Natalie Zed: Defying Gravity

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

found money

Unlike found cake, which Tycho cannot abide, I am all about enjoying found money. Consequently, I generally like tax season, as it typically results in me getting some (modest) bit of cash back to keep debt at bay ot buy some shiny things.

This year, up until yesterday, has been a bit of a nightmare. The saga began two fridays ago when we gathered up our little bundles of tax information and wandered down to the local Git Ya Money depot. Ed's taxes are always very easy. A couple of T4s, a question here and there, and some money comes back. Mine always look much uglier with the assessments from various provinces, education credits, investment income, RRSP deductions, and all the little recipets I amass during the year that I imagine might be useful. Hence, I take great pleasure in handing my tax man a pile of papers and asking him to make it all go away.

This year, I was told a few things in my original consultation that were rather annoying. First, that none of my RRSPs have ever been filed, and that I had never had any moving expenses claimed. Tax Jim, our rep, offered to do a series of adjustments (for a mere $20 apiece) if we got all the relevent reciepts going back years. I found this surprising but not impossible. We scheduled another meeting for this past Friday, but when we showed up with all the relevent reciepts, our clearly busy Tax Jim gathered everything in a pile, hustled us out the door, and told us to come back the next day (Saturday) to sign off on everything. We did. Ed ended up with a modest return, while I ended up owing money.

Something felt off. On a hunch, I spoke to my previous tax-goddess in Windsor, who told me everything absolutely had been filed in the relevant year and that severl other things sounded amiss. I called CRA and, over their tip line, easily found out that she was right. I called the depot back, donned my Angry Walschots Voice, asked to speak to someone In Charge and explained how I had been wronged.

It seemed the taxes had been done wrong stem to stern -- so wrong that the word 'audit' was bandied about, which made me want to lose consciousness. It seems that Tax Jim is actually Used Car Salesman Jim most of the time, and after taking a few classes is allowed to work as Tax Jim for some extra coin suring the tax season crunch. This time around, I spoke to Senior Accountant Don, who slowly got angrier and angrier as we discovered exactly how badly our taxes had been bungled up.

In the end, I am getting a little money back, Ed is getting MUCH MORE money back, and we don't have to pay for a blasted thing. I rather wish it hadn't taken a week and a half of ARG! to get organzied, but I'll console myself by, instead of being very adult with the money and investing it, what glorious shiny things it could potentially net us. Curse my responsibility! I want a food processor.
Natalie Zed updated @ 9:21 AM!! 0 comments

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sal'oreos

On Friday, Neil, Ed and I were watching a couple episodes of the new Battlestar Gallactica (which is, seriously, awesome). Shortly after deciding that anything with the the suffix '-dama' becomes exponentially cooler (and I tried to convice Ed to start going by Edama), we ran out of nachos. There was still a bit of salsa in the bowl, but nothing to scoop it up with. Well, nothing that wasn't unbelieveably disgusting, that is.

There was, however, a box of oreos kicking about. I'd munched on a few earlier in the evening, and then Ed, fretting over the waste of perfectly good salsa, suggested they use the oreos to scoop it up. I believe, in my heart of hearts, that he meant it as a joke. But as is wont to happen when two spry young men are in a room together, jokes, suddenly morph into "I'll eat one if you do."

Horrified, I watched each of them load an oreo cookie up with salsa, raise them in a salute to each other's testosterone, and eat. They bpth chewed, seriously. Then, with one accord, their faces lit up. They chewed a little quicker, nodding. They announced: "Not bad! Not nearly as terrible as we thought. Not even ver much like vomit!"

Then, of course, the game became to get me to try one.

I held out for a very long time, on principle. Oreos and salsa represent the essence of an UNHOLY FOOD ALLIANCE. I am a girl and I don't play dicksize wars. I have left my gonzo food-contest days behind me. And really, eugh.

It took about half an hour of constant nagging to wear me down. They insisted, with one accord, that the not-badness of the combination bordered on the magical, and that it woulnd't be fair to let me get away without sharing in such a wonder. So I steeled myself and scooped up lots of salsa and prepared myself for gatronomical agony.

It wasn't that bad.

I wouldn't reach immeidately for the second, but the cream filling nicely neutralizes the heat of the salsa while the crunch of the cookie stands up to the salsa's runniness, and all in all there is a balance of salty and sweet that is...not bad.

After some debate, the boys named their culinary masterpiece 'The Sal'oreo.' Or it might be spelt 'sloreo.' I am not sure. I am a little ashamed to even know OF THE EXISTANCE of the SAL'OREO let alone DEBATE OVER THE PROPER SPELLING.

The rest of the weekend involved yummy food. Neil left very early on Saturday, after which Ed and I finished getting our taxes done, ate some fajitas, and went over to derek's to watch the leafs get systematically torn apart. This was sad. I like leafs hockey for two reaons: Ed's leafs jersey was the first piece of his clothing I ever borrowed (I wore it as a nightgown), and the sounds he makes and physical positions of abject agony he assumes when they're playing are just awesome.

Sunday was, of course, bacon day. Ed and I got up early to make a run to Sunterra market for general supplies and the all-holy maple pepper ham for Ed's lunch sandwiches. We were home just a few minutes when Neil came back, along with Tara and Shelley, and fabulous eggs were had by all (thank you, Gordon Ramsay, for this scrambled egg technique). Neil left for a while in the afternoon to edit, while Tara and I went shopping and Shelley and Ed played Mario Party. After coming back, sadly, with nothing for me and not even a cupcake for my efforts (darn you Crave for running out of stuff!), we watched iron chef, and then started scheming, while putting the last few edits on a bit of Neil's manuscript, to get ginger beef. Neil soon was roped into out scheme, and before long he was back on my couch and we were feasting on edamame, ginger beef and fluffy rice.

As an aside, is edamame awesome because it contains both 'dama' and 'Ed?'

After some MST3K, Tara went home and Neil and I had a chat. Well, it began as a chat that became a conversation and then started getting interesting -- but at least we noticed that it was 11pm instead of 3am when we usually snap out of the good-talk trance. Neil went home to edit, Ed and I collapsed in bed, and suddenly it was morning.

Now I am off to get my bungled taxes fixed. Booya!
Natalie Zed updated @ 11:06 AM!! 2 comments

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

some more cheerful notes

While I did have quite a fine rant yesterday, I realize I have been rather remiss in chronicling some of the far less infuriating recents events to take place in my small and self-centered universe.

Darren Wershler-Henry was in town from the 4th to the 7th and gave two readings: one Sunday night at the New Gallery and another one in the afternoon on Tuesday at the U. The reading Sunday was good (as was the ginger beef at Ming afterwards), but the reading Tuesday was AWESOME. The crowd was better (amd rowdier) and he opened with a found poem about invisible creatures straight from a D&D bestiary that sent a certain little pod of uber-nerds (yours truly included) into hysterics. I am conviced that all the cool people in the world need to move to Calgary, if only to help me convince everyone that poems with Darth Vader in them are awesome.

After meeting Darren in Toronto, I was very eager to see him and Prof. X in the same room. They are, indeed, lobes of the same brain. It's really neat to watch. They're conversations are like a mental game of professional ping pong, so fast it is sometimes hard to figure out exactly where the thought between them is. They are close in the way Gennie and I are close: Trains of thought -- though really more like monorails or spacecars of thought -- humming along the same lines, each having the nerve to do the same project as the other only different and cooler...and, of course, because our minds work the same way, the other person is the single most hilarious human being ever to walk the earth. Damn you, Darren, for making me miss everyone in Toronto all over again. Also, it was great to re-meet you.

In other literary news, tomorrow is the launch of derek's new book, Fractal Economies. I got a review copy in the mail a little while ago, and have been happily puzzling over it for some time ( I got a full pdf considerably in advance), for, you see, I am one of 4 readers who has to come up with some way to respond to the book. Derek has decided that he can't read it, so we have to figure out a way how. I immediately said I would do it, because I am a performance whore. Then, for many weeks, I worried. It was hard. I bit my nails.

Then I came up with the BEST IDEA EVER.

I hope it comes off as cool as it sounds in my head. I am a bit nervous, because I have no precedent for it and was only able to unearth one very different and distantly related project that intersected with it. I am not even sure what 'it' is -- a performance, maybe, but not completely. We'll see. I hope it goes well. I suspect it is going to be awesome.

In completely unrelated news, my summer is rapidly filling with people. My mom is coming for a week in May, and my brother just bought a one-way ticket -- he'll be arriving at the beginning of June and leaving...eventually. He has some friends here, though I think he'll stay at our place at least part of the time as our apartments is both clean and always well stocked with food. It looks like Em is also going to be coming down sometime in August. It looks like my futon is going to see a lot of company. I am very excited -- I love to entertain, especially when the people being entertained are so blessedly EASY. We had such a blast with my mom the last time she was here, and now we even have a car. This time, she it totally teacing me how to make those lemon tarts.
Natalie Zed updated @ 10:28 AM!! 0 comments

Monday, March 13, 2006

Wifey-poo takes aim with WMDs

My stove is broken.

There is a bit of history to my stove. When I first moved in there was an ancient apartment stove in its place, a mere 20" across and barely limping along. At first the oven and 2 of the burners worked. One of these burners only had 2 settings: Off and Temperature Of The Sun, but I made due. Eventually, the oven went wonky and I was down to one burner, so I called the landlord and she had a new stove delivered.

A stove that was 24" across. It would not fit in the allotted space. For a few days, I had 2 stoves --one broken and one new -- hanging out in the middle of my kitchen, because the installation guys wouldn't even take the old stove away until they could plug the new one in. We had to get the cabinets rebuilt for the new stove to fit, and finally everything was hunky-dory.

A few weeks ago now, I tried to bake some cookies and they seemed a bit...off. The bottoms were very dark, and they were suspiciously soft on top. Dismayed, and not wanting Ed to suffer sub-standard cookies in his lunch, I tried another batch. These were burnt on the bottom and raw on top.

Some investigation proved that the top element was not working at all. I could literally put my hand right on it. All the heat was coming from the bottom element, and considering my stove is very basic (no convection), this was a problem.

I asked Ed to see if he could get it fixed when I was in Toronto. He called my landlord once, then decieded he could fix it himself, ignoring the frantic message in the voicemail saying that the stove was under warranty and he should not touch it. After I got back and reviewed the facts, I told him to leave the damn stove alone and called our landlords back. I gave them all the relevant info and they said they'd look into it.

A week later they call back to say there is no warranty after all, and they've called a repair guy. The repair guy calls me back another week later to make an appointment for this saturday. I am very happy -- there are many yummy things I can make on a stovetop, but I miss baking and look foreward to having it all fixed.

The guy shows up on time. He asks me to describe the problem.

Me: "The top element doesn't work."

Him: "The broiler?" Turns the broiler on. "It seems to work just fine."

Me: "No -- when I turn it on bake, the top element doesn't come on."

Him: Turns it on bake and waits. "Let me check the internal temperature." He checks. "It's the right temperature -- there doesn't seem to be a problem."

Me: "The top element IS NOT WORKING." Touches it with my bare hand. "See?"

Him: "Hmm. When did you ntoice this problem?"

I tell him the cookie thing.

Him: "Did you preheat the oven before you but the cookies in?"

Okay. I know he has to ask. It's the baking equivalent of "Is your computer turned on?" I know he must deal with idiots all the time. But. Gah.

Me: "Yes, of course."

Him: Not believing me. "Well, some stoves only ahve heat that comes from one element, because they're special and a current of air mvoes the heat around --"

Me: "A convection oven. This is not one -- it is a really basic model."

Him: "Huh. Are you sure you preheated it?"

Me: Fuming. "Yes."

Him: Sighs. "Well, I guess I'll have to have a look behind it, then."

Oh. Terribly sorry you have to do your job. I am annoyed, but still trying to be polite. We chat for a few minutes. He asks how long I have been alone in Calgary, makes some comment about me living alone.

Me: "I live with my husband."

Him: "Where is he?"

Me: None of your damn business, stove-biscuit. "He just went to the store to pick up some pasper towels. He should be home any second."

Him: "Oh, good -- I'll talk to him then."

Um. Excuse me? Yes, let me get my husband -- he'll be much more up to helping you figure out what has angered the food-preparin' science box that poor little me. This mechanical chicanery makes my feeble female mind hurt.

Ed picks this moment to sashay in, say hello, and retreat to the office -- thinking I have the situation under control. I follow him and, with angry whispering and hand gestues, convince him to come back in the kitchen with me before I become fully homicidal. He comes in, the guy explains the situation -- now describing an uncertainly whether the elements are on the same circuit or not, rather than slowly decribing "special stoves" with magical heat wind in them -- and I ask him to look at the curcuit map of the stove.

Him: Stunned.

Me: "Here." Pulls it out fromt he plastic sleeve. "What does this tell you?"

He looks, puzzles, frowns, and takes the panels off by the controls.

Him: "According to this both elements SHOULD heat up when bake is on. Let me have a look." He actually starting doing something.

I am irritated. I want to clean SO BADLY. It's what I do when I'm irritated -- making my house sparkle always improves my mood. However, I cannot bear to set femininity back any further is this sexist doorknobs mind, so I cross my arms and hope he touches something live.

It turns out that there's something wrong with the computer inside --which he says to Ed, then looks at me a d clarifies that he's talking about "the clock part" -- and it'll need to be replaced. Despite the fact that he has had a problem description and the model number for almost 2 weeks at this point, he still has to order the parts. He said he's call back today to let me know when he'd be getting them and to set up another appointment.

I am still in shock, a little. This even HAPPENS anymore? The guy was, maybe, in his early 30s. There really are people out there, people who seem to function in society, that are able to carry on being such sexist dicks? I wonder where he grew up. I pray he doesn't have a girlfriend. I wonder that he's made it this long without being punched or poisoned.

I console myself by composing tirades in my mind, and by thinking he has no idea who he was talking to. I might be a little woman, Stove-dick, but forget circles -- I can think Dyson Spheres around you. You will not catch me without my wits about me again, and they're a might sharp. the next time we meet, Stove-Dick, if you pull that science box bullshit again, I will eviscerate you. Mwahaha.
Natalie Zed updated @ 10:46 AM!! 4 comments

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Things that have recently rocked my world

Isn't it nice when a good fairy decided to hover over you for a while?

-- My trip to Toronto. In general, I had an absolute blast. It was great to see everyone again, and Gennie (along with Merlin, Wizarding Dog Extraordinaire) was the most generous and phenomenal hostess ever. She's the other half of my brain. Whenever I see her (and I have to do something to make it more than twice a year -- several thousand kilometers between me and part of my brain sucks) I feel recharged. I feel creative. I have ideas that push me to finish lingering projects and begin new ones. It's wonderful. She's going to rock her new corporate world. I got to see Em, who I've known since elementary school and who probably knows me better than anyone on the planet because she was actually there to see it all. She's going to be teaching full time by the summer, which would be absolutely awesome for her and I really hope works out. Jess and Tom and Quinn all seem so happy in their beautiful new apartment, and I can't believe how big Quinn has gotten. He's motoring around and becoming a little person-- it's really awesome. I'll have to wish him a happy first birthday from afar. And Vive, of course, is a walking sequin amped up on pixie sticks -- exactly as I left her. You are all beautiful, and I love you. Every time I visit I am struck by the Colossal Unfairness of LIVING ACROSS THE COUNTRY from most of my girlfriends. I was back in my natural environment for a little while, and I loved it. Thanks for everything.

--- While in Toronto, the amazing Angela Rawlings invited me to read during the Open Michelle portion of the lexiconjury reading series. It was an awesome night -- Barbara Cole, Darren Wershler-Henry, and Kenny Goldsmith rocked it out, and the open-michellers were all really challenging and fun. Angela gave me an amazingly kind intro, and I felt like my reading went very well. Everyone was very warm and welcoming and receptive to what I was doing, and I got to meet a ton of people I'd only admired form afar. Anyone even close to the T-dot should check out the lex -- it's a great series run by some great people.

-- I found the world's best hairdresser. She has given me brilliant rock star hair that I love. She, however, is also in bloody Toronto. Looks like I'll only be this hot every six months.

-- In non-Toronto-related goodness, I just found out that I have been accepted to the U of C's PhD program with quite a nice preliminary funding offer. I have been writing like a mad thing, and have renewed faith that I can finish this degree completely on time.

-- there is a red wine I can drink without immediately getting a migraine. It seems that it's the chemicals added to a lot of the North American wines to speed up the fermenting process that was doing it rather than the tannins in the grapes themselves. Mezzomondo, a nice Italian red, doesn't faze me a bit. And it is so, so tasty. And like $10 a bottle. Thank you again, Gennie, for helping me discover good wine that won't kill me, even though this probably means a long and painful experimentation process while I discover what is drinkable.

-- dANDelion got our CC grant in, on time, and completely immaculate. It looks beautiful. It is a work of art. Caralee is a superstar.

So all in all, it's been a great couple of weeks. Hang in there, fairy, there's a lot more semester left to go.
Natalie Zed updated @ 11:34 AM!! 2 comments