November 2007

I love my cat, I do I do. And sometimes I feel so guilty. I’ll be busy on the computer and she’ll be moving around my piles of paper that inevitably surround it, and she’ll walk in front of me, and so often it just irritates me. And then I realize, all she wants is some attention. I’m at work so much of the time, and then I come home, and I have chores to do and tasks to accomplish, and I’m focused on that. On me.

She’s not neglected. She’s spoiled in many ways. But I don’t always pay enough attention, and she’s just one example of that.

A day or two ago I was rushing around in the morning, as I normally do, going through my routine. I was about to walk out the door when I looked back and I saw Tempest sitting in the middle of the living room, waiting. It is our ritual that I give her three treats, hiding them in various places. I hadn’t given them to her yet and I had almost forgotten.

She’d have survived, it isn’t about that. It is about being so busy, caught up in the routines the clocks the things we have to get done. It hurt me that I hardly noticed her that morning, that I sometimes brush aside her desire for attention in the evenings. I think back at the furry friends I’ve lost in the past, and at how I’d have given anything for just one more day to spend with them. Would still. And here I am wasting the days and mornings I do have with my current love, who is alive and well, and within reach.

It makes no sense, yet it is so typical of our lives. Well, of mine, anyway. I won’t speak for anyone else.


Day 30 of NaBloPoMo. I made it.

Three things for Thursday:

  1. Got pet insurance for the Tempest.
  2. Got plane tickets to FL in Jan! Yippee! Is it Jan yet?
  3. Worked on the resume.

I needed some work done on my 13 year old truck, and so the search for a trustworthy mechanic began. It feels like an impossible task most of the time, though I’ve gotten lucky and had good mechanics in the past. Mostly good, anyway, though why none of them fixed my windshield wiper gives me a headache, now that I know how easy it is. (Thanks Rich!)

Anyway, I finally decided on a mechanic.

Found by: searching the internets using the google to find reviews. I wanted something not too horribly far away from me that people seemed to trust. I didn’t have anyone to ask in person, because my coworkers live way far from me, and my fellow condo dwellers are people I know only in passing, and never think to ask about car maintenance. The other people I know locally are not especially local either.

The reviews were good. One guy wasn’t happy with them, but just normal stuff from what I could tell, nothing that really sent red flags up.

Initial impression: mostly good. Friendly on the phone, but sort of confused me by not caring why I wanted to drop my truck off or what might be wrong with it. I mean, how do they schedule the right number of cars if they think they’re doing an oil change only to find out that they have to rebuild an engine? Okay, I didn’t need my engine rebuilt, but they had some detective work to do…

First visit: I wasn’t thrilled with the form I had to fill out to drop off my key, and the fact that I needed to pre-authorize them to do work that I didn’t have an estimate on. But I did it anyway, hoping for the best. When I didn’t hear from them by noon, I called, and they hadn’t looked at it. When I called at 4, still having heard nothing, I was told they were “still looking at it” and they couldn’t seem to give me any information on when they’d finish even though they close at 5. They called at 4:30 to say that I could come pick up the truck, that they’d fixed one of the issues, but that I’d need to bring it back later, with less gas in the tank. (Leaky gas tank, so this was mostly valid.) Mostly I felt that they had crappy communication, and that they hadn’t looked at my truck until the last minute, and that was the real reason I had to bring my truck back. However the bill for what they did fix was quite cheap – $27 to fix the ambiguous rattling, which turned out to be heat shields needing securing. (space shuttle or ford ranger, you decide!)

So I made an appointment for this week to take care of the leaky gas tank.

Second Impression: Sort of better. They called by 10am this time, but to tell me that it wasn’t the seals as they’d thought last week (I sort of forgive them for this, since I know damn well they didn’t look at it last week. However this meant that they caused me twice as much aggravation with the whole renting a car and dropping off my truck, etc), it was some stupidly expensive part. I looked it up online after, and they’re giving me a fair quote for the part. The labor though seems outrageous.

Plus even though this work should take a maximum of 3 hours (thanks, Rich, for looking it up!), and even though they knew at 10am on Tuesday what was needed, they told me they’d “probably” not be able to finish it until the next day. Great. Another $40 for a car for another day.

Final review: they called by 11am Wednesday to tell me that the truck was ready. When I picked it up, the price was a tiny bit higher than quoted for the P&L. The part was a tad cheaper, the labor taking up the balance. I’m bad at things like grilling people over the things I should be grilling them over, so I did not ask how long it took them exactly. From my perspective, I don’t care. Either they’re charging an absolutely ridiculous amount hourly (and that is comparing to NYC prices, which is the only price I have available at the moment), or they are incompetent and it took them at least twice as long to do the job as it “should have”. Also they didn’t do the safety inspection (required yearly by this state) that I had requested they do.

That’s okay – I’ll take it to a gas station for the safety inspection. Same price regardless, and less hassle and wasted time to have it done at the gas station.

I actually went back and reviewed some old bills from the past few years, back when I had mechanics I didn’t think were cheating me. Funny how much work they were able to do in a small amount of time.

I’m missing my Denver mechanics something fierce. Even if they didn’t fix my windshield wiper. Next time something needs fixing I’ll be researching mechanics yet again. And probably complaining about it just as much!

I know, I know, that was fascinating, wasn’t it?

chick at ps

Three things for Wednesday:

  1. I did a lot of my “most important tasks”, which felt good.
  2. My truck is fixed, assuming the gas tank no longer leaks. I’ll find out soon!
  3. Fun but perplexing flirtiness with PB at work.

Okay, I’m making it public – I have set a goal to exercise every day in December. This is part of my overall goal of taking better care of myself, and it fits in with the advice I’m taking of Leo’s from Zen Habits/Zen To Done, who says to add just one or two new habits every month.

I’ve decided that I will tackle one organizational habit and one health habit every month. Hence the exercise goal for December. I’ve been working on drinking more water and getting more sleep for a couple months now, and I am doing well with them. I could do better – I slack off on the water intake on the weekends, as well as the fruit consumption, and I also add in weekend lattes, so overall I’m dehydrating myself on the weekends! I was better last weekend – that was a conscious effort!

The thing about exercise, I enjoy it, I just have gotten out of the habit, so it isn’t something I dread. And with the days getting shorter, endorphins become important for mood stabilizers. A new yoga studio opened up near me recently – even closer than my favorite Thai restaurant! Which means it is in walking distance, which is a dream come true. Hopefully I’ll like the teachers!

Exercising every day might sound like a goal that is quite ambitious, but I’m defining “exercise” to be “at least 10 minutes of movement.” So the point of the goal, while helpful in getting in shape, is really about forming the habit, not about becoming buff in just one month.

squiggley path at ps

I find myself looking at the path that the horses, mules, and cows have worn in their field. It is sort of hard to tell in the size I can display in this blog, so check this out for a bigger version. I’m sure there are all kinds of physical landscape type reasons for the random squiggling in their path, but from a distance it looks like they have a fairly straight path from barn to woods, all except that one area of squiggling, whose purpose I can’t see. I’ll walk that path some day. It is always the squiggles that makes me think!

Three things for Tuesday:

  1. More work done on The Cave, and visible progress is being made.
  2. It felt good to set some goals for December, and to line up a goal-buddy to keep me on track!
  3. Chocolate chai rice dream!

Writing In Faith (aka Sandy Carlson) tagged me for the 7 Things About Me meme. Here are the rules:

  • Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
  • Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
  • Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
  • Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Okay, weird and random should be easy for me!

  1. As a kid I couldn’t watch the claymation Christmas special all the way through. I would hide behind the couch when they’d be mean to Rudolph. I can’t watch much of Disney because they kill animals too often: Bambi, The Lion King, The Land Before Time, and I’m sure many others. Aladdin was okay – I don’t think they killed any of the animals. (No, it just doesn’t matter to me that they’re fictional and cartoons or claymation.)
  2. I hate TV.
  3. When I have nightmares I usually am dreaming about things exploding while I watch, unable to do anything and often unable to make sense of what is going on. I don’t dream about any other kind of catastrophe, and I’m never personally involved in (i.e., causing or escaping from) the explosion/fireball.
  4. One of my dreams as a kid was to open a pet hotel. At the time everyone thought I was off the wall with that dream, because who would pay to have their pets stay at hotels? And now there are not only pet hotels, but pet spas!
  5. Another dream of mine is to live on a boat.
  6. I hate the taste of regular coffee and can only drink it if it has a lot of sugar added, even if I’ve used a lot of soymilk or soy cream. I like espresso, though, and while I prefer it in a soy latte, I can drink it straight and I never need sugar in an espresso or an espresso drink.
  7. I have always loved to read. I learned when I was 3.5 years old, and I read constantly from that point on. I’d get in trouble in school because I’d read during class. I’d read late at night, sneaking it under the covers with a flashlight. I’d read so much that my mother had to take my books away to make me do my chores. She never understood how some parents had to force their kids to read!

Now for the 7 random people…since it is supposed to be random, I’m not going with anyone on my blogroll. I want there to be some kind of connection, so I’m going to choose 3 people who I have met through the weekend snapshots, 3 people I’ve met through the photohunt, and 1 specific person who has commented a couple times (I think he found me via Hawk). So:

Carver, liza, Natalie, “And Miles To Go…”, Scott, Kat’s Krackerbox, and mousey.

Gloria at PS

Three things for Monday:

  1. It rained, but my new windshield wipers (thanks Rich!) made it not a big deal, for once.
  2. Got my truck dropped off and my rental car picked up, and hopefully it will be an easy fix to take care of the leaky gas tank. How hard (or expensive) could it be to change some seals? What kind of rental car, you might be wondering. A red one. In fact, the exact same car I got last week! I don’t mean the same make/model, I mean the very car I rented last week!
  3. I got some work done on The Cave.

Weekend Snapshot time!

I’m really enjoying doing these recaps of my weekend. It is a good way to start the week, remembering fun things over the weekend. For this week I’m taking a somewhat loose interpretation of “weekend” – mine started on Wednesday evening, since Thursday was Thanksgiving, and I had Friday off. So the first shot is a sunset pic for Wednesday:

sunset through bare branches

We had some oddly warm weather on Wednesday and Thursday – in the 70’s! It quickly got cold, and you can see how bare the branches are on most of the trees. My neighbor’s tree was still holding on to gorgeous fall color, though the wind we had on Thursday took care of much of that.

yellow fall leaves

Saturday was cold enough that when we went to the sanctuary, there was still frost on the ground! I was fascinated by the pattern of frost in this next picture – a very clear outline of the barn’s shadow! As the sun moved, and the shadow moved, the frost would melt.

barn shaped frost at ps

The next is Saturday’s dinner. A friend was in town from NYC, and in NYC’s Chinatown there is a store that sells vegetarian mock meats. Many of them are vegan, so he brought down a vegan fake salmon. I can’t tell you how odd it was to eat this. I think I delayed my first bite for quite a while, but much to my relief it didn’t taste like salmon to me, or have anything like what I’d have expected salmon texture to be. It was tasty, but mostly I tried to not look at it! I have grown to enjoy a lot of the mock meats (was way too freaked out by them to really try them for a long time), but most of them aren’t quite so elaborate in their mimic of the animal product. There are some really crazy mock meats at this place in Chinatown though! I really don’t think I could bring myself to eat some of it, vegan or no!

vegan salmon dinner

I don’t get sick days at my current job, which is annoying, but I do get other schedule perks of a sort, so it isn’t all bad. Calling in sick isn’t really a non-option, it is just that I have to either make up the time or take vacation if I do call in sick. So it isn’t something I do unless absolutely necessary.

Luckily I don’t get sick often, so this hasn’t been an issue.

But calling in sick makes me think of Utah Phillips and a song/story he has about calling in well. This also reminds me of Buddy Wakefield talking about how we need to learn to live for a living. These things stick in my mind. I usually feel that my weeks are things I get through to get to the all-too-short weekends. I spend Sundays (or whatever day before going back to work) feeling a sort of blues, a state of dread, because I really dislike my job. I think I’d like the overall career if I had a job with a better overall situation.

Yes, this is within my control to change.

And yes, I think right now I’m a bit tired of change. And yes, this is my fault.

These are the cards I’m playing right now though. I am so drawn to the idea of calling in well, and going off to live for a living. Isn’t that what we all want to do? I know that before society was this thing that it is today, people didn’t have more options, they had less. Survival was the top priority, and when survival is difficult there isn’t room for things like following dreams and finding yourself and taking chances.

But survival isn’t hard for me in this society, at least not with my current job. Maybe it would be harder if I was following my dream. Certainly I wouldn’t be able to afford the mortgage I have right now. That’s my biggest expense, so superficially that seems easy enough to change. Though I’d have to move from this area altogether, ’cause it ain’t cheap here.

Still, there is something to be said for simplification, eliminating extraneous expenses so that we can afford to have the jobs we like, and live for a living, as opposed to chasing a paycheck that twists things inside of us to achieve. I’ve been on the other side, I’ve lived on $8 of food per week, because that was all I could afford at the time. I’ve charted out errands so that I conserved gas, not because of environmental issues, but because even back then when gas was often hovering around $1/gallon, I could hardly afford my weekly gas bills and couldn’t afford to be wasteful of even a quarter of a gallon. I’ve lived that. It isn’t fun, and it doesn’t leave room for anything, and it is filled with worry and what-ifs.

I don’t want to go back to that. It seems like there should be something between that and where I’m at right now, something a bit more like the enjoyment my parents have in their busy retirement life instead of the unfulfilling working life I have right now.

Do we put our dreams on hold until after retirement (and hope our health holds out long enough for us to enjoy ourselves, but not so long we run out of retirement funds?) or do we find a way to live them now?

Well, I know what answer I want, but I’m stumped on how to achieve it.

norman sunbathing at ps

Three things for Saturday:

  1. A great day, overall – sanctuary, home depot, the bookcase assembly, the fake salmon that was a lot less disturbing than it looked…
  2. Talking about music…
  3. Finding Sheese at Mom’s (both the spreadable and the block) and having a Sheese taste test with Cheesely (Sheese wins!), and being reminded that Mom’s kicks major ass.

Three things for Sunday:

  1. Leftover thanksgiving food.
  2. Not getting lost dropping off Rich in Chinatown and not getting lost finding my way back to NY Ave afterwards. (It was easy, but that doesn’t mean I won’t get lost!)
  3. Curling up with Tempest reading.

This week’s photohunt theme is hot. I thought about it for a while, and then realized that I’d have lots of opportunity for hot pictures while cooking thanksgiving dinner!

hot burner

And a second, just because I love reflection pictures, and this one shows all the things on the stove, plus the kitchen window, and me (completely obscured by my camera, not to mention the distortion from the teapot!).

teapot reflection

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