Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cube with a view

My department moved recently to 'temporary' space for six months while our current location is being gutted and remodeled.

My old cubicle was a little short for comfort, only three feet high, but I faced the window, could see the sky, and enjoyed the natural light.  The temporary suite had windows with a beautiful view of a mature golf course, with grass and large trees and flowers.

So I was dismayed to find that my assigned cubicle had five foot walls.  I had a beautiful view - of my calendar.  Additionally, the vampire developers that I work with voted to have the line of lights kept off.  (I do agree that the glare was annoying.)   My cubicle was a cozy, dark, quiet cave.  And I hated it.

I moved to Arizona because the sun barely shone in Iowa all winter.  I am solar-powered.  I am active when the sun is up, crash when it sets. I found the lack of light and the isolation stifling. 

So I modified my cubicle.  Well, actually I got permission and the cubicle guy did the change.  But I would have done it myself if I had had the tools to do it.

I am thrilled with the change.  I have just enough privacy to work, but I can see the trees on the golf course from my chair.

So far the reaction from everyone else has been interesting.  There seems to be no middle ground.  They either love it or hate it.  Two other people had their cubicles modified.

But every single person who commented on my cubicle mentioned "Office Space".  Are we total geeks or what?

           The view before                                                  The view after (early morning)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's supposed to be hot

I live in Phoenix. The temperature this past week has been in the low 100's. I don't have my air conditioner turned on.

I don't bring that up in conversation. People immediately assume I can't afford to pay the electric bill. I can.

The second conclusion is that I am weird. Maybe. I just prefer to have my doors and windows open. I suppose in a metropolis it's an oxymoron to say I like the fresh air. But I do.

I grew up in Iowa where the temperature often reached the high 90's in the summer. And no one I knew had air conditioning. People just dealt with the heat.

I have fans blowing to circulate the air. I drink a lot of water. I dress for the temperature. I sweat.

People here wear long sleeves and sweaters to deal with the low temperatures in stores, restaurants, offices, and homes. Where is the logic in that? Where did Phoenicians get the idea that we should never sweat?

We live in a desert. Deserts are hot in the summer. The summer heat is the price we pay for the fabulous weather we get in the winter. I think we should embrace both.

That's not to say I intend to go the entire summer without air conditioning. When the inside temperature hits 100, then I will turn on my air.

I'm eccentric, not crazy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Karma and the pickup truck

A while back, after breakfast and the newspaper, the dogs and I went to the feed store for more bird seed.  I was distracted, thinking about what else I needed to do that day.  I suddenly realized I was in the wrong lane for the feed store which was only half a block away. 

When the car to my left went, so did I.   Right through a red light.  Fortunately, the on-coming cars were paying more attention than I was.  I pulled into the feed store parking lot, thankful that I had not been hit. As I got out of the car, a white pickup with an old man and a young girl pulled up next to me.  I figured he was there to shop and paid him no attention. 

“You know you went through a red light back there.”  he said to me through the truck window, leaning over the girl. 

Now why would anyone bother to tell you that?  Either you know it and him telling you is pointless, or you don’t realize it and you aren’t going to believe him. 

I said, “Yeah, I realized that partway through.”

“You know you were lucky.”  he said sternly.

I said, “Yes I know” and walked toward the entrance to the store.  I thought maybe he was already coming to the feed store, but no, he had stopped just to tell me I had screwed up.

Before I even got to the front door, he backed up to leave.  And backed into another truck! 

I just kept walking, but I was laughing inside.  Instant Karma!  I did feel sorry for the guy he backed into.  I only needed a bag of seed, but I wandered around a bit because I wasn't sure if the old man would blame me for the accident.

I FaceBooked the incident when I got home and I wasn’t the only one that thought it was Karmic.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Midnight visit in suburbia

At 11:45 pm Sunday, I wake up because I hear a dog barking outside.  My dog, Peanut.  Now I will admit she is a bit of a barker, warning anyone who dares to walk past our house to walk faster.  But that is during the day.  At night she is generally curled up on my bed with Angel and Rags. 

So I go downstairs to see what the problem is, Angel and Rags running ahead.  I flip the patio light on and see Angel and Peanut with their noses to the ground, following a circuitous route through the back yard. 

Great, I think.  There's been a cat in the yard.  I hope it isn't still here.

Moments later, Peanut makes a beeline for the back wall, barking loudly.  A raven is standing on the wall, unconcerned, looking at her.  I hush her and stand within a foot of the raven.  It is a small raven, probably one of the three babies that were born in the nest on the electrical tower behind my house.  I talk to it.

"Don't you think you should leave?  It isn't exactly safe here."  The raven blinks, but doesn't leave.  "Shoo."  It shifts its weight, nearly falling off the wall, and I see that it has an injury to its foot. 

Cat, I think again. 

Peanut won't take her eyes off the raven.  Rags is starting to growl, preparatory to barking, and I hear another noise near the front of the walled-in yard.  Not wanting any midnight barking, or any cat and dog fights, I hustle Angel and Rags into the house and close off the doggy door.  Peanut won't come, so I pick her up bodily.  The dogs stand at the patio door staring out at me. 

I hear another noise up front.  It doesn't sound cat-like and I wonder if one of the raven siblings is also stranded, maybe injured.  I walk up front, in my pajamas, the street light my only illumination.

At the front of the yard is a slatted double gate.  Where the block meets the house, I have a wheel barrow propped on its end.  The corner is completely in shadow.   As I near the gate, I hear a canine warning growl.  I stop cold, wondering whether it is safe to move away.  Will the canine in question follow me, attack me?  I slowly turn around and walk back to the house. 

Now, I can't leave the animal in my yard.  My dogs will need to go outside someday.  And I suspect, since it is a nocturnal canine capable of jumping a 6 foot fence, that my guest is a coyote.  This is both good and bad news.  Good because I haven't seen any coyotes recently.  I had worried they had all been chased from the area.  Bad because, well, because in a battle between a dog and a coyote, I think the coyote would win.

I grab a jacket to cover my pajamas and a flashlight and go to the front of the double gate.  I shine the flashlight into the yard and the coyote looks at me calmly through the gap.  I see an eye and a nose, but nothing else.  I am not willing to get close enough to see more.  I don't want to frighten it.  I need a way to get it out of my yard.

The padlock on the gate isn't latched.  It's just slipped through the hasp.  Keeping an eye on the spot where the coyote is, I reach my hand over the gate.  I have a vision of it leaping up and grabbing my hand, but it neither growls nor moves. 

I can't reach the padlock so I move a large decorative rock closer to the gate.  Standing on it, I can reach the lock.  I slip it from the hasp and loosen the latch. Since the coyote probably came from the retention basin side of the  property, I also go through the house to the back yard.  I unlock the gate to the basin and prop it open with a watering can. 

Then back to the front to make sure the gate had swung open, as it generally does. But didn't this time.  So I carefully walk over and open the gate about 6 inches.  Then I hightail it back into the house.  The dogs and I go back upstairs.  Looking out the front window, I half hope to see the coyote exit the yard, but I am sure it will wait until it feels safer.  I have trouble getting back to sleep, wondering what to do if it is still there in the morning.

Awake by 4, I dress quickly, grab a flashlight and do a complete survey of the back yard.  Thankfully, the coyote has departed.  I let the dogs out and get ready for work. 

Later, as it starts to get light out, I see Angel and Peanut leaping at the wall, trying to get the raven still perched there.  They can't reach it, but it is making an odd hissing sound at them.  That sound alerts mama raven and she starts cawing and circling overhead. 

Fearing mama will attack my dogs, I approach the small raven. Again it doesn't move.  I lightly touch the back feathers and it hobbles along the fence.  I encourage it across the property line onto my neighbor's wall, out of sight of the dogs.  When I leave for work fifteen minutes later, it is back on my side of the fence sheltered under an overhanging tree branch. 

I sigh and hope for the best. When I get home from work, the raven is gone. I can't tell whether or not it is back with its family in the nest.

The whole adventure reminds me of the beginning of a bad joke - A raven and a coyote walk into a yard …

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fear of hoarding

I watched part of an episode of Hoarders last night.  I had never seen an episode, just snippets while channel surfing, commercials between other shows.  But I thought the synopsis sounded interesting: to revisit people the show had helped a year ago.

The people on it were driven, obsessed, and tortured by their hoarding.  They faced the loss of a home or a family member, legal fines or jail time, all without being able to stop themselves from hoarding.  And I wondered, were they normal at one point in their lives?  Did the hoarding start in childhood or was there some trigger event?

I admit it was educational, but it was mostly sad and frightening.  I couldn't watch the whole show.  The subject hit too close to home.

My dad was a hoarder.  My mom kept it mostly in check until they divorced.   With the kids grown with homes of their own, there was no one at my dad's to be the voice of reason.  Different family members cleaned up the clutter periodically, but it never took long to accumulate.  It was mostly paper - books, magazines, newspapers, mail, lists, shopping receipts.  No piece of paper passed through my dad's hands without being kept - just in case.  When he died, there was a small path from the front door to the kitchen and to the bedrooms in between the paper stacks.  My dad was a smoker, so it's a miracle the place never burned down.

Because of my dad, I am a pitcher.  I keep very little that I don't actually use.  I go through closets and cupboards regularly to make sure the contents aren't getting out of hand.  I weed through my book shelves to eliminate those I know I will never reread.  My fear is that hoarding will sneak up on me, that without me realizing it, I will become a hoarder like my dad.

I had bad dreams after watching Hoarders.  When I awoke this morning, the first thing I did was walk into the sewing room.  I grabbed a torn comforter that I was planning to re-cover "someday" and pitched it into the garbage. Rationally, I knew I would never get around to re-covering it.  It was cheaper and easier to just replace it.  But I felt a pang of loss when I closed the garbage can lid.  But it remains in the garbage.

I wonder.  Do hoarders feel that pang of loss and not resist?  Would a borderline hoarder take the comforter back out of the garbage can?  Does that make it easier the next time to justify not discarding something? 

Is hoarding a slippery slope?  Can I keep my footing?  I fervently hope so.