp speed to take back the box before any harm was done.

At lunchtime a colleague of mine took lunch orders from all the uppity-ups involved in the day's proceedings, and we set out together to the closest hot-table takeout place. A stout, doughy woman wearing a white apron asked me for my order.  I wanted a quarter chicken dinner with potato wedges and steamed veggies.  The place packs a lot of food - I've often split one of these orders into two lunches, one for the following day.  They keep two sizes of foil containers behind the counter, one the size of a dinner plate, and one a fair bit smaller.  The chicken dinner always comes in the large container.  The woman behind the counter pulled out a small one.

"I want the chicken with two sides," I said in case there was any misunderstanding.  She nodded.  Potato wedges went in.  Steamed veggies went in.  She didn't stint on either.  The container was almost full.  Then she took the chicken leg and stuck it on top.  The lids for these containers are flat, foil-lined cardboard disks.  There is none of that extra space you get with a plastic dome.

The chicken was sitting on top of the veggies so its bottom edge was almost level with the container's top edge. The woman took the cardboard lid, positioned it on top of my chicken, laid her big, wide hand over the lid, and pressed down hard.  The lid sank down, but not far enough.  She repositioned her hand, and pressed harder.  Man, she mashed my lunch but good.  I half-expected her to turn around, jump up on the counter and sit on it.  I was slightly tempted to complain, but the scene was so comical that I figured I'd rather just let her go for it and enjoy the slapstick.

For all that, lunch tasted fine.  It didn't matter to me that my potato wedges were flat.

There is someone on my staff who is on vacation right now, and her absence is creating a huge volume of work.  I have two people helping out, but one is new to it and the other is slow and inaccurate, so I'm doing some of the work myself and double-checking everything else line-by-line.  It's basically data-entry for a never-ending stream of repetitive, monotonous reports.  If I never see another one it'll be too soon.  Sadly, the only woman who can save me won't be back for yet another week.  When I close my eyes at night I see these reports swimming on the backs of my eyelids.  I wake up with a dry mouth and knots in my shoulders, dreaming about data entry errors.  Five days down this week - I did it!

Five more days next week.  I can do it!