Tag Archives: vacation

In case you’re looking for extra work. Or a cat.

24 Oct
Unless you want this cat in a box to become a dick in a box, you better feed it.

Unless you want this cat in a box to become a dick in a box, you better feed it.

Alan and I are getting ready to venture to California for vacation. It’s the first time we will both have been out of town together, so we need to get a cat sitter for Miss Moneypenny. Sure, I have friends who would probably help me out, but I don’t want to saddle someone with kitty care for a full week, so I decided to bring in a professional.

Specifically, the professional is a woman named Mike who lives a mile from me and seems to love cats. (Actually, I wrote that sentence before she came over for the intro visit, so I was making a few assumptions, not least of which was that she loves cats. And also that Mike is a woman. As it turns out, Mike confessed to being somewhat allergic to cats, but I remain optimistic that Miss Moneypenny will charm her into some snuggles.)

So at this point, she has come and met Miss Moneypenny, and I think they’ll get along well enough. I mean, Miss Moneypenny is a cat and Mike will be feeding her. For most cats, that’s enough, right? Cross your fingers, because I don’t want to come home to any revenge pee.

Anyway, I jotted down some notes from my conversation with Mike, in case YOU ever want to catsit Miss Moneypenny. Here are the highlights:

So this is Miss Moneypenny. But you can call her whatever you want because she doesn’t really respond to her name. 

She likes to play with this rainbow toy, and this feather toy – but don’t tug too hard when she has it in her mouth because I’m scared you might rip her tooth out. 

Here’s her litterbox. I scoop it in the morning and the evening so that my place doesn’t smell like cat shit. And please go straight to the garbage chute down the hall and throw it away so it doesn’t sit in my trash can.  Also – this Swiffer duster is so you can sweep any random dots of litter back to the box so it doesn’t get tracked around my place.

And here’s her food area. She gets this hairball control dry food, with a bit of this protein kibble sprinkled on top for kicks. And this dish here is for her wet food, which she gets twice each day. A few things on that – and this probably sounds OCD, but it’s why I’m paying you instead of just leaving a pile of food out for her…

Please recover the tin of food using this piece of saranwrap and rubberband between meals rather than using a new piece of saranwrap each day. When you finish a tin, please rinse it out so I can recycle it. And you’ll need to add water to the food, stirring it until it’s the texture of runny refried beans. She likes it that way. Oh – and please only use THESE forks. I don’t like anything that touches human food to touch cat food. 

When you get here, she’ll probably be excited to see you, so if she runs toward my bedroom, it means she’s going to flop down on the rug and roll around so you can pet her.

And I forgot to tell you… she is very talkative, so be sure to ask her lots of questions. She’ll answer you, but her response always sounds like she’s saying, “No,” or, “Now,” so you’ll probably want to come up with questions that work with those responses. Unless you want to sound crazy. 

Image Source: https://i.chzbgr.com/maxW500/863968512/h1B9DBF01/

PS: When I just spell-checked this, here’s what WordPress accused me of misspelling: rubberband, refried, kibble and chute. I’ll admit, chute made my scratch my head. But then I remembered “Chutes & Ladders” and knew that I was still smarter than my computer. For now.

No vacation goes unpunished

10 Sep

Before I regale you with tales of New Scotland, I’d like to tell you what I came home to…

I dumped my suitcase on the floor of my kitchen, since that’s where the laundry is. I started running the water and sorting the clothes into piles. I poured myself a glass of water. I added my clothes to the washer. I noticed that I’d spilled some water on the floor when I’d replaced the Britta pitcher.

I started working. I checked the laundry. I realized the floor was still wet. I wiped it up. I checked the laundry. I noticed water beading up on the grout between the tiles of my kitchen floor. I knelt down. I heard the tiles squish when I pressed them. I saw more water bead up on the grout.

I flipped my shit.

I’ll save you a play-by-play of the calls I made, notes I wrote and emails I sent, all trying to coordinate a plumber, update the property manager and check with neighbors for water damage. Let’s just agree: I was thorough, conscientious, and efficient. And I still managed to log a ten hour work day. I’m sure that was child’s play to Ann Romney. But Michelle knows what I’m talking about.

The plumber was awesome. He sounded like a good, rural guy who knows pipes and hates the city. We had a fifteen minute chat on the phone while I walked around, shutting off all the water valves in my place. He was stunned to learn I had a tankless water heater. “It’s electric?” he asked. I confirmed.

“Are your showers cold?” he continued. I told him they were warm.

“But you run out of hot water, right?” he asked. I told him I did not. And that I actually had the larger model, which meant TWO people could shower simultaneously in my bathrooms and not run out of water.

“Well, I’ll be!” he exclaimed. “This I gotta see. I’ve only seen the gas ones, and all I hear are complaints.” He paused. “Say – is your place fancy?”

I hope he drives this.

I assured him it was not. “My place is SMALL. The only way to squeeze an extra closet out of it was by moving to a tankless heater, I explained.

In any case, by the time we hung up, he’d agreed to come to my place first thing in the morning. He claims it’s to help end my leak, but really, I know it’s so he can look at the tankless heater. Whatever it takes.

So tonight, I’m sitting here, legs crossed, wishing I could flush my toilet. I have a Britta filter of water I’ll use to brush my teeth.

And a pile of dirty clothes on the floor reminding me what an awesome vacation I had.

Travel Post: First 48 Hours in Nova Scotia

2 Sep

I had no idea what to expect when Alan and I boarded a flight for Halifax Saturday. After only a two hour flight, we descended into what appeared to be a forest. There were dense trees – and nothing else – as far as the eye could see.

At this moment, Alan remarked, “Nova Scotia is known as Canada’s Ocean Playground.” Given his timing, and since (to my knowledge) he’d done absolutely no research on our destination, I assumed he was being a smart ass. Until that motto greeted us on the license plate of our rental car. One point for Alan.

We hopped in the car, leaving Halifax in our rearview mirror as we made our way to Cape Breton, where we anticipated gorgeous scenery, a great music scene and a solid dose of Celtic culture.

In case you’re not familiar with Cape Breton, it’s an island that was primarily settled by Scots. There are Gaelic signs dotting the road, advertising square dancing or Ceilidhs – live, informal music gatherings pronounced as “kay-lees.” It also is home to the Cabot Trail, showcasing some of the most breath-taking scenery in North America.

Among the highlights during our first 36 hours:

  • Dinner at the Red Shoe Pub in Mabou – featuring some amazing scallops and the promise of live music (if only I hadn’t gone to bed early!)
  • Fresh blueberry scones at the farmer’s market in Mabou
  • A tour and single malt tasting at the Glenora Whisky Distillery
  • A road-side music store featuring only Nova Scotian and New Brunswick artists
  • Sunset on the Cabot Trail
  • Fresh lobster rolls!

Sorry, I recognize this isn’t pithy and I should probably rename this blog MundanePants, but I’m just trying to provide a bit of context for the <hilarious> posts that will undoubtedly follow this week. Because if I happen to catch a moose running with a deer in its basket, or a baby seal seal doing a handstand on a whale, I don’t want to have to back-up to explain that these miraculous feats aren’t happening in Washington DC. Are we cool?

Guess what’s on tomorrow’s agenda?

Really, loose lips did THIS?

15 Jan

This is what we call a "Career Ending Move" by the captain.

I’ve never taken a cruise. Not a day cruise of the Bahamas or a week cruise of Alaska. Until this weekend, my reasons for avoiding this type of travel were:

  1. The Environment – do you know how much fuel it takes to power a cruise ship and how much pollution it creates? Tons.
  2. The People – I hate touristy vacations, so the idea of being holed up on a boat with tourists = anti-vacation.
  3. The Idea – my kind of vacation is going somewhere and exploring and immersing myself in the local culture; a cruise seems to allow only a superficial exposure to the port cities where you stop, with a larger emphasis on the on-ship experience – buffets, entertainment, etc.
Tourist Vessel off the coast of Antarctica - 2007

Tourist Vessel off the coast of Antarctica - 2007

Don’t get me wrong – I understand that loads of people love cruises and I’m not putting them down (although I do think you should realize how bad they are for the environment before you book a ticket so that if you decide to do it anyway, you can at least make sure your enjoyment is worth the extermination of a few species). I’m just saying: not my thing.

Anyway. After this weekend, a whole new reason tops this list: SINKING SHIPS.

Fascinated by the vessel that ran ashore off the coast of Italy, I started googling “sinking ship” to see if I could find videos of it. Know what I found? Videos of many, many passenger ships that have sunk. WTF? Call me naïve, but I was thinking that ship builders got their shit together after the Titanic and built these things so they were unsinkable. Apparently NOT. Here’s a rundown if you’d like to fact-check my claim: http://www.cruisejunkie.com/Sunk.html

Copyright: Michael Hipler

2007 - off the coast of Greece

Granted, most people generally survive. But still? Any cruise that a) Sends deck furniture into the ocean, or b) Tilts my porthole so I am looking directly into the water = unacceptable. Because either situation would prompt me to crap my pants, and – I don’t know about you, but – any vacation in which I have to deal with my own excrement isn’t actually a vacation. (High standards, I guess.)

From the limited research I did (two minutes on Google) it looks like the most common cause is pilot error. Um. Just looking at the photos from the current wreck and the one off the coast of Greece in 2007, I’m pretty sure anyone who wasn’t drunk or half-asleep could’ve guessed that those boats were too close to shore.

Another thing that’s messed up about cruise ships? PIRATES. Every time a pirate attack makes the news, I’m left scratching my head, puzzled that such an occupation still exists. What next? Stagecoach robberies? Sorry, does not compute. Pirates belong in the same category as gladiators: dwelling only in the past or the movies. (And yes, I realize I’ve mixed comparisons – I know that a gladiator isn’t someone who holds up a stagecoach.)

Anyway, I’ll close with one final tip. Look at these photos. Notice anything? Correct: If you insist on taking a cruise, book your room on the LEFT side of the ship. And – just to annoy your travel agent – refer to it as the “above-water” side.

Bon voyage.

Clearly, I’ve seen too many movies.

10 Nov

Sunday, in the wake of the Oyster Festival, Urbanna was a different town. With only an occasional person on the street in comparison to the thousands from the previous day, it felt almost ghostly. Both Alan and I were mildly creeped out by it, which might explain why my brain gravitated toward paranoia.

The owners of the B&B were incredibly nice people, with an expansive sense of hospitality. They took a shine to Alan and me, so they offered to take us out on their boat Sunday afternoon.

The day was gorgeous – 70 degrees and sunny with a bright blue sky. The trees lining the river were vivid shades of red, orange and yellow. It was like being in a commercial for the Rappahannock River or – in keeping with my general paranoia – a horror movie.

So instead of simply relaxing and absorbing the scenery as we shuttled up the river, I started looking around nervously, imaging that they were taking us somewhere to kill us. Spotting a shovel on the deck, I envisioned our captain whacking Alan in the head with it, then pushing him overboard. The phrase “watery grave” danced in my head.

After we returned to the B&B (safely, I might add), I told Alan what I’d been thinking.

He laughed. “And what would their plan be with you after they killed me?”

“Human trafficking? Indentured servitude? Take your pick!” I was a bit indignant that he didn’t give me credit for having value to them. Alan just rolled his eyes.

So, before our next vacation, I have it all figured out. Depending on where we’re going, I’ll rent a few movies for him:

  • If we’re staying at a B&B again: Psycho 
  • Water-based vacation: Cape Fear
  • Writing/skiing retreat: The Shining
  • Iowa: Children of the Corn
  • Pennsylvania: Dracula (C’mon! It sounds kind of like Transylvania)
  • Camping: Blair Witch Project

Then we’ll see who’s laughing. And who’s holding a shovel.