Thursday, May 29, 2014

Who's That Messing with my Garden?

Yesterday, I went home in the afternoon to get some lunch, as my normal lunch (water and candy, or, lately, water and cigarettes) just wasn't doing it for me, and I wanted a sandwich.

This is my tiny garden prior to any mischief.

Walking past my tiny little garden, I saw what appeared to be a peanut.  Seeing as I live in Maine, which has never been known for a climate conducive to growing peanuts, I thought to myself "My, that looks out of place," then continued on my day, as I have an actual job that keeps me from dwelling on mystery legumes.

When I arrived home last night, I took a closer look, and discovered not one, not two, but THREE peanuts in with my strawberries, mint, and multiple basil plants.  If they had been out of their shells, I might have wondered what they were (eg "is it a seed? a bean?"), but because they were still fully dressed, I knew it was peanuts.

Artist's rendering of a fully dressed peanut
Now, you're probably thinking: "Why is Jessy complaining about such a great gift? She sure is a big jerk face!" But these are not GIFT peanuts, they are implements of destruction.  Someone or some THING has been digging up my lovely little basil seedlings (including the cinnamon basil which is the coolest thing I've ever even HEARD of), covering them with dirt, and putting peanuts in the depressions where basil used to live.

Seeing as it's 2014, I did what any thirty-something woman does when there's a mystery: I posted about it on Facebook, and immediately received the reply that it must be monkeys.  I already am less than a fan of monkeys, so the idea of them terrorizing my lovely spices just gets my goat (let's see how many animals I can name today!). 

The artist isn't very good at drawing monkeys 
Once I started thinking about monkeys, I thought - "Monkeys are more into bananas than peanuts" - because the mystery creature is not burying bananas - it must not be monkeys.

Now.... think hard here - what kind of animal loves peanuts? 

I'll tell you - it's ELEPHANTS!!!!

In all honesty, I wouldn't mind if it turned out that an elephant was using my little garden as its personal peanut storage area, but you'd think I'd find some other evidence, like giant piles of poop, or really big footsteps - and, I'll tell you, there has been not a sign of either.

And YES, I do happen to live in a neighborhood that is absolutely flush with squirrels.  I fricking love squirrels, and hate to think that they'd play me this way.  Look at this picture of a squirrel - how sweet is it???

Obviously, Squirrels are full of love
I'm not sure how squirrels feel about peanuts - but I do know they're pretty fond of being rascals.

So, I'm currently dealing with either monkeys, elephants, or squirrels - or some strange Dr. Moreau type hybrid. 

Never a dull moment in suburbia.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Happy Birthday Dude!

Back in the early 1990s, when my sister Faith and I were at our very most awkward (I fervently hope that is the most awkward I will ever be!!) we displayed our intrinsic hipness by going from calling our Dad "Dad" to calling him "Dude" (keep in mind this was long before the Big Lebowski, although in my opinion, David Brainerd could give The Dude a run for his money in straight up coolness).  I remember feeling a bit of excitement whenever I'd yell "I love you Dude!" in a crowd, like I was a secret badass.

Here are the facts:
  1. My Dad is cooler than yours
  2. My Dad has the best hair, and had no problem letting us style his tight curls into "Bozo the Clown" (even when we didn't have a clue who Bozo was)
  3. Even though he hasn't had a mustache since I was a teenager, any time I see a man with a mustache, I immediately feel a bit of fondness toward him because of my Dad's old 'stache
  4. The same goes for men smoking pipes 
  5. Dad wore flannel shirts before they were cool in the nineties, and still wears them today (actually, they're the exact same shirts, and the elbows have pretty much disintegrated)
I have an amazing relationship with everyone in my family; we're a close bunch, and genuinely like each other (okay, I can only speak for myself, maybe there's an "I hate Jessy" club going on behind my back, but if there is - they're very good actors when we're hanging out).  

Some of my best memories are of doing regular old stuff with Dad/Dude.  I remember a particular trip to the dump (probably around 1987/1988), and Mom giving the usual warning of not bringing anything home.  Sure, I remember it smelling pretty bad at first, but I got used to it - and then I discovered all the treasures! I remember being baffled at what kind of person would throw away perfectly good furniture, books with the covers missing, wood that could be made into something, and more!  *I am pretty sure that we did not come home with less than we brought to the dump, but hopefully it was so super cool that Mom didn't mind.

Recently, my daughter asked me "Do you know what my favorite memory is?" I said "No," and she proceeded to reminisce about an awesome day at Dad's cabin a few years ago.  We drove up for the day, went for a walk in the woods, and Dad did his usual foraging for chives and other woodsy snacks that I would have walked right past.  I cooked up some chicken in the fire pit in his dooryard (this was before he had the chickens in the dooryard, so it wasn't a creepy thing to do), and we created art with our chicken - it was just a super chill, fun day - beautiful weather, beautiful scenery, all of that.

Three generations of cool

Dad showing off his creation, and his information source

It's memories like hers, and mine of the dump, that make me thankful I didn't grow up wealthy.  While I'm sure that folks with plenty of money have plenty of great experiences, I don't know if they are as capable of finding beauty in the little things.  Maybe that's way too judgey, I don't know.

The reason for all of my Dude-based-memories is that it's the big guy's birthday today!! He's a whopping sixty-one and seems to be improving with age.  Some day, I look forward to hearing my grandchildren talk about their fun times out in the woods with the Dude, too.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Christmas Comes Early (every year)

If I were to make a list of my favorite things, I can assure you that sleeping would be right up there with awesome things like cotton candy, butterflies, and the smell of my sister's Peaches and Cream Barbie back in 1987 - I LOVE sleeping.

Sadly, I suffer from an inability to shut my brain off when it comes time to get to sleep, so often am still wide awake and thinking really cool thoughts in the wee hours of the morning.

This causes me some problems most of the time when I need to wake up and go to work in the morning.  I use several alarms (the best thing I discovered recently is an android app that makes you do math problems in order to snooze your alarm), but still it takes a heaping helping of "you're going to be late and get fired" to get me out of my nice, warm bed in the morning. I have drawn a really terrible illustration of me, before I am forced to leave my down filled sanctuary.

HOWEVER - a magical thing happens every year - all of a sudden, I'm not awake as late as I thought I was, and I get to sleep in EVERY morning! I do happy dances throughout the day (preferably when no one is looking, but honestly, I'm not that self-conscious), and notice that the big black circles under my eyes seem to have shrunken.

Every day is a little more magical than the last. Example: on Monday night, I was ASLEEP before 11:30 pm!!!

I don't much appreciate the fact that it's dark out when I leave my office in the afternoon, but I LOVE the sleeping late.

Unfortunately, this magical period doesn't last too long (I like to put off changing the clock in my car for as long as possible to feel just a bit naughty pulling up to work at almost 9:00 am).  And I'm back to staying up too late, and forcing myself to brush my teeth in the bathroom at work because I just don't have time at home.

I know that in the spring I will look back on this blissful period and laugh, knowing there's no way that it's worth it, as I pry my red, salty eyes open, and arrive at work only to discover that I am, in fact, half an hour late, and my hair isn't brushed, and I hate everyone.

But for now, I continue with my happy dances in the shadows!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Saving a "Life"

I believe in Karma - not in the I've studied Eastern Philosophies for years kind of way - but in the tit-for-tat - do good and good will be done to you sort of way.  To me, it just makes sense - the more positive I am, the more positive the people and things around me are.  I'm not going to try to indoctrinate people in some sort of "The Secret" type of belief system (yes, I read the book, and while I agree with a lot of it - parts of it make me want to look up the woman who wrote on it and shake a finger in her face).

As it is November, the month of being thankful (note to readers: you should practice being thankful all year round - it's pretty dang sweet), I am thankful for a really great experience I had this weekend.

I was pulling into the Walgreen's parking lot (in search of discount halloween candy, if you really need to know), and as I pulled into my chosen space, I noticed this blue wallet-y purse thing on the ground next to the car - spilling all sorts of credit cards and such. I have tried to draw it here, sadly, my scanner only does black and white (same with my pen).
I put extra effort into showing that it was quilted!

I reached down, and started putting all of the cards back inside, figuring I would bring it into the store, and see if anyone had reported losing their wallet.  While making it all fit, I saw that there was quite a big wad o' cash in there (and yes, I felt a moment of jealousy for this mystery wallet owner!).

Just then - there was a screech of tires, and a woman's voice said "Oh my GOD!" - she was stopped just behind my car, a middle-age woman, I'd guess in her sixties, and she looked at me, obviously holding tears back and said "You found it! My life is in there!"

Surprising Fact: I never went to art school

She proceeded to tell me that she must have dropped it when she got into her car, and had just come from the bank, where she had realized that she didn't have it.  She repeated that her "whole life is in there," and I nodded understandingly, because, while I do believe there's a lot more to life than credit cards, cash, and your ID, not having those things makes life feel quite impossible at times.  

She offered me a reward, and I declined, because, really, just having made her that happy was seriously quite enough of a reward for me!  

I went in and was pleasantly surprised to discover that Cadbury is doing the mini-egg style red and green candies this year (the Universe's way of rewarding me?).  

I've thought about it a lot in the past couple of days. I like to imagine that I am a pretty significant player in this woman's life for the time being - I'm the good Samaritan.  I'm sure she had terrible ideas of someone stealing her money, and her identity, and then it all worked out beautifully.  

That's my nice story - I'm thankful for that woman, she made me feel all kinds of rainbows & unicorns. I have drawn a rainbow and a unicorn, both are pretty lackluster, but hopefully they convey a bit of my joy at having saved her "life."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fifteen Years

It's that time of year again.  My Halloween costume is almost perfect, I've successfully resisted the urge to eat too much candy (okay, let's say that my teeth are still in my head so I must not have eaten too much, right?), the heat has finally kicked on, and my arm is still a wee bit sore from my flu shot.

It must be my daughter's birthday.

She's fifteen this year, and I can't fathom where all the years have gone.  I can remember, quite clearly, the anxiousness waiting for her to make her arrival (scheduled two weeks before she showed up), and then the effort to bring her around (and the resulting promises that I would NEVER do that again).  She was perfect - her hair was (and still is) the brightest shade of red - shiny like copper - and every nurse in the wing of the hospital had to come see the little red-headed baby.

Life isn't a perfect thing, and being responsible for an entire new human being at the ripe old age of nineteen wasn't a smooth process.  Within days of coming home from the hospital, she had jaundice severe enough to require a nurse to come to the house, and for her to be a "suitcase baby" (the 1998 home version of the incubator my sister Faith stayed in at the hospital in the 1970s).  I will never forget the helplessness I felt when doctors were explaining that one of the possible outcomes of severe jaundice is brain damage.

Through the toddler years, she had chronic ear infections.  We've battled bronchiolitis, with its companion nebulizer.  Over the years there's been pneumonia, asthma, ankle sprains, ankle surgery, and strep throat countless times, nevermind the time she fell on a broken mason jar in a pond, and I spent the most terrifying twenty minute car ride to the Emergency Room with her assuring her that "No, you aren't going to die," all the while regaining my ability to pray and asking God to make that be true.
There is nothing that can prepare a nineteen year old (or a thirty-nine year old, or a ninety-nine year old) for the complete transformation from a woman to a mother.  It is, without question, the scariest, funniest, saddest, and most fulfilling thing that I've ever done.

Fifteen years in, I've heard "I love you" more times than I can count, and "I hate you" more times than I'd like to remember.  We've had long, enlightening conversations about politics, and short, angry conversations about school clothes.

I'm not sure when it was that she went from being a little combination of her Dad and me (with some of our extended family thrown into the mix) to being a completely separate person.  Yes, I know that she's always been her own person - but I can't remember when I realized that!

The crux of it all is that I love her more than would have ever imagined I'd be capable of loving.  I am proud of everything she accomplishes, she's one of the most intelligent people I know, creative, eloquent, and with fantastic taste in entertainment.

Here she is, on the day we met.
At nineteen, I certainly didn't have a clue what I was in for - but oh, it's the sweetest and most unpredictable ride of my life, and we've got decades more to go!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why I love Netflix

Back in May, I ran into a problem with  my Netflix account - a mysterious problem where I couldn't watch any movies.  Obviously, this made me very sad, so I used the chat option for customer service (cell reception in my house is awful, I suspect it would be a very effective bomb shelter - as the walls must be WICKED thick).

Our chat was pretty normal, until there was a bit of down time, as "Joel," the Netflix customer service rep, was waiting for information on what was up with my account.

Because I like you so much, I am just going to post this portion of the transcript here for your enjoyment:

Netflix Joel
Thank you for all your patience you are awesome, Jessica!
Thanks, I appreciate what you're doing!
Netflix Joel
Awww, that makes me feel good, a fuzzy and stuff!
Netflix Joel
I can't do a smiley but if I could it would be one of those big wacky smiley ones.
Ha ha - excellent!
Netflix Joel
Lol, your great, I'm on hold with my research team, but we are almost there.
Netflix Joel
It's all good in the neighbor hood.
Netflix Joel
I'm on it like ugly on a warthog.
Hmmm - trying to think of a good analogy - like a teenage girl on a sale at Hollister
Netflix Joel
Hehe, like saddles on a surfer.
Or compound interest on a credit card
Netflix Joel
Haha, that's a good one....ummm okay, like cheese on a burrito.
Netflix Joel
Jessica, I found out what is going on here.
Perhaps I should hold off on Hoorays until I know it's something easily fixed
Netflix Joel
I was telling you before that we were trying to manually verify your account right, so it looks like we ran in to an issue with your email on fix. It is an easy fix. You are able to stream now, but we need you to do three things. 1 is to change your email address on the account. 2 change your password on your Gmail account and 3 to reset your netflix password. Just to make sure everything is secure and safe, and you have no more problems, okie doke?
Sounds good to me!! Did my account get compromised or something?
Netflix Joel
No it didn't, but something happen to raise a flag, so just to make sure it doesn't we want you to do those three things.
All right - will do - thanks for all your assistance!
Netflix Joel
No, problem is there anything else I can help you with today, Jessica?
Nope, that was it!
Netflix Joel
Awesome, it was so great chatting with you, you made my day! Remember if you need anything we are here 24/7, have an AWESOME day! And one more thing if you wouldn't mind, please stay on the line for a one questions survey!

The moral of this (super awesome) story is that Netflix is definitely doing something right in the customer service department. I was motivated to post this after seeing another great example of good chat CS online.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Most Amazing Ad on Craigslist

Not just a 1997 Subaru Legacy L AWD Automatic - A Dream Come True! - $800 (Bangor, ME)

One fine looking car

1997 Subaru Legacy L Wagon, Silver, Automatic Transmission, AWD

This is the opportunity of a lifetime. This isn't just a car, it's a lifestyle. Not only has this car driven over 225,000 miles, but it is also a piece of marriage equality history, if you take a look at the rear of the car, you'll see a bumper sticker from the most recent (and SUCCESSFUL!) campaign for marriage equality in Maine. Above that is a rainbow lobster, this sticker was given to me for making the most calls during one of my shifts making phone calls for marriage equality the previous time it was on the ballot. The car also has an old timey sticker that says: "Pirate Girls kick butt" a belief shared by the majority of hip Americans. The rear window is graced with a sticker from my Alma Mater, University of Maine at Machias - even if you never went there, know it's an awesome school.

Now, this is not just a bumper sticker sale - there's a car here! This is my beloved 1997 Subaru Legacy L Wagon. Her name, since 2005, has been Shelly, but you can feel free to rename her. I recently had to buy a newer car, and I felt like a tiny part of me died a little bit, because I've been a Subaru Pirate girl for eight years, but it was time. 

It's YOUR turn to be a Subaru Pirate Girl (or boy, whichever the case may be). I'm not going to lie to you and say that she's in perfect condition - there are quirks, that's what you get with a car with so much experience. Right now, she needs a new alternator (which means you will either need to tow her, or replace the alternator in my driveway before you take her away). This just happened a couple of weeks ago, and when it did, I couldn't get her to the dealership as my trade in.

There are a few other issues: there is a crack in the windshield, she needs some new brakes, the rear windshield wiper motor died (I had a bike rack on and accidentally turned the rear wiper on, which burned it out). The "check engine" light has been on since 2006. If you're at all familiar with older Subarus, you know that this can easily be fixed by putting a piece of duct tape over the check engine light. The air conditioner works GREAT - however, the button won't stay in by itself, so I jam a piece of folded paper in and it works fine.

Yes, I know - those are some serious issues, but let's look at the positives!!!

Everything you could possibly need!
- The body is in fantastic condition. Every year, I have faithfully checked for any rust, and then sanded, treated for rust, primed and painted, I will give you all of my supplies so you can keep up on the maintenance, although it has been done for this year. *Yes - that is a dent on the door in the picture - but it's a rust-free dent. I've just added a photo of all of the great supplies you'll receive: Primer, Paint, Putty, Sandpaper, Rust Treatment. There have been times in my life when I felt a little out of touch, like I didn't have a lot of useful skills - in stepped my mechanic with some lessons on doing body work. I'm passing this torch to YOU.

- She comes with a full size spare - not just a donut!

- All of the windows, lights, cruise control, mirrors, etc. work great. 

Oooh! Aaah!
- Functional Cassette player (and am/fm radio) - I would even be willing to throw in my copy of The Police's Synchronicity if you want, and, if you're REALLY cool, my collection of audiobooks.

- Free bike rack with the car (if you want it) - this is the reason the rear wiper motor died, it is also super handy - you can carry two bikes with it! I haven't used the bike rack in ages, so there might be some spiders on it, but I'm pretty sure you can handle that.

- If you decide to replace the alternator in the driveway, I would be happy to stand behind you with a flashlight, and say encouraging things while you work on it.

- I'd be happy to provide you with the name and number of my mechanic, if you're local. He specializes in Subarus and is just about the nicest guy you'll ever meet (he's also a clown! Not the scary kind, the kind that charges really reasonable rates on car repairs).

I could fill a dozen craigslist ads with stories about this fantastic car, and all you have to do is give her a chance!

Lessons my Subaru taught me:
- Cup holders are not meant for ice cream cones (the ice cream will melt in your cruise control button and you'll have to jam a piece of paper in there to keep it on)
- All silver subaru legacy wagons are not the same - so, if your key won't turn in the lock, make sure it's actually your car (note: the presence of a car seat is a pretty good indicator)
- Always carry newspapers or towels with you, that way, when you and your passengers are all dressed as zombies, you won't feel the need to explain the blood splatters to everyone at work

Please email with any questions, offers, etc. In case you can't tell, the car is being sold as is.
Sorry folks, no license plate included

Yes, this is my car ad, and yes, I am making an attempt to get you, or your friends to buy my car!!! In my defense - this is a truly incredible car!!!!

Because I keep thinking of more great things to tell you about my car, you should visit the Craig's List link directly.