Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chats du jour 2

SH: Oh no! Shirley is drinking out of the toilet!

Me: So?

SH: We need to keep the lid closed.

Me: No way. I am not going to make more major adjustments to my life just to keep that cat -- who licks her butt -- from drinking clean water from the toilet.

SH: That's right. You pee about 30 times a day. It would be a big adjustment for you.

Chats du jour

She wins. Shirley, la tonta, is not the dumb cat. She is smarter than the both of us put together and that's saying a lot, because SH is pretty smart. We banish her to the basement when she gets too annoying (which is almost all the time), but she has figured out a way to continue to pester us. She has learned how to get into -- not just onto -- the heating/return ducts. I don't know how she is doing it. I took a stool and a flashlight into the basement this morning and checked the ducting, but can't see any holes. I did see a lot of dust and other stuff that I don't want to know what it is, but I didn't see any holes. SH will have to figure it out. He's the guy. That's what men do. I clean, cook, shop, do laundry, garden, put out the trash and cut the grass. SH gets rid of the dead rats, pulls the hair from the shower drain, and cleans the unidentified gross stuff from the top of the ducts. That's man stuff.

Anyhow. SH had just returned from a trip to Dallas late last night. His flight had been delayed for hours and he hadn't eaten since lunch and he was hungry and tired and he just wanted to relax. We were sitting in bed talking, minding our own business. Shirley was in the basement where we had put her because she was being a pain in the neck, as usual. All of a sudden, we heard her meowing right next to us.

RIGHT NEXT TO US. How could that be?

It could because she was behind the grate in the bedroom wall. Which is accessible only via the ducting. On the inside. Laverne jumped off the bed and started playing with Shirley. ("Maybe Shirley needs me!")

I jumped out of bed and grabbed my camera, which of course drove Shirley away. "Get the food!" I said. "That's mean!" SH replied. "I don't care," I answered. SH got the food container and shook it, which brought Shirley back into view immediately. It also made Laverne start to meow. "I do this all the time to get Shirley out of the kitchen window so I can put her in the basement at night," I told SH. "That is so mean!" SH said. I shrugged. "I do what works. I'm all about results."

Once I got the photos, SH started to worry about the implications of Shirley being in the ducts. "What if she gets injured? What if there's something sharp in there?"

"She'll heal," I said. "And then she'll learn not to go in there. But what if she poops or throws up in there? We'll never be able to clean it out and the stench will be unbearable. I think we should get rid of these cats immediately."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I am poison

Things I am not qualified to do:

1. Babysit a classroom full of second graders. Or tenth graders. The local school district is not interested in me.

2. Operate a cash register or help people find the peat moss at the garden shop down the street. I was showered, dressed and madeup when I submitted that application.

3. Answer phones for any of Manpower's clients. I wish I'd known that before I sat through the hour of stupid safety videos. I already know to lift with my legs and not with my back, thank you very much. I am lock-down, tagout, ZES certified, people. OK, not certified necessarily, but I did go to the two-day seminar on all that stuff* and I also did an audit of all the equipment guarding of the five Latin America plants with this electrician from Georgia who spoke no Spanish and didn't have a camera so I learned all kinds of safety baloney just by osmosis and interpretation, more than you learn from an online video.

4. Play checkers for free at the old-folks' home two blocks from our house. You'd think they would want volunteers. They have a volunteer application on their website. That I completed. And submitted.

I guess there is no point in applying for a job that would pay real money. If no one wants me for minimum wage/free work, there is no way they'd want me for a six-figure job.

* So what that it was because I wanted to be at company HQ so I could see the guy from Brussels I had met during the training in Cincinnati, the one who later broke up with me by email, then wrote nine months later that he wanted to see me on his business trip to the US but I had to let him know right away because there was only one cheap seat left even though he wasn't paying? And then when he did see me told me he was getting married and when I asked to whom told me I knew her and when I wondered whom I knew in Brussels he told me it was me! which surprised the heck out of me because he didn't even say anything like, "I blew it by breaking up with you and I don't deserve a second chance but I realize now that I was a big idiot and I love you and I can't live without you, etc, etc, etc." Nope. Just announced he was marrying me.

He didn't.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hoe, Plan B

When rebuilding your hoe doesn't work, the one you bought for five dollars at the junk shop in Cooper Young nine years ago, you can do what your brilliant husband suggests after he notices a faded, torn Craftsman sticker on the handle: take it to Sears and exchange it for a brand-new one.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Everyone's a winner

Has it come to this? At the church lasagna supper on Saturday, where SH and I bought 20, yes, 20 tickets and put them all in the bag to win the pitcher and glasses with the blue and pink fish on them (all on a blue fish-shaped tray, so you can see why it was worth 20 tickets), the kid who was drawing for the prizes (which included a hand-crocheted apron and coffee cups, so it was indeed a difficult decision) kept saying, "And the prize goes to" instead of "The winner is."

Have these poor kids been so brainwashed that they don't know the difference between winning and losing? Or worse, that they don't even understand the concept of winning at all?

More Morocco 2006 but I'm not bitter about the whole journalspace thing photos. Yes, those are sheepsheads you see. Or maybe goatsheads. The hanging parts might be stomachs, or tripe, for the people who consider that stuff edible. The people who consider that stuff edible would include my husband SH The Engineer, who eschews anything that ends in "erry," such as cherry, strawberry, etc, or anything with "that orange flavor," like sweet potatoes or winter squash, but give him a piece of tendon or stomach and he is happy as a pig in mud.

Are we going to go to war in 20 years and have our soldiers tell the other side, "We're all special! We're all winners!" while the other side says, "Yeah, whatever, suckers" as they aim carefully and shoot our side as our side cheerfully waves their bright yellow 11th-place ribbons, which make great targets? Or will we be in the Land of Milk and Honey by then when the Lamb and the Lion lie down together and we all live happily ever after?

Third-world countries have a far more practical and sane attitude toward death. The headstone store is between the caftan store and the shoe store in Fez and why shouldn't it be?

PS We didn't win the prize. We are LOSERS.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Marriage 101, Lecture 734: Opposites attract but could cause murder

SH and I do not share opinions on many things except that we both like chocolate, we both think Scarlett Johannesson and Kate Winslet are not fat and even if they were, so what?, and we have fabulous friends. Places we differ are politics, religion, how to squeeze the toothpaste and what time to go to bed.

You know. The little things.

Some more photos from posts that were lost in the great journalspace purge of ought eight. This guy is a water seller in Fez. SH and I saw him when we visited Steve and Megan in Morocco in 2006.

Another place we differ is in how we organize. I, the English major and hence illogical and incapable of understanding how to optimize a process, look at a project, figure out the critical path and the bottlenecks, and do the bottlenecks first.

The Engineer looks at a project, such as getting ready to go to a play or catch a flight, figures out the critical path and the bottlenecks, and then leaves the bottlenecks until the last.

The tannery in Fez.

For example, if I need to catch a plane in six hours ("T"), I take a shower at T-six hours, pack at T-five and a half hours, and then goof off on the internet or clean the bathroom or watch "What Not To Wear" and wonder how I can be on the show even though I never go anywhere that requires decent clothing until T-100 minutes, at which point I leave for the airport, which is 27 minutes away including parking and walking in as long as there is no traffic or it isn't snowing* so of course I allow extra time.

If SH has to catch a plane in six hours ("T"), he works on the computer and reads until T-92 minutes, then packs, then plays with the cats, then jumps into the shower and shaves at T-68 minutes, so it's already when he should have been at the airport by the time he is dressed, thus leaving him negative minutes to get to there, which is fine as long as I am not with him because I don't care if he misses a plane** that I am not also boarding with him.

Donkeys are called "medina taxis" in Morocco.

If, however, I am with him, I am sick with worry that we will be late and 1) will miss the plane or 2) arrive late to the play and they won't seat us or 3) miss the beginning of the movie*** or 4) there will be no more food left at the church potluck. It hasn't happened yet, but we are due and when it happens, I will definitely want to say, "I told you so," except the problem with "I told you so" is that you can't say it when it really applies unless you want to kill your relationship.

But he will know.

An orange seller in Fez.

* It is very rare that it isn't snowing here, so I usually need more time

** I especially don't care if he misses a plane that is taking him to a place five hours from here where he will be cleaning out a garage and doing plumbing because in this place, there are no people who do this sort of thing for money.

*** This is a theoretical problem these days as we get our movies from the library for free rather than paying to watch them in a theater where they don't stop the show every time you need to pee or you want more Jordan almonds or when the cat throws up and you don't want to leave the mess until later.

Sunday random stuff

More Wisconsin 101: The state of niceness

1. I was talking to my backyard neighbor, the one who mowed our lawn and put the trash out after we bought the house but didn't move in for a month (and I would link to the original post about that except it's in my old blog in journalspace, which is dead and which killed four years of my blogging, including my posts about my wedding, and caused me to lose 75% of my readership, but I'm NOT BITTER). I asked him who feeds their cat while they are out of town. He told me that a girl up the street does it, but he'd be glad to take care of Laverne and Shirley when we are gone. I told him we couldn't possibly impose like that (it's not even like he would just have to walk ten yards -- we are in the middle of the block and have a fence between us, so he would have to walk all the way around the block) and he told me oh, no, it's fine, he loves cats.

2. SH won tickets to "The Wonder Bread Years," which is a great show. We went yesterday afternoon. At the end of the show, they give out Twinkies. We, along with everyone else, got our Twinkies as we walked out of the auditorium. Then there was another Twinkie lady standing by the stairs, but nobody took her Twinkies. Nobody. Not just because Twinkies aren't that good,* but because they already had one and it just wouldn't be nice to be greedy and take more.

The problem with church potlucks here is that there is never enough to eat.

3. After the show, we went to the lasagna supper at SH's church. They were fighting over who got to clean up. Typical Lutherans.

4. Not so nice. I applied for a job at the little garden shop down the street. Just a temporary, part-time job. I don't think I got it because they wanted someone to start tomorrow and they have not called me. Maybe writing on the application that I wanted to work there because I thought it would be fun was not the right thing to do. Maybe I should have said I was desperate for money, but that's not true, either. After federal and state taxes, there's not a heck of a lot of money in this kind of job. Even before taxes, there is not a lot of money.

But what interested me was that they asked if I had graduated from high school.

People. I am 45 years old. I did not get married until I was 44. Until then, I earned my own living. If I managed to do that without a high school degree, isn't that what should matter? For this kind of job, I would hire a high school dropout with a great work record and great references before I would hire a PhD who had never had a job. I would hire the dropout before I would I would hire some PhDs I know who have worked, mostly because some of the PhDs I have met (but none of my friends with PhDs) suffer from "I am the smartest guy in the room about everything, not just chemistry" disease and would be awful in any kind of customer service job.

No, I am not anti-education**, but sometimes the degree is not what matters.***

I was hoping to get the job and get a discount on all the bedding plants. Rats.

* I am a total snob about store-bought vs homemade sweets, if you haven't noticed, and I feel sorry for kids whose mothers don't bake.

** Didn't I spend enough on college and grad school?

*** My grandparents didn't go past 8th grade, yet managed to raise really nice kids who are all responsible adults. They also ran their own businesses and supported their families.

Marriage 101, Lecture 56: The marital bed

Me: Wow. Look at this story. She had sex with her husband every night for a year.

SH: I'm not getting that much. You didn't want to last night.

Me: No, you wanted to watch the hockey game instead.

SH: You didn't want to do it.

Me: Oh please. Neither did you.

SH: Yeah, but I can blame it all on you.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Marriage 101, Lecture 111: the Zaxes, part 2

SH [After reading this post]: Yes! It's not enough for you to agree with me! You have to be convinced!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Chats du jour


Bring it on, Shirley. The game is afoot. We'll see how much you want to jump on the island now. Cats aren't supposed to like sticky stuff on their feet*. I have covered the island with upside-down contact paper.


Great. She found the one non-contact paper space. But she's not stepping onto the sticky paper.


Ah. But she is. This was at least her third trip on to the paper. I kept hearing the sound of feet being pulled away from the adhesive. I think she likes it. She won. How come the dumb cat keeps outsmarting me?

* We used to put scotch tape on our cat's feet when I was a kid. Mean, I know, but also very funny.

Marriage 101, Lecture 111: the Zaxes

SH: X.

Me: Not X.

SH: X!

Me: Not X!

SH: XXXXX!!!!!!

Me: NotXNotXNotX!!!!!!


Me: OK fine. X.

SH: You're just agreeing to get me to shut up.

Me: Yes. You won. I'll do it your way. X.

SH: But you don't really think I'm right.

Me: No, I don't, but X. You win.

SH: I want you to agree for the right reasons!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Competitive? Moi?

Last night at book club, I agreed to host the next meeting. Last night was my second time to attend. I want to have it at our house in a warm month where I won't have to spend all day heating the living room. May should be warm enough, but you never know.

Here is my dilemma: the hostess* serves snacks. The first meeting I attended, there were cheese and crackers, dip, and tea.

Last night, there were store-bought cookies (and some homemade ones) and lemonade.

More Peace Corps photos. Here are some guys at the feed store in town.

That doesn't work for me. I am thinking the Memphis Junior League secret onion dip (onions, mayonnaise, sour cream, total fat delicious), brownies, wine, at the least.

If I serve really good snacks, does that violate the norms of the group? Yes, I am a total showoff. I told SH I felt sorry for him because him mom bought cookies instead of making them. He is a big Oreos fan. I think they are disgusting, which is probably the conclusion of anyone whose mother made cookies from scratch.

Selling wool at the market in Temuco.

* Omigosh! A sex-specific noun! How awful!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Does it make me a bad person that I am secretly (or maybe not so secretly, as I am writing about it here) glad that the sprinkler waters the car of the people who have been staying with my next-door neighbor and who keep parking in front of our house instead of the neighbor's house?

PS No, I don't know why they haven't been ticketed because after all, it's illegal to park in the street overnight here. Maybe they told the police they'd be parking there. They are bugging me, but I would never call the police on them.

Marriage 101, Lecture 272: Life with a perfectionist, or, Life is suffering

SH: Where's the hose for the dehumidifier*?

Me: I put it in the yard.

SH: Why? That's the dehumidifier hose!

Me: I got the stuff to spray on the pear tree and needed a hose. I put the other hose in the front yard so I can keep the grass seeds damp. I didn't want to have to detach it and move it to the back.

SH: But I had that hose arranged and coiled exactly how I wanted it!

Me: I'm sorry. I didn't know. Once I've sprayed the tree, I'll put the hose back.

SH: But it will be dirty!

Me: I can rinse it.

SH: It might still be dirty.

Me: Then I'll buy another hose for the dehumidifier. It was only about $8.

SH [deep sigh]: I'm going to have to arrange it all over again.

* which we are not using right now because the air doesn't hold a whole lot of humidity when it's only 40 degrees.

Chats du jour

I am starting to understand bad parents. You know - the ones who have given up and never discipline their kids so the kids are holy terrors who run around screaming in public while the parents just watch, exhausted, or who interrupt when adults are talking or who cannot make it through one hour of church without three toys, a bag of Cheerios and a juice box. I don't excuse them because your job as a parent is to civilize your child, whose natural inclination is to be completely obnoxious (we are all born that way), but I understand. I have been trying to train the cats to stay off the kitchen counter and out of the kitchen sink and I am ready to give up.

Either we have the most stupid cats in the world or the most stubborn. I catch Shirley on the counter or in the sink at least once a day. When I catch her, I spray her with water. At first, I just sprayed her until she got off the counter. But she kept doing it, so now I am going for a scorched-earth policy of following her into the bedroom, spraying continuously as she tries to hide under the bed. I keep thinking (maybe I'm the dumb one?) that she will associate the spraying with being on the counter and think, just once, "Maybe I should avoid getting on the counter so I can avert getting a fine mist of water sprayed into my face."

But no. She is just learning to jump off the counter when she sees me see her and run faster to get under the bed. Apparently, she is capable of learning, just not learning what I want to teach her.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful, part 4, or Dumb like a fox

For the past few days, I have noticed muddy little footprints on the toilet seat and around the sink. I knew the cats walked these areas, even though I squirt them with the water bottle every time I catch them*, but I couldn't figure out where the dirt was coming from. We have three doormats** between the back door and the kitchen*** and I vacuum and wash the kitchen and bathroom floor every week. The basement, also not dirty. So whence the dirt?

I'll tell you. Shirley has decided that the heating tubes or whatever you call them -- those big square metal tubes just under the ceiling -- in the basement are her personal amusement park and has been jumping up there and sauntering about, getting herself and her feet filthy in the process. I knew she was getting up there because I heard the racket last week and had moved what I thought was her access point, the cat carrier stacked on top of the snow tires.

But no. She figured out another way: jump from the snow tires, which until last night were just to the left of the water heater, on to the water heater and from there on to the tubes.

How did we figure this out? When SH got home last night after a week in Florida doing chores (because there are no handymen in Florida), he noticed when he went into the laundry room that there was a broken bottle of beer on the floor. As I am not in the habit of hurling alcohol to the ground just for the pleasure of hearing the glass shatter, we suspected a rat.

A rat named Shirley. She had gotten into the laundry room last week when I was washing clothes, but I thought maybe she had come in through the door that I had not latched, although I realized 1) the door was still closed and 2) a cat who is not smart enough to figure out how to open a door certainly is not capable of opening and then closing one again.

I realized she must have come in via one of the very small spaces at the top of the wall. I moved a few more things on the furnace room side and thought the problem solved.

I guess not. SH was not happy that she had gotten into the laundry room and even less happy that she had knocked down some of his beer, said beer which then soaked up into his skates bag and some boxes.

So instead of getting to relax before his flight out again this morning, he spent the next two hours carefully crafting cardboard blocks and nailing them to the wall. I have told him that if he wants, I will call the crazy cat lady and tell her we don't want the cats any more. He can take pretty much anything but someone messing with his beer and wine collection and messing up his nicely-organized basement.

* To a cat, the squirt and the loud "No!" mean, "Don't do this thing right now." It does not mean, "Do not ever do this thing." They are not capable -- or do not choose -- to universalize a rule from the specific experience, which I understand is also how toddlers think.

** Down from the four we had when it was still snowing. Although it is supposed to snow today, even though I put grass seed on the lawn on Sunday, but does God care? I don't think so, so maybe I should put the fourth mat back.

*** The front door is not accessible right now because we have the upstairs bathroom door in the place of the dining room door while the dining room door is having the center wood panel replaced with glass. We cannot leave that door open (and get all the light from the south and west side of the house) because Laverne, who does not scratch anywhere else in the house, thinks the newly-upholstered wing chair in the living room is her personal scratching post. We can't use the dining room/bathroom door because only one of the hinges aligns, so we have a few chairs stacked behind it to keep it from swinging open. Not that we ever use the front door anyhow.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful, part 3

I didn't get a photo of this, although there certainly was enough time. I watched Shirley in stupefied amazement for over a minute as she scraped the litter box.

I mean that literally. Instead of scraping the kitty litter, she stood on the edges of the box and scraped the box. Because maybe if she scrapes at it long enough, the edges will fall down and cover the litter. Or whatever.

No wonder every time Laverne hears a noise*, she runs to investigate. Someone has to be responsible for the dumb cat.

* "What if Shirley needs me?"

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ladies can be so stubborn

Hello my chickadees. I just returned from a whirlwind trip to northern Wisconsin to see my grandmother. She is 96 years old and doesn't exactly recognize me. She confuses me with one of my cousins who is 25 years old, so I don't get insulted.

The other good thing about her having some memory issues is that she doesn't (I don't think) really know how long I have been visiting. Five minutes? Seems like an hour. I saw her three separate instances in the 20 hours I was there. She might remember that as ten visits of an hour each.

Uncle Larry
My uncle Larry with his kitten.

The big challenge of going to Medford is that there are so many people I want to see and not enough time to do it. My mom and dad are both from that area and many of my aunts, uncles (my dad has two brothers, my mom has six siblings) and cousins still live there. I went to church with my grandmother and my Aunt Rita (mom's sister) and saw my Uncle Denny (dad's brother) and Aunt Agnes sitting on the other side of the church. So of course I had to say hi to them and they asked me back to their house for a drink and we caught up and Denny told us how when he was a kid my other grandmother (the one whose life was tragically cut short by smoking* at 98) was a good cook but got stuck in her rut -- cooking was not her favorite thing. Friday night was potato pancakes -- grated, not mashed potatoes. (Does anyone think making fried mashed potatoes counts as potato pancakes? I didn't think so but you never know.) They had them with canned peaches or applesauce on top, which of course I knew because that's how my dad made them. Saturday was beans and baloney. When Agnes commented on the sparseness of the meal, Denny pointed out that this was the Depression and they, unlike Agnes' family, were not on a farm and had to get their food, gas and clothes with ration coupons. After Denny and I argued about some issues in Milwaukee and their relation to race, we agreed that the &*%$ bloodsucking governor of Wisconsin needs to be voted out of office** and they invited me back for breakfast this morning.

Then I went to see my grandmother again at the nursing home and we had the same conversation we had had in church, i.e., did I drive up here and where did I drive from and when was I returning to Colorado Springs? No, that last question was not completely out of left field. My mother lives in Colorado Springs, so in addition to being mistaken for a cousin 20 years my junior, I am also mistaken for my mother. Apparently, I have quite a range.

My mom's dad and one her brothers. And a deer. Yes! My grandfather is smoking! And they have guns! Oh no! (When did Wisconsin start voting Democrat?)

Then to Rita and Uncle Larry's place for a really good supper. There is a reason people are not skinny in Wisconsin and it's not just the cold weather. It's because people here -- at least, my people -- can cook. My aunt made spaghetti carbonara with some of Larry's bacon (he is a butcher and hunters bring their deer from as far away as Washington state for him to process and turn into sausage and venison bacon), dinner rolls (not the store bought kind) salad and chocolate-pecan bars, of which she sent a bag home*** for SH with strict orders that I was not to eat all of them myself on my drive back.

Then my best cousin Angie, who is nine days older than I am and has always been my best cousin friend of my 24 cousins, came over and we talked about how Granma might come across as this totally docile, sweet, little old lady but don't even bother to try to make her do something she doesn't want to do. Rita took Granma to get new shoes and my grandmother was convinced the shoes were supposed to cost $39 and not $89 because that's what she had paid the last time she had bought these shoes. Rita said not to worry, she would buy the shoes for Granma but Granma was having none of that nonsense of one of her children paying for her shoes. Didn't she raise her children to be independent? Isn't she an independent lady herself who does not expect her children to take care of her? That's not her children's job. Children do not take care of the parents as far as my grandmother is concerned and that's that.

And shoes do not cost $39.

My aunt got tired of arguing with my grandmother and said OK, you're right. They're $39. Pay the guy. Then my aunt whispered to the clerk that she would make up the difference later. He took the money, gave a receipt with the balance due to my aunt, they left, and Rita went back a few days later to pay up.

I also saw Dr J, my mom's friend, and had some of his birthday cake. Rita made a fabulous breakfast this morning -- homemade blueberry muffins, eggs, venison bacon, hash browns. Angie and I went to see my grandmother again. Then I went to Denny and Aggie's for breakfast there of bacon, sausage, fruit and waffles.

I don't know why I'm not hungry.

* When I am old, say 80 or so, I fully intend to start smoking and to drink heavily. I will also eat whatever I want. I will have ice cream for breakfast and I don't care if I gain weight. I read something today: as they age, women either get fat or mean. I'd rather be fat than mean.

** "I'd vote for Putin if he were running against Doyle." my uncle said.

*** Rita and Agnes both also sent muffins with me. It's 250 miles from Medford to Milwaukee. I might get hungry on the way.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Chats du jour: Don't hate me because I'm beautiful 2

This is Shirley, who has watched me open this cabinet and remove the cat food twice a day now for about two months. She has not noticed which way the door opens. Or maybe she has a screwdriver and is just going to remove the hinges.


Fish for Friday

Bored. Looking through my photo album. Lots of fish. I don't know why. PS I don't know why blogger cuts off the right-hand side of my photos.

I think this is the fried sardine we had at a restaurant in Cooper Young in Memphis.

I made this plate for SH for his birthday a few years ago.


Half a fish, anyhow.

Eels at the Vietnamese grocery store.

Of course they have a fish fry. This is Wisconsin.

Fishing nets in Morocco.

The fish market/restaurant in Essouira where we got way overcharged so went back the next day to complain and they actually gave us a free meal.

Moroccan fisherman.


Fish chairs shiloh
The catfish restaurant near Shiloh.

For want of a nail

This hoe doesn't work very well. I shove the blade back into the handle and can get about five chops before it gets loose. I have had this problem for years.

So I decided to do something about it. Something besides buy a new hoe, because I am of the Tribe of We Who Do Not Waste and I got this hoe at a junk shop seven years ago for $5 and I still have not got my money's worth from it. I was going to drill a hole through the handle and then screw the blade in. But -- no bolts (of the right size). Just screws.

No problem. I'll just take a shortcut. After all, what I really need is a piece of metal to hold the blade in. A nail will work just as well. I can even skip the drilling, although it is fun to use my Ryobi cordless drill, which has served me so well in the past. I have to admit, though, that I have come to prefer SH's corded drill because it has more power. But it is a pain in the neck to secure the bits and this was a short job. Anyhow, I thought I would just hammer the nail in, but guess what? The wood split.

Back to plan A. Works just fine.

I drilled a hole, then inserted a nail and hammered the end of the nail down. Who needs a bolt when you have ingenuity?

Except the wood was still bad and guess what? On the first stroke, the wood split.

So I am going to have to use other tools instead to finish digging up the vegetable garden or buy a new hoe. Or handle. Do they sell stand-alone handles?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Why I need to get a job, #399

I've addressed some of these issues before, but I'll review:

1. I'm bored
2. And have nothing to write about. Co-workers are always good material.
3. It feels odd to spend someone else's money, not that I'm complaining, but it doesn't take that long* to clean this house and we don't have kids, so I do have time to make some financial contribution to our household.

Who is the Virgin of Guadalupe, you ask? Even in Protestant Memphis, she makes a stylized, reversed appearance. I'm talking to you, Hillary.

4. Right now, I don't have a reason to bathe every day. When SH is gone (as he is now), I find I can go three days without showering. Who cares if my hair is clean? Why bother to take a shower on Tuesday or Wednesday if I know I will be digging up the back yard on Thursday? Sure, I was a little dirty at the gym yesterday, but on Thursdays and Tuesdays, I don't go to the gym, so if I am on Day 3, the only person to be bothered is me. And I don't wear my glasses when I am walking past mirrors, so even I don't see how gnarly I look. I'm just being Green. I'm all about Saving the Earth.

* Longer now that we have cats. I have told SH that if he dies in a plane crash, the first thing I am doing, even before getting rid of all the boxes -- without even checking to see what's inside -- he has in the basement that he brought from California seven years ago and hasn't opened since, is giving the cats back to the crazy cat ladies. They're sweet, they're cute, and there is hair all over the place. I am wearing a fleece right now that serves as a cat hair magnet.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wisconsin 101: That's illegal

I took this last summer. Note the green grass, not snow. No way I could have taken this photo today.

A friend at the gym told me that it is illegal to dry clothes on an outside line in the next town over. If someone in Texas had told me clotheslines were illegal, I would have laughed in her face. But here, where pretty much everything that makes life easier, like parking on the public street in front of your house overnight or putting grass clippings in the trash or other yard waste in the regular trashcan instead of the specially-designated and labeled with letters at least two inches high yard waste trash can, is illegal, I just nodded and said, "Oh" when she told me.

Marriage 101, Lecture 237: The devil is in the details, or, Take another little piece of my heart

Me: The postage is $1.34, so I'll just put on four stamps.

SH: I have some smaller stamps upstairs.

The Engineer gets it exactly right.

Me: Whatever.

SH: OK. Let me figure this out.

Me: Wouldn't it be easier just to use the four stamps?

SH: No! Don't rush me. I want the perfect solution.

Me: What stamps do you have?

SH: Well, I already put on a 42-cent stamp, so now I need to figure out the rest.

Me: Don't you have a presentation to give in an hour? And your flight is at 4? Is this really the best use of your time*?

SH: Yes.

* This is the man who stayed up until 6:30 a.m. on Monday working and then got four hours of sleep.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Wisconsin 101: People get up early here

I thought I was so clever, waiting until today to buy my robin's eggs (that delicious Easter candy of malt balls covered with chocolate). I had given up sugar for Lent, so didn't get them before Easter because I didn't need the temptation lying around, even though I did manage to stay away from the chocolate drawer and the frozen custard for six weeks.

I also didn't buy them before Easter because I am as cheap as they come and why would I pay full price if I could get them half price on the day after Easter?

Only I forgot something. I forgot that we are not in New York and here, people get up early and by 8:30 a.m., almost all the Easter candy was gone from Walgreen's.

I can feel the tolerance


Apparently, she can coexist with everyone but Christians. You know how bad we can be.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cristos anesti


Pastor G: Who can tell me what Easter is about?

Kid: Baby Jesus!

Pastor G: And then he grew up. What happened on Good Friday?

Kid: He got dead.

Pastor G: That's right. And now we celebrate Easter. What does "celebrate" mean?

Kid: A big party with lots of people.

This is Wisconsin. I'm surprised she didn't say, "a big party with lots of people and beer."

Marriage 101, Lecture 769: Why gadgets matter, or, how to waste money, part 2

SH: I'm going to have to get some wheel locks to go on the new wheels*.

Me: What's a wheel lock?

SH: It makes it harder for someone to steal the wheels.

SH: Can't you see the difference between the two wheels? Me: Not really.

Me: Who would want to steal wheels?

SH: These are really nice wheels.

Me: Wouldn't it be easier have wheels nobody wants to steal?

SH: No! These are cool wheels!

* that he bought with the bonus he got even though his company has frozen salaries, slashed vacation, and canceled bonuses (which is way better than laying off people, so I am not complaining). The Engineer is a very good engineer. His boss knows it and found some extra money for him. Hence, new wheels, which, over time, will save money, because SH can change the snow tire wheels with the new ones himself (with the fancy tool he had to buy, of course -- some kind of hydraulic something) and we won't have to pay twice a year to have the snow tires mounted and removed. Or we could just move to Texas, where nobody even knows what snow tires are.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cats again

SH: Look! Laverne is licking inside Shirley's ear. She's been cleaning her.

Me: Yeah. That's a little gross.

SH: But I lick inside your ear sometimes.

Me: Not to clean it. When you do it, there is an erotic component.

SH: I think there might be something erotic between Laverne and Shirley. They're missing their parts, but they're still thinking there should be something going on.

Marriage 101, Lecture 769: Why gadgets matter, or, how to waste money

SH: Don't you want that cool pepper mill like Bonnie and Gary have?

Me: Not for $80.

SH: It wasn't $80. That was the meat thermometer. The pepper mill was only about $40.

Me: That's still too much.

SH: But I like it!

Me: If your mom and dad want to give that to you for your birthday, that's fine. But I don't think it's a good use of our money.

SH: You don't like gadgets, do you?

Me: Not for that money.

SH: But gadgets are cool!

Me: Not for that money.

SH: It's a guy thing.

Chats du jour: Don't hate me because I'm beautiful


This is Shirley. This is Shirley looking for the toy mouse that is right next to her. This is Shirley looking for the toy mouse after she batted it under the stove, after I retrieved it and showed it to her and then put the yardstick under the stove to prevent the mouse going under again.

This is Shirley, who is not going to believe her lying eyes. She is sure that the mouse is under the stove, even though she saw me remove it and saw me place it next to her.

Shirley would never survive on her own unless she figured out a way to use her beauty to get what she wanted. And she is not smart enough for that.

Laverne, on the other hand, knows how to open doors (no, Shirley has not picked up on that important skill -- she watches Laverne do it, but when she tried to open the bedroom door last night, she closed it instead) and knows where the food is kept. She is smart enough to sit on our laps and purr at any opportunity -- she knows where her bread is buttered. Shirley? No laps. No purring. She's too busy looking for the mouse that is right next to her.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Marriage 101, Lecture 390: My grandparents went through the Depression

SH: What are you doing?

Me: Opening the soy sauce.

SH: Why are you using that soy sauce? [the little packets that came with the bad sushi]

Me: Because it's right here?

If there is a national soy sauce emergency, we are prepared. We are doubly prepared because we have a bottle of soy sauce in the fridge. Maybe we should keep these in the car. Just in case.

SH: But we should save it!

Me: Why?

SH: You know - in case we're out and we need soy sauce.

Me: You mean -- a soy sauce emergency? Like if we buy more sushi and they don't give us soy sauce in the takeout pack? Where they give us ginger, wasabi and napkins but they don't give us soy sauce? We need to save it for something like that?

SH: Yeah.

My people called it maize, #45

I gave up sugar for Lent, so this cereal is OK, right?


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Kids today

A little while ago, I heard the sound of glass shattering outside of the house. I ran out to see what it was. Four boys, maybe 13 years old, were walking past our house after having just broken a jar on our neighbor's driveway and then another on ours.

Always in the moment and with great presence of mind, I yelled at them. "Hey! You guys come clean this up!"

One of my colleagues at Casa de la Mujer Mapuche during some ritual.

They laughed and kept walking.

Instead of doing the logical thing and following them home and telling their mothers, I just fumed, then yelled that their mothers were doing a fine job raising them and would surely be proud of them for this.

So what I want to know is, when did a grownup yelling at you cease to be a bad thing to a kid? I would have been shaking in my boots to have been caught doing something like that. I still live in fear of Getting Caught, which is why I don't speed (too much). I am always the one who Gets Caught.

When I was in sixth grade, Michelle V (who later told me she couldn't be my friend any more, at least not at school, because I just wasn't cool enough), a classmate of mine from St Elizabeth's Catholic school, convinced me to ride my bike with her to one of the big houses on Slide Road. She told me there was a big house there with a huge lawn and lots of pecan trees and that we could just pick pecans.

A little country church.

Technically, most people would consider this to be stealing.

Technically, most people would be right.

So what happened? We get off our bikes and start to pick pecans off the ground. A few minutes later, a woman came out of the house and asked what we were doing, as if it weren't obvious.

When we could not explain to her satisfaction, she explained for us: we were stealing her pecans.

Then she administered the coup de grace. She told us, with great sorrow in her voice, that she would pray for us.

That ended my career as a thief.

What do I need to say to these boys to end their careers as driveway jar breakers?

Mapuche girl eating raw wine.

Marriage 101, Lecture 383: Election day in a mixed marriage

My Serious Honey and I disagree on more things than just what is an appropriate bedtime, if it counts as dessert if there is no chocolate, and what constitutes a reasonable use of our movie-watching time. We also disagree on politics and religion. Why are we together then you ask? His parents will tell you it's because I am a gold digger and yep, you see me here dripping with gems and expensive shoes, ordering the help around while I eat bon-bons and watch soap operas.

Nah. It's because he's a hottie, even if he is not Right on most things.

Kids in Chile.

This is how the conversation went this morning:

SH: Today is election day.

Me: Yep.

SH: I mean -- it's next week. Don't vote today. The polls aren't open.

Mapuche farmer taking his pig for a walk.

Me: Ha.

SH: Are you going to see reason and vote for my candidates?

Me: Do I look like I had a lobotomy last night?

Mapuche woman with her sheep. I worked with a co-op of about 140 women who spun yarn, then wove and sold their traditional rugs and blankets at a little store. My job was to make the store profitable, even though we were charging above-market prices and the four women who worked for the co-op were paid from a grant, so they got their paychecks whether the store was profitable or not. This is not a good strategy for getting people to make the hard decisions -- if they get paid no matter what. You know -- like elected officials.