Friday, May 30, 2008


Brush With The Black Creature

Yesterday I was telling the business partner about The Black Creature, and he came up with a few theories. Perhaps s/he is homeless, disfigured, Muslim. No idea. Shortly after we had our discussion, BP had to head over to a client's place with a huge piece that wouldn't fit in a car. Luckily the client lives just a couple of blocks from the shop, so he headed out the door and started to walk there. As soon as I saw him cross the road, I saw The Black Creature just a few doors away, heading the same direction BP was travelling. I immediately grabbed the phone and called his cell. After a few rings he answered.
"Look out! The Grim Reaper is behind you!!!" I said.
"Look behind you."
Then I heard a gasp and he quietly chuckled into the phone, "Oh my God!"
"See what I mean? It looks like the grim reaper."
"I think it's a woman", he said after she had passed him.
She pulled her hood down further and turned her head so he couldn't see her face as she got closer. She still had her wheeled luggage, but she also carried another bag. All black.
Perhaps I'm obsessing, but I'm thinking of hanging out in the parking lot on my day off and tracking her to see if I can find another piece of this puzzle. OK, ya, that even sounds weird to me. Who's the strange one, eh?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Joined At The Forehead

My good buddy (let's call her 'Hooves', because that's what I call her) invited the gang out to see her hubby perform at the Hooterville Legion on Saturday night. Her hubby is quite the performer. Great voice, great on the guitar, beloved by seniors and children alike. He performs with a woman he's been musical partners with for years.

After we enjoyed dinner at a nearby restaurant we made our way to the Legion. We were there right for the start of the performance, so there were maybe 30 people there, tops. As the night went on, and the cheap booze flowed, the hall gathered more people. Perhaps 50 or 60, which incidentally was far below the median age in that place. Much of the repertoire consisted of old country standards that the older folks just ate up.

At one point, Hooves' sister asked me who Mrs. So-and-so was dancing with. "Who's Mrs. So-and-so?" I asked, not knowing any of the seniors in the place except for Hooves' parental units. "The one with the gray hair," she replied. "Ya, you're gonna have to narrow that down a bit more," I shot back. "Point taken!"

Aside from the music, the highlight of the evening was one couple who were on the dance floor pretty much non-stop. Personally, I love to see seniors dance together. There's something very heart-warming about it. Same goes for seeing older couples walking hand in hand. Before I get all sentimental and sad, let's get back to the dance....This couple would dance to any song they played, and Hooves actually informed us that this couple shows up at many of the functions that her hubby plays. Apparently they live in Hooterville, but they're kinda like groupies. The strange thing was the way they danced. They would spin around the floor, holding one another, and aside from the times he was spinning her, they connected their foreheads as they danced.

It was sort of like a National Geographic segment on rams or something. We couldn't figure it out. I tried it with my friend Neen while we sat in our chairs, and it nearly gave us headaches. You can't look into each other's eyes when you're that close. Knowing that nobody but the people there would believe it if we said it, I had to snap a picture. Luckily, Hooves had her camera with her, so I made use of it while she was away from the table.

As the couple danced, I would have The Squeeze pose and smile toward me, to make the head-butters think I was taking his picture and not theirs. It took a few tries, because they didn't stay still very long. When Hooves came back to the table, she said "I should get a picture of this!" When I told her I already had, she fired up the camera to see the picture. She got a quick glance of it and just howled before the batteries died. I never really got a good look at it, but I'm guessing it was OK. Probably a bit dark because they were at a bit of a distance and I don't know if the flash would have lit them sufficiently, but Hooves' reaction made me think it was alright. I'm waiting for her to e-mail that picture to me at some point so I can put it here. Again, until then, this will have to do:

Saturday, May 24, 2008


The Black Creature

I've mentioned several times the strange people that wander into or by my shop, but I've recently discovered a new and intriguing favourite. For the past few weeks I've happened to be on the computer out front and looked up to see a person walking down the street. This person, not sure if it's male or female, walks somewhat quickly, never looking up, and pulling a small, black piece of wheeled luggage behind him/her. He/she is entirely clad in black. Black pants, black shoes, and a black hooded sweatshirt. The hood on this sweatshirt is huge and everything save his/her hands is covered. There's something rather "Grim Reaper" about the whole thing.

Every time I see him/her, it's the same thing. Same black clothing, same wheeled suitcase. He/she passes by a few times a week that I notice, likely more since I can't always be out front to see him/her.

Yesterday our mail carrier came in, we had our usual little chat, and she said, "Have you seen The Black Creature?" I knew who she meant right away. "With the sweatshirt?" I asked. "Ya," she said. "I see him or her on all sorts of streets on my route. I wonder what's up with that." "No idea, but I hope there's not a scythe in that suitcase," I replied.

My mission: to have my camera at the ready to get a picture to post here. I don't know how likely that is to happen. My camera is slow, the focus sucks, and The Black Creature walks at a pretty good clip. I wonder if the wardrobe will change as the weather continues to heat up. Only time will tell.
Until then, you get this.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008



Pretty much every weekend since my mother passed away last month The Squeeze and I have gone to visit my father in Hooterville while we're there to see the girls. He's been coping alright all things considered, but has had some stomach issues he's been seeing his doctor about. He's lost nearly 20 pounds since the start of they year due to all the stress of my mother being ill and passing on.

He's been sorting through some things at home. He's gone through dressers and packed up many of my mother's things. He couldn't believe how much Avon stuff she's bought over the years that never even got opened. A family friend sells the stuff, and she just hated to say no to her. She always liked to help others out. I'm not sure what he intends to do with it.

A couple of weeks ago, my father mentioned that he had been cleaning up and tossing out little things that my mother had hung on to for years for some reason. Little crocheted baskets from someone's wedding...stuff like that. Most of these items were stuffed into beer steins from Germany that sat on a shelf in the dining room. He had washed everything and wiped down all the shelves, and he just wants to get rid of all the knick-knacks. He asked me if I wanted a pair of ceramic cats that were drying in the dish rack in the kitchen. I looked at them and realized that I made them nearly 30 years ago when I dabbled in ceramics. They weren't a gift for anyone. I just made them and left them there on their mantel years ago when I moved out. He wrapped them up and made sure they went with me.

He told me that the next week he was going to wash everything in the china cabinets and clean the glass shelves and doors.
"I don't know why anyone needs all this stuff," he said. "It's just something else to have to clean."
"Well, it's all part of her set, and it was something that she loved. I remember buying some of the crystal bowls and vases for her for birthdays, Mother's Day...Christmas. Just last Christmas I managed to find that covered butter dish for her china set on e-Bay to replace the one that broke" I told him.
"If you want to, you can take them home with you," my father said.
"I'm not going to empty your house out."
"Well, I'm never going to use any of this stuff."
"We'll figure it out later. Not now," I said.

On our drive home that night I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with emotion.
"You know," I said to The Squeeze, "I would love to have my mother's china and crystal set. They were such a part of her, and I'd love to have them as a memento and be able to pass them on to Brynn one day."
"Why don't you tell your father you want them?" he asked.
"I'd sort of feel like some kind of greedy, grave-robbing ghoul taking stuff from his house."
"Well, he said he doesn't want it."
"Ya, but I've got 3 brothers and a sister who might," I answered. "And I don't want to cause any wars with everyone else. If they expressed a desire to have it, I'd probably just back down to keep the peace."
"But if it's something you want..."
"If anyone wants this stuff for any other reason than sentimentality...if they want it strictly for the value of it, I'd offer to just pay them what they want so I can hang on to it," I told him.
The Squeeze just sat there and let me process my thoughts.
"I always said that when my parents were gone, all I wanted was their wedding picture. I just want a memory to hang on to. This crystal and china set mean family to me. We often used it at family gatherings. It brings back memories of good times."

I had a bit of a meltdown as I drove, just thinking of their wedding picture.
"What does that picture mean to you?" The Squeeze asked.
"It means hope. It was the day they started out on their journey. They got married, had three kids in East Germany, escaped there with the kids with little more than the clothes on their backs. They found their way here, started building a life for themselves, had three more kids, worked hard for what they had, and provided us with what we needed. They faced the pain of losing a son, seeing another son deal with the aftermath of a horrible industrial accident, and found the strength to carry on. They were there during their children's marital difficulties, they were there to offer their support when I came out. That picture represents their innocence. That picture represents their dreams."

Last weekend, The Squeeze and I were back for a visit. Again my father talked about cleaning out the china cabinet. I built up my nerve.
"When you want to let go of some of this stuff, I would love to have the china and crystal set. There are a lot of memories in it for me, and I'd love to be able to use it on special occasions and tell people the history of it. Then I can pass it on to Brynn one day," I explained.
"I guess that's all people do with this stuff, just pass it down to someone else," he answered. (Where did I get my sentimentality?)
"You can take it with you any time," he said.
"I don't want to cause a fight with anyone if someone else would like to have it too," I told him.
"I doubt anyone else would want it," he answered.

I'm not so sure. I'm trying to figure out how to handle this. Should I talk to my siblings about this first? I really don't want to step on anyone's toes, and I don't want to look like I'm loading up the goods before anyone else can. I remember when my grandmother died many years ago, and some of her kids dove in and emptied the place of valuables and antiques. I'll never forget one of my aunts offering my mother some of my grandmother's underwear. Unreal. I don't want this to happen. Any ideas?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


More On The Floor

As expected, I received no call from the Depot about my floor on Sunday. While I was out and about on my usual Monday off, I decided to call the department manager from my car at 11:30 before going into my chiropractor's appointment.

Much was said. Mostly, "what the hell is going on there!?!?" You know, that type of thing. As we spoke, she was walking through their receiving area looking for my flooring. She told me she would give me a call back in a few minutes. I was not a happy camper.

After my call, I had my laser treatment, went to the bank, stopped for lunch, stopped somewhere else for an ice cream treat (it's my downfall), and drove to the hospital for my ENT appointment at 1:30. The phone rang as I was parking my car. It was the department manager. Two hours later.

Yes, she found my order. She had authorized a free delivery to make up for the inconvenience. However, that wouldn't happen until Friday. How is waiting four more days less of an inconvenience? I told her that wouldn't work since we wouldn't be home. She said I could come in to get it and she would knock the delivery fee ($60.00) off of the bill. That worked for me.

"When I show up to pick this up in a couple of hours, will someone know where it is?"
"Go to the front desk and ask for me to be paged, and I'll get it for you, but I have also put many sarcastic notes in the system so people can find it," she assured me.
"Alright, we'll go with that."

Once I finished my appointment, I drove to get my flooring. I walked up to the front desk and asked for the department manager. The woman at the desk (not to be confused with the girl from the last time), told me she was back at the flooring department and that I could find her there. OK, she had told me to have her paged, but I'll play along. I went back and waited while the DM finished up with some other customers.

I introduced myself and she said, "Hi, nice to meet you, I am SO sorry for all of this. Are you still mad at me? I felt so bad because I really wanted to fix things for you and you just kept ripping a strip off of me on the phone."
"I'm sorry. I'm not mad at you, I'm just so frustrated over this whole disaster. We ordered this flooring two months ago and there has been one screw up after another. I just want to get my floor put in," I explained.

The DM asked the guy from the department (yep, the same guy from Saturday night...the same guy who screwed up the initial order) to go get my flooring and bring it up front for me. I then joined the DM at the front desk to have the order straightened out and credited to our Visa.

As you may recall, the first roll I received was 4 1/2' tall by 12' rolled up. The corrected order should then be 6' tall by 12' rolled up. Guess what arrived. A 12' long roll. I looked at it with wide eyes. "Oh, they rolled it the other way this time...hopefully this can fit in the car."
" don't have a truck with you?", the DM asked.
"Nope, I'm driving an Accord. I was expecting this to be 1 1/2' longer than the last roll. Well, let's give it a try."

I thanked the DM for her help, and she apologized again for the major screw-ups. Flooring Guy followed me out to the car with the flooring on a cart. I opened the trunk, flipped down the little pass-through and fed the roll through it toward the front of the car. Flooring Guy just gave me this look as if to say "you're pretty stupid to have only brought a car for this", and I simply said "Don't...even", and sent him on his way. After reclining the passenger seat and dropping the window, I was able to get the roll to rest on the side mirror and close the trunk. No problems.

I brought the roll home and placed it in the livingroom. "How will we get this upstairs?", The Squeeze asked me later that night. Good question. Either it has to go back outside and passed up onto the balcony or we unroll it downstairs and roll it up the other way. I think we'll do that tonight to get it out of our way until our installer can make it back to put it in. Hopefull this weekend.

I hope we're not in for a surprise when we unwrap it and unroll it. Keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


How Does Home Depot Stay In Business???

Somewhere around the last part of March The Squeeze and I ordered our Armstrong vinyl flooring from Home Depot. That was our first mistake. The floor of the ensuite measures 5 1/2' x 8'. They sell the flooring by the square yard, so we ordered 2 yds. x 3 yds. (6' x 9') or 6 square yds. We explained to the guy in the flooring department exactly what we wanted, so we assumed he would order things correctly. That was our second mistake. We were told it would be two to three weeks before it would arrive. Fair enough.

A couple of weeks went by, and we received a call telling us that our order was in. We picked up the flooring and a few other things and brought it home and parked it out of the way for a week or two while we waited for the people who were coming to install it for us. That day, I brought the flooring up to the bedroom and as I talked to the people who were there to install it, I noticed that I was leaning with my elbow on the end of the roll that was standing up beside me. OK, who can tell me what's wrong with this picture? Give a cigar to whoever said "how did you get your elbow to the 6' level?" It wouldn't be a problem if I was 8' tall, but I'm about 6'1", meaning that the roll of flooring was a fair bit shorter than me.

I got the measuring tape and discovered it was only 4 1/2' tall. There is no way a ensuite that size should have a seam in the floor. What the hell went wrong? Upon inspection of the label, I discovered that they did, in fact, send 6 square yards, but it was 4 1/2' by 12', not 6' x 9'.

Needless to say, I took it back and spoke to another woman in the flooring department. She was very apologetic, and she promised to get us an explanation for the error and most importantly, get us the proper size ASAP. A few days later, after not hearing from her, I called the store. She wasn't working in the flooring department that day, but I did speak to the department manager who went searching for information. She called back and explained that the flooring comes on a 12' roll, so they sent 6 square yards and apparently (ya think?) didn't pay attention to the dimensions stated, although upon closer inspection, she didn't notice the sizes were actually mentioned. She said that since the original salesperson didn't explain the 12' roll thing, she wouldn't charge us for the extra. She did have one question. Did I want 6' x 12', or 9' x 12'. Oh. My. God. I was stunned. Why would I need 9' x 12'?

So anyway, she ordered the new piece of flooring and told me it would be in within two weeks. Friday night I received a call saying that the new flooring was in. Saturday evening I drove back to Home Depot to pick up my new piece of flooring. I checked in with the girl at the front desk, I signed for the flooring, and she walked me way down to the lumber end where the computer indicated it would be. Outside. WTF? Why is a roll of vinyl flooring being stored outside with the lumber. Well, apparently it wasn't out there, because she couldn't find it. We walked all the way back to the special services desk at the other end of the store. Did I happen to mention that I have a pinched sciatic nerve that just shoots from my ass to my foot when I stand or walk? Ya, pain. Big time pain. So I'm limping around the store for about 20 minutes or so by this time.

This girl called someone from the flooring department to come up and see if they could find the flooring. Guess who showed up. The very first guy who put our initial order in. He wandered about the store for about 20 or 30 minutes before returning to say he couldn't find it. The girl reversed the pick up slip and had me sign another paper.

"We'll have to have the department manager locate it and give you a call tomorrow," she said.
"And who will be delivering it to my house?", I asked.
"Umm...I'll mention that to the manager."
"This is just absurd. This whole ordeal has been the biggest pain in the ass, and it will be the last time I order anything from this place," I informed them. "I'll be dealing with Lowe's and Rona from now on."

I would have loved to just leave my cart with the few items I picked up while waiting sitting there as I stormed out. Unfortunately, I was using a gift card that I still had over fifty dollars on. I pushed my cart as I limped behind it to a cashier to get my few things rang through. I still have over $30.00 remaining on the card. Apparently I WILL be back.

That was the man's equivalent to storming out of a room and slamming the door behind you, only to realize that your dress got caught in the door.

So I wait and see what happens. I'll be sure to update.

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