Jul 12

The Heat of Summer

“‘Come with me,’ Mom says. ‘To the library. Books and summertime go together.’” ~ Lisa Schroeder, I Heart You, You Haunt Me

School is out and those lazy, hazy, and ever-so-hot days of summer have settled in.

The heat of the afternoon sun is scorching.

The early afternoons are filled with such intense heat that even the birds have fallen silent. The hum of the air conditioner working overtime can be heard… Please keep working… Please keep working… Even those annoying flies, the ones that always seem to somehow fly right at ear level, appear to be moving slower.

You know the birds feel the heat when they are silent during the day.

Poor flowers, they’re all wilted and droopy. The flowers have been watered yet they thirst… for shade. The only respite comes in the form of an ever-so-slight breeze that gently rustles the leaves every minute or so.

Ever sit by the shade of an old oak tree? Magnificent, isn't it?

On days like this, trying to stay cool with ice cream on a cone would be pointless. Ice cream in a cup would be no better for it would turn to soup in a cup within seconds. Watermelon, or cantaloupe, or honeydew melon might do the trick… Sigh. There’s none in the fridge.

Even this ice cream truck couldn't beat the heat!

I think I’ll make a point of stopping by the library with the kiddies today. The kids won’t overheat if they sit outside in the backyard and read. Then… I’ll pick up that melon!

Watermelon is a great way to stay cool on these hot summer days.

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Feb 12

Another Shining Claire Dunphy Moment!

You know those mornings when you feel like you’re consistently behind the eight ball? You know, the type of morning when you go to grab a cup of coffee only to find that you forgot to turn on the coffee machine in the first place? Most mornings, that’s pretty much the norm for me. One morning last week, however, I outdid myself. I pulled a doozy of a Claire Dunphy. If you’re not familiar with whom Claire Dunphy might be, please see my earlier post, I Pulled a Claire Dunphy… Have You?, from May 2011.

Julie Bowen plays Claire Dunphy in the hit TV show Modern Family.

Wednesday morning started out no different than any other morning. I dragged my sorry butt out of bed after hitting the snooze button one too many times, took a hot shower, blow dried my hair, and put on my makeup.

I wish I looked this cute (and calm) while applying my makeup.

Next, I woke up the kids, got them dressed, washed their faces, helped them brush their teeth, and sent them downstairs for breakfast. I popped bagels in the toaster for everyone and tended to the dog.

Our little princess, the oh-so-sweet-and-lovely Goobie girl.

After serving breakfast, I started preparing the kids’ food for the day and packing their lunch boxes… I could go on but I won’t bore you with the particulars of my morning routine. Needless to say, the shorter I grew on time, the faster I tried to get things done, the more forgetful I became as time marched on.

I'm getting tired just thinking of these crazy mornings!

As I shoved the last lunch box into the appropriate backpack, I took stock of time for what might have been the bazillionth time.

“Kids!” I bellowed like I always do at 8:25 a.m. “Five minutes until we have to leave the house! Go to the washroom, wash your hands, brush your hair, and get your stuff on!”

I glanced down at myself and remembered that I was still wearing my PJs.

A little secret I’d like to share: I tend to keep my PJ top on and throw on a pair of jeans or yoga pants to walk the kids to school. No one is the wiser since I wear a jacket to hide the PJ top. It doesn’t make sense to dress for work yet when I have to walk the kids to school during these dog days of winter.

Ok, we don't get anywhere near this amount of snow in Toronto, but you get my drift.

“Four minutes left!” I yelled as I raced up the staircase, down the hallway, and into my bedroom to change out of my PJ bottoms.

“Three minutes!” I hollered as I exited my bedroom and dashed down the hallway to get to the stairs.

I sucked in my breath (these morning routines are tiring!), and began my descent down the staircase like a mad woman.

About three stairs down, I noticed a cool draft on my legs. I stopped dead in my tracks. The kids, all bundled up, were staring up at me, wide-eyed, from the bottom of the stairs. No one said a word.

I glanced down at my legs and gasped. My legs were completely bare. Even my toes were naked. I had changed out of my PJ bottoms and had forgotten to put on my jeans or yoga pants. Talk about coasting on autopilot!

Needless to say, I raced back up the stairs in search of my yoga pants... and socks.

So there you have it… Yet another shining Claire Dunphy moment for me!

Have you ever had a Claire Dunphy moment? I’d love to hear about it.

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Jan 12

Automated Calls Make Me Crazy

Hats off to anyone working in the customer service industry. These people need to have more patience than anyone else on the planet because the majority of those calling to speak with them have a complaint to lodge. And the complainers, generally with good reason, are ready to vent. Such was the case with me the other day…

Customer service reps deal with angry customers more often than not.

I received—correction—my husband received a bill in the mail for using Highway 407 ETR (the world’s first all-electronic open access toll highway). The highway is located just north of Toronto. The bill arrived just as the flurry of December activity and all things holiday began. I normally take care of paying the day-to-day bills but, admittedly, I let this one slip. Seriously, life is too hectic at that time of year to stop and pay a 407 ETR bill!

Anyway, I dutifully sat down at my computer on December 27 and paid the now slightly overdue 407 ETR bill. A few days after I paid the bill in full, we started receiving daily automated calls telling us to pay this overdue 407 ETR bill. I ignored the calls for the first little while because it was the holiday season. I figured things were probably slow in the 407 ETR accounts department and that they’d soon see the error of their ways. The daily automated calls did not stop.

The automated phone calls kept coming... day after day after day.

The last call we received stated that if we did not pay our bill by 4 p.m. that day, our account would be moved to a collection agency. Seriously? One month in arrears, add two weeks for their mistake, and we’re talking collection agency? I was livid!

I picked up the phone and dialed customer service. I could barely punch the numbers into the phone because my hands were trembling out of sheer anger. A female 407 ETR customer service representative with a nasally voice answered. Our conversation went something like this:

407 ETR Rep: How may I help you?
Me: We keep receiving calls, but I paid our bill. Ok, it was a bit late. But I paid. Online. Please check to see that our bill has been paid.
407 ETR Rep: What’s your account number?
Me: Blah, blah, blah.
407 ETR Rep: Your address?
Me: Blah, blah, blah.
407 ETR Rep: The name on the bill?
Me: Ian MacArthur
407 ETR Rep: Your name?
Me: (crap, I’m done) Sigh. Anita MacArthur
407 ETR Rep: You are not Ian MacArthur. I am not at liberty to discuss the details of Mr. MacArthur’s account with you.
Me: (blood boiling, teeth beginning to clench) I realize that I am not Ian MacArthur, but I am his wife and I personally paid the bill in full, so I am asking you to check and make sure that the automated 407 ETR calls stop!
407 ETR Rep: Again, you are not Ian MacArthur. I am not at liberty to discuss the details of Mr. MacArthur’s account with you.
Me: (I am now hissing into the phone) I am not asking you to discuss the details with me. I am telling you that the bill was paid by me with my credit card—the credit card used to pay this bill is in my name: Anita MacArthur. I am asking you to verify—no need to tell me the answer—and mark this bill as paid so the automated phone calls will stop!!!

I hear nothing on the other end of the phone while the very patient-yet-obnoxious 407 ETR representative is listening to a lot of heavy breathing from my end of the phone. Then, after a long pause…

407 ETR Rep: Is there anything else I can help you with today?

I thought my head might explode.

I hung up.

The automated calls, thankfully, have stopped.

Can you relate? Do automated calls make you crazy? Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear about it.

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