30 April 2008

On Friend Requests

I'm a participant in a completely ridiculous number of social networking websites, fan forums, and various other places that *ahem* need my commentary. Obviously.

MySpace and Facebook are the tips of the iceberg. MySpace is where I geek out over fandom; Facebook I joined because my Swedish family all belongs, and thus I can much more easily keep tabs on them by being a member myself. Here's an unintended consequence of that; I have friend requests on both sites from people that a) I don't know b) I don't remember or c) I never liked. What to do about this? Thus far, I've simply ignored the requests, and that will remain my course of action for the foreseeable future.

It seems both odd and incongruous, to me, anyway, to request a friending by someone you were never friends with in the real world, or that you come across their name and say, "Dude. I oughta friend them." Maybe that's because I remember a world before teh interweb; maybe it is because I am more sane and normal than I think I am.

Online friends is one thing; I've got a passel of 'em from fandom that I've never met in real life, but we share a common ground. (Mainly a rabid fascination with a television show, but hey, we're normal. What? We are!) The people that I know in the world inside the computer obviously were strangers at one point, so my argument here is mostly self-defeating, but....

I'm not doing a great job of explaining the problem.

In clear, simple language, then, here it is. I have a friend request on one site from someone that I know attended the same high school as I did. We were not in the same graduating class. We never once, in the 10 years I attended that school system, had a class together. We weren't friends. That's harsh, but it is true. We aren't friends. I vaguely recognized the name, but know nothing else about this person, and truthfully, I don't care to. High school was two years of absolute hell for me, and mostly, I don't look back on my time in high school with fond memories. Times when we weren't actually IN the school building are another story, I have great memories of huge amounts of silly teen-aged things we did. Phrases that mean nothing to anyone else ("It was a six-foot chicken, officer!') reduce me to laughing so hard I'm gasping for breath. School itself, however, is an experience that you could not pay me to repeat. Ever. So why the living hell would I want to re-hash any of that with someone who went to the same school district, and that I was never friends with? Answer: I would rather not, if it is all the same to you, thanks.

One of the other odd friend requests is from someone who shares DH's last name, but when I showed him the profile and the picture, this wasn't someone he is related to, even in the very distant second-cousin-twice-removed kind of way. This person lives in a state roughly a thousand miles from my own, and we have no friends in common. Sorry, but I sure as hell ain't gonna click the "friend me" button when I don't know who in the world you are.

A third one is from someone that I exchanged e-mails with, two years ago, when I was running the non-profit. We're talking about maybe 4 e-mails. And then I never heard from them again. So we should be friends....why, exactly? I can't come up with anything.

All of this really makes me sound as if I'm quite the self-centered bitch. I can live with that label, if that's the appellation I'm stuck with for this attitude. But I really don't think I am. If these were friend requests from people that I was friends with once upon a time, awesome. If they're folks that I've lost touch with over the years and always wondered where they ended up, cool. Old pen pals? That would be really neat, I had one pen pal who was from Scotland and another from the Midlands in England. I'd love to hear from either of them. Someone that I run into at the store who I've known my whole life who mentions that they blog? Sweet! Random people who recognize my real name, or just like Lucy's profile picture? Not so much. That sorta weirds me out, quite truthfully.

My attitude about all of this changes 180 degrees when we're talking about bands, authors, or other celebrities who have chosen to put themselves on these sites and grant admirers access to their private lives. But that's a story for another day.

Clicking the buttons on any of the sites that say 'decline' seem unduly rude, and thus I've chosen the do-nothing course of action.

Women are socialized to "be nice." We're told, "Nice girls don't do that. Nice girls share. Nice girls blah, blah, blah, blah." When I first entered the professional workforce, at the ripe old age of.....um, I think I was 21 when I went to work for Ye Olde Evile Bank...I came across a book called Hardball for Women: Winning at the Game of Business. It completely changed the way I thought about acting in the workplace, and how to get noticed and get advanced in the business world. Unfortunately, you have to be 'one of the guys' to get along. I didn't say that I made up the rules, or that I liked them. I just understand that you need to follow them. The author, Pat Heim, talked about how no one tells the boys growing up to "be nice" nor does anyone tell the boys that they need to go along to get along.

So I wonder: if I was male, would I have clicked the "decline" button long since and forgotten about this?

29 April 2008

Bloody 'ell

I had a fantastic idea for a Tuesday post. I was surfing teh inter-web, at bunches of different sites, from blogs I check to a few random click-through ads. (Something I seldom do.)

As happens frequently, I was distracted by something. Look! Over there! Shiny! Um. Where was I? Oh yes, distraction.

I didn't write down my idea. Nor did I open a Firefox tab to have a Blogger post page open. Nor did I open any one of at least 3 word-processing programs on the computer and type myself a reminder. And the result of this lack of brilliance? Heck if I can remember what I wanted to write about.

When you hear that shout at 3 AM, that'll be me, waking up and remembering what I wanted to say. I'll write it down on the pad of paper I keep at my bedside, with a trusty pen that lives on my nightstand. Unfortunately, whatever I write down when wakened from a sound sleep is gibberish, so you, dear reader, will never get to read my amazing brilliance.

Why, yes, I *will* be buying some Ginko at my next health-food store run. What? That won't help? Are you sure? Look! Shiny!

Now, what was I doing?

28 April 2008


I am a gabby girl. Talkative isn't really the word, although it comes close. I'm gabby in my writing, too, notice how often I wander from topic to topic. You don't always see it, as sometimes when I'm editing, I'll realize how far off track I wandered, or that the length of the post is guaranteed to put the casual reader to sleep, so I shorten it up and say less than I originally intended.

Online, sometimes I am more brutally honest than I would be in real life. The perceived anonymity of the 'net leading me to say more than I ought. Outside of the computer, I've learned a few really tough lessons about over-sharing.

Once upon a time, in the Dark Ages, when I worked for Ye Olde Evile Bank, I joined an international women's organization that strives to better each community it exists in. That'd be a no-brainer for someone like me, you would think. One night, at a regular monthly meeting, after an abysmal day at Ye Olde Savings & Trust, I shared a few of the details of my horrible day with the group of "ladies" (I'm using that term as sarcastically as possible here) I sat with at a large round table.

I had been working on an estate with a large funeral bill, and the attorney for the estate had called me with a total number for the dollar amount on the check. The law firm promised to fax an invoice later, and assured me that the dollar amount they gave me verbally was the correct amount for the bill. Accordingly, I cut the check and sent it off through Ye Olde's back office operations.

Of course it was incorrect. And of course, it was too late in the day to get the check back from the processors who were in another city when the law firm called me to say, "oops!" (Ye Olde relied very heavily on a courier service.) And who looks like the asshole in that situation? Me. No one likes to be made to look like an idiot, and I was very upset over the whole situation, and angry with the law firm's lackeys.

From those details above, could you figure out who the stiff was? Who the legal firm was? What city or state the dead person lived in? No. No, you can't. And yet, some 'lady' from that table of women I sat with that evening proceeded to call not my boss, and not his boss, but one step above that, and tell the big honcho that I had broken banking secrecy laws. As you can imagine, working for a department that had the word "Private" in its official name, breaking banking secrecy laws was taken extremely seriously.

What, you thought my old department really called itself the Stiffs Division?

Anyway, I got hauled in to the head honcho's office and read the riot act. For a good hour. The honcho told me that the only reason this meeting was not to announce to me that I was fired was because this sort of behavior was not typical of me.

In my head during this meeting, my inner monologue sounded something like this:

Let me get this straight. You're believing some phone call from some random person about my public behavior over me? I've worked here for seven years. I can't believe that you're taking the word of some yahoo over me.

Or at least, that was part of the inner monologue. The rest of it wasn't as civil as that. Not surprisingly, Ye Olde wouldn't tell me who the caller had been, but as I sat around a table of 8 women the previous evening, and only one had the most tenuous connection to Ye Olde (she was in the financial services industry, and had met the honcho the year before) I wonder who it might have been. Gee. I dunno. Maybe the only one who knew the director? Wow, maybe, possibly, perhaps.

When I got back to my desk, shaken, angry, bitterly disappointed, nearly with smoke pouring out of ears, the first thing I did was draft a letter of resignation from the women's organization. Pounding the keys with all of the frustration I couldn't manifest in a cube farm, (like screaming "MOTHERFUCKER!" at the top of my lungs) the first draft of the letter was a bit less than polite. Eventually, I calmed down enough after I got home that night to hand write a very polite and prosaic letter, simply stating that the time required to belong to the organization presented a conflict with my current employment, and that I hoped at some future point to be able to work with them again. Warm regards, yada yada yada. The only thing that might have betrayed my irritation in that letter was the fact that the fountain pen I use for such missives made a nice FIRM indentation on the paper, so if you had turned the letter over, and you could decipher written words by touch, there was plenty of detail for you to feel. No, I didn't tear the paper, but it came awful darn close.

The truth of the matter was that Ye Olde's honcho who drug me into the office strongly suggested that I resign. An employer can't fire you for belonging to an innocuous charitable organization on your time off, but they sure can (and sometimes do) look for any excuse to let you go if you're doing something they don't approve of with your time off. I suspected at the time, and still suspect, that had I not resigned, my tenure at the bank would ended sooner than I intended, and not by my own personal choice.

That was the straw that broke the camel's back for me as far as Ye Olde was concerned. I had been hunting for another job, just not with vigor and purpose up to that point. After that day, I focused my efforts on getting the hell out of there before they made me into an old and bitter harpy.

A few months later, I handed in my notice when I got the non-profit job. My direct supervisor, who was a wonderful person, knew that the dust-up with my volunteerism had a lot to do with my quitting, but I was careful to not vocalize it to anyone, lest it bite me in the ass one day. Because it was only one out of literally hundreds of reasons I wanted the hell away from the bank.

A difficult lesson. On many levels. It taught me a bitter truth about working with women; sometimes we work even harder than the boys do at dragging each other down, which is a dammed shame. It also made me more reluctant to trust, and a bit more reserved in social situations for a good long while. Eventually, that wore off, and today I'm just as boisterous in a social situation as I always have been. I'm just usually more circumspect about what I say. I keep my venting about miserable days to a trusted few friends, people who I know would never work behind the scenes to get me fired.

It has also left me with a mystery that I suspect I will never solve, until and unless I ever confront the perpetrator. Which would, in a town this small, be social suicide. What on earth did she hope to gain? Was she after my miserable nineteen thousand dollar a year job? I find that nearly impossible to believe. Did she hope to curry favor with the honcho? I really can't imagine what favor the honcho would ever show her, given the negativity of this event. Even people who thrive on the misery of others don't remember events that were awkward and difficult for them with relish, and lemme tell ya, AWK-WARD isn't even close to the tension that was in the honcho's office that day.

I have made a new friend through my current job, a nice woman who has a wicked sense of humor to match mine, and shares some of my complaints about the place, but I've had to obfuscate and be less than 100% truthful with her in conversations I've had with her, because I'm afraid that she'll run to the employer and tell them how serious my job hunting is.

And isn't it sad that an event that happened more than four years ago still affects me that way? As women, we need to stick together and look out for one another. The powers that be at the top of almost any business are men, and even in this day and age, as a professional woman, I've run into more bozos than I can count who think that women belong at home, barefoot and pregnant, or if they are in the office, they certainly shouldn't be in positions of power, being the fragile and emotional things that we are. If I live to be a thousand, I'll never understand chauvinism, or what makes certain people tick.

On the other hand, what a dull world it would be if we were all 100% alike.

The reason I'm thinking about this today? I've been invited to join the organization again, and I'm wondering if I should jump at the chance, for the major networking benefits it offers, or if I should walk away, seeing as last time around it nearly cost me my job. I'm reluctant on one hand, and excited about the possibilities on the other. A bunch of cliche`s, useless and unhelpful, keep running through my head. Once bitten, twice shy. Everyone deserves a second chance. You don't shit where you live. Make hay while the sun shines. Hard work is its own reward.

None of which is helping me make up my mind. Welcome to the street where I live: Indecisive Way!

25 April 2008


The weather here in my little corner of the world is finally getting nice. Finally, there is a bit of sun to be seen, and you can go outside without a jacket. There are people! Walking outside! Without scarves! Without snow boots!

But apparently, those winter coats were covering up something that I do NOT need to see.

Young men, ages 15-25 (or thereabouts) are wandering the streets doing something that mystifies me, and I'm chalking that mystification up to the fact that I'm older than 25. This spans all races, all levels of the socio-economic scale.

What IS it already?

Boys, clutching a handful of trousers, be they shorts, jeans, dress pants or those horrible man-pris, at a level just above their crotches. Dude, seriously? It looks like you're holding your pants up, as if they're far too large for you. That's carrying the baggy pants thing just a weeeeee bit too far, y'know?

Or if it supposed to be an indication that your trousers are totally incapable of completely covering your manly bits, then I have to say: Honey, you ain't foolin' me. Or anyone else, for that matter.

I say: "Ick."

Buy a pair of pants that fits, will you? Please?

And if it makes me guilty of ageism, well..........................so be it, then.

Because it looks ridiculous.

24 April 2008

On not being able to sit still

When I tell stories about my Dad, one of the things I almost always explain to the listeners is that my father can't sit still. The man is in near-constant motion. Not a fidgeter, but not a sit for hours and read a novel type, either.

A few weeks before DH and I went to Florida to visit the parents, I was explaining to someone why we had chosen Naples, FL as our vacation spot; simple, my 'rents retired there. "Oh," said the other person, "are they active?" Meaning, are they sitting around in a retirement community and playing shuffleboard? I couldn't breathe for laughing, telling my friend, "Dude, my dad? Can run CIRCLES around me. Beats the pants off of me for his time in running a mile." (Case in point? His best mile time? Somewhere around 8 minutes. Mine? Um, 11.)

I, on the other hand, can sit still in a comfy chair with a good novel all day. Or sit in the shade on a beach and watch the water. I can't ever turn off my inner monologue that nags me about this, that, and the other that needs done, or things I ought to be doing rather than relaxing, but that's an OCD manifestation, and not at all the same as not being able to sit still.

I gave up caffeine (sort of) more than a year ago in an effort to assist with my sleeping trouble. I still eat chocolate (oh, what a sad world this would be without chocolate) and switched to half-caf coffee when I DO drink it, and yes, when I'm having a rhum and coke, it isn't caffeine-free diet coca cola. (shudders) So I guess what I ought to say is that I drastically cut down on my coffee consumption, not that I gave up caffeine. But I cut it down enough that when I do have full-caffeine coffee, it makes me jittery, fidgety.

Today, I've had more than a cup o'joe, plus instead of sugar, a wee bit of chocolate in the coffee (trust me, if you've never tried it....coffee+chocolate = happiness) and I've got a job interview that I am super-excited about. It is a panel interview; I'll be in front of 5 people who have the power to determine a future for me that I'd quite like to have. I'm not nervous; unlike a huge swath of the population, public speaking isn't a fear of mine at all. I'm quite comfortable in front of a group, large or small, speaking about any topic that I am knowledgeable on. And I'm reliably knowledgeable about ME!

Have I a prepped speech? No. I don't work well from notecards, losing my place more often than not. I will have a scrap of paper with the highlights, and I'm working on making a packet for each person so that it looks like I am hyper-organized and well prepared.

The frustrating thing about job-hunting is that I get very excited and hopeful about each position that comes along, and then when I get that dreaded letter in the mail that says, "We've selected another candidate for the position," I'm crushed.

Until then, I'll be en motion trying to sit still.

23 April 2008

Somebody give them a cookie!

Seen on a bumper sticker

Pic of W next to the following text:

The Emperor has no brains.

22 April 2008

Lage Nom Ai

Title of a Jimmy Buffett song. I have no idea what it means. I think it is Tahitian. Or Island Patios. Lyrics can be found here.

I'm not a patriot. Far from it. Nationalism, in almost any form, from anyone, bugs me. And yet, I continue to search for the answers to the following questions about America. What IS American? Who are Americans? What makes us different? (From one another, not from the rest of the world, I already know a laundry list of things that make us different from citizens of other countries. Some complimentary, many not.) What makes us the same? Does any one thing, outside of our citizenship, bind us together?

If I didn't know better, I might think that Southwest Florida was on another planet, forget being still part of the United States.

Naples, Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico, could not really be much more different than my Ohio home. The climate being the primary difference, of course, but there are many more. Warm when we're freezing, lush, green, and tropical when everything here is dead. Beaches, with sugary sand, while our beaches of Lake Erie tend more to small stones.

My grandparents moved there in the early 80s, when my grandfather retired. So I've been there quite a bit, annually or semi-annually since I was 8 years old. Much has changed there in the intervening 20+ years.

Naples is a playground for the insanely wealthy. Perhaps less fashionable than Miami's South Beach, or any of Maui's shores, but maybe inviting simply for that fact. I'd wager that many professional athletes or other celebrities have homes there, and other folks who are just rich, but maybe a little more.....discrete, shall we say? (Paris, dah-ling, I'm talking to YOU!) I've never seen any paparazzi there. Exclusive shops and restaurants abound. BMWs are at the less costly end of the spectrum as far as cars are concerned. There's an Aston-Martin dealership and a Bentley dealership that do a booming business.

And the McMansions!! Houses of unbelievable square footage {(10,000 sq ft is not uncommon) (that'd be about 930 sq meters, for you more sensible metric system folks)} are everywhere. Gated communities are more common than un-gated communities. In fact, there are gated communities WITHIN gated communities, which require you to pass through two secured gates to get home. Like airlocks for neighborhoods. When they first started appearing years ago, I thought that they'd become populated with lots of folks who think the government is shooting x-rays into everyone's head, the tin-hat crowd. I also thought that they'd be a passing fad. Don't ever look to me for predicting the future, y'all. Because they're EVERYWHERE down there.

I feel obligated to point out that while approximately half of my father's side of the family lives in Florida, Southwest Florida, to be exact, they live in cities and towns that are AROUND the outer rim of Naples, not IN Naples itself. The distinction is important, lest you come to the conclusion that I'm a trust-fund brat. Um, no. They all live in what my father laughingly calls "the cheap seats."

A hobby of the parents is looking at houses, checking property values, wherever they travel. Now that they live in Florida, I would have thought that they'd tire of looking at architecture, reading the real estate listings in the paper, checking out the occasional open house. I was wrong about that, too.

They showed DH and I house after house with asking prices of millions of dollars. Yes, MILLIONS. Anywhere from 1.2 to 10 million. Property values there are amazing. Development after development, bursting at the seams with homes that cost 3 million or more. They're nice, don't get me wrong. But pick up that 3 million dollar house and set it down in Ohio, you'd not get half that price for the same structure.

DH hadn't been in that part of Florida before, and each time we encountered another multi-million dollar house, my dad wondered aloud, "What DO these people do for a living?" Excellent question, especially considering that "high season" ends at the end of April, and already many of these houses have the hurricane shutters up, which is an indicator that they won't be back to the property until next year's season begins in January. So these 3 million dollar houses aren't even someone's primary residence. It is a VACATION COTTAGE. Or even a 3rd or 4th home. It is hard for me to fathom having so much money. Add 3 Porsche SUVs and a yacht (yes, YACHT, not a boat) to that 3 mil property, and with those things alone, you've got to have a net worth of at least 7 million, and probably much more than that.

What is even harder to wrap your mind around is that we're not talking about just one "rich section" of town. We're talking about pretty much the whole town. We're talking about a tax base that has so much money that the roads are in great shape, the streets are clean, heck, the main drags are landscaped within an inch of their lives with palm trees and exotic flowers. Imagine a city with the population of a city the size of Detroit, spread out over the same square miles as LA, populated with Ladies Who Lunch, and you're beginning to get a handle on the type of wealth I'm talking about.

All of this sounds like I'm full of disdain for the place. I'm not. I love it there. What's not to like? Two of my favorite cousins live there, with their adorable kids, an Aunt, my Grannie, and now my parents, the weather's great (it rains mostly only in June, gloomy grey skies are a rarity) the economy is booming due to the tourism, and I doubt that you'd be able to make your way through all of the fun boutique-y stores in one lifetime. If you were to tire of the beach (and I almost never do) you could find enough things to occupy your time.

And hey, bonus, it is close enough to Key West to make a day-trip out of the southernmost point of the United States, where it is but 90 miles to Cuba.

DH has been a Buffet fan forever, and Key West? Is the Mecca of all Parrotheads. Key West is another world entirely. I'm sure that somewhere along A1A, you enter a rift in the time-space continuum, and you're really on another planet there. I'm completely convinced.

Because I'm also fairly convinced that reading about someone else's vacation exploits are akin to watching paint dry, I shan't bore you with the day-to-day minutiae of What We Did On Our Winter Vacation.

But I *will* gloat for a second; DH got sunburned, and I, fashionable hat-wearer that I am, returned to Oh-hia-ia with the same color skin that I left it. Just to prove how incredibly fashionable I am, witness the hat-wearing spectacle.


But when my sun-worshiping sisters are having melanomas removed when we're all in our 40s & 50s, I will be skin-cancer free. So yes, hat. I don't care if it looks silly. If I lived there, I'd never be without one.

Hm. The difference between residents of Florida and residents of Ohio? Hats.

21 April 2008


I don't have a green thumb.

I reliably kill plants, be they house plants or herbs, ornamental flowers or practical veggies. Among the talents I possess, growing things just isn't enumerated with my sparkling wit and engaging personality.

That has never stopped me from trying to grow all sorts of things, from tomatoes to African Violets. Memorably, when I was writing for Well Fed a few summers ago, I attempted to grow tomatoes organically, and for my trouble, I was rewarded with two tomatoes (from 6 plants!) that were the size of half-dollar coins. Not exactly the results I was hoping for.

The sole exception to this rule has been bulbs that I purchased from Breck's, tulips, daffodils, and some cute daisy-esque flowers called Grecian Wildflowers. Bulbs couldn't be easier. Plant them in the fall, and come spring, they grow all by themselves. No watering. No weeding. No fertilizing.

When DH and I returned from Florida a few days ago, I was expecting to see the daffodils and tulips in full bloom, because when we left, they were just beginning to poke their heads above the ground. Hold that thought for a moment while we talk about planting some other things.

Last summer, I didn't even attempt hanging baskets, because the depression was too all-consuming, and I couldn't even think about trying to keep plants alive. By the time the meds started working for me and I was back to some semblance of humanity, the summer growing season in Oh-hia-ia was drawing to a close.

Part of the problem is that I always get started too late in the growing season. IF you want to grow your own tomatoes, peppers, herbs, what-have-you, from seeds here in the nawth, you need to start the seeds in trays in February or March in order to be able to harvest in August or September. During those dark days of winter, spring planting just isn't what I'm thinking about.

Predictably, this year is no different. I purchased a bundle of seeds this past weekend, flowers, tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, even some assorted lettuces. I planted them this past weekend, too. I might be able to harvest the 'maters come October. Maybe.

After my seed-buying spree, I walked the yard around our house, thinking of where I want to plant things.

The sunflowers in a spot of wild overgrowth that the landscaper hacked unmercifully last fall, because it will not regain its former untamed beauty for several years, and sunflowers grow large enough to disguise that blighted spot.

The herbs will mostly go into an herb-box that has three levels and enough space to accommodate all of the herbage I find necessary for cooking: chives (which survived all by themselves despite me over the past three years) parsley, oregano (ditto on the survival of that) dill, cilantro, basil.

Violas, pansies, and dwarf viola at the front door. Daisies and Lavender, both perennials, in spots where color is needed desperately.

Cucumbers, tomatoes, and salad greens don't have a home just yet, but wherever they go, marigolds will go around them to discourage rabbits and raccoons and groundhogs and deer from eating MY food.

It was while looking around the yard that I discovered that the tulips I planted so carefully a few years back have been decimated by the local white-tailed deer population.

Did they eat the run-of-the-mill Apple Blossom Tulips, which range from pale pinks to fire-y reds, and while beautiful, are not costly?

No. No, they did not. Or at least they didn't eat ALL of the Apple Blossom Tulips.

They did, however, eat ALL of the Angelique Tulips, my most prized tulips that garner multiple compliments, and gave me much joy. Even our community's pro landscaper had asked me where they came from, and what they were, admiring them when I spoke to him last spring. As you can imagine, being complimented on growing something with my two not-green thumbs thrilled me.

I hollered and fussed a great deal when I discovered this crime of epic proportions, bitching about the deer to any and everyone that would listen. Saying I was upset about my Angeliques being eaten would be akin to saying that Mt. St. Helens was a small explosion. I hunted on Google for solutions to the cloven hoofed menaces that don't include pesticides or shotguns. (Although I'd LOVE to shoot one or two, or OK, ALL of the deer that ate my tulips, the season for the pests is over, and really, I can't see myself shooting Bambi anyway.)

My online searching led me to several kinds of products that are approved for organic gardening, but since the part of the country where I live isn't exactly the most ecologically enlightened part of the world, my inquiries to local garden centers about these various things resulted in comments from their staff along the lines of, "Lady, we don't carry any of that organic-hippy-tree-hugger crap."

Imagine my surprise, then, when I stopped to pick up seed trays at one garden center and discovered that in fact, they DO carry organic-hippy-tree-hugger crap, called Deer Stopper. Excited, I brought it home. When DH helped me unload the car, he laughed, telling me that I'd bought in to a snake-oil bonanza. I hope not! It was expensive, and I hope to be able to use it to discourage the deer from munching on everything else.

I sprayed some on the remaining Apple Blossom tulips, and then also on the new plantings, hoping to discourage the foraging pests from TOUCHING MY STUFF! Hilariously, it was while I was browsing the pest deterrent section, I found a plastic inflatable snake, very life-like, which is supposed to deter a laundry list of things. Unfortunately, we just don't have diamond-backed rattlesnakes (or any other venous snakes that I am aware of) in this part of the world, so I doubt that any of the pests would recognize the snake as a predator. Other suggested natural remedies, like wind chimes and bright light-reflecting gizzets, just won't work for me, being either a) too noisy for me to tolerate or b) too ugly to put up in my yard.

Also not enumerated among my talents is patience, a vital ingredient for any gardener. The seeds I planted, according to their packaging, will germinate and sprout in anywhere from 3 to 30 days. At that rate, I'll have plants actually in the ground by mid-May at the earliest, and early June at the latest.

On the upside, if I'm able to be patient and careful, I'll have dozens of yummy Brandywine and Hillbilly tomatoes, both heirloom varieties that grow exquisite huge tomatoes, worth waiting for.

17 April 2008


No one wanted to play the caption competition? Or the spot-the-difference game? Was it that offensive? Or was it too intimidating to think that you might have to make something yourself, as per the rules of the game? Maybe no one wanted to give me their real name & address.


Perhaps my quirky sense of humor has gotten me in trouble. Again. *shrugs* Better to have a strange sense of humor then none at all. I thought it was funny. But to paraphrase Eddy Murphy in Coming to America...."What do you know about funny?"

Whatever the reason, I'll leave the post up for another day or so, and then I'll take it down.

Still loving the sun. Back soon.

07 April 2008


I will be offline for a while, as DH and I are heading to Flo-ree-da to see my parents. I can't wait to see them, and I'm looking forward to much better weather for a few days.

While I'm gone, I leave two little games for you to play. With! Prizes! My own version of the pay it forward game. The two winners will get a knitted something, shipped to them within the next 365 days. Knitting still takes me a while, and I have a project or two ahead of this. The knitted 'thing' will be of my choice of color, style, et cetera. Could be a scarf. Or a hat. Or a dishcloth. Or a lap blankie. (full size adult blankets take too freaking long) Winning means that you must be willing to give me your real name and address so that I may send you this knitted thing. The catch? If you win, you must also pass on two handmade somethings within the next year. Doesn't have to be anything fancy, heck, could even be a batch of cookies that you give to your neighbor.

The first is a caption competition. Finish the sentence below for the perfect caption for the following lovely picture.

Dick Cheney always looks constipated because_____________________.

The next one is a spot the difference. Tell me what the difference is between the following two pictures:

The two entries that most entertain me will win. I'm the judge, and my decisions will be final. It *is* MY blog, after all. You may enter either contest or just one or the other, whichever you prefer.

Best of luck! I'll be back towards the end of April.

04 April 2008

Does this EVER work?

I know I'm a crank when it comes to grammar. I know. But wow, am I amazed at the entirety of an e-mail I received from a recruiter. Please, can I call them and point out what they're doing wrong? Please?

The e-mail's subject is: Interested in your resume.

There is no body. There is a signature line, and a telephone number. There is an attachment, which is copied and pasted here, no alterations made by me, I swear. (other than changing the name to protect the guilty, and obscuring the name of the town where the office is located.)

I have reviewed the resume you placed on Career Builders and would like to discuss a position with our company. We are currently interviewing for career-oriented professionals. If you are interested in learning the details of this career opportunity, call our office to arrange an appointment and interview. Our office is located in n and the phone number is 555-555-5555.

Susie Clueless

General Manager

Large Multinational Insurance Conglomerate

First of all, the web site where my resume is located? Is Career Builder, NOT Career Builders. FYI.

Next, this isn't a letter. Nor does it qualify as a note. Sending a letter of interest to a potential job candidate should interest the candidate in the job, provide some basic information about the job (which, yes, this does, but only in the most vague possible manner) and perhaps most importantly, not show the candidate that you're a raving moron without any knowledge of letter-writing.

Finally, you can tag your resume on career builder, to let potential employers know what you're looking for. I have in my comments a few things that are rather direct, but hopefully avoids wasting my time and the potential employer's. It says (not in so many words) that I have no desire to EVER return to the financial services industry, which includes, but is not limited to, insurance firms, banks, stockbrokers. It says that I'm not interested in and will not attend cattle-call style interviews. It further goes on to say that I loved the non-profit industry, and that I am most interested in returning to that field.

Is any of that unclear? Because I've gotten calls from 2 brokerage firms and e-mails from several insurance companies. Helloooooooo? Not! Interested!! I want OUT of sales, not to move to another sales job under a slightly different moniker.

Am I the only one who can read the directions? Really? 'Cause I'm starting to think so.

03 April 2008

On following directions. Or...not.

I took both of these pictures with my crackberry today, whilst out calling on clients. When I pulled in the parking lot, the sign was the first thing that I noticed; immediately thereafter, I noticed the car parked, oh, DIRECTLY UNDER the sign. I had a chuckle at that.

But then I started thinking about the old days at ye olde evile bank. Once upon a time, I handled securities transfers; if you inherited 6000 shares of IBM from Great Auntie Beatrice when she passed away, firstly, lucky you. Secondly, I would transfer those shares from Auntie Beatrice's account to yours. When those transfers were within Ye Olde Evile Bank, from one account to another, it was easy. Transferring things to another institution, however, was a whole 'nother story.

There was a ton of obligatory paperwork to be filled out. And very specific legal documents that went along with each transfer. Along with a whole page for me to type very specific directions for the transfer department people.

Now to pass the 3rd grade, I had to be able to read and FOLLOW written directions. I bet you did too. The people that worked in Ye Olde Evile Bank's transfer department, well, they didn't, apparently. (Pass third grade OR need to READ THE DIRECTIONS to pass the 3rd grade. Either or. Pick one.)

That transfer department nearly gave me an ulcer. I can't count how many times I had to call them and scream about yet another screw-up of theirs, where they had completely and utterly failed to simply read the instructions that I sent along with the documentation. Many, many, many times when I called them about something that was done wrong, I would ask about my instructions, the page of directions that I'd sent along with a death certificate, tax release, court-certified Letter of Authority, et cetera, et cetera. And almost every single time, every time, the person on the other end of the line would say, "Oh. Yeah. Here's form 336b9, where you wrote transfer x number of shares to institution y for customer a. Yeah, we didn't do that, did we?" No. No, you didn't. Urgh!

(Wow. As much as I don't like my current job, I really, really, really, REALLY don't miss working for the bank. I suppose the whole job situation could be worse.)

How many times do we bother to read directions, though? DH believes in the old college try method....written directions accompanying furniture or other things that need assembled are for wusses, he says. I'm far more likely to read instructions. Following them, as evidenced by my methods of both knitting and cooking, is another matter entirely. They're guidelines, as far as I'm concerned, not hard and fast rules.

Being a Capricorn, the oldest kid in the family, an obsessive-compulsive, and mostly a type A personality, though, I like rules. Order. Structure. Most of the time. Withering scorn is reserved for those, like the driver above, who parked directly under the "Don't park next to the building" sign. Likewise, people who park in handicapped spots without the handicapped tag. I used to have sticky notes that were very impolite little reminders for people who parked illegally in the handicapped zone; and yes, I was the old fussbudget who would really stick those notes on offender's windshields.

I'm not sure if advancing age has made me more mellow, or if my meds have calmed me a bit, or if I've finally figured out what is worth fighting over, but these days, those sorts of things bother me less. Blatant ignoring of the rules still annoys me; but I'm quite a bit less likely to get into a shouting match with some moron in a parking lot.

Most likely, this has also improved my life expectancy, too, as I'm far less likely to get shot for fighting about a parking space.

02 April 2008


It has come to my attention recently that more and more people that I really and truly do know in the world outside the computer read this blog.

I'm a little startled by that. I suppose that I shouldn't be, because I do talk about the blog in day-to-day conversations, but only with a trusted few. I don't pass out the URL, and I think that I can count on one hand the number of people that know who Lucy really is. OK, maybe two.

There are some folks out there in the real world that I wouldn't want to read the blog, no matter how proud I am of my writing ability and how amused I am at the daily hit counter...on average, about 50 people a day visit this blog, and while 80% of those are people searching for Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's quote (hint: that's the blog's title) a few of those 80% stick around, read some, and then even come back from time to time.

Yes, if you spend more than 5 seconds on this page, my IP tracker "catches" you and I can see where you are, or at least where the IP tracker thinks you are. Not always the same thing, not always 100% accurate, but it does at least show me a few rudimentary statistics.

I write what's true, what's in my heart and my head, things that I don't always feel that I can say out loud, or that I don't do so well in saying out loud. When you have the time to put thoughts and feelings into the written word, I at least, find that I can better express myself.

Teh interweb gives us this false sense of security, that we're anonymous behind the computer screen as we sit at our keyboards and surf. When I'm doing stream-of-consciousness writing, like in the Tuesday posts, I never stop to think about my audience, about who exactly, might read what I've got to say. I imagine the posts disappearing into cyberspace, and not that people that I know well will be sitting in front of their computers and reading them.

If I wanted true anonymity, though, I'd keep a diary instead of a blog.

And I'm glad to know too, that the posts don't just disappear out into the world. Hi Everyone!

I declare this de-lurking day. If you read, but don't comment, or don't comment often, leave a note to say hi. Comments are always welcome. ^_^

01 April 2008

Within, Without

Last night, the mild temperatures in the 50-degree (13/14C) range belied a coming storm. After dark, the wind kicked up, and later still, rain came pouring down. I think (maybe, possibly, perhaps) that we might be done with the bitterly cold blizzard weather for the season. The tulips I planted several years ago are sprouting, daffodils are a few inches tall, and the pollen count is up, because I'm sneezing rather more than usual.

One of my neighbors (and I don't even know which one) has a set of wind chimes that I only hear during high winds. The apple falls not far from the tree; at my parent's house on the lake, the wind chimes that were on the porch when they moved in have been permanently silenced. I've been given gifts of wind chimes over the years, that are beautiful, but will never hang up outside because the noise would drive me crazy. Deep, bell-like chimes, or high-pitched tinkles, matters not, I can't stand the noise.

My neighbor's chimes are delicate, twinkling chimes, which make me think of fairies and the wee folk whenever I hear them. I could hear them only in certain parts of the house, which ought to clue me in as to who they belong to, but that doesn't matter much. Because I only hear them during stormy weather, and not when I'm trying to sleep, I don't care where they are.

If you'll allow me to be whimsical for a moment, go ahead and continue reading the post. Otherwise, skip it and read something else.

I've never been afraid of weather. Thunderstorms don't scare me. Living as I do in the MidWest, tornadoes are a reality, rather than special effects on a movie screen. They bring devastation, destruction of property, death. But somehow, there's a fierce, feral beauty to them, when for just a moment, you witness one of Mother Nature's raw creations.

The prelude to a thunderstorm brings darkening of skies, and an increase in the wind. Birds quiet down, seek shelter, and insects fall silent. That relative calm before the storm has always called to me, pulled me to wander outside, and witness the birth of a storm.

Before I left home and got married, my parents lived across the street from a large forest preserve, and a coming storm in the twilight might find me on a path listening to the wind in the trees. The air seems cleaner. The night holds a potential, possibilities. A mild shower, or a wild, howling terror, either is possible in that moment.

I wanted to wander outside last night, allow the wind to pull at my clothes and short hair, smell the dampness of the earth, the spring smell of earthworms all squiggly (and icky) on the sidewalks, listen to the wind, even get rained on a bit. Instead, I stayed inside and listened to the wind around the roof of the house, eventually heading to bed where I couldn't hear the chimes anymore.

Where has that child-like wonder and delight in a rainstorm gone? My delight in a solitary walk diminished, when, exactly?