Monday, December 20, 2010
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.
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.
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
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?
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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
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.
Dear State of Wisconsin (or County of Milwaukee, whoever is in charge of these things),
Thank you for doing so much to improve race relations and to reduce the divorce rate – all in the same process! Perhaps you could start collecting taxes from couples who apply for a wedding license and get yet another function under your roof. Oh – wait. You already are doing that. One hundred dollars for a wedding license. Let’s see – for what other contracts does the state require the participants to buy a license? Hmm. Nope. Can’t think of any, although I’m sure you find a way to take what you consider your fair share from every private transaction between two willing makers of offer and acceptance.
But I really appreciate your keeping track of the races of the couple about to be married. Tracking intra- and inter-racial marriages surely is an important function of government. I look forward to the report every year about which color is marrying which and I can certainly see how this would be valuable information for all the other functions government performs. This is probably how you decide where to build roads and schools and other essential things to promote the common welfare.
And your anti-divorce strategy: Good job! Making us get the license at least eight days before the wedding and still making us come back to the courthouse to pick it up – yep, that should keep people from making those impulsive, Britneyesque decisions to get married right now. It’s not enough that we have to wait eight days for the license to be valid – that certainly wouldn’t prevent people from marrying in haste and repenting in leisure. No, it’s the having to return to the courthouse next week to pick the license up – that’s what will give pause to the prudent – or perhaps imprudent – couple.
Of course, we always have the option of paying an extra ten dollars to have the license mailed to us. Not that that’s just a way to increase revenues because surely the process of mailing the license costs way more than the process of your employed for life with better health and retirement benefits than anyone has in the private sector where revenues actually have to exceed costs dressed in a tacky, old, faded t-shirt and sweatpants clerk pull the license when I return for it. (That is, after I have gone through the metal detector again and had to pull my – wait for it – tweezers from my purse to prove that I am not going to be stopping random, bushy-eyed people to pluck their eyebrows.) And not that my providing you with a stamped, self-addressed envelope would be an option. Or – hey! – generating the license while I wait. Nope. You are going to wipe out divorce.
You save revenue generation for the new parking meters that don’t allow me to use an unexpired meter. After all, the main function of government is not to provide for the common defense and then make forced governmental functions run smoothly and easily for us citizens, it is to make money. That’s why we hired you.
Someone who wishes she had eloped in another state
Serious Honey and I took his pastor out for supper last night to talk about the wedding. We picked our readings. I wanted the one that starts,
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.,
mostly because I know how much it annoys people who really don’t pay attention what it really means, but also because I like what it means.
I also liked this for the gospel because SH thinks I use way too much salt. I told him even Jesus knows how important salt is:
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
We are not going to have any music. (I asked my brother to play the piano, but he claims to be too much out of practice, and SH asked his parents to sing – they are fabulous singers – but then we decided that maybe that wasn’t such a good idea: they sang at his first wedding and look how that turned out.)
It’s a shame, because the music in SH’s church is so good. None of this Marty Haugen baloney. Last night, before church started, they had a hymn sing, which is when everyone just sings whatever they want. Same song at the same time, of course. No one asked for Marty Haugen, Instead, they requested standards like “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” Lutherans definitely got the good music at the Reformation. Hmm. Maybe we’ll just ask everyone to open their hymnal and sing anyhow. We can’t let that good music go to waste.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
1. Stop calling your breasts “the girls.” It sounds stupid and juvenile. Do men call their testicles “the boys?” Maybe they do and I haven’t heard it, but either way, what’s wrong with “breasts?” Or any of the traditional nicknames like boobies or bazoombas or titties? Are they still “the girls” when you are 90? Or do they then become “the saggy old ladies?” “The girls” has no connection to the actual word and just sounds plain idiotic, so please stop.
2. Is it tacky to have a cash bar at an event you are hosting? Suppose you throw a party (a wedding reception, perhaps). You can either offer beer and wine and invite an extra 50 friends or you can cut those friends and include hard liquor. Or, you can include the friends and the liquor if you have a cash bar.
My feeling is that you entertain at the level you can afford and that your guests graciously accept that level of hospitality. Someone who shall go unnamed but who lives in the same house I do says what about the people who want tequila or scotch when they are out?
Sorry. If you can’t go one evening without a gin and tonic, then you have a problem that's not mine to solve. We don’t offer cash dessert bars to those who might hate, hate, hate with the heat of a thousand white suns the bananas foster that are being offered as a dessert.
We don’t say, “If you don’t like the food we are serving for supper, you are welcome to step over to the corner where we have set up a cash short-order cook to make you a hamburger or a grilled-cheese sandwich.” Yes, a host should consider a guest’s dietary restrictions (although if the mere whiff of a peanut will kill you, then please do the rest of us a favor and stay home), but the desire for liquor instead of wine or beer (or any alcohol at all if the hosts cannot afford to offer it) does not fall into that category.
Me: You didn’t come to bed until 4?
SH: I had some work to do to prepare for my meeting today.
Me: Then why did you go out to sing last night?
SH: Because I was determined that I wasn’t going to let having to make this stupid last-minute trip to see a customer ruin my week.
Me: But you only got four hours of sleep and now you have to drive to Chicago.
SH: I had to get that work done.
Me: I would have skipped going out rather than lose sleep.
SH: But that would be letting the terrorists win.
SH: You opened that new box of cereal!
SH: But you’re supposed to finish the other boxes that are already open first.
Me: Says who?
SH: It’s the right thing to do. Didn’t your mother teach you?
Me: I don’t care. I wanted this cereal.
SH: If we had kids, would you let them open the new boxes before finishing the old ones?
SH: Would you open the new box?
SH: What if the kid said, “How come you get to open it and I don’t?”
Me: I’d say, “When you’re paying the mortgage and buying the groceries, you can open whatever you want.”
SH: But that’s different rules for kids and for grownups.
Me: So what?
Midwesterners! It is just as rude to arrive early as it is to arrive late!
Handyman #2, you did not impress me by showing up an hour earlier than I told you to be at the apartment on the day we moved. Instead, you caused me a great deal of stress and aggravation.
Why? Because you screwed up my meal planning. I had already taken all the food from the apartment to the house except what SH and I were going to eat on moving day. You showed up at lunch time. When we were about to eat the only food we had left in the apartment. My mama didn’t raise a rude person who would ask someone to sit in her home and watch her eat, so of course we offered you something, which you took, even though you had come straight from your part-time job to a job you knew would run to 6:00 p.m., so why didn’t you stop at Subway on your way over or were you planning to do six hours of physical labor on an empty stomach?, but it meant we ate less than we wanted of decent food and had to fill up on the cookies* in the freezer that Imelda had sent SH five years ago in an attempt to win him back.
So Handyman #2, I meant it when I told not to arrive before 8:30 a.m. last week. Given your history, I guess I should be glad you arrived at 8:20 instead of 7:30, but didn’t my repeated refrain of “Not before 8:30! We’ll still be in pajamas.” mean anything to you? If you arrive early to someone’s house, drive around the block until the desired time. Go get some coffee. But don’t ring my doorbell earlier than I have told you.**
* They weren’t even homemade, so she couldn’t have been too serious if you ask me. Not that I mind filling up on cookies, but if I am going to be lifting and carrying things, I want to eat protein and complex carbs, not sugar.
** That’s not why you’re being fired. You’re being fired because you slopped paint all over the bricks. We don’t understand – the rest of your work was so painstakingly careful and then you go and get oil-based paint on the brick, which is almost impossible to get off, unless, of course, you grind off a layer of brick, which is what you did after I pointed out the problem to you, but as you would probably agree, is not the most desirable solution. So it’s back to our doesn’t call and doesn’t show up when he says he will contractor because even though he is unreliable, his work is immaculate. If we have to pick between a handyman who shows up when he says he will (and earlier) but does sloppy work and one who shows up when he feels like it but does absolutely perfect work, we’ll put up with being surprised.
Things I do for which I don’t get Liberal/I Care About The Environment credit because I do them for the wrong reason:
Mow our lawn with an old-fashioned push mower
My reason: It’s cheaper and easier than a mower that uses gas. I don’t have to go to the gas station and fill my (non-existent) gas can every couple of weeks. I don’t have to figure out if the darn spark plug is connected or not and is that why it isn’t starting? I don’t have to wear shoes or long pants while I use it.
Right reason: I Care about The Earth and don’t want to pollute.
Leave the grass cuttings on the lawn:
My reason: I’m lazy.
Right reason: The clippings decompose and provide Valuable Nutrients for The Earth.
Hang the laundry on a clothesline instead of drying them in the drier
My reason: I like the way they smell and it’s cheaper than using the drier.
Right reason: I care about The Earth and don’t want to waste energy.
Take cloth bags to the grocery store
My reason: They are easier to carry and hold more stuff than plastic. I can also use them for library books and other junk. Also, they were free.
Right reason: I care about The Earth and don’t want to use disposable products that just fill landfill
Use paper bags instead of plastic when I don’t have the cloth grocery bags with me
My reason: I used to work for a paper company and I won’t get my pension unless it is still in business when I am 65, so I need to do everything I can to promote the consumption of paper.
Right reason: I care about The Earth and paper is less evil than plastic because at least paper is organic and eventually decomposes.
Woman at the gym, after telling us she hadn't made her kids wear bike helmets because she didn't want them to look like nerds: You know, parenting is the hardest job there is.
Me: Harder than fighting oilfield fires?
Friday, November 5, 2010
Sophia: Where are you?
Leigh: I'm at Aunt CF's house.
Sophia: I want you to come home soon, kay?
Leigh: Did Daddy tell you to say that?
Sophia: But I want you to really come.
Leigh: OK, sweetie. Do you want to say "hi" to Aunt CF?
Sophia: Can't you talk to Daddy now? I'm done.
Leigh: We never hire anyone to do our yard work because every time you see “America’s Most Wanted,” they say the guy did “occasional yard work.”
SH: You can’t put the sealant on the balcony with that ladder.
Me: Yes I can.
SH: No. It’s not tall enough. We need a higher ladder. Look at this one.
Me: What is that?
SH: You can change it to what you need – stepladder, extension ladder.
Me: But we have a stepladder. And Bruce is getting us an extension ladder.
SH: But it changes shapes!
Me: We don’t need that.
SH: It folds up so it doesn’t need to be stored in the garage.
Me: Why would we care that we have to put a ladder in the garage? Isn’t that where you keep a ladder? And we don’t need the sawhorse function. When’s the last time you needed a sawhorse?
Me: When’s the next time you anticipate needing one?
Me: So if we have a stepladder and an extension ladder and all we really need is a taller stepladder, why would we spend $150 on this fancy ladder?
SH: But it’s cool!
Me: You want it just because it has all these gadgets on it.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Did you know it is possible to get paint* in your hair even if you are just painting the baseboards?
Do you know how hard it is to get oil-based paint out of your hair?
* The guy who renovated our house and gave us things like very tall cabinets without shelves and ugly basement and uglier upstairs carpet over hardwood floors (it should be illegal to carpet hardwood floors) was good enough to leave -- and label** -- all the paint he used. But why did he feel compelled to use oil-based paint instead of latex for the basement stairwell baseboards? This is what I want to know.
** I didn't label my paint in Memphis because I was absolutely positive I would remember where I had used it.
I also did not label leftovers in the freezer until SH bought me a Brother P-touch labeler that I love, although now I don't have the excitement of finding that quart of Cuban Pork and Okra Stew that I was sure I would remember (I didn't), the pint of gumbo I also knew I'd remember (also didn't) or the half-dozen Molten Chocolate Cakes. Not that chocolate needs a label. But the element of surprise is gone from our freezer meals.
SH: What are these?
SH: Why are you eating them?
Me: Because it’s Sunday.
Me: Sunday starts with “S,” which means I can have sugar, snacks and seconds.
SH: I guess someone who wants cigarettes is out of luck because there’s no day of the week that starts with “c.”
Me: “S” is also for “smokes.”
Just have to give a shout-out to my friend Lenore, who is the first person to bring us housewarming cookies (her fabulous madeleines, which we learned how to make at the cooking school we attended in France, and which SH pretty much inhaled when he got home last night after a ten-day trip to California, and then had extra when we got back from live-band karaoke at 1:00 a.m., where SH got to sing about seven songs, including a duet of "Let's Stay Together" with the only other person at the bar who could sing, this gorgeous woman named Steph who has a pierced tongue, a tat, plays roller derby and belted out "Crazy" with such grace and talent that I think every man and maybe some of the women in the place fell in love with her), even though she is not even a neighbor.
What ever happened to neighbors welcoming the new people with a plate of cookies? I made brownies for my new neighbors in Memphis. Yes, my new neighbors are nice and the next-door neighbors made sure to introduce themselves and the wonderful backyard neighbors, who told us we didn’t need a $2,400 sump pump system in the basement but just need a length of PVC pipe to jam in the sewer drain when it rains, mowed the lawn for us – I’ll take that over cookies any day – but honestly – it took someone from Chicago to bring us cookies? (Todd and Andrea did give us a gift certificate to a restaurant, so I guess I better quit my whining. It isn’t like we don’t have some really nice friends here already.)
Anyhow. Lenore visited me and as always, showed up bearing fabulous hostess/housewarming gifts. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have such great friends. Patrick and Ilene came for a weekend and stocked the cheese and chocolate drawer and not with the cheap stuff, either. Bruce moved all my stuff out of storage and just informed me that he found an extension ladder for us at one of his estate sales. And Lenore brought, in addition to the cookies (and flowers – and cherries – and cute new dishtowels), a snow shovel! What a great idea. It’s something neither of us had. I didn’t need one in Memphis (you know, because it only snows once a year there) and SH was in an apartment. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to buy one until after it had snowed here.
Which would be fine because hey, I would just walk – or drive, because yes I am that lazy and I do drive to the gym and would drive to the gym even if it were three blocks away – to the hardware store to get one, but guess what? It’s illegal to leave snow on your sidewalk for more than 24 hours and it would take me at least that long to be motivated to get my butt out of the house.
So it’s illegal, you’re saying. So what?
If it’s illegal, the city will clear the snow for you.
And then they’ll send you a bill. And you know they’re going to charge you union rates with a break and everything to shovel that snow.
So it’s a good thing Lenore gave us that shovel. She thinks of everything.
Oh. But the real reason I was writing about Lenore was that tomorrow* is her birthday and I want to wish her a great one.
* I think it’s tomorrow. I used to remember my friends’ birthdays but now things flee my mind like the sands of time. I remember birth months now. Most of my friends have July birthdays, so I am safe. Happy birthday to all of my July friends. You know who you are. I am not sure exactly who you are any more because I am old and my brain is turning to mush.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
My new hairdresser*: So what do you do?
Me: I used to have a corporate job, but now I stay at home.
Me: When I was working, I would hear these women at the gym – stay-at-home wives – who would complain about how bored they were and I would want to slap them and ask, “Do you think I work as a hobby?”
Me: So when I figured out that I all I had to do now was clean the house, cut the grass, buy the groceries, cook, do the laundry and change the sheets – all the things I was doing anyhow, plus working 60 hours a week – I asked, Where do I sign up?
* It took me three and a half months to find someone with a haircut I liked enough to ask her for her hairdresser’s number. Three and a half months. We are in the mullet capital of the world and I don’t mean the fish. I pointed that out to HD, noting that these women don’t even seem to be lesbians – they just have the haircut. HD said, “Yes, in West Allis, they like the haircut. The lesbians are all on the east side.”
It’s time for us to start seeing other people.
No. This is not a breakup! Really, it’s not. It can’t be. You still haven’t finished rebuilding our balcony. You know – the one you tore down last Thursday? And were going to rebuild on Friday but then it rained, so I got that. But what about Saturday? Or Sunday? Monday? Today?
Yeah, your helper is irresponsible. You thought he was going to do it on Saturday. Or Monday. You were out of town for four days. (Did I know that? No, I did not. Would that have been useful information? Yes, it would.) You didn’t call him to check to see that he was working. But if you know that he’s irresponsible, shouldn’t you have checked to make sure he was on the job?
It’s not that I don’t like you – I do, honest. If we have a party, we’ll invite you for sure. I enjoy our phone conversations, especially now that I know we’re both on AT&T and that it doesn’t cost me a penny to talk to you. It’s sure not the quality of your work, but I need someone who can get the job done.
I know you have health problems and that your helper is a recovering drug addict (oh, I was so happy to learn that little fact, although it was tempered slightly by the fact that he was addicted to painkillers for his knee problems), but guess what? I don’t give a flying flip about your personal problems. Sorry, but I don’t. Ours is a business relationship. All I care about is that I gave you a deposit to do this job two months ago and it’s STILL NOT DONE.
So even though you’re an excellent carpenter and do fabulous work, I’ll be calling someone else to do my repairs in the future.
Just the other day, I was thinking that I needed some new sandals (not wanted, but needed, the way I need oxygen) and wishing that Bass still made those cool leather sandals I wore when I was in college – those fabulous went-with-everything and were sooo comfortable thongs that didn’t make that annoying thong flapping noise that I have grown to hate so much that I would never convict anyone who murdered a thong-wearing flapper because I think it’s justifiable homicide – and guess what happened?
I walked into DSW to use my $10 coupon that was about to expire (of course I had noted the expiration date in my calendar, along with a three-week warning, because I have been burned before and I am capable of Learning My Lesson) and guess what I saw?
I saw these sandals:
[Imagine photo of Bass sandals here. I can't get it to copy.]
It was as if God was speaking to me, saying, “CF, I know the music stinks in the Catholic Church right now and I don’t know what that’s all about, except I think they think they don’t have competition, unlike the Protestants, who understand that there is more to it than having the Complete Truth, and I also think the US bishops, bless their hearts, are a bunch of soixant-huiters who think that Marty Haugan is the bomb and trust Me, We’ll have a little talk about that when they get here because honestly, all that inspiration I gave those guys who wrote those gorgeous hymns like ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’ and ‘Ave Maria’ and do I ever get to hear them from The One True Church? No! So anyhoo, to make up for your having to listen to merde at church every week – except the weeks you go to SH’s church, I am giving you the opportunity to buy the sandals you were dreaming of last week.”
Friday, October 29, 2010
Guess what? Carpenter ants are not a good thing. You’d think with a name like “carpenter ant” that you would get an industrious little ant that builds a balcony on your second floor instead of destroying it. Sure, it wouldn’t tell you when it’s coming, it wouldn’t return your phone calls promptly, it wouldn’t invoice you very quickly and it sure wouldn’t clean up after itself, but it would be good natured and it would do a good job when it did work.
But no. Carpenter ants eat wood. (Heh heh. I said “wood.”) Not only do they eat wood, they seem to specialize in vertical support beams embedded in brick and covered by electrical conduits. (Read “needs electrician to move,” read, “costs hundreds of dollars.”)
So what we thought was a simple job of removing the top boards of the balcony to replace them – because the top boards were too close together, the water could not drain well and the boards were in danger of rotting – became a job of replacing the entire balcony. (Oh yes – did I mention that when the top boards were removed, they discovered that the support boards had rotted because guess what? the water had not drained well! Who knew?)
At three times the original estimate.
And no, not replacing the balcony is not an option.
Because in a city where putting lawn waste in the trash is illegal, it is also illegal to have a second-story door to nowhere.
I just washed the dishes in the kitchen sink not because I feel compelled not to leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight -- doesn't bother me a bit to wake up to dirty dishes -- but because I don't want the guy who is coming tomorrow morning to install the basement carpet -- a man whose name I don't even know and whom I will never see again -- to think I am a bad housekeeper.
I just noticed this as I slathered Vaseline onto my washerwoman hands made dry and nasty from 1) sanding and chipping stairs, 2) scrubbing the shelves from Goodwill with a Brillo pad because some idiot decided it would be a good idea to stain shelves that were already painted -- here's a news tip that even I, a non-paint professional know, which is that STAIN DOES NOT WORK ON PAINT! IT JUST MAKES IT LOOK DIRTY! -- the kind of dirty you get if you leave blue shelves in a room full of chain smokers for 40 years, and 3) calibrating the darn Kenmore, a SEARS brand, oven, which seems to think that 350 degrees means 420, no 390, no 375, no 337, no 325. OK calibrating an oven isn't that hard on your hands, but I didn't have a good number 3 otherwise.
Anyhow. What I noticed is that my Vaseline -- oops, actually, my Walgreen's Shea butter petroleum jelly skin protectant -- has an expiration date on it.
What can go bad with petroleum jelly? Does it get moldy? Does it rot? Does it no longer perform the responsibilities of petroleum jelly? Am I supposed to throw the jar out at 16:01 on 02/09 and replace it with a new one? Will bad things happen to me if I don’t?
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Woman at the gym: Yeah, I had to quit smoking and now I can’t even be around cigarette smoke – I can’t breathe in it. So I was at a bar with some friends and the smoke started to bother me. I couldn’t go home because I didn’t have my car and I couldn’t wait outside because I can’t breathe when it’s cold, either.
Me: So Milwaukee’s a really good place for you to live, huh?
Dedicate yourself to starting a little -- ahem -- quality time with your honey before he leaves on a ten-day business trip.
Your contractor will show up within minutes to install the kitchen shelves that arrived two weeks ago.
My sister, Jenny: I won’t be able to plan a bridal shower and party for you in two and a half months.
Me: That’s OK. I didn’t want to wear penis barrettes anyhow.
Jenny: You don’t even want a shower?
Me: Nope. We’re shacking up.* We’re just going to have a small, quick ceremony to make it legal. No parties.
* We’re shacking up because of Wisconsin divorce law (we could not legally marry until June 4) and the timing of SH’s lease (we had to be out of his apartment by June 30, we had to give two months’ notice, and they would not let us have a month-to-month option, so we had to, had to, had to have a house by the end of April, which meant selling my house way before that), but that does not change the fact that we are shacking up. We’d be married already but the parents want to attend a ceremony so we’re giving them one in Sept. Small, immediate family only. Maybe we’ll go to a Brewer’s game to celebrate. (We couldn’t have an earlier ceremony because 1) we were moving at the end of May, 2) SH wanted to go to Summerfest at the end of June, and 3) SH has a bunch of work travel between now and Sept.)
Sunday, October 24, 2010
SH: We might have to wait until this spring to get cats if we are going to wait until after the Morocco trip to get cats.
SH: We might not be able to find kittens in the winter.
Me: What, there’s a cat season?
SH: Well, I guess cats have kittens year round.
Is it any wonder that this rabbit – and the (at least) four others that inhabit our back yard – has no reason to fear humans? In a place where it’s illegal to throw yard waste into the trash and to park on the street between 3 and 6 a.m. (yet it’s OK to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, which means that if someone without insurance has an accident, I end up paying, but if someone puts grass clippings in the trash, it affects me how?), it’s probably illegal to shoot rabbits.
Not that I’m going to let that stop me.
1. Get cats now.
2. Wait until we have returned from our two-week trip to Morocco in October. (It’s not that we are overflowing with cash – we’re not; it’s that we are overflowing with FF miles. SH is concerned that the airlines will soon be charging 300,000 miles for a trip from Milwaukee to Chicago, so we are burning his miles with trips to Morocco and Hawaii rather than lose them.)
3. Get cats now so they can work for a living and kill the what must be dozens of rabbits (I am not joking – much) that live in our yard.
4. Get cats now so we can never let them outside while the rabbits continue to prosper and taunt us.
SH: I feel kinda crummy.
Me: How come?
SH: Maybe it was the beer Bruce and I had yesterday during the brewery tour.
SH: I don’t know why you don’t like beer. You get to feel crummy the day after you drink it and it makes you fart.
Me: Don’t forget it makes you pee a lot.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
On the phone with Todd arranging to meet for fireworks later while SH fires up the grill and three, count them, three audacious rabbits scamper across the yard, flipping us off as they head toward my tomatoes:
Me [yelling out the window]: SH! Kill that rabbit!
Todd: Does he have a gun?
Me: Of course not. He’s a liberal.
SH: Look at this cool new radar detector. It’s got GPS and you can download the locations of speedtraps and red-light cameras into it.
Me: That’s pretty cool.
SH: Maybe it’s time I spent the money and upgraded.
SH: If it prevents just one or two speeding tickets, it pays for itself – not to mention the increase to our auto insurance.
Me: You could always just follow the speed limit.
SH: That’s crazy talk.
So far, this is what we've discovered to be illegal (that's illegal!) in our new town/state:
1. To park on the street overnight
2. To put lawn waste in the trash. We discovered this one when the trash guys dumped the weeds I'd pulled from the flowerbeds out of the trash can onto the yard.
You may put lawn waste in its own bin (reusable or paper, marked specifically in letters at least two inches high, "Lawn Waste") for disposal but you may never, ever put grass clippings out for disposal. Never. Ever.
Remember also that it is illegal! to remarry within six months of divorcing in Wisconsin.
It's a good thing there are no serious issues for this state to address. How lucky we are to be living in this utopia.
Monday, October 18, 2010
If you are baking No-knead Rosemary and Garlic Bread, it’s probably a good idea to check the “6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic)” before you put it into the oven for half an hour to heat at 450 degrees to make sure you didn’t throw that box of birthday candles and vial of magic Chinese potion designed to banish migraines that you bought at the Rabat medina – you know, the potion that smells of eucalyptus – that were in your junk drawer into the pot before you moved it from Memphis to Milwaukee.
Otherwise, when you go to put the dough into the pot, you won’t notice the birthday candles and the potion because when you lift the lid off the pot, the steam billowing out will fog your glasses (or steam your glasses, technically, but I didn’t want to use the word “steam” again so soon but what are you going to do? What’s a synonym for steam that means exactly the same thing?) and you won’t see anything at the bottom of the pot and will suspect nothing, even though some person who will go unnamed here but happens to live in the same house as you do and is very detail and science oriented might point out that you should have noticed that steam is not a phenomenon that occurs naturally in an empty pot, even if it has been heated to 450 degrees for half an hour but hey, you were an English major and you just weren’t thinking that you might have left birthday candles in a pot four months ago, OK?
Anyhow, if you don’t check the pot for birthday candles and migraine potions (which didn’t work, BTW), you end up with waxy, eucalyptus-scented bread. Some people might consider that inedible.
Pet lovers, sharpen your pens and get ready to send me the hate mail. But I think this is a stupid, stupid way to spend money: the pet cemetery near where SH used to live has closed and people are moving their pet’s corpses.
[S]he paid $1,500 for a grave and marker at Thistlerose for her bichon, Bjorn, in 2005. Now she's shelling out nearly $1,000 more for a new spot and moving expenses.
A. Who spends $1,500 on a grave and a marker for a dog? We loved our cat, O’Malley, and we still talk about him, even though it’s been over 20 years since he died, but when he died, my dad buried him in the back yard. Without a coffin. He’s been tomato fertilizer for whomever lives at 8302 Brookline for years. At that time, $1,500 was half a year’s tuition at my private university. It is more than I paid for my first car.
When my cat was hit by a car in Miami and my neighbor, who knew about it suspiciously quickly, ran to tell me that my cat was lying in the street, I picked the cat up and put his body in the trash can. I would have buried him but I didn’t have a shovel. It never occurred to me to spend money to put him in a pet cemetery. I didn’t even know such things existed. I hadn’t read that Evelyn Waugh book yet. (What’s it called? The one about pet cemeteries?)
B. Who pays $1,000 to move a pet’s corpse from one pet cemetery to another? I wouldn’t want anyone to spend that money to move my corpse. Family and SH, you are hereby put on notice that you are not required to move my body if the cemetery goes out of business. You can leave me right where I am. Use the money for a trip to London or a party. And don’t embalm me!
Woman at the gym: We used to have cats, but had to get rid of them because the dogs didn’t like them.
Me: Which did you have first?
WATG: The cats.
Me: So you got the dogs after you had the cats, but because the dogs didn’t like the cats – the dogs, which showed up later – you got rid of the cats?
Me: Why didn’t you get rid of the dogs?
WATG: We really love the dogs.
Me: Do your dogs like your kids?
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Busy days. SH is wonderful, setting up the stereo, installing a clothesline for me (a longtime dream, along with my engagement trash can – I am a woman of simple needs and wants), repairing the guest room bed. He’s a keeper.
We also had to go to Summerfest yesterday. We got there early enough to get free wristbands to see the headlining bend, Rush (motto: We don’t play any music unless it’s in a minor key), which was kind of fun (we got a free high, if you know what I mean), although if I’d actually paid to see them perform, I would have been ticked off that they didn’t start on time. Yes, I know all about musician time, but honestly. Be professional. Start on time. Marcia Ball started at 10:00 on the dot. And we liked her music a lot better. Still, for eight dollars apiece (and free parking, thanks to Serious Honey’s sharp eyes), I really can’t complain about a late start to a concert.
SH won free tickets from a radio station to tonight’s headliner, John Mellencamp, whom everyone persists in calling just “Mellencamp,” which annoys me to no end, because really, how much harder is it to add that one extra syllable? Say the entire name, darnit. It’s not that complicated.
Anyhow, I don’t care about seeing John Mellencamp so much. I’m kind of over his music, but Lucinda Williams is opening for him and I really like her. And again, we’re getting in for free (not even having to pay Summerfest admission), so if we get tired of listening to his show, we can leave and find something we like better.
Lucy (not Rachel, WHO WORKS IN A PRISON): I was a corrections officer for a while.
Me: What was that like?
Lucy, WHO WORKED IN A PRISON: It was OK until they started bringing the women in.
Lucy, WWIAP: They fought more and when they fought, they were more vicious and they fought longer. And there was a lot more homosexual activity among the women. If one of them went to the showers, they all went to the showers.
Me: Wow. More homosexual stuff than with the men?
Lucy, WWIAP: Uh-huh. We called it Gay for the Stay.
Me: Kind of like Lesbian Until Graduation?
Lucy, WWIAP: Yeah. I guess prison is a lot like college.
Me: So my new Y has these silly names for the exercise rooms: Responsibility, Respect, blah blah blah.
My friend: Maybe they’re trying to emphasize stuff for kids.
Me: Then why not go to core Christian principles? It is the Young Men’s Christian Association, after all.
MF: What if people get offended?
Me: So what? No one is making them join. What about this: The “Thou shalt not murder” room.
MF: But some people might have a problem with a Christian message.
Me: Well, technically, the Ten Commandments are Jewish. But really – what group would have a problem with not murdering?
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Me: This guy is being charged with killing his wife during a scuba-diving trip on their honeymoon.
Me: I wonder if they were in the middle of moving.
Monday June 9
Go to Carpet Distributor #1
Me: Do you have any red plaid carpet?
CD#1: Yes – here it is. Made by only one manufacturer.
Me: How much does it cost? Is it in stock?
CD#1: Let me call. Oh. They stopped making this style two years ago. Let me call the rep. There’s a new style. He’ll send a sample.
Tuesday June 17 [8 days later]
Me: Has the sample arrived yet?
Get on the internet. Find other distributors of same manufacturer. Call to see if any of them have a sample. I just want to see the darn carpet. Am I asking too much? No one has a sample.
Carpet Distributor #2: I can ask my rep to get one.
Me: I’ve already asked CD #1 to order one for me.
CD#2: You know, we beat their prices by 40% most of the time.
Me: Keep talking.
Email the manufacturer. Is the carpet in stock? What is the lead time to get it?
Mfr: Scottish Plaid color 03800 [kinda brown] would be the closest to red. In order to check stock and to get the time frame for shipping you need to contact our customer service order desk at 800-shaw-usa- option 2. If you are not a shaw dealer then you will have to order through a local dealer. You can visit shawfloors.com to find the retailer nearest you. thanks.
Me: [Then why do you have a red version on the website?]
Wednesday June 18
Me [Call manufacturer]: Why do you have the red version on the website if you don’t have it in stock?
Mfr: We have the red.
Me: Great. What’s the lead time? I have a naked basement floor and nowhere to put the rec room furniture.
Mfr: I can’t tell you. You have to ask a distributor.
Thursday June 19
Call CD#2 again. He’ll have the sample by Monday. I mean, how hard is it to get a 5” square of carpet to someone in two days? It’s nice to be working with someone who appears to be interested in doing business with me.
Friday June 20
Discover that the basement doors are warped from the flooding. Good grief.
At TJMaxx the other day, sorting through the underpants, trying to find at least one pair with a smidgen of cotton in it that didn’t also look like something my grandmother would wear (designers! Know ye nothing of women’s bodies, natural fibers and comfort?), I overheard the woman next to me say in her inside voice of loud desperation to her two children, “Boys! Be nice and share! It’s good to share!”
Why is it good to share?
Why do we (the collective “other people with whom I absolutely do not agree because they are wrong” we) force little kids share their stuff?
We don’t make adults share their things. No one gets upset if a grown man doesn’t share his brand-new Mercedes convertible or riding lawnmower with his neighbor or even with his brother. No one says, “What a selfish jerk!” (Except maybe the brother.)
No one thinks that the woman with the new Kate Spade purse is a big meanie for not lending the bag to her best friend if the friend demands it.
So why should kids be forced to share against their will?
More specifically, why should kids be forced to share against their will when it might cause whining? I would think that parents would want to minimize the noise, stress and aggravation at home and would thus implement policies to that end. Wouldn’t you have a strict “no required sharing” policy? That way, no child could ever come to you and complain that Suzy wasn’t sharing her Barbie because your answer would be, “It’s her Barbie. Go play with your own toys and leave me to my People magazine and Pimms.” Give each kid his own toys, draw a line in the middle of the room with a Sharpie and be done with it.
Do liberal parents force sharing more than conservative parents? Liberals, who are convinced they can change human nature, despite thousands of years of evidence to the contrary (that human nature is immutable, that is), might be more likely to force socialist policies on their kids by making them share their toys, even though children have a highly-developed sense of property rights and know there is something inherently unjust about having to give away something that is theirs. Ha. They are just creating future conservatives, so it’s all good.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
1. To install carpet over hardwood floors
1a. To install cheap, ugly carpet over hardwood floors
1b. To pay almost as much to install cheap, ugly carpet as it would have cost to refinish the floors
2. To paint without removing switchplates first
3. To punch a hole in the wall for a new outlet and not patch the plaster before putting on the new plate
4. To paint the walls but not to paint the trim
5. To take the shower curtain rod (not the kind that is mounted to the wall but the kind that stays up with pressure) with you when you move out of a house
6. To take the dryer vent hose with you when you move out of a house, especially if you have adapted said hose to the egress, which is not the standard size on which 4” hoses fit but only 3”, which requires a special adapter available only at heating supply stores. Wholesale.
7. To install kitchen cabinets 30” high with no shelves. Three of them. Most cooking equipment is just not that tall.
Me: How was it sharing a room with your co-worker at that trade show?
Me: Did he snore?
Me: What did he wear to bed?
SH: Athletic shorts and a t-shirt.
SH: With the t-shirt tucked in.
Me: To sleep?
SH: I think it’s an Asian thing.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
This is what I get for trying to be smart. I have been taking small things to the house in the car – things I don’t want to pack in boxes well enough that they could be thrown around by a couple of guys who think they should be paid more than $10/hour. I have taken clothes, bags of groceries, CDs, toiletries.
Bags of groceries: Boxes of cornstarch. Two boxes of nutmeg. Four – yes, four – boxes of baking powder. SH and I are merging kitchens, but even that is no excuse for four boxes of baking powder. I can’t explain that one, so I won’t try. The extras will go in the Goodwill bag, although I don’t know if there is much of a charity market for used/extra baking powder.
In any case. It’s all over at the house.
I am making peach cobbler over here.
I read the recipe enough to realize I needed the cornstarch and nutmeg, so I borrowed some from the neighbors.
Then I read the rest of the recipe.
No baking powder.
There is baking soda here, in the fridge. Yes, it’s the fridge soda, but I would rather use fridge soda than go back and say, “Oh, now could I borrow your baking powder? Cause really, I am so incompetent that I didn’t read the recipe all the way to the bottom so now I have to make a second trip here.”
But guess what? You can substitute baking powder for baking soda, but you can’t substitute baking soda for baking powder.
It’s been a busy week up here in the Brew City and the surrounding areas. More rain than ever before, I guess. Manhole covers popping out of the streets and destroying SUVs. Flooded basements. Lakes disappearing. Houses getting washed away. Sewer pipes getting overwhelmed.
The good news for SH and me in all of this is that we didn’t like the carpet in our basement rec room to begin with (the finished part of the basement is about 300 square feet), that we hadn’t moved his sofa, stereo and TV into the rec room yet, and that our insurance, unlike many others, covers basement drain backups. (In the future, I am all in favor of the City of Milwaukee letting that untreated sewage run into the lake rather than letting it back up into peoples’ basements. Just saying.)
The other good news is that our contractor/general handyman guy, whose name I am not going to tell you because I want him available to work only for us, was at the house on Monday anyhow to meet me about the shoeing on the second-storey floors. He pulled the wet carpet out of the basement that afternoon so I didn’t have to smell it rotting down there the rest of the week.
The other other good news is that despite the inspection report telling us we needed to put fill dirt in the backyard and that we needed to replace the concrete divoting between the driveway and house with foam rope covered with a silicone sealer to prevent water getting into the basement, the basement walls stayed dry, so maybe those are not high-priority projects. (A sump pump, however, is.)
As is getting replacement carpet, which really, is not such a bad thing. When I called Lindley to tell her our basement carpet had been ruined, she chirped, “Now you get to get new carpet!” And she’s right. There’s a lot to be said for hotel-dull oatmeal carpet, like, it doesn’t matter if kids spill kool-aide on it because it’s already so ugly that making it uglier doesn’t matter so that’s where we would send our friends’ kids when they come to visit. Perfect.
But we’re going to live in the fast lane now that we’ll be getting that Big Insurance Check. In the House That Was All Wrong For Us, the basement had a fun, cheery red plaid carpet that was perfect with the paneled walls – a ‘50s retro look that went great with the beer stein collection displayed on one wall. This is an opportunity to put that red plaid carpet in our basement.
It is also an opportunity to rescue the wood stairs to the basement, which had been covered with the hotel-oatmeal carpet. It should be illegal to cover hardwood floors and stairs. I don’t know why any carpet installer with a conscience would do so, except I suppose they have bills to pay like anyone else. Still, I hope it makes them just a little bit sick to their stomachs.
Me: That's great! So be here next Saturday. We'll start loading the truck at noon.
Guy who's going to help us move: Bob said you were going to pay ten dollars an hour?
Guy: Would you be willing to pay more than that?
Guy: Well. OK.
Me: Thanks so much! See you next week!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
I don’t want to scare y’all or anything, but two of the couples I know (and I know this is correlation and not necessarily causation, but why take the chance) who shared an email address have divorced.
I have ranted about this before – why would you share an email address with your spouse? What makes anyone think that spouses should share every little piece of information that their friends send to them? I didn’t tell one friend a lot of the good stuff when she shared an email with her husband. “But I tell him everything anyhow,” she told me, which really ticked me off, because really, are my Female Problems his bidness?
Back to the issue. It costs nothing – nothing -- to get your email address. It’s free. Why would you share? It just seems to be asking for trouble.
Monday, October 4, 2010
One of my first questions to our new neighbor, Coach, was, “Do you mind if I kill the rabbit that lives between our houses?”
He probably thinks I am a bloodthirsty monster, but so what? I want to grow tomatoes and I am not going to let any rodent steal my work.
Besides, the more I talk to our new neighbors, the more I realize we have a lot of leeway before we look bad compared to the previous owner of the house, who, apparently, never once cleaned the gutters, which you know, if you have gutters, is Not A Good Thing. If you don’t have gutters and haven’t just lived through incredibly heavy rains that caused a lake to disappear, manhole covers to pop out of the streets and houses to wash away, just trust me on this.
Anyhow. Back to the dead rodents.
When Patrick and Ilene were here, we took them to the house. The backyard neighbors were out, so we introduced ourselves. “Oh!” they said. “Neighbors who talk!”
When I met Coach’s wife yesterday, she said that she and I had already spoken more than she and Previous Owner had in an entire year. Then she gave me all the gossip.
When P.O. moved in, Coach went over with a six pack and introduced himself. P.O. took the beer, said thanks, and closed the door.
Coach’s dad is a snow-blowing fiend and blows everyone’s sidewalk, including P.O.’s, which is a great thing, because if you don’t clear your sidewalk within 24 hours of a snowfall, the city fines you. (Welcome to the Great White North, where they also send The Appliance Inspector out to make sure that Sears installed your washer correctly – because Sears surely doesn’t know what it’s doing – your tax dollar at work.) For an entire winter, Coach’s dad cleared P.O.’s sidewalk – and not once, did P.O. thank him.
He didn’t even ask Coach, “Hey – do you know who’s been clearing my sidewalk?”
For the record, I told Coach’s wife that if Coach’s dad wants to clear our sidewalk, I will bake him as many brownies as he wants.
Me [looking around the exercise room]: Why am I the only one who has visible panty lines under my gym clothes? What do all of you know that I don’t?
Other student: Boy pants. They prevent chafing, too. [Me: Chafing? What chafing? Yet another secret I don’t know about. Where is the manual? How come nobody tells me these things?]
Me: Oh. I thought maybe I was the only one who had a flabby butt and the rest of you all had buns of steel.
Friday, October 1, 2010
I seem unable to get my lazy butt off the couch today, where I have fallen sway to my new guilty pleasure, the Denise Richards reality show (did she really give all those shoes, including her Jimmy Choos, to Goodwill rather than stop cussing? Say it ain’t so, Denise!), so I am going to give youse something to think about that Dr J sent to me. This falls under med school nerd humor, as the Bodacious Red-headed Pediatrician would classify it. She liked the story of Dr J calling me to tell me that my Anatomy of a Sleepless Night was really the Patho-Physiology (or whatever) of a Sleepless Night, so she’ll probably appreciate this.
Dr J wrote and asked me why we use the word “asshole” to demean someone when really, it is an anatomical structure that serves most people faithfully and well. He questions the justice and fairness of using that word pejoratively and suggests “quidnunc” instead, which I had to look up.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
We got the list of items that must be clean for SH to get his apartment deposit back. I called to ask if I can be present for the inspection.
I asked how much it costs for them to do the cleaning.
$30 an hour.
I’ll clean for $30/hour. I’ve never seen a maid clean as well as I do. I’d be happy to take $30/hour to do a crummy job.
Among the things we have to clean (and this is the short list):
Clean the “chandelier” in the dining room. You and I both know that thing wasn’t clean when SH moved in. We know the previous occupant/the cleaning service did not remove each of the five glass whatchamcallits that cover the bulbs and wash them, as I just did. We know they didn’t dust the chain and the arms.
Stove drip pans. Oh sure.
Windows and storm windows (that is, remove the windows and clean the storm windows, too.) Right. Those were clean when SH moved in. Please.
Baseboards. As if.
We know they didn’t clean the shower. I just did so, with a mixture of Ajax with bleach and caustic bathroom cleaner, which you’re not supposed to do, but which is the only way to clean those stupid plastic pebbly showers that get dirty at the drop of a hat. Porcelain is way better but cheap construction materials win every time.
We know they didn’t clean the oven. Or behind the oven or the refrigerator. But we’ll do it, or get charged.
I need to get into the landlord bidness. It looks like an easy way to get rich.
Alex: Ms Factotum, this is Alex from JPMorgan. Would you please confirm for this recorded phone call your old address?
Me: I sent you a letter asking you to change my address.
Alex: Yes, but I need to confirm it on this recorded call.
Me: You realize there are many companies that let me do this online.
Alex: I understand. But I need you to confirm your old address and birthday.
Me: My old address is 123 Main.
Alex: I need the full address.
Me: Oh good grief. My old address is blah blah blah. My new address is blah blah blah.
Alex: I don’t need the new address, but I do need your birthday.
Me: For pete’s sake. 10/19/63.
Alex: I’ll be sending you a form to complete verifying your old and your new address.
Me: You mean my letter and a recorded phone call are not enough?
Alex: I need to send you the form.
Me: That’s fine. I have a pension with a paper company. Y’all just keep using paper. It’s more money for me.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
SH: But I like my tapered-leg jeans.
Me: They make it look like you have a big butt.
SH: No they don’t.
Me: Yes, they do. They make you look like an inverted triangle.
SH: But they’re comfortable. They were really in style a few years ago. What if they come back? And they look good on me.
Me: No, they don’t. If there is one thing I’ve learned from “What Not to Wear,” it’s that you shouldn’t wear tapered-leg jeans.
SH: What about these?
Me: Those are a lot better. They are fitted around your butt and have a straight leg. You have a great butt. I want to see it.
SH: OK. What about these? They have a straight leg but are relaxed fit.
Me: Relaxed fit is code for “I’ve gained weight but don’t want to go up a size.” Those are too loose around your butt.
SH: But they’re really comfortable.
Me: They don’t look as good as the snug ones.
SH: Do women really care about how men’s butts look in jeans?
Me: Are you joking?
Me: But how many hats do you need?
SH: This is a Giants hat!
Me: It has sweat on it.
SH: Because I wore it. To a game!
SH: It’s wool!
SH: I’m not getting rid of it.
Me: What about the other 47?
SH: Some of those have never been worn. I’ve had some of those since college. Pete gave me some of those.
Me: Are you ever going to wear them?
SH: That’s not the point.
Me: Somewhere, there are little children in China getting sunburned noses and squinting.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Sorry for the light posting. I’ve been moving stuff to the house, one carload at a time, which really means I pack stuff in the apartment, carry it downstairs to the car, drive it to the house after I go to the Y (optimizing fuel usage -- Y is on the way to the house), then carry it into the house and try to figure out where to put it. SH will be gone for most of the next two weeks, so I am very carefully packing his CDs and wondering why he has a copy of the soundtrack from “Pocahontas.” Maybe I don’t want to know. I am also trying not to ask questions about the Britney Spears, Debbie Gibson, and Avril Lavigne CDs. I love the man. If pop music is his worst vice, I can live with that.
My friend Bruce is driving up from northern Illinois on Thursday with his van to help me move a bunch of stuff from the storage unit to the house. I didn’t even ask for his help. We’re at an age where you don’t get to ask your friends to help you move any more, even the friends who have a pickup (pickups?). You do it yourself or you hire someone. But he volunteered. I said yes before he could get the words out.
So – I am going on a baking rampage tomorrow. If the man is willing to spend a day carrying my stuff up and down the stairs, I can at least make him some triple-chocolate brownies and some oatmeal cookies. Yes, I suppose I could stop at the brownies, but I know SH will want some and we have (I am not making this up) at least 15 pounds of chocolate (it fills the produce bin in the refrigerator with four bags of chocolate chips, two boxes of cookies, and the fabulous truffles that Cheeseguy and the Bodacious Red-headed Pediatrician brought for us left over) that we’ve accumulated since we met, so it’s time to get cracking. The oatmeal cookies are for Bruce alone – SH does not like them.
I am thinking perhaps I should wait until late tomorrow night to bake. Just to make the crazy laundry people happy.
Serious Honey finally got sick and tired of the crazy laundry people and their 6:00 a.m. carpet sweeping and banged on their door this morning.
SH: I’m tired of waking up in the morning because of the darn noises you people make. I don’t know if you’re scraping or raking your floor at 6:30 in the morning—
CLP: This is our lifestyle! We’re following the rules. We’re not doing anything wrong. We hear you too, late at night, slamming your patio door* at 11:00 or midnight, cooking at 9:00 or 10:00.
SH: 9:00 is late?**
CLP: Look here. This is Wisconsin, not New York. Most people here get up early.
* Because of global warming and the cold Wisconsin May, we did not slide the patio door open much until this week.
** The apartment rules are that the quiet hours are from 10 pm to 8 am.
Me: Where are you, Walter?
Walter [if that is his real name]: The Sears Service Center.
Me: No, I know that. I just called you, remember -- about our washer and dryer? Where in the world are you?
Walter: I cannot tell you.
Me: Why not?
Walter: Security reasons.
Me: Security? What – Sears is a terrorist target? Sheesh.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Because they said our Scratched and Dented washer and dryer would be delivered between 4:45 and 6:45.
Because the grouchy guy gave SH a “courtesy call” to tell him that the delivery guys were running late and they wouldn’t be at the house until 7:30 to 7:45.
Because I called India at 8:01 and the confused and heavily accented young woman told me I was being number 16 on the list, that the delivery guys were making delivery 14, that they were being somewhere in “Milwaukee City,” that no, she could not be making me delivery 15, no, she could not be refunding our delivery charges, and no, she would not let me be speaking to a supervisor.
Because I called the Scratch and Dent place and the manager, who promised to refund the delivery charge, could not reach the delivery office people and find out what was going on. They’d all gone home for the day.
Because the washer and dryer did not arrive until 8:40. That’s p.m. P.M. After I’d been at the house since 11, after two classes at the Y, moving boxes from the garage into the house all day, in about 110% humidity, with no shower.
Because when I went online later, I could not find a single email address or phone number for a Sears executive.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Me: You ate all the dill-pickle Pringles and didn't save me even one?
SH: Yeah, but I didn't even open the cassava chips yet.
Me: That's only because they're on top of the refrigerator and you wouldn't be able to hide that they were open.
SH: Well. Yeah.
Serious Honey will complain in his leftist way that The Man is Keeping Him Down. I pointed out to him that he is The Man, what with being the white, middle-class, educated, well-compensated professional that he is.
No, he’s not, Patrick pointed out. Not until he owns property.
Thanks to our wonderful, wonderful realtor, Todd Weickardt, SH is now a property owner. Welcome to the conspiracy.
Mise en place: SH is going through boxes of his college books and notes. (He and I went to the same college and graduated the same year.)
Me: Why don’t you put those yearbooks in the trash?
SH: But it’s the Campaniles! I can’t throw away my Campaniles!
Me: But I have copies and mine are in better shape.
SH: Why wouldn’t we want two copies? I think it would be kind of cool.
Me: Well, sure, if we are going to get divorced in a few years. Then we can each have our own copies again when we divide our assets. But I’m confident enough about this relationship that I think we can have just one copy.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
9:45 Turn out lights.
9:50 Can’t breathe. Crap. I don’t want to take any more Sudafed because it dries me up so much.
9:55 Still can’t breathe. When was the last time I was sick, anyhow? Sick enough that I didn’t go to the gym – let’s see – August 1995 for sure. I don’t get sick. I am insulted that my body would betray me like this. I might as well not exercise, not eat right and not get enough rest if I am going to get sick anyhow.
10:00 Surrender. Take one tablet of Walgreen’s version of Nyquil. Read “Women’s Health” for the next half hour waiting for the low dose of Sudafed to take effect. Stupid magazine. It’s gotten crass and dumb. I’m going to cancel my subscription. I really don’t need to see “WTF?!!!”s scattered in reading material I have paid for. Yes, I know I am officially a grouchy old lady, but honestly, if you’re a good writer, you don’t need to resort to cheap tricks like cussing. Bill Cosby is one of the funniest guys around and he's clean.
10:25 Turn out lights. Again.
10:40 Waiting. Waiting. Good thing I didn’t make that chocolate latte this afternoon. I’d be buzzed just from the caffeine. But I think I’ll need it tomorrow.
10:42 What if SH's plane crashes? That would be so awful. If it did, I'm pretty sure Imelda would be calling me the next day to demand that I pay her alimony and COBRA out of his estate because she didn't care what the divorce agreement said. She would also probably want me to do all the work getting the life insurance paid to her. Now I'm mad. She can't even express condolences?
2:00 Wake up. Not congested so much but now nasal tissues dry and sore. Take aspirin and drink an entire glass of water, which is its own sentence to be up again in an hour.
2:30 Can’t fall asleep. I should probably not have children if I am turned into such a whimpering mess at the midpoint of a night with only a little sleep.
2:47 Fall asleep, then wake self up immediately with loud snore. So embarrassing. Good thing SH is in Arizona.
3:32 Jerked awake by shrill beep. Smoke alarm battery? Will it continue? Could it somehow be the crazy laundry people, finding new ways to torment me?
3:58 Sniffle sniffle sniffle. Not blowable. Too sticky in the back of the throat. Sudafed has worn off, but I don’t want to take any more.
5:27 Sun rises. I notice.
5:45 Massive headache. Take more aspirin, but only a handful of water from the sink to swallow because I don’t want to wake all the way up by going into the kitchen for a glass.
6:02 Crazy laundry people flush toilet.
6:04 Crazy laundry people running ladders in their bedroom.
6:45 Surrender. It’s going to be a long, caffeine-filled day.
Me: Have you ever seen that show "John and Kate plus Eight?"
My sister, the neonatal NP: No. I refuse to in any way support the idea that it's OK to have six kids at once -- that it's soooo cute.
Me: You mean, women aren't supposed to have litters?
My sister: Yeah.
Caller: Hi. I’m calling from the police association. We’re raising money to create a safer work environment and to create scholarships for youth. [Talk, talk, talk so I can’t get a word in edgewise.] This year, we’re having a celebrity basketball ga—
Me [very politely, even though I’m thinking, “Isn’t this what taxes pays for?”]: I’m very sorry. We won’t be able to participate. Thank you!
Caller: --but we have programs starting at just $20—
Me [again, very politely]: Thanks. Goodbye.
Caller: Well, you’ve been a big help.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Mise en place: I am unscrewing the elbow joint under the kitchen sink after a few handfuls of parsnip and turnip peels have (apparently) clogged the drain/disposal.
SH: What are you doing?
Me: Trying to unclog the drain.
SH: Why didn’t you ask me to do it?
Me: What would you do differently from what I’m doing?
SH: I don’t know.
Me: Would it make you feel better if I freaked out when something like this happens?
10 For i = 1 to N
20 Apply for mortgage so you can buy house in Wisconsin
30 Get a savings account with credit union so you can get mortgage from credit union
40 Show Wisconsin driver’s license to open savings account
50 Get Wisconsin driver’s license
60 Show proof of residency (ie, mortgage) to get Wisconsin driver’s license
70 Next i
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
So I have been on this crying jag that won’t end. I don’t know what’s going on. Yesterday, I got an explanation of benefits for a doc visit I had last month and it said I would owe $298 for the visit, even though I had seen an in-network doctor and the charges were allowable. I felt the blood drain from my face and my stomach start to turn. I had been so careful to find an in-network doctor and to check with the insurance company to make sure he was still in the network and to read the benefits brochure to make sure my stuff was covered and then I got this notice that I would be paying oh, $268 more than I thought.
One of my greatest fears is being poor, which is why I am a thrifty person. I buy the bruised apples from the bargain table because they cost $0.75/lb less than the regular ones. I don’t buy produce out of season. I get movies from the library for free rather than renting from Blockbuster. It goes without saying that I don’t buy books, either, even though I am a voracious reader. (Or maybe because.) I go to the cheap magazine website for my subscriptions. I buy my clothes at thrift shops. I do my own yardwork and minor house repairs. If I could figure out how to generate my own electricity cheaper than I could buy it, I would. I don’t waste money.
I don’t do this so I can have extra money to pay $298 for a doctor’s visit that I thought was going to cost $30. I do it so I can buy shoes. And pay off my mortgage early. And so I’ll have money when I’m old, because if history teaches me anything, it’s that I will probably live to at least 95, which means I have 51 years of expenses ahead of me.
So to learn that I would have this expense after I thought I had done everything right was more than I could bear. Serious Honey said not to worry, that we would pay it, that it wasn’t a big deal. Even after I called and learned there had been a coding error and that I didn’t owe the money, I was upset. SH didn’t understand. I tried to explain my (irrational, I hope) terror of being poor, but couldn’t.
Then we watched “The Color of Paradise,” which I had seen before, so I knew to be sad from the very beginning. When the sweet, loving little blind boy’s father shows up a day late to pick him up from the blind school to take him home for the summer and the little boy, Mohammed, is weeping as he tells his father he thought he had forgotten him, I started to cry. SH asked why. “Because it’s so sad,” I told him. “How could someone not want this sweet, sweet little boy?”
I cried when Mohammed was reunited with his grandmother and he stroked her gnarled, leathered hands and told her how beautiful they were. I cried when the grandmother didn’t want to let him go to school with his sisters because his father didn’t want anyone in the village to know about his blind son. I cried when the father tricked Mohammed and dumped him off with a blind carpenter to be an apprentice without even letting the little boy say goodbye to his grandmother and sisters. I cried when Mohammed wept because he had been abandoned and thought that nobody loved him, even God, because he was blind. It was a cryfest all around.
Even when the movie was over (and if you’ve seen it, you know the ending and that’s all I’ll say), I kept crying just thinking about it. Poor SH couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and neither could I.
“Maybe I’m scared of being dependent on you,” I said, which I meant as in I have not been financially dependent on another person since I finished college and even though in theory, I have no problem with married women being dependent on their husbands, it is a very different thing when it’s me, who is used to running my own life and making all my own decisions, financial and otherwise, to suddenly feel like I can’t spend any money because I didn’t earn it even though SH is very generous and an excellent provider and has never, ever, ever implied anything of the sort and who even pointed out that I am the one bringing the assets to this marriage and that we wouldn’t be able to afford the house we’re buying if it weren’t for the down payment coming from the sale of my house in Memphis.
But, as I pointed out to him, logic and emotion have nothing to do with each other and I am a total control freak, so here I am about to surrender control of my life so I can share it with him, which I very much want to do because he is the Love of My Life and I am crazy about him and so happy we found each other, but my emotions are saying that if I cannot earn my own way, I am in big trouble. Why won’t my emotions listen to my brain?