Feeding Stations

We created these for two reasons – one far more important than the other. First the less important one –

1. Cosmetic reasons. It isn’t beautiful to have the place cats eat on display all the time. We want to hide their food place away from view when they aren’t using it. Especially as this area will be visible to people using the water closet if they are attending my workshops.

2. The more important reason – Happy is overweight. We’ve been trying to work on this and were quite successful last year but unknown to us over winter she began sneaking food from Grumpy. She put on almost the exact amount of weight that Grumpy lost.

Grumpy is a very slow eater thanks to her health problems with Horners Syndrome – she tends to make a bit of a mess when she eats. Happy inhales her food within seconds, then she goes looking for more. If we aren’t there to supervise, she will annoy Grumpy who will then walk away from her food, enabling the Food Vacuum to snorfle up anything left.

So all mealtimes are now supervised. If Grumpy walks away, we can close her food lid and she can eat it later on. Once Happy walks away, I get her favourite mouse on a stick and provide some exercise while Grumpy finishes eating.

Grumpy also gets secret kibble snacks in The Other Half’s office when Happy is not around to notice. Though the sound of Grumpy eating often attracts her.

The design is pretty simple, though the triangle shape was born from having less material on hand than expected. There is a strut on the side that locks the lid into the upright position.

This improvement plus the wonderful kitty litter enclosure I mentioned recently are so awesome. Happy tends to walk away without burying – well she thinks she buried it but she actually missed it entirely and sometimes it could be quite stinky so I would go and bury it for her. Since The Other Half added the fan to the kitty litter enclosure I have not experienced one stinky at all, and we have a lot less kitty litter escaping the enclosure.

kitties

How Do I Tell You

7 weeks ago, I resigned from that job I really loved. It is a long story how that came to be, best summed up as follows – The owner turned out to be a depressed psycho with whom I rarely had any interactions but when I did see her, she would verbally abuse me for doing the things she had actually asked me to do and then tell me the things I did were not important and not necessary.

Making the decision was very difficult. I wrote my letter of resignation and headed in to work one more Saturday shift. I was still a bit on the fence about it, was I doing the right thing, to quit this job I really loved.

She confirmed for me that I made the right decision when she arrived that morning – she said Hi, I said Hi, then she started yelling at me, accusing me of giving her the silent treatment. I know I said my Hi out loud, it wasn’t silent. I knew then that I would never be able to win with her no matter what I did. When I left that day, I put my letter on the counter.

The people I worked with on a daily basis were great and I loved the job so it should not surprise you when I tell you I spent some time curled in a ball on the floor. I had a full on Aspie meltdown. Even just typing about it now brings tears to my eyes, which is one reason I put off telling you for so long.

Things happen for a reason, I am a firm believer in that. This unhappy adventure is yet another in a string of unhappy adventures where I did everything I could for my employer only to be treated badly. It has convinced me that I need to be the person in charge. So after a while of picking myself back up off the floor, I began to think about next steps.

This coincided with a change in The Other Half’s study plans. The university really stuffed him around and there was so much stress trying to schedule everything, in the end I said it might be worth looking into his original option which was to do the degree online. He’ll have to go to Melbourne twice a year for the in person sessions but that turns out cheaper than travelling back and forth to the “local” university.

So he needs a home office to do this, and we decided to separate his games room and study area, which left us the large space that originally was a garage but was turned into a rumpus by the former owners. What can we do with this space, I thought. Why not turn it into a home business of some kind?

We did a lot of cleaning, decluttering, sorting, tidying. The house is feeling like a great place to be right now. :)

Three weeks ago we began building my own home art studio. One week ago we finished it. I’m not an artist by any stretch of the imagination but there are things I can offer, things I can teach people to do. I’ll be running home workshops – in fact I’ve already held a few this past weekend. I’m also going to do some markets.

So. That happened. The good news for me is that while I thought I was headed into that dark depression place again, I managed to avoid it this time. The bounce back from the Aspie meltdown was a lot quicker. Now I have a plan and a goal I am working towards – this time it is all for me, not someone else’s vision, not someone else’s business.

Onward and upward, no looking back. :)

work

Kitties Get A New Thing

Life for the kitties goes on much the same as it ever does – morning tuna – run around like a crazy thing for a few minutes after the tuna then find a nice spot to sleep the daytime hours away – rationed kibble during the day if one can be bothered waking up for it – see if you can sneak onto a lap at lunchtime for an extra warm nap – human sleep time AKA annoy the humans by first chasing each other around the house, meowing loudly at random intervals during the night, try to find a spot on the bed which keeps the humans awake.

Snoskred, as accustomed to living with a kitty as she is, always manages to fold herself around the sleeping kitty even when leaving the bed for a bathroom stop and returning to the bed folds herself into place perfectly, according to Happy Cat who never has to move. The Other Half is not so good at this trick and a kitty choosing to sleep on his side tends to get jostled a lot.

The past couple of weeks have been a time of much cleaning, decluttering, and general upheaval here in this household. We’ve gone all “Marie Kondo” even though I haven’t read the book, it was time to declutter. The house now positively sparkles and everything has a home to return to once it is used.

But one thing remained annoying to both of us – the kitty litter corner. First of all nobody likes to look at kitty litter. Secondly it tends to kick up some extra dust whenever it gets used. Thirdly the kitties were sometimes so intent on their burying of items that they managed to send kitty litter flying across the floor.

Fourthly we wanted to design a special kitty litter box and eventually move that out into the Nirvana permanently but were not sure what the perfect design would be, so The Other Half made a few possible designs and we thought more about how it would work. Then we procrastinated, until we decided to JUST DO IT. And here is what he made. We’re calling it The Kitty Litter Pod.

The door opens up for scooping but remains closed the rest of the time. Fans for the top are being printed on the 3d printer and will have charcoal filters added. But for now even in this format the Pod works a treat.

The kitties seem perfectly fine with The Kitty Litter Pod. Move their feeding stations though, that causes them to freak out and lose their minds. We did that too, and we have a design for building them a feeding station next!

kitties

Podcast Guru

In case you didn’t know, podcasting is The New Black. Snoskred is always very late to the trends, I know Sephyroth was trying to get me to listen to podcasts years ago and I really wasn’t into it. For me when I am doing chores around the house I tend to “listen” to the TV, and I had quite a backlog of TV episodes I wanted to hear. I didn’t need to see them so much because I had already seen them.

My gateway podcast was The West Wing Weekly. I loved that TV show and I listened to one episode of the podcast and loved it, so spent quite a lot of time catching up on that series. I would download the episodes and put them onto a USB stick which went into my DVD player/set to box, and I could listen to the podcast.

Then someone recommended an app called Stitcher to me. I gave it a try but it was glitchy and refused to play episodes in the order I wanted to listen to them. As I was listening to one podcast, Stitcher would end one episode and then play me one random episode from another season of the podcast. That was a big no for me, so I was on the hunt for a new podcast app.

One of the online spaces I hang out in had a thread about podcasts and a group member recommended Podcast Guru. It has everything I could want with a very easy to use interface and the creator of the app is always just a message away. I’ve messaged twice to ask how to do things and got a response back within 24 hours which is impressive to me.

What I love most about Podcast Guru is that I can choose which podcast I want to listen to, set it going, and it will keep playing episodes until I come back to the phone and stop it. This is especially handy for me at the moment as I am on a decluttering the house kick and quite often am several rooms away from the phone.

So now I have told you about the app I am loving – what podcasts am I enjoying?

You’re Wrong About – Michael and Sarah do a great job exploring subjects we think we know about. The episode “A Dingo’s Got My Baby” is a must listen for us Aussies and the Columbine one is excellent but they are all great.

Clear + Vivid – Alan Alda has a podcast about communication and it is excellent. My favourite episode was with Judge Judy but there was also a great episode with the MASH cast and a deeply fascinating one with Michael J Fox which was recorded not long after Alan told the world he has been diagnosed with Parkinsons. He has quite a range of guests and you never quite know who will appear next. Highly recommend this one!

The West Wing Weekly – this horse race is on the home stretch, they are in season 7 now and on the way to the season finale. I’m really going to miss this podcast when they are done. Also related –

10,000 “No”s – Matthew Del Negro who was a cast member on the final two seasons of The West Wing has a podcast which is very interesting with varied guests across a range of subjects – as it says on the About page – “he gets up close and personal with top-shelf folks from all walks of life about the 10,000 “No”s they’ve had to endure and the struggles they’ve had to overcome on their journey to where they are today”. I particularly enjoyed the episodes with Richard Schiff and Eli Attie but I have not heard a bad episode and I adore Matthew Del Negro.

The Worst Idea Of All Time – Tim Batt and Guy Montgomery watch the same movie and review it every week for a year. I listened to the seasons where I had seen the movie (the Sex and the City ones) but I don’t think you have to have seen the movie to enjoy this podcast as these two have a very unique humour which is so funny. This leads us to –

We Couldn’t Help But Wonder – Mike and Elise revisit every episode of Sex and the City. These two are great and actually live in New York which adds a very interesting element in my opinion. If you were a fan of the show you will enjoy this – if you were not a fan of the show you will appreciate this podcast too.

Not to be confused with I Couldn’t Help But Wonder which I listened to for only a couple of minutes before deciding to hit stop.

NYPD Blue Balls – this one is for NYPD Blue addicts like me. The Asher Brothers talk about each episode of NYPD Blue. I love Kirk and Kyle and DEEPLY ADORE Papa Asher. Not for those without a sense of humour, FYI.

The Chernobyl Podcast – Created as a companion podcast to the TV series Chernobyl, this was a fascinating deep dive into behind the scenes of the TV show and the story of Chernobyl itself, including info on things they decided to leave out and why they changed certain things. Look for this podcast on your podcast app. This podcast led me to –

Scriptnotes – Craig Mazin from the Chernobyl series joins with John August to discuss all things screenwriting related.

What do you enjoy listening to?

Podcast

This Makes No Sense

Kitty Litter is A Thing in our house. With two cats and a much larger than the usual litter tray – formerly an under bed storage container which seems to solve fighting over the litter tray issues we have experienced – we go through a decent amount of this stuff. So we would like to buy it as cheaply as possible.

In the past we have tried various different options. One that tends to work quite well for us is to buy in bulk when we get a special spend more to save offer from Petbarn. At least, that is what we thought, until we did the maths. We would have to buy 8 bags to get over $250.

8x 33.19 = 271.92 – 70 = 201.92 /8 = $25.24 per bag. And that also depends on them having 8 bags in stock, which is more of a problem than you would expect. Sometimes the kitty litter would be on special which made it more worthwhile.

This is what we’ve done for a few years now and the best part is having 8 bags on standby in the mancave, you can forget about it until you need to go and get a new bag.

Every so often we like to sit down and work out if we are doing things the most efficient way – and the cheapest way – possible. Having run out of kitty litter, and having received the spend more save more email, we did some maths on our end and looked at the “autoship” options.

Having worked in a warehouse for some time and knowing how much shipping costs are, I don’t think the pet companies have done any maths on this. I suspect it would be better $$$ wise to encourage people to go to their stores and purchase the bags at a reduced rate. But instead, they offer autoship. Which is basically they send the stuff to you every so often.

Sure, it is nice for companies to know that they have orders to fulfill regularly, but on the other hand folks can cancel at any time without a penalty, so there is no incentive to stick with the autoship option.

Sure, there are probably people who appreciate getting the kitty litter shipped to their door meaning they don’t have to lug it home from the store. But it costs money to ship things and a bag of kitty litter is *heavy*. 15kg to be precise.

One has to be at home to receive it, otherwise one has to go and pick it up from the post office, removing the handy factor.

We did the maths and it worked out to be slightly more expensive to do autoship – $26.09 per bag – *but* if we bought it from Petstock we earn points with them which kind of balances it out. And we don’t have to pay out $250 at a time. Shipping is free for the customer – but quite costly for the business. We thought we would give it a go.

When they shipped it, we discovered it gets shipped from MELBOURNE. We have a Petstock about 20kms away from us. Melbourne is over 800kms away from us, plus they likely send it via Sydney which adds on at least another 400kms.

But then let us add on $$ for cardboard and tape.. really this is not a good idea for any business $$ wise. It certainly isn’t good for the environment. The cats love it because they get more boxes. We ordered two bags and each had a box to itself. You couldn’t really put them together in a box, it would be far too heavy at 30kg.

Next time I am in the area I will ask our local Petstock if they are willing to match the autoship price so they get our $$ locally. That is the other aspect – when you buy online the money often does not go to your local store, it goes to head office.

Overall, autoship makes zero sense to me. Transport costs in Australia are enormous. When you think of the fuel, the wear and tear on the vehicles, paying the drivers, etc.. it is Up Money. I would think it would be far better to encourage customers to click and collect in store.

They could still make it a regular thing so the stores would know how much stock to have on hand for these orders. Allow the customer to pay a better price for the goods than the autoship price. That way the folks doing the buying are also doing the lugging, and rather than 1200kms of lugging our items to our home, it is just a short trip home in the car. But if you want to click and collect in store, you pay the highest price of $28.99!

At this point, I am not going to rule out the option of purchasing in bulk direct from China if I can find a supplier and the price is right. We have purchased plenty of stuff from AliExpress over the years. I’m thinking of ordering that kitty litter scoop – the plastic ones break way more often than I like.

country life, kitties

Another Day Trip

Last week we took a train trip up to Sydney. While The Other half has been going to uni on the train, he never gets to make the full trip so this time we went right into Central together.

When I make a daytrip like this, I like to set goals otherwise I can easily get lost in looking at everything – whether it be shops, food, or landmarks. This time we had exactly four goals –

1. Visit Uniqlo for heat tech layers for me. Achievement unlocked. I got two things – this one you see below was especially great to buy on a super cold day.

I’ve been wearing regular and extra warm heat tech turtle necks for over a year now and they are brilliant in highly airconditioned environments where you are not the one in charge of the temperature. They are awesome in winter when you have to be outside, especially as layers under a Ghanda hoodie.

My goodness, they do an incredible trade in this place. Visit at lunch time at your personal peril. So many people, so little space, so many clothes, so much awesomeness. I do have a Uniqlo regret though – I wish I’d bought this fluffy thing above. It was fluffy on the inside as well and the price was pretty awesome.

2. Eat lunch with a friend who works in the city. Achievement unlocked. No photos because we went to a private dining room in a special building where they work. ;)

3. Drop into Sephora to explore their sale. Achievement unlocked.

4. Find new work shirts for The Other Half – when you’ve been wearing a uniform for over 10 years and suddenly you have to wear your own clothes there is a good chance you don’t have a big range of clothes to choose from. Especially so in the case of The Other Half who has lost about 10kg over those 10 years. Achievement denied. EPIC FAIL WHALE.

The Other Half was very specific with what he wanted – must be short sleeve – must be one of four or five colours he is happy to wear – must be 100% cotton (or 98% with 2% something else) – must not have checks, stripes, or a boring pattern – can have very random patterns.


This shirt from Zara would have been perfect if it were the right fabric. Especially the style of collar was appreciated. But the material was very thin and not quite right.

While some of the shirts were very funny – eg the prawn shirt seen below – most of them did not fit his criteria. Or when they did, they were in a wrong material, like this Kenji koi shirt which we found in black but it is rayon.

We went to all the possible places. Topman, Zara Man, H&M, Myer, David Jones, various random menswear places we found in our travels. We did find things to try on in a couple of these stores but the result was never a win. The cut was wrong, or the shape was off, or the fabric turned out to be thinner than The Other Half is ok with.

Admittedly, you likely will find a larger range of short sleeve shirts in the summer but FYI stores, some guys can’t tolerate long sleeves even in winter, some offices run quite warm and short sleeves are needed..

Anyway on the way home I suggested we hop off the train in Wollongong and see if we had more luck there. We checked TKMaxx – not one short sleeve collared shirt to be found. Then we checked Target and finally had a win – a couple of shirts and a pair of pants were purchased.

We had a lovely day out together, it was NICE TIME. :) Now that The Other Half has dropped back to working 2 days a week, it means we have a little more time together to do some things we’ve wanted to do for a while.

Sydney

The Resolved Unravels

I rarely drink but when I do, I like to have a salted caramel martini in front of a roaring fire. ;)

It has been a big couple of weeks here in Snoskredland – with The Other Half leaving his toxic job and moving to a new job on top of a birthday for me and some news about former colleagues at the toxic job, a place where I also worked too..

Remember when I told you I didn’t work there anymore – at the very end of that post I said –

For me there are some unresolved issues that simply will never be resolved. Years ago that would have driven me crazy. I hate unresolved stuff. Now I am pretty good at resolving my side of it and letting it go.

I am pretty good at that UNTIL I discover that the very thing I most feared happening has actually happened. In order to explain that statement to you, I have to give you a little bit of not especially interesting history but I don’t want to go too far into detail.

Last year, mid-Santa, my offsider told me she had been sexually harassed by the 2nd in charge person. Given that she was very young and newly pregnant, she did not want to “rock the boat” by reporting what happened. I felt very strongly that she needed to report it.

Guess why? Because if she didn’t, and it happened to someone else, there would be no record of it happening. But she was resolute – I suspect because the 2nd in charge had something he was holding over her head.

While I could not report it because it did not happen to me, I was able to speak up and raise concerns and I did make it very clear to the business owner what had happened and who had done it. Of course without an official complaint he could not do very much, so he called both her and myself into his office and tried very hard to get her to make an official complaint or even just tell him personally so he could take action without making it official but she still refused.

If I had been the business owner, you can bet I would have made some changes even without an official complaint and the very first one would be dropping that harasser as second in charge. But as they say in the classics, not my monkeys, not my circus.

The harasser remained as second in charge, but I made it VERY clear to the business owner I was reporting directly to him as the owner from now on and while the harasser could be 2nd in charge of the rest of the store he was to have nothing to do with my area at all. I would not take no for an answer on that. He agreed with it. I would have quit on the spot otherwise and it was mid-Santa so he really had no choice but to agree.

I pulled the harasser aside and told him I knew what he had done and that I wanted nothing more to do with him at all, and that I had made my feelings clear to the owner. I refused to speak to him unless it was work related. I actually found it very hard to even look at him. I was furious because he had taken advantage of a young girl who he knew was vulnerable.

But I also had work to do, it was our busiest time of year and I had to focus in on that. As much as I wanted to punch that guy in the face on a daily basis, it would not have done any good. Ohhh, he was so slimy and smarmy and arrogant, knowing he’d got away with what he’d done. Some days it was very hard not to punch him but some how I always managed it.

As time went on, I kept encouraging my offsider to put in an official complaint or even just to put what happened in writing, and then give it to the HR manager and ask them to put it in the safe unopened for a later date in case it was needed. I felt that when it was time for her to go on maternity leave, she might want to take action then. She still refused. My main point was – what if this happens to someone else, how will you feel then?

I felt so strongly about this that I made a call to head office when I left, speaking to someone in a position of power that I met at the conference. I said look, I know there is nothing you can do without an official complaint but I wanted you to at least know this happened in case something else happens down the track. I did find out she actually took some action, arranging for the business owner to attend mandatory training re this particular area.

I suppose my former offsider would be able to tell me the answer to that question I asked now, because of course it did happen to someone else. I found out during the last couple of weeks. I don’t have specific details of what happened, but I do know the harassed person resigned and made an official complaint. The 2nd in charge received a written warning. I don’t know if he will remain as 2nd in charge.

But I am, again, furious. Despite my earlier attempt at resolving things within myself. If my offsider had made an official complaint, that would be two complaints of the same thing and it would be very unlikely he would still have the job let alone have a chance of still being in charge of anything.

I wanted to write about this many times and in fact I did write it out a couple of times and delete it, way back in December when it happened. This was a difficult situation to be placed in, and I hated it. And I was not the person being harassed. It was far worse for her. I’ve been bullied in previous workplaces but this was a whole other level of Not Awesome. It certainly contributed greatly to my decision to move on.

Nobody should have to put up with bullying or any kind of harassment in their workplace. We have laws in place to prevent this and many companies have strict procedures around all of this, but if the people involved will not speak up, the laws can’t do a damn thing.

If the people this happens to will not speak up, that leaves the door wide open for it to happen to the next person. And that WILL happen. If someone behaves this way and gets away with it, they think they can always behave this way and get away with it.

work

Sausage Roll Monday

It was a public holiday Monday which living in a Tourist Town means you could go somewhere as long as you pick the right direction but getting back would be Not Fun. So we spent our day cleaning, doing the washing and cooking.

My sausage roll recipe is super simple as long as you have a food processor. Throw in the quantities you like of the following vegetables –

Green capsicum (peppers)
Brussel Sprouts
Carrots
Leek

Whizz that up nice, then add 500g beef mince and one egg. Whizz that up some more, then lay the mince out on half a sheet of puff pastry, put egg wash on the opposite edge, and roll.

Once you have made enough to fill an oven tray, egg wash the tops of the sausage roll and sprinkle on a parmesan and herb mix. I tend to use my chip sprinkle which is paprika, garlic powder, parsley, mustard powder, black pepper, cinnamon, a touch of low sodium chicken stock powder, rosemary and any other herbs I feel like throwing in when I am making it.

We made 3x 500g beef mince packs. We ate a few for lunch, then all the other sausage rolls go in the freezer for a quick dinner at a later time. There’s 92 packaged up and frozen from this particular sausage roll venture plus a few to be heated up later for tonights dinner.

That’s what we’re cooking – what else is happening?

Watching – Chernobyl. We’re about to watch episode 3. Yes it is not an easy watch but it is an important watch.

Listening – to the Chernobyl podcast which goes along with the show.

Working – on a checklist for opening and closing the shop I work in – on Saturdays I now open and close and I have my own key. I am deeply enjoying my work and it is wonderful to be appreciated for the work I do, which is a novel concept after my last workplace where my boss really did not care or notice what I did.

Wondering – about the coincidences of life – my other half applied for one job which would work in better with going to Uni full time, he got the job and it turns out it is in the same building as the shop I work in. How bizarre is that?

Adding – a new treadmill to my space. A friend did not need theirs anymore so it came to live with us.

Eating – Thai Coconut Icecream which came as part of dinner we bought last week. The other food was just so-so but this icecream is amazing, I definitely want more of it.

Ordering – more protein as I am about to run out, it just arrived last week.

Wearing – my new brooches which arrived recently, they are gorgeous, especially the Bee. Click on this image for a larger view. :)

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