Monday, December 1, 2014

We're at that age....

The old 'double-nickle' birthday arrived a few weeks ago with minor celebratory fanfare and a new level of mental anguish over this whole aging thing.  As my dad used to say, no sense in dreading the big dirt nap as it is going to arrive one day no matter what one does to avoid it.  But, certain birthdays become cause for reflection, and this is one of them.

These are some conclusions I've come to recently...

We're at that age where... Steve waters all of our outdoor plants (on the lanai fortunately), cleans the fountain and sweeps up the dead leaves while wearing his underwear.  Why, you ask?  Because he's at that age where he no longer cares what the neighbours think.

...We drink our coffee on the lanai most every morning; Steve still in his underwear and me in mismatched ten year old pajamas with bed hair and my glasses on.  You know, the ones where the metal finish has flaked off unevenly on the frames?  I've often thought if it weren't for the nice, new patio furniture we would look like an ad with the caption underneath "...for just pennies a day you can feed and clothe this couple".

...We've started spiralizing our zucchini because we're totally confused about what to do with gluten these days, and apparently zucchini has the ability to fool us into thinking it is a legitimate substitute for pasta.

Honestly, spiralizing our zucchini sounds more to me like an experiment that belongs in a biology lab.  And in order to spiralize we have to use a tool called "The Veggetti" which brings to mind some kind of instrument that my gynecologist might use during an annual check-up.  Fortunately it is neither, and its sole task is to take a zucchini and cut it into one long, continuous ten foot noodle that can be cooked as if one had diced the zucchini and cooked it like normal in the first place.  But, it was on sale for $14.99 at Bed, Bath and Beyonce' (that's what we call it) and we knew our lives would be incomplete from this moment forward if we did not get it.  Besides, maybe it is the answer to the mystery surrounding gluten. 

In addition to the thrills swirling around the Veggetti we are also a jangle of nervous excitement waiting for the arrival of Steve's new compression sock to aid in the healing of his plantar fasciitis.  Being in ones fifties is, in fact, far more exciting than we were led to believe.  The anticipation of this sock coming via the US Postal Service is reminiscent of being a kid and running out to the mailbox everyday to see if the Christmas card from the Grandma that sent cash had arrived.  I miss those days...

We have very high expectations of this sock.  I bought mine the previous week at Sports Authority, and we just know it's going to allow us to stand upright and walk again without doing  the chimpanzee shuffle.  We might even briefly appear to be in our forties once more, as opposed to hobbling and limping along as if  headed down the hallway to our assisted living apartment.

When we travel these days and check into a hotel it's no longer that kind of place where a famous rock band is checking in at the same time.  This summer in our wanderings, the kind of hotel we now stay at had "The Havanese Dog Lovers Convention" booked during our visit, and all of the dogs were guests in the hotel too.'s just not as exciting as the days when it was Tina Turner, Boy George, Harrison Ford and the likes.

Now, if it had been a CAT Lovers convention I may have skipped writing that previous paragraph.  Because that would be awesome!



Monday, November 3, 2014

Kitty Cat Lovin'!

The delays have begun...checking Facebook and napping cats, a deadly combo!
I’m never sure why we decide we need to do something in a specific moment, but this morning it happened again as we determined that the cats' ears all needed cleaning, right then, in that split second.

Never mind there might be other things that could appear as priorities to most of the rest of the world; like bills to pay, missed deadlines on painting commissions, piles of dirty laundry tripping us as we walk from the bedroom to the closets, and just the fact that we should consider getting to work early for a change.

And a giant mess looming on and around my desk of filing and half-completed projects, a data entry pile that now provides shelter during high winds, piles of overdue correspondence, and way too many electrical cords lying around for the 15 devices we have that need charging every six hours it seems.  Honestly, sometimes I’m a mystery even to myself.

I can hear you,so obviously my ears don't need cleaning.
But the kitties – when it comes down to it they are our priority, in addition to being the primary reason we tend to run late for most everything.

You want to do what?
They are manipulative little beings who bring on their charm in order to get their way - more pounce treats, extra mushy food, full body brushing with the "special" comb, and regular pawdicures where they lay on their backs purring, slightly tucked heads buried into Steve's chest, paws extended while he snips away with tiny clippers to trim the razor sharp needles that are scratching my bamboo floors and shredding my favourite chair. 

Most often pawdicures happen on the lanai in the morning while we drink our coffee.  I drink mine with my other hand covering the top to avoid flying toenail shrapnel that will land in my coffee, speaking from past experience.  I’m a quick learner.

Interesting to probably no one but Steve and me, we have over the years chosen to have a monochromatic palette of cats, in black.  For those of you who know us well, it makes sense that we wouldn’t want multi-colored cats that aren’t visually coordinated with each other, doesn’t it?    We would constantly be rearranging the cats on various pieces of furniture.  “I’m sorry Tiger, but  I am going to have to move you to the brown leather chair because your stripes and colour are really clashing with the green chair and floral pillow.  I can’t even think!"

What do you mean flowers and cats don't go together?

So, to make things easy and keep
calmness in our surroundings we have chosen to have all black cats.  They go with everything!  And on top of that if you hold two of them together while being photographed you can appear to weigh up to 7 pounds lighter!  And often if all three of them are napping together on our cream coloured sofa they can look like casual throw pillows.  An unplanned, yet fortuitous outcome that has certainly contributed to some savings in the interior d├ęcor budget of our  household.   Who knew?  Maybe we should get some more!


Fountain water for me, please...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Weight Deduction Reference Chart

  I have only worked out with my trainer four times now in the past few weeks, and I must say he is absolutely right!  Muscle weighs a whole lot more than fat which was proven to me today when I got on the scale at the gynecologist's office for my annual exam.  I have never seen a number that large on the scale and I thought to myself “Wow!  Thank god that is all muscle now!”  Had I not rescheduled my appointment from several weeks ago (before my training started) I would have had to assign that excessive number to the fat category instead of the muscle department.  I must say my timing was very fortuitous!

Out of habit I asked the nurse if she would deduct seventeen pounds for clothes, earrings, the lettuce-only salad I ate for lunch, hairspray and the extra cup of coffee I had had, and she just laughed and laughed, and told me no.  She is young and obviously new and doesn’t know how to act around middle-aged menopausal women.  So this blog is for her, and all the girls in my life.

Whilst mulling this over (I love saying “whilst” -  it reminds me of all of my brilliant English friends!) I had an epiphany about something very critical that has been missing from the medical industry. 

So here you have it – a handy, pocket-sized weight reference sheet to help you find a way to get your weight at the OB-GYN office to match what is on your driver’s license!

Reference chart of highly legitimate weight deductions
1 lb       Shorts or skirt                                     
2 lbs     Jeans/slacks
2.5 lbs  Shoes (if you have to leave them on) 
.75 lbs  Short sleeve/sleeveless shirt               
1 lb       Long sleeve shirt or sweater                 
1.3 lbs  Jewelry (3-5 pieces) 
0.1 lb    Acrylic nails / per nail  
If you were brave enough to eat more than a saltine on the day of your appointment it is quite acceptable (and recommended if hormonal) to deduct 1 pound per meal or snack that you had as that food will of course be exiting your body within 24 hours and should not be recorded permanently in the doctor’s records.

If you married your high school sweetheart between the ages of 18 and 22 you can deduct .25 pounds for your wedding ring.  We know you’re hanging on to that ring for sentimental reasons and you should get extra points for that, but you’re not going to.

If, however, you are on your second marriage and your husband is approximately twenty years older than you, please deduct 1.25 pounds for that big rock, and congratulations by the way!

Did you shave your legs on the morning of your appointment?  If so, no points for you!  However, if you didn’t get around to it in the last day or two prior to your appointment please deduct .30 pounds if you are blonde and .50 pounds if you are brunette. 

Did you shave the rest of your lady parts?  If not you can deduct up to 1 pound and I’m saying this based on what I’ve seen in the locker room at the gym.  Remember, even though you may have to forgo some points, it is the considerate thing to do.  Don’t show up to your appointment looking like your shaggy dog is sitting on your lap or you brought a squirrel monkey with you.  No one wants to see that.

Premenstrual bloating on the day of your exam?  Please subtract 10 pounds and you may have french fries or onion rings and a real coke after you leave the doctor's office.  Anything consumed within twenty-four hours of one's appointment will not stay in your system and of course does not count.  Have some ice cream too.  

Senior citizens!  If you are over 50 and your appointment is on a Tuesday you will receive an additional 10% weight deduction off of your total! 

Hip or knee replacements?  Deduct 1 pound per body part due to titanium weighing less than bone.  There’s got to be a pony buried somewhere in that pile of shit called 'getting older'!

My doctor’s office tends to run waaay behind most of the time so I have added a clause into the weight chart that allows you to deduct 1 additional pound for each ten minutes of waiting beyond your appointment time.  After all, anything that irritates you causes stress which burns calories which causes weight loss.  That's why it is perfectly acceptable to be ticked off at your husband on a regular basis.  It's just good weight management when it comes right down to it.  

I hope this little chart has come in handy for my girlfriends!  And always remember, just because the doctor's office records one set of numbers, that is no indication of accuracy.  Unless you like the number you see.  Only then is it correct. 

You're welcome.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Traveling with Grandma

Family dance marathon, mid 1970's!  My dad, grandma, brother, me and my sister!

I am driving down a road I have traveled hundreds of times when suddenly my grandmother appeared.

Not so easy since she died in 1996.  But there she was, traveling along with me.  Well, she wasn’t exactly there, but her smell was.  Sounds odd and not so flattering, but to say fragrance would be incorrect, and odor just isn’t the word either.

What permeated the car was the smell of mothballs, bad German cooking, and old.  And I mean that in the most endearing way.  My grandmother was not a rosewater type of woman.  I almost had to stop driving as this was so unsettling, even if there was a level of comfort to it.  What was it in that moment that made her presence so present?  Was I in fact dead and didn’t know it?  If that’s the case then I am really okay with death as everything so far appeared to be the same as life

As time stood still for those few moments it got me thinking back on being a kid and going for visits to my grandparents’ house.  Thank God that is finally a good memory, now that it is hazy, distant and has been rewritten.  Not to say I didn’t love them, but they were old and not much fun from day one; not like today’s grandparents who are hip and cool, and surprisingly my age (how did that happen by the way?)  The photo attached, however, captures a spontaneous moment of fun, dancing to Kool and the Gang at their home in Leisureville (you read that correctly), Pompano Beach, Florida back in the 1970's! 

Dinner at their home was terrifying because my grandmother was not a cook by any means.  I think it was just a duty for her to make sure her family stayed alive.  Everything tasted stale, smelled musty or had freezer burn. And those were the days of Swiss steak, round steak, liver and onions and numerous other horrid meals that can still break me out in a cold sweat if I dwell too long on them.  I hate to not be appreciative, but I’m just not.  My mom inherited a husband whose taste buds had not developed beyond spaghetti, and she embraced him as a full-time, lifetime project to get his palate developed to a socially acceptable level so they could go out in public.   I suppose on the flip side though it might be one of the things that inspired me to take on cooking full force and really embrace the culinary arts. Can I send her a thank you note in heaven?

Speaking of heaven, I know she is there because she was such a genuinely kind and caring person and as full of faith as she was of Sauerbraten.  It saddens me to think that she's in heaven though as I know I won’t be seeing her, what with my track record and all.  I am at peace with this however, and as long as I can have the occasional visits with her while I'm driving along I know we'll always be together...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dear Comcast...

Dear Comcast HR Department,

After spending approximately two months dealing with the transfer of my mom’s telephone, cable and internet service from one address to another just a few blocks away it suddenly dawned on me how highly qualified I have become in most aspects of what I would consider to be excellent job qualifications for an employee in, actually, most departments of your company! 

Having spent untold hours on the phone with your representatives in divisions like customer service, billing, technical support and now even online chat support I don’t think you could find a more capable prospect to start immediately in any of the aforementioned departments.

I would like to share with you some of my skills and attributes that I feel would make me the best candidate for your company.

First of all, I don’t have any idea what I am talking about when it comes to helping a customer who has called in with a simple request to have her (or his) phone service transferred from one address to another, a mere three blocks away.  This has stood out to me as one of the top requirements that you must use in determining whom you employ, and I can promise you that you won’t go wrong selecting me to work in any of those fields.  At this point I do feel, after spending two months on the phone with various departments, that I now know more than what I probably should about the way your company works.  I hope you will not see this as a negative when considering me for one of your job openings.

I also bring to the table the ability to pretend that I am listening and understanding what the customer is explaining.  I'm sure I can keep the customer engaged while offering hope (albeit false hope) that I will be the last person they need to speak with in order to have their phone service reinstated.  To top it off, I am not a particularly good reader, so even though there may be copious notes already in the client record about what has transpired to date, I promise I will not read any of them so the customer has the opportunity to explain it to me again (and again and again). 

I do, however, write well, so I guarantee I will do an excellent job recording what the customer is saying, and of course I will use ALL CAPS when emphasis is needed to convey anger, frustration and near hysteria on the part of the client.  

Because I also have an inordinate gift of gab I feel I will be able to keep the customer on the phone for much more than thirty minutes at a time.  I know this is critical to you as an employer because the customers have the option of taking an automated survey on the support received after the call is finished. 

If the problem is not resolved within thirty minutes I know they will receive the survey call while still on the phone with me (as I did with them) and will not be able to share their experience. What a great way to avoid negative feedback. 

I realize this is also a very coveted skill required to be considered for employment.  The teams I dealt with did an excellent job as I personally never got to answer a single automated survey call because of being on the phone for 45 to 75 minutes every time I contacted any department.  I could hear the call beeping in while chatting with a CSR, and I think I may even have that 800 number memorized now.  Unfortunately, I never got to complete a survey as I was always STILL on the phone with one of your employees.  This is probably the only area in which I will need some supplemental training.

Another skill I have that qualifies me to be an excellent employee is the fact that I speak two additional languages, French and Spanish, and I can successfully mimic accents in several Indian dialects, so whatever unintelligible accent you would like me to use when making my follow-up calls just let me know, cause I’m your girl!  If the client receives a voice mail message from me I feel certain they will have to hit the number one to replay the message no less than five times, and with any luck at all they will still be left wondering if their service has been permanently cancelled or if a technician will be arriving at their home between the hours of 6 am and 9 pm sometime within the next three days.  It has become obvious to me that as a company Comcast is doing their best to help keep people off the road during this busy holiday season by keeping them chained to their homes in anticipation of the field technician arriving.

 In fact, just yesterday my mom didn’t even walk her dog for over five hours because she was so terrified of missing the technician and quite possibly having to repeat this scenario again.  Anyway, she has tile floors so urine and feces are really quite easy to clean up.  Might I suggest that the team start asking some qualifying questions along those lines when scheduling a service call.  Like "do you have a dog, tile or carpet, do you have backup food and water in storage, and how is your penmanship, just in case you need to resort to handwritten notes again while the computer is down?"  This would probably be really helpful.
Another question that I have also thought might be valuable to ask your clients when they are on the phone with customer service is “are you self-employed, retired and on a fixed income, or gainfully employed and on a company’s payroll?"  I know those self-employed folks can get a little testy (actually downright violent – speaking from my own personal experience) as they see their own dollars flying out the window on days when they have to spend 4 – 6 hours dealing with customer service.  Those who are retired actually find the process to be rather engaging as they are in fact often looking for someone to chat with for extended lengths of time since the kids never call home anymore.  And obviously those who are on someone else's payroll are the best of the best to deal with because they WANT to stay on the phone for as long as possible so as to not have to do their own work.

In signing off I want to thank you for taking the time to read about my request for employment and why I feel I would be an asset to your company.  I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience!  Please contact me via my email address above as my phone is not working.

Kind regards,

Cynthia Adams