Friday, June 29, 2012

Yet another road trip......

I have yet to have a work related (or any other for that matter it seems) road trip that goes off without a hitch.  This past week's trip was no exception.

I picked up my rental car on the weekend and headed north to Sun Peaks resort just outside of Kamloops.  It was a beautiful drive.  I had satellite radio tuned to "XM Blue Collar radio", the sun roof open and was bombing up the highway.  I was feeling good and literally laughing out loud to some of the comedians. 

I pulled off in Kamloops to enjoy having lunch with my oldest friend in the world (wait a minute, that sounds odd - she is not the oldest friend in the world, although she is 4 months older than me, what I meant was that we have been friends for the longest time - 44years to be exact).  It was a short visit but we hatched a brilliant plan to ensure my eldest child would want to bite the head off a kitten.

There is a chocolate shop at Sun Peaks called Rocky Mountain Chocolates.  They make candy apples the size of a child's head - covered in caramel, gummy worms, marshmellows, peanuts, M&M's and the like.  She was springing for the apples and I would drop them off on my way home on Wednesday evening.  I was sure I would arrive right about bedtime.  I would present the children with their gifts and leave just as their little heads start to spin right off their shoulders.  Wonder if my child will forget mother's day again????

After lunch I headed further north to the resort and checked in.  To fast forward, all was going as it should until the 'team building' the following afternoon.  Everyone was to break into groups to enjoy one of 4 activities.  Staff (me) were to split up to ensure that we were well represented on each activity.  I was part of an old time gold rush that had us dressing in period costume and trekking across the countryside and up the side of a mountain completing tasks along the way.  The mosiquitos made meals of us all.  I also discovered what short legs I have compared to everyone else. We were split into teams of 4 and headed out like we were extra's in "Paint Your Wagon".  I have attached a couple of pictures for your amusement.  The first two are of my team.   The third is of me eating at the western BBQ afterwards.  I almost pulled a muscle in my leg when I heard there was BBQ lobster.  I had to do a very quick about face from the pulled pork in order to take advantage of my favorite food on the planet.

I will fast forward again and just say that Tuesday's seminars all went as they should.  Wednesday started off nice and normal and my first presentation went off without too much of a problem (always one heckler in the crowd).  My phone rang.  We took a break and I went to the lobby to answer it. 

AVIS - "Hello Ms. Millar, this is Teresa from AVIS rental car.  I am afraid I have some rather disturbing news for you.  Chevy has recalled your car.  You are not to drive it. However, we have made arrangements for you to take your car and pick up an exchange car at the airport in Kelowna (anyone see a problem with this statement?)"

Holly - "wait a second.  What map are you looking at?  Kelowna is 3 hours from here.  Can I not turn it in in Kamloops?  Wait another second - do you not see a problem with your statement about not driving it but you want me to drive it to Kelowna?  And third second, what are we talking about here?  Will the bumper collapse?  Will the muffler fall off?  If that is the case, I really don't care.  I will just throw the muffler in the trunk and carry on."

AVIS - "well, Ms. Millar, I do understand your dilema.  I will see what I can do.  It seems the recall is concerning the engine.  It might sieze up on you and you will lose control of the car.  I will call you back."

I wemt back inside after collecting my thoughts concerning my insurance policy and the employment hiring practises of AVIS.  I completed my second presentation to the rapt attention of those people who happened to overhear bits and pieces of my recent conversation.  Turns out they thought I was going to kick the small dog crossing the lobby by the look on my face.

AVIS - "Thank you for taking my call Ms. Millar.  We have made arrangements for you since you really should not be driving the car.  We are sending a tow truck with a new car, from our Kelowna office.  He will drop the new one off for you and tow the other one back to Kelowna.  It should be there between 6 - 7pm tonight."

Holly - "well, I appreciate your efforts.  However, when we spoke at 10am, I told you that I would be finished my business and heading home to Vancouver by 3:30pm.  Will you be sprining for my dinner and blood pressure medication while I wait?"

AVIS - "thanks for your business.  We look forward to serving you again"

Well, you can see what happened.  I was unable to pull off my plan of feeding copious amounts of candy and chocolate to my grandchildren right at bedtime and watch my daughter bite the head off her cat.  Very disappointing to say the least.

When my new car finally arrived at about 6:15pm, I was able to hit the road in a brand spanking new Sonata.  Wow, that thing is sure nice to drive.  Hugs the curves and has a very smooth ride.  I got home shortly before midnight.  Just in time to have a quick shower, throw my suitcase on the floor and get into bed so that I could get up at 5:30 as I was supposed to attend a breakfast meeting.  I awoke at 7am.  I can no longer function on 4 hours sleep.

Well, that was my road trip.  I am now searching for a new hairdresser.  The last new one I went to last month just simply will not do.

HD - "Hello Miss.  I am _________.  I am very happy to meet you.  How do you want your hair?"

ME - " thank you - trim this, snip that, you know, just cut it please.  I will tell you when to stop."  (You would think that was the problem right? - wrong)

HD - "Please sit.  So, tell me, are you enjoying retirement or are you still working?"

ME - "WTFRACK??????????"

HD - "So tell me about your family"..... (5 minutes later) - REALLY????? Your father is still alive???

OMG - How old do I really look?  So, as you can see, I have good cause to search out my new stylist.

Well, off to enjoy the long weekend - Happy Canada Day ya'll

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Running for my life!

What a busy couple of weeks.  Most of my time was eaten up trying to stay out of jail.  My bail fund is simply not large enough yet.  Most people save for retirement.  I have to put funds aside for my bail.  Its not simply a case of "IF" I am going to land in jail but "WHEN" it will happen.

I know this is not the usual case for most people but since crap seems to flow in a perpetual motion around me, I figure sooner or later I will simply blow my stack, off the idiot who is currently making my life hell and end up in jail trying to talk my way out of the situation.  I am pretty confident that a Judge will not buy my life story of "crap just seems to happen to me" and let me out without posting a significant sum of money.

Suppose you had paid a significant amount of cash to someone who is supposed to pay particular attention to detail.  This is his job and this is exactly what you pay for.  And then this person totally, utterly and completely caused you to want to poke yourself in the eye with a fork and run screaming into the streets kicking small dogs and children in your path.  I am talking about my accountant.  I pay him about $350 per year to do my taxes and fully expect he is capable of following directions and paying attention.  It seems I hold him to standards above his reach.  What I should have asked him to do is "do your best to come close to doing your job."  My expectations in business appear to be the same expectations I have when dating - too high.

Picture this - a bright, sunny, albeit cool, March morning when I pull up and park outside my accountants office.  I march inside and ride the elevator to the 11th floor and open the door to his receptionist who greets me with a smile and a friendly 'hello'.  I have, gripped in my tight little hand, a manilla file folder holding both my and my brothers tax documents.  On the front of the folder, in bright red ink are the words 'WE HAVE MOVED.  EFFECTIVE FEBRUARY 1/12" followed by our new address.  I also stapled my new business card to the folder with the statement (again in red ink) "NEW EMPLOYER EFFECTIVE SEPT. 12/11".  I also told the receptionist to update our file with our new address and even joked that we only moved 250 feet down the street.

It is also worth noting that both my brother and I went online and updated our address direct with CRA, motor vehicles and the voting registrar.

Lalalalala, off I went pleased that I had my tax stuff all settled with the guy who would take care of my interests.  Off my chest and onto someone else's.

When the documents were ready for signature the accountant sent me an email asking if I wanted to come in and sign or sign the email copy he attached.  I reminded him, I always deal with it via email as he has instructions to NEVER mail documents to me ever since my identity was stolen.  Both my brother and I signed the documents and returned them via email.

Lalalalala - tax time is over and I survived.  So, I owed a little what.  It was over and I was safe for another year.   HA!  Not so fast for those of you who thought it could possibly be that easy for me.

By the third week of May, I had not recieved my notice and my brother had not recieved his refund.  Hmmm, odd.  It is now 2 months.  I should look into this.  I won't bore you with all the details on the investigation as to what happened but will give you the highlights so you can testify on my behalf that I was well and truly provoked.

1)  turns out he did not pay attention to the bright red ink regarding address change
2)  turns out he overrode our online changes with CRA
3)  turns out CRA sent all documents and Kris's refund cheque to old address
4)  turns out accoutant MAILED EVERYTHING to old address
5)  turns out CRA requires an affadavit to correct information and re-issue cheque
6)  turns out Canada Post will not let one back into their old mailbox if they are no longer on the lease
7)  turns out the old landlord and owner of the townhouse has moved back to the Phillipines and is unreachable
8)  turns out the agent for the landlord lives in Montreal and does not speak english
9)  turns out a crowbar and hammer will not get you back into the mail room at midnight (or later)
10)  turns out Canada Post will continue to deliver mail until the box is full at which point they will hang onto any excess until a new owner is registered to the box.
11)  turns out the accountant is not to blame and can do nothing to help "his hands are literally tied"
12)  turns out the new owners (if and when that happens) can decide to just throw the old mail into the garbage and let the dumpster divers have access to a full copy of our tax returns as well as the notice of assessment so kindly provided by CRA
13)  turns out I can go to jail if I call accountant any more names in public
and finally,
14)  turns out I can call my accountant any number of names that I want in the privacy of his office and there is nothing he can do about it except throw me out.
and finally finally,
15)  turns out you can in fact cancel payment to your accountant

On a brighter note - thank you to everyone who supported me in the Easter Seals 24 hour relay this past weekend.  I raised just about $500.

Saturday started off cold and damp with intermittent showers.  By the time we arrived at the stadium those showers had turn to full on rain.  By the time it was my turn to run that rain had turned into a monsoon.

I had picked up the three wee grandkids to run with me.  However, when it came time to run only Xavier was still game.  The girls waited in the tent with my team members roasting marshmellows.  Xavier and I headed out amid the roar of the crowd and made our lap around the stadium before heading to the 4 mile track around central park.  We stayed together until we were out of the line of vision of the stadium when he picked up speed.  I noticed him at the 1/2 mile mark waiting impatiently for me to catch up.  When that was not going to happen he gave up and took off ahead - left me in the dust.  He apparently made a grand entrance back into the stadium to the cheering of our team when someone noticed I was not with him.  When asked where his grandmother was he replied "Not sure.  Think she is back there somewhere."  He did end up waiting for me at the finish line where I was told that he ran the 4 miles in 16min 10 seconds.  Almost half my time of 31 minutes.  There were a lot of puddles and I was weighted down by soaked runners.

I have attached a couple of pictures my friend Heather took of the kids and I in the play tent where the girls made birdhouses.  You can see the wet track behind us.  By the way, in case you are wondering, it is now Tuesday and my runners are still wet.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Holly's "As the stomach turns"......

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A little excitement anyone?

My sister-in-law answered my plea for my quest for excitement and invited me to spend the weekend with her and my brother and attend a car show and the races.

I hopped on the ferry yesterday morning with my backpack filled with expectations and multiple clothing options for a weekend of fun.  Part of the excitment planned was that I would be enjoying a slightly "blind date" as they had invited a single male friend of theirs who had been wanting to meet me (already highly suspicious), to join us at the races.

Angie picked me up from the ferry just after noon and explained that we would be heading to Victoria later in the afternoon for an evening at the races.  We bundled up as by 4pm in the afternoon it was already cool and expected to be cold by evening.

This was to be a unique weekend for me on two fronts.  The first being that I really know nothing of racing.  The last time I was at the races I was about 6 or 7 years old and what I remember is the noise, the dust and being told to sit still and don't wander off.  I'll leave it your imagination at how well I took to direction as I do not recall going to any races after that.  The second front being that I was about to enter unchartered territory and go on a "date" with the company of my older brother.  Hmmm.  Not really sure how to react in that situation. 

I tried to wrack my brain to recall the last time I was in any sort of real social 'dating' situation with my brother and the only thing that even came close that came to mind was many many years ago.  I was maybe 14 or 15 and really wanted to go to a concert - BTO at the KXA in Kamloops.  The only way I would be allowed to attend was if my big brother took me and looked after me.  He wanted to go with just his friends.  However, since we both wanted to go to the concert, we agreed to our father's demands. 

Dad dropped us off at the front of the arena with the instructions to stay together and meet him in the same exact spot the minute the concert was over.  The moment he drove away, Dave turned to me with the command, "do what you want - you're on your own - just meet me right here at the end of the concert.  AND, if you say anything to dad, you will be in real trouble."  He then left me and I spent the concert wandering around like a tourist in Disneyland.  I did as he asked and when Dad picked us up and asked if we stayed together and had a good time I answered with an affirmative nod.  Quite frankly, at that point in my life I was more afraid of my brother than I was of my father.

Anyway, that was the only memory that came to mind of any sort of 'out of family' social interaction that he and I ever really had and I was a little nervous.

Well, we arrived early to this gentleman's home.  While he finished getting ready, I am afraid I was a little nosey and strolled through his living room.  He has a really cool juke box and a highly developed record collection.

I can report that I was a little confused.  I am way out of practice with normal men.  I can handle the alcoholic gun collectors, the stalkers and the ones who offer to buy me drugs but I was thrown by a kind, perhaps a little shy, man who did not even try to hug me (bonus points went up in his plus column).

I had a great time at the races.  In addition to the  regular runs around the track by normal cars, they had these other races called 'bump and run' or 'push and pass' or 'tap and go' or something along those lines.  The idea is you have to hit the car in front of you in order to pass.  Needless to say my bloodlust came to the forefront and I could hardly contain the excitement rising within me as I waited in anticipation for the accidents to begin.  It was way cool.  I had a blast and would go again.  There were also mini cars smashing into one another as they raced in a figure 8.  Again, way cool.

We topped the evening off with chicken wings and nachos at Boston Pizza before driving home.  Before we made it home, we dropped my date off at his home and I was struck by a sight that played a prominent role in my dreams that night.  G happens to be the proud owner of a multitude of racing cars.  They are carefully and lovingly wrapped in white tarps and adorn his front yard.  As we swung into his dark, tree shrouded yard with the multiple car bodies wrapped in tarps, all that came to mind was a morgue.  I sort of expected to see toe tags on the bumpers.  Believe me when I say, a dream about a morgue full of dead cars after smashed racing does cause one to wake up in a bit of a sweat.

This morning found me enjoying the Show 'N' Shine car show in Duncan with my family.  I wandered about gazing in a sort of awe at the approximately 40 beautifully restored cars and dreaming about which ones I would look best driving away in.  My brother entered his own restored truck.  A bit grudgingly I must admit he has a real gift with cars and did a wonderul job.  He has an incredible gift and I may be a bit jealous.  I have no discernable skills and he has so many.  I think it must be a first-born thing.  He sucked up all the really cool genes before I came along.  I was left with the weak links - one link missing in each of the genes.  This makes me always just shy of being good at anything.  Ah well, I always knew mom liked him best.

I had a bad week last week with electronics.  The motherboard on my laptop died and I lost my blackberry for 3 days on the city bus.  Blackberry was returned (not before I almost had a major meltdown) but now I am in search of a new laptop so I can actually get back online and date.  After this weekend and the meeting of a nice normal man, he has restored my faith that not every man I meet needs to be neutered.

A big thank you to my sister-in-law and brother for thinking of me and saving me from another night of falling asleep during the news only to wake up at 9pm so I can go to bed.

Well, am ready for a new week.  Who knows what this one will bring.  However, I will keep you posted.

Stay tuned