Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Post-Christmas Post

Currently Reading: The Devil's Whisper by Miyuki Miyabe

Well, we've all pretty much managed to survive the holidays, or at least the one that causes all the stress anyway. I don't recall ever hearing anyone lament about surviving New Year's. Heard a lot of complaints about not having a date or not getting invited to parties but that's about it.

Work was a major pain in the butt, as expected. This was one of those weird years where everyone waits until the last minute to do all their shopping. That seems to happen every now and then, probably tied to the economy and how much spending money people can budget for their presents. That makes the last few days before Christmas even worse and it impacts us at the salon just as much as any other retail store.

We had a really slow week ending the 15th then things picked up a LITTLE on the 16th, Sunday. Then slow more or less through the week until Maybe Thursday. Then we added a little more Friday. More Saturday. Then Sunday. OH MY GOD! Sunday!

Sunday started out slow. In fact, it looked like it was going to be SO slow that my boss started calling people on the waiting list. Well, most of them weren't home because they were in church so she left messages and so forth. Around 10 or so, still no one showing up so she decides to go home thinking it's going to be a slow day. So far pretty normal. At around 11, about the time church starts letting out, business took a rather dramatic turn. I ended up with 10 dogs that day, only a handful of which were in for a bath. Most of them were in for haircuts. Complicating things even more, the cold I had picked up on Friday or so was REALLY hammering me hard. How I managed to get through the day I have NO idea.

Oh alright it wasn't really as dramatic as it sounds. Dogs showed up, I clipped them. Went through a lot of tissue in the process and there was some stress but that's really about it. Oh, we did have one REALLY funny thing happen though. I was asked to put a mohawk on a maltese. A maltese is a small dog with long white hair. A mohawk, well you know what those are. I must say, he turned out rather well. I cut the hair just short enough along the fin that it stood up on its own. The whole time I was doing it, people would walk by the windows of the salon, look in, then grab their cell phones and take a quick shot. You'd think no one had ever seen anything like that before! :-)

Had a fairly quiet Christmas Day with the family. We spent the afternoon at my parents' house along with my sister and her family. Presents were exchanged, everyone was happy. That's about it. No drama there, which is nice when you think about it. Who really wants drama on Christmas, especially after all the rushing to get ready for it?

So now we're heading into 2008. I guess this is when we're supposed to make lists of resolutions and do some "looking back" items for 2007. Ok, here we go:

  1. First, I resolve not to make resolutions other than this one! :-)
  2. Secondly, I managed to read a few more books this year than last year. 33 in 2007 to 26 in 2006
  3. Third, we got an unexpected surprise gift from the INS. CC's green card was extended 10 years. She's legal until 2018
  4. Forth, I got an unexpected surprise gift from the Wall Street Journal. My subscription started up on the 24th
  5. Fifth, while I am looking forward to another Olympics in 2008, I'm not really looking forward to another presidential election. I sense a really messy one coming up
  6. Sixth, even though a lot of things changed just a little during 2007, nothing is really all that dramatically different from 2006 and that's probably a good thing

Ok so there you go, my observations for now. Maybe I'll add to them but probably not. I'll most likely forget what I posted by the time I get to post again. Things are in a slight state of flux until we clear New Year's. The work schedule is a little freaky you see, because of the holidays, and I have to work a few extra days to cover for it.

So, let's all hope that 2008 is as boring as 2007 and the only drama comes from trampy, young, Hollywood-types who just can't seem to get their shit together :-)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Death By A Thousand Paper Cuts

Currently Reading: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

This is the season when we're probably most pulled in about a billion different directions. Lots of little things to tend to; parties to prepare for, presents to buy and ship and wrap, cards to mail. I also increases the chances you'll have a death by 1000 paper cuts. That's the feeling you get when a lot of little things start stressing you out. By themselves, these little things are never enough to bother you but when they start piling on, one on top of the other, they can really give you the blues or drive you stark raving mad.

Such is the case with me right now. Lots of little things. What gets me the most are the little things around the house that don't quite work out right or fit right or whatever. Normally it's not a big deal but SHEESH it can be overwhelming when you're trying to get everything done and the list of things that need doing keeps going on and on and on.

Yesterday, for example, I was home all day because someone was supposed to come and fix my dishwasher at 2. Did that happen? No. So I called down to the leasing office and had what can only be described as a Seinfeld moment. "I set an appointment. That means you're supposed to be here at a certain time." "Yes sir, I KNOW what an appointment is." And I SO wanted to chime in with, "I don't think you do." So they tell me they'll send someone over that afternoon but did anyone show up? Of course not. Still no dishwasher.

That wouldn't be enough to stress me out normally but I was also trying to finish up the Christmas shopping as best I could online to make the shipping deadlines. Plus, CC's still in Manila so that means her chores are my chores which means if I want to wear clean clothes I had best get them washed on my days off. This all on top of the usual stuff I do when I'm off plus the change in the weather which was giving me a SERIOUS headache, sinuses all stuffed up and everything. One by one, little paper cut by little paper cut.

Tomorrow it's back to work and I REALLY hope this little trend will stop there. Unfortunately work presents WAY too many opportunities for more paper cuts but at the same time, there are also plenty of opportunities for band aids as well. You can really make someone's day by making their dog look just how they wanted it. And they'll usually say so, especially if they had it cut somewhere else the last time and it really came out all funky and messed up. So let's all keep our fingers crossed that we get more band aids and less paper cuts :-)

Speaking of Christmas shopping, do you know I've done almost all of it online this year! It's true. CC and I still have to get some presents for office people, you know, office presents, little things you can give out to people you know from work but maybe don't know quite well enough to get them a full holiday present. But the bulk of the shopping, that's already done and they're on the way now. The poor UPS guys will be walking up and down our stairs quite a bit next week, but then I suppose they knew that when they signed up for the job. Christmas is tough on them too.

We're also hoping, speaking of next week, that things at the salon will pick up. We had a disastrously slow Monday and right now my commissions are just barely sitting ahead of my hourly wages. Worse, it happened on the longest day of my work week leaving me with a whole lot of time in the salon and very little to do. Sunday was just fine though so it will balance out a little but on the whole things were very slow and that's unusual. Normally by now things have picked up. People are having parties, they're getting ready for trips and that sort of thing. It makes me wonder if this is going to be one of those years where Christmas sneaks up on everyone and everything goes freaky nuts the week of the 25th. That's happened before. Sales across the board are down the first two or three weeks of December then it's like everyone suddenly remembers there's a holiday and BAM they go wild trying to do everything at the last minute. I really hope that isn't the case this year but I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The slow, the fast and the cookies

Currently Reading: Nothing at the moment.

Well we're coming out of the dead zone at work but things are still not exactly running at the brisk pace we had before Thanksgiving. Mostly that was due to the repeated rains we had over the two weekends. Rain kills the walk-in traffic. Who wants to have their dog washed when the back yard is turning into one big mud puddle? Things are clearing up outside now though so we should do pretty good business.

This is also the time when people start throwing Christmas parties. And with the dogs already grown out a week or two from their Thanksgiving haircut, they'll be looking a little rough around the edges, maybe a tad shaggy. They'll need to come in for a shape up or a trim. It's happening already. Sunday and Monday, while not particularly SUPER busy, were a little better than usual. Add to that Saturday's big "pictures with Santa" and you've got a recipe for work.

Speaking of recipes, CC send me one on Tuesday. She'd gotten it from a friend of hers. It's for a cookie called a chocolate crinkle. Here's a picture . . .
I know, they don't really LOOK like anything special but they taste AWESOME! They're pretty much brownies covered in powdered sugar. I had 5 from the first batch when they came out of the oven. Yes, they're that good and surprisingly not difficult to make at all. They're a tad messy because you have to roll the dough into little balls, but otherwise, nothing worse than usual. Here's the recipe, in case you're feeling adventurous:

Chocolate Crinkles

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into one inch balls. Coat each ball in confectioners' sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.

You can adjust the sugar depending on how sweet you would like them to be. Or you can also add extra melted chocolate chips to make it more fudgy. But the fudgier it is, the harder it will be to roll them into balls :p

* * *

About the only other thing worth mentioning since last week is Wednesday's rather long bit of shopping. I spent the first few hours of the day out at the mall with my mother. She wanted to get started on her shopping and wanted me to come along. No problem there. In fact, we were done by 1.

After she and I got back to my apartment, we met up with CC because CC and I had an appointment with INS. Actually SHE had the appointment. I was just along for the ride. Nothing dramatic this visit. They just wanted another set of fingerprints and pictures and so forth. We were in and out in 10 minutes or so.

But after that, well, CC had a list of places we needed to stop. We ended up running all over the place and by the time I got home, I was pretty tired. Needless to say I didn't do much the rest of the evening except goof off. I did have a rather long list of things to do over my days off but I pretty much just put them off until Thursday. And now that I'm finishing up my blog entry, I've also finished up my list.

Oh yeah, just a quick note. CC is heading back to Manila for her last trip to the Philippines for the year. She's leaving Saturday and she'll be back the 19th. While she's over there she'll be going to two company Christmas parties, one of which is a sort of costume party. Her department is supposed to dress 80's style. I really hope she gets pictures from that one. I'm curious to see how folks over there dress for it :-)