Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wicked Sick

Work is really picking up. The day after Thanksgiving here in the States ('Black Friday', which was yesterday) is the biggest shopping day of the year. People line up all night long outside of stores to be the first ones in and get special deals. Fights break out. People get stabbed. From now till Christmas, my store should be hoppin'. Hopefully it'll be sans frenzied shopper stabbings. I suppose books don't fan the flames of bloodlust like marked down electronics do.

I'm not going to say I'm not a materialistic person. Most of us are. George Carlin had a great bit about it. Saw him perform in person a few years ago, brilliant.

But DUDE. I can't believe that people will CAMP OUT all night just to buy a TV. One of my friends just goes out to be around the crazy people buying stuff at 3am, he doesn't even buy anything. It's a tradition. I was at work till 10:30 last night, and one of my co-worker friends said that she'd been up for 24 hours.


You know what my ass is doing at 3am the day after Thanksgiving?

If I don't have to work, my Canadian ass is HIBERNATING. I am in a solid turkey/pumpkin pie/ mashed potato coma. This was the first year I've worked at the bookstore that I wasn't scheduled to work at 4am on Black Friday. I took advantage of every bit of sleep I could get because I knew work that afternoon would be crazy.

It just amazes me what people will do for a good deal on merchandise. In Canada, the day after Christmas (which is 'Boxing Day' to my American friends) is our big shopping day of the year. And it's turned into a week now. They call it 'Boxing Week' sales. I used to joke that it was going to turn into 'Boxing Fortnight' sales. I went out on Boxing Day once, and it totally wasn't worth it. As one of my favourite eloquent sayings goes...fuck THAT shit.

And, just because nature is cruel, I am also getting sick. I don't get sick very often even though I work with the public. My immune system is pretty good. Touching dirty, disgusting money all day long will do that to ya.

Ladies? If you're gonna keep money in your 'bra bank' as you so classily put it, will you please take it out of there before you come up to me to check out? If I'm going to be handling money that's been in your sweaty cleavage, I don't want to know about it first. Thanks.

When I do get sick, it's a bastard. Usually I'm the one that will bring it home and spread it to Chuckles. I'm just around so many people every day. This year it's been the other way around. The One-Lunged-Wonder been sick for almost two weeks. Major chest cold/flu/whatever.

He sounded like the singer from Crash Test Dummies O_O

Took me so long to get it, I thought I might escape. Maybe I had gotten this particular virus before! Then I woke up yesterday and I could feel my throat tightening up. This morning I sound like the Crash Test Dummies guy. Which is sort of creepy. Tomorrow I expect it to be in full swing. Which is perfect timing. Customers love it when you're hacking all over their grandkids' Christmas presents.

Oh well, it's probably better that I get it now than the week of Christmas.

On the upside of things, weather is still gorgeous. This is the only time of year I'm not homesick for Canada. Sunny, warm. I put up my outdoor Christmas lights the other day. I did it in a t-shirt. Well, not only in a t-shirt. That would have caused a neighbourhood scandal. But you know what I mean. And it was AWESOME.

So anyway, I don't know how much blogging I'll get done in the next few weeks. It'll probably be several little crazy customer vignettes, which I know you always look forward to.

Merry Christmas!!

Oh wait. It's still November.


Saturday, November 20, 2010


I love giving presents.

You know what I love more than giving presents? Giving someone a present that I get to enjoy just as much as they do.

Um, not that kind of present.

I just got him concert tickets to Robert Plant & The Band of Joy as a Merry Christmas/Happy Birthday present. They play here in February a couple of days before his birthday.

As most of you know, we're both huge Led Zeppelin fans. I've seen Robert play twice, and Chuck's also seen him twice. Each time he plays, he's with a different group of musicians, and the collaborations always seem to really work.

A lot of Zep fans lament the fact that he's the one that puts the kibosh on a reunion tour. I don't. While it would be cool and everything, I understand why he doesn't want to do it. Can you imagine playing the same songs with the same group of people night after night for 40 years? I'd get tired as hell.

And the collaborations Robert participates in have been genius so far.

Chuck and I saw him perform with Allison Krauss in 2008. We had to travel out to Charlotte to get some of my immigration obligations taken care of, and on the way back we popped into Asheville to see the concert. We had 2nd row tickets at the Asheville Civic Center. One of the best shows I've ever attended. Those two are awesome together. T-Bone Burnett was playing with them, he's had his hand in producing many award winning albums in the last couple of years. Buddy Miller was on guitar as well. That dude rocks. Here's a pic from the show.

Anyway, I had the pleasure of listening to Robert Plant & The Band of Joy's new album on our in-store play list at work. it's great. 'Band of Joy' as a name goes back to Robert's early days before Zep. He and John Bonham were in a band with the same name. Robert liked it I guess, and is using it for this latest collaboration of musicians. Buddy Miller is playing with him again this time around. Which is all kinds of AWESOME.

This is my favourite off the new album. It's a cover of Los Lobos' 'Angel Dance'.

Anyway, I'm very excited. Best present I could have bought us, I mean him :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I'm not a really girly girl.

I don't get my nails manicured. I don't collect designer handbags. No closet full of fancy shoes.

Most of my friends are dudes. I love sports and beer. Ya'll know what a ham I am, I don't care if I look silly.

I've got a mouth so dirty that even the Orbit girl runs the other way.

Get the picture?

But nothing floats my boat more than getting my hair done. Girly girly girly. I don't get to go as often as I like. But I did get to go this morning, and I feel FANTASTIC.

I've been colouring my hair since I was 12. It's been every natural colour out there. Black was the worst mistake I made, when I was 14. Washed my skin out so badly I looked like a fat vampire trout.

Blonde hair looked awesome on me, but waaay too much maintenence. And it wasn't really me.

Red on the other hand...I should have been born with it. Nothing makes me feel more like me than flaming red hair. As my hair soaks up the dye, I also soak up confidence. Makes me stick out in a crowd in a good way.

People always think it's natural. They don't know that the carpet doesn't match the curtains, and I'm good with that.

I'm very vain about my hair. I think one of the reasons I've been kinda down and awkward the last couple of weeks is because it was 4 months since I had it last coloured. More roots than a truck full of carrots. I looked like a hobo.

But I'm back baby!

*does a little dance*

I feel like a Femme Fatale. A sexpot. A minx.

Chuckles better watch out when he walks through the door...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Take Me Bak 'Ome

Have any of you ever felt like you just couldn't cram any more information in your heads?

Not one more fact. Not one more thing to remember to do. Not one more appointment.

I envy people who have their lives mapped out for months in advance in a day planner. Or in their Blackberries or whatever. I'm so old school. Who even uses a pen and paper anymore?

I've never been able to keep a planner. I've always had a spot-on memory. For school or work...I'll make a good go of using a planner for about 2 weeks, and then it just sits in the bottom of my bag collecting dust. Or whatever else that's disgusting and lurking at the bottom of my bag.

I use two methods of reminder.


As you can tell, I'm right handed. I love to write all over my left one. Chuck hates it. He keeps saying I'm going to get ink poisoning.

When my dad was alive, he lived by Post-It-Notes. The whole back side of his front door was covered in them with reminders. You can see I've carried on the tradition.


But my hand is like a travelling Post-It-Note! Genius! Some days it's covered in so much ink that it looks like a strange tattoo. My hand is unusually devoid of pen marks this morning.

These days though, it seems as though it's not enough.

Chuck and I have little pet peeves about each other's habits, as all couples do. His most irritating habit? He'll come in from work, wash his hands of drywall mud and dust, dry them on the current clean tea towel, and then leave the tea towel crumpled up on the counter or the back of a kitchen chair. Drives me batshit. Even though I'm the messiest person in the world! Go figure!

I do many, many things that drive him nuts. One of them is not turning the shower faucet off correctly. Our faucet is effed up and drips all day long if you don't turn the single knob a certain way before shutting it off.

Drip drip drip drip drip

I forget this every time I take a shower, the latest being this morning. Chuck can remind me about it every time, and I still don't remember. He doesn't understand why. I don't either.

It can be little things like that, or it can be bigger, more irritating things. Last night I closed at work. Got home at 11. Schedule said I had to be back at work for 7am.

I drove there this morning, wishing I could have had an extra hour of sleep. I pull into the parking lot behind what looks like the assistant manager's truck. I was like, wtf? He must have switched shifts with someone, because he wasn't on the schedule I had printed.

Yeah, he switched with someone all right. Me! I completely forgot that I said I would close tonight for him if he could open this morning. Drove all the way into Jacksonville for nothing. I'm such a bonehead.

My head is just too full of stuff. So much is going on at work right now. Holiday set-up is just about complete. Holiday Charity Book Drive is in full swing. Customers are starting their Christmas shopping early.

The District Manager is coming to visit the store next Wednesday, and I'm solely responsible for walking through all the displays with him, and providing rationale for the choices made. I'm not really that anxious about it. He seems to really like my work and my personality. But there are so many things to still think about and get done before then.

And it seems like the closer it gets to Christmas, the more the negativity jumps out at me from everywhere. It's really draining.

I'm the first to admit that I'm not happy happy all the time. I don't eat, sleep and shit rainbows.

But as a person who has a...let's say 'big' personality, I understand that I have the power to use it for good or evil. An individual with a big personality has the ability to influence the mood of an entire room of people.

When I'm feeling negative, I choose to crack jokes and put on voices and do silly walks and such until everyone around me is laughing. Not only does it make me feel better, but everyone else as well. Who can be miserable when I'm doing my awesome Sean Connery impression??

On the occasions when life is just too much and I can't contain my negativity behind a silly face (and it happens), it's almost as if I've lined everyone up and slapped them hard in the face with a brush filled with gray paint. No one is comfortable around a big-personalitied miserable person. And not only do I strongly affect people's moods, I also am strongly affected by people's moods.

There are a few people I know with big personalities, not trying to be egocentric here in only talking about myself. Lately a couple of them have been letting the stress in their lives get to them. In letting it get to them, it bleeds all over everyone else. A cloud of anger, nerves, worry and cynicism descends. I'm not going to get all hippie dippy about it, but it's just bad vibes, Man. Makes me feel absolutely horrible and depressed.

(Oh, and by the way, in case you think I'm talking about you, my dear Reader, I'm not. But this is a public blog, so you never know just who is going to find it.)

So lately I find myself trying to relieve stress dumped on me by other people. Cribbage and chardonnay on the porch. Writing in this blog. Listening to an assload of music.

I am currently chair-dancing to Slade.

I love a man in plaid pants and platform shoes. Or maybe it's the muttonchops that get me.

What do you guys do to relieve stress and channel anger?

Booze? Sex? Dancing? Slapping children? What?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

This Bud's For You

It's a week after Halloween, and this is still sitting on my front step.

I'm such a procrastinator. One year when I lived in Edmonton, I actually left the Christmas tree up until March because I couldn't be arsed to take it down.

I've been procrastinating when it comes to garden tasks. Things that should be cut back, deadheaded, or whatever. I know you're all shocked and surprised.

A frost threatens, and I peer out through the window at my potted plants. I don't feel like hauling them all into the garage. I'll just buy new ones next year, I think.

I've been surrounding myself with pansies, because they last through the winter here with little care. I rescued these ones from the Clearance rack yesterday.

The one thing I am pretty pleased about it is my 'Governor Mouton' camellia. This is the third winter it'll have been in the ground, and both of the previous winters it has only had 3 blooms on it.


I've seen the camellia 'twigs' that they sell at Lowe's with more blooms than that on them.

I almost didn't even bother looking at it yesterday. I didn't want to be disappointed again.

But it looks as though it's full of buds! Even though I could only get 3 big ones in a single picture.

Hey, does anyone else on here have a camellia with Yellow Mottle Virus?

I've read that this won't really affect the tree much except in terms of aesthetics, but I was just wondering. I thought maybe this had something to do with lack of blooms. I really wish I would have known to look for YMV when I was buying this thing. Same thing with rose black spot. I learned about that one AFTER I planted my hybrid tea. And that one's been a thorn in my side (heh) ever since.

Speaking of thorns in my side...

The fire ants have built a luxury hotel under my magnolia. They're putting in a pool as we speak. If you're walking through the yard and listen reeeeeally closely, you can hear the sound of hundreds of tiny slot machines...

Fire ants. Yellow Mottle Virus. Deadheading.

Balls!! I say balls to all of it!!

Cribbage and chardonnay on the rear verandah. Much more civilized. Best way to procrastinate, hands down.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's Not Sheetrocket Science

Chuck is a drywall guy. Or Sheetrock guy, if you prefer. Potato, po-tahto.

He's been a drywall guy since he got out of the Marine Corps in 1983. He's mostly a drywall hanger (well, that's what he most loves to do anyway), but he's also a drywall finisher.

If you would have asked me before I met him if I thought drywall was interesting, I would have said no. After I yawned 3 or 4 times first.

But I've learned a lot! I can walk into a house that just framed up and wired, and tell what room is what (and if the job is going to be a bitch). I can walk into a room that someone has just hung drywall in, and tell if it was well hung (hehe) or if it was a shitty job.

That term 'swear like a sailor?' Hah! Should have been 'swear like a sheetrocker'. They have some fun terms for things:

You want to get the job done fast with lower quality work? You 'rape it and run'.

You get a bunch of drywall hangers together to get a huge job done faster? You're 'gangbanging it'.

The coolest skill Chuck has acquired through 30 years of experience with drywall work?


Chuck uses stilts for drywall finishing. The ones in that picture raise up to about 42in (or almost 4 ft).

He not only walks around in these things. He climbs stairs in them. He holds a pan of drywall mud in one of his hands, and a spreading knife in the other and isn't even looking at the ground as he's walking in these things, scraping mud on a ceiling.

Like I said, before I met him, I didn't know shit about drywalling. But when I saw him do this for the first time?

Bad. Ass.

You don't even know how badass until you see it done.

I find stiltwalking sexy as hell. Thank goodness I have other options than circus performers!

Anyway, the other night we had our friends Sean and Andie over for beer and chicken wings. Chuck's chicken wings are more world famous than Hooters'! (Well, that's what I tell him anyway, to butter him up.)

After dinner, whilst we were sitting at the table in a chicken wing coma, Chuck walks through the door that leads from the garage to the kitchen wearing his drywall stilts.

Of course Sean and Andie had to try them out. That's why we're friends with these people.

Andie went first.

Andie is the only woman besides me that is allowed to be in this position with Chuck. She's lucky and she knows it. ;)

I think Sean got a little jealous (not really) because he had to come over and help "strap 'er in".

This is probably my favourite pic of the night. Andie with a Fonzie-style thumbs-up, Sean with a "sneaky Shocker", and a great smile on Chuckles' face.

There were (still are) handprints all over my ceiling. And a little nail polish.

Sean's turn next. As you will see, I didn't need a turn. Not only was I the camera operator, but I've been on Chuck's stilts before. No need to go again. Trust me.

This one's just funny. Sean looks like he's exorcising demons out of Chuck.

Then he got cocky. The bastard. He was a natural.

The stilts weren't at their full height. Chuck shamed him into raising them up to the 42 inches. Sean's short, but not that short. We had to go outside for this. Click on the pic, and note the completely unsure look on Sean's face (he almost ripped the gutter off).

Sean and Andie aren't married. They're just shacking up. I think they're perfect for each other, and Sean should totally have proposed from the stilts. Would have made a good story for future grandchildren.

"Yeah, I asked your Grandma to marry me at your Great Uncle Chuck's house. I was on stilts at the time. I'd been drinking. But it wasn't a mistake, thank God. Maybe.'

Had such a fun time that night. Who else has stilts just lying around, waiting to be played with? We're so awesome.

And next time, Chuck will remember to put the beer on top of the ladder before he gets on the stilts.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Hack This

As I said in my last post: I love the internet. I hate the internet.

I love the internet because it's allowed me to reconnect with people fom school I probably would have never talked to again. I love it because it's given me a creative writing outlet that I've actually stuck with, and highly enjoy. I love the internet because I've met awesome people all over the world. And I can order a book while sitting in my underwear at 2am if I want to!

As you can probably guess from the title of my post, I'm not so in love with the internet this week. You could say the internet is in the doghouse. I'm withholding intimacy and making it sleep on the couch.

I'm well-educated. Polite. Classy if I want to be.

However, I will not be eloquent when it comes to hackers.

Hackers can go fuck themselves sideways.

I do consider myself lucky. My bank account wasn't touched (not yet anyway). I don't believe the hacker used me to spread viruses.

But what a PAIN IN THE ASS.

My husband and I have sort of a ritual in the mornings. The alarm goes off at 5. I sort of lightly doze for another 45 minutes while Chuck watches the news in bed. Then he gets on the computer while I drink my coffee and shake off the rest of the sleep. Then I get on the computer before I rush out the door for work at 6:30.

The hacking occurred a few mornings ago.

'Hey didn't send me an email, did you?' Chuck asked.

'Nope, it's probably a virus or something, I wouldn't open that if I were you,'
I said sleepily.

Chuck knows that I never ever use my email. I will use it on occasion, but I always let the recipient know that I'm sending them something.

I didn't think anything of it, this has happened before. When it was my turn to get on the computer, I found that I couldn't get into my email. My password wouldn't work.

I went through the proper channels and finally got into it. All of my contacts had been deleted. I changed the password, and was kind of pissed off. But I had to get to work, and didn't have any time to check anything else.

I had just rolled into Jacksonville when my cell rang. I was concerned, because only Chuck would phone at that time in the morning. And not unless it was for a good reason.

'Hello?' said I.

'Hey Kyna. Um....Meta (a family friend) just phoned,' Chuck said with a brusque tone.

Holy shit, did somebody die? That's the first thing I thought of.

'Yeah, why?'

'Um, she said Jacob (her son) just thought he was chatting to you on Facebook. And he said you said you were in England and needed money because you got mugged.'

And so the whole day went.

I tried to get Chuck to suspend my account whilst I was driving the rest of the way to the store. But it didn't work...they hacked my email a second time, and got into my Facebook again and were hitting everyone up for money all day long.

Every single person who came in to get their paycheck at work on Friday morning stopped by the registers and said, 'Guess what?'

'Yes...I already know...'

My sister-in-law called Chuck at work. My brother Kevin called me that evening. Everyone asking was I really in England??? Was I really crying and penniless???

After I got to work and changed most of my financial-related passwords (didn't really want to get on social networking sites from there, so I let the hackers wreak havoc on FB while I was working all day), I thought....if this wasn't so annoying it would be kind of funny.

Like, who would believe that I was suddenly in England, got mugged and was asking my friends (some of them people on Facebook that I haven't seen in 20 years) for money?

Well, apparently, people were still worried. I'm just glad that none of them sent money to these people. A couple of messages that I received scared me a little, because they sounded as if they believed that it was me that sent the message.

Took me the whole evening after work to get everything straight. Hopefully I made all my new passwords hard enough that it will be tougher to break in. I'm still getting messages from people telling me how weird it was.

It's called a 419 Scam, where the hackers send all your friends messages that you're stranded in a foreign country and need a large amount of money. They ask you to wire it to a Western Union account in said country.

So just a heads up. Make your password something really long and hard. Lots of numbers and different letter sizes. Change it often.

And a warning: I would never ask anyone less connected to me than my siblings for money. And even then, I'd probably rather starve to death in the middle of Picadilly Circus than ask anyone for money. I never use my email, so if you get one from me, it's not me unless I warn you in advance.

And if I had a trip planned to England?


Example: "I'm going to England! I'm going to England! Na-na-na-na-naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Ppbthhttttttttttttttttt!"

Hackers. Suck. Balls.