Category Archives: blogging

Has Anyone Seen My Dashboard?…or…She’s BAAACK!

The report of my death was an exaggeration.”  Mark Twain

I actually wasn’t dead, just working so much that Blogland was like Never Never Land…a place I never had time to visit.  That chapter in my life is now finished – the temporary, seven-week job turned into seven months with a somewhat disappointing ending – I didn’t get the permanent position!  However, certain facts came to light during the last month as I was training my replacement (yes – I’m that nice much of a patsy), and I’m rather glad someone else will have to deal with those “challenges” (which is corporate speak for things that are FUBARed).  I had a lovely going away party, and have made several wonderful friends.  I expect to be happily unemployed at least for the next few weeks…getting a new job in December is next to impossible!

So, WordPress has been changing things around while I’ve been gone…I really had to search to locate my Dashboard!  Once I get this post written, I hope to get around and visit all my blogging buddies and at least read their latest posts (sadly, I deleted more than 1500 unread e-mails this morning – they were stressing me out – best to start fresh!).  I’ve missed everyone so much…please forgive me if I’m ignorant of what’s been happening in your lives lately!

Okay…so in my last post, some (gulp!) four months ago, the deer had totalled my garden (it’s still completely useless, and the grass the landscapers planted in my devastated back yard isn’t growing!).  Jim and Devin have replaced the fence that was ruined, but we will definitely have to make it higher with wire, as the deer still sail over it like Olympic high jumpers (I refuse to award medals – it’s too hard to get the deer to stand still to put them around their necks!).  Ironically, to control the ballooning deer population, the powers that be in our province decided to allow hunting them with crossbows during the gun hunting season.  To protect our family and our dog, we bought multiple “No Hunting” signs at the Dollar Store and posted them around the perimeter of our (landlord’s) property.

Jim and the girls returned safely from their amusement park vacation (without me!), although there was a slight mishap which involved Hope losing $40 cash which she had placed in the cupholder of the van for “safekeeping”.  When the van door was opened near the top of Mt. Washington, the wind carried the money away (some $80 in total).  Jim scrambled down an embankment to save one $20 bill, while another two sailed over the cliff.  The last was later found by Anna on the floor of the van.  When I asked Hope why she didn’t have the money in her purse, she told me that she was afraid of being mugged: “Americans are sketchy, and they carry guns!” (please don’t take this personally…Hope’s 13, and she watches way too much Criminal Minds!).

Hope, Brianna and Anna drinking fruit smoothies at Cora's...

My granddaughter, Elise, celebrated her second birthday on September 9th.  Kaylee and Scott had a barnyard-themed party for her.

Menu for the Party

 

Elise wearing the sweater Gramma got for her...the tiara was not my purchase!

 

A few days after the party, Elise made an announcement on Facebook:

Elise has some news...

Everyone is very excited!  The new kid has some big shoes to fill…Elise is a tough act to follow!  She’s PERFECT, and I’m not just saying that because I’m her Gramma (well, maybe I am!).  I don’t know of many kids who know all of the alphabet (as well as punctuation marks), and the sound each letter makes, before their second birthday!

This is getting a little long, and I’m getting hungry for lunch…I will leave you with this amusing anecdote from a couple of weeks ago:  I was talking to a single woman friend of “a certain age” who was lamenting the difficulty of finding a suitable partner for casual “whoopee”.  “I don’t want to get married,” she said.  “I just want an occasional roll in the hay, but I don’t want to be one of those…what do you call them?…JAGUARS!”

 

 

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Filed under blogging, family, friends, gardening, nature, satire

A Girlfriend, Not a Girlfriend, Two Girl Friends, and a Movie to See With a Girl Friend…NEW POST!

Jim and Devin in a lightsaber duel, ca. 1999

Our “little boy” is growing up…at almost 18, Devin has his first girlfriend!  We met K briefly (long enough to say “Hi” but not long enough to sufficiently embarrass Dev) on Wednesday night…they were in deep conversation at the snack bar, after seeing the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie.  The girls had “interrogated” her in an online chat…Jim and I limited ourselves to checking her out on Facebook.  Dev and K seem to have a lot in common, and she’s a very talented animé artist.  Hopefully, we’ll be allowed to have her over to the house some time soon…

Work’s been pretty busy lately, since there have been two or three cruise ships in Saint John every week (more vendors at the Market on cruise days).  My boss comes down every week for a meeting with me on Tuesday mornings.  This past week, my list for him was almost as long as my arm…he was there nearly an hour.  He let me know that our contract had been extended through the end of August (which means no summer vacation for me – Jim will take the girls himself).  After our meeting was over, I opened up my e-mail…hmmm…there was one from my boss.  When I finished reading it, I burst out laughing, and then called Jim to tell him about it: I had been the mistaken recipient of an e-mail meant for my boss’ girlfriend!  “I love you,” he said, and signed his name with two XX’s after it (I knew it wasn’t for me, because he talked about an upcoming date they had planned!).

“Um…I’m fond of you, too…perhaps you should forward this to the right person,” I responded. 

The reply came back quickly: “Ha ha…that hardly ever happens!” [hardly ever?].  We have another meeting tomorrow…”Awkward!” as my girls would say…

In April, I mentioned that Hope and her friend Gabrielle were going to sing the national anthem for the Canada Day ceremony at Market Square.  Hope arranged it herself…she’s the most assertive of all the kids (maybe it’s because she’s the youngest)!  The Marketing Coordinator of the mall had invited the girls to participate in the parade before the opening, and had said they would be singing at 11:30 am.  I had to work that day, but left at 11:15 to make sure I caught their song.  Jim and Anna were on their way, having watched the parade.  I didn’t see Jim and Anna at the mall.  The girls sang “Oh Canada,” finishing just before Jim and Anna came in from outside…luckily, Gabrielle’s mom had their video camera and was right up front!  Here’s a photo Anna took after the girls sang…Hope was having a little trouble looking enthused about our Cultural Services Officer’s speech:

Gabrielle and Hope after singing "Oh Canada"...Gabrielle really wasn't putting her head on our mayor's shoulder...photo by Anna

Wednesday night, Jim was recruited to drive Devin into town for his movie date, and Anna and Brianna to Saint John Idol.   Hope and I decided to go along and go to a movie with Jim (a different one than Dev and K went to!).  After checking Rotten Tomatoes online, we opted for Bridesmaids.  It had one of our favourite actors, Chris O’Dowd, in it (he’s hilarious as Roy on The IT Crowd).  Perhaps I should have checked the rating before agreeing to take Hope along…I spent the first five minutes of the movie with my hand over her eyes!  The movie was great, even though it was quite raunchy…a lot of fun to go see with your girl friends (Jim enjoyed it too, though!).  Melissa McCarthy (Mike and Molly) was laugh-out-loud funny as Megan…I’m not a fan of her other show (I find it mean-spirited).  Her real-life husband, Ben Falcone, is also in the movie (don’t leave until the credits are over, or you’ll miss a bonus scene!).

Chris O'Dowd as "Officer Rhodes" in Bridesmaids...photo by Universal Pictures...

Last week, I promised you some dragonfly photos that Anna took…here they are (my friend Jeanne tells me they’re actually “damselflies”…see her comment below – thanks, Jeanne):

Damselfly...photo by Anna...

Another damselfly closeup...photo by Anna...

This weekend, I sat staring at five Hotmail pages of unread blog posts (about 150 e-mails)…I was approximately 10 days behind on my reading, and it would only get worse.  So, I deleted them, resolving to go through my blogroll on my days off, and read the latest post by everyone on my list.  Hopefully, this will get be somewhat back in the loop, and eliminate some of the guilt!  I am sorry that I have probably missed some pretty great posts!  I’ll try to do a better job of keeping up…

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Filed under blogging, family, nature, photos

Statistics, Sewage, Slippers, Sales and Shepherd’s Pie…NEW POST!

It’s Monday morning, and I have the day off from my job at the Saint John City Market…here’s a wrapup of my week:

1. Statistics.  I’ve worked very hard since I started my blog in March of 2010 to build up my readership to a pretty good level.  Since I started my new job on June 8th, I’ve been running about a week behind on my reading of other people’s blogs…consequently, my stats are in the toilet (if I knew how to do a sad face emoticon right now, I almost might do it!).  I thought that running archive posts would help fill in the gaps and keep people coming back, but I was wrong!  I really wish there were 48 hours in the day, so that I could keep up with my reading!

2. Sewage.  The new septic field saga continues: Our landlord came over to get the rent on Tuesday night, and was horrified to see the mess that the contractors had made of our back yard!  He could not believe that they had left the fence down on two sides (he also has first-hand experience with deer in his garden), or that they hadn’t started the landscaping yet.  He was leaving on vacation on Friday, but promised to send someone over to remedy the situation immediately.  When we got home on Thursday, someone had made a half-assed attempt to put my bent and broken fence (what was left of it) back up, but the yard was still open.  There was also a pile of topsoil in the side yard.

Later that evening, Anna was having a shower and the toilet in that bathroom started bubbling and overflowing.  I plunged it and plunged it, but couldn’t get anything to go down!  The toilet in the other downstairs bathroom would not drain either, and Dad said he had heard it bubbling that morning while I was in the shower upstairs.  We called the landlord again, and explained the problem.  He got the guys who’d installed the septic field to come right over.  They dug with shovels down into the ground to check the new system…they snaked it 60 feet to the house and didn’t find any blockage.  Then they went down into the basement to check the pipes down there.  Unfortunately, they were not equipped to open the main drainpipe (didn’t have the right wrench), but advised that they’d get the landlord to call a plumber for us.  By 8:30, there was no sign of a plumber, and we called the landlord again.  He told us that the guy would be there first thing in the morning.  We all packed up our stuff and headed over to Jim’s parents’ house for the night…Jim would come home in the morning to let the plumber in.  Anna was happy to be able to finish her shower, and rinse the shampoo out of her hair!

The next day, I was at work when Jim called to report the plumber’s findings: tampons being flushed down the toilet (not by me!) had completely blocked the pipe.  Problem solved!

3. Slippers.  I was so tired one day last week that I almost left my house for work in the morning wearing my slippers…luckily, I noticed before I got to the car, and changed into sandals!  Earlier in the week, I had attempted to call my boss…realized that the number I’d dialled was my other line after it rang in my office!  It’s a good thing I work solo!

4. Sales.  Dad had an excellent day in the bookstore on Saturday while I was at work…a couple came in and bought over $1000 worth of books (even after a 20% discount)!  Unfortunately, they also left the shelves in a major upheaval, something I will have to remedy today (after I photograph five boxes of books, and put them away along with six more boxes!).

5. Shepherd’s Pie.   Kaylee, Scott and Elise came over yesterday for supper…I was happy to see my “Puddin’ Pop” after not seeing her for three weeks!  I made a huge Shepherd’s Pie (forgot to take a picture), and served the first green salad of the season from my garden (supplemented with baby spinach – didn’t have quite enough leaves).  I gave Elise the new shoes I’d picked up for her at the Quispamsis Yard Sale a few weeks ago, as well as a sweet little dress that called to me in Zellers, and a Canada Day T-shirt I got at Superstore yesterday.  Elise calls Jake now when she drops something for him, and tried to share her snack crackers with her new “best buddy.”  I think he’s liking her better now.

Elise with a big rock she found in my back yard...photo by Anna...

 

Anna had planned to make a berry trifle for dessert, but the kids arrived just as we got back from the grocery store, and Anna preferred to spend her time playing with Elise instead of cooking!  It might get made today…

6. Bonus.  I am no longer a “Twitter virgin”…I tweeted twice on Saturday for events going on at the Market.  It was pouring outside, and I encouraged people to come in out of the rain and meet their friends!  I don’t know if I’ll do Twitter for the bookstore or personally…I find there’s a lot of useless stuff being posted!

I hope everybody has an excellent week…will post a couple more from the archives, and then be back with a new post either Sunday or Monday.  Happy Canada Day, eh!

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Filed under blogging, books, family, food

Things I’ve Learned Since Last Tuesday…NEW POST!

As most of my readers know, I started a new temporary job last week…I am the Acting Production Manager for the Saint John City Market for the next seven weeks. The job is going to allow me to use my skills in administration, communications, public relations and marketing. The past few days have been one big learning curve! I thought it would be fun to put some of the things I’ve been doing into the context of what they’ve taught me…hope you enjoy it!

1. Sometimes “be-backers” actually come back.  We have people we call “be-backers” come into the bookstore all the time: the ones who take a long time to look at everything, and then leave without buying anything.  They always say as they’re going out the door, “I’ll be back!” (none of them look the least bit like Arnold Schwarzenegger!).  We never see them again…usually.  Last Tuesday, the first cruise ship of the season was in port.  We had two couples come in from the ship.  While they were there, we learned that one of the couples lived in Wooster, Ohio, which is near where my dad went to Theological School in Defiance.  The men were in the U.S. military, and one was quite interested in a Canadian Army training manual we had.  He didn’t buy it, but said that they would go to lunch and think about it.  Two hours later, they all came back with their parents in tow!  He bought the book…

2.  If one is going to attend a two-hour concert at a church, bring a cushion.  My dad sings bass with the Saint John Men’s Chorus, which had its annual spring concert at Portland United Church on Tuesday evening.  Jim, his mom and I went to the show (Jim’s dad wasn’t feeling well).  We all enjoyed it, but were reminded once again of how hard church pews can be!  On a sidenote, there was group of women singers called Still Waters which also performed at the concert.  They sang a Carpenters song which I quite enjoyed, but never knew that it was called “Superstar” (my mom loved The Carpenters, and we often had their albums playing in the 70s).

3. I have very few suitable work clothes that still fit me (or they all shrunk).  It’s been a long time since I’ve had to wear anything more than jeans to work (I usually wear a top, too…cuts down on the staring and pointing!).  I find myself having to buy new clothes, which is rather frustrating when:

a) one is fatter than she wants to be

b) one has very little money to spend

c) one hates shopping for anything besides books and earrings

4. One should start to peel a banana from the bottom.  This handy tip comes from a friend – apparently, that’s how monkeys peel bananas!

How to peel a banana...these are not my hairy hands - photo from videogamevictory.blogspot.com

5. I have too many blog subscriptions, and I’m way behind on reading.  I don’t subscribe to anyone who doesn’t write well, but trying to keep up with everyone’s posts is challenging my sanity!  I feel a bit like I’m trying to choose my favourite children when I open up my e-mail at night!  If I haven’t been around to visit you lately, it’s not because I don’t love you any more…”It’s not you, it’s me!”  I hope to get caught up eventually.

6. The food at Cora’s restaurant is outstanding, and the service goes above and beyond.  On Friday, Jim took me to lunch at Cora’s in Parkway Mall to celebrate the new job.  I ordered Chicken and Swiss Panini-Crepe, with no peppers.  The waitress asked if I wanted the Soup of the Day or tomato juice…since I hate tomato juice (it’s a texture thing), I asked what the soup was.  “Squash and Honey,” was the reply.  I ignored Jim’s stricken look (he’s not a squash fan!) and ordered the soup.  It was delicious!  When the waitress came back, I mentioned that I should learn how to make it because I grew squash in my garden.  A couple of minutes later, she came back with a piece of paper and handed it to me.  Imagine my surprise when I found the soup recipe printed on the back of a Cora’s colouring page!  The recipe was for 48 portions, so I may have to play with it a little…

Soon, the waitress came back with our lunch.  Jim had ordered the “Construction Plate” which is essentially a “He-Man’s Breakfast”: bacon, toast, home fries, eggs, and a tiny bit of fruit.  I was putting the dressing on my salad when the girl told me she’d just been informed that there were peppers on my sandwich:  “Just to be clear, is it an allergy?” she asked, as she picked it up to took it away.

“No,” I answered.  “I just don’t really like green peppers.”

A “pepper-free” Panini soon appeared, and was excellent: like Philly Cheese Steak, only with chicken and Swiss…the Spanish onions were cooked to sweet perfection!  Instead of bread, the sandwich was actually wrapped in a crepe.

As Jim paid for our lunch, we helped ourselves to the complimentary brown sugar fudge at the desk…a perfect ending to our meal!

This is the beef version of my sandwich (I picked the radishes out of my salad)...photo from Cora website

7. I’m not the type of person people remember.  Several times this week, I’ve been (re-)introduced to people I’ve met, and they don’t remember me at first.  I try not to take that personally…I’ve been one of those “beige” people ever since I was a kid…not very exciting!  I’m doing my darnedest to remember all the new people I’ve met so far.

8. The vendors at the Saint John City Market are some of the friendliest folks on the planet.  They interact with many different customers every day: locals, tourists, young people, seniors, and eccentrics…they take it all in stride, and still have smiles on their faces at the end of the day!  Although some of them are distressed (even tearful!) that the woman I’m replacing is leaving, they’ve been nice to me so far!

9. June 11th is too late to buy vegetable plants for the garden.  Remember those seedlings I put in a couple weeks ago while they were ripping up my back yard?  Most of them aren’t doing very well, especially the cruciferous veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.  I managed to pick up some tomato and pepper plants at Co-Op yesterday, but a trip to Brunswick Nurseries to find others was fruitless.  Jim came back with 16 cauliflower seedlings from Superstore last night, which I will plant later today.  I’m hoping that the rest of my plants will rally.  The seeds I planted are coming along nicely, except for the lima beans (only three plants came up) and the sugar snap peas (none of which came up).  Our back yard is still a big hole…

10. A pressure washer is very handy when one lives in an old house.  Jim bought a new toy while I was at work on Friday: he’s been using it to clean all the bird seed debris off the back deck.  We were surprised yesterday after an afternoon of spraying to learn that our house is actually white!  We can see through the windows too!  Years of dirt and other crap has been blasted off my white plastic lawn furniture.  Jim also picked up a new porch glider yesterday…we’ll set it up once the deck is clean.

I’ll be running more pieces from the archives this week, and hope to have another brand-new post next Sunday…have a great week!

 

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Filed under blogging, family, food, gardening, self-discovery

Paying Gig…

I might be a bit scarce in the blogosphere over the next little while…I’ve taken a temporary job that is scheduled to last for seven weeks. It is a position which will allow me to use my communications, marketing and public relations skills…it feels good to have someone recognize those abilities again! I hope that some networking while I’m back “in circulation” may lead to a permanent position somewhere (my work at the bookstore is strictly sweat equity – it will be mine when Dad is gone).

In the meantime, I hope to write at least one new post a week, and try to keep up with my reading of yours (I may not comment as much)! I will fill in with some of my favourites from the archives (from back when I had two loyal readers!).

Here is the first installment from the archives (originally published March 26, 2010):

Creature Discomforts

One of the benefits of living in the country is seeing a variety of wild animals and birds on a regular basis.  On occasion, members of our family have close encounters with these creatures, which aren’t always fun…

Jake is our schnoodle (miniature schnauzer/miniature poodle).  This fifteen lbs. of curly-haired energy adores flying around our fenced back yard as fast as his little legs can go!  He is also the biggest suck ever, needing to have his head on your chest right under your chin no matter what else you’re trying to accomplish!  Unfortunately, he sometimes gets into trouble…

Jake at full gallop...photo taken by Jim

Last winter, we noticed that a porcupine was (literally) hanging out in our back yard.  We dubbed him “Mr. Prickles.”  He would sit in a tree all day, gorging himself on bark, even during a raging snowstorm.  When he got tired, he would inch backward, ever so carefully, down the tree trunk, and amble over to the next tree, climb up, and repeat the above process.  On his journey between the trees, he would leave little presents on the ground, which Jake assumed were meant to be his dessert!  Ewww!

Mr. Prickles Eating Lunch...photo taken by Jim

Last summer, I let Jake out the back door, making sure the Mr. Prickles was nowhere in sight…I should have gone outside and checked over the little hill at the bottom of the yard!  Jake wasted no time heading straight for the intruder, barking wildly and circling the thorny creature.  By the time I had my shoes on, Jake had managed to get his small mouth around some of Mr. Prickles’ rear end, and ended up with a snoutful of quills!  While Mr. Prickles made his unhurried way towards the fence (which has holes big enough for him to squeeze through), I scooped up our dog and took him in the house to survey the damage.

I removed 19 quills of varying sizes from Jake’s mouth and nose…he was a trooper…he’s used to Jim grooming him, and he didn’t even flinch, even when I had to  use needle-nose pliers to pull some of the more stubborn ones (I found out later about cutting the ends off the quills to release the pressure).  There was one quill that I just couldn’t get, so I asked Jim to tackle that one after he got home.  Luckily, Jim was able to remove that one, and found another one which had worked its way in through Jake’s cheek and back out again!  Jim washed Jake’s face with peroxide, and we watched carefully over the next couple of weeks for any signs of infection.

It never occurred to me to take Jake to the vet…all I could think about was getting the things out of his face!  A friend of Jim’s told us she had spent more than $3500 at the vet’s with her two big dogs and porcupine quills!  Later, my snowplow guy told me about some woman at his camp who had been turned in to the Humane Society because she had taken quills out of her own dog!  That seems ridiculous to me!

After that, we made sure that Jake went out on the leash.  This winter, while there was snow on our back deck, we would just let him out there (leaving the gate closed).

One day in February, the kids decided it would be a good idea to let Jake run around the back yard again…we hadn’t seen Mr. Prickles for several weeks.  Down the steps he went…and stopped in his tracks, sniffing at something under the steps.  “Mom!  The porcupine’s dead under our back step!” reported Anna.

I said (a la Monty Python): “Maybe he’s not really dead…maybe he’s just restin’.”  I put on my boots, trudged down the steps, and poked Mr. Prickles gingerly with my toe.  He didn’t move.  Luckily, he didn’t stink either…it was still cold enough for his body to be frozen.

Jim came home from work, and I reported the sad news of Mr. Prickles’ demise.  “Did you do anything with him?” he asked.

“No…I don’t do dead bodies!  That’s your job!” I replied.  So Jim went out with a shovel, and heaved Mr. Prickles’ earthly remains over the fence into the woods.

A couple of weeks later, we noticed a couple of buzzards circling overhead…Dad said, “There must be something dead around here…”

RIP Mr. Prickles…

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Day of Whine and Noses…

Warning to my regular readers…this is not my typical “everything is wonderful” post…

Anna and I are home sick today…she has the flu, and Hope was generous enough to give me a cold…since I’ve been awake since 3:30 a.m., I decided that I should probably stay home from the bookstore. 

AWOL Bloggers

There seems to be a rash of good bloggers lately who are “taking a break” or quitting blogging completely.  Your public misses you…please come back (you know who you are)! 

Pothole Piss-off

Thursday night, we blew another tire on the Mazda 6 when we hit one of the 30,000 potholes lurking on our local streets…it was the second tire we’ve had to replace in two months!  Seriously…it’s spring…the snow is long gone!  Fix the damn holes!

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

I think it’s rained every day of May so far…they’re predicting a sunny day for Kaylee’s birthday on the 22nd…I won’t hold my breath!  Luckily, our landlord was able to get our garden plot plowed for us on Saturday morning…he kindly extended it another 6 feet so that we’d have more space.  If it would stop raining for a while, I might be able to get some seeds planted, and my seedlings put outside…they’re definitely not very happy in my back kitchen:

Lackadaisical plants in the back kitchen..."We need sun, Mom!"

Cheers and Tears

Saturday morning was Anna’s provincial cheerleading championships.  The Harbour View High team performed very well…they were enthusiastic and tight, and there weren’t any major mistakes.  I was sure they’d be called back…I was wrong…again!  Congratulations to the repeat champions, Harrison Trimble High, whose performance was flawless, as usual!  Special kudos to the team from Carleton North High, who I also thought should have been called back…they have improved a lot since the beginning of the year!   I would like to give a shoutout to Fredericton High, who kept the crowd entertained all season in between performances with their infectious dancing!  They were the embodiment of “spirit” even though they were never called back!

Harbour View High team after Provincials...Anna is crouching down in the middle of the back row (photo by Brianna)

   

Network Numbnuts  

I watch very little network TV, so I was upset on the weekend to learn that ABC had cancelled three of my shows in one go:  Off the Map, Mr. Sunshine, and Better With You!  

Off the Map was the only drama I watched.  It was created by the same folks as Grey’s Anatomy (which I used to watch until about four years ago when I started working an evening job).  The acting was good, the plot twists surprising, and it starred one of the sexiest New Zealanders (not Australian…thanks, Lynley for the correction!) I’ve ever seen, Martin Henderson.  I hope you get a new gig soon, Martin!

When I first watched Mr. Sunshine, I wasn’t expecting great things.  I was pleasantly surprised though: Alison Janney‘s narcissistic character was hilarious, and Nate Torrence as her son was adorable…that guy just had to smile, and it made you feel good!  Matthew Perry‘s character wasn’t far removed from his Friends persona…the wise-cracker who just wanted people to like him.  I will miss this show!

Nate Torrence and his irresistable smile...photo from hitfix.com

Better with You was the “bridge” between The Middle and Modern Family on Wednesday nights.  It explored three related couples in various stages of their relationships.  An excellent ensemble cast made the show a lot of fun…notable members were Jake Lacy, whose combination of goofiness, facial expressions and comic timing was funny every time, and Debra Jo Rupp, whose character always said what people are thinking but are afraid to say.  This was one of the only sitcoms I’ve ever seen that portrayed couples in a fairly realistic way (The Middle is another one).

I’m happy to see that CBS has renewed The Amazing Race and Big Bang Theory, as well as Two and a Half Men.  However, word that Ashton Kutcher will replace Charlie Sheen on Men sounds like a death knell for that show…the last couple of seasons haven’t been great anyway.  Ashton was fine on That 70′s Show as the brainless Kelso, but I don’t think he has the “parts” to pull this off…

Canine Cacophony

Jake is driving me nuts!  He barks whenever he sees a squirrel or chipmunk on the back deck, or hears the slightest little noise…I can’t wait to go back to work tomorrow!

"What are you barking at, Stupid?" (photo by Anna)

Hopefully, I’ll be feeling better by the time I post again…thanks for letting me vent!

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Yes, We Have No Wine, and Other Random Things…

Welcome to another chapter in my oh-so-exciting existence! We’ve got lots to cover…the transitions will be abrupt, so please keep a firm hold on your tea, lest it spill as we careen around corners!

1. Monday morning was sunny…I hated to have to work, but came into the bookstore anyway…I had three boxes of books to photograph, and 90 pages of our database to print off!  Hope was off school that day, so she came into town with me and helped take the pictures (it’s much easier for a 12-year-old to get up and down off the floor than it is for me!).  Anna and Brianna went to the mall…Anna used the money I gave her for jeans to buy shorts (because apparently 47 pairs aren’t enough!).  Brianna got some nail polish which is the perfect colour for my toes…maybe she’ll let me borrow it!

Anna and Brianna goofing around with the webcam last fall...

2. My friend, Dale, surprised me by dropping into the bookstore…I first met him in 1980 when we worked in two neighbouring stores in the Quinte Mall in Belleville, Ontario (I worked in a camera store, and he worked in the record store next door). I used to go into the record store and buy all kinds of albums (that was before I had kids to spend my money for me!). The following year, my boss decided to move his store to another strip mall in town, and Dale and I lost touch. Fast forward to the early 2000′s: I was receiving correspondence about an upcoming reunion of some of my buddies from Loyalist College, and saw a familiar name on the e-mail list. I e-mailed the guy and asked “Are you the same Dale who used to work in the record store?” Sure enough…turns out Dale went to Loyalist about the same time I did, and used to hang out with the radio guys I knew! We were reunited at the reunion, and have been in touch ever since…coincidentally, Dale now lives in Moncton, New Brunswick, which is only a little over an hour’s drive from where I live now. We chatted for quite a while, and then Dale left to get to a business meeting, promising to return soon to add to his “classics” collection.  We’re planning to meet up with some more friends from school this fall at the Gregg Allman show at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival in Fredericton in September.  I’m looking forward to seeing them all!

3. When we got home in the afternoon, Hope checked her e-mail, and excitedly called me over to the computer.  “Look at this, Mom!”  There was an e-mail from the Marketing Coordinator for Market Square…on the weekend, Hope and Gabrielle had sent her a clip of them singing “O Canada” and had asked if they could sing the national anthem at the Canada Day celebrations on July 1st.  The reply said that she would like to have the girls sing, and would be in touch soon to arrange the details!  Hope called Gabrielle right away to tell her the good news!  We were really proud of her for taking the chance to do something like that!

Gabrielle and Hope singing at a Talent Show last fall...photo by Jim

4. Monday night (after writing my Easter blog post), I remembered that Tuesday was our long-awaited book club meeting…we hadn’t gotten together since bidding our friend, Selina, “Adieu” in December when she moved to Winnipeg. We usually bring food of some sort for book club. Our book was “Secret Daughter” by Shilpi Somaya Gowder, which is set mainly in India.  What I know about East Indian food would fit neatly on the head of a pin (and I don’t eat much spicy food), so I Googled a local store where I might find something to bring to the meeting.  Upon reaching the website, I was confronted with the name of the product, a photo, and the price…no description whatsoever.  Back to Google…Nanak Gajar Halwa: “carrot fudge”? That sounds disgusting!  Nanak Rasmalai: “Soft Cheese Patty in thickened milk and sugar sauce”.  My lactose-intolerant stomach actually did a somersault after reading that!  I decided to go with something a little safer…I had a bag of Ganong Chocolate Marshmallow Eggs I’d bought on the weekend…everybody likes chocolate in our book club (and these are made in St. Stephen, New Brunswick)!

5. Tuesday morning was rainy, but at least I didn’t have a lot of work waiting for me at the store when I got there…I took the opportunity to catch up on the 40-50 blog posts I hadn’t had a chance to read over the long weekend!  It took me a long time, but there weren’t many customers wandering in to disturb me, so I was able to get it done!  I bought a Meditteranean Chicken Salad from Sagratti’s in the City Market for supper, and brought it back to the store to eat (I picked out the black olives…yuck!).   I hoped the family would save me some of Jim’s famous Turkey Soup…

Jim's soup and homemade biscuits...yummy!

6. I was the first to arrive at our Succulent Bookworms meeting (as usual – I don’t like to be late!).  I chatted with our hostess, and one of her three cats soon curled up on my lap, where it stayed for the rest of the night (if only I hadn’t been wearing black…oh well…that’s why they invented lint brushes!).  My friend called to me from the kitchen and offered me a drink, apologizing that she didn’t have any wine on hand, but that one of the other girls would probably bring some.  I declined…book club is the only time I get to indulge in red wine…I would wait until it arrived!  When she came back, she extended a ceramic plate towards me with little brown things on it.  “Oooooh…what’s this?” I squealed, thinking these must be some of those unidentifiable Indian delicacies I’d seen on that website.

“They’re the marshmallow eggs that you brought!” she prompted.  “Don’t you remember?”

I’m sure I turned about three shades of red before muttering, “Oh, yeah…” (damn peri-menopausal mushbrain!).  The chocolates looked a lot classier on that plate than they did in the compostable bag they came in!

The other girls trickled in over the next hour-and-a-half…nobody brought wine, but we did have a nice selection of food to choose from by the time everyone arrived!  There were two kinds of naan bread with mango chutney and guram masala for dipping, some pita chips with yogurt dip, some mini caramel muffins, and some decadent squares which were purely Western but awesome anyway!  We had some delicious mango juice to drink, which I’m planning to seek out next time I’m at Costco!  The hostess’ 3-year-old daughter demonstrated some of her ballet moves for us before her dad took her up to bed (he was mumbling something about getting her away from us before we corrupted her…another Bookworm man thinks we’re “witches”)…

We chatted about the book for a while (everybody liked it – excellent choice for a book club read), and then got off on our usual tangent…that was the first Worms meeting I’d ever attended where no one was drinking!  It was weird, but good…I can’t wait for the next meeting!

I was happy to get home to bed soon after 10:30…it had been a long day…

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Filed under blogging, books, food, friends, satire

It’s All About You…Twenty Questions…

Image from anonymous8.com

I’m curious to see how much I have in common with the folks who read my blog…here are my answers to twenty random questions:

City life or country life? Country life.  I returned to the country 2 1/2 years ago after living in the city for 24 years.  I love it!

Antique furniture or modern furniture? Antique furniture.  Quality construction and beautiful woodwork combined with amazing fabrics is my idea of heaven!

Abstract art or traditional art? Abstract art.  Picasso is one of my favourite artists.

Cook or order out? Cook.  I’d rather cook it myself than eat in a restaurant.

Traveller or homebody? Homebody.  I usually travel only to see family or friends, although I do want to go to Tuscany, Italy some day!

Hotel or cottage? Cottage.  I like the privacy, and cooking for ourselves.

Sentimental or pragmatic? Sentimental.  I have every letter and card I’ve ever received, and every ticket/programme for every show I’ve been to!

Impulsive or cautious? Cautious.  I always think things through first.

Hugger or “don’t touch me”? Hugger.  It’s the law in Saint John.

Fighter or pacifist? Pacifist.  I hate conflict, and run from it at every opportunity.

Leader or follower? Leader.  I’ve always been independent.

Rule breaker or rule keeper? Rule keeper.  I’m afraid of getting caught!

Extrovert or introvert? Introvert, most of the time.   I do enjoy talking to new people though.

Coordinated or clumsy? Clumsy.  As in, “Don’t give her anything breakable to carry!”

Fiction or non-fiction? Non-fiction.  I read fiction, but I like true stories better.

Rock music or country music? Rock music.  I like some country, as long as it’s not “twangy.”

Singer or listener? Singer.  I can sing, but no one is going to pay me big bucks to perform.

Movies or TV? TV.  There are very few movies that I want to pay $10 to see.  I’d rather watch TV.

Drama or comedy? Comedy.  I’d rather laugh than cry!

Actor or audience? Audience.  I love live drama, but am not an actor!

 

Now it’s your turn…here are the questions again…copy and paste into the comment section, and fill in your answers!  Don’t be shy!

City life or country life?

Antique furniture or modern furniture?

Abstract art or traditional art?

Cook or order out?

Traveller or homebody?

Hotel or cottage?

Sentimental or pragmatic?

Impulsive or cautious?

Hugger or “don’t touch me”?

Fighter or pacifist?

Leader or follower?

Rule breaker or rule keeper?

Extrovert or introvert?

Coordinated or clumsy?

Fiction or non-fiction?

Rock music or country music?

Singer or listener?

Movies or TV?

Drama or comedy?

Actor or audience?

 

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Filed under blogging, books, cooking, friends, music, self-discovery, travel

Gentlemen…Start Your Search Engines…

Last fall, I did a fun post about the search terms people had used to find my blog.  Six months later, I found myself facing an empty screen, so decided to put together another one (note to Ironic Mom and her “Tangled” accomplice – I am purposely leaving out search bombs)!
Technically-Challenged Searchers
use Plunger.  I sincerely hope this person’s toilet wasn’t overflowing while he stopped to Google what most people instinctively know.  That might be difficult to explain to the insurance company!

"Gee, which end should I use?" (photo from plumbinghelp.ca)

easiest roller coaster out of sticks.  Generally, I try to avoid amusement parks.  When I do get dragged to one by my teenagers, we have a rule that no one is allowed to ride the roller coaster made of sticks (at least not without a helmet!).
letter p blackberry fell off.  It is terribly inconvenient when my “p” falls off!  It really ‘isses me off!
Consumer Searchers
what kind of watch does jack carter from eureka wear.  A sexy one, of course.  It would also have all the latest gadgets.

Jack Carter with his sexy watch (photo from wormholeriders.net)

high school music hall pom pom girl wallpaper.  Bad news, ma’am…wallpaper is getting very difficult to find, and high school music hall pom pom girl wallpaper has to be special-ordered from Texas.
cast iron giraffe toilet paper holder.  A regular plastic spindle just will not do.  And it can’t be a rhinocerous either.
macho en calzones. This poor person was looking for men’s underwear…he was probably really surprised to be directed to a post about deer challenging electric fences and pizza pockets!
Spelling-Challenged Searchers
mr. been.  I assume this person meant Mr. Bean, who isn’t a has-been yet.  They still show his specials on CBC all the time.

Mr. Bean...still funny after all these years (photo from slidephoneblog.blogspot.com)

pumpkinks attack.  That sounds scary, and twisted, all at the same time!  This isn’t that kind of blog!
fune catsin wedes.  This is a head-scratcher: my blog is fun, I have the word “cats” in the title, and I have talked about “weeds” occasionally in gardening posts…any other guesses?
Food Searchers
garlic and brown sugar cheese ball.  This misguided soul obviously didn’t get the memo about cheese balls not being served at parties held after 1980…I was horrified to discover that an actual recipe exists for this abomination.  It is not on my site, and never will be!
define chicken heart.  Okay, bud…put down the plunger, and think really hard!

This is not a chicken heart...(photo from southviewfarmcottage.co.uk)

Medical Searchers
flatulence in 10 year old boy.  I can’t help you with that.  I only know about farting teenagers, and 48-year-old men who spend a lot of time “reading magazines”.
does zumba work make your legs chunky.  It’s possible.  My legs are definitely chunky after that one time I tried Zumba.  And it wasn’t “work”…it was torture!  I’ll never do that again!
Animal Searchers
the monkees with cats.  Did The Monkees own cats?  I don’t know.  I talked about them once (the musical group), but the discussion was about Mike Nesmith’s mom and her invention of Liquid Paper.

Does Mickey have a cat under his poncho? (photo from 8notes.com)

wet tail.  What was this hapless searcher looking for?  Whatever it was, I don’t think he found it on my blog.
Searchers With Too Much Time On Their Hands
welcome sing to my room.  I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest this person may not have had English as his first language.
taylor swift just a zombie baby.  I wouldn’t go that far…she’s actually not a bad singer!

Not very zombie-like at all...(photo from theimproper.com)

“my holy pants”.  I have never been a religious person.  However, I do have a pair of pants which are not fit to wear in public, but too good to throw out.  I tend to wear them around the house on Sundays…hence “my holy pants.”
What are some of the strange terms people have found your blog with?

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Filed under blogging, satire

Post #200…What Do You Mean “There’s No Party”?

This is my 200th post…do I have anything earth-shattering to report?  No.  A profile of an extremely interesting person?  No.  Great news?  Not really.  What I’ve got is another collection of random things:

1. Dread of Deer.  About three weeks ago, we looked out the window into the back yard, and discovered with dismay that the deer have learned that they are capable of jumping the fence!  Unless I can think of a plan to keep them out, gardening this year is going to be a dangerous thing…I’ve been so obsessed that I actually dreamed that we had three baby deer in our living room (I let them out the back door)…

"Are you lookin' at me? Because I'll totally snort at you if you come any closer! It's way more fun on this side of the fence!" (photo by Anna)

2. Discriminating Darlin’.  My granddaughter, Elise, is almost 19 months old, and has recently learned how to count to 10…sort of.  She starts at “3″ because she feels that “1″ and “2″ are too trivial to bother with!  

 3. Doh!  Every morning as we’re on our way into town to the bookstore, we listen to the CBC News World Report at 7 p.m., which is usually hosted by Peter Armstrong.  When talking about the ongoing issues in Ivory Coast, the illustrious anchorman reported that the militants were “fighting definitely”.  Um…I think “defiantly” is what your copywriter meant, Peter.  While we’re at it, can we talk about your improper pronunciation of potash (“pott-ish”), Afghanistan (“aff-gan-i-stun“), and Pakistan (“pack-i-stun“)?  Wrong, wrong, wrong!

4. Decisions and Debates.  Speaking of CBC, they’ve been promoting a nifty new “tool” on their website which is supposed to help decide which tool party leader to vote for in our upcoming federal election on May 2nd.  I used the Vote Compass, and was not at all surprised that I lean left on both economic and social issues.  I still don’t know who I’m going to support…all the candidates have not been announced in our riding yet.  The lone female, Green Party candidate, Elizabeth May, is fighting for the right to be included in the leaders’ debate…I hope she succeeds!

The Candidates..."Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe, and Curly" (photo from workliveplaycafe.com)

5. Dunce.  Yesterday afternoon, I received this e-mail from my daughter’s high school, I have copied it verbatim, except to remove the principal’s name and change his initial, to protect the  idiot innocent:

Good afternoon all,
This is Mr. B. calling to inform you that the school recieved a threatening phone call today. Although it turned out to be a crank call, we took it very serious placed the school into a lockdown. The police were called and very quickly resolved the problem.
I also want to tell you that this is the week of our musical and the tickets are going fast. If you are thinking of attending, you better pick up your tickets at the office or get them at the door.
Thats it for now,

Mr. B.

Hmmm…97 words…three grammatical/spelling errors that I can spot immediately.  My daughter tells me the students refer to the author as “Slow Marvin” (not his real name), and that he doesn’t actually teach any classes (what a relief!).  I’m so glad that the school took the threat “serious”…I wish they were as serious about grammar.  “Now Mr. B…please don this dunce cap and go sit in the corner!”

This isn't "Slow Marvin"...(photo from businessinsider.com)

6. Deliciousness.  A random Herding Cats post wouldn’t be complete without food!  Feast your eyes on these photos of Jim’s banana bread (we have to hide the banana bread bananas from my dad, or he’ll eat them!), and my cornbread-topped chili!

Jim's banana bread: regular, flax, and chocolate chip

 

Chili topped with cornbread...yummy!

You can do this chili yourself:  Make your regular chili, and then put it into a casserole.  Mix up some cornbread batter and pour it over the top of the chili.  Bake it in the oven until the cornbread is done.  Instant deliciousness!

Thanks for coming over to celebrate my 200th post…I sincerely hope that none of the stuff you’ve learned here keeps you awake this evening…

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Filed under blogging, cooking, family, food, rants, satire