Let the games begin…

Well, it’s official. Those forms that I was filling out have been filed, reviewed and approved by the government. I’m going back to school. I’m going to be learning fancy things like graphic design, animation, video and the mysteries behind web pages and how to build them. I will be a full-time student as of January 5, 2015. I’m excited. I’m terrified. I know I can do this.

The coolest thing is that after being unemployed for longer than I care to dwell upon, the provincial government is helping me do this. They will be paying for my tuition and some of my living expenses. I will have to get a part-time job to supplement, and I may be asking “do you want fries with that?”, but it will be worth it. A wonderful friend told me this evening to “breathe deeply… you are smart enough to do this.” It’s awesome to have support of my friends. They, and my cats, have helped me get through the last year of mind-numbing uncertainty.

The other cool thing is the sheer speed in which things happened. Our provincial government is not always the most popular amongst the general consensus. My forms were sent on Christmas Eve Eve and arrived mid-morning (probably) on Christmas Eve day. Odds are, the office closed at noon or mid-afternoon. Then there was Christmas, Boxing Day and the weekend. By mid-afternoon on Monday, December 29, my forms had been reviewed, processed and numbers were run by me. I panicked, but by Tuesday the 30th, I knew I could do this and (in the immortal words of Jean Luc Picard) I said “make it so.” Well, I didn’t actually say that, would have been awfully pretentious, no? But I digress… Tomorrow I sign the papers before all the offices close for New Years eve/Day/the weekend, and I start school on Monday.  When you break it down, I was approved within 24-26 hours of my forms being filed, and that include a holiday in the middle of those hours. Pretty impressive, I must say…

The closer we got to Christmas, I was convinced this wasn’t going to happen – thanks to a career consultant and a government official in my corner, it is.

Crisis averted!

I was very lucky today… I heard the crinkling of a plastic bag, which doesn’t usually cause alarm because all my cats have done that stuck-in-the-bag crazed run around the house and they are smart now, aren’t they? That would be a no. Today I caught my beloved Ophelia, the colourful one in the middle of the picture at the top of the page, with her head and chest through the handle of a bag. I was in the middle of emptying the bag but there was still some crinkly paper (I’m guessing that was the attraction) and two coffee mugs in bubble wrap inside. I shudder to think what would have happened if I’d not gotten there in time and eased the handle off her head. She wandered away, completely nonplussed about her potential fate, and plopped herself down on the sofa for a nap.

For those who have never had a cat stuck in a bag, let me elaborate. It starts innocently enough. You hear crinkling coming from another room and you think “oh how cute, kitty-face is playing in the bag” and go back to whatever you are doing. That is the last moment of calm you will have for at least the next five minutes, which feels like an eternity. The next think you know there is a howling beast that is crinkling, crashing and stampeding at the same time. Through every room, around every obstacle, you will be chasing your suddenly demonic kitty and attempting to rescue it from its plastic hell. If you’re lucky, the cat will brush against enough objects to scrape the bag to pieces and will shed the implement of torture on its own. That is not always the case. The majority of the time, as you chase the wee beastie around the house, you will discover bits of plastic but the bag itself will be as elusive as the cat it is attached to. The cat will usually be found hiding in the centre of a king-sized bed and just beyond reach. Sadly, the only way to entice the terrified creature out from it’s protective cave is to send something under, terrorize it even more and then cat-wrangle it as it runs by and release the beast from the evil plastic grip.

At the end of the ordeal, one is usually trying to calm down a cat who is on the verge of a heart attack but at the same time trying not to laugh like someone possessed. Good luck with the latter… Continue reading Crisis averted!

I don’t know which box to check…

I have come to the conclusion that trying to fix one’s life is hard. I am easily distracted by shiny things on any given day but when I have a mountain of paperwork to fill out, everything is shiny and demanding my attention. Case in point, I’m here writing about it instead of actually writing a letter of introduction or attempting to calculate my monthly grocery bill. Does wine count as groceries? See? Now I’ve distracted myself again. It doesn’t help that I am awaiting no less than four people to return my calls so I can finish said paperwork. I’m not a patient person. I want to get things done in a timely manner and move onto more fabulous and wonderful things. Like wine. Or cleaning my house. Wait, that’s not a fabulous or wonderful thing to do. But if I’d rather do housework than filling out forms, that just goes to show how much I hate it. Yep, I think it’s safe to say I’d not do well in a job that deals with a lot of paperwork. I guess that’s why I’m  trying to change my life and dip into the creative side more. Oh well, back to the forms so I can do so…

I AM THE WEASEL QUEEN!!!!

I have an old house, in fact, it’s over 130 years old. Obviously, it’s old-school construction. It’s triple brick with very little insulation, for the most part just air in between the layers of brick (which is fantastic during Canadian winters – NOT!). The inside walls are lathe and plaster and there is usually just enough room for mice to traverse the walls and chew on the lathe – most often at night. Near my head. When I’m trying to sleep. I also have six cats. Two of them are intrepid enough hunters but they are clearly not earning their keep. They lie there, staring at the walls with great fascination, yet the mice remain elusive. As I type this, I have one cat sitting on the arm of the sofa staring into a corner. There’s nothing there.

For the past couple of weeks, at least four of my cats have been gathering in my bathroom, staring under the cabinet under the sink. It’s unnerving because they’ll sit there for hours. Then I started hearing scrabbling from the basement and it was definitely something bigger than a mouse. Before the snow fell I had seen three rats in my backyard, nibbling up excess birdseed. I suspect they came from an abandoned building across the road and high-tailed it over when the food ran out and they discovered a fanatic backyard bird lady in the neighbourhood. But I was terrified that they were in my basement. “How on earth would they have gotten into the basement?” you might be asking. Well, being an old house, there is no sump pump. Instead, I have a drain hole out the back of my house for flooding purposes. I had stuffed steel wool in it, to allow for water flow but reduce critter access, but I began to question it’s effectiveness. The scrabbling continued, so off to the recesses of the basement we go. Not only was the steel wool no longer in place, but it had been pushed about two feet away from the hole. AND a tunnel had been dug above it, through the foundation of my house!!! “THOSE RAT BASTARDS!!!” I exclaimed, noting the pun, which wasn’t intended, but darned funny in hindsight. I plugged up the hole(s) again and vowed to buy traps over the weekend.

Two hours later I heard scrabbling like nothing I’d ever heard before. It sounded like a grizzly bear was running across my furnace vents. No exaggeration, of course. Armed with my flashlight, I ventured into the depths of the basement in time to see the most beautiful ermine running into the depths of the house. It was in its winter colours, pure white with a black tipped tail. All rage turned into one giant “Awwwwwwwwww, it’s so pretty!!!”

So traps are out of the question and I’m now trying to figure out how I can catch this beautiful creature, tame it, and make it my bestest friend. Because who wouldn’t love to see this face every day…

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I decided to check with my local wildlife rescue/sanctuary place as to what might be my best course of action. Apparently, so long as the ermine have easy access in and outside, they will move into a home, eat every mouse and rat in the vicinity (yay ermine!!!) and move on to another food source when it has depleted its food source. Secondly, they won’t attack my cats because the cats are huge (and why tangle with something so huge for no reason) so it will probably stick to my basement and inside my walls, and will move on when it’s bored, hungry or both.

That being said, I unplugged the holes again and I shall allow her (for I’ve named the ermine Ermiony) safe passage through my home. Eat well my dear and enjoy your stay!

P.S. I have discovered a second tunnel. I don’t know whether or not I have an “emergency exit conscious” ermine, or maybe a pair. Wouldn’t it be fun to have an Ermiony and Herman the Ermine?

Death before public speaking

Someone told me yesterday that public speaking is the number one phobia in the world. Death is number two. I suppose it’s reassuring to know I’m not alone because I have an almost paralyzing fear of public speaking. Death doesn’t scare me. A long, slow, agonizingly painful, semi-conscious dying-alone scares me, but death itself doesn’t. I think that once it finally comes, it will just be like sleeping, without the freakishly weird dreams. The thought of public speaking, however, turns my stomach in knots, my muscles seize up and I seriously consider whether or not it would be appropriate to carry a flask full of scotch or whiskey to get me through it. Ironically, I could see myself meeting death while public speaking. That would be my fate.

If I’m going to die, and I know I will, I would hope it would be something quick but spectacularly awesome. A piece of luggage falling out of a plane and crushing me instantly, perhaps. Not only that, but if the luggage belonged to a world famous public speaker. Now THAT would funny. Everyone would talk about that time a suitcase crushed someone. “Apparently she was terrified of public speaking.” they would say. “Funny how the world works sometimes…” would be the response. I used to love the television show Dead Like Me. The fact that the main character was killed instantly by a toilet seat falling from the Space Station entertains me to no end.

Being crushed by a headstone would be another fantastically ironic way to die. I love old cemeteries and gravestones. I’ve already had one body part crushed by one, but that’s another story…

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My foray into blogging

I’ve always been told I should write stuff down, because it would seem I don’t do normal. It is the truth that I am the only bagpipe playing, tenor drumming, soapstone carving witch in my little town. I am proud to say that I’ll never be the crazy cat lady, my friend has that distinction, so I tell people I’m only mildly-perturbed. My official title is “Vice President of the Crazy Cat Lady Society” which sounds pretty darned impressive. My other title, given to me by a fellow bagpiper/famous radio personality in South Africa (not that I’m a famous radio personality or have ever been to South Africa – but I DO play bagpipes) is “One of the original founders of the underground bag-piping cell of Counter-Marching-Terrorists.” I probably shouldn’t use the last word, since I’m excessively non-violent, but I do play my pipes left-handed – and anyone who encounters me on the counter-march has experienced that “Oh dear god, the drones are coming at me from the wrong side!!!” kind of terror. So it fits.

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When I’m not piping with my band, I’m tenor drumming. I had a concussion for almost a year and could not play my pipes so I learned to drum instead – because nothing is safer for your head than whipping sticks around in the air. Thank goodness they are padded.

I carve soapstone, which I enjoy despite the fact that it’s a very unfeminine hobby. It’s messy and dusty and I occasionally shred and stab my fingers with sharp pointy tools. I’ve admitted to myself that I’ll never be a hand model, and I’m okay with that.

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I was also given the title of The Witch of South Mountain because I am a Hallowe’en junkie, have bats in my belfry, a haunted house and moved into town with two black cats. I have a haunted porch every year and I consider it a bust if I go a year without making at least one small child cry. Not that I don’t like children, I just like Hallowe’en more.

So there is me in a nutshell… The tales of battles with zombie garden gnomes and being stalked by my cats will come. Strange things happen in my corner of the world, and I shall share them. 🙂

Cheers! *clink*

Hurtling into the abyss

Why, you may ask yourself, has she started a blog today of all days. Well, I’m attempting a mid-life change of plan. It’s not even close to a mid-life crisis, although it was thrust upon me without my say-so. The world today is ever changing and so is the job market. For that reason, I am hoping to go back to school for retraining in the world of multimedia and design. I’ve always been fascinated with it, so I am hoping to immerse myself in a brave new world. If accepted, and funded by the government, I shall be facing unknown challenges, joys, blisses and, I would imagine, infinite frustration. I embrace it wholeheartedly and look forward to the challenge. And wine. I shall need wine.