Posts Tagged ‘peeves’

I can already hear the oh-so-festive sounds of groans and moans, the snide comments and the weeping for our future.

The Christmas decorations are already in stores.

Truth be told, I saw Christmas trees in Macy’s back in September (which was just weird), but now that it’s November, I’m a lot less bothered. I know a lot of people gripe about this, and will make comments about “forgetting Thanksgiving” (come on, no one really forgets Thanksgiving), but I’m about to offer you a reasonable defense for (seemingly too) early Christmas displays.

First, the so-called “forgotten” Thanksgiving. No one forgets Thanksgiving. The “problem” with Thanksgiving is that it doesn’t have much in the way of marketing, and the origin story most of us learned in school is entirely too simplistic. That’s okay, though, Thanksgiving has turned into a national time to give thanks for what we have, for our blessings and abundance, and to spend time with family. And that’s great! But you know what’s missing?


For Thanksgiving, kids will mostly be relegated to the “Kids’ Table” while the adults swap family stories or watch football or the like. This is really and truly an adult holiday, and therein lies the marketing gap. There aren’t Thanksgiving “treats” to buy, costumes to wear, and decorations are limited to generic autumn things or cornucopias. Plus Thanksgiving is a strictly North American holiday (even though harvest festivals have ancient roots), and in November the only one in the US. There isn’t the appeal of a wide range of cultural backgrounds the way there is with Christmas or even Halloween (which is increasingly celebrated in other countries). It’s a great holiday and an American tradition, but it isn’t a BIG holiday. It’s more on-par with July 4th in the US: celebrated nationally with traditions of its own (including a specific type of meal, be it a cookout or turkey dinner) but really with little buildup and done by the next day.

So setting aside Thanksgiving, isn’t it entirely too much to have Christmas displays nearly two months before the actual holiday?

Not at all.

While I agree that most of it before about November 1 is pushing it (with the exception of craft stores, which I’ll get back to momentarily), by the time we get to November, we’re careening toward one of the largest holidays in the world. Think I’m exaggerating? As of 2011, an estimated 2 billion people are culturally (if not religiously) Christian. That’s 2 billion people celebrating Christmas. Factor into that the size and scope of the marketing in our own country, and you have a behemoth of a religious holiday.

On a smaller scale, besides an important religious holiday, Christmas has become (in our country, and many other western countries), focused on coming together with people and exchanging gifts. This costs a lot of money, be it in travel expenses, purchasing (or making), and possibly shipping. There are a lot of things we “need” for this holiday, and this huge chunk of expenses is easier to take if spread out over two months instead of one. Plane tickets are easier to find (and more affordable) with more lead-time, gift purchasing can be done in small spurts, etc. It makes sense to get people thinking about it early, and it makes sense to have things ready to go for people who need to shop early.

And speaking of shopping early, crafters are a huge category here. One of the growing trends (which makes me very happy, as it’s moving us away from the wholly commercial aspect of this whole business) is handmade gifts and decor. The thing about this is that, in order to make any kind of quantity, a person needs enough time to gather supplies and actually produce the items in question. Even making cards (which I did until a couple of years ago) took time and patience, and I often started looking for my supplies in August or September so I’d have time to find everything I needed and make them all.

Finally on a personal note, there is a tiny minority of us who have loved ones overseas for the holidays, and we all have to make sure their holiday packages arrive in plenty of time. The US Post Office has already said that for military, standard post service deadline is November 12.* That’s next week.

So when you’re out this week and you see Christmas displays and hear Jingle Bells, just take a minute before you make a snide remark, take a minute and get a little perspective. There might be someone shopping for another Christmas spent apart.


*Standard post is the equivalent of “parcel post” and means going by ship somewhere. If you do priority (or air) mail, you have almost another month. But check the chart anyway.


Read Full Post »

Well, doing it badly, in any case.

I was going to write about our MUCH belated holiday party from this weekend today, but NO.

If you know me well, you know I don’t think much of most ads, especially when I can tell I am the target audience and feel that THEY are pandering to me. This is not one of those cases.

While watching a recorded TV show tonight (I don’t watch live TV other than sports if I can help it, mostly because of the aforementioned ad-induced-irritation), I happened to catch the last ten seconds of an ad at the end of a commercial break.

Of a woman leaning back into a pool.


Let this sink in for just a moment.

Are you with me yet?



I had to go back and watch it again (twice) to make sure.

PRO TIP: If you’re going to ADVERTISE something like STOOL SOFTENER, maybe using a POOL isn’t the best IMAGE.

Just a thought.

Want to see for yourself? I couldn’t find the ad on a video streaming site to embed it here, but you can see it at the company’s website. Click the tab marked “Video” and watch. You’re welcome.

Read Full Post »

So here we are. It is December 5 and I finally have a story for you. I’ve already told it partly on twitter, but feel that it should be EXPLAINED. Here it is, as I wrote it, commentary added as needed.


3:28pm: Twitter I just got attacked by a TOILET.
3:40pm: Seriously, there is an INCH of water on the floor. I had to grab the rug and RUN.
3:42pm: And THEN I had to barricade the door with towels to save the hall carpet and THEN I had to run for rubber boots and wade back in.
3:42pm: Because SOMEONE had to shut off the water.
3:42pm: I deserve a metal. Seriously.

And here is where we take our first commentary break. Seriously, after I flushed it, the toilet started filling (it’s old, so this wasn’t entirely surprising) and then… then it DIDN’T STOP. It just kept on going. Water pouring out onto the floor, racing toward the door. I really did RUN. And then I called my dad who reminded me how to turn off the water, which in my panic I, of course, had forgotten. Sigh. Back to the action.

3:48pm: And NOW, Twitter, it’s leaking through the downstairs ceiling. AWESOME.

Notice the six minute gap? Yeah, I’d collapsed (feeling relieved) on the couch in the upstairs den to wait for my dad to arrive with cleaning supplies. I realized I was thirsty and went downstairs… Only to find the water POURING out of a spot in the ceiling AND out of the (purchased just three months ago) overhead light fixture. Do you get this? OUT OF THE LIGHT. It was dripping off of the five globes of that light like a weird sprinkler. I grabbed my mom’s plastic containers (sitting on the counter to dry… sorry about that, mom) and shoved them under the drips. The light, however, was DIRECTLY over the antique kitchen table… Luckily (if you can call it that) there was a tray on the table that caught and collected most of the water. The tray didn’t make it, but the table seems to be okay, after being sterilized. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here is the dripping:


So my dad got home and we unearthed the wet vac and (equipped with gloves and rubber boots) cleaned the bathroom. He even bleached it. And then my mom got home. The cleanish bathroom:


By then the ceiling (which, if you haven’t figured it out, is in the kitchen breakfast nook) was leaking in NEW places. See?


She called her homeowner’s insurance… And they arrived about, oh, an hour later. That’s when I learned what MITIGATION means.

7:29pm: Update on the TOILET SITUATION: the emergency plumbers are here. I am hiding in my room with the cats. #notkidding
7:30pm: Also I ate Chinese food (which is my go-to comfort food) and have a glass of wine in my immediate future.
7:31pm: The good news is we get a new bathroom AND a new ceiling downstairs. The weird news is they’re starting tonight.
7:53pm: There is a THING happening downstairs called MITIGATION. I think that’s an improvement, but I can’t be certain.
7:54pm: In other news, my cats still think I’m awesome, which is always comforting.

No joke, people came and started tearing out the bathroom floor, and part of the hall carpet which I hadn’t entirely saved. I saved MOST of it, though, which is apparently quite an accomplishment. Here is the halfway torn up bathroom floor:


They used a sterilizer on everything, including the table and the floors. And then they put a big fan in there to start drying it before the deconstruction crew arrived in the morning. I thought this made an annoying sound. I was wrong.

11:11pm: This is the THING that is cleaning the air after the TOILET ESCAPADES tonight.



9:38am: Well, Twitter, this morning the GUTTING OF THE BATHROOM commences.
9:39am: Things will be REMOVED. And the little space I had claimed as my writing room is now full of ALL OF THE THINGS.
9:41am: Oh. OH. And we might have to go out the front door, down the porch, and back in through the garage to get to the refrigerator.
9:44am: Sounds like the next week will be an ADVENTURE.

So the people came and started ripping out everything and we learned that the whole thing has to be redone (except, apparently, the tub) and so the bathroom is getting remodeled.

11:43am: Merry Christmas, mom. I got you a new bathroom and kitchen. Hope you like it!
11:45am: Twitter! Look at what’s happening to the CEILING.


11:53am: NOW look at the ceiling!


See how there’s only an eight minute gap there? They took that ceiling down so fast, I almost missed the whole thing. And then it looked like this…


This is the wide shot. You can see falling insulation in the back.


The deconstruction crew left not only another of those noisy fan things, they left a giant HEATER that, when you’re downstairs, makes the house sound like you’re standing on a RUNWAY surrounded by PLANES. See?



2:26pm: I have just had a shower for the first time in over 48 hours. #toiletgeddon2012


So that’s what happened. We’re still waiting on everything to dry before they start rebuilding it, and so everything is very VERY displaced, but at least the kitchen and bathroom get some TLC. And while the ceiling and bathroom were getting torn apart, I finally managed to get our Christmas tree decorated. Silver linings.


And now you know about Toiletgeddon 2012. You’re welcome.


Read Full Post »

Today I had Tea Fail.

I’ve been making loose-leaf tea for breakfast lately because I can tweak it a little more to my tastes. This morning I came downstairs and put the kettle on to boil, then went to check my email. When it started to whistle, I got up and flipped the lid to make it stop whistling, but left the stove top on because I realized I’d forgotten to clean my little tea strainer yesterday. The other two strainers were in the wash, so I went to dump the leftover pips… only to discover they were still damp (it’s been humid lately) so I had to rinse the tea strainer.

The water in the kettle was still boiling.

So then my strainer was wet, and I usually use it to scoop out the tea I want but didn’t want to put it into the packet of tea while wet. I reached for a spoon, only to discover they were all in the wash, too, except one of my really big soup spoons. I have really big soup spoons, too. I scooped out some tea and the spoon was so big that it snagged on the paper edge of the packet and pips went everywhere. Pipsplosion. So then it looked like there were little, well, DROPPINGS all over my kitchen AND my (also damp) hands were getting stained brown.

And the kettle was still boiling.

I finally managed to get enough into the strainer and got it situated in the pot and poured what was left of the boiling water into the pot as well. I set the timer for 5 minutes (I like strong tea in the morning) and walked off to sit down and check my email.

And didn’t hear the timer because I was distracted.

I remembered my tea 25 minutes later.

When it was almost as dark as coffee.

At that point I was so DONE with making tea, I drank it anyway. With twice as much milk and sugar as usual.

And I was WIRED for a solid TWO HOURS.

Tea Fail.


Read Full Post »

So, remember a couple of days ago I posted about how either the cats were DVRing things for me or that the DVR itself might have become sentient?

Well, if you recall, one of the shows I’d set it to record was Psych. After discovering that it hadn’t recorded any of those episodes for the last two months, I checked the settings, made sure it was going to record the season finale, and then found the episodes online and On Demand (for several recent ones) and got all caught up on the show before the finale.

Well. I turned on my DVR earlier and saw “Psych” at the top of the list (having been most recently recorded) and went to hit play… and watched (slightly confused) through five minutes of an unusually serious set-up for Psych. I didn’t follow any of the action, didn’t recognize any of the characters… and yet sometimes Psych is a little peculiar and plays with its own genre and such, so I stuck with it….

Until I got to the theme song/intro where I was (finally) let in on the fact that I was watching Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Not. Kidding.

I know Law & Order (all of them) are popular shows. I know this. But I have never made it through a single, solid episode (except for the time I tried to watch the British version where they wear wigs. I saw three of those and then gave up on that, too.) much less set my DVR to record it.

AND the listing (and the “info” when you push the button) still had PSYCH on it.

What in the world??

So I’ve run the cable box through its reset program, and hopefully the problem will be resolved. You see, I can’t quite take the box back yet because it’s got some shows on it that I’m saving for J and he hasn’t had a chance to watch them… so I have to wait on him to get a new box.

In the mean time…

Does anyone know what to do with a crazy, possibly-sentient DVR? Or how to train the cats to scoop their own box?

Surely if they can program a DVR they can clean their own box.


Read Full Post »

Actual Conversation I just had with Furniture Store Employee:

I went into a few furniture stores today to look at bookshelves. I’ve reached the point where I can no longer squeeze all of my books onto the shelves that survived the move– two broke, and I gave away enough books at the time to be okay with that, but now I’ve acquired enough books that I really do need another shelf. So today I went around to start pricing them, just to get an idea what type of investment it might be; I don’t want to buy something else that will break easily. 

After pricing bookshelves at a few places, I decided that I needed to find out what a “real” furniture store charges for them so I’d have some basis of comparison. I really prefer to buy “real” things (i.e. real wood) and only need something small to medium-sized.

Walking through the store demonstrated that “leather” sofas just aren’t the quality they once were, and that most furniture all looks the same. When I finally reached the back, they only had two bookshelves for sale, both of them $400 and both of them pressed board with laminant on them.

Do people not read anymore? I guess not. I’ve had a hard time finding shelves everywhere, but no trouble finding TV stands. Le sigh.

As I was running my hand over the shelf (checking quality, which was, as I said, poor), an employee walked up to me and asked if I was finding everything okay. (Why is this the phrase people use? Why not, “Can I help you with anything?”)

Me: Well, I’m looking for bookshelves, but these are laminant and $400. That seems like a lot.
Employee: That’s because those are real wood veneer.
Me: Veneer? So still basically a laminant. And for $400, way overpriced.

She got extremely huffy and walked away without saying another word. No one else asked me how I was finding things the rest of the time I was in the store.

Real wood veneer. *sigh*


Read Full Post »

So, if you’ve been reading my blog a while, you probably remember the Lizard Sandwich episode.

If not, well… Here. Go read.

So tonight I reheated some leftovers, went into the den to watch “Once Upon a Time,” and then when the show was over I came back into the kitchen with my plate… to find a GIANT COCKROACH sitting INSIDE the leftovers container.


Now, I’m not a huge fan of things dying, but cockroaches in my house are NOT OKAY. I yelled, and it ran…

Straight into the toaster oven.

Seriously, what is with things going into my toaster oven??

SO I got out the flyswatter and poked it and the thing SKITTERED (made the noise… I’m still shuddering just THINKING of it) and I chased it (using the flyswatter) around the toaster oven until it RAN OUT and then FLEW down onto the floor and headed STRAIGHT FOR ME.

At this point, I screamed like a little girl.

I’m not even exaggerating.

I shrieked so loud that I kind of scared myself. My neighbor is probably listening next door for banging sounds or something before he comes running, but I’m sure he heard me. I was LOUD.

And then I got the roach and flushed him down the toilet and dumped STRAIGHT VINEGAR on the floor where he’d been.

And now the toaster oven is ALSO getting covered in vinegar.

The wildlife here is the reason I have the CLEANEST TOASTER OVEN EVER.

Being the animal/nature geek I am, I actually looked up the species. Turns out this is an “American cockroach” (or Periplaneta americana) and that it measures (get this) an average of FOUR INCHES. That’s FOUR INCHES OF skittering little COCKROACH in my KITCHEN.

You’re welcome for THAT visual.

[update 1/30/12]
This morning I got up and am in the process of re-cleaning the toaster oven (for my own sanity, mostly). I also scrubbed and sterilized my teapots and (two hours after rising) am finally sitting down drinking my first cup of tea. A few minutes ago, Caspian came up to me and made his “Look, mom!” noise… the Gray Wonder just brought me ANOTHER ONE.

Guess what I’ll be spending the ENTIRE DAY DOING? (If you guessed clean the ENTIRE HOUSE then you are CORRECT!)


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »