My Week 144: Titus the Therapy Dog, It’s Coming From Inside the House

Titus the Therapy Dog

At the beginning of last week, someone in the office posted on our Staff site that the St. John’s Ambulance Society would be bringing therapy dogs into our building on Friday, and if anyone wanted to come and see them, they would be in the lobby from 11 am to 2 pm. You can only imagine how excited I was—I love dogs, and I only get to see Titus on weekends, thanks to living in a large city so I can be close to work. In the spring, we were doing an event off-site, and there was supposed to be someone coming with a miniature Chihuahua service dog, and it was all we could talk about for weeks. Of course, we were told that we weren’t allowed to PET the dog, since it was a working animal, and I was like, “What kind of service is THAT?” and I was secretly betting that the woman would let us pet it. I mean, what’s the point of having a tiny ball of adorable dogginess if you can’t share it with anyone, am I right? But if not, we would understand, and just stare at it lovingly. Then the day finally came, and we all, seemingly nonchalantly but inwardly super-pumped, strolled down to the room where the woman would be, only to discover that she hadn’t shown up for the event. It was such a letdown, and worse was when we went back to the office, and people kept asking, “Did you see the Chihuahua?” and it just kept bringing all those feelings of disappointment back again.

Also, I regularly annoy people in my condo building when they bring their dogs onto the elevator, and I only speak to the dog, as in “So what’s your name? Are you a good girl? Are you going for a walk?” and the owners feel obliged to answer, but in my head, it’s actually the dog and me having a conversation. I also do that to small children, but THEIR parents don’t seem to mind, perhaps recognizing that their babies can’t talk. Unlike dogs, some of whom secretly can. Quite often when we’re out with Titus, people try to engage him in conversation, which he steadfastly ignores:

Random Stranger: Ooh, who’s a big boy? Who’s got a lovely coat? Does he like the vet?
Me: Titus?
Titus: What?
Me: The man was asking you questions. Why didn’t you answer?
Titus: I assumed he was being rhetorical. You know, if you leave people alone long enough, they eventually answer their own questions all by themselves.
Random Stranger: Ooh, YOU’RE the big boy! Yes, he’s so shiny. I’ll bet he LOVES the vet.
Titus: I rest my case.

So Friday came, but I got sidetracked by a PowerPoint I was working on, until suddenly it was around 1 pm, and somebody said, “Hey, did you see the dogs?” And I was like, “The dogs?! Are they still here?! Please tell me they’re still here!” And then I tried to coerce the nice gentleman I work with to come downstairs with me:

Me: There are dogs in the lobby! Come and pet them with me!
Colleague: Um, no, that’s OK.
Me: But you’re ALLOWED to pet them!
Colleague: I’m good, thanks. REALLY.

Then I remembered that I’d tried to get the same man to look at naked ladies last week, so he was probably suspicious that the dogs were a euphemism or something. Everybody else had already gone down to see the dogs (I know because I asked), but then one of my French colleagues came strolling by. I work with a lot of very cheery and easy-going Francophones, so I called out, “Hey! Il y a des chiens ici! Viens avec moi!” My French is not fantastic, but she said, “Ooh, oui, d’accord!” which of course sounded like “Ooh way dakkar,” because of the Quebecois’ broader accent, but she was nodding, so I guessed she was coming with me. Of course, I hadn’t been specific, and she didn’t know whether or not they were wild dogs and I was trying to help her escape, but again, the French are pretty laidback, so down we went.

There was a crowd of people surrounding three dogs and their handlers, but I kind of slid my way up to the front so I could pet them, on the grounds that I’d had an awkward morning (Slight tangent: I don’t think it’s fair that some people in our office don’t have nameplates on their cubicles. Two days prior, I was visited by two different women from the finance department. Then one of them called me and asked me to sign a document and bring it down to her on the floor below. I opened the door and I saw one of the women, but her cubicle didn’t have a name plate on it. She looked at me, and I looked at her. I didn’t know how to get out of it gracefully, so I held up the document game-show style, smiled cheekily, and said, “This is for Desiree!” in a kind of sing-songy way. So if SHE was Desiree, she would be like, “Oh thanks!” in the same sing-songy voice, and if she WASN’T, she could say, “I’ll bet she’ll be happy to get it!” and then I would know. As it turned out, she wasn’t Desiree, and her response was, “Desiree’s cubicle is right down there”, so I feel simultaneously clever, and awkward as f*ck. Tangent over.) Anyway, I NEEDED to pet a dog. I’ll bet people would have forgiven Donald Trump for pushing aside the Prime Minister of Montenegro if he’d been trying to get to a puppy.

The dogs were beautiful, and totally calm as people petted them and scratched them behind their ears, but I noticed something weird—none of their tails were wagging, and none of them would make eye contact. Even if you tried to look at them, they would turn their heads away. In short, these dogs all seemed like they needed their OWN dogs to pet, because they all seemed depressed. I’ve never yet seen a dog that didn’t wag its tail when people were talking to it and petting it, unless it was scared. I mean, I don’t know a lot about therapy dogs, but the best thing about ANY dog is how happy they are to see YOU. That’s why dogs are so great. No matter how sh*tty you feel, the dog is always like, “Oh my god! You’re home! This is the best day ever!” So I got to pet the dogs, but the stress of worrying about how sad they looked cancelled out the therapy part of the experience. How do you even train a dog to NOT wag its tail? I kind of don’t want to think about it. One of the dogs, Tucker, was a Golden Retriever who even had his own business card, and on the business card, he had a huge smile on his face. In person though, it was like the time when T was around 7 years old and we took him to see Brent Butt, the comedian. We’d watched Brent on “Corner Gas” for years, and T loved him. His stand-up show was hilarious, and afterwards, he was signing autographs, so we lined up. When we got there, we told him how much T liked him and T told him how funny he thought the show was. Brent Butt just flatly said, “Thanks,” and turned away to the next person in line, like he was really bored. So maybe that was the problem—these dogs were temperamental celebrities. Anyway, I arrived home on Friday night:

Titus: You’re here!! This is the best day ever! Pop the cork on the champagne!
Me: I’m happy to see you too, buddy. C’mere and let me rub that tummy.
Titus: With pleasure! Wait—have you been around any other dogs today? Don’t lie. You know how good my sense of smell is. For example, I detect that you had white wine on the train—a Riesling, 2016, I believe.
Me: I ALWAYS have wine on the train, Sherlock. But yeah, they had therapy dogs at work.
Titus: Therapy dogs? Those guys have no sense of humour.
Me: I know, right? I guess I’m too used to you, you big goof.
Titus: That’s right, baby. I’m the only therapy you need.

Saturday: Lines of communication

On Friday, I went out for lunch with a couple of people from work to a local restaurant which serves ethnic cuisine. I don’t want to mention what kind, because I’ve had it before from different places without consequence. The meal I ordered didn’t look remotely like what it normally does, but I thought, Hey—maybe they are regional variations. It tasted OK, although it was a lot spicier than normal. Then for dinner that night, I had Cajun chicken wings and nachos with hot peppers. It’s no surprise then that I woke up about three o’clock in the morning feeling pretty sh*tty. I tossed and turned and finally went back to sleep around 6. When I woke up at 8, Ken had already gotten out of bed. I lay there for a while, all miserable and still feeling lousy, so I did what any normal person would do: I called Ken.

Phone rings and rings…

Ken (groggy): Uh…hello?
Me: It’s me.
Ken: Why are you calling me?
Me: I don’t feel well. What are you doing right now?
Ken: Well, I WAS having a nap on the couch. But then the phone rang and I had to get up to answer it, so thanks.
Me: Well, I tried your cell phone, but you didn’t pick up.
Ken: Why didn’t you just come downstairs?
Me: Because I’m all cozy.
Ken: Yeah, so was I, until I had to ANSWER THE PHONE.
Me: Can you bring up some batteries? I can’t turn the TV on because the remote is dead.
Ken: You could always get up and turn it on—Sigh. Never mind. I’ll be right up.
Me: Bring Titus with you. I need a hug.

 

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My Week 143: Awkwardness at Work, 2 Quick Tales

I am sometimes awkward at work

Anyone who knows me (or visits this site frequently) knows that I can be a little awkward around other people. I quite often misinterpret the things other people say, mostly because in my head, life is like a Monty Python sketch, which is to say it’s weird, and funny, and quite often self-referential, like if you haven’t watched the show before, you might not understand the joke. For instance, the other day, I was going through some materials with a co-worker, looking for common patterns, when another colleague walked in and asked, “Have you found anything?”

“Well,” I answered, “it could be something, or it could just be a case of a million monkeys with a million typewriters.”

“Writing the bible. Right,” replied my colleague. And I so badly wanted to say, “Ah, you’ve seen this episode before,” but I didn’t, because that would be pushing my luck. And also, I wanted to hug her, because mostly when I say that, people think I’m either obsessed with monkeys, or don’t like the Bible. Not that I actually LIKE the Bible—I’m kind of ambivalent towards it, like if I was to review it, I would probably say something like “Choppy style, but interesting plot. A little too preachy for this critic. 3 out of 5 stars.”

Anyway, recently I got promoted, so I’ve gone from being able to wallow in my comfort zone to being right out there in the spotlight. And it’s hella uncomfortable. In work situations, I normally like to sit and listen, just observe, and I only say something if I think it’s important. In my head, I like to think I’m perceived thusly: “She doesn’t speak very often, but when she does, we all should listen.” Unfortunately, the reality is probably more like, “What the hell is she talking about NOW? It’s always monkeys, monkeys, monkeys.”

But since the promotion, when I’m in meetings, instead of just being able to sit there, listen, and make notes, I’m REQUIRED to speak. And it’s usually when I least expect it.

Director: And then the 4th quarter targets….
Other Director: The memo about this requires a decision note…
Chair: And now for a report from mydangblog.
Me: What?! I…We are an EFFECTIVE team.

You can tell that I was lost in thought, going through Tom Cruise movies in my head. Thank goodness I was stuck at Oblivion, and not Jerry Macguire, because “Show me the money!” might not have gone over as well. (Just for the record, they don’t actually call me ‘mydangblog’ at work, but it would be super-funny if they did.) And the other day, we were having a high up meeting, and we were told not to let people into the office without escorts, because it IS a secret agency, and there are a lot of confidential materials in the office that are not for the public’s eye. “In fact,” said one of the Directors, “this came about because last week, we discovered that a former employee was in the office, and no one knew about it.”

Me: What?! You mean, like, for days? Was he hiding somewhere? I KNEW we needed to clean up that storage room!
Director: No. He was only here for a couple of hours. He wasn’t hiding—he just wasn’t being escorted by the person who let him in.
Me: Oh, good, because otherwise that would have been REALLY disconcerting.
Director: Yes. Sigh.

Now that I’m a manager, I’m also responsible for a budget. And it’s a HUGE f*cking budget. When I was a high school department head, my total budget was $12 000, and I was responsible for every penny. I had an Excel spreadsheet with two columns: ‘What I Have’ and ‘What I Spent’. My only job was to make sure that ‘What I Spent’ was never more than ‘What I Have’. When I first saw my new budget, I was completely freaked out, and my first thought was, “I’m gonna need a bigger spreadsheet.” So I asked to have a meeting with the Manager of Finance:

Me: So I’m a little concerned about how I’m supposed to keep track of all this.
Finance Manager: Keep track?
Me: Well, there are over 200 budget lines with like another 500 sublines. Does the spreadsheet you sent me automatically calculate debits or do I have to do that manually? I think I should probably pin the calculator to the task bar if that’s the case, cuz this is gonna take a LOT of time.
Finance Manager: Uh, no. This is just ‘for your information’. We have a whole department that deals with budget calculations.
Me: Oh. OK. Cool.

And speaking of cool, the person who had my office before me had a big-ass fan. Me, I’m always cold, so I haven’t used it yet, but last week it was getting pretty hot, so I decided to turn it on.

Step 1) Plug fan in and press ‘Power’ button.
Step 2) Hold hand up in front of fan to see how cold the air is.
Step 3) Look at fan skeptically.
Step 4) Change the setting to high and place hand in front of fan again.
Step 5) Look at fan skeptically.
Step 6) Change setting to “Oscillate” and place hand in front of fan again.
Step 7) Turn fan off and then back on.
Step 8) Realize that fan is not a computer and that turning it off and on again made no difference.
Step 9) Pick up fan to shake it and discover that fan is facing backwards.
Step 10) Turn fan around so that it is no longer blowing cold air at the wall.

And finally, the coup de grace of my awkward week:

I work with a very nice gentleman about my own age. On Wednesday, I was having trouble with my computer, so I went over to his desk. He’s lucky, in that he has a window, but also unlucky, in that it looks right over into the highrise building next door. I was in the middle of a conversation with him when this happened:

Me: So are you having trouble with your drives? I can’t get anything to load.
Colleague: No, mine seem–
Me: Holy sh*t! There’s a girl in that window and she’s completely naked!
Colleague (clears throat): Oh, gosh. Anyway–
Me: No, seriously. Good lord! Okay, now she’s putting on underwear. Doesn’t she know we can see her?!
Colleague: Um, I actually can’t from where I’m sitting. So, have you tried restarting your com–
Me: She’s right there! Just stand up a little bit!
Colleague: No, that’s OK.

So I stood there for a little while longer until the girl was dressed and gone. It wasn’t until later that I realized that the poor guy was probably mortified and all like “Can’t we just talk about monkeys?!” And now, I feel terrible for trying to make him look at naked ladies . But probably not as terrible as the girl would be, if she knew that she can be seen in all her glory from our office windows.

Two Quick Stories:

Crazy for Adjectives:

Right now, I’m going through resumes for a position I’m hiring for. The one notable thing is that people really go a little overboard with their superlatives. Either that, or they REALLY want to work with me. I started making a list of things that people say that will not get them a foot in the door. First, there are the people who are ‘delighted’ to be applying for the position. These people are also possessed of ‘great enthusiasm’, as well as ‘great eagerness’. Then there are the people who are ‘extremely knowledgeable’ and are ‘highly adept’. Finally, there are those who tell me that ‘As you can see’, they will be an ‘excellent addition’ and a ‘valuable member’. Then I got the feeling that maybe they all thought they were applying for a position as “puppy petter” or “ice cream truck client”. I mean, my office is a great place to work, but it’s no kitten farm, so dial it back a notch, Skippy.

Nickels and Dimes:

I was on the train Friday night, and we were sitting in the station waiting to depart, when the guy in the seat across the aisle from me suddenly starting talking VERY LOUDLY to someone on his cellphone. It was his bank. He was angry because he had paid for something by cheque from his line of credit which he rarely did, and he was charged a service fee, which he had NEVER been charged before. Then he gave the person on the other end his account number and the answer to his secret question, AND the dollar amount of the cheque, which was $2, 226.00 and I was like, “That service charge must have been huge for him to do this in front of everyone”, and also “I could totally hack his account”, at which point, he said, “It was twenty-five cents. I don’t understand why I’m being charged to use my line of credit. I want it credited back to my account immediately.” I actually snickered out loud at how serious and pissy he was. Then the train left the station and he was quiet for a while, so I assumed the bank’s customer service representative told him he was silly, and to go away. But suddenly, after about 10 minutes, I heard him say, “Yes,” and I realized he was STILL on the phone. Then he said, “Thank you. I hope this never happens again.” I just love that the customer service rep. kept him on hold for so long, hoping that he would hang up. Yet, he persisted.

My Week 142: Which Wolverine is Which? and They Call Me The Streak

Friday: I am befuddled by Wolverine

I remember a time when superhero movies and shows were so much simpler. There was Batman (Godspeed, Adam West—to me, you will always be the BEST bat), who fought crime with his sidekick Robin. There was the cartoon Aquaman, who lived in an underwater kingdom and rode around on a seahorse with his sidekick Aqualad, fighting the forces of evil. Then, of course, there were Superman and Spiderman, each with their OWN show. Apparently at one point, the Flash appeared on the Superman cartoon, but other than that, there were no cross-overs, no re-imaginings, no “Origin” stories and no guest appearances. It was easy to keep straight. Then came the Superfriends, which Ken INSISTS on calling the “Justice League”, and yes, I know that was their official name, Ken, but the SHOW was called Superfriends. It made sense, because they all worked together to solve crime, instead of randomly appearing in each other’s movies. (As an aside, I’m including Rocket Robin Hood in my list of childhood cartoons, but that was someone’s drug-fuelled hallucination gone bad with its bizarre mix of the Middle Ages and futuristic technology—I’m surprised no one has remade this yet. Also, there was Hercules, which I believe was created by the same studio since the characters all looked the same. I was wracking my brains trying to find the theme to Rocket Robin Hood which included the words, “Softness in his eyes and iron in his thighs”, which sounds a little pervy for a kid’s cartoon, am I right? Then I remembered THAT was Hercules, which also might explain why I thought that Rocket Robin Hood fought the Minotaur and had a sidekick named Newt).

Then, on Friday night, Ken and I decided to rent a movie, and Logan was available. We started watching it and right away, I was confused:

Me: Why is Wolverine so old? Why is he driving a limo? Where are the rest of the X-Men?
Ken: This takes place in the future. It’s, like, a reboot—a totally different timeline.
Me: So, Jennifer Lawrence isn’t in this one?
Ken: Not sure. We’ll have to wait and see.
Me: Is that Stephen Merchant?! Ooh, is Ricky Gervais in this too? I could totally see him as, like, “Sarcastic Man”. His superpower would be destroying his enemies with the lowest form of wit.

(Warning: If you haven’t seen Logan yet, there might be a spoiler or two coming up.) Anyway, in THIS movie, Professor X is really old and there’s a new, young group of mutants created by an evil scientist and a random English dude who escape from the scientist’s evil laboratory, and then it turns into a really boring chase/fight sequence involving a little girl who’s apparently Wolverine’s test-tube daughter and some guy who’s a Wolverine clone. No one can kill anyone, until—well, I don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say an adamanatium bullet plays a role. Then Wolverine and Professor X both die, and I was so confused.

Me: I thought there was another X-Men movie coming out soon. How can that happen if Professor X is dead?
Ken: I think that’s a different timeline.
Me: How many f*cking timelines are there? This is so confusing.

Then, on Saturday afternoon, I started watching X-Men: Origins where Wolverine was part of a mercenary group that included Ryan Reynolds and Dominic Monaghan, and I was like, “What the hell? Is that DEADPOOL?! Are there HOBBITS in this movie?! This crossover thing has gone too far!” And in this one, Wolverine was a Canadian (yes, Canadian!) lumberjack. Was he ALWAYS Canadian, or are they setting up a new timeline where he works with Captain Canuck? (As another sidenote, Captain Canuck is the quintessential Canadian superhero—he has superstrength, an eidetic memory, is fully bilingual, and of course, polite. If he took his shirt off more often, Justin Trudeau could play him in the movie). After the first 10 minutes, I decided to stop watching because I needed to go back and start the X-Men series at the beginning. But trying to figure out where exactly the beginning IS seems like an impossible task, what with all the movies that are filmed later but take place BEFORE other things. It’s like Star Wars, where the first movie is Episode IV, but kids today think that’s the 4th movie, but it’s NOT, T. Or like the Alien series, where we were all like, “Is Prometheus a sequel or a prequel? Is Covenant a prequel to Prometheus? Why are we moving backwards? That’s not how time works, godammit!”

And then last night, I wanted to rewatch Suicide Squad because it was shot in Toronto right down the street from where I live, and they were all seemingly new superheroes, I think, but the movie was set in Gotham. Yes, Gotham, like where Batman is from. And then Batman was actually in it, and so was the lady from How to Get Away With Murder, and there was all this talk about Superman being dead, and I was like, “When did Superman die?! Was that at the end of Batman Vs. Superman?” Because I was asleep at that point, having been bored to tears by yet another insanely long fight scene where no one could win. And then, at the end, the credits started rolling:

Me: Don’t turn it off yet. There might be a teaser.
Ken: This is a DC Universe. Those only happen with Marvel. I think.
Me: What? Well, you never know. Just wait.

And sure enough, there WAS a teaser. And it was Ben Affleck as Batman with some kind of dossier, and in the dossier was f*cking AQUAMAN! But it wasn’t clear if he wanted to get the Superfriends back together or kill them all. And now, it’s just going to be a non-stop free-for-all of backstories, reimaginings, reboots, and timelines, until all universes are one and Rocket Robin Hood is protecting Sherwood Forest against the Joker in outer space with his trusty sidekick, Nightcrawler.

Saturday: Oh yeah, they call me The Streak

Last Saturday, I was in my bathroom upstairs getting ready for the day, and just about to have a bath, when I realized I was almost out of toilet paper. I was totally naked at the time, but Ken was outside doing yardwork, and no one could see me from the windows since our house is set back from the street, so I made my way downstairs to the cupboard where we keep the toilet paper, bottles of water, and other assorted beverages—a kind of all-purpose pantry, if you will. I was standing there with a roll of toilet paper in one hand, and a Vitamin Water in the other, when Ken, like the damned ninja he is, suddenly appeared with no warning. We stared at each other:

Ken: Well, hello there. I’m sure there’s a very interesting story behind this.
Me: Oh my god, Ken! You’re supposed to be outside! I’m naked!
Ken: Why yes. Yes, you are.
Me (running away): Stop looking at my ass!

Now, you’re probably thinking, “What’s the big deal? They’ve been married for 27 years. Surely, they’ve seen each other naked.” And you would be right, except this was broad daylight, in the middle of a room, and I was holding toilet paper and Ken was holding a garden trowel. If I was a more clever person, I might have responded with, “I’m so sorry—I have no money to pay you for your gardening services…” instead of fleeing like a streaker at a soccer game. But I’m just not comfortable being naked and running around the house unless I’m sure I’m completely alone, and even then it feels weird. Like, even in Toronto, when my roommate’s gone and I have the chain on the door so no one can sneak in, I still put on my pajamas before I leave the bathroom. I COULD run around naked, since the closest neighbour would need a high-powered telescope to see me, but you never know. Sometimes I just give the finger to my window on the off-chance that I’m being spied on, to let the other person know I see them, even though I don’t. And now what I think is that PARANOIA is my super-power, and I deserve a cross-over appearance in the Marvel/DC/Hanna Barbera universe. Just call me “Uncomfortably Naked Girl”.

My Week 141: OCD Much?

Wednesday: OCD much?

Last week, I was looking at Facebook, and someone had posted an article about one of the many Kardashian creatures and her apparent OCD. The Kardashian in question is “Kloe”, and maybe she thinks she has OCD, but I took one look at her refrigerator and freezer, and I was like “No. Just no.” Because her refrigerator and freezer made MY OCD flare up like fireworks on Victoria Day. First, her refrigerator was JAM-PACKED full of stuff. And maybe it was organized by type, but the pickle jars were all squished up against each other (who the hell needs 6 jars of pickles anyway), the salad dressing was nestled up against the mustard, and there was no satisfying equi-distance between ANYTHING. But the worst part was that there were 6 butter sticks which were NOT stacked evenly, and the margarine tubs were on a tippy, nay, haphazard angle. Lady, just because you have six cans of Red Bull lined up in a row doesn’t mean anything other than you’re probably more wired than most people. Also, the sheer amount of stuff in that refrigerator mostly proves you’re some kind of self-indulgent shopaholic with more money than brains—or OCD. Then I read on about how she takes several boxes of Oreos and tosses them into jars. Jars! You’re taking Oreos out of their neat straight rows and dumping them willy-nilly into glass containers, where the cookie dust gets all over everything. And what if some of them break in the process? Now you can’t even eat them.

So I was irked. My own OCD isn’t even that bad on most days—in fact, you might not even notice it, unless you look around my house and realize that all objects of décor are organized in patterns of fives (and sometimes threes or sevens), or you’ve watched me put groceries on the conveyer belt in a symmetrical fashion according to size and shape and with one inch of space between all items, or you’ve seen me in the bathroom washing my hands simply because doing that fills me with a sense of profound relief, or you’ve noticed that my thumbs are bleeding because my dermatophagia (which thank goodness is limited to my cuticles) is out of control right now and I’m not sure why.

Ken barely notices my own ‘quirks’, but a couple of weeks ago, it became VERY apparent, when I came home from Toronto and went into my bathroom:

Me: WHAT THE F*CK?!
Ken: What’s wrong?!
Me: The little clock goes on the right! The RIGHT!! Why can’t she remember that? It’s not difficult! There are only two directions—right and left. The little clock always goes on the right!! At a certain point, you’ve got to think she’s doing it on purpose!
Ken: Sigh.

The “she” in question was our new house cleaner. Now, before you start lumping me in with the Kardashians, like I have so much money that I can afford a maid, let me clarify that she only comes in once every two weeks, just to do the basics. With me in Toronto all week, and only seeing Ken on the weekends, the last thing we wanted to do was spend all day Saturday cleaning the house. Plus, I have to write, and dusting gets in the way of that. Obviously, a dirty house is a problem for me, hence hiring someone to help out. The cleaner is young and relatively inexpensive, but also apparently oblivious to the order of things. The first week that she came, she had left the cupboard in the kitchen in total disarray, causing me to have a small breakdown. “She moved EVERYTHING!!” I cried to Ken. He kindly suggested I get out the photographs so that I could put everything back. Yes, photographs. I take photographs of the way I’ve arranged things so that I know how to put them back, just in case. It’s especially helpful at Christmas, when I want to place ornaments in the exact same position as the year previous.  So I spent a good hour putting things back where they were supposed to be. Now, of course, I’m used to the fact that every other weekend, I’ll come home to subtle disarray, but there’s also some stress-relief involved as re-order my world and then stand back and admire the renewed symmetry.

I think a big part of the problem is that I don’t like strangers touching my stuff, so hiring a stranger whose sole job is to touch my stuff was bound to be a problem. One that I’m slowly getting used to. But this past weekend, Ken and I had a garage sale, so you can only imagine how high my stress level shot up, as stranger after stranger wandered around my yard, picking up things and putting them down in different places than the ones I’d assigned to them. It took all I had not to follow people around, re-arranging behind them, or not yelling, “If you don’t want to buy that, can you please put it back where you found it?!”

Plus I hate how judge-y people are at yard sales:

Woman: Will you do better than $20 dollars for this table?
Me: It’s from the late 1800s, so no, I’m sorry.
Woman: But the legs are a little rickety. Will you go $15?
Me: No, sorry.
Woman: Hmph. Then I’ll pass.
Me: No problem. Can you please put it back where you found it?

Seriously. An antique side table worth 5 times the price and she passed at $20 because the legs were a little “rickety”. What, was she planning to sit on it? Otherwise, it was just fine as a table. But we did sell a lot of stuff, including Frank the stuffed fish whose story you can read about in My Week 34. A woman came very early, and bought a lot of things for exactly the price we were asking and never haggled once. She admired Frank, who we’d pulled out of the shed to put by the side of the road on the grounds that neither of us REALLY wanted a dead fish in the house, so I told her she could have him for free. She loaded all of her purchases into her car, then suddenly she came back to the house. “Here,” she said, holding out a $10 bill. “That’s for the fish. I know he’s worth a lot more.” When we protested that no, she could just have him, she insisted, and tucked the bill into a glass on the table. “Don’t argue,” she laughed, and then drove away.

The other best part of the morning was when my aunts came for a visit. After looking around for a while, one of them asked if she could dig up a little bit of Solomon’s Seal from my garden for hers. They both disappeared for a minute, then my other aunt came around the corner of the house with the plant hanging out of a bag.

“Hey,” I yelled. “That crazy woman is taking plants from the garden!! Lady! Those aren’t for sale!!”

Then I realized that some of my prospective customers were looking at her, as she blithely made her way to the car. “Do you want me to stop her?” one man asked, concerned.

“No,” I laughed. “She’s family. It’s all good.” Because family is ALLOWED to touch my stuff.