A New Countdown Begins…

After months of waiting and planning, I can finally confirm my biggest news of the year – Vanna and I will be heading back to England this Christmas!

Very, very excited to be sharing this news, as I’m sure you can imagine! This will be the first time I’ve seen my family since I left the UK in July 2014. It’s been a long time, and even though it is only going to be for a few weeks, I can’t wait to visit friends and family, see my favourite sights and eat my favourite foods…it’s going to be awesome.

No concrete plans beyond the flights have been made yet, but if you shift your attention to the right, you can at least track the countdown to our arrival in the UK. 113 days until the flight, 114 until we land in Newcastle. We’re practically only a few weeks away!

Anyway, once I have more details on what we hope to do, I’ll provide a follow up post with dates etc. Until then, have a great weekend everybody! I’ll be working Saturday through Monday which sucks, but hey, more money in the bank is always a good thing. Need to save up for the trip, after all.

Bye for now,

Alex

 

 

 

My New Lab Coat Life

So after a two month hiatus, I have jumped back onto the working life treadmill (thanks for that phrase dad), and already I’m sick of it. Seriously it’s just…

Nah, it’s fine. I do admit going from having all the free time in the world to ‘here, have a few hours before you crash into a coma sleep’ has been an adjustment, but otherwise it’s been good. Next week (tomorrow; urgh, where did the weekend go?!) will be my fourth at Marshfield Food Safety, and it’s going well. It’s a completely different job to what I’ve done in the past, which I wouldn’t say is a bad thing. I’m not entirely sure what I can say about the job, but essentially we complete a variety of tests to ensure our client’s products are up to standard. It’s busy but I enjoy it.  Science has always interested me, so I enjoy learning more about the biology/chemistry side of food safety.

I also get to wear a lab coat everyday which is cool. Between that, the purple gloves and the safety glasses, I’m like a bona fide scientist. I even act like a scientist, what with my pipetting, plate counting, and, uh…other sciency things that I do. And my job title is Lab Analyst, so yeah, I’m all about the science.

Admittedly it might not be as glamorous as I’m portraying it, but it’s a good job. There is a lot of standing around mind, which wouldn’t be so bad if the benches were designed for tall people, but that’s probably still better for my posture than being slouched in an office chair, staring at a computer screen for eight hours.

I currently work 2nd shift, which is 11:00 to 19:30 (often goes beyond that, but thankfully I have only had to stay until 20:30 once). It isn’t too bad – I’m not a morning person so I love the lie ins – but I still need to find a balance to my leisure time. Currently I eat, play Gears for a bit and then watch Supernatural. I like doing that, but I really should find time for my book. Maybe if I only watch 2 episodes of Supernatural…hmm.

Anyway, what else can I say? Well, everyone has been very nice to me so far and there seems to be a lot of flexibility, which will be important later this year(big news coming up, just waiting for confirmation). Only disadvantage is that I work every third weekend, meaning I’ll might miss Chelsea play if they have a later kick off. Other than that though, I’m very grateful for this opportunity. It’s a paying job and it’s a paying job I like. Yay for me, right?

Guess that’s it for now. There will be more updates coming up soon though. Our 2nd year anniversary is on Tuesday, and later this month Vanna starts college. Both momentous occasions that signify to me that the good things in life for us are only just beginning.  It doesn’t end there though, as in September we have a Trivium gig and a paintballing weekend marked in the calendar. And then there is the big news I mentioned earlier, which is in some ways far bigger than anything else in this paragraph. I can’t wait!

Alex

 

 

 

Catnip Craziness

So we keep the catnip supplies in the locked cupboard of the dry sink. However, while we were distracted by the apocalyptic thrills of Deep Impact, Anya PICKED the lock and snatched the catnip bag. Not sure what happened next, but when we finally got up to see what was going on (we were suspicious that our animals were being too quiet), we found catnip all over the kitchen floor. Anya was gorging on one bag while Frankie was rolling around another bag.  Come on, kitties. Can we not leave you alone for two minutes?

After cleaning up as much as we could, we then grabbed the camera, because if they are going to be little poops who destroy everything they touch, they can at least be entertaining little poops who destroy everything they touch. Feel free to skip through the video below; it is over eight minutes long and I appreciate not everybody finds our cats as cute as we do (we’re a bit like those obnoxious parents showing everybody we meet pictures of our newborns). But if you are interested in seeing our cats roll around and fight, this is for you. Enjoy!

Alex

P.S. first week of work was succesful. I’ll talk more about it next weekend, providing everything continues to goes well.

The Day I Set Fire To The Microwave…

I blame GQ magazine for the fire. A few years ago I had a yearly subscription to GQ because the boy Vanna used to care for was offering various magazine deals to raise funds for school. I actually wanted a gaming or football magazine, but as they weren’t available, I went for GQ instead.  I vaguely remembered reading a copy once, and it was cheap, so why not? Maybe I’d enjoy them.

As it happens, I only read 3 of the 12 magazines sent to me (turns out they are mostly about men’s fashion and grooming; two things I have no interest in whatsoever) but I did take one piece of advice. It was from an article on…something. Doesn’t matter; the helpful suggestion, however, was regarding dish sponges. Apparently they aren’t very hygienic, and you shouldn’t use them more than once. But if you aren’t a rich bachelor with money to spare (GQ’s target audience; again, not exactly me) and prefer to hold onto your sponges for more than ten minutes, they recommend you microwave them after each wash. It prolongs their life expectancy, you see.

So, for the past couple of years, that’s exactly what I’ve done. I wash the dishes and then bung the sponge in the microwave for two minutes. Sponge steam doesn’t smell too great, but at least I felt better about doing the dishes. Thanks to GQ, I was no longer a dirty commoner with a dirty sponge.  Totally worth the $24 subscription!

Cut to last week; there I am, doing the dishes like a good husband while Vanna is at work. I finish, chuck the sponge in the microwave and hit the button. I then start sweeping, because I’m a really good husband, while I wait for the magical purifying process to finish. But the regulation two minutes pass and the microwave is still going. Unfortunately I’m watching a particularly enticing episode of Border Control: Australia’s Front Line (the guy had drugs hidden on his body, I’m sure it) and don’t realize what I’ve done…until it was too late.

The smell got me first. A foul, acrid smokiness. Then I think, ‘did I hit the wrong button on the microwave?’ so I stop sweeping and head back into the kitchen. The answer? Yes, yes I bloody well did hit the wrong button on the microwave. The sponge is on fire and there is smoke everywhere. I yank open the microwave door and, uh, panic.

I don’t like fires, you see. I have no pyromania tendencies. I’ve never had a obssession with fire, or had to be warned to avoid flames. I’ve always known fire = bad. Heck, I don’t even use matches. I sit away from campfires. In fact, since an incident in my childhood when the trees bordering our property were set on fire (nothing to do with me, I hastily add), I’ve always had nightmares of my house burning down. So I can’t say I’m accustomed to dealing with open flames. This is probably why my first instinct, after a suitable injection of panic, was to blow on the sponge, like I was a 6 year old with a birthday cake and a wish to make.  Unsurprisingly, this did not put the fire out.

Thankfully my second instinct was more logical. Ignoring the fire extinguisher in our apartment (I refuse to be that guy), I grabbed an old hand towel (I wasn’t going to use a nice one, was I?), soaked it in water and then threw it onto the sponge. Boom, fire out, problem solved, I’m a hero!

Sadly, not everything turned out perfectly. I wasn’t able to save the sponge; I had to throw the charred remains in the trash after one use, making me the exact person I hated to be.  And despite our best efforts, the microwave is stained. It still works, of course, but it seems the memories of my error will forever be engrained onto my favourite kitchen appliance. Every war has its casualties, I suppose.

Oh, and remember how I said smoky sponges don’t smell too great? Well it turns out burning sponges smell even worse. It took DAYS for that stench to clear. This isn’t a big apartment, folks, so it wasn’t like I could avoid it either. Granted, it was better than the residual puppy pee smell that seems to linger in the entryway, but that isn’t really saying much. Seriously, don’t burn sponges. You’ll regret it.

But we’re okay now, at least. The microwave still smells, but I’m confident a few months of zapping my leftovers will fix that. And I’ve learned a valuable lesson from this experience, one I think is worth repeating: folks, whatever you do, don’t read GQ.

All the best,

Alex

Oh, and before I go, I have news!

I have a job! Starting Monday 25th, I’m going to be a lab analyst for Marshfield Food Safety! It’s going to be very different from everything I’ve done so far, but I’m excited. I’ll let you know how it goes in my next update.

 

 

A Very Subdued 4th of July…

Happy Independence Day America! Speaking as a Brit, I’m not sure you made the right decision (it isn’t too late to come back!) but you’ve stuck to it, so fair enough.

Unlike all the other 4th of Julys I’ve spent in America, this one is going to be spent doing…nothing at all. No special t-shirts, no parades, no food indulgence; just me, my Xbox, and the cats. Where’s Vanna? Well unfortunately she had to work this weekend, which is why this year’s holiday is such a non-event. Had she been available we may have gone up north and celebrated the day with family. But she’s not, so we’re not. Lame, right?

But hey, don’t let my boredom stop you from having a fun time! Oh no. Despite our residual feelings of bitterness, Frankie,

(currently sleeping)

Anya,

(also sleeping)

And I all hope you have a great day, even if you aren’t American and it is just an ordinary Monday.

Until next time.

Alex

P.S. Speaking of cats, no escapes since my last post. The catio has been kiboshed for now as it isn’t stable enough for a roof, and without it, Frankie keeps jumping out. We’ve accepted Anya will remain an outdoors cat, at least for now. Once it gets closer to winter, however, we’ll have to really work on catifying the apartment so they can be stimulated whilst staying indoors. Urgh. Effort.

 

Another Cat Incident…But The Catio Is Good To Go!

So after the kitten drama last weekend, we were hoping for a calm, uneventful week. What we got on Wednesday, however, was another night of worry and panic. Why did it happen again? Well, we were foolish enough to let Anya go unattended for a few hours. Big mistake. Escape number 2 was worse than when she disappeared for 24 hours though, because this time both she and Frankie got out.

*sigh*

We’d left one window open. Didn’t think too much about it; Anya had never shown any interest in using that window, so we thought it would be okay. Nope. Evidently she was luring us into a false sense of security, playing dumb while she waited for her opportunity to take advantage.

It took us a few hours before we realized what she had done. To be honest, it could have been even longer were it not for the insects swarming us. We’re used to having beetles or fruit flies, but not mosquitoes. Or moths. Initially I called out Vanna for leaving the door open too long when she came in from work. But then she went into the bedroom and found a big hole where the screen frame once was.

usually, Anya picks at the corner of the mesh and sneaks through the small gap…which is at least considerate. This time, she didn’t have time for that. This time she just shoved her fat head at the screen until it popped out. With the light on, the bugs swarmed in. This bad situation was then made worse when Frankie, presumably concerned about kitten heading out into the night, followed her.

As soon as we discovered both cats were out, we rushed out there and started calling their names. No response. Vanna was worried but I was freaking out. Anya would probably make her way back when it suited her, but Frankie? He would want to return, but he would be too scared. He’s a skittish little kitty. He would hear a noise, run, hear another noise, and then run some more, on and on until he ended up so far away he wouldn’t be able to find his way home. This was not good, people.

Fortunately Frankie didn’t have a complete freak out, and I found him in the bushes across from our apartment. This didn’t mean he was an easy catch, however; though both Vanna and I tried calling him out (I even went back there in the hopes he would come to me if I was sitting in his safety zone), he was too scared to approach us. Instead he would run as soon as we approached him. Worried we’d push him further away, we headed back inside in the hopes he’d return on his own.

Well, around 4am kitten came to the window. Vanna went outside on a hunch and heard little Frankie crying. Even so, it took a good thirty minutes to coax him out into the open. Vanna had to sit down on the grass, say his name over and over, and then shake one of his toy mice until he eventually felt brave enough to approach her. She did a great job. Had it just been me, Frankie would still be outside now, crying and crying…

But he’s safe now, and that’s all that matters. Jump forward to Friday then, and the catio assembly. It took a while (the connectors that snapped the wire squares together had a tendency to fall out; it was only when we gave up on the roof did it stay together) but we eventually formed a neat rectangle to put outside the window. It isn’t a big space (any bigger and it would become too unstable to be trusted) but Frankie likes it. Not sure kitten is impressed though.  She likes to venture further afield, act all independent and do things on her own terms.  But she lost that right when she knocked the screen out, so she’ll have to accept the catio is her future, at least until we can trust her to come home on time (she’s like an unruly teenager, it’s ridiculous).

Anyway, we’re starting to catify the place finally. Here’s some pictures of Frankie enjoying his outside area from the bedroom (had I gone outside, Frankie would have freaked out). Is the cage strong enough to keep them from escaping? We’re not sure. Being the dopey cat that he is, Frankie might try to climb it, while kitten will be no doubt doing her hardest to pick her way out. It’s a work in progress. Not too bad, eh?

He was rather tentative initially.
But quickly got comfortable, sniffing the area and rolling around.
Still somewhat skittish though. We won’t trust him alone in case he decides to scale the fence, but I think it’ll really help with his pent-up energy.

I’ll try to do another update soon.  Have a great Sunday!

Alex

So This Almost Happened…

Fortunately the little turd came home last night, almost 24 hours after disappearing. No idea where she went, or how she got back. All I know is that I searched for her at least ten times throughout the day (a day which had a heat advisory and tornado warnings), putting aside my daily schedule so I could find her. I knocked on houses, checked out gardens, got poison ivy…but despite the hours calling her name, got nothing in return.

Vanna had an even worse time, as she was stuck at work for ten hours. Neither of us could concentrate (I couldn’t write, couldn’t enjoy my gaming), too worried about our little kitten. When your cat is missing, the questions running through your head get worse with each passing hour. Is she trapped? Is she hurt? Did someone take her? Is she dying? Is she dead? Not knowing is a very frustrating and troubling experience. Automatically you think the worst, but until you know it for sure, there is no relief. It’s horrible.

Thankfully our story ending on a happy note, and she’s home safe. We don’t have answers (the grass was wet yet she was bone dry) but we have Anya, and that’s all that matters. However, this experience has told us that she is never going out again. We can’t risk losing our little one. Time to build the catio. She can enjoy the outside in a small space from now on.

Let’s not do that again, okay kitten?

Normal service will be resumed soon…once I’ve secured Anya’s future, and my heartbeat has returned to its usual pace.

Alex

An expression of my love for gaming and writing