I’m starting to question my intelligence

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I have always been proud of the fact that I have a great deal of common sense.  Sometimes I have moments of cleverness that make me happy that I have the ability to formulate logical and reasonable assessments of a situation. Lately, all of that has changed.

Tired of hearing the Squirrel Grand Prix up and down my walls at 6:00 am, I decided to take action.  I bought a live trap with the thought that it would be easy to trick a few red squirrels into it so I could re-home them.  I was wrong.

I was lucky on the first round.  I came home to find a large black squirrel in the trap and we went for a nice drive to a golf course about 10 km from my house.  It was surprisingly calm during the ride but once the cage was out of the car, it was quite anxious to begin its life in its new home. One point for me.

I put some nice, plump cashews on the spring trap and set it out before I went to bed. I peeked out the window the next morning to see the trap had been sprung but there was nothing inside. I used peanut butter to attach the cashews to the spring trap with the same results. I knew the trap worked since I had imprisoned a few chickadees in the process. The status of the hunt was moved up to Defcon 3. I took a small mason jar and placed it inside on one side of the trap with the nuts inside the jar. I made sure the trap would close with the jar inside. I put the trap close enough to a beam on my deck so the little buggers would have no choice but to enter from one side, climb over the plate springing the trap in the process and making me the victor. That did not happen.

When I went out the next morning the trap had been sprung, the nuts were gone and the little shit squirrel had defecated in the jar as a way of saying, “screw you, lady”. Defcon 2 – I was at the point where I was going to borrow my brother’s wildlife night-vision camera so I could see how this was happening.  That squirrel had to be the rodent version of Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible to get in and out of there without getting caught. It probably was licking its fingers after its meal and reached through the side of the trap and set it off – just to spite me.

Defcon 1 – Someone made a suggestion that made complete sense. Why had I not thought of this? I went to the local Home Hardware and purchased some Krazy Glue. If I was knowingly going to feed these furry creatures again, they were going to work for it! But the dynamic changed. They were on to me. Those nuts sat glued to that tray for two weeks and were buried in our mid-April snowstorm. Once the snow had melted and the elements had broken down the glue, the little bastards came back, took the nuts and left.

The only stage left after Defcon 1 is war. Wish me luck, I’m going in.

My doctor took an oath to save lives, but she may kill me

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I have high blood pressure.  It is something I have lived with for a long time and something that runs in my family.  I take pills, I have check ups with my doctor and I am careful about the things I eat so I can moderate my intake of sodium.  So when I went to see my doctor last Friday, I was shocked and appalled by the number that she gave me as my BP reading.

She dutifully asked the questions she needed to ask about the obvious things that could be causing the spike in my blood pressure.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that part of the reading may be due to the fact that my appointment was for 9:45 am and I finally got in to see her at 11:07 am.  Then there is the “white-coat syndrome” that in itself raises the reading by a few points.  But I was truly perplexed.  Over the last 10 months, I have given up coffee, I have been eating a more plant-based vegetarian diet and I have been walking with my dog on a regular basis, so why the high reading?

Let me take you back a few years  to when I found myself in the same situation.  My reading had been high at a regular appointment and my doctor and I scrutinized my daily habits until we discovered one particular thing I had been doing that was the cause of my high reading – nasal spray.  Yes, a seemingly innocuous nasal spray to relieve my constant congestion was to blame for the spike in my numbers.  However, since that appointment, the nasal spray was discarded and I have learned to live with a stuffy nose.

So for days after my last appointment, I closely examined the things in my life that may be contributing to this high and disturbing number.  It was not my food choices, it was not my exercise habits and it was not my stress level.  As I leaned back one morning to drop my allergy eye drops into the corners of my eyes for the first of many daily doses, I put my cheaters on and looked a little more closely at the label on those drops.  The saving grace for my red, itchy, allergen-filled eyes was a decongestant.  In the world of people with high blood pressure, this is also called a No-No.  Decongestants not only have the potential to increase blood pressure, they prevent the medication I take each morning from doing its job.   DUH!!

So, this coming Friday I will, once again, sit in the waiting room of my doctor’s office to see if I get in on time for my appointment.  I have not been using my eye drops since Tuesday morning, so I will wait to see what my reading is to see if those drops are the cause of my high numbers.

As I await my fate, I urge you all to carefully check the labels of any over-the-counter medications you may be using and ask questions about the long-term effects they may have on your body.  You just never know.

Customer Service 101

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I am a creature of habit, not necessarily routine, but certainly habit and because of that I have been brand-loyal to my car dealership for almost 30 years.  In that time, their salesmanship and service have been exemplary.  Today is the first day that I have ever been disappointed in that service.

Two weeks ago, I had booked an appointment for the first scheduled service for my new car as well as requesting to have my snow tires installed.  When I leased my new car in March, I was told that the snow tires I left in storage at the dealership were the same size as my new wheels so I would be able to use them this winter.

I received a call this morning from the service department informing me that they had taken those snow tires out of their storage and disposed of them a few months earlier.  There was no discussion with me about this – they just made the arbitrary decision to discard something that belonged to me, that I owned.  Even if the snow tires were felt to be “on the borderline” of being usable for one more winter, that was MY decision to make – not theirs.

Since my sales representative was off for the day, I left a message for the sales manager and, true to form, he called me back before the end of the day.  Being the person I am, I felt uncomfortable asking for some sort of restitution, but I feel my request was completely justified and, thankfully, he agreed.

We are still discussing how we can come to a mutual agreement regarding my tires but I am confident that the resolution will make me believe that I have been a loyal customer for a reason.  The fact that I have had to cough up $550.00 to buy tires that I was not expecting to buy has not escaped me but hopefully this unexpected expense will be slightly offset by my dealership’s recognition of their error.

Here’s hoping that my service appointment goes well on Saturday morning.

 

 

 

The business of doing business

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I have a very large, very dead pine tree looming over my driveway and threatening the safety of my home and my new car.   It has been dead for several years but each day when I drive in my driveway, I convince myself that it is leaning closer to my house than it was the previous day.  It was time to call in the professionals.

I found four local companies that offer tree removal services as well as free estimates.  All four came to my house and gave me a wide range of quotes for different ways that the tree could be felled and cleared.  The company I chose to do the job was the best fit in terms of safely felling the tree with the right equipment and not charging me a fortune to move the pieces off to the side of my driveway.  I thanked the other companies for their quotes and let them know I went with a different service.

Two of the other three were understanding.  One was not.  After I told him I would be happy to pass on his information to others looking for his services, I received a text message from Brian and this is what it said, “Well thank you Susan.  No need to pass my name around since you have not experienced the level of service we provide.  In future, I would respectfully suggest you exhaust your cheaper options before calling someone that spends their time and fuel to look at your work.  Good luck with your tree and hopefully the damage will be minimal.”

WTF???

To say that I was angered would be a gross understatement.   I had to hold myself back from responding with the words that were churning in my head.   Instead, I politely explained that I had chosen a company with a similar rate but a better option for me and the safety of my oak tree since Brian was going to strap the dead tree and pull it down so it would come into direct contact with my 100-year-old oak tree.  (But he assured me the oak tree would be fine!)

What I should have texted was this, “Well, thank YOU Brian.  I will certainly be passing your name around now, just not in the way I had expected since I now understand the level of service you provide.  I respectfully suggest that you not offer free estimates if you are going to whine about the time and fuel you spent doing something you advertise as free and act like an asshole when you don’t get the job.”

Even birds can have a lapse in judgement

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For the past two mornings, I have been brought back from my slumber into consciousness by an obnoxious sound.  Before I share my story, let me first paint a scene in your mind.

Picture a tiny white cottage nestled in the midst of three acres of extensive woodland.  The dense underbrush is stippled by towering century-old Maple and Oak trees that seem closer to the sun than to the ground.  Branches perpetually invite forest creatures to share their space and many birds use the strong limbs to begin their spring ritual of attracting a potential mate.  The songs of the frogs fill the night air as the barred owls call from one tree to another.  These soothing noises lull me into sleep.

Mornings are usually accompanied by the soundtrack of chirping birds.  The melodies of Chickadees and Red-winged Black Birds are the first strains I hear and they help me welcome the morning with a peaceful sigh…..until yesterday.

My rhythmic breathing was suddenly caught in my throat as I was rudely awakened by the simulated sound of a jack hammer.  The noise would stop long enough for me to hear the fading echo and then begin again.  In the middle of this wooded sanctuary, a Pileated Woodpecker was pounding his beak on the old TV antenna that is affixed to the house directly beside my bedroom window.  This beautiful, albeit destructive bird, truly could not see the forest for the trees.  Although surrounded by a plethora of massive trunks, it chose to continue to bang its beak on the metal tower and showed up again this morning to do it all over again.

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I caved to the will of the shortsighted bird and got up early to take my dog for a walk.  The familiar sounds of the usual morning creatures were there to walk with us and when we got close to home, I heard the familiar banging sound coming from my neighbors house.  Out of the myriad number of trees to select from, this bird had found the only two needles in nature’s haystack.  I can only wonder how long it will take this feather-brained bird to realize it’s barking up the wrong tree.

 

Putting the “jerk” in knee-jerk reaction…..

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On Saturday, I spent a couple of hours at our local Foodland trying to promote our small curling club.  We  had a tiny table set up with a lone chair, our club banner and some flyers with information about our open houses and our membership rates.  What I thought was going to be a couple of hours of chatting about the club turned into a very eye-opening experience and a great deal of fodder for this blog post.

If you have ever shopped in a grocery store, you have undoubtedly seen small town clubs raising awareness (or funds) for their groups.  Having never been on this side of the table before, I was ill-prepared for the events that transpired.

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Many locals did stop at the table.  To their good fortune, and our misfortune, they were snow birds counting the days until they left for the sunny south.  We did receive a collection of names to add to our list of possible new members.  But what I didn’t expect were the reactions of the multitude of people going by who would do anything to avoid eye contact with me.

Let me remind you, I was not selling anything or asking for money.  Most shoppers picked up their pace as they passed me, looking straight ahead as if trying to remember where they parked their car.  Several people didn’t even want to know why I was sitting in that cold lobby, they just told me they didn’t have any cash and kept moving.  One lady went so far as to tell me she had already donated!   This generous stranger had somehow anonymously given money to our little curling club and nobody on the executive committee were any the wiser.

The crowning glory was a middle-aged woman who, as she pushed her full grocery cart past me, simply responded “NO” when I had asked, “How are you today?”.

I was in awe of how quickly people were willing to dismiss  me, to turn a blind eye and not even take a moment to understand why I was there.  My presence wasn’t threatening.  I was not holding my hand out asking for anything.  To say I was disappointed by the reactions of those people is an egregious understatement.  And I can only hope that if I ever have a knee-jerk reaction to a similar situation, that I’m not such a jerk about it.

The day the spaghetti broke

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I do not consider myself to be a “food snob” but there are certain things that are either right or wrong when it comes to the kitchen and food preparation.  Sure, bastardized versions of many dishes have been made popular over the years to appease the increasing number of dietary restrictions, but there is one thing that I find offensive if it is messed with and that is spaghetti.

One of my dear friends shared a story with me (mainly because he knew I would lose sleep over it) about “the incident” that may haunt me for the rest of my days.

We are both twirlers.  We take great pride in reaching into that steaming bowl of pasta with a fork and twirling that spaghetti, either on a spoon or in the bowl, until a pleasing mound of pasta is gathered in a beautiful spiral pattern.  There is something very fulfilling about the twirling process and the effort to twirl makes the reward of the first bite that much better.

It was a day like any other.  He had been out working in his shop and could almost smell the pungent aromas of tomatoes and spices wafting through the air.  As he neared the house, the scent of the sauce was accompanied by the fragrance of a fresh baguette, lathered in garlic butter, toasting in the oven.

She was there to greet him with a glass of wine and, as he got cleaned up from his day, she then busied herself getting the table ready for dinner.  He was eager to sit down to a heaping bowl of what he thought was going to be a fantastic meal.  Once he had seated himself at the table, she presented a bowl that looked very similar to this:

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What promised to be a meal fit for a King turned into a meal fit for a toddler.  I can only imagine the amount of time that elapsed while he gaped at the bowl in front of him, trying to be appreciative of her efforts but not commenting aloud about the egregious choice she had made.  She had sacrificed everything that is good about spaghetti and had broken the noodles into bite-size pieces.

He felt the harness tightening, encasing him in the invisible high chair in which he now felt trapped.  He repressed the urge to turn into that toddler and throw the bowl to the floor while he struggled to come to terms with the embarrassment those noodles must have felt.  He suffered in silence along with them as he spooned the unrecognizable pasta into his mouth.

Years later, I now suffer, not so much in silence, with him.  A law of nature was twisted that day – the day the spaghetti broke.

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