Monday, April 28, 2014

That was awful

A little over a week ago, the kids had the day off from school.  It was Good Friday, technically not a religious day off, but close enough.

I was off work that day and Scott went in for half the day.  We had plans to go do some fun stuff over the weekend. 

While I was in the kitchen doing some dishes and boiling eggs to color, I heard a big ruckus in the backyard.  Our three dogs, Gibson, a dalmatian and something mix we've had for almost five years, Peavey, a black lab and something mix we've had for three and a half years and Fender, our new red heeler puppy were all out there for their morning run around.  It wasn't barking.  Gibson liked to bark at Baxter, the saint bernard that lives next door, through the fence.  It was growling and snarling.  I ran out the back door to find Gibson and Peavey locked up fighting. 

About a year ago, we started having issues with Gibson and Peavey fighting.  Let me back up.  When we got Gibson from a local adoption agency, we were his third family and he was three.  He would growl at certain people.  When he did, we'd move him to another room.  He didn't growl at our kids, but he did growl at their friends.  He bit our neighbor's daughter at one point.  I got in touch with them via email and said what I'd want to hear, that we would take care of medical bills if they chose to take her to a doctor, that we were going to keep him in another room when kids were over, apologized and all that.  My neighbor was very understanding and he didn't bite again.  I did keep a close eye on him when the kids had friends over.  When we took him to the dog park, he'd alpha dog.  He would jump on other dogs, trying to bite them on the back of the neck, a way to establish dominance.  We had taken him to a doggie day care and the owner said he was showing dominant behaviors. 

Gibson did the alpha dog thing with Peavey.  Except with food, Peavey was in charge of his food and Gibson respected that space.  Then they started fighting. Gibson would start it.  They always drew blood.  Scott and I didn't know the right way to pull them apart and we both got bit breaking them up.  Once this started, one of our go to babysitters wouldn't come back because she was afraid of Gibson.  I called the agency where we'd gotten Gibson and they sent out a behaviorist. 

A great guy came out and watched the two dogs together.  He showed me other things Gibson was doing.  When Peavey tried to come up to get attention from the behaviorist, Gibson would turn and give him a hard stare.  He told us not to allow that, it was a sign of Gibson possibly being aggressive.  He suggested that we make the dogs work for everything.  We started to make them sit and stay before they could eat or go out the back door.  We taught them tricks and put Gibson in a time out in our laundry room if he growled or snarled at anyone.  He told us how to grab the dogs by the back legs and helicopter them apart if they were fighting.  Scott did make it clear that if the aggressive behavior came back, it wouldn't be safe to have Gibson in the house with our children.

Things got better for a while, nearly a year.  Gibson still did some alpha dogging, but the fights stopped and Gibson was more respectful of Peavey's space.  We were really dealing with the issue of the two of them running out the front door to dash about the neighborhood, but we were working on it. 

We got the new dog, Fender, from a woman out in front of Wal-Mart who was looking for a home for him as she had lost her's.  Fender got a clean bill of health from the vet.  And, the good thing, Gibson was happy to play with him.  But, he kept Peavey away from him.  If Peavey got too close, Gibson would bark at him, walk towards him to make Peavey retreat and we dealt with that the same way we dealt with everything. 

Then, Good Friday.  Peavey and Gibson were fighting in the backyard.  I yelled for Zoe to go wake up her dad.  The dogs were fighting.  He and I each grabbed a set of back legs and yanked them apart.  Gibson kept barking and snarling, pulling hard.  We got both Gibson in house and put him in his crate. Peavey calmed down right away, we checked him out and brought him inside.  Gibson snarled at him from inside his crate.  Peavey went into our bedroom for a half hour or so.  We brought him out and Gibson snarled and barked.  We tried again half an hour later.  They kept their distance but things seemed okay. 

Another hour later, Scott was in the shower and Gibson went after Fender.  Then, suddenly, Peavey and Gibson were locked up again.  Zoe grabbed her brother and ran upstairs where she closed them up in her room.  I couldn't get the dogs pulled apart.  I yanked open the back door and pushed a cookie sheet between the two of them.  I had a hold of Peavey and pulled him back.  I tried to shove Gibson out the back door, but he kept lunging.  I ended  up kicking him in the chest to get him outside.  When I slammed the door shut, he ran at the door.  He stood outside, snarling. 

I told the kids it was okay to come out and I went into the bathroom to catch my breath and wash my face.  I was shaking.  I told Scott what happened.  He and I had a brief discussion and then brought the kids into our room for a very tearful family meeting.  The gist of it, was that it wasn't safe for us to keep Gibson in the house.  He was attacking the other dogs.  He'd bitten before.  He growled and a dog that growls is a dog that will bite.  We talked about how we had to keep Gibson in another room when they had friends over.  And we all cried.

We went out and checked on Peavey.  He was bleeding.  Not bad enough to need stitches, but he needed to get cleaned up and flinched from the washcloth.  We brought Gibson inside and put him right into our bedroom.  Ten minutes later I went in to get something and I told Gibson to get down off the bed.  He lifted his head and growled at me.  I said "Oh no!", looked right in his eyeballs and told him again to get down.  He growled again, softly, but got down.  He and Peavey both laid down and seemed exhausted. 

I got in touch with the agency where we got Gibson and told them of our troubles.  I told them we needed to surrender him since it wasn't safe for us to have him in the house anymore.  They told me that he would go on a waiting list for a kennel, they'd let me know. 

I know that this organization has adoption fairs every weekend and they'd probably have a place for him by Monday.   For the rest of the weekend, Gibson bullied Peavey.  If Peavey tried to come get attention, Gibson would run in front of him to keep him from getting close to anyone.  He growled at Peavey.  He was slow to obey any commands we gave him.   

On Easter Sunday, I got an email from them saying they had a spot for him.  We had to tell the kids.  When we went upstairs to talk to them that night, Peavey started to come upstairs with us and Gibson blocked his way, doing a low growl. 

We all sat on Zoe's bed to tell them what we were going to do. Zoe went into hysterics.  Gibson was on her bed. Peavey walked into the room. Gibson growled and did a low bark at him.  Scott told Zoe that that was the sign of a dog that will bite.  All I could do was hug my daughter and say "I'm so sorry honey.  I'm so sorry  I'm so sorry." and cry. 

Will immediately said he wanted to get another dog.  We told him that we weren't going to even talk about getting another dog until Christmas.  

I went to work on Monday then came home and put Gibson's leash on for the last time.  He and I took our last car ride.  I got him inside the adoption agency's office and turned in my paperwork.  I started to cry.  I cried while I signed the papers.  I cried when they gave me a collar to put on him.  I took his collar off, I'd promised Zoe she could keep it.  I cried when another volunteer came up to get him.  I cried while she petted him.  I cried while she walked him away.  I went outside, faced the wall of the building and sobbed. 

I called Scott at work and I cried.  I drove home while I was crying.  I walked into our house and two dogs greeted me instead of three.  I cried. 

Zoe texted me when she was on the bus home from school asking if Gibson was gone.  I told her he was gone.  I cried. She'd worn black to school that day and told me that she'd started to cry during her orchestra class.  She was in the small alcove where she practices her harp.  She'd turned away from her harp, facing the wall and crying.  Her teacher, a really wonderful man, went in to see what was going on.  She told him we'd had to give away our dog.  She got off the bus crying.  She and I both cried on the couch. 

It was a situation where intellectually, I was good with it.  The dog displayed aggressive tendencies.  He got out and ran around the neighborhood. If he attacked another pet or, god forbid, a person, we'd be not only liable but might have a criminal charge since we were aware of the behavior before hand.  It would be irresponsible of us to keep him.  It was going to be better for everyone involved to surrender him to the no-kill shelter where he'd be worked with and placed in a home that would be better for him. 

My heart said something very different. My heart felt like he'd died. 

The energy in the house is different.  Peavey and Fender are working things out.  Fender has learned 'sit' and is working on not going outside until we give the release word.  We're correcting him about jumping on people.  Peavey and Fender have not run outside this week and they'll back off from the door when I tell them to.

But, this whole thing broke my heart. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Seems appropriate that I talk about this today

Today is Easter.  It seems right that I state my opinions of the new Pope today.  I'm not Catholic, although Mary, the mother of Jesus is my deity of choice these days. 

I like Pope Francis.  I sometimes call him Pope Frank.  I would be happy to have him to my house.  I'd make him a roasted chicken with herbed rice, a salad and some chocolate cake for dessert.  He'd probably partake in a glass of red wine and I'd ask him to tell me stories about his days working the door at a club in Argentina.  Then I'd suggest we play a board game. 

He's got a bunch of firsts going for him.  He's the first Jesuit pope. He's the first pope from an American continent.  He's the first pope from the western hemisphere. 

I was very interested to see how his service would be different from the other popes during my lifetime simply because he is a Jesuit.  They are dedicated to faith and learning.  Their lifestyle is very simple as part of their beliefs, being humble is a large part of being a Jesuit. 

I actively look for the news about what the Pope has said or done.  First, he chose to live in a much smaller, simpler residence instead of the papal apartment.  While he has the option of living in a huge flat with a live in staff, he chooses a much smaller guest house with a sitting room where he can have visitors.  He sometimes cooks his own meals.  When he dines with the others, he sits where there is a seat available, not in a place reserved for him.

He wears plain black shoes. This has been pointed out, his plain black shoes, sturdy and able to be worn a long time.

 He kisses babies and allowed the kid who climbed up to see him during a mass remain with him while he spoke, patting the kid on the head as he hugged the pontiffs' legs.   The kid draped himself in the pontiff's chair to watch the service from behind Frank's back.  I really love the photo of the pope showing this boy the ornate cross he was wearing.

He has made it clear that he wants to put his focus on people near the fringes of society, those who are incarcerated, homeless, poor or drug addicted.  Frank prays for everyone.  EVERYONE.  He excludes no one in his hope for a peaceful world.  He's a man, not a god.  It's not his job to judge. 

As a Jesuit, he taught other theological philosophies and has said we should be accepting of those of other belief systems.  He chooses to worship God in one way, others choose a different path.  Frank isn't going to get into telling the world that his path is the only way. His path is HIS path and your path is YOUR path. 
I like that he does things that display an example of humility and faith.  He washed the feet of the incarcerated and women during the week leading up to Easter, which caused quite the stir.  It appeared that there were people out there who felt that humility has a place, but come on! 

He tossed out his notes on Palm Sunday and chose to wing it instead.  Then he went for a ride in the Popemobile but jumped out to take selfies with teenagers from Argentina. 

Before he heard confessions, he himself gave confession to a priest.  Not a cardinal or a bishop, just a priest, then he went and heard confessions from worshipers.  If he thinks people should be doing it, he does it. 

He's very much a secular humanist and I like him.  I just want to hug him every time I see him on telly.  I want to thank him for renewing my belief that there are people of power in the world who are good at heart. 

And he'd probably kick my ass at Trivial Pursuit.  Unless I get mid-1980's hits, then we might have an even match.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Body scrubs and lotions from the dollar store can work just as well as more expensive brands.  Don't let the fact that they're cheap scare you away from them.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Today did not go the way I thought it would

I thought today would be a fun day of making cookies, doing the baby food test challenge with the kids and then coloring eggs.

I had a "less drama, more duh" moment early this morning.  I went out to run errands and my car wouldn't start.  I noted that my gas tank was on empty and the miles I can usually get per tank was on the high side.  (I set my trip odometer every time I fill up.)  I walked to the gas station with a can, got some gas, put it in my car and vroom vroom!

I got the stuff I needed for all the above activities and headed home.  I let the dogs out into the backyard and then heard, not barking, but snarling and growling.  I went out back to find Gibson and Peavey locked up fighting.  We'd had this issue before, but not for months. 

Gibson has always had alpha dog issues.  We adopted him 4 and a half years ago and learned we were his third family.  He'd been surrendered by his second family because they were being evicted and couldn't keep him.  He ended up with us.  When he was an only dog things seemed fine. 

Then I noticed he growled.  Not at everyone, but enough for me to notice.  He started snapping and I'd push his head down, telling him bad dog.  When we took him to the dog park, he'd run with the other dogs, but he'd try to get up and chew on the backs of their necks, a sign of dominant behavior. Eventually, we just stopped taking him because it caused friction with the other dog owners. 

Gibson bit our neighbor's daughter.  I got in touch with them and told them what I would want someone to tell me, that we'd take care of any medical bills if they took her to the doctor, that we were going to address the situation and when she came over we would put Gibson in another room.  He didn't bite again, at least not any kids. 

When Gibson and Peavey started fighting, Scott and I both got bit pulling them apart. These fights always drew blood. Never enough for stitches, but enough to need to clean them both up. I called the organization that adopted him to us and asked for help.  They sent out a behaviorist who watched our dogs and said that Gibson was displaying dominant traits.  If Peavey tried to walk up to the trainer, Gibson would turn and give him a hard stare.  If Gibson was getting attention and Peavey was playing with a toy, Gibson would go steal the toy and Peavey would come get attention.  Then Gibson would go over to get attention and Peavey would go play with the toy.  We were told to not allow that kind of thing. 

We started making both dogs work for going outside, getting their leashes put on, getting their food.  We made them both sit and stay before they could eat, made them wait to get their leashes put on and if Gibson snapped I put him in time out in our laundry room.  Things got much better.  He seemed to calm down and there weren't any more fights.

Then we had today.  I got the new puppy, Fender, out of the middle of everything and put him in his crate. I yelled for Zoe to go wake up her dad.  Scott and I each got a dog by the back legs and pulled them apart.  They were both still snarling and pulling towards each other.  Scott got Gibson into his crate and I brought Peavey inside.  Gibson growled and snarled at Peavey from inside his crate.  We put Peavey in another room.

After an hour or so, we tried letting Gibson out.  He and Peavey stayed away from each other and I stayed close.  45 minutes later, Gibson went after Fender.  I saw him turn and lunge at Fender, then suddenly Peavey and Gibson were fighting again.  Scott was in the shower and I was on my own.  I tossed Fender into my bedroom while Zoe grabbed her brother and ran upstairs, where she closed them both up in her room.

I tried shoving a chair between them, which didn't work.  I opened up the back door and ended up grabbing Peavey by the collar while I shoved a cookie sheet between them.  I was able to get them separated after a number of tries then had to kick Gibson in the chest to get him out the back door.  When I slammed the door shut he lunged at the door.  I didn't get bitten but I did get a good scratch on my arm.

I was shaking and crying.  After Scott got out of the shower we had a tearful family meeting.  Scott had said that if Gibson started to show the aggressive behavior again, we were going to have to find another home for him.  We just couldn't take the chance that he might turn on one of the kids.  He'd already bitten one of their friends and he had growled at a couple others.  We had been lucky so far. 

All four of us cried but Scott and I had to make the horrible adult decision that Gibson needed to go back to the adoption agency before someone got seriously hurt. 

I got in touch with the organization and he's now on a waiting list for a kennel.  When they have one, I'll take him to be surrendered.  I feel awful about this.  I hate myself.  It's probably my fault. I'm mostly likely not a good dog owner.  And now I have to give my dog away because I'm incompetent. 

After I calmed down some, I went and did the baby food taste challenge with the kids.  I was blindfolded and they fed me bites of baby food while I guessed what food it was.  I got them all right! Then the kids tasted all of them and gave their reactions.  When I went to upload the video, my laptop ate it.  The program had quit on it's own and it hadn't been saved.  Shit.

This has not been a good day. 

So today is Good Friday

It's Good Friday.  One o' them high holy days.  I have a weird relationship with Good Friday.  I'll explain.

I was raised Lutheran.  My father listens to the Prairie Home Companion and laughs like a loon at the church stories.  Every family gathering involved Jell-0 with stuff in it.  There's a whole other tangent I could go off on about the Jell-0 at family Christmas.

While Lutherans are known to be low key, unfussy and somewhat quiet in their services, Good Friday was an exception to that rule.  The service would start in the evening.  There would be the expected sermon about the sacrifice Jesus made for the world.  Then the choir would sing the Bible verses of the crucifixion and after each verse one light would turn off until the whole church was dark except for the eternal light, a candle in a red, lantern holder hung over the altar. 

Then everyone would go outside.  The doors to the church would be slammed shut, to symbolize the stone being rolled into place and everyone would go home without talking to each other to meditate upon the sins that caused the sacrifice. 

I understand that the church used to have a living diorama of the crucifixion.  One year, my uncle was chosen to be Jesus and hung on the cross for a while.  He had the Calling at an early age and is a Lutheran minister now. 

When I was 10 or 11, we went to the Good Friday service at the church my godparents were attending.  It was held in an industrial building, the first time I'd seen a church service happening not in a church.  I remember the sermon, the minister was a very good speaker.  He said that the root of sin was found in the middle of the word, the "I".  When a person focuses on the "I", sin follows.  Thinking of the self. leads to acts that hurt others. 

Anyway, we're sitting there and then the lights go down and a big movie screen, not as big as the actual movies but big, starts to show a slide show of the crucifixion.  Crown of thorns, whipping, nailing, darts, all of it.  There was a close up of a mummified Christ, still nailed up on the cross, leaning forward with the mouth hanging open.  The eyes were gone, I'm assuming it was crows.  I had friggin' nightmares about that picture.  I sat there scared to death, but didn't want to cover my eyes because, well, we were in church.

When I'm invited by friends to attend Good Friday services, I always hesitate and ask what kind of service it will be. 

I know, intellectually, that Good Friday is a day to realize that there is something in everyone that is worth saving.  But then I get stuck on that zombie movie and my inner child makes a horrified face. 

But, I have today off.  I'll be cleaning up downstairs and then I have some fun things planned for the day.  If you live in my neighborhood you'll be getting a message from me about it. 

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  You can use the white, inside of an orange peel to buff your nails.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My brilliant career

I've been working for a big coffee company for a year now.  It's around the corner from my house, the hours are very flexible, I have access to stock options and 401K benefits and when I leave work, I leave work.  No taking it home with me, or late night projects.

Does it have it's stress?  Yes.  I work the morning rush shift, so we're under pressure to get as many orders filled in as short a time as possible.  But I like my co-workers and my customers.  We have a bunch of regulars.  Neil, Terry, Nancy, Dennis, Will, Mike, Guillaume, Caroline,  Nate, Juan and a lot of others I could only identify by their drink of choice.  There's grande, no water, extra hot, 7 pump chai.  Then venti caramel macchiato with light foam and a newspaper.  Tall non-fat, no whipped cream, white mocha is a pharmaceutical rep who gets 8 pastries of whatever is easy for us to grab.  There's quite a few more I would recognize and be able to tell you their order but I couldn't tell you their names.  They could tell you mine, because I wear a name badge.  I've been told when I was out of town some of them asked where I was.  That's a nice feeling. 

My day looks something like this:

3:15-3:30 a.m. Wake up, make coffee, get dressed, make kids' lunches, gather my stuff and out the door by 4:10 a.m.

4:15 a.m. Arrive at work and get started. I fill the pastry case with the goodies we're offering that day.  We're partnering with another company now, so the case has to be set up exactly the way our picture shows.  One of the challenges when we swapped over to the new display was the fact that the picture I have is a mirror image of the way I'm supposed to do it.  I've got it pretty much down and now I'm working on getting my speed up.  I do a quick heat on the savory hot sandwiches so the cheese around the edges melts and they get toasty on the top before I display them.

Then I get the refrigerated case filled with sandwiches, bistro boxes, juices and yogurts. 

Once that's done, I make myself a 4 shot, vanilla latte, iced but with no ice.  I drink this quickly through a straw and get the sandwiches we heat up organized into the small fridge under the ovens. 

Generally, this takes about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes.

5:30 a.m.  I make sure that there are dates on everything that needs to be dated and all the pastries we don't heat up are stored on the shelves close to the register.  Then I either take my break or I put on a headset and take orders at the drive through, take payments at the window and pass out drinks.  Sometimes I make the drinks too.  It depends on how busy we are. 

In between orders, I help make sure that all stations have what they need for the morning rush.  Do all the espresso stations have the syrups, toppings, lids and stuff they need?  Does the drive through window have enough pre-packaged oatmeals ready to have hot water added?  Are there plenty of sugars, sweeteners and oatmeal toppings?  Does the small fridge by the window have yogurts, bistro boxes, bottles of water and yogurts?   Does the warming station have the proper amount of pastry bags and tongs?  Do the sticker machines work?  (when we enter an order, a sticker prints out like in a restaurant back of house.  If the stickers aren't printing it makes all of us working run around waving our arms in a panic.)

6:30 a.m. This is where our business really starts to ramp up. We'll have customers at the speaker steadily, I'll take orders and payments, but someone else will make drinks. 

7:00 a.m.  By this time I'll have taken off my headset and will be working the window taking payments and giving out the morning mickeys.  Here is where we have to really focus on our speed. 

We have a screen above my register showing the cars in line from the speaker to the window.  If they have been waiting for less than 3 minutes, the car is green.  Waiting for longer than 3 minutes, the car is yellow.  4 minutes or above, the car is red.  Red and yellow cars make us nervous.  All green cars with an average wait time of 34-36 seconds at the window is a good place to be.  

Our goal is to have 50 completed transactions in 30 minutes. That's 1 every 36 seconds.  Hitting a high 40 for a half an hour is okay.  Hitting 50 is good.  55 is great.  The record for our store is 59.  There are things I don't have any control over that effect our wait times. A customer fo-diddling around with their stuff at the window, having to dig around for their payment, adding things at the window, a lot of customers inside ordering warmed up items and other stuff will also slow our wait time down.  Plain coffee is the quickest drink we can get and lots of those will allow us to crank a lot more cars through in 30 minutes. 

 I've noticed that on payday, and the few days following, we'll get a lot more pricey orders and I'll receive larger bills as payment.  The days just before payday, more plain coffees and I'm paid with more coins. 

My job is to check the screen that tells me what order is coming up, make sure that's the one in my hand and be ready to give it to my customer.  I hand it out the window while they pass me their payment.  I make change or swipe their card and send them on their way. 

Sometimes they'll need to wait a minute or so and I make small talk.  Then they get their caffeine and I send them on to work.

If we get a big order, 4 or 5 drinks in one car, that will make our wait time go up and we'll focus on going as fast as we can for the next 10-20 minutes to catch back up.  If we have a customer order several items that need to be warmed up, that will slow things down as well. 

I'll man the window, making sure to communicate with the person making the drinks and the person taking orders if I have an issue, such as a drink added at the window, or a drink that needs to be re-made.

We have a customer that sends her drink back to be re-made about every 3rd or 4th time she gets it.  It's made exactly the same every time, but she sends it back.

I usually spend the rest of my shift on the window.  Generally, I'm off by 10 or 11 a.m.

I've seen some fun stuff at the window.  New Year's Day a girl in her micro-mini dress from the night before with her make up all smudge couldn't make her phone work in order to pull up her store card for me to scan.  After a few minutes, I comped her her drink and told her Happy New Year.  I refer to that as "The Drive of Shame."   

The man who pulled up and let a nice sized puff of marijuana smoke out his window as I handed him his big, extra caramel drizzle, extra whipped cream, three flavored frappuccino.  He took a sip and groaned with pleasure. 

The man who ordered 4 espresso shots and then blew into his built in breathalyzer while I was making change. 

I see a lot of women putting on make up.  I see a lot of people int their p.j.s and bathrobes.  I see women in curlers.  I see men brushing their teeth. 

Because I live around the corner from where I work I see customers at the grocery store quite often.  We say hi and we'll see each other later.  I've introduced my son to a few of them. 

Those of you who know me in real life know I just gotta talk.  Our regulars know we have a new dog, that my daughter plays harp, my husband makes video games, I take pictures and I'm saving for a new tattoo.  (If you'd like to contribute just tell me!  I'll send you my Paypal info. :D  )

Once I've clocked out, I get myself a coffee to take home.  I'll chill out for a while then take a nap. 

Then my after school days starts.  But that's another post.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you live in a hot climate and your nail polish separates, keep it in the fridge. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

I think this day should end now.

I've had quite the day.  Allow me to explain.

I was up at 3 to be at work at 4:15 a.m.  I did all my morning opening duties and then I got to work the front register.  I gave a couple who told me they were getting married today their coffee for free and asked the groom if he understood it wasn't about him.  I got coffee. I got coffee. I got coffee.

Then I had a customer who needed to put more money on her Starbucks card after she'd ordered 6 drinks and two sandwiches.  She had the application on her phone, so she just needed to scan the bar code.  I put in the reload amount and got that taken care of.  Then, she used a different Starbucks card on her phone app to take care of the remaining balance on her order.  That card didn't have any money on it.  I thought I'd missed reloading the first card, tried to do the reload again and then the works got all gummed up.  The customer walked out in a huff and I tried not to burst into tears I was so frustrated.  I really don't like it when I make mistakes and someone leaves in a huff. It's not like it's my goal of the day or anything.

I worked until 9:45 and came home to work on fixing the toilet in our downstairs quarter bath.  It's been stopped up for a couple of days.  I borrowed a plumber's snake from our excellent neighbors after plunging didn't work.  Snaking didn't work.  Baking soda and vinegar didn't work.  I decided I was going to try a different kind of snake and maybe some noxious substance to try and clear whatever what plugging it all up.

I went and got my stuff.  On the way home I had to stop at Zoe's school to pick up her harp.  For those of you who don't know, my daughter plays harp in her middle school orchestra.  This weekend she's doing a full day of playing harp with a group of other students who play harp within the area.  I was going to need to take Zoe and her harp up to the location of this event after she got out of school.

I brought my supplies inside and tried the more flexible snakey thingie.  Nope.  Bring on the noxious substance.  I followed the instructions.  There were fucking vapors rising from this stuff.  Nope.  Still clogged up. 

I tried my neighbor's heavy duty snake again.  When I pulled it back out the plastic tip of it had come off.   Well, fuck my life. 

What did I do?  I took to Facebook of course!  I whined about my plight.  An old friend of ours explained to me how he uninstalled his toilet, flushed it out with his hose in the backyard and put it back in. 

I thought "Oh, what the hell."  I got me a screwdriver, a wrench and a pair of needle nose pliers.  The tank was empty and I got that off.  I put it in the hallway.  I used an empty can that once held Bush's Baked Beans with Bacon and Brown Sugar to get the water out of the bowl, then I used rags to soak up the last of the water.  I got the bolts holding it down undone and lifted the whole thing up. 

I took the smelly thing out into the backyard and put it down near the hose bib.  I stuck the hose in the bottom of the toilet and turned the hose on full blast.  Pfffffssshhhhhhh....... POP. 

I swear to you, a ball of shit the size of a tennis ball came flying out and landed on my rosemary bush.  I believe I screeched a couple of curse words before I turned the hose on it.  It all broke apart and now it's fertilizing my rosemary plant.  I returned my attention to the throne and continued to hose it out.  Yep, all clear.  Well, there were smears in it.  I tried to wash those off and it became clear a household cleaner was going to be needed.

I got the smelly thing back in the house.  I got it back on the wax seal.  I got the bolts retightened.  I put the tank back on.  I reconnected the water.  I turned the water on.  I flushed. I checked for leaks. 

It worked.

Now, I needed to go pick up my son from school.  I fetched him from his midi keyboard class and took him over to a friend's house.  He was going to hang out there while I took my girl-child to her harp-a-palooza.  I sat down for 15 minutes.  Zoe came busting through the door and we were off.

We were running a little late.  We were made later by the fact that I drove three exits too far and had to back track.  We finally made it and I lugged the harp into the building.  I left my daughter there and returned home. 

I spent the next 20 minutes making sure that all the water was mopped up, spraying the room down with germ killing cleaner stuff and starting a load of laundry.  Then I went to get my son from our friend's house so we could go get his sister.  He said he wanted to stay and play with his friend.  I let him.

I drove back up to get Zoe but I got to leave her harp there.  Once we got home I took complete and full advantage of my friends and picked up my living room.  I let my daughter have Cheez-its for dinner while sitting in front of her computer. 

My son came home and I let him have Cheez-its for dinner too.  As I'm sitting on the couch, Gibson the Dog comes and sits next to me.  Then I realize that he has rolled in the mud created by my hosing out the toilet and he now smells like the tennis ball sized clod of poo I freed earlier that day.

I then gave the dog a bath.  I gave Fender the Puppy a bath just in case. Peavey the Dog isn't all that bright but he's bright enough to not roll around in shit. 

Then I watched TV for another 15 minutes while I played Candy Crush. 

Then I took a shower. 

Then I told the kids to get ready for bed.

Then I found Will's DS under the bottom sheet of his bed. 

Then I got both kids tucked in and told them good night.

Then I got myself some Cheez-its and started blogging.

I'm going to go to bed now.

And how was your day?

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Make sure that you are drying your face with a clean towel.  Keep a pile of washcloths by your sink and use those to dry your face instead of the towel that's been used to dry your bod. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

That was a dark place

I'm in the process of giving up cigarettes.  I went from 15-25 a day to 0.  The withdrawal symptoms were less than joyful.  I looked up everything on the internet (because the internet is an endless fountain of information)  and found out that it's probably normal for me to be experiencing nausea, dizziness, anxiety, itchy skin and paranoia.  I did use a patch for the first day, which helped a little. It helped me sleep anyway. 

The first night I went to bed I was twitching.  Twitching.  I know I'd heard people say that trying to stop after being a heavy smoker (2+ packs a day for more than one decade) was similar to kicking heroin, but I'd always poo-poo'd that as drama queening.  Hmmm.  Maybe there was something to that.

My remarkably unhappy brain and I went off to work.  I warned my co-workers I was kicking nicotine and please be patient with me.  Luckily, I've worked the drive through window so much I can do it in my sleep.  I can hand out coffee and take payments.  I can let my co-worker know what I'm waiting on. 

At one point I was standing on my mat, holding a latte of some kind and waiting for the next car to pull up so I can give them their morning fix.  As I'm standing there my little mind went to a dark place.  A place where the narrative went something like this:

Wow. So here I am.  I pass out coffee.  I pass coffee out as fast as I possibly can.  This is what I do.  I live in the suburbs.  I have two kids with ADHD.  I have two badly behaved dogs and just added a puppy to that mix.  My house is messy.  This is my life.  I can go downtown all I want but it doesn't change the fact that I'm a haus frau who works the drive through window 30 hours a week.  I've never been wild.  I never will be wild.  I'm just going to keep passing out coffee and I should probably start talking to my therapist about how to accept the fact that I'm a haus frau who passes out coffee. 

It got worse from there.  I'm feeling better today.  I've gotten myself through 72 hours and I've only had 2 cigarettes, which is huge. I'm trying to keep myself busy doing dishes and vacuuming.  The laundry is all done, but not put away.  I've put an end table we don't need anymore down by the curb, where it vanished quickly.  

I've also started listening to self-hypnosis on youtube.  There are a lot out there.  One of them is a voice that sounds a great deal like the possessed Regan in The Exorcist repeating "Quit smoking.  Quit smoking.  Quit smoking.  Quit smoking"  for 45 minutes. 

I wish I could say "And each day it gets easier!  I feel so much better!  Cleaner! Lighter! I'm on the road to becoming a non-smoker!"  but the fact is that quitting smoking isn't fun and I can see why so many people just don't do it. 

My brain is still somewhat uncooperative, so I'm not sure how much sense I'm making.   Anyway.  I'm off.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you get polish on your cuticles, use a cotton swab dipped in polish remover to clean them up.  Or, just wait for it to dry and then really wash your hands. It will generally come right off.