Saturday, 7 August 2010


The thought came to me as I was gloomily gazing at my ruined toenails. The house we're sitting is quite far inland, out of reach of the sea breezes, so the temperature here is usually five degrees and sometimes as much as ten degrees warmer than downtown Victoria. The upper rooms are a good five degrees warmer than that, no matter how many fans I turn on.

So as the fiery ball finally made its way to the western horizon, it was finally cool enough on the back deck to escape the heat of the house. I was worn out by too little sleep, hiking around downtown Victoria laden with groceries and swim-gear, and the prospect of trying to prepare supper and water the yard on this thirty-seventh day without rain. (How big is this yard? Recently I was chatting to the Resident Fan Boy on the cordless phone while hiking out to the compost bin. We lost the freaking signal.)

I was having another long-distance chat with the Resident Fan Boy who is holding the fort back in Hades which has been plagued with thunder-storms and flooding. We could use some floods in BC where the sun has been reduced to a disc on several days from the smoke from forest fires on the mainland.

Clutching the cordless phone in my weary claw, I gave the RFB the latest update on the continuing struggle with the lady who owns this house. During my half-dozen house-sits over the past nine years, I've been the one to contact the home-owners: "So-and-so called; may I give her your number?", emails giving updates or requesting trouble-shooting instructions. This usually amounts to two or three contacts over the period of the house-sit; owners usually want to enjoy their trip and not worry about the house -- that's why I'm there, right? This year's house-sit hostess (I'll call her "HH", shall I?) seems to think the reason I'm there is so she can continue to run things from 823 kilometres (511 miles) away. It's gotten so my heart sinks when the phone rings and I see her number blinking on the screen.

This week, it's emails. Husband of House-sit Hostess (HHH if you like) came home from the sea, and opened their Outlook Express which meant all messages got downloaded to OE and she can't access them from her server's web site. HHH apparently got on the horn with the server and set up a default where all incoming messages will be copied to the web site. However, after he joined the air force (oh let's not go into that) and vamoosed to train in Ontario -- until Christmas -- she discovered that this doesn't apply to all those messages that arrived before HHH had that chat with the server.

So I get a series of phone calls and phone messages, each detailing how I had to get on a phone with a technician and "go through the process step-by-step because (HHH) did that and it didn't work." Fruitlessly, I try to explain to her that we used to have the same thing happen with our server and the trick is to forward those older emails. She sighs and says firmly: "NO. Trust me, we've been through this. He forwarded the emails and it didn't work."

So I phoned the server. Was put on hold for ten minutes, while they played the same ten-second phrase from Doctor Zhivago over and over again, punctuated with various automated phrases thanking me for my patience, advertising other services, and at one point, even asking me to press "One" if I wanted a scheduled call-back and "Two" if I wanted to stay on line. Eventually, I got a technician and gathered with some difficulty (his accent was a bit thick) that all emails prior to the set-up were now downloaded to the computer and it would be necessary to forward those email if she wanted to access them from the web site....

"NO," said HH, when I called her back. "He needs to walk you through this step by step. When (HHH) tried that, it didn't work..."
"Look," I pleaded. "Just let me try to forward them again. I think the problem may be that (HHH) couldn't send them all at once."
I hung up and grouped the 139 email according to date, making the date the subject line of each emailed group. When I checked the web site, they were all there, and I phoned back to tell her so.
"How did you think of that?" she stammered.
"Didn't I mention I'm a brilliant woman?" I reply wryly.

The whole damn summer is shaping up like this, directive phone-calls, cats who refuse to come in or out, long lists of things I'm suppose to do, or not touch, to say nothing of packing up and leaving every time Johnny comes marching home.

Where was I? Oh yes, contemplating how to get the strength up to give myself a pedicure before I cause nausea at younger daughter's next swim lesson, and updating the RFB. And no, the above saga wasn't it; that was just background. Now HH wants me to trawl through her June emails (she deletes nothing, by the way, not even the porn spam) to locate the owner/operators of obscure Mexican resort she's booked for Christmas. Doesn't remember their names.

That was when the thought hit me. Someone phoned and left a message last weekend wishing HH a happy birthday. Oh. My. Gawd. She's a Leo.

"That's it!" I gasped to the RFB in a moment of horrified revelation. "It's like house-sitting for my sister!" My sister the double Leo red-head. Resident Fan Boy understood immediately. He loves my sister, but shares my traumatic memories of both her weddings, and any number of other occasions where we've been crunched under the oppression of her A-type controlling perfectionism, all delivered with a sweet smile and appreciative words which RFB and I know to be a front for the deadly determination always there beneath the surface.

It's actually my sister's birthday today. Happy birthday, sis. God bless and keep a safe distance.

Oh, and it's raining today. I'm excused from watering the flower beds, shrubs and trees. If I focus on that and not on the long-range forecast, maybe I'll have a happy day too.


E. said...

Hey, nice to read you. I find you through NaBloPoMo.

SOL's view said...

Oh. My. Good. Goodness. I have two sisters who are Leo.... #1 is 'A-type controlling perfectionism', #2 is not. :)

I feel for you Buddy. :D

Persephone said...

Hi there, E!

Sol, my friend-of-the-right-hand is a Leo, and if you need someone to go with you and face down an ogre (or at least return something at a department store), a Leo is an excellent choice to have your back.