Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Do You Wish You Were Me Today?

You might, if you knew I had just paid off my credit card!

boogie.gif

Mission, as they say, accomplished.* Hooray!


_________________


* No, really.


_________________

It's the end of Frugality!

Posted by AnneZook at 01:58 PM | Comments (5)



Wednesday, July 22, 2009
So Very Bored

Today's 'Nuttery so far includes one guy wanting month-by-month report of all the searches people have used to find his campaign this year. 3k+ lines of data that it only took me ten seconds to decide to pass along "as is." I can't find myself getting excited about spending two hours formatting data that's of no use to me.

Another 'Nut called to complain that he's not seeing any data in the dashboad his outside agency gives him to use to monitor his campaign. You'd be impressed by how kind I was when I explained that it's an outside agency and he has to call them if he has questions.

NewBoss Anais IM'd and then came over in person to argue about our monthly spend. First, she had "spend" confused with "budget." Then she had a number in her head from last year--before we lost ten locations and the national campaign was slashed by 60%.

I think, though, that most of the communication confusion was caused by my complete inability to care.

My weekend was uneventful. But frugal! I spent no money, except on food.

But I did spend $30 on food. Fresh fruits and a few ready-to-eat treats. I decided that the Six-Month Frugality Plan would probably survive a single indulgence. I mean, one must eat, right? Anyhow, unless there's some kind of wild and crazy emergency, I should be done digging myself out of credit card debt in 90 days. (A mere 18 months after the debut of the Six-Month Plan!) (Although - $2,500 worth of work still needs to be done on my car, so that's probably another hit the card will have to take.)

We had something of a storm Monday night. As of Tuesday morning, 25k+ people were without power on the western side of the city. Many folks woke up to piles of marble-sized hail. Tornados, wind, rain, and all of that.

I, myself, was awake for the first round of sirens and for the start of the rain, but then a cool breeze swept through my room and I fell into the comatose state that passes for sleep with me. (I'm not a complete moron - I got up to check the weather strip and saw that the storm was on the west. Since we're very far east, I figured we were reasonably safe.)

Bored, bored, bored. I spent Monday, yesterday, and this morning rewriting 'Nut ads. I'm sick of ads.

I got Bernie's first account analyzed Monday. It was pretty funny. I mean, when he told me they were "managing" the campaigns by reviewing the website statistics, I knew I was going to find some problems, but I did at least expect to find campaigns set up by someone who had the ghost of a clue. (I studied data for three hours Monday evening and I still don't understand what they were trying to accomplish in some parts of the campaigns.)

Anyhow. I did a write-up and submitted a proposal to him for 25 hours at $25/hour. Since I know his limited imagination can rarely go beyond four hours for any job, and paying more than $10/hour gives him ulcers, I expect this proposal will be sufficient to get me off the hook.

I mean, I don't precisely want to burn the bridge. I just--want traffic kept to a minimum, you know?

Now I have to go rant about a story I saw in today's news.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:22 PM | Comments (2)



Thursday, November 20, 2008
$3 Lifestyle

That's me--the woman with $3 in her pocket to last her until payday, and, okay, maybe payday is tomorrow, but still. Except during stints of unemployment, I haven't run this close to the edge in twenty years. (*)

I mean, sheesh, you suck up one little sock in one little vacuum cleaner and the next thing you know, all of your disposable income for the next two weeks is being handed over to the only little man you can find who knows the magic way to disassemble Number Five and reassemble him, sockless, afterwards.

It doesn't help that I threw away $10 at the grocery store yesterday--buying ingredients for a recipe I wanted to try that turned out to be so disgusting that the whole thing went down the disposal five minutes after I took it out of the oven. Brooding. Culinary experiments are for the wealthy.

Except for the part where I'm finding the whole, you know, no money thing annoying, I think this is proving to be a valuable experience. I mean--I'm regretting having wasted $40 in the last month, on "gourmet" ingredients for recipes that didn't turn out well. More, I'm regretting the $10 I had yesterday that I don't have today. $10! I can't remember how many years it's been since I thought twice about an amount of money as small as $10. I guess I'd gotten very careless about money.

What I mourn most (aside from the occasional fit of weeping when I'm in a store and won't let me buy something I want) is the lack of extra funds for my normal Good Cause Gifting at this time of the year.

I just have to keep remembering--I'm only "poor" because I was too lazy to pay off my credit card bill each month, back when I was making all the money in the world. I've already had my fun--now I have to pay for it.



_____________

* I gave you a lot of commas there. Just spread them around anywhere you think they're appropriate.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:53 PM | Comments (0)



Monday, October 27, 2008
Frugality

The weekend was--weirdly eventful.

The R.C. and I had breakfast on Saturday. Mmmm. Bacon!

And we chatted about wardrobe needs, frugality*, and the day's shopping plans. Shopping, not buying. We've been having conversations about Work Clothes and decided it's time to change our respective styles. (Or, you know, pick styles.) We're also in the middle of the Great Frugality Plan, so the decision was go to out and try on things we wouldn't normally try on--move out of our comfort zone sort of thing--in order to find some new kind of clothes that might magically make us look young and thin relatively stylish. Just try on. Not buy.

The problem with that sort of plan, of course, is that if you find something new that looks good, you do, in fact, have to buy it. Because it won't be there in three or four months.

$120 later, I have a new purple shirt that will go with two of my purple jackets, a new red shirt with black pinstripes that will go with my red jacket, a black jacket, or alone, a new purple-white-black sweater, and a new pink sleeveless sweater to wear under my new cropped black jacket with the tiny pink spots. Although the color pallet no doubt sounds familiar to anyone who has ever seen me, I promise that at least four of those items are things I would not normally have tried on.

I don't think I've accomplished a new "style" but I have at least expanded my wardrobe to the point that I no longer find myself opening the closet and seeing, "my Monday shirt, my Tuesday shirt, my Wednesday blouse," etc. I can move three of the shirts I've been wearing to work over to the "weekend clothes" side of the closet (where they belong) and, thanks to the chilly temperatures in this office, expand my current wardrobe with all of those jackets I fell in love with a year ago.

And make-up. Yes, I bought more Face Stuff. But not potions and lotions this time. No, this time I spent money on a face "primer" and coordinating base that were supposed to combine to give me "flawless" coverage of exactly the right color. Not. It weighs less on my face than my old stuff, and may even, in its half-hearted attempt at coverage, match my complexion better, but it doesn't cover the ravages* of age the way the other brand does.

So, you know, $35 there.

Saturday was expensive.

I did save $10 a month, but it happened at the expense of my pride. The R.C. needed a new phone and while she was buying it, she signed up for a new 2-year plan. The Wee Child helping her said he could "finagle" her the 65+ discount, even though she didn't qualify (by a long shot) and her phone bill will now be $10 less a month. So, even though I didn't buy a phone, I demanded the same deal and I got it!

Also, less expensively, I voted.

Sunday I cleaned. I cleaned the kitchen reasonably well, including some work on those dingy walls behind the sink and stove. I cleaned the bathroom reasonably well. I did some dusting. I did about half the necessary vacuuming. I would have done all the necessary vacuuming, but at the halfway point, I accidentally sucked up a sock and broke the vacuum.

At that point, I threw up my hands in disgust. I spent the rest of the day playing computer games, reading, or watching mindless television (via DVDs). (Except for later, when I did laundry and ironing.)

I talk a lot about Frugality these days. I'm not sure I ever formally introduced the Six-Month Frugality Plan, but the basic idea was that, starting in April, I'd pay like mad on my bills and see if I could pay off the huge credit card balance I've run up, and do something about the five-digit total on the running list of "money owed to the R.C." **

The SMFP has worked reasonably well. Although I tend to blog more about the money I've spent than the number of things I haven't bought, I have managed to eliminate about 35% of my credit card debt so far. That might not sound like much, but once you start getting the balance down, the less you wind up paying in interest each month, you know. So it's going down faster and faster.


____________________

* Okay, maybe a semi-ravage or two. Don't run away with the idea that I'm cratered and furrowed like a moonscape or anything.

** I used to be very careless about writing regular checks to cover my half of the monthly bills. Also, a time or two when I was unemployed, she loaned me sums of money so I could keep eating and stuff. After a decade or so, that kind of thing starts to add up.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:58 PM | Comments (0)



Friday, October 3, 2008
Random Friday Frolics

It's been a randomly eventful commuter week.

During Monday morning's commute, I watched a bicyclist attempt suicide. (Note: Riding down the sidewalk instead of on the road does keep you away from cars. But it also insures that drivers will not see you when you decide to ride through a red light. You were very lucky.)

During Tuesday morning's commute, I was happy to discover that they have finished the road work on my direct route to work. Why they only had one southbound lane open, I don't know, but it cut my commute time in half. I've been oversleeping a lot recently, so the return of the Ten Minute Commute was quite welcome.

During Wednesday afternoon's homeward commute, I was dismayed and appalled to discover that they have now closed the northbound lanes of my preferred route. I got to work easily, but getting home took longer.

During Thursday afternoon's homeward commute which, owing to my extreme dedication (and inattention to the clock), I was making ten minutes later than my normal time? I discovered that the closing of the northbound route meant that when rush hour traffic really got started, it--stopped. Then backed up and stacked up for five or six blocks in every direction. Due to a weird combination of events not unrelated to the presence or absence of turn lanes on various roads and a significant miasma of Driver Psychosis hanging over the entire area, I drove in circles for a while, trying to get to a road that would lead me home, then wound up heading back southbound until I could get to the interstate at a place a mile or two south of my office. With one or two more narrow misses caused by other escapees from the traffic jam, I finally arrived home--40 minutes after I'd left the office.

This morning, I neither overslept nor ran into massive traffic, but I'm looking ahead to this evening's commute with a certain amount of trepidation.

It's been a randomly strange food week.

For Monday lunch, I ate more of the leftover Chinese food from Friday. When I got home that evening, I put the rest of it down the disposal. It may have been a coincidence, but my stomach was upset all Monday afternoon.

Yesterday I had a desperate, really desperate need to go to the bookstore. I saw a book last week that I wanted but did not buy. I've been thinking about it ever since, so I went and bought it. (I read it last night and it was depressing, so that was a waste of $6.) I bought another book and two magazines at the same time. Then I needed food and, for reasons I may never understand, I found myself at McDonald's. I never eat at McDonald's. I'm just not a fan. But I was in a hurry, Wendy's was a traffic jam away, I had only a little cash left on me, and there was no one in the drive-through line, so I went to McDonald's.

Did you know that they have this thing called a "dollar menu"? I was going to get a small cheeseburger and French fries, but it turns out that for $1, I could get a "double cheeseburger." (For another $1, I could have gotten a "small fries" as well, but I knew I couldn't eat that much.) I got lunch for $1.07! I hate to think of how many calories and how much fat were in the burger. (I think this is why poor people are so often overweight. Cheap food is anything but healthy.)

Last night I decided to be a bit more restrained. Wednesday, I'd chopped up some ripe Early Girl tomatoes and tossed them in with some minced garlic and onion, a bit of basil, and some olive oil. (I had no plans for this mishmash of ingredients. I just had all of them and thought that if I mixed them together, I'd figure out a way to use them.)

I drained a packaged of pre-cooked chicken and heated it with a tiny bit of olive oil (and, let's be honest, a couple of teaspoons of butter). Then I dumped in the tomato mixture and let it all simmer for fifteen minutes. I boiled up some spaghetti, tossed it with the resulting weirdly pink mixture, splashed on black pepper, and actually ate it. It--had potential. Next time I'll put the garlic, onion, and spices in to cook with the chicken, then stir in the diced tomatoes just before eating. Also, it needed pine nuts. And maybe a recipe or at least someone who knows how to cook to add or subtract additional ingredients.

It's been a randomly unusual work week.

One of the receptionists--two women job-share this position and I'm never really sure which of them is which, so for convenience, we'll refer to the combination as DebLor--got the flu this week. The other DebLor was unable to cover all of the hours, so those of us who do regular phone relief were asked to pull extra "shifts" on Wednesday

Which is fine, for those of us who have jobs that can be done other than at our desks, but that doesn't include me. I wrote the R.C. a letter (I'm practicing writing with my right hand. I don't know why.) and then tidied up the reception desk area. Then I got bored, so I wrote weird and unlikely tasks and occupations next to everyone's names on the In/Out board.

When (the un-sick) DebLor got back to the office the next morning, she found it funny, which was what I intended. She also showed it to half the people in the office, which was not.

When I Receptioned on Wednesday, I put out chocolate for the office candy dish again. Only two people came by but I made them both take candy and promise that they liked me more for providing good treats. (People always insist that they already like me, but I'm pretty sure they like me more when I feed them chocolate.)

This afternoon is the in-office party that's replacing the company picnic this year. They're threatening us with promising us games.

Hmmm, what else? I've almost finished end of month reporting for September. I've almost completed getting the new bulk email service up and running. I should be able to use it for the Argonut News issue that comes out on the 22nd. (TeamChaos has an idea that we'll switch to one issue of the 'NutNews each month and they'll produce a multimedia powerpoint/audio presentation of other information once a month, in place of the second 'NutNuts issue. I'm staying far away from this insanity.)

I spent an hour working over a retirement spreadsheet, satisfying myself that the little dab of money I have is enough to live on, with social security, as long as I'm willing to die at 70. Open enrollment for the 401k here is coming up. The match is something pathetic--1-1/2 percent or something--but it's free money, right?

Oh! Speaking of money! I got a surprising email from Vela! She said if I get to studying and get my certification by the end of this month, then she would want to talk to me about a salary increase! I almost fell off my chair, I was so astonished.

And now, of course, I feel a guilty. I haven't been studying for the certification exam this past week. A couple of evenings I was too tired, so I just read a book. A couple of other evenings, I was busy with a massive plan I'm putting together to completely reorganize all of the advertising campaigns.

I'll study this weekend. The promise of a raise (even if it turns out to be small) should be all the incentive I need, right? Even if the campaign reorganization is much more interesting, involving, as it does, multiple spreadsheets and colored charts and, if I play my cards right, colored pens.

I approached Gidget about this. I knew she had something to do with the raise idea since she also knows, and has said multiple times, that they hired me for 'way too little money. I had no idea, though, until I talked to her that she'd told Vela that she, Gidget, would be happy to forego a raise this year as long as I got one.

I don't deserve my friends.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)



Monday, September 29, 2008
New shoes



Shoe porn!

Posted by AnneZook at 07:10 PM | Comments (2)



Yaaawn

What a lovely weekend! My head is still all full of the happy-fuzz you get when life has been treating you with especial kindness.

I had plans for the weekend, but they all fell through--neither Meghan nor I were able to convince ourselves that we had the money to afford a trip to a 'show' featuring fancy and exotic handmade yarns. The Argonuts were supposed to have a belated summer picnic, but no one signed up so it was canceled in favor of an in-office party this coming Friday.

Although I had enough "chores" on my list to fill a weekend-and-a-half, I tossed most of them out the window in favor of getting out and soaking up some late summer sunshine. The weather was fabulous, and the shopping equally glorious.

I'm not the world's girliest girl when it comes to shoes--I favor sturdy black trouser shoes with a 1" heel and comfy, shock-absorbing rubber soles. When I'm feeling wild-and-crazy, I go to a 1-1/4" heel. Granted, I need a pair of "dress" shoes for the formal occasions this company has on occasion, but a pair of nice, black pumps would have been perfectly appropriate.

Would have been. Because I do have my girly moments. This weekend, my inner diva came out and demanded that I buy her a pair of black velvet sandals decorated with black sequins and 2" spike heels.

I may and/or may not be able to actually walk in them, but who cares when I feel so pretty? (I'll take a picture of them later and post it up for the girly-girls amongst us.)

Then, on to a clothing store where I was tempted by two shirts. I'm going to wait until payday rolls around again. Then I'll go back and try them on and see if I really like them or not.

After that, off to the bookstore, where I showed amazing restraint. I bought only one book, and that was from the bargain shelves. I paid $8 for a cookbook offering "Easy Tapas Recipes." Poring over it Saturday evening, I found myself marking 15-20 recipes that both looked easy enough for my skills and seemed to use ingredients I either like or suspect I'd like. I'm a big nibbler, so the idea of having ingredients around to make 5-6 kinds of tapas for dinner any random evening is very appealing to me.

Less appealing? The realization that the food won't be as good if I substitute canned/frozen ingredients for some of the fresh ingredients they mention. I live across the street from Whole Foods, though, and any ingredient they can't supply, I can't imagine needing.

And, speaking of Whole Foods.... There's a Chinese restaurant across the street from where I live. The R.C. and I had been talking about trying it for the last year and this weekend we finally remembered and gave them a call. She tried the almond chicken and I tried the garlic beef and the double pan-fried noodles with chicken.

It was--eh. Okay if you dump a lot of soy sauce on it. Unremarkable otherwise, except that the portions were enormous. The R.C. divided her chicken into 4 meals. My two entrees made six meals.

The point of the story being that by dinnertime Sunday, I was in search of something other than Chinese food for dinner, so we walked over to Whole Foods where I bought some very ripe Early Girl tomatoes (for a recipe I want to try this evening) and some fabulous roasted pepper dip.

I tried the dip out as spread for a ham sandwich with mixed results. I think it was the ham's fault, though. It (the dip) would be great with fresh veggies, but I don't have any of those.

I'm thinking there were a couple of the tapas recipes that called for some kind of roasted red pepper ingredient, so maybe I can use it there.

Whole Foods also had these fascinating, bite-sized pita pockets that I wanted rather badly--just the thing for many of those tapas recipes, but I couldn't convince myself that I'd be able to eat half of them before they got rock-hard.

*Sigh.* I can't even get a head of lettuce eaten before it goes weird. The only simple way to cook for one person is to heat up a tv dinner.

Lemmee see....I'm sure there was more. I got the ironing done and most of the laundry done and the bathroom cleaned and some mending (hemming some too-long t-shirts) started but not finished, but those aren't exciting.

I dunno. Looking back on it, I'm vague as to how I spent the rest of the weekend, but I know I had a really good time.

It wasn't a bit nice to wake up this morning and discover that it was 47 degrees in my bedroom (I slept with the window open) and that it was time and past time for me to roll out of bed and take myself off to my Monday morning job duties.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:02 PM | Comments (0)



Friday, September 26, 2008
'Den Don't Do 'Dat

Hey! Gidget is out today! Why didn't I know Gidget was going to be out today? She sits six feet away from me, and it was too difficult for her to fill me in on her schedule? Communication. Boy, I don't know.*

I'm happy to report that yesterday evening's appointment with HairMan was devoid of the emotional tension I was fearing. It was also 50 minutes, instead of two hours, but more about that in a moment. First, I need to talk about how said appointment was not entirely devoid of weirdness.

I know that many women discuss anything and everything with their hairdressers. They make confidants of these poor people, sharing their life woes and worries. I am not one of those people. From a hairdresser, I want a decent haircut, occasionally a good dye job, and I want these things with expediency.

I do not care if their dog has the mange and I'm entirely uninterested in their feuds with other stylists. I feel no desire to share anything with them beyond the obligatory, how are you I'm fine how are you I'm fine exchange.

What I want to talk about is how quickly I'll be getting out of the chair. What I do not want to find myself talking to my straight, male hairdresser about is women's menstrual cycles.

It's just weird, okay?

As for the aforementioned shortness of the appointment, there were two contributing factors, for both of which I am grateful.

First, it turns out he was shoehorning me into the time when another client was over having her dye job baked in, so although he was slightly chatty, he was on a definite time schedule. Hooray for double-booking!

Second, as I sat there, waiting for my turn, I flipped through a women's magazine I found laying around and found myself reading about home dyeing. The article assured me that the product on the drug store shelves was just as good as what was sold in salons and, in fact, was quite likely to be less damaging to my hair.

I thought about it.

Salon dye - $50 and ninety minutes
Home dye - $15 and ten minutes.

Put like that, the choice seems clear. I mean, yes, sure, there are potential pitfalls, but nothing that really affects me. I'm not trying to go red or any color other than my natural one, so I don't have to worry about brassiness or unexpected color results. I'm not trying to add five layers of four different highlight colors. I just want to cover the gray.

So, when it was time for my turn in HairMan's chair, I denied any intention of dyeing and demanded a cut. And that's all. 50 minutes later, I was out the door, feeling fifty pounds lighter as I realized that self-dyeing means I will never again have to spend a day dreading a haircut appointment.

"Doctor! It hurts when I do this!"
"Then don't do that."

You wouldn't think anyone could write that much about something that didn't happen, would you?

I'm feeling a little embarrassed today. After pitching a fit at Vela yesterday because the 'NutNews files keep landing on my desk 48 hours late, putting me frantically behind with the rest of my work, it's now 11 a.m. on Friday morning and I'm pretty much done with my work for this week.

Later....

Hooray! Vela came by and started a new train of thought for me. Now I have a fun, new project to mess around with!


_________________


* Gratuitous and obscure The West Wing quote

Posted by AnneZook at 01:18 PM | Comments (0)



Sunday, September 14, 2008
Mystified

Sometimes, the R.C. mystifies me.

Yesterday, I'm getting ready to do a little project and she says, "I think you're making a lot of work out of this unless you're just having fun."

It's Saturday morning, okay? I'm surrounded by paint pots, paint trays, paint brushes, paint rollers, edgers, spackle, spackle knives, and the other essential accoutrements of A Job Around The House.

What part of this does NOT look like I'm having fun?

Friday night, I stripped the bathroom room of all moveable objects. I washed the walls, sanded them, washed them again, and let them dry. (Then I cleaned the counters and the floor - each covered with a fine residue of paint dust.) (And then I mopped the floor because the workmen in a few days ago to replace a missing shower tile have completely trashed out the entire bathroom.)

Saturday morning I trekked across the street to the Helpful Hardware man at Ace.

"Give paint," I demanded. "Give brushes and rollers and toys."

"Give money," he said, handing me a bag full o'fun.

(Ohmigod. I have more to say about my Painting Adventure, but I'm being distracted. It's the R.C.'s birthday and, in spite of the Six-Month Frugality Plan, I bought her a digital camera. she's finding identifying the parts complicated. Camera. Battery. USB cable. Optional A/V cable.)

Bathroom.

I spackled! I spackled over nail holes. I spackled over that corner where the last, inexpert paint job left a long, peeling bubble of paint. I spackled that embarrassing spot where I got too enthusiastic applynig hair dye last year and threw a glob at the wall. I spackled places that didn't need spackling just because spackling is fun and it's a funny word.

I resanded the spackled places with a nifty, six-sided sanding block the Helpful Hardware Man recommended. (A wonderful invention. Single-sheet sandpaper always makes me worry that I'm about to start a fire.) I rewashed the walls.

I masked! Painting tape, two kinds of masking tape and an entire newspaper later, I felt confident I'd covered any surface potentially in danger from my hit-or-miss painting technique.

I painted! Big roller. Barrels o'fun teeny roller. Paint brush. Special edge protector for those tricky bits hear the ceiling.

(Right now, I'm deeply regretting my decision not to open camera box and charge it all up for her and get it ready to use. I can't believe anyone can make such a production of charging a battery and inserting it in a plug-and-play device. *headbang*)

Bathroom.

Watching paint dry? Is more fun than people think. If it's your paint job, it can be fun!

I Pledged the woodwork, hot-glued the loose part on the little wall shelf, cleaned the metal-work, and wiped down the mirrors. I cleaned the counters, and swept and mopped the floor again.

I re-imported all the previously mentioned moveable stuff. Shelves, pots & bottles, stacks o'towels, etc.

The new, bamboo-pattern shower curtain I purchased last week looks lovely. The towels and bath mats chosen to go with the old, faded yellow paint and the yucky yellow shower tiles and the icky "gold-tone" linoleum counter-tops look fine.

Bottom line? 24 hours later, I have a bathroom covered in clean, white paint, looking and smelling fresh and joyful! (Except, the ceiling looks dreadful.)

Among the other lessons learned? Next time, a quart of paint will probably be sufficient. Should I decide I don't need the remainder of this gallon for touch-ups, I'm going to have to take the 7/8 remaining back to Ace for proper disposal.

I tried to get the R.C. to let me do her bathroom, but she's not enthused. Sometimes I don't think she knows what a good time is.

(I'm so glad I also gave her a book for her birthday. She's reading it for a while, letting the poor camera get on with the job of charging itself for use.)

Posted by AnneZook at 11:21 AM | Comments (7)



Monday, September 8, 2008
Life

The weekend was good, up until a point. (More about that later.) The weather was gorgeous, I spent a lot of money, and I puttered around the house, and enjoyed myself thoroughly.

Saturday we hit the Farmer's Market early, trying to beat the stroller brigade and the dog walkers. I hear that they don't allow you to bring your dog to Farmers' Markets in California. I wish they didn't allow it in Denver, but at least there weren't any fights or overly friendly, licky doges this week.

I picked up, among other goodies, a pint or so of fresh blackberries. Yesterday, I searched the 'net, found an "award-winning" recipe for blackberry cobbler, and cooked up what I'm not ashamed to say was a delicious pan-full of yummy. (Okay, anything that starts with a cup of sugar and a stick of melted butter is bound to be delicious. But my cooking skills aren't so impressive that I take success for granted.)

I also grabbed a few more fresh peaches. They're now ripening in a paper bag on the kitchen counter. I thought about cobblering some of them, but I'm not really a fan of peach cobbler. Apple or cherry are the cobblers I like. And blackberry, of course, but blackberries aren't a fruit I think about much. (Except that I'm thinking about them now and already planning to buy more next weekend.)

Right next to the Cherry Creek Farmer's Market is a nice, big Bed, Bath, & Beyond store. I needed one of those thingies you hang in the shower to hold shampoo bottles and whatnot, so we wandered in there. I wound up with a basket full of small items (stocking stuffers for the upcoming holiday season--it's never too soon to get started), a new humidifier ($35--that's the "a lot of money" I was talking about), and a new shower curtain.

I have a shower stall, but those are ugly, so for the last six or seven years, I've been hanging a shower curtain over it.

And I have walls, badly painted (20 years ago) in a light shade of yellow that I don't like. So, this coming weekend I'm planning to buy a gallon of paint, a one-short roller and disposable paint pan, and some edging tape, and transform my bathroom into something a little less dire. My new shower curtain is waiting for the new paint job, so I can do an all-over transformation.

I also have a loose tile at the base of the shower. The maintenance guy showed up a week or so ago, looked it over and announced that it would have to wait until they could redo all the drywall behind it. (The drywall I could see has gone all yucky and black. I assume this is an unseen consequence of a roof leak we had a few years ago.)

This is one of those times when you're glad you rent--I'm going to get a pretty-clean shower at no cost!

Or, I will be once the maintenance guy comes back and does the work. He used a plastic shopping bag and duct tape to make a temporary fix, so I could continue bathing on a regular basis. I guess it was optimistic of me to think he'd tell management that the problem wasn't actually fixed, so I'm going to call them myself today.

And then--painting fun!

Workwise, I was on time today. I expected to be late since Jason had made a point of how everyone was expected to be on-hand to greet the incoming training class, and I did oversleep a bit, but I raced through my morning routine and got here with almost 30 seconds to spare. Jason? Was a no-show. I'm thinking about speaking to him about the inadvisability of considering yourself an exception to "everyone."

Today I'm waiting for the next NutNews files. My own personal ChaosManager, Vela, is leaving on her honeymoon on Wednesday and she's making a frantic effort to get everything in the world done before she leaves. I volunteered to do this week's editing, to free up some of her time. (I'd have had to redo any editing anyone else did anyhow.)

I heard yesterday morning that one of my aunts was in the hospital. After surviving a bout with cancer and living for many years with Lupus, she suffered a massive stroke last week. The L-i-K-S found out yesterday and let me know, then she called back in the evening to tell me that our aunt had passed away.

It's almost invisible, you know? The moment when you transition from buying everyone you know wedding gifts or baby gifts, to the day you realize you're ordering flowers for funerals more than any other kind of offering.

Take care of yourselves!

Posted by AnneZook at 11:06 AM | Comments (5)



Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Post-frivolity

What a lovely weekend! No, I didn't do anything "special" but I had a lovely weekend anyhow. I ate no "traditional" 4th of July foods. Instead, in tribute to our "melting pot" heritage, I had Mexican, Chinese, and Italian (twice). Also, to celebrate my independence, I ate junk food. (Hey, a self-inflicted diet can be as oppressive as anything else! Let freedom ring with the sound of goldfish crackers, that's what I say.)

And I shopped! Nothing that would gladden the hypothetical heart of The Worst President Ever's administration, but I had a desperate need for new clothes, including (ahem) what we will hereinafter refer to as Dainty Underthings. I shopped, and I scored! Two pair of pants, three shirts, and four bits of assorted DT, all for $145.

The consequences of the WPE's economic policies may be about to bring our entire society to its knees, but at least I'm goin' down in new underwear, purchased at oh-god-help-us-keep-the-doors-open-one-more-day prices. Bad for the country as a whole, yes, but good for my own personal Frugality Regime.

I'm still talking about this, long after all of you have ceased to care, because I actually feel guilty about it. I feel guilty for every dime I spend that might bolster the "retail economy" and keep TWPE's sinking balloon afloat for two more seconds. I feel guilty for not spending until ticket prices were at retailer-killing lows, because I have nothing against retailers per se.

And I feel guilty because I know most of the clothing sold in the USofA is made in sweatshops overseas and while making 19 cents a day might not make anyone wealthy, in some countries, that nineteen cents can be the difference between survival and the other thing, so I should buy at "full retail" instead of waiting until I can save $5 or even $10 on a single garment and just accept it as the price I should be paying for living in the most wasteful society on the face of the planet.*

It's very difficult to be socially responsible without appearing in public naked. To quote a favorite BritCom, "It makes you feel good about yourself, but it's very depressing. What does the green child have to look forward to?"**

Speaking of children, green and otherwise, I think I'm in love. With two little subway geeks. I don't know for certain, but I'm devoutly hoping that Dad waited for the local.

What else?

Well, as a "new" employee, I don't really have any time off available to me, but Vela, my own personal ChaosManager, offered to comp me a day or two in gratitude for my willingness to take on publishing the 'NutNews every other week. I objected, pointing out that it's all being done on company time which means I'm actually already being compensated for the work, and she's doing a chunk of it anyhow, but apparently they find my contribution special in some way.

After a suitable show of reluctance, I've been persuaded to take Monday, July 21 off. I love being off work on a Monday. It makes the eight hours of freedom twice as sweet, just knowing that the rest of the world has to roll out of bed and swim through rush-hour traffic to get to jobs most of them don't enjoy half as much as I'm enjoying the 'Nuthouse.

I mentioned the diet at some point, didn't I? For anyone who cares (or who didn't grasp where I was going with this in time to skip to the next paragraph, I'm holding steady at 4 lbs lost, 6 lbs to go. Looking back on the last three weeks, I've decided to be grateful I didn't put any weight back on, instead of flagellating myself for not taking any more off.

It's important, this diet. Gidget and I are scheduled to start our Non-Smoking Plan in a few weeks and I know that no matter what I do, I'm going to be fighting weight gain. The lower my starting weight, the better.***

What else? Well, I have two new campaigns to build and take live this week. I should get started on those at some point. The experimental campaigns I dreamed up and created a couple of weeks ago are not producing. I'm sulking about that.

I was stuck on some characterization for the Never-To-Be-Written Novel when it occurred to me that history is loaded with examples of complex-but-good, nefarious-and-evil, and even riotously ridiculous people and events. I should just do what others have done before me and steal from reality.****

I'm eating fresh cherries.

And then it occurs to me that if I'm reduced to talking about my snack, I'm probably out of things to say.



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* I dropped a grape. Instead of rinsing it off and eating it, I threw it away. And, okay, wasted food, and there are people starving all over the planet! But I have no idea what's on this carpet and I have no intention of ingesting whatever it might be.


** In the show, the answer was, "Blending in nicely with the lawn."


*** In reference to the NSP? I'd appreciate it if no one, ever, ever asked me if I did it, how it's going, or if I'm succeeding. Okay? Because that's the most supportive thing you can do for me. Just--ignore it as though you don't have any idea. Which, I know, I could accomplish by not telling you, but it's my blog and if I want to share information and forbid you to mention it ever again, I have the power.


**** I can still remember my shock when, a few years after reading Anne Rice's much-lauded but entirely not to my taste porn, I ran across an oddball little volume about how various and sundry Catholic popes (Is that supposed to be capitalized?) had conducted themselves in office and realized she'd swiped rather than invented quite a lot of things.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:57 PM | Comments (3)



Monday, June 16, 2008
Sweet Mysteries of Life

Why am I getting comments on my occasional posts on the politiblog? The thing's been dormant for years. No one should be checking it.

Why, when an office looks around at their staff to choose people to handle lunchtime relief for the receptionist, why are none of the people ever chosen male?

Why is that man out in the atrium whacking great chunks out of the trees with giant pruning shears? What did the trees ever do to him?

Why is there an invisible person somewhere close by, using a drill or electric screwdriver? I can hear it plainly from my desk but can't find it when I walk around and look for it.

Why are people ridiculously superstitious? Grace, over in the National 'Nuts department, was telling someone last Friday how she'd ridden her bike to work. She didn't drive her car because she was afraid of having bad luck on Friday the 13th. To the best of my knowledge, you're a heckuva lot more likely to get run over on DTC Boulevard if you're on a bicycle than if you're in a car, so, superstition around random dates: stupid; and riding a bike to avoid an accident: asking for trouble.

Why don't writers know when to quit? When the mood is gone, when inspiration is failing you, and when you don't really have anything left to say in your fictional universe--why don't you just quit? Why beat the tattered dregs of your good idea into a pulp until even the original, inspired stories begin to suffer by proximity? (Of, if you must write dreck, why can't you keep it to yourself? Do you know that you've ruined my enthusiasm for your first stories and that I'll probably never again be able to read them?)

Why does it take people two days to do a two-minute project? This week, I told Vela to let me do the 'NutNews editing. I edited every article for this issue in less than 30 minutes. The last couple of times, I've had to wait two days for everyone to get around to doing their editing, and most of them are only editing one or two articles per issue.

Why do I spend so much time complaining about the additional projects I've been given here at the Argonut Café when clearly I continue to have lots of free time on my hands for blogging?

Why does the human body crave massive injections of fatty food when the stuff isn't good for it? For the last week, I haven't been able to think about anything but Mexican food.* Why does the body crave what's not good for it? I know that refined sugar does something chemical in the brain and I'm assuming fat does something similar, but why? It's hardly survival-oriented.** (I guess it's possible that nature has decided that our species is so stupid and so destructive that the sooner we do ourselves in, the better.**)

I made a humongous credit card payment today. Can take the money left in my checking account and indulge myself in an armload of new books as a reward?



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* Well, okay, I was obsessing about pancakes but I got those Saturday morning. So it's Mexican food now.

** I have moods.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:45 PM | Comments (2)