Thursday, December 31, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 512: Time and nothingness

Me: Hey! You're not going upstairs to your computer, are you?

SH: Yeah. Why?

Related topic below.*

Me: Because we have to leave for the airport in an hour!

SH: But I have to send a customer email.

Me: Why can't you take your shower first and then send the email? The shower is a little more critical. The customer can wait.

SH: My lunch is warm! And we still have plenty of time! I never take a shower this early!

* Me: So can we sell the NordicTrac when we get home seeing as you have never used it since I met you and you are now going to actually ski [when we are at my mom's] but you didn't use it to get ready to ski like you said you would?

SH: No! What if I get to go skiing for more than one day sometime in the future? I would need it then.

Chats du jour: Miss has to be in the middle of everything

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 722: Funny the penguin being there

SH and I went up to Gary and Bonnie's last night and came back this afternoon. On the way back, we stopped at Fleet Farm, which is the rural version of Menards. You can find all the Menards stuff plus ear tags, bridles, penicillin, and salt blocks. The store sells t-shirts that proudly proclaim, "Mills Fleet Farm: The Man's Mall."

The high point for SH was finding a penguin for the front yard. Doesn't everyone need an eight-foot inflatable penguin? Gary told us about it. On sale! There is nothing a Milwaukeean likes better than A Deal. I am with My People here.

Penguins. On sale half price for $12. Fine. Twelve dollars for a stupid penguin. But when we come out of the store, SH looks at the receipt and says, "They charged me $24 for the penguin!" He marches back into the store, indignant, annoyed.

When he returns, he tells me that guess what, he wasn't overcharged, that it was the four-foot penguin that was $12 and the eight-foot penguin was supposed to be $24, marked down from $48 and he decided he would rather have an eight-foot penguin for $24 than a four-foot penguin for $12.

I married a crazy man.

SH's other high point was getting the gas to work out just right. He got a four-cent per gallon rebate at Fleet Farm. He always wants his gas to end up in round numbers. Wait. Not just in round numbers. In dollars.*

So he figured out how much the gas would cost after the rebate and then got the amount plus the rebate.

Then he decided it really hadn't been worth going inside to claim his 31-cent rebate, although when you consider that it took only 90 seconds to make 31 cents - wait. Hmm. I don't want to do all the math here, but yeah, he has a point. It wasn't worth it when you compare it to his salary, although it's not like he didn't get paid his salary when he got the rebate.


I know.

I married a crazy man.

* He does that with restaurant checks, too. He makes the tip so the total bill comes out even in dollars. I just go to the ladies' room until it's all over.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 41: Christmas

SH and I had a great Christmas. We were home, just the two of us. He didn't work. Not even once. I don't know if he even looked at his email. "But the Europeans! But the Indians!" They can wait is what I say.

We ate of the cream-cheese stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalapenos from the Pioneer Woman. We had bacon-covered beef tenderloin on the grill. Yes, we like our bacon. Yes, SH grills even if he has to walk through snow to get there. Yes, the first meal SH prepared for me was steak and veg on the grill on his snow-covered patio when he flew me from Memphis to Milwaukee in December.* Yes, I married a crazy man. But I still like him.

I gave SH time in a recording studio as his Christmas present. He is going to make a CD. That's the cover above. He wants me to write a novel, which is fine with me, although the timing is yet to be determined. Let's just say that if I publish before certain events come to pass, certain people who know SH might never speak to SH again and he needs to decide if he is OK with that. I am willing to pay that price so we can have winter place Key Biscayne.

But now, maybe we can sell his CD and get rich from that and get around the whole book thing, although really, it's not like the people who would never speak to SH would ever watch Oprah anyhow, so maybe it's not such an issue.

* Yes, this was when I was dating the Moroccan millionaire with whom I had just spent a week in Paris but who expected me to pay my own way there and then who only took me out to eat twice because you know, he was sooo tired of eating out so instead we got food at the grocery store and ate at the kitchen table in his cousin's apartment while he watched TV. Was I an idiot? Oh yes I was. Oh indeed I was. All this and more coming up in a few months in my CF archives.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 38: Turning into a pumpkin

Last night, SH used the second of his four Christmas coupons from last year to take me to Joey's Mob Scene to hear him sing. SH is a fabulous singer and I love to listen to him and the only problem with going out with him is

1. I hate staying up late
2. I hate cigarette smoke
3. I don't drink*
4. They let other people besides SH sing, some of whom, bless their hearts, are not - ahem - blessed in the voice department

But SH promised we would not "stay out late" so at 9:30, off we went. After half an hour, he sang twice, finished his beer. We sat through some good singers and a really, really bad singer who sang a really really bad song.**


And I said, "You bought ANOTHER BEER?"

SH takes a teeny, tiny sip of his beer just to annoy me.

And he said, "Yes."

And I said, "But you said we wouldn't stay out late!"

And he said, "It's not late. It's only 11:00."

And I said, "That's past late. That's late thirty. By the time you finish that beer, it will be past midnight. I thought we were going to leave as soon as you sang again."

And he said, "Midnight is not late. Besides, you said, 'As late as I want.'"

* I'd rather consume my recreational calories in the form of butter and bacon, thank you very much.

** Me: Is this a test of my love?

*** He did let me pick all of his songs. He sang

Country Roads
The Last Waltz
Suspicious Minds
Cruising (with Heather, who also sings beautifully)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 310: For better or for movies

SH: I don't want to watch "My Fair Lady." I want to watch a Serious Drama.*

Me: But it's Christmas! We need to watch something light and happy.

SH: I don't like musicals.** Besides, we watched "Oklahoma" a few weeks ago. I don't want to watch another one.

Me: How about this? Just watch the first half hour. That's all. Then we can watch one of the other ones.

SH [rolls eyes and sighs a deep sigh]: Fine.

Half an hour later.

Me: OK. Turn it off.

SH: What?

Me: It's been half an hour. You don't have to watch any more.

SH: Well. I suppose I could watch a little more.

Me: Nope. We made a deal. Turn it off.

SH: No. Really. I don't mind.

Me: All right. If you insist.

* The other options are "3:10 from Yuma" and "When Did You Last See Your Father?" This is all my own stupid fault because I picked all three movies and I could have loaded the deck my way.

** He has seen exactly one musical in his life and that was "Oklahoma." Which he liked. He thought Shirley Jones was hot. She was.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 328: For better or for vomit

Laverne threw up at 3:30 a.m. last night. I knew nothing about this except I awoke briefly to wonder why SH had the hall light turned on. I woke up at 9:30 this morning (super late) and he woke up to tell me that 1. Laverne had thrown up, 2. he had cleaned it up, and 3. the cats were locked in the furnace room.

The Throw-Up Queen. Pepe le Puke.

I got up, fed the cats (Laverne 1/2 rations), left them in the furnace room in case Laverne threw up again, and returned to bed, where SH and I speculated on the cause of the vomiting. Could it be Laverne's uncanny sense of timing trying to prevent us from going to Bonnie and Gary's lakehouse tonight as we had planned?*

Probably so. We like our friend Regina too much to ask her to go on vomit patrol and as our plan was to have her feed the cats tonight and tomorrow morning when we were gone, we reluctantly called Bonnie to cancel.

After an hour of listening to Laverne whine loudly (her MO when she is deprived of our presence), we decided that if she were going to throw up, she would already have done so. We made the stupid (this is foreshadowing) decision to let her out of the furnace room.

Thirty-seven seconds later, she was vomiting.

Underneath our bed.

On not one rug, but two plus a carpet pad. She misses the WOOD FLOOR we have in the rest of the 85% of the area available to her.

SH: Oh no! Oh no! Get her! Get her!

I grab her, take her back to the furnace room. She spews along the way. I return to the bedroom. SH is madly pulling at the rugs under and next to the bed.

Me: Wait. Stop!

SH: We have to clean this! We have to clean this!

Me: Slow down. It's OK.

SH is trying to lift the nightstand that anchors the side rug.

Me: Stop.

SH: We need to get this out!

Me: No! Let me get a spoon to lift this chunk of vomit off and the rest can dry.

SH: No! It has to be cleaned now!

Me: No, I don't want to use that chemical cleaner on my rugs.** She ate it less than an hour ago, so it's just chewed food with not much chemical in it. Don't rub it into the rug! It's just on top. It will dry and I can brush it off.

SH: We have to do it now! Aren't you grossed out?

Me: Not really.

Later, as we are deconstructing.

Me: One of my problems is that I am way too calm in an emergency.

SH: Yes. You need to learn to panic. You need to develop a sense of drama.

* Or could it be the bacon we gave her as a treat last night?

** The rug I got in Oaxaca and carried on the bus back to the US and the cowhide I got in Argentina only because my friend Jeff said, "If you don't buy it, I will." In retrospect, I should have let him get it because 1. it wasn't that great a bargain - I saw the same thing in San Antonio for about the same price and 2. once I had that darn thing, I had to carry it and it was heavy and I ended up mailing it to myself from Paraguay, which was not cheap.

Chats du jour: Obsession

After my sister tells me that she bought a raincoat* FOR HER DOG.

SH: Well, we're cat obsessed.

Me: No, you're cat obsessed.

SH: So are you.

Me: I never baby talk to the cats.

SH: Even when I'm not around?

Me: Never. NEVER.

SH: So you will probably never refer to yourself as "Mommy" to the cats, either.

Me: If I do, shoot me.

* In her defense, slight as it is, it was a nine dollar Old Navy raincoat. But come on. Clothes? For a PET?

Marriage 201, Lecture 823: For better or for bathroom

SH: Hey! Underwear doesn't belong in the sink!

The bathroom at my former salon in Memphis.

Me: Yes it does.

SH: Maybe in a household of just women.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 215: For better or for baking

Et voila

I am making rum pecan cinnamon rolls, the exact same recipe I made last Christmas that SH loved loved loved. EXACT SAME RECIPE except less sugar and no honey as we discussed last night and which SH approved because we agreed that they were a little too sweet and he does not like honey. He also wanted me to leave out the nuts, which was completely non-negotiable. Nuts can be removed as the eater eats.

SH: Stop! What are you doing?

Me: Go back and read the paper.

SH: But you're using mint dental floss to cut those!

Me: Yep. Do you have any plain?

SH: No.

Me: OK then.

SH: Wait!

Me: What?

SH: The ones on the end are much smaller than the ones in the middle. They need to be re-done.

Me: No. They don't. I'm not a pastry chef. Maybe you should go back and finish reading the paper.

SH: But they won't match.

Me: I think it will be OK.

Chats du jour: Tannenbaum

Let's put the tree* on the stove while we're at church so the cats won't get at it. Oh yeah that's a great idea.

* We didn't get a real tree because we were going to be out of town and we were already asking our friend Regina to feed the cats and scoop their poop and, as it turned out, clean up their vomit, and it seemed a bit much to ask her to water a tree for five days.

When we got home, Menards was out of trees (Menards, how could you betray us this way?) and SH didn't like the trees at Home Depot, especially after the HD Tree Disaster of Ought Five, when Home Depot had already shipped their excess trees back to the supplier by December 22 and our friends Stephen and Leigh lent us a fake fake tree, which you can read about here.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 381: Let it snow

You know you have married the right man when at 1:15 a.m., after you both have spent an hour shoveling the driveway and sidewalk of five inches of snow so you won't have to spend Christmas Eve morning shoveling not only the five inches of snow but the five inches of snow plus the freezing rain that is coming in a few hours that will turn the snow into a mass of heavy, almost impossible to lift slush, he tells you to go back to bed and not only finishes the job but shovels the neighbors' sidewalks as well so they will not have to get up in the morning and shovel.

I couldn't find the snow photo I wanted. Here's a pretty photo of the beach instead.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 490: Foodie

SH: We're having that chicken for supper tonight. And the [roasted] onions?

Me: And the mushroom soup.

Lettuce in my garden this summer.

SH: What about something green?

Me: The onions count as something green.

SH: No they don't.

Me: Yes they do.

SH: No. They don't.

Me: Fine. I'll get some salad stuff.

SH: Just not iceburg lettuce. I'm a lettuce snob.

Me: You're every kind of snob.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Glamor Don'ts for guests

1. If you are invited for Thanksgiving and know that the hostess usually offers to send you home with leftovers, it is OK to bring some tupperware with you and leave it in the car so that if the occasion arises, you can say, "Oh! Mary - don't use all your containers. We have some." It is not OK to bring the tupperware into the house with you. And load it up. As you fill your plate. Before you eat. You will not be invited back next year.

2. If you are invited to your friend's mom's house for Christmas, do not ask her to iron your shirts. And starch them. With light starch. "This is not Burger King," she will tell you. "You can't have it your way here."

3. Also if you are invited to your friend's mom's house for Christmas, do not tell her that you are allergic to whey. There are four other houseguests, three other children and the mom, plus there will be five other guests for Christmas supper. She is not a short-order cook. "We are from the South and eat Southern food here," she says. "Do you see whey anywhere? What is whey anyhow?" Figure out what you can eat, eat it and be quiet except to compliment and thank the cook.

Marriage 201, Lecture 319: She won't do it right

SH and I were away this long weekend at a secret location that I cannot discuss. I even had to delete all my facebook postings about the situation because -- well, just because. I can't talk about it until I write my book in a few years and then you will all know. Watch for me on Oprah and that's all I can say.

SH: But Regina* wasn't going to change the cat litter, was she?

Me: No. I changed it right before we left.

SH: Good.

Me: Why?

SH: What if she didn't do it right?

Me: How can you not change litter right?

SH: What if she changed it too soon? She would waste it!

Me: First of all, we get the stuff from Walmart that costs two dollars. Second, coming from the man who uses tinfoil to line pans [over my objections] just so he doesn't have to wash them [I am the one who washes them, so it is really over my objections], you don't have a lot of credibility on the waste issue.

SH: Well, she could use too much or not enough litter.

Me: Oh for pete's sake. She's had cats. It's not exactly rocket science.

* Regina is our super-sweet next-door neighbor who told us she would have been insulted if we hadn't asked her to feed the cats while we were gone.

** She had to clean up cat vomit not once but three times while we were gone. We've had to do it twice in the ten months we've had the cats. For that alone, she deserves a medal. Yes, we thought changing their food four days before we went out of town was a good idea. Why do you ask?

*** SH is watching me write this. "What if Regina reads this?"

Me: So what? She probably will. And if she doesn't, I'll tell her the story because it's funny. This is not a character assassination of her, it's a funny story about you.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 387: I married him for his money, part 2

Me: That's too expensive.

Other shopper: I know.

Me: But they're so pretty.

OS: I know!

Me: You know, that's only 1.5 in beer units. I'm getting some.

Marriage 201, Lecture 34: I married him for his money

Me: Oh no! I made an apostrophe mistake* [in my blog].

SH [on the phone with me - he is in the Dallas airport reading my blog as we are speaking]: Where?

Me: Fixed it. Too late. You can't see it.

SH: Nope. I'm still on the page. I see it. Ha! I won't be able to stay married to you now. [SH is more of a language snob than I. He proofs casual emails and never abbreviates. Ever. I am lazy and write things like "w/out" and "thx" in my notes to him and my mom. Not SH. He writes everything properly. Ask him the time and he'll build you a watch.]

Me: Yeah, I suppose not.

SH: That'll make my parents happy. They can't understand why I married you in the first place.

Me: Tell them I'm good in bed.

* My second (at least) - Lindy pointed out in the comments that I have been writing "Menard's" all this time and it's actually "Menards." Whoops!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 832: Alert level orange

Items in SH's one-quart liquid bag:

makeup remover
shoeshine swipe
shaving cream
six containers of soy sauce

Because you never know when you will have a soy sauce emergency

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 38: What I like about you

SH: I don't care what you say, Shirley is my favorite.

Me: Yeah. About that. You like those crazy women, don't you?

SH: I like the bad girls, yeah.

Me: So why on earth are you married to me?

SH: Because the bad girls don't make good partners.

Me: So what -- you're just with me because I'm a good cook and financially responsible?

SH: Yes, but you're just as [talented in certain ways that are important to marital intimacy] as the bad girls are.

In the locker room at the Y

You have

1. A tanning booth tan
2. Black lace thong panties
3. A huge tramp stamp

And yet you are too modest to take off your bra in front of me and must go through the French "Change out of the clothes and into the bikini under the towel" routine?*

Honey. Please.

As if I have never seen breasts before.

As if you have never shown them before.

* OK, really, the "Put the sports bra on first and then remove the black lace bra" routine.

Chats du jour: In the merde

This is what my life has become: I now have to take a flashlight into the basement* so I can look at what I think is Shirley's uncovered poop.** I'm not sure it's hers, but I think it is. Laverne is a good poop coverer. Shirley?

Shirley has SH fooled. She has Laverne fooled, too. Not me. Not me, honey.

Not so much. She doesn't seem to get this whole "scoop some litter over the poop" thing. She scratches at the box but that doesn't accomplish anything, does it Shirley?

SH thinks she is sweet.

I think she is a glass-breaking, fig-eating, hat-sitting spawn of Satan, but she has a protector.

As soon as SH is gone, though. Just watch your back, Missy, is all I have to say.

Anyhow, I have to look at the poop to see if it is still bloody. You know -- that little bloody poop problem that could be worms (but a $40 lab test later, wasn't) or cancer or IBS (because our cats lead such stressful lives? please) or feline leukemia or food allergies.

Considering the treatment for almost all of these would cost almost as much as a new car and definitely more than a new cat, I had ruled out treating them, but the food allergy treatment was not so expensive although more than I was thrilled about paying. Thirty dollars for venison cat food. Sheesh. I should have just driven up to my uncle's place and gotten some of his venison sausage. It would have been cheaper and I would have gotten to see my family.

We put the cats on the venison diet a week ago. I've been checking the poop. If you are squeamish (Lindy) stop reading now.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

OK. The poop is no longer soft and bloody. It's harder and blood free. So I guess that's good. No cancer. No IBS. No kitty zoloft.

The bad is now we have to buy $30 bags of cat food. Honestly.

* Because we did not install a light over the litter box even though SH was worried that the cats would not be able to see it. Cats can see in the dark, I pointed out to him.

** When my friend L had her first baby, I asked if it was so bad changing C's diapers, considering C was L's baby. L looked at me and said, "It's still shit."

Wisconsin 101: Wisconsin nice, #53

I hear the trash guys approaching. I have left a 24-pack of Miller longnecks next to the trash can as their Christmas tip. I run out to the street in nothing but my PJs and robe. It is 5 degrees. Five.

Regardez le beer. I don't think anyone would steal beer, but you never know.

Me: Hey! I just want to make sure that you guys know that that's not trash. It's for you guys. For Christmas.

Guy: We're not da trash. We're da recycling.

Me: Oh. I thought you were all one team.

Guy: Nope. Dey're different guys.

Me: Rats.

Recycling Guy: I'll make sure dose guys get it. I'll tell dem it's dere. Dey'll get it.

Me: I'll leave something for you next week. I mean the week after that.

RG: Oh dat's OK. You don't gotta do nuttin'. [shakes my hand] Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chats du jour: Cat in the hat 2

Marriage 201, Lecture 491: Save Big Money at Menards #67

SH did repair the beard trimmer, but it is not a permanent repair. Turns out the soldering iron is not quite up to par, so he had to tape the battery to the mount to keep it there (my idea) and then solder it for the contact. Something about how the soldering iron couldn't get hot enough to melt the - stuff - and all that technical fixit guy blah blah blah. He did trim his beard and will get a few more trims, but this is not permanent.

SH: This isn't going to last.

Me: Uh oh.

SH: I might have to buy a new one.

Me: But I thought you were going to shave the beard off because of the scratchy issue.

SH: No. I might have to get a new soldering iron. I've had this one since high school.

Me: Oh. Well. That's OK, then.

SH: I guess I'll have to go to Menards. [He was happy about that, I could tell.]

Me: Should you look at Consumer Reports first? You do have a tendency to cheap out sometimes.*

SH: It's a SOLDERING IRON. Consumer Reports doesn't review things like that.

* Well, he does. Now he believes me that the generic brand isn't always better on things like oh say, Q-Tips. Sometimes things are not better because they are more expensive, they are more expensive because they are better. Sayeth the gold digger. Love ya, honey!

The Busybody Czar

Little did I know when I wrote this that there probably would be a Busybody Czar in this administration.

My sweetie Harpo had a great post yesterday about public service ads and what a waste they are of taxpayer money. He says that we are paying the government to be a bunch of busybodies, telling us what to do.

I agree that I don’t want the government spending my money to have someone else tell me what to do, but what if I got to have the job of chief bossy busybody?


I would be perfect. I already tell people what to do (most times under my breath) as a hobby. To get paid for it would be a dream come true.

Really, it would be my ideal job. Even Ilene, the BR-HP, noted in a comment a few weeks ago that I would be great as a protocol officer because I like so much to tell people what to do.

This job would be best as a cabinet-level appointed position – the Busybody Czar – but if it had to be an elected position, I still think I could get the job pretty easily. Just off the top of my head, here are some planks for my platform that I’ll bet would get the agreement and votes of most right-thinking people. Remember that I would have the power to deputize.

Go here to read the platform.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 498: For better or for early

So you guys remember how I had this stupid idea of, Oh honey, we don't need to buy a second* car! Why waste the money when we don't have that much overlap in car need? I can just drive you to the airport and other than that, we're copacetic?

Another gorgeous photo from Gary, storer of cars.

If I were an environmentalist (I am not), I would have positioned it thusly: As a Friend of The Earth, it is my responsibility to minimize my Carbon Footprint and to be mindful of how much of our Precious Natural Resources I consume.

But I don't care.

As a gold-digger, I just want to use that car money for other things.

Like shoes. And purses.

But this morning, I had a revelation.

Is it really worth it?

Let me rephrase the question.

This morning, at 5:28 a.m. when SH's alarm went off so he could prepare to fly to Dallas at 6:45, I had a revelation.

Is it worth saving $10,000 plus annual maintenance and taxes to get up that early?

I think maybe not.

Oh sure, I used to get up at 5:00 a.m. to go to an exercise class run by a former Marine Corps drill instructor before work. But I also went to bed by 9:30. Or 9:00. Or 8:30. Yes, those were in the pre-SH days when I got as much sleep as I wanted.

But now, I stay up late because SH stays up late and I don't have anywhere to be in the morning so there is no reason for me not to adjust my schedule.

Staying up late + getting up early = crummy rest of the day for me today, as in, I meant to send the servants to the grocery store while I took a nap, but I was too tired to think clearly, so went myself.

I had a coupon for $1 off the total bill and for $1 off seedless tangerines, which is one of the few fruits that SH actually likes. (He just tolerates some fruits**, and I mean "tolerate" in the dictionary definition, not in the feel-good, embrace definition.) Usually, as a gold-digger, I say hahahaha to coupons. Coupons are for poor people! But hey, it was like cash throwing itself at me and the less money I spend on food, the more money I have for shoes, right? Unless I can make my husband work even harder, which is what we gold-diggers do as we sit on the sofa, eat bon-bons, watch soap operas and crack the whip. Except no that wouldn't work either because SH doesn't get paid OT. So the only way for there to be more money in this house is for me to work and we gold-diggers?

We don't work.

So anyway.

I was so wiped out from having to TAKE MY HUSBAND TO THE AIRPORT AT 6:12 A.M. that I forgot to use the coupons.



I think we need to get that second car. This exhaustion is making me waste money. I can see the trend starting already. The car would pay for itself in no time. No time at all.

* Really a third car but the Corvair is in the garage of Gary and Bonnie's lake house -- yeah, they call it a "cottage" but it's bigger than our only house but whatever, I guess they can call it what they want, especially as they are fantabulously nice enough to let SH keep his old car up there and to invite us up there to hang out with them and go on a wine cruise on their boat. Air kiss!

** The fruits not ending in "erry" and not bananas, at least not bananas in their natural form, although banana bread is OK. Yes, I have a spreadsheet with all the rules.***

*** Not really. But I should.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 326: Mr Fixit

And he fixed it. My amazing Terminator Engineer husband is that good. I feel sorry for women who are married to men who can't fix things.

TosaGuy noted that Americans don't fix their own stuff anymore. I am proud*/worried to say that SH is trying to fix his beard trimmer. (Turns out the battery is corroded and needs to be removed and a new one soldered in. Why isn't that "L" pronounced?) He has also taken this opportunity to remind me that I should not have donated his other beard trimmer to Goodwill and this is yet another instance, like the salad spinner, where my haste to get rid of stuff has Led To Disaster.

* One of the most romantic things SH has ever done was when we had been dating about six months. I told him I wanted a break -- didn't want to see or talk to him for a month because I needed to know if I would miss him and I had to find a job. You know, because I was a gold-digger and just using him for his money that he didn't have because he was so vicious in his divorce.

Anyhow, I blogged about how both my washer and dryer had broken in the same day. I figured out what was wrong and had ordered the parts and was going to fix it myself. (Some people suggested just buying new machines, which seemed ridiculous considering the parts were $30. And I was unemployed.)

A few hours later, I had a phone message from SH: "I found a good fare from Chicago tomorrow morning. I'm driving there. I'll rent a car in Memphis. I'm coming to fix your washer. If you don't want me to come, you need to let me know by 8:00 tomorrow morning."

He showed up at my door, even though I had told him to stay away for the month - no, I did not call by 8:00 the next morning - and he was nervous as all heck but he still did it because he didn't want me to be without clean clothes, and FIXED MY MAJOR APPLIANCES.

Is there anything more romantic?

I don't think so.

Chats du jour: Shoulder cat

Marriage 201, Lecture 491: Save Big Money at Menard's #34

SH: Look! An electric chainsaw sharpener!

Me: Wow.

SH: But I don't have a chainsaw.

Me: So we don't need the sharpener.

SH: I guess not.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 63: The Beard, or, The Princess and the Pea

SH: I took my beard trimmer on the trip but I think it broke.

This is our driveway. The Driveway of Death (which leads to the Sidewalk of Slipperiness). Yes. That is a sheet of ice on the left. This is what happens when you buy a house with the roof pitched toward the driveway. Don't do this. When the snow melts, it runs off the roof and down to the driveway, where it freezes again into a deathtrap that will keep you in your house, unable to empty your trash or go to the gym or the grocery store and once you eat all the Nutella, the Hobnobs and the potatoes, you will starve and die.

Me: Uh oh.

SH: So I might need to buy a new one.

Me: No!

SH: Why not?

Me: Because even though you look so handsome with that beard, it hurts when I kiss you so it needs to go, so just shave it off. Please don't waste money buying a new trimmer.

SH: Can't you just get used to the pain?

It goes to 11

This was when I thought 23 degrees was cold. Ha. What did I know?

I had to resort to asking my shoe repair guy, whom I had gone to see about my purse, how I should light the pilot light. He drew me a little diagram and explained that there should be something to depress (besides me, thinking of $6,000 for a new boiler) for several seconds while I light the pilot.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Out of office

I'm a little busy shoveling wet, slushy snow.

Busy getting the car serviced at the place where most of the waiting customers are women but the magazines are all men's magazines. There was one male customer. He brought his car in to have a light bulb changed. Can you believe that? I have always changed the burned out lights in my car myself. I even changed my own fan belts myself. I flushed the radiator myself. And this guy drove to the dealer and waited and paid $70 for somebody else to change the light bulb in his headlight?


Busy trying to get the silver cat hair off my apparently magnetic dark clothes.

And busy watching season one of Big Love, which finally - FINALLY - after three months of waiting, arrived at the library. So what is the deal with Nicki? So sullen and underhanded. What does Bill see in her anyhow? And how on earth did he ever convince Barb to go along with this insanity? I'm all for whatever consenting adults want to do*, including heroin or three-ways, as long as they don't commit tax fraud, but I would never consent to this. Never.

Season two awaits. Later.

* Well, not "all for" -- I find many things morally problematic, but I don't think things consenting adults do should necessarily be illegal is all.

Wisconsin 101: Of course there will be beer

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wisconsin 101: The drugstore

Marriage 201, Lecture 327: Goldilocks and the gold-digger

You guys. I bought the Expensive Shampoo and Conditioner yesterday. This was a huge decision. I have been a Suave kinda gal for years. Oh sure, when I was working, I might splurge and get Neutrogena. Ilene might remember how I agonized over that decision, doing the per-condition cost and deciding I was worth an incremental three - or was it four? - cents a day.

My eighth-grade hair that needed nothing to look shiny. The black eye? From when our neighbor punched me after I punched her in the nose. After she said something nasty about my dad, who had called the cops on her boyfriend, who had refused to stop driving fast in our cul-de-sac after my dad had asked him to stop because of the little kids who lived there.

But now I do not work for money. Or not much money, anyhow. As lucrative as it might sound, cleaning out old email accounts does not take that much time and does not pay that much per hour, especially when one is working as a contractor and has to pay self-employment taxes plus pay income taxes at the top rate, thank you very much Congress. Oh how I hate hate hate paying taxes especially for things like BUYING BREAKFAST FOR THE KIDS IN MY AFFLUENT SCHOOL DISTRICT.* But it's better than nothing and I can do it in my PJs, so thank you, Luke and keep it coming.

So anyway. I have been using Suave and occasionally, when I have been feeling flush, the CVS version of Pantene, but my hair has become more demanding. I color it (it used to be for fun, now it's to cover the gray). The air here is really dry in the winter, and I swim, which is hard on my hair even though I use a swim cap.

The coloring is not a horrible amount of trouble but it is a bit of a pain in the neck. It takes about an hour and a half and I do it every three weeks or so. It's not my favorite thing and if I can keep the color from fading and reduce the coloring frequency, that would be a good thing.

I ran out of shampoo. I was in Target yesterday looking for the Suave shampoo for color-treated hair when I overheard this tatooed, Flock of Seagulls haired guy talking to his girlfriend about hair products. "No, you have to get this [styling gel stuff because blah blah blah]."

I had been looking - just looking - at the John Frieda shampoo and conditioner, which costs about a gajillion times more than the Suave stuff, which I couldn't even find, which ticked me off, because Walgreens was out, too, but I had just done the math and had thought if I am paying $9 every time I color (well, $4.50 because I use only half the package), why I am cheaping out on the shampoo but does the shampoo even matter?

So I interrupted them. "Hey. Are you a hair guy?"

"Um. Yeah. Why?"

"I color my hair. Does it matter which shampoo I use?"

"Oh yeah. Some shampoos will totally strip the color from your hair."

"So what about this? Is it any good?" I showed him the expensive John Frieda (which was on sale).

"Yeah. That's good. But don't use [he named a brand I don't remember]."

I thanked him, converted the Frieda shampoo into beer units, and realized that I would get three months of shampooing and conditioning out of the equivalent of two premium beers. It was an easy decision after that.

* Did you know that I am supposed to be ashamed that Wisconsin parents feed breakfast to their children rather than depending on the government to do so? From the local paper: Long shamed by its history of trailing the country in breakfasts served in schools, the state has recently made strides in increasing both the number of schools serving breakfast and the percentage of students making that their first meal of the day.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 589: How to optimize free time

SH sold his old car but in Wisconsin, the license plates stay with the owner, not with the car. The tags still have ten months on them. The tags on the red car are about to expire, so we want to switch tags rather than give the State of Wisconsin one more penny of our hard-earned money.

Actually, SH, being a liberal, is cool with paying taxes as long as everybody else is paying them because it's all about fairness. Me, I don't care anybody else is doing. Pay or don't pay, whatever. But you can take my money out of my clenched fist, copper.

I can take some time out of my busy schedule shoveling snow.

Anyhow. To switch the tags, someone has to go to the DMV. Fun, fun, fun. But there is a lien on the car or something because when SH bought the red car from our friends Pete and Julie, something got messed up with the paperwork and SH hasn't cleared it up yet because why do today what you could do next decade? Clearing up this issue requires a visit to the credit union near where SH used to live 20 miles from here. I volunteered to do it. All of it.

SH: But you're not on the account at that credit union.

Me: We're married.

SH: Yeah, but you're not on the account.

Me: I have your power of attorney. (From when we were buying the house before we got married and I had to handle the offer while he was out of town, which you know totally freaked him out, even though I bought and PAID FOR EXCEPT FOR $300 my own house before I married him.)

SH: But a clerk can't do this.

Me: Yeah. So I'll ask for a manager.

SH: It might get complicated. What if you don't do it right?

Me [who had a 4.0 GPA from top-20 B-school and was a National Merit Scholar, but was not Summa Cum Laude or Phi Beta Kappa like my Terminator Engineer husband, so maybe I can't handle it]: Just saying. If you don't want to use some of your VAST FREE TIME to drive 20 miles to handle a clerical transaction at the credit union and then go to the DMV, I'll do it for you. I thought you'd rather use your time to drink beer. That's all.

Marriage 201, Lecture 413: What do we do with the other 23 hours and 50 minutes?

SH and I need a hobby. We each have our own: I like to read and cook and garden; SH likes to sing and drink beer and go out. Unfortunately, there is not much overlap between our hobbies. We both like to eat, so that works. But you can't eat all day long. We like to watch movies, but again, not an all the time activity. We need something to do together that's not just sitting.

We camped and fished when I was a kid.

We discovered we like to "play tennis" as we like to call it, although the casual observer would notice that what we do has little relation to the sport that one sees played on television. "Tennis" is not something we can do in Wisconsin in the winter unless we are willing to spend a lot of money to join a tennis club and pay court fees. Which I am not. Because I am a cheap gold-digger.

So what can we do? SH is dead set against salsa dancing because he doesn't like the music. I am not particularly interested in learning how to restore a '65 Corvair or going to wine-tastings (although we did go to a distillery this weekend and it was really interesting). I suggested volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, which SH would like to do, but -- not something we can do in the winter.

Civil War re-enactment? Nah. Yeah, I know I've slipped into a nasty "I don't have a job and my husband is away most of the time so why should I bathe" habit, but re-enactment requires a level of authenticity that interests me not, although SH and I are both interested in history.

Hiking? Nope (you know how lazy I am) and not a winter option, at least not for moi. I'm cold enough in my house, thank you.

Rosemaling? Too passive.

Cooking classes? We're already pretty good cooks.

Helping with the youth group at church? Too much commitment.

The real solution, of course, is kids, but that is not in the cards for us. If you have children, you don't have time for anything else and in 20 years, you feel as if you've accomplished something.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Chats du jour: The soft cushions

I suppose this is my fault for throwing my down vest on the counter instead of putting it away where it belongs.

I can see clearly now

Oh great. It snowed again. My Texas friends were so excited about their snow earlier this week but trust me the thrill wears off really quickly.

I am deleting more personal emails from company accounts. Reminder: Don't write anything you wouldn't want your boss or your mother to see. Do you know how hard it was for me to hit "delete" instead of reading the whole saga of why this couple was going to marry or not marry and why she was acting the crazy and her past abusive relationships and even though this was supposed to be the good sex room, he better not do it? (I didn't read all of it which is why this does not make sense. I had to read enough to know it wasn't work related. Actually, once I figured out this was personal, I just deleted everything from that email address because I just did not want to know. I did not.)

Here's the dilemma. Do I garage the car so I don't have to brush the snow off the car? Note: there is no snow on the car in this photo. Imagine six inches of snow and ice on the windows and think of the fun of removing it. If I do that, then I have to shovel more driveway and back out through the Straits of the Narrows, which makes SH very nervous. And me.

Yes. I stopped. For one thing, I was on the clock and for another, it was just too ick. But really, people. It's free and you never have to worry that I will know your business and have to fight the temptation to publish it all.

The good news is that I don't have as much money left in my FSA as I thought so I'm not going to have to buy a new pair of glasses (but you guys should know that Macy's is having a fabulous sale -- $99 for frames and lenses, even progressive lenses -- yes that is the frames and the lenses together), which I don't need but I sure wasn't going to let that money go to waste.

I had been looking and looking for frames that I liked. The only ones I'd found were at a shop down the street where the owner makes you make an appointment! an appointment to look at frames! Not an appointment for an eye exam but an appointment to look at frames.

The first time I went there, I walked in and started trying on frames when he told me, "I'm busy."

I said, "I'm just looking."

He said, "But I'm with a customer."

I answered, "That's OK. I'm just looking at frames." I mean, it's not rocket science, is it? I try on, I take off. Try on, take off until I find something I like. When he was finally finished with his customer, he scolded me and told me that I needed to make an appointment next time and be sure to bring my RX.

People. I must be free. I cannot be tied down to The Man for my shopping. I mean. Really.

Naturally, that was the place where I found four frames I liked. I didn't see any others at the five other optical shops I checked. I was desperate to find something where I did not have to return to Appointment Man.

After multiple googles, I discovered that Macy's down the street has an optical shop, so I went there yesterday, stumbled across the sale and two really fun sales associates who spent half an hour trying on frames with me until we found something I liked.

Then I came home and reviewed my paperwork and discovered that I have only $110 left in the FSA account, which is enough to replace the scratched lens in my sunglasses with a Macy's progressive lens, which is really more useful to me than a new pair of regular glasses, as my current pair is new and mod and hip and flattering, so I returned today and talked some more to Laurene, one of the fun sales associates, and we arranged the whole complicated transaction of doing one lens now and one after the first of the year, so hahaha to you Mr Appointment Man you're not getting my money.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Why spellcheck can't do everything

In the winter issue of Wisconsin Magazine of History, there is an article about anarchists in Milwaukee in 1917 (yes, Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty) with the line, "the wave of grizzly assassinations and bombings..."

The image that popped into my mind, after I asked myself the question, "Did I read that right? Am I sure?" Sometimes I think the word is wrong and I'm all smug and, "Look! They made a mistake!" And I write a nasty, superior email and hit "send" and then I realize, Ooops! I was wrong and then I'm all embarrassed but it's too late, so I try to be careful with this sort of thing.

This photo from Gary has nothing to do with this post. It's just pretty. He took it on their recent trip to Greece. This is in Oia.

So I checked with my picky, detail-oriented engineer husband who was raised by wolves -- no, by an English professor and a chemist -- and he agreed that it was supposed to be "grisly" and not "grizzly."

So - back to the image that popped into my mind: A grizzly bear out there killing politicians and cops and then the grizzly bear turned into a polar bear clinging to an ice floe floating out to sea. Oh no! Because polar bears can't swim can they?

Oh wait. Yes. They can.

OK. Polar bears, killing politicians. But they wouldn't do that. Polar bears are sweet. And cuddly. And need to be saved. Save the polar bears. Really.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 491: Save Big Money at Menard's #23

SH: The thing about the Menard's ad is I look at it and see things I didn't even know I wanted.

Me: Like what?

I am as easy to please for Christmas now as I was when I was a kid. Easier, probably, because I don't want any stuff. Nothing. I have all the stuff I will ever need. Except shoes. And purses. You can never have too many shoes or purses. But I don't need them. I just like to have them. Just as SH likes to have electronics. Apparently, a man cannot have too many stereo systems, computers, or DVD players. Even though he can use only one at a time. And cars. We are limited only by our garage space. And money. But he would have a gajillion cars if we were rich and had a place to keep them all.

SH: Look at this toilet seat!

Me: What's so special about it?

SH: It's anti-microbial.*

Me: Is it heated?

SH: No.

Me: Then I'm not interested.**

SH: Are you sure? Look. There's this little holly thing next to it. I could get it for you for Christmas.

* Not that we are in the habit of 1. peeing on the seat or 2. going long periods without cleaning the toilet -- Thursday is my housecleaning day. And really, after two years of living in South America, working with women who had outhouses (I always carried toilet paper with me) and no running water and then backpacking my way home, staying in the "Fs" and "Gs" in the South American Handbook, I laugh at the idea that any toilet in the United States could bother me with "microbes." After you have peed into a hole in the ground at the bus station in La Paz while an indigenous woman watched you try to balance your backpack as you squatted because you sure weren't going to take it off and put it down on that rank, smelly concrete, there is nothing here that will trouble you. I would eat in most US bathrooms.

** You laugh, but you try getting up in the middle of the cold Wisconsin night in a house built in 1928 that leaks heat (so of course you are not going to crank the thermostat and watch your hard-earned money fly through walls) and sitting down on an ice-cold toilet seat and see how easy it is to fall back to sleep after that.

Photo by my mom, the Big Factotum. Yes. I was a natural blonde once.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Work rules

I am working on a project for a friend, cleaning out the email of terminated employees at this company. The company has to pay for email storage space but can't delete these accounts completely because they need to keep the work-related emails of certain projects.

So what's the issue, you are asking? Why do I need to clean the accounts?


Because one lady has 45,000 emails that are mostly personal email and spam.

Because she was using her work email as her personal email address (even though you can get a hotmail address for free -- hello you married couples who insist on sharing an email address -- how is that working for you* the at least four couples I know with shared emails who have divorced?) to order stuff from Lands' End and eBay and everywhere else and oh to put postings on craigslist for her real-estate business that she was apparently running from work.

This woman got spam from every weight loss, viagra, college degree, and watch making place there is (and apparently never deleted any of it in two years). She made appointments to show houses using her work email. She applied for jobs using her work email.

I don't know if there is a moral to the story** because this lady is not working at this place any more and she was held in high regard while she was there. Perhaps a better moral is don't bookmark porn sites on your computer if you work at the World Bank because when you go on vacation, the temp who replaces you (that would be me in my post-Peace Corps job search in DC when I wanted to stay in international development) will find them and be so horrified that she will delete them all.

* SH's dad, who shares an email address with his mom, asked SH in a phone conversation if SH's email was "secure" because he wanted to send SH something that he apparently did not want me to read. Not that I would ever read SH's email (I don't even know his password), but SH's first loyalty is to me, not to his parents, so if it is an issue that involves me, I will know about it. If it's none of my business, I don't care, which is why the whole shared email address thing puzzles me. I want to be able to send my friend an email without her husband knowing my business, especially if it has nothing to do with him.

** As long as you are not the one paying the bills. If you are, the moral is, Tell your employees they can't use their work email for personal matters and allow them to get on the internet for a reasonable amount of time during the workday.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Cleaning tip #24

Throwing the fish blanket you got on that great trip to Cancun with Harpo where you had so much fun going to the Cancun Walmart (really!) into the dryer with a dry cleaning sheet does not remove the cat urine smell from the blanket. It merely adds the fragrance of dry cleaner sheet to the cat urine smell, which is not a combination the big perfume houses will be rushing to market next season.

The cat urine smell is on the blanket because you did not chase Shirley around the bedroom to kick her out because you did not want to wake SH up after his third night of working until 4 a.m. so you thought, Well, I'll just leave the door cracked and she'll go out when she's good and ready, which she did, but then you forgot about the part where you closed the basement door so Laverne, who is much slower and not as sneaky as Shirley and you did catch her at 6:32 a.m. and throw her into Siberia, would not get back into the kitchen and bedroom and start whining and wake SH up, and blocked Shirley from getting to the litter box.


You see the problem here.

Even if I didn't.

So at 9:04 a.m., Shirley needed to pee, as cats often do after 12 hours of being denied access to the box, so she looked for the softest, most absorbent place she could find, which of course was the fluffy quilt on top of the fish blanket on top of the rug we got in Morocco, not the easy-to-clean tile bathroom floor or easy-to-clean wood kitchen floor, and let go.

Moral of the story: Chase your cat, no matter what. Or get an upstairs litter box.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Wisconsin 101: Old World Third Street

Of course there's a fish fry. Those white spots are not your dirty computer. They are snowflakes. Oh yay.

You thought there was just "sausage?" You were wr- wr- wr. Not right.

Chats du jour: Cat in the box in the box

Marriage 201, Lecture 37: Get out of jail free

SH is on an all-day cranky, love means you don't have to say you're sorry pass because I got out of bed at 6:50 a.m. for good after first getting up at 6:32 to throw the cats in the basement. This is a little earlier than usual for me but once I wake up, I wake up and the darn cats. The darn cats.

SH usually wakes up cheery, but not today.

Usually, SH falls back to sleep easily, but not this time, probably because last night, he was up late (past 2 a.m.) working for the third night in a row, paying the price for the long weekend. The Europeans expect stuff no matter what, even though when they're on vacation, they're On Vacation (let's talk about The French, shall we?).

So when I got up, he got up Very Cranky because he just couldn't sleep any more and it's all been downhill since then and I am just staying out of his way*. We have negotiated that in the future, even if I have to see a man about a dog twice in a row, I will return to bed and lie there staring at the ceiling until at least 7:30 a.m. during the week*** and later on the weekends.**** Which is fair, I suppose, as I have nowhere to be and no clock to punch.

* Not really.

** But this is the kind of cranky that even an offer of you know what doesn't cure.

*** I would not have to do this if our APPLIANCES WEREN'T SO NOISY. Thank you, Sears.

**** I need to tell you about the Crazy Laundry People from the apartment.

Thursday photo

No they don't. St Nick's candy goes in the shoes. Everybody knows that. Everybody.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Eating for fun

At reading with the preschoolers this morning, looking at the book cover below.

Girl: Wait. I have a cricket in my neck.

Me: What's happening here?

Girl: The shark is eating the pigs!

Me: Do you eat pigs?

Girl: No!

Me: Do you eat bacon?

Girl: Yes!

Me: Do you eat shark?

Girl: Yes.

Me: How?

Girl: With mustard.

Me: What else do you eat?

Girl: Whales.

Me: How?

Girl: [shows me how she chews]

Me: I mean, what do you eat on your whale?

Girl: Ketchup. And beer. [Well, we are in Wisconsin.]

Marriage 201, Lecture 339: The keeping of the dibs

SH: I need to eat some fruit.

Me: Are you going to have that pear tart* [on which he put dibs yesterday]?

2006_0421Japan0006 by gb14772.
This blog is full of eels.

SH: No, I don't think I want that just yet.

Me: You better eat that soon before the dibs expires.

SH: What do you mean?! Dibs can't expire!

Me: Of course they can. Dibs aren't permanent.

SH: Who put you in charge of the dibs rules?

Me: It's not just me. Don't you read the comments in my blog?

* In SH's scientific mind, pear tart counts as a serving of fruit and chocolate chocolate chip zucchini bread counts as a serving of vegetables. Dill pickle flavored Pringles that he hides from himself in the basement and that he has to walk down two flights of stairs to get to? Both a serving of veg and exercise.

Eel photo courtesy of our friend Gary. He took it at the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. He claims this is not his best work because it was with a little camera, but I like pretty much everything he does. He has a fabulous eye.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Marriage 201, Lecture 120: Liberal vs Conservative

Me: So I heard Laverne crying and I thought she wanted to be let in, but when I went outside to check, it was because she had killed a mouse and wanted to show me! I am so proud of her! She was on her leash and still caught a mouse. She is such a good hunter.

SH: She's a killer! She wasn't even hungry! We need to teach her to be compassionate!

Laverne and her trophy.

Before you cat lovers start flaming my husband about the nature of cats, he was teasing.

Marriage 201, Lecture 36: The putting of the dibs

SH: I'm trying to decide what to eat for dessert. I want some cookies, but if I don't eat the rest of the pear tart, you'll eat it.

Me: What do you mean?

SH: You'll say I had my chance and I lost it.

Me: All you have to do is put dibs on it. Didn't your parents teach you anything? Sheesh.