Marsha Canham's Blog

May 17, 2011

Random mini rants and how they improve blood flow

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 4:03 pm

Whilst I was away in Florida, a good friend and neighbour kept an eye on the house for me.  Richard and his son cut my grass in the summer, plow out my driveway in the winter…no mean feat if you’ve seen the pics of how much snow accumulates in a windy blizzard.  So there I was in sunny Florida, having followed all the suggestions from my fellow snowbirds about how to prep the house for closing…some of which I forgot, but hey it was my first real attempt on my own.

Rule one, they say:  make sure all doors and windows are locked, planks put in sliding doors, timers left on lights to make them come on at different times of the evening.

Easy enough.  The house is like Fort Knox anyway, but I added a thick plank in the back slider and bought two light timers.  Light timers.  Hmmmm.  I’ve used them before, so I know you just set the time, plug em in, plug the lamp into them and voila.  The light comes on then shuts off.  Naturally I set them up a few days early to make sure they worked.

First night, nothing from the one, second one came on during the day.  Adjust adjust.  Second night, neither of them came on.  Adjust, growl, adjust.  Third night stood there, arms crossed, glaring at the stupid thing at the appointed time.  Heard clicking, but no light came on.  Removed from plug, felt a surge of adrenalin and hurled it against wall. Felt much better.

Rule two, lower the temp setting on the furnace; no point keeping the house at 70 when you’re in Florida where it’s 90.  Following advice, I set the temp at 50, enough to keep the plants from going into shock and more than enough to stop the water from freezing in the pipes.

I was in Florida one week and got a call from my neighbour.  House alarm was going off.  It seemed to be coming from the smoke detector which is hard wired into the house system.  Richard searched the house for anything that might be causing smoke and found nothing aside from an “odd smell”  in my office.  Side note here. My office is not only where I write, but where I have my stained glass workshop set up.  It used to be two bedrooms, but the builder left the dividing wall and closets out so I could have one rather large room.  Its well ventilated, with two large windows, and I suppose I don’t notice the lingering odor of burned wood, metal, flux, cutting oil etc that clings to everything.  But I assumed this was the source of the “odd odour” in the room so I wasn’t panicking.  Nothing was smoldering. I had shut off all the tools.  Richard found nothing burning, so he locked up again and returned home.

Shortly after, he gets a call from the neighbour across the street.  House alarms are going off again.  Richard runs down. Calls my son, who zooms over.  Now there three big guys searching my house looking for something, anything that could be setting off the alarms.  As a precaution they unplug everything.  I mean…everything.  Computers, clocks, lamps (lamp timers).  Jefferson notices the house is pretty damned cold so he turns the furnace up.  Half hour later, still no heat, so he fiddles with the furnace again, finally gets it going.  He brings a fireman buddy back the next day to check the house more thoroughly, but even he could find nothing smoldering, nothing giving off anything that could be triggering the alarm.  They even check the window wells to see if some creatures have burrowed in against the window for warmth and have somehow set off the contacts.

Middle of the night, the alarms go off again.  Richard is at work this time and my son is unavailable.  Richard’s wife is dispatched, with the other neighbour as backup, and together they prowl through the house with baseball bats.  Nothing.  Out of sheer frustration (see vent about timer above, so I am completely in sinc with this)  they shut down the breaker that controls the alarm system.  At least there will be peace in the ‘hood that night.

Meanwhile, I’ve been kept informed via phonecalls, but really, what can someone do from 2000 miles away?  So I’m retelling the tale at happy hour and one of the other Canucks asks what kind of alarm system I have at home.  I give him the name and he says Hah!  That system is wired to set off the alarm if the house temp drops below 55 degrees.

Quick phonecalls to the son and the neighbour to relay the message, telling them to up the house temp to at least 55.  Done. Breaker goes back on. They wait an hour, two;  they listen with bated breath.  Silence.  Victory!

They lock up, walk away…and the alarm goes off again.

I could do a small segue here and tell the tale of the ghost we had at our previous house.  Wasn’t my imagination, though in the beginning I was totally convinced I was going nuts.  And I wasn’t the only one on the street who had an uninvited visitor.  But when we left Ajax, we left Reggie in the house too. He didn’t come with us, despite being invited this time.  But he used to pull little pranks like that in the beginning.  There would be a knock on the door…I’d one there…go back to what I was doing…hear another knock…growl..check again…no one there…etc.  Once I stood there and waited and the little pecker knocked on the back sliding door.  Kids, you might think.  Nope.  Our back slider was on the second storey and there were no stairs, no access to the upper deck from the ground.  It was Reggie.

I digress only because that thought did occur to me.  Having gone through one ghostly prankster, it was  feasible Reggie might have changed his mind and come to find me.  And just how, would you suppose, was I to suggest that to some frustrated neighbours with baseball bats?  I wisely bit my tongue and just said sure, fine, of course it’s okay to shut the breaker off again.  It remained off and the house remained blissfully silent until I got home, at which time I noticed it was only 45 degrees in there and went to turn up the furnace and…if you’ve read my earlier blog, you’ll know the furnace was the culprit and it had to be ripped out and replaced with a new one that very same day.  It was barely 11 years old, which shouldn’t have been old in furnace years, but had already been serviced twice for fancy electronic do dads that…as the repair guy told me…were only built to last about five years.  Think you have a pilot light on your new furnace? Think again.  You have an igniter switch, life span: five years.  After that you’re at the mercy and whim of the furnace gods.

So. This leads up to  the present day when I thought I would take Richard and his wife out to dinner as a small way of thanking him for all the aggravation my house put him through.  We had a great meal at a local restaurant, laughed a lot, then decided to continue at home where we could imbibe with impunity and not worry about exceeding limits.  The bill came and the waiter was chuckling over a portent to come:  I’d had two Caesars with dinner, but one of them rang through as a Brain Hemorrhage.  The waiter had no explanation, couldn’t figure out why it rang through like that, didn’t even know what the drink was but it was the same price as the Caesar so…  I checked the bill, it’s fine, hand him my credit card…and he comes back with this mechanical gizmo covered in buttons with a tiny backlit screen with instructions on it for total, adding the tip etc.  He drops it on the table and says just call when you’re finished.  Richard’s wife and I both peer at this new creature but before we can even begin to figure out the buttons, the light goes out.  Screen goes blank.  Smack it.  Touch the screen. Bang a few buttons. Nothing.  The waiter is off at another table, so we wait.  He chuckles and taps a single key and hands it back.  The screen reads something entirely different from the last screen, but before I can point it out to him, he’s gone again and the screen has gone dark.  I start tapping buttons trying to find the magic one he tapped, but nothing.  By now the blood is warming.  I can feel it, like James Stewart’s scream in Harvey…starting in my toes and rising up into my calves…my legs…my waist….into my chest….  The waiter cruises by again and I fling the stupid thing at him and ask for a real check…the kind you run through the puter, get a paper copy, add the tip, sign the bottom and all is well with the world.  He shakes his head.  Nope, can’t do that.  This is the only way to pay a bill.


I ask for the manager but the waiter is adamant the manager can’t do anything more than he can, so he hands me the dufus again and again the friggin screen goes blank, so by then the blood is making the little veins on the side my neck throb.  The waiter…frightened now…reaches over gingerly, taps the right button, brings the screen up again, tells me just to hit OK, he’ll live without a tip.  I hit OK and it spews out a paper tab that I STILL HAVE TO SIGN, so what’s the farking point of the gizmo???????  Luckily I had enough cash for a tip, but sheesh….I’m reasonably sort of intelligent and can almost deal sort of calmly with the fact that every debit machine in every store is a different make and model and you need to relearn the process every time you check out.  But this…this finostigator was beyond my patience and I’m guessing it will be beyond the patience of a lot of older customers.  I love the food there, the service was great…but I won’t be going back.  The Brain Hemorrhage was just a bit too aptly named for my taste.



  1. Finostigator!! Ha! haven’t seen that word since the old Novel Advice forum days.

    Comment by Dan M. — May 17, 2011 @ 4:43 pm | Reply

    • Whatever happened to that site? It was a great place to chat and discuss writing. Do you keep in touch with anyone from the board?

      Comment by marshacanham — May 18, 2011 @ 6:11 am | Reply

      • That was a great place, wasn’t it? Jeanne Marie shut it down, but I don’t recall the actual reason. I think it may have been financial in nature. You’re the only one I’m still “in touch” with because you’re easier to keep track of. 😉

        Comment by Dan M. — May 18, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

      • That does suck, it was a great site with a good bunch of people. I’ve been out of touch with a lot of my old haunts since going into semi-retirement, then the divorce (ugly, ugly) and now trying to wade my way back into the writing community again. Ebooks are like a second life…for my books as well as my career . I hope LOL


        Comment by marshacanham — May 18, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

      • My favorite discussions were the ones where new forum members would try to tell you the best ways to get published, or try to correct you on some bit of writing advice.

        Comment by Dan M. — May 18, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

      • LOL They improved the blood flow too.


        Comment by marshacanham — May 18, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

  2. If I’d gotten a bill for a brain hemorrhage, I’d have taken it as a cosmic sign and run to the hospital emergency room!

    Comment by Phoebe Conn — May 17, 2011 @ 5:56 pm | Reply

    • LOL that’s why I’m not taking any chances on going back.

      Comment by marshacanham — May 18, 2011 @ 6:12 am | Reply

  3. A brain hemorrhage is peach schnapps, irish cream and a splash of grenadine. I’ve never had one but I’ve heard they are really good. they look really disgusting though.

    Comment by Jeana — May 19, 2011 @ 1:33 pm | Reply

  4. You know, I don’t think you ever told us what “finostigator” means. I never did find it anywhere online. Based on the word “instigate”, my guess would a finostigator brings an action to an end rather than initiating or instigating. I don’t remember if I proposed that answer back then or not.

    Comment by Dan M. — May 19, 2011 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

    • If I didn’t tell you then, what makes you think I would tell you now? hahahahahaha Some words just defy definition and finostigator is one of them *s*

      Comment by marshacanham — May 19, 2011 @ 5:22 pm | Reply

      • Ahh…in a world beset by war, chaos, rising prices and shrinking money, it’s nice to know some things remain unchanging.

        Comment by Dan M. — May 19, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

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