Monday, February 14, 2011

That's all

I have re-posted my archives that were lost when journalspace crashed in December 2008 and never refunded my money, you jerks and yes, I was paying for a blogging service how stupid was that? I recovered most of my old journalspace posts and now they are here, except for the political stuff, which 1. is no longer timely and 2. something I don't do any more because I get tired of arguing about those things.

If you have read through this entire blog and want to know what happens next (Reader, I married him! - oh wait - you knew that), then go here to my current blog.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The content of his character

posted 12/06/08

If this is what Milwaukee County has to say about being a juror

The most important qualities of a juror are fairness and impartiality. A juror must lay aside all bias and prejudice.

then why does SH have to complete a form giving his race? (Which is human, BTW. And like the defense and prosecution couldn't figure it out by looking at him when he gets there, if it's so important to the case?) It is illegal for him not to answer the question.

We had to answer the same question on our marriage license application. What? Is it illegal for persons of different races to marry each other in Wisconsin?

Marriage 101, Lecture 12: Life with an engineer, part 2

posted 12/05/08

SH [brandishing the claim form I have completed and printed]: Why did you put "18 Ave" instead of "18th Ave.?"

Me: Because.

SH: But it's not right! We live on 18th Avenue, not 18 Avenue.

Me: So what?

SH: But what if their OCR system matches on the string "18th" instead of "18?" What you write has to match what's already in the system, which is "18th."

Me: I think they can figure it out. It's probably not the only time this sort of thing has happened.

SH: But it's not right!

Oh yeah, I'll tell you something

posted 12/05/08

Dear ponytail kumbaya guy who was sitting one row ahead and across the aisle from me at church last week,

The reason I was in a pew all by myself was specifically because I did not want to hold hands during the Our Father. When you crossed the aisle to hold hands with the man standing in front of me, did I try to break in? Did I look sad that I had been left out? Did I do anything to indicate that oh if only I could be included in the hand holding that my religious experience would be complete? No I did not. I hold hands with my husband, my grandmother and my mother. That’s it. Strangers are not in my hand-holding lexicon.

So what about me compelled you to break your hold with the guy ahead of me, turn around and beckon me to join you? Was it my crossed arms? My stiff posture? My refusal to meet your eyes until I realized you were not going to go away until I said something, which I did, which was, “Thanks, but I’m good?”

I was almost tempted not to shake hands during the peace stuff and say something namby-pamby like, “Oh no. I have a cold and don’t want to make you sick,” but that would have been a lie and a lie in church is like three lies in real life, so I decided to stick to my non-hand-holding guns. Yes, you gave me a look of pity – that “I’ll pray for you because you are so unenlightened that you probably think the Marty Haugen music in “Gather” stinks and what’s worse you probably vote Republican look” – but honestly, I don’t think God spends a lot of time worrying about people who do not want to hold hands with complete strangers.

And neither should you.


Happy in my own little bubble at church

Peoples' Republic of Wauwatosa, #22

posted 12/04/08

Me [trying to cross street by junior high right after school lets out]: Please don't cross with me.

Crossing guard: I have to. It's my job.

Me: No, it's not. I'm 45 years old. I don't need a crossing guard.

CG: I have to.

Me: I am not a kindergartner. This is ridiculous. I'm just going to go the other way.

CG: It's not that embarrassing.

Me: It's pretty silly.

And then I jaywalked. Alone. Ha.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pizza are round? No, pizza are square. Cornbread are round.

posted 12/02/08

I always thought that saying was a little odd -- everyone knows that pizza is round. But I chalked it up to the same people who thought of the P&S problem of how many socks do you have to pull out of a drawer of blue socks and black socks to get a pair. You just grab the bunch of socks, right? I mean, doesn't everyone fold their socks? What is this sloppiness of putting unmatched socks into a drawer? Where were these people raised, in a barn?

Anyhow. Guess what? Pizza in Milwaukee are square. SH and I got pizza from a place that is supposed to be one of the best pizza places in town (the fact that Milwaukee was settled by Germans should have been our first clue) and not only was it not very good (a thick crust does not break when I bite into it, OK? "thick" means chewy and thick, not cracker-like and thin) but it was square, which ruined the entire pizza-eating experience. One is supposed to be able to pick up the piece of pizza by the outside crust and then eat out from the point to the outside. But not with square pizza, you're not going to eat like that.

I thought it was an isolated incident: that perhaps these unsophisticated Germans, who don't even know what chicken-fried steak is and who charge $3.00 a pound for collards (when they can be found), might have messed up the pizza at one restaurant. But then I saw the recipe for the Potato Rosemary Onion Pizza in the Sunday paper, a recipe written by some famous restaurant guy who has been to Europe, and he wants me to make a square pizza crust.*

Between this pizza debacle and the snow (yes, SH spent an hour shoveling snow yesterday with the shovel Lenore gave us as a housewarming present in July, which was funny then but makes me want to move to Texas now, and we still have ice in the driveway because snow on the roof melts during the day, runs down the gutter, pools in the driveway, which is sloped away from our house and away from our neighbor's house, which is probably some stupid code requirement, and freezes, making walking to the car a very delicate operation, especially for someone who has never lived in global-warming winter as an adult before), I have lots of proof should SH ever doubt my love for him. I coulda stayed in Memphis, where they know what's what with pizza and I never once had to shovel snow.

* Yes, I know that's how they make pizza in Rome, but in the US, we make pizza round. Dammit.

Marriage 101: Lecture 14, Getting Things Done

posted 12/02/08

Me: Are you listening to this show? [Home Improvement, Jill, "You don't want me to nag you, you don't want me to hire a handyman, and then you don't want to do the job. What am I supposed to do?"]

SH: Nope.

Me: She's talking about how Tim promises to do repairs and doesn't do them.

SH: I promise you I'll do things to be nice, but then I get busy.

Me: I don't want you to be nice. I just want you to do what you say you'll do.

SH: I do it if it's important.

Me: I think it's important.

SH: I don't think it's important to go through all the boxes in the corner of the basement.

Me: I do.

Kitchen tip #23

posted 12/02/08

After you have eaten all the Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch but before you have replaced the broken little plastic thingy that holds up the Shelf Formerly Used For Stepping On, you may eat of the candy corns you bought for a dime at Walgreen's a few days after Halloween and that you had hidden on the very bottom shelf of the pantry (aka The Shelf Underneath The Shelf Formerly Used For Stepping On).

Does anyone else hide food from herself? Or is it just me? Am I the only one forgetful enough to remember that I bought something if I stash it behind SH's lifetime supply of Ramen noodles?

Am I the only one who eats enough candy corns that she feels sick to her stomach and throws the rest of the bag away?

Am I the only one who, if she does not hide the food from herself, then dares not break the seal and open it (I'm talking to you, Hob Nobs from our trip to England two years ago and now in the freezer, and marzipan cookies from Spain that now reside in the chocolate drawer of the fridge) because once the item is opened, it's Katie Bar The Door and then it's to the trash with you, upset-stomach causing stuff?

Kitchen tip #22

posted 12/01/08

There are only so many times you can step on the penultimate shelf of the pantry to pull the Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut Biscotti Granola (SH's -- he has a far more sophisticated palate than I) off the top shelf so you can reach the Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch that you have hidden from yourself before the cheap little plastic thingy holding up the penultimate shelf, along with four boxes of macaroni, a bag of spinach noodles, a jar of orzo, a jar of some kind of wheat berry that is years old and would probably make some fine vegan dish, a box of sugar-free Fudge Chocolate pudding, half a box of vegan fudge chocolate frosting mix (on super sale and really good if you make it with butter) and two bins containing dried beans (mine) and broccoli-cheese casserole mix (SH's), breaks.

I have a stool. I am just too lazy to get it out of the closet and use it.

For my birthday, I want a vacuum cleaner*

posted 11/29/08

We’ve had this problem for a while: the lip on the kitchen sink prevents the dish tray from draining. Even though I have engineered a solution using the caps from two jars of Honey Roast Peanut Butter, which is finally back on the market, it doesn’t work. The drainer is designed to catch water in the sides rather than pushing it to the middle, which is so dumb that I can’t begin to think of how I would punish the person who created this. I mean, does anyone, besides mosquitoes, need pools of water accumulating below the drying dishes? Also, whose idea was it to have this big lip on the sink? What’s wrong with having a flush finish with the counter? What is wrong with these people?


Anyhow. I have been quite unhappy with this situation since we moved into the house and have been looking and looking for a dish drainer that would solve my problem. I knew the solution had to exist – I cannot be the only person in the world who washes dishes by hand. (Cue ominous music here.) Or can I?

So. As I was flipping through the Williams-Sonoma catalogue the other day and scoffing at the prices (doesn’t anyone do her own cooking any more? Is it that hard to make a Red Velvet Cake from scratch? Or even from a mix? Must one buy it for $65? For $65, I will come over to your house and make the cake. People. It’s. Not. That. Hard.), I saw this: a Simple Human dishrack. It was gorgeous – elegant and sleek and best of all, elevated and designed so that water would drain into the sink, even over a stupid lip.

And outrageously expensive.

$69.99, to be exact. Now you guys know I am all about spending money on the stuff you use every day. I’m frugal, but I understand value. That’s why I have the Engagement Trash Can (also a Simple Human product) rather than a diamond ring. A nice trash can (covered, with a foot pedal for opening, tall enough that I don’t hurt my back when I peel onions into it) makes my life a lot easier. Diamonds are nice, but save my back, please.

But $69.99 for a dish rack? It is to laugh, even if “The drip tray, utensil holder, and inner wire frame are all dishwasher safe.” (Is it just me or is there a certain irony in having a dishwasher-safe dishrack to hold your dishes that you washed by hand?)


I showed the page to SH, who decided that this dishrack was very, very cool and he immediately began googling in search of better prices to no avail. We sighed and decided that $69.99 was just Too Much To Spend, even though the product was Very Cool.

Then last night, we passed a Linens and Things, which, as you may have heard, is going out of business. Perhaps we could find the item there at a discount?

No. It was not. But there were two Oxo dishracks that met the criteria and were not only half the Simple Human price, but also 30% off.

Merry Christmas to me!

* Not really.

** We already have two.

*** I want a pony.

Bad movies # 47

posted 11/29/08

Me: That movie [Au Revoir Les Enfants] sucked.

SH: What did you expect? It was about Jews in World War II.

Me: It sucked.

SH: All you want are happy endings.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

How we met, part 2

posted 11/23/08

So when I left you, SH and I were necking on my couch. Then I took him back to the airport (this was the Monday after Thanksgiving) and three days later, he returned to Memphis. I had given up all pretense of working -- I mean, they'd eliminated my job and told me to go away, so why should I bust my butt to finish the projects I'd started? Just so my boss, the one who told me I should quit using those big words that nobody understood, wouldn't be left in a lurch?

Don't think so.

So I picked SH up from the airport on Thursday. I went to work sort of on Friday, but came home at lunch. I cooked SH a supper waffles and bacon, which he thought was strange because his philosophy on supper is that it should be a meal with which one can drink wine.

Whatever. Surely there is a wine that goes with waffles.

We had a great time that weekend. Unfortunately, I can't remember what else we did, although I do remember that SH tried to figure out a way to move from the guest room to mine. Then he decided he wanted to see me some more, so got me a ticket to Milwaukee two weeks hence.

Did I mention that Gomez, the millionaire with not one but two Jaguars (the car, not the cat) did not get my ticket to Paris? He didn't even offer.

SH is not a millionaire. But he has good manners. (And yes, he has more than made up for not paying for lunch on our first was it a date or not? date at The Cupboard, a restaurant we still miss.)

Let me say something else here. Millionaires (or men who claim to be millionaires) who have women throwing themselves at them tend not to be good kissers. Don't know why that is unless they feel like they don't need to work at it. Remember "Revenge of the Nerds?" And the nerd who was such a good kisser compared to the jock? Remember what he said? Well, it's true. Former nerds are the best kissers and that's all I'm going to say about that.

Anyhow, I went to Milwaukee and we went ice skating and SH made steak and grilled vegetables for me on his grill on the snow-covered patio and we went out for frozen custard and by then I knew for sure that Gomez "I drink a bottle of wine at lunch then change into my Frette pajamas for a four-hour nap every day even though we are in Paris and the woman I asked to meet me here wants to go to Chartres or Versailles or anywhere but my bank and the Ferrari dealership" was history.

Then SH asked me to go to a New Year's Eve party with him at our friends Pete and Julie in Pittsburgh and then spend ten days with him, which I didn't think I could do because ten days! What if I didn't like him ten days' worth?

Marriage 101, Lecture 45: Your free calling plan and your $42/month YMCA membership

posted 11/20/08

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it's lazy. But tell me you haven't called your husband on the cellphone rather than climb from the basement to the second floor.

Marriage 101, Lecture 33: Just the facts, ma'am, or Life with an engineer*

posted 11/20/08

Me: What would you do if you woke up and you'd gone back 25 years? You would be 18 again, back at college, but you would have the memories you have now?

SH (aka Joe Friday to The Bodacious Red-Headed Pediatrician): That's silly. That couldn't happen.

Me: I know. But what if it happened? What would you do differently?

SH: There's no point in talking about this! It's just make believe.

* I should add that life with an engineer also means that your stereo, TV, washer and dryer, motion-sensor lights, and clothesline get installed properly and the dishes -- when he does them -- are washed perfectly.

He doesn't appreciate great literature

posted 11/18/08

Me: I was really worried about getting a ticket this afternoon [when I went to the tech school to get a $12 pedicure].

SH: Did you get one?

Me: Let me tell you the story. So I couldn’t find parking and finally did, but it was blocks from the school. I used all my coins and got an hour and a half on the meter, then used my last dime for the guy next to me who had run out. I thought 90 minutes would be enough.

SH: Did you get a ticket?

Me: Let me tell you the story! So I finally found the place – they had changed rooms from what they said on the website. The girl who gave me the pedicure was really sweet but she took a long time because you know they have to do everything on the list and she kept checking her list. I finally told her that I needed to leave by 3:00 so I wouldn’t run out the meter, so she started to hurry. Then she said that she might not be able to do the massage and I said OK because I don’t like that part anyhow. I had brought my flip flops because I was going to wear them back to the car, but it was so cold there by the lake and then it started snowing, so then I thought I would just sit there and read my book for a while so my toes could dry, but by the time she finished, I really had to go, so I put on the flip flops anyhow and ran back to the car.

SH: Did you get a ticket?

Me: No! I got back with four minutes to spare! And the parking guy was right there! Can you believe it?

SH: You made me go through all of that just to find out you didn’t get a ticket?

Me: Well, it's not a story if I say, "I was worried I would get a ticket, but then I didn't." That's just dull.

Top secret

posted 11/16/08

For some insane reason, I volunteered to set up the membership database for my neighborhood association. What this means is that I entered 263 records into excel, a record consisting of the member name, phone, address, email, and interest in volunteering at three different levels of 25 activities. (For those of you who know anything about spreadsheets and databases, this means 75 columns just for the activities. All’s I can say is thank goodness for What Not to Wear, Rachel Ray and SuperNanny – good background for doing data entry.)

Back to the email address: lots and lots of couples with shared email addresses, as in bobandsandy@yahoo or cindylovessteve@aol.

Have they learned nothing from me? Do they not know that couples should not share an email address because fighting for custody of the address when they divorce is worse than fighting for the dog? Yes. I implied it. Sharing an email address leads to divorce. I know at least two couples who had shared email addresses who have divorced and if that's not proof I don't know what is. Couples should be able to have secrets from each other.

But CF! you are saying in shock. Once you are married, you should share everything! You should pee with the bathroom door open! You should fart in front of each other! That’s the beauty of marriage! A complete partnership!

No, I say, no, no, no.

Boundaries are the key to any good relationship. Parents shouldn’t share everything with their children (“I've always thought your sister was a big loser” is not something my mother should say to me, not that she would of course because she doesn't think that, but if she did think that, it would be NONE OF MY BUSINESS) and spouses shouldn’t share everything with each other. If my friend tells me she has lost $23,000 playing the slots and asks me not to tell anyone because she is so ashamed or she says she is interviewing for a different job but don’t tell anyone because she doesn’t want it to get back to her boss and I say but what about SH and she says please don’t tell him either then there is no harm in keeping that secret.

The exception, of course, is if my friend says You know I’ve always thought SH was a big jerk and how can you stand him. In that case, the proper answer is He’s not a big jerk and I will thank you not to talk about my husband that way and goodbye. If SH asks why I no longer talk to that friend, then I tell him what she said. If someone wants me to take sides with her against my husband, my husband wins.

Other than that, your secret is safe with me.

Marriage 101, lecture 7: Men and tools

posted 11/14/08

A package arrived for SH the other day while he was in Dallas. I emailed him to tell him it had arrived.

Me: Hi baby. You got a package from

SH: The package is a hammer, of all things. It has some kind of fancy vibration-reducing technology, and it was just a bit over $10. Open it if you want to.

Me [trying to think of how to phrase my response given that SH has hammered exactly five times since we met): Ummm. You know I already have a hammer, right?

Our conversation when he got home:

Me: You know I already have a hammer.

SH: But this one is cool! And someday, we might be doing a lot of hammering.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Let them eat salad

posted 11/10/08

Y’all, I am trying really hard not to mock this, because really, what’s it to me what someone else eats or doesn’t eat? Who cares if someone wants to be a vegan and shun honey, butter and eggs? It’s just more for the rest of us, right? I have many vegetarian friends and they are just fine with me because I don’t have to feed them steak or the good bacon. The less of the good stuff that I have to share, the better. I am more than happy to make an omelet for a vegetarian while SH grills two fabulous steaks for us. Eggs are way less expensive than meat.

But I have to say that this notice on the library bulletin board promoting a “Vegan Thanksgiving Feast” made me laugh. Never having seen the words “vegan” and “feast” used that closely together, I was compelled to do some research. Bless their sincere hearts (and I mean that), they have only plant-based foods at this event (“The Feast consists of a buffet offering a sliced turkey substitute, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and chili”), having made the transition from vegetarian to vegan recently:

The last few years this event was on as a vegetarian event, this problem had been made less difficult by the introduction of color-coded clothes pins. All dishes containing dairy, eggs or honey would get their own color clothes pin. Green would be used for raw dishes. And three years ago, I couldn't have been happier when they made this event an all-vegan event. The only clothes pins that are left from the old system are the green ones.

I can make a good vegetarian meal. Ask Harpo, Bruce or Leigh. I rock with the Spanish tortilla, the fried-egg and buttered bread crumbs pasta, and the macaroni and cheese. The dilemma, of course, is how you get a decent meal without dairy (ie, butter, lard, cheese or cream), eggs or honey. OK, the honey I can do without, but how do you get good mashed potatoes or gravy without animal products? What kind of gravy can you make without either meat broth or milk? How do you make a good brownie without butter or eggs? Or pumpkin pie? Sweet potato casserole? Corn casserole? It’s just not possible. Maybe that’s why there are no fat people in the photos: no one wants to eat more than the bare minimum to sustain life.

Perhaps it’s this lousy diet that makes vegans cranky enough to want to ban hunting for other people (can’t the hunters’ motto be, “Against hunting? Then don’t shoot”) and change Wisconsin’s slogan (although perhaps the slogan should be “We have lost all notion of self reliance and want the government to take care of us and to tell us what we are allowed to put into our bodies,” given Wisconsin’s vote in the recent election and the climate in Madison re smoking in private property like bars):

We're not able to stop the hunting just yet or make our state slogan something else than America's Dairyland

Fortunately, given their diet, they will never have the strength to fight us egg and cheese eaters. Celery just doesn’t give you that much fuel.

It's better not to look

posted 11/09/08

My friend Luke, the beloved of the wonderful SFGirl with whom I get pedicures, has generously offered some at-home web work to me. I am delighted at the opportunity to make some money (so many things on the wish list, most of which will have to wait until After Alimony, including replacing the AWFUL Kenmore, yes that is the Sears brand, electric smoothtop stove that sucks) without even getting out of my pajamas but am dismayed at what the take-home loot turns out to be after Uncle Sam has taken his bite. (I was going to say “share,” but that implies he has a right to my money, which he does to cover infrastructure, education and defense but not so that Congress can get out of Social Security and give themselves a better plan or so Obama can take some of my “wealth” and “spread [it] around” – can’t people get their own jobs and create their own wealth? Why do they have to have mine?)

Anyhow. Luke has offered me at-home, in PJs, in front of Paula Deen’s Home Cooking and What Not To Wear work for $20 an hour. What’s not to like?

It’s lovely. It’s delightful. It’s more than I would get for doing nothing.

And then I did the tax calculations.

When you are an independent contractor, you pay all your social security. Instead of a 7.5% cut from your paycheck, take out 15.3%. Then, if you are married (and I would be delighted to be wrong on this one, so anyone who knows more about this than I please jump in), your earnings go on top of your spouse’s for income tax purposes, so take out another 30% or so.

Then, if you want to work through an online freelance service (like and be available for other employers, you pay a fee of 8.75%.

Add all this up and you’re at 54% more or less going to other people, which puts the take-home pay at under $10/hour, which is still more than I’m making watching What Not To Wear without work but sheesh! I’m still going to do it, but I’m also giving serious consideration to cleaning houses for cash.

German money

posted 11/09/08

SH: Look at this pull chain at Menard's. It's only a dollar. I can put it in the tool room.

Me: I was just going to tie a piece of string to the chain that's there.

SH: But it's only a dollar. That's only one-quarter of a beer.

Very Rainman

posted 11/08/08

SH decides that he needs to replace FM 99.1 (preset 3) with FM 93.3 on the car stereo presets. He resests 95.7 from preset 2 to preset 3, 94.5 from preset 1 to preset 2, and sets preset 1 to 93.3.

Me: Why couldn't you just replace 99.1 with 93.3?

SH: They have to be in order.

In the pink

posted 11/07/08

Henry: SH, you can't wear a pink shirt. Pink is for girls.

Thank you, China

posted 11/07/08

Warning on the battery inside my Radio Your Way, SH's Christmas present to me last year that I love, love, love and that died inexplicably and I can't get it replaced or repaired because the company is out of business after those jerks at Apple sued them for patent infringement which is a bunch of crap because no Apple product gets AM radio and lets you record radio programs as far as I know:

Don't put the battery into fire and heat it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tangled up in blue part 2

posted 11/07/08

Henry and I were looking at some photos and came across one of a man wearing a blue shirt riding a camel.

Me: Henry, who is that?

Henry: I think it’s SH.

Me: I don’t think it is. I don’t think SH has ever been on a camel.

Henry: No, I think that’s SH.

Me: I don’t think SH has been to Morocco without me and I never rode a camel here.

Henry: I think that’s SH. Does SH have a blue shirt?

For you, I make good price. For everyone else, I make bad price.

posted 11/05/08

Buying a rug 2005

Megan: Don't buy a rug in Fez. They are much less expensive in Rabat.

Us: OK.

[In Fez]

Guide: Let me show you this rug shop.

SH, Me: No, we are not interested in buying a rug. Oh, that's a nice one. But no.

Rug salesman: For you, I make good price.

Us: How much does a rug like this cost?

RS: Would you like some tea?

Us: No. What does the rug cost? We don't want a rug.

RS: Look at this one. [Snaps his fingers as assistants unroll rug after rug.]

[One hour later)

Me: How much would this one cost?

RS: Five thousand dollars.

Us: One cannot pay that price. Goodbye.

S: Please. Give to me a price.

Us: No, one's price would be to insult.

RS: Please. Just tell me. I give you a number, now you give me a number.

Us: OK. One thousand dollars. [We are so clever, giving such a lowball price!]

[One more hour later]

RS: I must sell a rug. Look, today I get the bill from my son´s school. [Shows us a fax from Penn. Penn!]

Us: One cannot pay more than 1000 for the rug. Goodbye. [We start to walk out.]

RS: OK, OK. Twelve hundred dollars. That is my best offer.

[By now we love the rug and have committed two hours to negotiating about it. OK, maybe 40 minutes, but it felt like two hours.]

Us: OK.

[Back in Rabat at the artesanal workshop, where all the products have price tags.]

Me: Look! That´s like the rug we got.

SH: Stop. Don't come any closer.

Me: Why not?

SH: You really, really do not want to see the price tag. Just trust me on this.

Buying a rug 2008

Megan: Let me take you to the good rug guys here in Rabat.

Us: OK.

Megan: This is my friend Liz. She was a Peace Corps volunteer here and she worked with the rug guys.

Us: Cool. Now we shop.

[We find the only -- the only -- rug in the Rabat medina that is the design we like that has the apparently non-standard measurements we need for our dining room. We even find an internet cafe to check the tax records for the dimensions of the room to make sure we calculated properly. The seller does not know he has the only rug with the proper dimensions. We are not going to tell him.]

Us: How much for this beautiful rug that we looked at 30 minutes ago and now have come to see again? [We are so shrewd.]

Seller: 5,500 dirhams. But for you, I make good price.

Us: Hmm. [Remembering Liz's advice, we scratch the underside of the rug to check the tightness of the knots -- as if we know what we are doing -- and begin to point out the flaws.]

Seller: For you, 5000 dh. [About 550 dollars]

Us: One does not know. It must to think.

Seller: Is not much for you.

Us: Yes, is much for us! It must to think about to spend so much money.

Seller: Hmmm.

Us: Hmmm.

Seller: You like?

Us: Is very pretty. One might like it.

Seller: Hmm.

Us: Excuse me. [I call Liz.] Liz, how much should we pay for this rug? [I answer her questions about the pattern and size.]

Liz: Offer him 3000 dh. Don't pay more than 4000 dh.

Us: One would pay 3000 for this.

Seller: No! This is all made at hand. This is an item authentic. It has a value far more than 3000 dh. It is not possible to sell this rug for only 3000. Look at the work! Look at the materials! This is wool from sheep! This is Berber!

Us: Hmmm.

Seller: No, no, no. It is not possible.

Us: Hmmm.

Seller: I make you the price final. Below this, it is impossible to go. Four thousand. Price final.

Us: OK.

Tonight we dance in Havana

posted 11/03/08

The plan for tonight: Take a salsa class at Havana Club.

Last night, walking near our hotel, we hear music. That sounds Cuban, I say. Then I see the sign: Havana Club. Explains it all. I have been trying to get SH to take salsa lessons with me for a long time. Now’s my chance: no football game on, no business travel, no karaoke.

We walk into the club. The music is great. I try to teach SH the basic steps, but I am a very bad dance teacher. He is accommodating, but it’s not as much fun dancing when neither party knows what’s going on. We leave. I have a conversation with the bouncer that sounds like this:

Me: Are there classes how to dance here?

Bouncer: Yes, tomorrow night there are.

Me: How much are they worth?

Bouncer: Six euros.

Me: Is it that the teacher speak English? My husband says that he cannot learn to dance in Spanish.

Bouncer: It is not necessary to speak Spanish for to dance!

Me: I am of accord.

Bouncer: The teacher of to dance is here. You could talk to him. He is the young man without hair.

Me: You mean Little Baldy?

Bouncer: Yes.

Me: I lived in Chile for two years. I know of the custom of naming people Baldy, Fatty, Blackie, Beer-belly.

Bouncer: That it is.

We go inside and find Baldy.

Me: Do you speak English? My husband has worry that he cannot learn how to dance in Spanish.

Teacher: Is not necessary to speak Spanish for to learn to dance! I have taught to many foreigners how to dance.

Maybe they're from California

posted 11/03/08

Scene: Market in Rabat

Persons: Two American guys in their early 20s.

Dialogue upon seeing the items shown above: Are those for cigarettes?

Why is there air?

posted 11/03/08

The questions I ask SH:

Would you like some breakfast?

Do you want to watch this movie with me?

Are you ready to leave for church?

Do you have any other dirty clothes for me to wash?

The questions SH asks me:

Why don't you like that song?

Why don't you want Obama to be elected?

Why must you go to bed so early?

Why don't you like tendon and tripe?

Morocco 6

posted 11/03/08

The plan:

Megan, her friend Kelly, SH and I would go to the market while Steve watched the kids. We would return by 1:20 so Steve could drive us the 70 miles to the airport in Casablanca.

The execution:

11:30 We set out for the market. The car is making funny sounds. It’s choking, Megan says. The car sputters and dies. SH suggests that maybe something is wet. (Did I mention that it is pouring down rain in Rabat and the streets are flooded? This is not a city designed for water.) The car tries to start but it won’t catch. SH suggests that it might be the fuel pump, in which case not only are we not going to the market, but Megan and Steve face a major repair on a car that they need only until June and SH and I no longer have transportation to the airport.

11:40 Megan calls Steve and Kelly’s husband. Kelly’s husband can’t take us to the airport because their only car is a government car and there are strict rules on the use. Steve tells Megan to leave the car where it is and he’ll get a mechanic out there tomorrow. Kelly knows a taxi service that will actually pick up at the house. (As opposed to walking four blocks to a major street to flag one down. In the pouring rain.)

11:45 SH suggests pushing the car back to the house as it is only one block. We do so. In the pouring rain. Kelly calls the taxi service and tells them to be at the house at 12:15 to take SH and me to the train station for the 1:05 train to the aiport.

12:15 No taxi.

12:18 SH walks to the major road to summon a taxi. In the pouring rain.

12:23 SH returns with a taxi. He buys 200 dirhams from Megan (we had already spent all our Moroccan cash and the train doesn’t take credit cards). We load up, say our goodbyes, and leave.

12:25 The taxi driver asks us about Obama. Sheesh.

12:40 We arrive at the train station. There are two trains to Casa Ain Sabaa, the station where we change to the airport train. One leaves at 12:50, one at 1:05. Both arrive at the airport at the same time. We choose the 1:05 option as it is the one that actually lists the airport as a destination.

12:59 The disembodied voice of some woman tells us in Arabic and in French that the 12:50 train is delayed 20 minutes.

1:05 Our train does not arrive.

1:10 Our train does not arrive, but the 12:50 train does. Should we get on it instead? We have 47 seconds to make a decision and cross to the other platform. We decide No, Let’s stay where we are because they have not announced a delay for our train, have they, so it must be pretty much on time.

1:20 Where is our train? I demand of the train guy at the station door. He shrugs. Surely, this is not a situation that could have been anticipated and announced.

1:23 Our train is delayed 30 minutes. Our backup plan, now that we have spent $20 on train tickets, is to take a taxi all the way to the airport, which would set us back only $60.

1:37 Our train arrives. We ask the conductor how frequently the connecting train to the airport runs from Ain Sabaa. He doesn’t know. SH and I continue to stress. Can we take a taxi from Ain Sabaa to the airport? How much would it cost? Our flight is at 5:00. What if we don’t get there until 4:00? Things do take longer in foreign airports. Yes, they do.

2:25 We arrive in Ain Sabaa. The conductor taps my shoulder as we disembark. There is the airport train, he says as he points to the other platform. The train, she is waiting! We run. I ask the French couple sitting next to us how long one has attended the train and they tell me they are arrived after 20 minutes of to wait. Even if we had taken the “12:50” train, we would have been on the same connection. We feel better.

3:00 We arrive at the airport. Madness upon disembarkation. Everyone (100?) converges on one door to the airport – a door where they have one security guard screening passengers. One attends. And attends. As we inch closer to the door, a guy walks to the front of the line. No one says anything. He leaves his bag and returns with his girlfriend. Still nobody says anything. The girlfriend leaves and returns with her friend. I am getting annoyed and mutter things about linecutters. I glare at girl #2. She looks back at me, puzzled. I say It must to wait su torno back there. (Yes, my brain thinks there are two languages: English and all others. If I can’t think of how to say it in French, I throw in some Spanish.) She shrugs. I persist: You are not the next one. Him, then him, then us. You must attend there (pointing to the back). She rolls her eyes and turns around. The guy in front of me – one of the cut upon – says Is not a problem. Is only one, two minute. I am flabbergasted that he thinks line cutting is OK. I sulk.

3:15 We arrive at the check-in counter. Not really a line, just random pushing. We get to the front and are told we are in the wrong terminal.

3:30 We arrive at the proper terminal and find our counter. Three guys cut in line from the right, but as I was only halfway paying attention and am not positive, I say nothing. Our flight is delayed an hour anyhow, so what else are we going to do but stand in line?

3:32 The line is not moving because the computer is broken. A guy tries to take the computer from the next counter, which is not being used, and move it to ours. Funnily, that does not work, which is when it occurs to him to move the people to a working counter instead.

3:37 We are at a working counter. An entire family cuts in front of us. I protest and the woman bitches at me in French. How dare I? Unbeknownst to her, she drops the key after locking her suitcase. SH notices and asks me if he should tell her. Absolutely not, I say.

3:47 We get to the counter. The rude woman returns with a question. Then her husband returns. We finally get the agent's attention. I ask him what one says when one is attending and another puts himself in front of one. Je suis avant vous, he tells me, and makes me practice it five times.

4:10 We are in passport control in the regular people line. A woman goes to the business class line where there is nobody waiting. The passport guy looks at her ticket and tells her to get into the regular line. I feel like cheering.

6:30 We actually leave, over an hour past scheduled departure.

9:00 We arrive in Madrid and go straight for the churros y chocolate shop.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Render to Caesar

posted 10/31/08

Overheard: Yes, we absolutely believe in tithing. We'll tithe when we get back to the States. Of course, we'll both be unemployed so it will be really easy.

Morocco 5

posted 10/31/08

Lest I give the impression that everyone in Morocco is a jerk, let me tell you about the people who have been nice to us:

1. The four ladies at the bread cart who wouldn't let the vendor get away with cheating SH out of his change. SH had asked the price for a loaf of bread and via a translator -- the vendor spoke Arabic and SH was asking in French -- was told that it cost one dirham, about a dime. The translator left, SH took the bread, and paid with a five dirham piece. The vendor pocketed the money and ignored SH. SH said, in French, that it must be done to return to one the four dirhams. The vendor still ignored him. SH persisted. Yes, it was only forty cents, but honestly, after a while you get tired of being cheated and this was particularly egregious. That was when the other customers began to berate the vendor, insisting that he give SH the change, which he finally begrudgingly did, although he gave us only 30 dirhams instead of 40. SH has decided that he has a margin of error of one dirham.

2. Several taxi drivers. Our taxi driver to the Marjane Hypermarche yesterday picked us up when he already had another passenger. He dropped her off, then took us to the store and charged us only from the dropoff point to the store, not the entire fare. Our driver in Marrakesh was nice and wanted to know if we had voted yet. Anyone who brings up politics here is in favor of Obama. Not wanting to get into a political discussion in a foreign country in a language I do not command well, I avoid asking on what specific issues they agree with Obama as opposed to McCain. I am, however, impressed at the level of familiarity the Moroccans have with US politics.

3. The cook at the hotel in Marrakesh, who gave us a bunch of fresh out of the oven Moroccan bread instead of the French bread that wasn't so good.

4. The guy in the produce pricing line with me yesterday at the Marjane. You get your produce and wait in line for it to be weighed and priced before you go to the checkout. I had only two bags of veg (for grilling last night with Steve and Megan) but got in line anyhow even though some people had an entire cart full of stuff because one must wait one's turn. This lady with two bags of apples went to the front of the line and asked the customer who was having her entire cart of produce priced if she could cut in. The other customer let her. I muttered something to the guy in front of me that all the world have only a little but it must to wait like all the peoples. He said something to the lady that I gather was along the lines of Madame, it must be done that one waits in line for one's turn. She snapped at him that One had consulted the madame here and madame had said one could make the cut. He replied that The madame there did not to speak for all the world in the line. Madame grabbed her priced apples and began to yell at the guy, saying You have some nerve buddy telling one what to do and one would to say that you are a big jerk. I was thrilled to see someone speak up about line cutting because as far as I'm concerned, respecting the line is one of the first signs of civilization.

Morocco 4, Random

posted 10/29/08

Things I have lost in the past four days:

1. My hat, as we got off the local bus from Safi to Essaouira. This would be the bus that allegedly leaves Safi at 3:30 but doesn't really leave until 4:05 because the bus was not full at 3:30. We killed the time from scheduled to actual departure with various salespeople and beggars who walked the aisle of the bus seeking cash. I don't know what one guy was selling, but he got very indignant when I took a photo of him doing it and gave me the Latin American finger wave and glared at SH, wondering why he wasn't keeping his woman in line.

2. My earplugs, at the hotel in Ouilidia, where we went with Steve, Megan, Henry and Norah. These kids are adorable and a ton of fun. Henry talks a mile a minute, covering a range of subjects, "Watch me climb this. Watch me. Watch now! Do you know that girls can't climb like this? Guess what my teacher said yesterday. I have her phone number. Should we call my teacher? These shoes are for playing, but they are also for soccer and hockey. I like dinousaurs."

3. My hair tie, of which I have dozens at home but only one on this trip. How dumb was that?

Things vendors have said to me:

1. "Where you from? United States? Chicago? Obama! Yes we can!"

2. At the food market in Marrakesh: "It's brains, it's tongues, it's sheeps head. Very nice."

3. Our shoeshine guy: "I smoke hash." Me: "Pardon?" SG: "I smoke hash." Me: "Um. OK."

4. When we ignored a guy trying to get us to eat at his food stand (we have learned you can't even engage -- you just have to ignore them -- there is a reason that 94% of tourists to Marrakesh surveyed said they would never return): "Shit." When I turned to look at him, he glared at me and said, "F--- you." Sore loser, that guy.

Morocco 3, Let the buyer beware

posted 10/29/08

So you guys remember how mad I was that we hadn't paid attention and paid the right price for our fish lunch, right? That evening, we paid too much for spices. The next morning, the guy at the internet cafe wanted to overcharge us. Sure, it was only a dollar, but by then, we were getting a little tired of the gringo target on our backs and the socialized pricing, especially with the internet thing because they had prices posted and I had kept very close track of the time.

They told us 20 dirhams for the computer time when it should have been 10. The guy insisted that SH had spent an hour and five minutes on the computer, which would have thrown him from the ten dirhams for an hour into the 15 dh for an hour and a half. I had worked 55 minutes, with ten minutes lost because my computer crashed and then the guy couldn't get the new one to switch to the English keyboard. (These are in French, which is not easy to work in.)

I was loaded for bear. I was mad as heck and I was not going to take it anymore. Very politely but very firmly, I insisted that we owed them only ten dirhams. They rolled their eyes -- good grief, a woman telling us what to do, but I persisted. Again, politely but firmly. Very firmly. Until the guy gave us ten dirhams back.

Flush with victory, SH and I strolled to the fish market. We found the sign with the prices and a phone number for consumer complaints. I wrote down the phone number and the prices, then went to the stand where we had eaten. My lovely French sounded something like this: "Yesterday, one eats here." I showed the list to the guy -- "one eats seven sardines, four langostines, and of calamari. One drinks one coke. One has of the bread. One has of the salad. One takes not of the water. The price it should to be 100."

The guy insisted that as we had ordered off the menu, the list prices did not apply.

I persisted. "The sign there it say that the price she is fix. That is the price one should to pay."

No, no, no. A new guy comes over. "It must be done that one pays the price fix."

The manager surrendered. Fine, madame. You eat here today whatever you want and there is no charge.

I love the smell of victory in the afternoon.

Morocco 2, Paying the dumb tax

posted 10/28/08

One of the worst feelings a traveler can have is figuring out that you paid too much. I am talking about the tourist tax, of course -- the extra a foreigner pays because he 1) doesn't know how to bargain, 2) doesn't want to bargain because hello it is considered rude in our culture, 3) doesn't know what he should be paying and 4) doesn't speak the language so can't bargain even if he wants to.

We paid 300 dirhams, or about $35 for lunch yesterday. That doesn't sound like a lot (well, I think it's a lot, but I'm a real cheapskate), but consider we got two first-class train tickets for a 70-mile trip for $20 and that you can get a big schwarma (like a gyro) with lots of meat for $3. It was the place in Essaouira where you pick your own fish and they cook it for you right there. We had even looked at the sign in front of the fish stands explaining that the prices were fixed and here's what you should pay per kilo of product, but once we had committed to a fish stand (there are about a dozen) and picked our fish, it didn't occur to us to ask the weight of the sardines, langostine and calamari we had chosen and do the math ourselves. It wasn't until after we left and saw the sign again that we realized that we had paid way too much -- that our lunch should have cost about $6.

When I was in South America, I became a master of bargaining, telling taxi drivers that I was foreign, not stupid, and that I wasn't going to pay the gringo price. Here, I am 13 years out of practice, I don't speak French well, and I am dealing with Moroccan traders, who are master negotiators. This white chick from the Midwest doesn't stand a chance against thousands of years of camel traders.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Espain 4

posted 10/24/08

As SH and I climbed the 152 steps to the top of the Alcazar in Segovia yesterday (those stairs are to normal stairs as football time is to real time), we passed two older women who spoke to us in English, both much relieved to find someone with whom they shared a language. They told us with a bit of indignation that almost no one, no one! spoke English in Segovia can you imagine what is wrong with these people all they speak is Spanish!

I wanted to ask if they speak Spanish or French or Italian for the visitors they get in Germany or whatever glutteral-language country whence they came, but decided to practice being tactful which is hard enough when I'm rested but when I'm on day 3 of jet lag/late nights/noisy hotel is not easy.

I did want to tell them that I wished my own country were just a bit more chauvinistic about its language and proud to say, "Here we speak English. Other languages are fine, but we are not going to spend public money on translating documents and interpreting doctor visits or court appearances for you." Oh well. SH and I are trying to have a politics-free vacation.

I did think of the women just a little bit when SH and were at supper Wednesday night. This was supposed to be our Nice Supper for the trip. We had done the research and found The Restaurant where to eat roasted baby pig, a Segovia specialty. Most of the restaurants in the area had English translations on the menu (hello! no tax money involved!) and also had a prix fixe meal of the piglet.

The restaurant we chose (I'm talking to you, Jose Maria) had a menu only in Spanish, which is OK because we were in Spain, but when I asked the waiter clarifying questions, like, "Does the piglet come with a side dish?" which is a reasonable question for something that costs 21 euros by itself (do the math yourself with the exchange rate, which is not great, although better than it was) and when I ask further clarifying questions like, "OK, so are there side dishes available?" because I don't see anything on the menu but meat appetizers and steak and a couple of salads with Serrano ham, I wanted something better than the almost eye-rolling, deep sighing, toe-tapping, don't mess with me Missy attitude we got from the waiter.

I don't miss the obsequious Hi my name is Bob I'll be your waiter action from the US, but the practice of tipping waiters as opposed to paying them a salary as is done here does keep waiters from being too snotty to customers. If I'm polite and trying to speak your language, even if I am way out of practice, I expect just a little niceness.

Morocco 1

posted 10/24/08

SH: So what's the tipping situation here?

Steve: Ten percent, but really, you don't have to tip. You just give them a little bit so they know you're not French.

Espain 3

posted 10/23/08

SH and I left Milwaukee on Monday. He is burning FF miles, so got business class tickets from O'Hare to Madrid. Let me tell youse something, business class is the way to go, unless you can fly first class. I would have to have a lot of money before I would ever pay for either of those, but I'll sure take it for free.

We stopped over in Frankfurt for two hours and got to use the Lufthansa lounge, where they had a huge spread for breakfast. I kept walking past the buffet and casually snagging those little packs of Nutella. I think I have a dozen now. They also had pretzels, rolls, yogurt with garlic and dill (no cucumber or it would have been tzatziki), regular yogurt, sausage, those Japanese rice crackers, coffee and beer. I sampled a little bit of everything except the beer, but hey, we live in Milwaukee and it's not like I can't get it there.

We arrived in Madrid early afternoon and decided to brave the Metro to get to our hotel, even though it was a nightmare last time we took it -- very crowded and lots and lots of stairs. But there is a bus to the center of town and from there we could take the Metro only a few stops to the Plaza del Sol, our destination. At the bus/Metro interchange, I asked a lady where to find the Metro and if it was safe because I had heard there were Roving Gangs of Youths with Knives. Only instead of asking if it was safe, I apparently asked if she was sure ("esta seguro?" vs "es seguro," for those who habla espanol) and she was a little bit insulted that I questioned her knowledge.

We arrived unmolested but exhausted because we have three suitcases, SH's computer bag and a small backpack. We had to pack for two climates and we are hauling goodies for our wonderful hosts in Morocco. SH was the star, carrying two of the suitcases and his computer bag up and down the Metro stairs (we had to change trains once). Spain is not current with ADA compliance. I carried just the one suitcase and the backpack, but I was doing it in high heels. Note to self: never, never again wear the black boots on a trip, even if they are the best option to go with the new red dress from Talbot's. (Yes! I paid retail! Do you know how hard it is to find a red knit wrap dress used? Well, it's very hard.)

We made a beeline for the churro place after unloading our stuff. Got ham. Got cheese. Got bread. Ate. Went to bed. Got up and tried to find coffee. Asked Adoracion where to find mocha and she told us Starbucks. I won't apologize for Starbucks. I won't apologize for McDonald's. I won't apologize for our politics. But I will apologize for something I saw promoted all over the Metro: High School Musical 3. Sorry, Spain. Many Americans find it annoying, too.

More later. SH has just repacked everything (he is amazing) so we can leave a suitcase here when we go to Morocco tomorrow and wants to do his email. When I have more time, I'll tell you what happens when you don't use an elbow joint in your sewer/bathroom plumbing, even in a one-star hotel with TV and alleged internet. ("Yes, we have internet on every floor. But you know, a lot of people just like to work in the lobby." You think? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you DON'T have internet in every room.) Hasta luego.

Spain 2

posted 10/23/08

At the bus stop near the Plaza Mayor in Madrid:

Me: Would it molest you handsome gentlemen if I took a photo?

Guys: No! Of course not! Where are you from?

Me: The United States. This is my husband. We are on our honeymoon.

Lady: You need to take care of him.

Me: I do. I clean the house. I do the laundry. I cook supper.

Lady: No, you need to make love a lot.

In the bar in Segovia where we stopped for a cup of coffee and ended up getting tortilla, roasted peppers and potatoes, a ham sandwich and a fried sardine sandwich:

Me: Senora, a consultation please?

Lady in bar: Yes, of course.

Me: Does one tip in a bar like this?

Lady: Only if you want to. With us, we are here every day for our little coffee, but for you, it is not necessary. You will not be thought less of if you do not tip.

Me: We’re not from here and we don’t know.

Lady: We noticed that. We were saying that we noticed you were not from here.

Me: My husband wants to know why my tortilla doesn’t taste like the one here.

Lady: Their tortilla is delicious, isn’t it?

Me: It’s wonderful. I told him it’s because you’re supposed to use a lot of olive oil and I don’t because I don’t want to get fat.

Lady: Please don’t take any offense, but we were just saying that your figure is like mine: small on top and bigger on the bottom. But it looks good on you.

Me: Yes, my husband prefers the butt to the bosom, so it’s OK.

Me: We want to visit the cathedral, but we’d rather do something like this.

Lady: Oh absolutely. Cathedrals are nice, but having a beer or a wine is worth the pain.

Marriage 101, lecture 3: Packing for a trip

posted 10/19/08

SH: Will we be able to do laundry on the trip?

Me: Probably when we get to Megan and Steve's.

SH: So do I need ten pair of underwear?

Me: No. You can always wash underwear in the sink.

SH: Is that what you're going to do?

Me: Yes.

SH: So I can pack less underwear.

Me: If you're going to wash it in the sink, yes.

SH: You mean you won't wash my underwear for me?

Me: Why can't you do it yourself?

SH: Because I'm a guy and we don't wash things in the sink.

Me: Then I guess you need ten pair.

SH: But why won't you wash mine if you're washing yours?

Me: Washing underwear is kind of personal, don't you think?

Marriage 101

posted 10/19/08

Me, after trying to find a decent radio station on SH's old clock radio: You know what would be nice? A clock radio CD player.

SH: You know I have all that stereo equipment. I could set it up in the bedroom.

Me: No! It's too clunky and big.

SH: But that's a badge of honor for a man.

Me: Baby, I already know you're a man.* You don't need big speakers to impress me.

* OK, I said something a little more -- earthy -- than that, but The Big Factotum reads this blog and I need to keep it G.

Who wants a woman who doesn't have a Milwaukee Roll?

posted 10/18/08

Me [staring at my butt in the mirror]: Oh man. These jeans used to be the baggy, hang out in the house jeans. Now they are getting tight.

SH: So?

Me: That means I'm gaining weight and my butt is getting even bigger.

SH: I'm an ass man. If your booty gets bigger, that's fine with me.

Me [grabbing love handles]: And what about this?

SH: That's your Milwaukee Roll. Just start drinking beer so you have a good reason to have one.

Marriage 101

posted 10/16/08

Me: You rearranged my dad's lucky shot glasses!

SH: Of course I did!

Me: But I don't want them like that.

SH: Stop! They were all symetrical and now you're ruining them!

Monday, January 3, 2011

The mean wife

posted 10/13/08

Part 1

SH: What did you do with my drill bits?

Me: I thought I put them someplace logical.

SH: I left them on top of that box in the basement and now they're not there.

Me: After I used them, I could have sworn I put them someplace that made sense. They were in the way on that box.

SH: That's the problem. You put things away and I can't find them. I leave them out so they are easy to find.

Days later.

SH: I found my drill bits.

Me: Where were they?

SH: In my toolbox.

Part 2

SH, tearing through his vitamins and such that he keeps in the upstairs bathroom by his office: What did you do with my melatonin when you packed the apartment?

Me: I thought I put all your drugs in the same bin.

SH: What bin?

Me: The one beneath the bathroom sink down here.

SH: You and your bins. I can't find anything. [Tromps downstairs, grumping]

SH: Oh. Here it is. In the drug bin under the sink.

Marriage 101

posted 10/13/08

SH: That cabinet you got [at Salvation Army] won't work for my stereo stuff.

Me: Why not?

SH: I can't fit everything.

Me: But the DVD player and the tuner are there now.

SH: Yeah, but I can't get the record player and the tape deck on there, too.

Me: But you never use those.

SH: Yes, I do.

Me: In the time I've known you, I've seen you use the record player once. You play CDs in the car, but not in the house.

SH: I know, but it won't fit.

A life tragically cut short by smoking

posted 10/11/08

Our friend Bruce, who brought us a snowblower as a wedding present:

My grandfather started every morning with a six-pack of Schlitz. Then he began about a two or three mile walk. He would drink two of the beers on the walk. Two-thirds of the way through, he stopped at his friend’s house, Kinney, and they would each have one of the beers and just talk for about an hour. Then he’d complete his walk. By the time he got home, he would have completed the last two beers.

Then he sat down for breakfast, which consisted of bacon, eggs and grits swimming in butter. Lots of salt and pepper.

Then he went out to the front porch to smoke.

He was 91 when he died. The week before he died, he was still walking that same path. He was diagnosed with lung cancer, but he died of a heart attack.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Four winks

posted 10/09/08

How to catch up on your sleep when your night-owl, needs only five hours a night husband is gone:

8:30 a.m. Drink a diet dr pepper

12:5 p.m. Drink another diet dr pepper

3:45 p.m. Get a mocha from McDonald’s just because you see a McDonald’s billboard for coffee and think, “Yum. A mocha would be good and it can’t possibly be as expensive as Starbucks.”

8:30 p.m. Get into bed with a book. Start one book. It’s about baseball and guy who goes back in time to 1869 and plays with the Cincinnati Reds. Cute premise and cool look at the culture at that time, but wayyyy to descriptive about the actual baseball games. I mean, I do OK with watching baseball with SH as long as I can read a book or magazine at the same time. Switch to the book your sister told you to read – “Eat, Pray, Love” – thinking it’s going to be some stupid new-age harmonic convergence BS but it turns out to be very funny so you read longer than you intended to.

10:00 p.m. Turn out light. Don’t sleep, don’t sleep, don’t sleep.

10:20 p.m. Check email. Why isn’t there any email from SH? Is he dead? Oh crap if he’s dead you have no way to tell his local bar friends Sheila Paul John and Justin about the funeral because all you know about them is that they are named Sheila Paul John and Justin and SH’s cellphone which has all their numbers was probably destroyed in the car accident that killed him and does SH want to be buried or cremated you don’t know you don’t even know what the account number is or where it’s stored for the cable which you would cancel because you don’t watch enough tv to make it worthwhile and do how do you ship a body back from Boston to Milwaukee if he wants to be cremated should you just do it there but then what if there is a problem getting the ashes through security because you sure aren’t going to check those and what is the etiquette regarding throwing a funeral and who stays where do you have to let people stay at your house no you don’t want to be hostess in this situation and you don’t want to have to find everyone a hotel either can’t they do it themselves not to mention you sure don’t want to be picking people up at the airport so they are just going to have to get cars and there’s nobody here to bring casseroles because I don’t have any friends here except for a very few Todd Andrea Jennifer and I suppose Pastor Gail would come over because she would be doing the funeral but I don’t think the pastor brings a casserole what are you going to feed everyone oh to heck with it they can take care of themselves it’s not like there’s no food to be found in Milwaukee I really hope he’s not dead because that would totally suck.

10:51 p.m. Get up to pee. Go back to bed. Don’t sleep.

11:10 p.m. Where are those Excedrin PM? Surely I have some. I haven’t needed to take these for months, but two diet sodas and a coffee late in the day what was I thinking? call for the big guns so take two.

11:30 p.m. Don’t sleep, don’t sleep, don’t sleep.

7:00 a.m. Wake up because you told your body to wake up early so you could get to the gym. Say Are you kidding me? and go back to sleep.

Cruel shoes

posted 10/07/08

I have solved my Spain shoe dilemma. I face this every time I travel: what shoe can I wear that is both 1) beautiful and 2) comfortable? Many, many people would say that beautiful, comfortable shoes is an oxymoronic concept, that one cannot have a shoe that flatters the foot and leg and outfit without causing pain.

Those people would be right.

But that doesn't mean I surrender.

I want to wear my new red wrap dress (thanks, Talbot's sale!) on the plane. It's knit, so it's the perfect fabric for travel. It's red, which, as we know based on the wedding experience, looks smashing on me, especially now that my hair is Clairol #24 Clove. And it's flattering -- it makes me look as if I have a bosom and a waist, which is a miracle of engineering and design.

With that dress, one would usually wear high heels. But that would be insane for traveling, especially if one runs the risk that one’s check-on luggage containing one’s hiking boots might not arrive on the same plane as one as happened in the last trip to Spain and one ended up traipsing the cobbled, uneven sidewalks of Madrid in one’s high-heeled boots, causing one to hobble and cry to the churros place instead of walking happily with a spring in one’s step to the mecca of chocolate.

Once we were at the churros place, all pain was forgotten, but still.

Hence, I have been seeking the perfect flat, pretty, flattering, comfortable shoe. I thought about getting the black cowboy (at first, I accidentally typed “wowboy,” which seems more appropriate) boots at DSW, but they were too expensive and I already have black boots. Then I tried some low-heeled black Kenneth Cole shoes, but may I say something?

Those shoes are crap. The soles aren’t even leathah and the tops are glued, not stitched, to the soles. I thought Kenneth Cole was supposed to be some swanky designer, but if you are a swanky designer, then don’t have crappy shoes made in China under your brand.

Anyhow. The solution, as always, is to return to the past and wear shoes from a consignment/thrift store, i.e., shoes that were made in Italy or Brazil and don’t have any “man-made” materials in them and that I can afford. I got the boots in the photo years ago in Memphis and never wore them because they were too tight, but the hour has come.

Fighting The Man

posted 09/30/08

The moral of the story is if you try to make your maiden name your middle name because you have never liked your middle name (sorry, Big Factotum), the DMV will look at the document from the social security office (the best-run office of all the government agencies I had to visit yesterday -- don't even get me started on how INEFFICIENT the MILWAUKEE COUNTY government process for getting marriage licenses and certificates is and how the lady who does the initial intake at the Recorder of Deeds for the county is rude and cranky and should be fired and would be if she worked for Starbucks but she won't because she's a government employee, which is code for tenure) and misinterpret and put your maiden name as your last name (ie, instead of becoming Class Facotum Honey, with Factotum as the middle name, they decide that Factotum is the last name), which means when you register to vote, they tell you your last name is Factotum and should the Honey be "-Honey" or is it even part of your name and you say, No, don't you see I signed "Class Honey" and that's my new name, I'm not a hyphenator sheesh I'm not a Lutheran minister and here's my marriage certificate and they say, But the paper from the DMV (no, they wouldn't give me my actual license yesterday because you know, I could be an Illinois resident claiming Wisconsin residency and committing welfare fraud, instead, they gave me a receipt and promised to mail the license) says your last name is "Factotum", so you have to call the DMV and they say So sorry, we can't do anything over the phone, you'll have to go back to the DMV, which is a punishment almost worse than death because let me tell you, the DMV has a cross-section of citizenry that makes one wonder if suffrage really should be a universal right, so after fighting and raging and pitching a fit, you return to the DMV with your hair wet and a ticked-off expression (after, of course, returning to the SS office to get your maiden name removed altogether from your Official Record), where they will not correct the license for which they photographed you and your carefully-blown-dry hair and made-up face yesterday but make you get an entirely new license with a new photo, so you will end up looking like crap and will for the next three years. (I lost the grammar somewhere in this.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Piles, not files

posted 09/28/08

Me: Are you through with those newspapers? [stacked on the shelf next to the TV.]

SH: No. Why?

Me: Because it's three weeks' worth of papers and it looks bad.

SH: If the pile outgrows the space, then it's reason for concern. But if it fits into the available space and it's in a neat pile, then what's the problem?

Me: They're old newspapers.

SH: You don't think a neat pile is an acceptable resolution of a big mess, do you?

But we're in Wisconsin

posted 09/28/08

At the North Cape Lutheran's fish boil Saturday night:

Me: Do you guys have any beer?

Church guy: We're not Catholic!

Marital bliss #1

posted 09/27/08

Me: I'm sleepy. Let's go to bed.

SH: But it's Friday night! It's party night!

Me: We're married now. The party's over.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The post-modern wedding

posted 09/22/08

Isn’t this how everyone spends the night after the night after their wedding? First, we had a dinner party for 11. Yes, I would have used paper plates and placemats again as I did for the dinner party for ten on Saturday, but we had food that has to be cut (steak) last night as opposed to food that is bitten into submission (bratwurst) on Saturday. I was also tired of using non-matching placemats, so it was time to get out one of the many tablecloths I have had for years and have never used.

I did iron the tablecloth, but I am not a pro. Note the fabulous menu: steak, tuna, grilled veg, macaroni and cheese, German potato salad, tomatoes with basil and olive oil. Brownies and cheesecake for dessert. We also used the beautiful bone serving spoons that SH's brother Tim and sister-in-law Jessica gave us. Jessica got them in South Africa and they are lovely.

Guests at the table are two of my dad's cousins, Gordy and Jim, Gordy's wife Enid, and Jim's parents, Helen and Fritz, aka my great aunt and uncle. My mom, my sister, my brother and Dr J are also here. SH's parents and stepdaughters left Sunday morning; his brother left Saturday night.

Then, after our supper guests left, the rest of us went out to karaoke. We didn’t invite my mom and Dr J because we didn’t think they’d be interested, but then my mom protested that she wanted to hear SH sing.

My mom said that she and Dr J would listen to SH sing once, and then leave in their car. Instead, they stayed until 1:15 am and even got up themselves to sing. SH and my brother helped them out on "When I'm 64." My sister sang several times, once when the KJ demanded that Jen come to the mike. He was hitting on her the entire night, along with the tattooed Native American guy with the feather hat and the bearded, bandana-ed guitar player from the band people who came in to sing. Jen is a man magnet.

Wedding update

posted 09/19/08

Everything going well. Both teams are here. Wedding this afternoon, delicious wedding supper tonight.

SH's brother, who lives in DC: I can't deal with this. Everyone here is so nice. This is nothing like the east coast.

Female stuff

posted 09/13/08

So I was at the doctor yesterday. My new doc is great: he is very Marcus-Welbyish, with white hair and a great bedside manner. (NB I don’t know if great bedside manner is M-Wish as I have never seen the show, but I do know he had white hair.) Anyhow, he was running late (for a 4:00 Friday afternoon appointment – can you imagine?) but stuck his head in the door to apologize and tell me he’d be with me in a second.

Contrast that to the doc I fired years ago for always being late, including the final straw of keeping me in the exam room for over an hour with nobody telling me what was going on. I finally got dressed and left, even though his nurse tried to stop me as I was walking out. I told her that I also had a job and could not waste two hours of time for a doctor who couldn’t even be bothered to tell me that he was delayed for whatever reason (a doctor who I saw sitting in his office working on his computer, so I know he wasn’t out delivering a baby).

Once Doc B was ready and had me scooched down the table (you women know what I’m talking about), he adjusted the pillow under my head. How nice was that?

The one thing that the practice could do to improve would be to get different pads. Honestly – how many women use those thick pads like the ones you used with the belt in 7th grade any more? I didn’t even think they sold those. It feels like you have a rolled-up diaper between your legs. Sheesh. Is Kotex emptying an old warehouse they’d forgotten about? I couldn’t wait to get home and back to the wonders of technology with its paper-thin absorbent material. Although maybe I should consider that $35 cup from Whole Foods. Who wouldn’t want to pull out a cup of blood and rinse it out in the bathroom sink? Sounds so sanitary. At least it’s environmentally responsible.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Casting pearls before lipstick

posted 09/13/08

SH and I were OK with going to a gumball machine and getting cheap rings just so we’d have something for the ceremony, but we had a chance to get nice rings last week when we were in California. We bought them at the same place where SH got the rings for his wedding to Imelda, only I didn’t demand a $4,000 custom-made ring but was happy with a simple white gold band off the rack. I did, however, notice and covet the rope of cultured pearls. I have a beautiful pearl choker that my dad got for me in Amsterdam for my 20th birthday, but have always also wanted a long, long strand of pearls that I can tie into a knot and look glamorous.

SH worried that getting our rings at Geoffrey’s might have bad karma, but we decided that we were going to create good karma by getting something completely different from his first ring. We also decided we would have the diamonds from his first ring reset into earrings for me. When life gives you diamonds, make earrings is what I always say.

Bad habits

posted 09/05/08

SH and I stopped to see my grandmother, who has been a little under the weather, on our way to and from the Apostle Islands last weekend. We were happy to see that she had gone to lunch and eaten her butterscotch pudding on Tuesday, as she has been bedridden and not eating. Still, nothing tastes good to her, which is a shame, because shouldn't you be able to eat what ever you want when you are old?

My aunt Rita, who is pretty much my granma's main caretaker, said that the home tried to put my grandmother on a restricted diet because the doctor said something about diabetes a year ago. My granma pitched a fit when they fed her that no-sugar, no-salt stuff and said she would move out if she didn't get some decent food. It must have been pretty bad for my mellow, sweet, go-along grandmother to protest.

Honestly. If you are almost 96 years old, what is the point of restricting your intake of anything? When I am that old, I intend to get fat, start smoking, and develop a taste for scotch. SH just wishes I would do all of that now.

Wedding prep #24

posted 09/05/08

It is all coming together. Flight plans and hotel reservations are done and the food -- ah, the food! One of my big nightmares is that I'll give a party and nobody will come; the second part of that nightmare is that I'll give a party and run out of food. I think I inherit from my mom's mother the idea that food=hospitality/love. I am horrified at the idea of a guest going hungry in my home, which is why I have been working on the menu for over a month.

But the menu for the wedding supper is done. Take a look at this, y'all. Doesn't it just make your mouth water?

Crab Napoleon
Crab Salad Layered with Fried Green Tomatoes

Bayou Chipotle Lime Caesar Salad
Roasted Peppers, Goat Cheese, Pumpernickel Croutons

Entree (guests will pick one of these options)
Pecan Crusted Grilled Pork Loin
Baked Apple Salad, Apple Garlic Cream Sauce,
Candied Sweet Potato, Haricot Vert
Grilled Sea Scallops
Roasted Red Pepper Puree, Haricot Vert, Wild Mushroom Risotto
Les Betes De La Mer Gumbo
Scallops, Redfish, Shrimp, Crawfish, Mussels in a Filé Gumbo
Served over rice

Chocolate Like Crazy Cake

But even more important than the food (as if) is that I got my wedding pedicure yesterday with my friend Kim. SH and I are in San Francisco. We didn't think we would get to see Luke and Kim this trip because of the other commitments we'd made, but at the last minute, our Thursday evening plans fell through, so after a wonderful afternoon taking the food tour of Berkeley (cheese! chocolate! bread! gourmet grocery store!) with the Bodacious Doc and Cheeseguy, who also happen to be in SF this week, I showed up pretty much unannounced on Kim's doorstep, my sandals in my backpack so I could keep my tootsies free of socks for hours after the painting.

She couldn't have been more gracious. We sent off the last of her charges (Kim runs a day care/school for two-year-olds*), had a little wine and Fresca with Luke, then traipsed down to the inexpensive pedi place, where we agonized over finding just the right red. Then she very generously treated me to my pedicure, telling me this way I would think of her on my wedding in two weeks, as if I wouldn't think of her every time I looked at my perfect red toes. How lucky am I to have such wonderful friends in so many places?

* She is going to expand into parenting consulting, which she would be fabulous at, because there are way too many parents who put up with the foolishness Kim saw at the grocery store: the little girl was begging mom to buy her candy. Mom repeatedly said no, but finally yielded. (Lesson: if you whine and nag long enough, you'll get what you want.) Then after mom paid for the candy, she gave it to the girl with the admonishment that she couldn't eat it until after supper. Girl then proceeded to pitch a fit, so mom gets down on girl's level to explain very patiently why girl has to wait for the candy. Right. You can negotiate with a four-year-old as easily as you can negotiate with a terrorist. Sheesh. You don't have to be a parent to know bad parenting when you see it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Relax, # 45

posted 09/03/08

Now that I have written my four-page project plan for the wedding and our guests (yes, I am a listmaker and just a little bit of a micromanager -- why do you ask?), I am feeling a lot less stressed out than I was. Nothing like getting everything down on paper to make me feel as if I am in control. Now I can think about how fun it will be to have everyone here in a few weeks.

My mom was teasing me, saying that I should stop worrying already! everyone could eat sandwiches and they would all be OK, but she's the one who set the bar so high. My mom is a wonderful hostess. Anyone who goes to her home feels welcome and comfortable and that's what I want for my guests. Hence the worry about what they like to eat (I have been pestering SH with menu ideas since early August, asking him if his mom and dad would like this, or that, or something else), what sleeping conditions they prefer (I was appalled when Patrick and Ilene stayed with us and I didn't ask how the sofa bed was until after their second night, which was when I learned that there was a problem that I could have solved), and what they like to drink (I'm not a drinker, but I keep liquor for my guests -- same reason I keep a coffeepot and coffee -- just because I don't want it doesn't mean I expect my guests to go without).

I am also stocking up on chocolate and current magazines to put in the guest room. Flowers in the guest bathroom, of course. Martha says also a few bottles of water in the room. It's all in the plan.