Wednesday, June 28, 2006


"I don't wanna come out and you can't make me!"

Weezie called me this morning. She went in to the hospital last night to have some kind of birth-inducing gel applied....down there.*shudder*

She went back this morning to have another application and wait for the birth. Well, they sent her home without doing it. It seems that little Brynn is an acrobat and is breech yet again.

Weezie is about 1cm dilated, so there's no urgency. They will be scheduling a C-section to take place in two or three days.

This birth thing is torture. I don't know how men do it!


The Letter

I did it. After going over in my mind that whole ordeal with the surly hardware clerk, I put pen to paper...or finger to keyboard and wrote a letter to the manager.

Dear Sir/Madam:

I am writing this letter to inform you of a rather less than satisfactory experience I had at your store the morning of June 24, 2006.

Shortly before 10:00am I entered your store to pick up an item I required at my business. While I was in an aisle comparing items, a clerk walked down the aisle and I greeted her by saying hello. This received neither a reply in kind or a friendly smile. I decided to not let it bother me. Perhaps she didn’t hear me. It’s not very likely, but possible.

I took my item to the register and waited for a clerk to arrive. The same clerk arrived, again didn’t say hello, didn’t smile or acknowledge me in any way. She didn’t ask if I found everything I was looking for. In fact, she didn’t speak at all except to say “$7.44” after scanning the item and reading the total on the register. I handed her my debit card, she swiped it and dropped the keypad on the counter, again not saying a word. She stapled my receipts and handed them to me. She didn’t ask if I would like a bag, didn’t say “thank you” or “have a nice day”. The name ‘Mary’ appears on the receipt.

After leaving your store, I stopped in at [major drug store chain] to pick up another item and was greeted with a friendly “hello” as soon as I walked through the doors. I found my item, took it to the till and was greeted again by the cashier who asked if I found everything I was after. I told her I had. She gave me my total, placed the item and receipt in a bag, handed it to me and said “thank you very much, see you again, have a great day”.

Although the stores are only a few doors away, the service is worlds apart. As a small business owner, I know that I would want to know if a customer found my staff to be surly and unfriendly toward a customer. I know that customers are not a disruption to my work; they are the reason for it. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that there is a lot of competition out there in the retail business. When there are a variety of places a customer can patronize, customer service is where a business can shine and gain customer loyalty.

I have shopped at your store a number of times these past few years based solely on convenience as it is located between my home and business. However, a business requires more than this to retain customers, and a major component is friendly, helpful staff.



I'll be throwing it in the mail after work today. I wonder what kind of response I'll get.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


You Call This Service?

About ten or so years ago I went out for dinner and a drink with my friend "Lou". We often went to this establishment because it was convenient, comfortable, reasonably priced and they offered some pretty good food for a roadhouse type restaurant.

We arrived around 9:00pm or so and were seated by the hostess who took our drink orders. A Sleeman Ale for Lou, Rickard's Red for me. The place was pretty much empty except for 3 guys sitting around the bar. After about ten minutes, our waitress, "Candi" (with an 'i') appeared with our drinks.

"Who ordered the Semen?" she said with a hiccup-like giggle.
We both shot her that "are you a total idiot?" stare.
"The Rickard's is mine", I said.

She put the drinks on the table and asked if we were ready to order. We were ready when we walked into the place. We both ordered the standard chicken pita and Greek salad dinner we always got there.

"Oh....", Candi exhaled.
"Is there a problem with that?", I asked.
"Well, it's just that it's getting late and the cook wants to go home so he might not cook it all the way through."
"Pardon me? You're saying that we just might get some raw chicken because the cook doesn't feel like sticking around long enough to cook it?", I asked.
"Ya", she said back as if this was a ridiculous question to ask.

Lou and I just looked at each other and I couldn't help but look around to see if I could see the hidden cameras and Peter Funt giggling to himself behind a potted plant.

"OK then, what would you suggest that won't give us Salmonella?"

She offered some alternative which I can't recall, that we decided to go for. Candi placed the order and returned to the bar where she was chatting up the barflies who were probably hoping to get into her pants after her shift ended. Quite frankly, she acted and looked like the type.

Meanwhile, Lou and I had finished our drinks and waited for Candi to come back to see if we wanted another round, which we sorely did. No such luck. We continued to wait. Finally, around 20 minutes or so past our initial dealings with Candi, we saw our meals placed on the counter for pickup. They sat there for nearly ten more minutes while I sat in my seat and glared at Candi. Finally, there must have been some synaptic response because she finally caught my eye, looked a bit startled, looked up to the counter where our food was cooling and came running over with it.

"Your food just came up", she bubbled.
"Actually," I said, "it has been sitting there for about ten minutes while you've been socializing."
She offered an apology by way of saying "Ohhhh......"
"Is it possible to get another couple of drinks here?"
"Sure, no problem"
Right...we'll see about that. And we did.
Drinks never did arrive. We had finished our meals and sat waiting for several minutes after that.

Candi arrived with our bill and I asked her to confirm that the drinks that we never received which were ordered when the food was finally delivered weren't on the bill.
"Ohhhh.....", she said again.

After Candi walked away, Lou and I looked at the bill in utter dismay. Clearly her math skills could rival that of any short-bus riding, helmet-wearing seven year old. Lou, always the banker, even after hours, calculated the bill and wrote down the correct charges, taxes and total. We left exactly that amount.

We returned to my apartment where I composed a letter to the owner of the restaurant explaining our horrible experience. About two weeks later, I received a reply from the manager offering his sincere apology, a generous gift certificate, and the assurance that Candi was no longer with the restaurant.

I went back with The Squeeze shortly thereafter and had a completely enjoyable lunch. As the manager stated, and I whole-heartedly agree with, it is always appreciated to receive comments about dissatisfaction so the problem can be dealt with.

What made me go on this rant ten years after the fact? Well, I had another experience in bad customer service a couple of days ago.

I stopped in at the local hardware store to pick up some stuff for work. The middle-aged sales clerk was walking down the aisle I was in and I said 'hello' to her. She didn't even grunt. She just walked past me. I took my item up to the counter and waited for her to come up to the till to ring me through. She arrived, didn't say a word and scanned the item.

"$7.44", she grunted.

I handed her the debit card, she swiped it, handed me the keypad without a word, stapled the receipts and that was the extent of our interaction. Not a "hi", "bye" or "kiss my ass".

Right after that I went into the drug store a few doors down and was greeted by a clerk right when I walked in the door. I found the item I was looking for and walked to the till.

"How are you today? Did you find everything you need? Thank you, see you again, have a great day."

The places are a few doors away, but their customer service is worlds apart.

I'm going to write a letter to the manager of the hardware store about that clerk. It's not as if they are the only hardware store in the area, and considering that fact and the fact that a Home Depot is just a short drive away, their strength needs to be in their people. If I had an employee who treated customers that way s/he would be gone. I am in customer service. I know that customers are not an interruption of your work, they are the reason for your work.

Let's see what happens.

Monday, June 26, 2006


How Stupid Am I?

Hey this was a fun test!
In all honesty, The Squeeze and I did the last few questions together.



What A Week!

I can't believe it's been nearly a week since my last post! Work has been busy, to say nothing of all the dealings with the house.

When I last posted about the house, the inspection and appraisal by their bank to ensure their mortgage still needed to be done. The inspection took place Wednesday (or was it Thursday?) and according to the agent, it went well. Turns out that the roof will need to be done in a couple of years, but aside from that, no biggie. On Friday the agent called me to inform me that their appraiser (who was in the previous day) OK-ed (OK'd?) their mortgage. He actually appraised the house for the exact amount they paid. Not bad. We got the full value of our house! Unfortunately, the buyer was away for the weekend and wouldn't be available to sign off on the conditions unti Monday morning. The pressure!

The family went out Saturday night to celebrate my mother's 75th B-day, and we were a bit reluctant to tell everyone that we sold the place for fear of jinxing it. We were sure to say that conditions still need to be signed off.

The agent called Sunday to let us know the buyer was meeting him in his office Monday morning at 10:00 to sign off. I had a doctor's appointment right across the road at 10:30, so I arranged to pop in around 11 to sign my part. The Squeeze would sign after work.

After my ordeal with the doctor (another post...maybe tomorrow) I stopped in to sign. Everything was ready to go. He did inform me that the buyer wanted to lower the price because of the roof needing to be replaced in a couple of years. He told her that she can't legally do that. The dumb-ass! The only way she could get around it is to say that following the inspection that it didn't meet her approval, and the offer would be null and void. She could then make another offer, but we could always tell her to jump in the lake which happens to be in our back yard and she can't live here! NYAH! But knowing that she REALLY wants this house, I don't think she really wants to take the chance that we might just sell it to someone else instead. I kinda like this feeling of ersatz-power.

So while I was out this evening, the agent came by, The Squeeze signed off, and it is now a done deal. House bought, house sold. DONE! Thank you St. Joseph and those who whispered a little something in his ear.

I spoke to Weezie today on the phone. She said she had a doctor's appointment this afternoon to check out how things are going and to book her induction (inducing?). She was hoping for later this week.

At 3:50 this afternoon, she called in a panic.
"My Jimmy won't start. It's in the driveway. It won't turn over. I can't get the key out of the ignition, and when I close my door, the alarm goes off! It's blocking my mother's car in the driveway so I can't use that either! Can you come to get me and take me to my appointment? I have to be there at 4:10!"
"I'm on my way!"

I got to her place in record time...under ten minutes. Normally, it's 15 to 20. I was gunning it. She hopped in the car and we flew across the city. By the way, WOW she's big! Not as big as I was picturing, but still...pretty good. We haven't had a chance to see one another in a couple of months, so it was kind of an unknown figure to me. She called the doctor to say she'd be about ten minutes late. The doctor is way on the other side of the city...about 20 stoplights away.

She got into the examining room, got checked out, was given a bunch of literature and was told she would be induced Tuesday night, yes, THIS Tuesday...the 27th, and the baby should be born on Wednesday.

OH MY GOD! I'm like 48 hours from fatherhood! I'll be at the hospital, and I'll bring my camera!

New house, new baby....what a week, indeed!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Food, folks, furniture & fun

For the first time in a long time, I didn't have a huge list of "must do-s" for my day off. And for the first time in an even longer time, I decided that since I had the time I would iron some of my shirts. I've become somewhat complacent in wearing slightly wrinkled shirts, but I decided that having a closet full of crisp ironed shirts would be a welcome change.

I was several shirts into my task when I got a call from a friend of mine to confirm our dinner plans for that evening. We sort of have a standing date for dinner on Monday evenings. Indian buffet...sounds good. I returned back to my ironing and received a call from my friend Rich informing me that he was playing hookie (or is it hookey?) from work.

"I was thinking of swinging by and thought I'd see if you felt like doing lunch," he said.

Knowing he's a lover of all things spicy, and knowing of his love for the Indian buffet, I started to chuckle. I told him of my dinner plans there that day and explained that I would feel a bit foolish going there for lunch and returning a few short hours after that for dinner. Or perhaps I could just stay there and have two meals and only pay for one! That's some crafty thinking.

Rich relayed a story of a woman somewhere in the US who tried to pull that scam in some buffet place. She would hang out there all day on a number of occasions eating all of her meals and paying for one. The management finally barred her from the restaurant, and in true US fashion (no offence intended), she sued.

Not only was there the whole potential for embarrassment in going to the same buffet twice in one day, but being spicy Indian food....well, let's just say that two meals a day there would pretty much mean I'd be doing handstands in the shower the next day to cool off, if you get my drift.

Noon was a busy time at my place. Our agent stopped by to have me sign yet another document and to dig up some irises from the garden to take to his garden (he cracks me up). While we were in the garden, The Squeeze got home for lunch, and while the three of us chatted in the kitchen, Rich showed up. He and our agent are old buddies too, so it was kind of a neat little reunion.

The agent left, The Squeeze headed back to work after finishing his chicken and salad, and Rich and I headed out for lunch. We wound up at a family style buffet place, but knowing I'd be having dinner shortly, I made myself scarce at the buffet. When we first walked into the place, we heard a couple of the staff members complaining about the heat in the restaurant. When we took our seats and were asked for our drink orders, Rich asked for coffee. The waitress looked at him and said "In this heat?". He wasn't swayed. Later into our meal when she returned and asked Rich if she could refill his coffee, he gave her an incredulous look and exclaimed, "In this heat? Are you crazy? Send over another waitress who isn't insane!" Ahh...the classics never die.

We left the restaurant and we made our way to a funky new furniture place to get some ideas for furnishing the new house. Shortly after entering, we were greeted by a salesman in full suit and tie asking if we needed some assistance. Apparently this is one swanky furniture store. Most of the items were leather or suede and the "ka-ching" factor was way up there. After roaming haphazardly through a few room displays I discovered that there was, in fact, a suggested path laid out in yellow tile and curved sections in the carpet. Rich offered to link arms and sing the theme from "The Wizard of Oz" as we skipped along the path. Ya, I bet THAT never happened there before. Although, they seem to cater to a higher-end consumer, so maybe they haven't seen it before. Perhaps the salesman mistook us for vagrants and was offering assistance to help us find the exit. Either way, we stuck around and followed the yellow tiled and carpeted road. Rich occasionally whipped out his measuring tape to check the height of some knick-nacks to see if he could find something to fit a gap in his new pad. He saw a nice candle holder for around $400 dollars. That's right $400! Again, The Suit showed up to offer assistance or to see if we had any questions. "Are you freakin' serious?" came to mind, but I refrained. We casually sauntered through the displays and out the front door. Lovely stuff, but I can do better pricewise.

We took a quick drive-by past the new house so Rich could see it and then headed back home where he loaded up a picture we have been storing in our place for him. We have been holding two of them for him, but the one we still have is huge and there was no way it was going into his car no matter how long we stared at it.

After Rich headed home, I had time to feed my fish and head out to meet my other friend for dinner. She questioned why I only went up for one plate of food. She had a good laugh when I told her I just left a lunch buffet a couple of hours earlier.

Here it is, noon the following day, and the thought of food is not appealing to me in the least. Maybe it's the heat. Ya, we'll go with that.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


The Offer: Part 3

Our agent stopped by this morning with folder in hand. He opened it up and told us that they offered 5k more than their original offer. We were pissed. They offer 40k below, we counter with 20k below asking and they come back with 35k below? Excuse me? Fuck that noise. We told the agent "no deal". We discussed another open house for next weekend and left it at that.

We took a drive to visit my folks for Father's Day. The visit was fun. Got to spend time with a few of my siblings and their better halves, and crammed in copious amounts of cake, flan and cookies. We hung out there for a few hours and made our way back home, popped in at The Squeeze's office, picked up our groceries and finally got home around 7:30 or so.

There was a voice mail message from our agent. They came back with a better offer. They tacked on another 10k which takes us nearly to the mid-point that we originally countered back. They want to get in sooner than the original closing date though. So instead of Aug. 30, we're going with Aug. 15. We get possession of the new place on Aug. 4, so that gives us a bit of time to get in there and paint, get our stuff packed and moved and set up. Unfortunately, it means we're cancelling our vacation in Boston which was Aug. 3-12. Priorities, I guess.

The agent popped by a little after 10 tonight to have us initial the new offer and closing date and he was going to rush off to the bidder's place for their initials. They have until next Monday to sign off on their conditions of financing and inspection. This might be a long week.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


The Offer: Part 2

The offer brought to us was considerably less that our asking price. Like 40K less. We fiddled with some conditions, weighed some pluses and minuses and sent back a counter offer right about in the middle and told our agent that it was our bottom line.

The offer is conditional on financing, so we don't have to wait on the sale of the bidder's property and they are agreeable to our closing date which is awesome. If they will meet our price and they get the financing, we're in business. Let's hope! Tomorrow we find out if they accept the counter-offer we sent back.

Come on St. Joe, don't fail me now!


The Offer: Part 1

I just got a call at my store from our agent. He has an offer on our house. I'm pumped. It's 10:45, and we made plans to meet here at noon. I called The Squeeze to make sure he can be here then too. All is set. I feel like I'm going to throw up. I am so nervous. I'm really hoping the offer is reasonable and without much in the line of conditions.
Maybe that little prayer to St. Joseph did something!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


That Pride Thang

I've been to a couple of gay pride parades in Toronto many, many years ago. It's probably been about 8 or 9 years since The Squeeze and I fought our way through the traffic, crawled at a snail's pace into the Church & Wellesley area (aka The Hood), and, thanks to the horseshoe which seems to have been stuck in my posterior for a good number of years, eventually managed to find a scarce parking spot. We have wedged ourselves amidst thousands of people and dripped sweat due to the inevitable unforgiving heat and burned our skin thanks to the direct mid-day sun. Thank God for the vendors who sell their $5.00 bottles of water!

When I first went to a pride parade, I was a bit nervous. I wasn't out yet, and I was positive that I would wind up on the 6:00 news or on the front page of the paper for all to see. The odds of that happening are pretty much the same as my chance of winning the lottery. I was amazed to see so many people with whom I shared my secret.

As the years went on, I've become a bit jaded by the pride parades. The last one I attended had a huge impact on me. My favourite part of the parades is seeing the PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays) group marching. I would think how wonderful it is that these people are so supportive of their children and friends that they would march in a parade to support them.

Sadly, at my last parade, PFLAG followed directly behind a group of S&M fetishists. There was some leather-clad (barely) guy, strung up in some sort of harness with his ass exposed, and his "master" was smacking his ass with a paddle. When the float passed our vantage point, this guy's ass looked like it was in danger of blistering and bleeding. And right behind it was PFLAG.

Now, I don't ever expect my parents to be marching in a pride parade, but the thought that many of these PFLAG members likely had a hard time of accepting their children's sexuality initially, and then seeing this activity going on in front of them for an entire parade route didn't sit well with me. What lunatic organized the lineup of floats and marchers? If my folks were there and had to follow that, I would have died.

Other factions of gay culture also take part in the parades. Lots of guys barely dressed in leather straps, topless lesbians, questionably legal young men in their tighty whities, some people marching entirely nude, and of course, there are the drag queens...a seemingly endless supply of drag queens. I watched the parade and asked myself, "which group expresses who I am?" I came to the conclusion that none of them did.

I'm not into the leather scene...I don't think I'm into any scene. I'm not especially enthralled of the whole drag queen thing, although a very dear friend of mine does drag. I just don't get it. Maybe it's the fact that the lipsync-ing thing bothers me: Shades of Milli Vanilli and Ashlee Simpson. Fake women pretending to's just so...fake. I have a problem with people posing as someone they aren't. That's why I also can't stand clowns....but I digress.

I am just an average guy. I don't hang out at the gay bars (or any bar for that matter), I don't call my friends "girlfriend", unless I'm joking around, and I don't hang around with gay people to the exclusion of my straight friends. I hang around with my friends, gay, straight, or otherwise, because they are people of substance. I enjoy their company, the conversation, and the laughter. I know other gay people who go out of their way to avoid straight people. How sad.

Wow, I do go on....why this post? Because pride season is upon us again, and because I came across a very well-written post by Hot Toddy. Since I don't know how to link up to his exact post without having people search through his whole blog, I'm doing a cut & paste here. Again, this is not my work, but a post I really admire.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Where's My Parade?

A friend asked me the other day why homosexuals felt the need to have a parade every year. The Gay Pride celebrations happening all over the world this month might suggest to some that we are being a tad bit aggressive. People tend to like their gays and their women passive, after all. I mean, why do we have to flaunt our lifestyle? Shouldn't we "tone it down a bit" and make everyone more comfortable? You know, the way all those straight kids at school made us feel so comfortable all those years?

I've heard it said more than once, "Why do gay people parade their sexuality? Where's my heterosexual parade?" I guess my answer, in a nutshell, would be this: Parades, albeit a bitch to organize, are not exclusively gay. Anyone can have a parade. (Remember to put the horses in the back.) Now, while your straight parade will most likely not have quite as much, um, color, as a gay parade, I'm sure it could be very nice. I imagine it would be like The Superbowl, only mobile. Please feel free to have a parade if you'd like. After all, other than equal rights for homosexuals, it's a free country!

Honestly, I want a parade, because I need one. I need a parade because I hid myself from the world for over twenty years of my life. While other boys my age were "parading" their crushes on Farrah Fawcett and Cindy Crawford, I was sneaking glances at John Schneider's shirtless torso in teen magazines at the grocery store while checking over my shoulder to make sure nobody saw me.

When my friends paraded their boyfriends and girlfriends through the halls in junior high school, I was in the locker room concentrating hard on keeping my eyes straight ahead, making sure not to steal a glance at Jimmy Nixon as he undressed next to me.

While girls in study hall wrote love notes to hunky football players, I wrote my effeminate friend a note saying I didn't want to hang out anymore. Being seen with him might cause people to perceive me as a fag. Not wanting to be guilty by association, I chose to hide the fact that Mark was my friend. Until he no longer was my friend.

When other kids were going to prom and football games and sending valentines to their first loves, I was postponing my first love for later in life, age 29, when I finally felt brave enough to be honest.

I don't just need a parade. I deserve a parade. Every gay person who spent even one day telling lies or pretending to be straight deserves a parade. Anyone who hid in that suffocating closet of self-hatred deserves a parade. See, our parade says, whether you want to watch it or not, we are finished hiding and being ashamed and choking on our own homophobia. We are, after all, learning to accept not only ourselves, but one another. Gay men are learning to accept transsexuals, who, in turn, are learning to accept lesbians. Butch men and women are learning to accept flamboyant twinks. Latino Bears are learning to accept Asian Polyamorous Moms. Drag Queens are - well, they are just busy making fun of everybody. But that's why we love them.

Just like every year, my tears of pride will begin falling the minute the parade begins. They'll start streaming down my cheeks as soon as I hear those Dykes on Bikes rev up their motorcycles, and they won't stop until the very last PFLAG mom who loves her gay son passes by me. And in my heart, I'll say, "There's MY parade."


Unconditionally ours

The number on the call display looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place it. I handed the handset to The Squeeze to answer. As soon as he answered, I could clearly hear our agent's voice travelling through the air. He's a bit of a loud talker, but that's ok, because I don't always listen. With him, I have no choice.

"Listen," I hear him say to The Squeeze. "There's an offer-"

"YES!", I say quietly to myself. "We have an offer!!! It's all coming together!!!"

"on the condo", he continued.

Information was faxed to him informing him that the sellers' agent received another offer that is not conditional of sale of the bidders' home. As written in our agreement, we have 24 hours to remove the condition of sale from our offer and it's ours, otherwise, the new bidders take the place.

The Squeeze and I were on our way out to join some friends for a couple of hours, so we thought we could get some advice from them, especially since one of them is a lawyer. We pretty much made up our minds beforehand though. We want that new place. It has everything we want, the price and taxes are great, location is amazing.

Our friends were of mixed minds, as is often the case when you get a number of people together, but overall, we were encouraged to go for it.

On our way home we called our agent on the cell to tell him our plans. He came by the house around 10:30 and we signed the papers removing the condition of sale.

The funny thing is, we're not freaked out. The house is ours. Actually, BOTH houses are ours. For now. We just have to make sure our agent gets moving to sell this house.

One person who came through seems quite interested. We were given a heads up that he was going to have someone come by to look at the back of the house to see if an addition can be put on.

I just got off the phone with our agent. It seems this guy wants to come by Friday morning with "a construction crew" as it was put to me. With any luck this might just work out. Keep your fingers crossed!

p.s. St. Joseph, I know you're not buried in my yard yet, but if you're so inclined to help move things along, I'd be forever grateful! ;o)

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Of All The Days!

Today, at the suggestion of our real estate agent, we had an open house. The Squeeze and I have been working our asses off to get ready for it. We've done a ton of work over the past couple of weeks as it is, but we really went into overdrive.

I was at work on Saturday, so The Squeeze set forth with plans to put a coat of primer on our basement ceiling that's been in the same state for about two years. He went out to get a drywall filter for our shop vac to suck up the loose drywall dust, and by the time I got home from work, he had begun to cut in the edges with the primer. I grabbed the roller and painted the main areas that he had outlined. We got a good healthy coat on there, so we were quite happy. He went outside and cut the lawn and I continued tidying up inside.

We had to leave for a few hours to go for dinner at our friends' house and didn't get back until after midnight, so it was straight to bed with us.

Got up Sunday morning and I applied a coat of ceiling paint over the primer, we scrubbed floors, cleaned the driveway, and managed to get a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread in the bread maker. While I was painting, I heard the unmistakable sound of roaring motorcycles. You know the type - you'd swear their muffler fell off somewhere down the road, but that's actually the way they want it to sound. Panic hit me. DEAR GOD NO! NOT TODAY! Sure enough, the bikes just kept coming. As I've mentioned before, down the street that faces our house is a motorcycle (ahem) "club". About once a year, they have a huge gathering and the street is filled with loud bikes and their leather-clad riders. Today was that day.

Our street was also packed with cars belonging to their members, so it pretty much eliminated the possibility of anyone driving by and seeing the open house sign and coming in. We gave our agent a heads up phone call to let him know what was going on. He wasn't a happy camper either.

After scouring the bathroom and grabbing a shower, we finally got dressed and out of the house moments before the open house began, but not before a woman came in to view the place. She saw the ad in the paper. The first words out of her mouth were "What is going on across the street?" Our agent, always the diplomat said "It's a social gathering." He kills me.

While we were out, we stopped for a bite for lunch and tried to console one another about this turn of events. We visited a book store and spent a bit of time there and finally returned home about five minutes after the open house ended. We got there just as our agent was heading to his car. He said it was slow, but one couple was there for a long time and seem quite interested. He told us that a number of cars pulled up, but when they looked down the side street and saw all the bikers, they continued on their merry way.

Another agent pulled up while we were chatting in the driveway, and he asked if he could come through. He checked it out, said he was quite impressed and said that we should have no problem selling at all. Let's hope!

About an hour after we got home, the bikers started leaving. Within two hours there wasn't any indication that the street was previously packed with around 80 or so motorcycles and at least twice that many bikers. Unfortunately, in the minds of everyone who came through today (not to mention those who voted against that idea) they will be there constantly.

Doesn't it just figure that this kind of shit happens on this particular day? The question remains, do we have another open house...maybe next weekend? Are we a write-off for a lot of people already? I'm getting frustrated. I'm home by myself to fret about this because The Squeeze went to a sleep disorder clinic for the night to have a test run with a CPAP machine to see how that works for his sleep apnea. I'm on my second glass of wine, a nice sauvignon blanc. Hopefully it will knock me out so I can get a good night's sleep. I'll worry about this tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006



As announced on the airwaves recently, our asshat Prime Minister, Satan...oops, I mean Steven Harper (why does that always happen?) is planning to bring a free vote to the House Of Commons this fall. This vote is to deal with the whole same-sex marriage issue which as far as the free-thinking, non-radical citizens of Canada are concerned is a done deal. It's legal, get over it Satan. Damn!...Steven. Move along folks, nothing to see here.

Sadly, this isn't just a Canadian thing. It seems that the man Harper shares his political bed with, the USA's own Dubya, shares the same far right viewpoint. I know, big surprise.

My feelings were reflected in an article I read this morning, so I thought I would share it here.

Gay Bushing
The Boston Globe(Jun 7, 2006)

America has much more to fear than gay marriage. So it was disappointing to hear President Bush's radio address last Saturday, and his speech Monday, in which he defends marriage, scolds activist judges, and supports the Marriage Protection Amendment, which would change the Constitution by only allowing one man and one woman to wed.

"Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all," Bush said, noting that straight marriages provide a safe haven for children and a pillar for society.
One problem: Gay marriage isn't a real threat. In Massachusetts, married gay couples are not masterminding terrorist bombings. They are not refining weapons-grade uranium nor are they running up federal budget deficits.

Married gay couples are not monitoring their fellow Americans' phone calls and e-mails. They haven't cut Medicaid. And they didn't put that doughnut hole in the middle of Medicare's new prescription drug program.

If there's anything to be said about two years of gay marriage in Massachusetts, it's congratulations to the couples and now back to our regularly scheduled conversations about American Idol and The Sopranos.

As for the claim that gay marriage is hurting straight marriage: Where's the evidence? Straight marriages have flaws, from fights to extramarital (and largely heterosexual) affairs. But these problems predate gay marriage by centuries.

Government should be concerned about children. But the big threat they face is poverty, not gay marriage. Any serious defence of children has to include better physical and mental health care, stronger schools, increasing family incomes, and less exposure to crime and violence. Banning gay marriage would not accomplish any of these things.

Nonetheless, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment this week. It will be a huffing, puffing bit of political theatre that's tossed like a bone to social conservatives, because common knowledge is that the amendment won't go forward. There aren't enough votes to win the two-thirds majority needed -- in the Senate and the House -- to send the amendment on to the states. Three-quarters of them would then have to approve it before it could become part of the Constitution.

One small threat to straight marriage is each year's crop of hyped short marriages -- celebrities who wed for months, weeks, or days. The implicit and troubling assumption seems to be that marriage only has to last as long as the excitement does. But no one is calling for federal intervention into the lives of Jennifer Lopez or Eminem.

America needs effective government action to solve serious and life-threatening problems. Gay marriage isn't one of them.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006



Whatever happened to the idea of having a chance to relax on the weekend? Clearly that was not an option for The Squeeze and me as we hustled to get the place in showroom conditon for viewings that were scheduled for Monday.

I lost count exactly, but on Sunday we made about 6 or 7 trips with The Squeeze's pick-up truck to our storage unit with excess furniture, clothing, books, etc. The sight of the two of us trying to convince a couch that it did, in fact, come through that door and down those stairs, and thus should be able to reverse that path was nothing short of pathetic. We removed a handrail, a lightbulb, and screen door hardware to finally get it out. I can't wait until we have to move the sofa bed out of the basement when we move! It's actually making us consider hiring movers for the big day.

Thank God our friends offered to postpone our dinner date because I would have lost my mind if we had to somehow squeeze in a few hours of cooking and entertaining amidst all of this stress. After our final trip to the storage unit, and dropping off clothes at the charity bin we bought a couple of "build-it-your-damned-self" night tables to put beside the bed instead of the lovely white melamine bookcase and groovy circa 1970 end table we had in our bedroom. What the hell, exactly, were we thinking?

We grabbed a quick bite and got back to our tasks. My job was to build the night tables, and The Squeeze was going to head to the basement and tidy up that little corner of Hell that we call the furnace room. This room is pretty much a catch-all for any number of tools, bits of wood, shop-vac's, a pile of used furnace filters (why? who knows), boxes of assorted materials from jobs finished but never put away in their place. In short, it's a landfill. If it wasn't for the fact that these little tables were made up of about a hundred and fourty pieces of wood (ok, particle board with thin laminate resembling wood), metal, dowels, cams, screws, nails and things I can't even name, I would have gone to help The Squeeze with his chore. As it turned out, it was around midnight when I finished those tables, and it was time for us to get to bed.

The Squeeze had to get to work Monday morning after his truly enjoyable week off (can you smell the sarcasm?), but being my day off, the grief continued. First order of business was to wash all the sheers in the kitchen and livingroom. I spent the next couple of hours outside weeding our flagstone pathway and front yard, and made my way to what turned out to be a patio in the back yard. Who knew that under all of that soil and patches of weeds (and chives that keep coming back), there was actually a pretty nice sized patio? I would have loved to get more weeding in the back gardens done because they are just frightening, but time was ticking and the first people were booked to come through at 4:00.

After breaking for lunch I scoured my aquariums and nearly flooded the bathroom in the process. Thank God for overflow drains! I got the sheers back up in their places, broke out the vacuum, got busy with the Swiffer (love that thing), cleaned every bit of glass and mirror I could find and cleaned the kitchen to within an inch of its life.

3:15 - Time to clean the bathroom. I sprayed Vim on every piece of porcelain, acrylic, glass and chrome in that room and scrubbed the sink and toilet.
3:30...still need to do the bathtub......and I could really use a shower to wash off all the sunblock from the garden work, not to mention the sweat I was working up inside. Off went the duds, and into the tub I got with the sponge and I scrubbed away at the tub, tiles, fixtures, shower doors. I had my quick shower with nice cool water that I hoped would help me quit sweating - no such luck.
3:45 - Get dressed!!! Gather up the everyday towels, put out the good guest towels and mat, throw everything in the hamper and park it in the laundry room. A quick run through the house. Turn on some soft smooth jazz on the stereo, a couple of spritzes of air freshener, and scribble a quick note about keeping the cat out of the room with the orchids, and I was ready to go.
3:55 - Gather up my things and head out the front door as I see a car pull into the driveway. If only I didn't have to write that note, I would have been gone before they got there. Oh well. I managed to get pretty much everything done that I had planned to except for whipping up some cinnamon raisin bread in the bread machine to give the place that "homey" smell.

According to our realtor, the 4:00 showing he did went very well. She loved the place, and it's smack dab in the middle of where she works, and where her son goes to college. Let's see if an offer comes in.

So that time is here again. That time when we immediately clean up after ourselves because our agent could call me at work and see if he can bring someone through in a couple of hours. Nothing on the kitchen counters. Nothing in the sink. Nothing on the stove. No clutter on the coffee table. Nothing on the dressers. Not a spot on the faucets or sinks. No dirty clothes in the bedroom.

Is it stressful? You bet. But you know, I love having a clean house. It's hard to imagine, but my parents' house is like this all the time. People can drop in there any time and you'd never see a dirty glass on the counter or in the sink. The bathrooms are spotless.

Oh my God! I think I'm aspiring to be like my mother! That's it - tonight I'm getting some sleep.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Sell! Sell! Sell!

The pressure is on!

The Squeeze and I made an offer on that condo we want, and after a bit of haggling over the price and a couple of conditions, it was accepted. Now we shift into overdrive. We met with our agent and went over a few things that we need to do to get the place in showroom condition. It's nothing major, but a hundred minor things add up quick enough.

We rented a storage unit and took our first load of excess items to their hiding place. After work today we'll be taking more furniture there so our place looks more spacious. The Squeeze was going to cut the lawn today, then we just have to weed the rest of the jungle...I mean garden and tidy up the back of the house. The closets need to be weeded as well. There is so much crap packed in there the shirts press themselves. Unfortunately, they come out with creases in the worst places. We'll just shove clothes we doubt we'll wear in the next couple of months in garbage bags and sort it out later.

There's a bit of caulking to do to fill in the gaps between the walls and the door trim, and then a bit of painting in the basement. Then we can slap down the peel & stick tiles that we bought years ago on the basement floor...hope they still stick! The cat will probably freak out over that and be reluctant to walk on a new surface. Unfortunately, she needs to cross that vast expanse to arrive at her litter box.

We'll be doing something I dread. I have to go through my books. It's time to purge. When The Squeeze asked me if I was planning to get rid of some books, my first instinct was to gasp...then laugh, as if it was some absurd joke between us. Ya, actually he was serious about that, and after some thought I came to the realization that I really won't likely have any use for the majority of these books in the future. I have so many that I haven't read, I could at least part with the ones that I have read. Naturally I'll be keeping all of my reference books: cookbooks, gardening books, The Far Side Galleries, David Sedaris books, etc. Not that I will have a garden to worry about, but friends ask for advice from time to time. Then again, the internet comes in handy for that type of thing. I wonder if The Squeeze is trying to get even with me for making him sell a bunch of his old vinyl LPs in a yard sale years ago. I thought he'd be over it by now. I replaced most of them with CD versions. Get over it already!

I'm looking outside and I see it's pouring rain. Maybe the weeding will wait until tomorrow. Closets, bookcases and painting tonight. Originally we were going to have friends over for dinner tomorrow night, but they offered to reschedule and let us off the hook so we can focus on getting the chores completed so we can show the house. Now that's what I call good friends!

My workday draws to a close...and now I must go home to face the list. Let's hope all of this work and staging is worth it!

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