Saturday, June 27, 2015

West Lake

I am here, at my father and step-mom's new home.  This (West Lake) is the view from their back door.

OMG, right?  I'm planning to stay here forever, if they'll let me.  This is their balcony/deck:

And that's just the outside of the house!  Wait until you see the inside!  It's all windows and light.  Here's the kitchen.  Check out that ceiling!

Opposite the kitchen, facing the lake, is the living room.

That's my father napping on the sofa.  

Here's a stairwell that opens into my step-mom's painting studio.  Have you ever seen so many windows?  I mean, this house is practically all windows.

We went to the local little town where I made some friends.  This is Molly:

After having received excessively enthusiastic doggie kisses from her, I am tempted to spell that "Maul-y".  The little fellow below was much more of a gentleman.

Apparently all of small-town Ontario is SUPAR-EXCITED about Canada Day (coming up on July 1st) and they have decorated accordingly.  This is but one example of many:

That was on day 1 of my 3-day visit.  Day 2 is looking like this:

Fortunately, the rain held off until after I'd had a chance to visit the farmers market to pat more dogs and buy some Scottish-style fudge.  And now we are hanging out like this:

 So everything is good.  :-)  How is your weekend going?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Feed me, Seymour!

Anytime there is a family get-together at my parents' house, my job is to arrive early to set the table.  This involves hauling the extra chairs, the table leaf, and the bridge table up from the basement.  Once the heavy lifting is done, I can get on with more regular table-setting tasks, like choosing a tablecloth from the cupboard.

I picked one for the big table, laid it out, and turned back to get a smaller one for the bridge table.  Guess who was in the cupboard?

He moves quickly and quietly, like a ninja.  His mission objective is to get fur on everything.

I told him "Stop helping!" and he just stared at me.  

Other ways in which he helped were:
  • running between my feet while I was carrying heavy objects upstairs from the basement;
  • sitting on chairs that I had just laboriously de-furred by hand with masking tape;
  • taking every opportunity to try to jump onto the table (I did manage to stop him each time when I saw him lining up for a leap); and
  • pretending not to understand the word "No!"

After all that, he was tired.

It's hard work, being a helper.

Seeing as we were celebrating father's day and my aunt's birthday, it was a big party.  My Mom, who had been embarrassed at the last party by not having bought quite enough meat, overcompensated by roasting two five-pound turkey breasts.  The first one served all 12 people at the table comfortably.  She sent the second one home with me, because how could she and my step-dad finish the other one by themselves?  They are only two people.

Last time I checked, there were only two people living in my house too, but when my Mom decides that you are taking home leftovers, the best thing is not to argue and just get used to the idea of eating turkey every day for the next two weeks.  It's like Thanksgiving in June!

My Mom and her great ideas.  Last time she was at my house I showed her my window garden, which is pleasingly healthy and overgrown.  It's pretty much taking up the maximum amount of space that I currently have for indoor plants.  Therefore, my Mom decided that it would be a great idea to buy me another plant.

Well, it is just a small one.  A Venus flytrap.  It looks kind of like this:

It's freaky.  If you put the tip of your pinky in one of the traps and wiggle it, the trap closes slowly but firmly.  It feels like an eyelid closing, fringed with eyelashes.

I have been looking into the care and feeding of Venus flytraps online, and man, are they ever labour-intensive.  If you want them to do well, you need to feed them freeze-dried bloodworm meatballs (first re-hydrate the bloodworms in a little water) with a toothpick, making sure that you wiggle the toothpick to trigger the trap closure sequence, and then massage the trap gently to ensure that it seals.  There is also a whole dealio involving a winter dormancy period, which, given my geographic location and the fact that I live in a condo, will probably involve putting the plant to sleep in my fridge every night because it needs to be cold in the winter or it will be sad.

I have had high-maintenance pets before: the air plant, which needed a shower every morning; and Sea Monkeys, which needed manual aerating twice per day.  Neither of them was worth the hassle and they both died slow, agonizing deaths despite my dutiful care.  But, well, I'll give this little fella a chance.  At least going to the pet store to buy dried bloodworms will give me an excuse to look at the hamsters and the bunnies and actual cute pets with soft fur that reward your daily efforts with benefits like love and purring, and helping you to set the table.

Speaking of the party, I wonder how my aunt is doing.  I think she was feeling kind of bummed out about turning 62, so she got the party started at home.  Before dinner, she whispered in my ear:  "I've been drinking wine.  My teeth feel funny."  I wonder how she's feeling this morning?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Things I Saw Downtown

When I had short hair, this is what I looked like when it was time for a haircut:

Now that my hair is longer, this is what I look like when it starts to grow out:

Triangle head!  No one likes triangle head.  So yesterday I went downtown to get my hair cut.

Ken was supposed to come with me.  We usually get our hairs cut at the same time.  Unfortunately, Ken was called upon for a Work Emergency.  Bah.  So, I took the train downtown by myself.

When I emerged from the salon, looking coiffed and rubbing a few loose hairs off the end of my nose, I realized that for the first time in months there was nothing I had to do and nowhere I had to be.  Even my usual Saturday Game Night had been cancelled.  I was downtown at 4:30 in the afternoon on a cool, sunny day, with all the time in the world.  Wonderful!

I took a walk heading east along Queen Street, with the sun warming my back.  I did a little window shopping, picking out approximately a gazillion pairs of shoes that I would buy if I had a) infinite cash, b) infinite closet space, and c) magic feet that would never feel pain.  

I bought a taro drink because it was a pretty shade of purple.

Sadly, it was not exceptionally delicious.  It was okay enough to drink, especially after I paid 5 bucks for it, but it tasted like a mashed potato milkshake.  I shouldn't have been surprised by that, considering that taro root is basically an Asian potato.

I stopped to take a photo of this happy robot:

And nearly had a heart attack in the process, when I came this close to accidentally dropping my phone through the metal fencing into this hole:


I was thinking of you guys when I took this photo of cheesy Sir Wilfrid Laurier.  He's on a mural at the Queen subway station.  This painting is around 5 feet tall.  

He's looking grumpy, and I can't blame him.  The cheese treatment is not flattering.  Why did the artist choose to portray him as a cheddar curd?  I have no idea.

Finally, this ad was posted in the window of a health food store:

Is it just me, or is this image too extreme?  I mean, that poor guy looks almost dead.  He's naked, grey-faced, sweating, and the tombstone-like lid of that giant toilet is oppressing him.  Not to mention that any spider who can spin webs that big has got to be the size of a large house cat.  Is this his fate?  Is he going to die of constipation and exposure surrounded  by giant spiders?  Wow.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Hire-Fire Cycle

Sears finally refunded my 900 bucks.  Hoo-freaking-ray.  I've got to hand it to Tony in the National Escalations department.  The refund was processed onto my Visa the day after I spoke with him.  Clearly he is a man who can make things happen.

Right now, my head is engaged in a hiring-firing process.  One of my employees has been a squeaky wheel for a long time now, but she finally crossed the line from "worth the occasional hassle" to "OMG she's got to go".  It's frustrating and sad when I realize that I have to terminate someone.  It's very similar to the process one goes through when deciding to end a romantic relationship.  I go through the stages of denial, anger, depression, etc. The whole shebang.

But.  Once I make up my mind that someone has got to go, I don't waste time.  I made the decision on Monday.  I placed a help-wanted ad on Tuesday.  I screened over 100 resumes on Wednesday.  And on Thursday I called the best candidates and booked interviews for next week.

Honestly, I think my doomed employee may be losing touch with reality.  When I hired her several years ago, she was sensitive.  Now she's shading into "paranoid" and "psychotic".  Once I accepted that view, I decided I'd better act quickly.  You never know when someone with declining mental health is going to reach their breaking point.

For the record, I care about this woman, and still feel a great deal of affection for her.  I've tried all the tricks that I know of to help her cope, and to help the team cope with her.  I've told her directly, as gently as possible, that I felt she was becoming paranoid, and that she needed to use self-talk to counteract that.  However, there is only so much I can do in my role as her employer.  The situation is becoming worse day by day, with only minor quiet spells between the outbreaks of drama.  I no longer have a choice.  I am pretty bummed about that, but hey, c'est la vie, right?

Meanwhile, once I get into the hiring process, I do enjoy it.  It's fun to meet a bunch of new people, and to know that my next team member is among them.  If terminating someone is like a divorce, then interviews are first dates.  There is more than one candidate in my resume pile for whom I have high hopes.  We'll see how they do on the filing test.