Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Marriage 101, Lecture 312: Fashion is his life, or they call me a gold-digger

SH: The ground might be wet at the amphitheater tonight [for the Earth, Wind and Fire concert].

Me: That's OK. We can take some trash bags to sit on.

SH: It might rain. We're not allowed to take umbrellas in.* But they sell ponchos for a few dollars.

Me: Why don't we just take some extra trash bags?

SH: No. I'd rather be dead than be caught wearing a trash bag.

Me: [You're going to bankrupt us.]

Related posts from the tragic journalspace past:

Tangled up in blue
posted 05/11/06, Two years before we got married and when we were still LD dating between Memphis and Milwaukee

Coming from a woman with maybe ten pink suits, this might be a case of the pot calling the kettle black (as it were), but how many blue shirts does a man really need? What you see here are only a few of the shirts in SH’s closet. He must have (wait while I go count) 85 button-down shirts and 20 polo shirts.

Most of them are some shade of blue.

SH pointed out that these shirts in the middle are actually very different: one is linen, one is pinpoint, one is casual. They all look blue to me.

I really don’t have a problem with this. I don’t care if he has a lot of shirts. I’m all in favor of clothes. The only reason I don’t have more is lack of storage space.

(This is enough shirts that he can wear a different shirt every day for three and a half straight months -- and I am not even counting t-shirts, which he could get away with if he wanted, because he works from home. If he bought enough pants and underwear, he would only have to do laundry about four times a year.)

But when I visit, there is no room in his closet for me to hang anything. Even if there were room, he does not have a single extra hanger. Not one.

Who doesn’t have extra hangers? I always have a bunch that accumulate that I end up taking to Goodwill with my old clothes once or twice a year.

See, this is all about me. Isn’t it always? I just want to be catered to. That’s all. All I want is a place to hang my suit (pink) and maybe someplace to put my clothes other than in my suitcase. Am I asking too much?

Tangled up in blue part 2
posted 11/07/08, when SH and I were in Morocco visiting Steve and Megan

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

Me: Henry, who is that?

This is Henry several years ago. He is a big boy now, but I love this photo.

Henry: I think it’s SH.

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

Henry: No, I think that’s SH.

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

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

* Note that if SH were writing this, he would totally not end with a preposition. His father was an English professor and SH writes very, very well. He even spellchecks his casual emails, which makes waiting for him to send a "quick" email to a friend before we leave to go to our tennis class or out to eat a maddening affair, but that's another story. It was, after all, his ability to write so beautifully that captivated my heart initially. And that he was such a hottie.

Marriage 101, Lecture 586: Making the call

Me: So how was it [the live band karaoke last night]?

SH: They weren't there.

Me: I thought you called.

SH: I didn't.

Me: But I thought when you said, "Their website says they'll be there but they haven't updated the site" and I said, "Maybe you should call" and you went upstairs, I thought you were calling.

SH: I wasn't.

Me: So you went anyhow.

SH: Yep.

Me: And they weren't there.

SH: Yes.

Me: Whatever.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Marriage 101, Lecture 87: Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

SH: You ate one of the chocolate cookies Peter brought! [on Saturday when we had five people over for lunch]

Me: So?

SH: But I wanted them!

Me: You didn't dibs them.

SH: But there were rhubarb bars [left over from the lunch].

Me: I know.

SH: You like rhubarb bars and I don't.

Me: So what?

SH: You should have left the cookies for me.

Me: You're saying that because you don't like rhubarb that you automatically get dibs on all the things you like?

SH: That's right.

Me: So I get only the rhubarb bars and not the quart of Never Enough Chocolate frozen custard, the quart of Tiramisu, the pint of Mocha Chip, the 14 pounds of chocolate, cookies, and marzipan in the Chocolate Drawer, or the Part of This Complete Breakfast Trader Joe Chocolate Cereal?

SH: Yes. That is correct.

Marriage 101, Lecture 211: Giving gifts

I love the diamond earrings SH gave me our first Christmas together. And the pearl necklace. And the pearl earrings. And the other pearl earrings. And the other other pearl earrings. And the wonderful camera. And the fabulous trips.

But one of the best presents he has given me as far as making my everyday life better -- although diamond earrings go with everything, including gym clothes, I don't care what The Rules are -- is the label maker.

Oh, little enabler. You are to my kitchen as an extra bladder would be to my body were I to have plastic surgery* -- the thing that truly makes my life better, even if it is almost invisible.

Yes, SH is The Engineer in the house, but let's not forget I started out as an engineer as well**, with every intention of majoring in biomedical engineering, going to med school and then having a career designing artificial body parts. One of the reasons I chose Rice was that it was right across the street from the Medical Center where Denton Cooley and Michael DeBakey practiced. I knew my medical superstars. I even considered Johns Hopkins' six-year BS/MD program, but they had an application fee for their school and it cost nothing to apply to Rice, so Rice it was. All my eggs in one basket.***

Anyhow. I have some of that engineering compulsion to categorize and organize the world within me. My last corporate job was as Data Queen. Part of the assignment was to create a taxonomy of box styles. Boring, you think? Not to me! I had a blast. Now that my world is reduced to one house, there is little left to organize, especially because SH won't let me touch the 458 boxes of phone bills from when he lived in California and the tuition receipts for Marissa's college education that she completed ten years ago. I am reduced to inventorying the contents of the freezer.

Here you see three containers of Cote d'Ivoire Peanut Butter Stew. (This link looks like a decent approximation, although my recipe does not have the plantain or potatoes.) It is fabulous. I got this recipe from Erica, a woman I worked with for a short while when I was a temp at the World Bank. This was when I was hoping to become a permanent employee of the World Bank after I was in the Peace Corps, but I learned that once they see you as a secretary there, they will never see you as anything else, even if they see your resume. One of the section heads looked at my resume and asked if I wanted a job as a secretary in his group. I pointed out that I had an MBA with a 4.0 GPA from a top-20 school and had set my sights a little higher than secretary. He just shrugged. Maybe that was the minimum requirement for secretary there. Who knows?

Hummus on top, made with the Cooks Illustrated process. Do it this way and you will never bother to buy it again. It is so easy and so yummy. Next to it is a one-day supply of Kopp's frozen custard, Mocha Chip, I think. Underneath is some Cuban Pork and Okra Stew (SH loves that I am incapable of differentiating between the 'R' and the 'P' on the machine), also a delicious meal. If you come here to eat, you will not leave hungry, I promise.

* After the bladder, though, I would definitely get the bosoms, the butt lift, and the tummy tuck. And maybe a face lift. Have you noticed how everything starts to sink after a Certain Age?

** Second semester freshman calculus is what happened, although in retrospect, I think I would have been OK if 1) I had gotten my homeworks back before the tests so I would have known I WASN'T DOING IT RIGHT and 2) I had worn my glasses to class so I could have seen the board and known I WASN'T DOING IT RIGHT. After all, when we did calculus in marketing in grad school, I got it just fine. It's amazing what 1) wearing glasses, 2) preparing for and 3) ATTENDING CLASS will actually do for your understanding. For what it's worth, I went on to take differential equations my sophomore year and got a B+. I was going to be darned if I quit because I couldn't do it. I was going to quit because I wanted to.

*** How dumb was that? One of the first things I learned in business school was diversification. Good lesson.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Marriage 101, Lecture 620: The meaning of "is"

So if you come home from church and throw your purse into the house onto the stairs and then go back outside so you can water your tomatoes and see your neighbor outside and go to talk to her about the irises you are going to give to her and then your husband, who did not go to church, leaves the house with his friend Tom to go to Summerfest, steps over the purse, which is ON THE STAIRS, which is not its usual place, and Tom, who realizes that a purse does not live ON THE STAIRS, asks, "Is Class Factotum home? Does she have a key?" and then they get into the car, your husband backs out, sees you, and yells out the car window, "Do you have a key?" and you answer, "Yes," because of course you have a key IN YOUR PURSE, which of you is at fault when you turn out to be locked out of the house?


Saturday, June 27, 2009

More reasons to hate the "Gather" hymnal

You non-Catholic Christians may not be aware that at the Reformation, we got the real estate and you got the good music. You have not had to endure the tragedy, banality and kum-bay-yahness that is Marty Haugen. Two thousand years of beautiful hymns and we have to sing crap like -- well, I don't want to tell you if you don't know because there's no point in ruining your church life if you are used to beautiful songs like "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," "Amazing Grace" and "Crown Him With Many Crowns." Oh, I am getting depressed just thinking about all that glorious music that we never get to sing.


This is what I saw in the hymnal* today in the "Songs by topic" index while I was reading it rather than sing the drivel that we were supposed to be singing:


Yeah. I'm just a little offended that our national anthem is listed this way. Our country, the best hope that has ever existed for anyone in the world, and our national song is relegated to "horrors of war?"

I'm ticked. The military better not be spending money on this crap.

* The Gather hymnal that lists on its website the ten reasons to buy it, not one of which is, "The songs are beautiful." I am not making this up. The #1 reason they list for buying their book? The books "are printed on high grade, acid free, off-white paper which is proven to be easy on the eye." Yeah. That's why "The Kite Runner" and "Tuesdays With Morrie" were best sellers. Because they were on high-grade, acid-free, off-white paper. Not because they were page turners.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Question for parents

I was at the park with my friend Michelle (The Cool Girl From The Gym) and her two kids this afternoon and we saw this little girl, maybe a year, fall. She was crying and nobody ran to get her, so my old lifeguard instincts kicked in and I went over to pick her up. She was upset enough that she let a stranger take her. I was holding her walking around looking for her mom, thinking it was odd that a one-year-old would be unsupervised like this.

Finally, a man who had been sitting there the whole time came forward, reached for her and said, "She's fine."

I handed her to him and thought it a little odd that her father (I'm assuming that's who he was) had watched her cry and had done nothing. I thought it even odder that he had watched a stranger take his child and not spoken out. Maybe he thought he was toughening her up by letting her cry, but does a one-year-old who is crying because she has fallen need to be ignored by her own father?

Justice is served, #42

In the express lane at Sendik's.

As she is unloading her groceries: Is it OK if I have more than 12 items?

Cashier: How many more? Like one more? Or six more?

Customer: Like seven more.

Cashier: It would be better if you would go to another lane.

Me: [Ha!]

Fish for Friday

Bonnie and I went to the Kohler Design Center yesterday, where we saw $12,000 tubs and gorgeous glass $3,000 sinks that would show the tiniest bit of toothpaste the second they were used but that's OK because anyone who can spend $3,000 on a sink (not including the tap or the drain) can also afford someone else to clean it twice a day.

This gorgeous sink, perfect for your lake house, was several thousand dollars.

Then she, SH and I went out for sushi. One of the flavors is Milwaukee [something] Roll, which is perfect, because it's important that I keep my Milwaukee Roll. Don't want to get too skinny or men will think I don't like to eat or drink beer and men around here (especially my husband) don't like that quality in women.

No, we did not finish it. I am about to have some for breakfast.

She took a photo of the Wall of Toilets and I have borrowed it.

I like the Atlas Shrugged theme here. Which, now that I look more closely, I realize is invisible to you. But trust me: there are naked muscular men holding up the toilets.

I am so impressed with Kohler. My mom hates it when I talk about the ladies' room, but honestly, doesn't it bug you when you go into a public restroom and there is nowhere to put your purse but on the floor? I do not want to put my purse on the nasty dirty public bathroom floor! Well, Kohler had hooks all over the place. Whoever designed the ladies' room in the Design Center had obviously used one before, unlike whoever designs ladies' rooms for airports.

The toilets in the ladies' had this tab. I asked one of the women working there what that was all about and she did not know.

I would rather use this kind of toilet than a dirty Western one, but where do you put your stuff? And you sure better have been doing your squats if you want to do this right.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cooking tip #324

If you cut your finger while you are chopping cilantro for the Vietnamese steak salad and you superglue the cut shut, don't stick your finger in your mouth to suck off a piece of cilantro until the superglue has dried.

Marriage 101, Lecture 353: Marry an engineer

Because an engineer, as annoying as he can be sometimes, will figure out how to concentrate the force of the dehumidifier over the one spot of the carpet that is still damp.

Yes, he is going to tape over the holes. He had left them open as not to stress the dehumidifier too much, but then decided the holes at the other end of the box were enough.

Unfortunately, he will also use this as an opportunity to tell you that this is why we should save boxes for months and months because You Never Know When You Will Need A Big Box.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Engineer du jour

On the survey you are doing for your friend Luke to determine what strategy to take on a software rollout for a small company, one of the questions is, "What kind of computer do you have?"

Here is how a non-engineer answers it:


Here is how an engineer answers it:

Dell Laptop Latitude D620
T7400 2.16 GHz 2 GB, 32 bit


This is what happens when you buy the only pair of Bass sandals* on sale at DSW and they are just a little bit tight but that's OK because they are leathah and leather stretches, doesn't it? It's not going to be like when you and SH flew to Madrid the first time and you wore your cute high-heeled black boots on the plane because by golly, you were going to Show Them How It Was Done -- how to travel and not be a complete slob -- and SH said, Don't you want a change of clothes in my carryon in case our luggage is lost? And you said, Sha, my luggage has never been lost and then you get to Madrid and where is your cute Lands End pink suitcase that is so easy to spot and guess what? It's still in Detroit! And sure they'll deliver it to your hotel tomorrow* but what about between now and tomorrow and you think, How hard can this be? And then you realize that walking up and down the stairs in the subway and then on the cobbled Madrid streets in pursuit of churros y chocolate is wow, Not so much in the feet feeling good department and you vow never ever to make this mistake again but then you get the Bass sandals and wear them downtown with your mom and ouch, your metatarsals are screaming as they are being squeezed into submission, like a suburban foot binding only they started way too late because bones are pretty much set by the time you are 45, so you hobble to the Goodwill boutique and look desperately for shoes and thank goodness you find some Michael Kors moccasins that fit, are cute and are the right price so you can take off the Bass sandals but you still want those sandals so you put them on the rack.


* Bass sandals! You love Bass sandals and have not seen them since college, when you spent some of your hard-earned swimming teacher/lifeguard minimum wage earnings to get a pair. It is worth it to spend money on sandals in Texas because you will wear them six months of the year, although you have to carry a pair of socks to class with you because they air condition the heck out of the buildings in Houston.

** You think that's what they've said but you are so out of practice with your Spanish that you may have told them to donate the whole shebang to charity or maybe they said, Your bag is on its way to China and we darn sure don't know how that happened! But here's a toothbrush!

Crowning glory

Reasons I have changed my haircut appointment at the last minute:

1. The cool girl in my body pump class at the Y wants to go out for coffee after class and the only time she can go that week is when I was supposed to get my hair cut. She wants to be my friend! The cool girl! My hairdresser understands.

2. SH and I have to get to Summerfest before noon next week to get the cheap admission and then a wristband for re-admission later in the evening so we can see Earth, Wind and Fire for only $2. Plus we have to go to Kopp's* to pick up some Midnight Chocolate Cake custard (Rich, dark, sinfully delicious. Chocolate truffel pieces, thick fudge and dark chocolate custard). We can't go before we go back to Summerfest because the custard would melt, even in a cooler, and Kopp's closes at 11 and we might not be able to get there before then after the concert. My hairdresser understands.

Reasons I should have changed my haircut appointment and did not:

1. When I first moved here, I had SH's hairdresser cut my hair. My instincts were against it because if I didn't like what she did, then it could be awkward for SH with her later. But I tossed my discomfort aside, tra la, tra la, thinking, "I have a bob! How hard can it be?" And then I decided I was tired of my bob and showed her a photo of a very cute haircut on a very cute woman only the haircut looked really bad on me and I didn't look anything like the cute woman in the photo, even with that haircut, and I didn't like how my hair was sticking out around my ears so I (despite years of experience that it is a Really Bad Idea to Cut My Own Hair) grabbed the scissors and started whacking, which, unsurprisingly did not help. My Memphis hairdresser Geri would never have let me get the cut in the first place. She was good enough to say, "Oh honey. No. That won't work with your hair." But here? I knew better. And SH's hairdresser didn't know me or my hair. So I had to spend the next four months tugging on my hair, willing it to grow so that when we got married, I would have enough hair that I would not look terrible in photos.

* Kopp's: my mom's friend Pat sent us gift certificates to Kopp's as a wedding present. How nice was that?

That must be jelly because jam don't roll like that, part 2

First canning class last night. We made strawberry-rhubarb jam and strawberry-raspberry-blueberry jam. The great news is that SH hates any food that ends in "erry" so I do not have to share any of my loot.

Smashing the strawberries. Rhubarb is to the right -- it looks like red coleslaw.

Measuring the raspberries for the three-berry jam.

Boiling the jam.

Putting it into the jars before processing.

Sampling the leftovers in the pot. This was my favorite part and I went back for eights (eighths?).

The finished product. There were 14 of us in the class and only 11 jars each of the jams, so I was getting very worried that I would not get my two jars. I did not know how to ask about it without looking like a pig, though, so I just spent the two hours being very anxious.* Fortunately, at the end of the class, the teacher told us she works with three of the students and she would just take them some jam later.

* A useful thing I learned in grad school: do everything you can to reduce uncertainty and anxiety when you are having a meeting (or in any process, like waiting for an elevator, which is why they tell you which floor the elevator is on), otherwise all people do is wonder when they are going to get a coffee break, what's for lunch, what time the meeting ends, will there be a test, etc.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chats du jour: A day at the spa

1. Cool air? Check. On the furnace room side, not the dehumidifier side, which is rather warm.

2. Lots of noise? Check. Right next to the dehumidifier.

3. Interesting texture to sit on? Check. Plastic! It's the new leather!

4. A massage? Check. Dehumidifier is blowing air against the plastic, which is hitting the cat.


Tuesday photos

I took my mom and Bonnie who has the great lake house* that she and her husband Gary ("Is the wine OK?") have been gracious enough to invite us to several times to Old World Wisconsin yesterday.

This photo of buttons in the general store is for Lucy who has been making cool things with buttons.

We walked and sweltered in the Wisconsin heat around the old German farmhouse with the black kitchen and chatted with other visitors, one of whom grew up on a farm and talked about having to clean cat poop out of the grain before getting the grain ready for planting. I suppose cat poop is better than no grain, which is what you get with rats and mice.

The gunpowder is conveniently located next to the rolling pins.

We also saw the Norwegian homestead, where the owner got rich during the Civil War because he had sheep and at the time, wool sold for about the same price as an acre of farmland. (No cotton from the South, wool the substitute, army uniforms, etc, etc.)

Rope. Obviously.

I would link to my post and photos from last year when SH and I went to OWW, but journalspace lost four years of blogging, including that post.

A device to torture women.

* It's nice to have nice friends who own a lake house.

Marriage 101, Lecture 244: Little obsessions

SH: I saw a goof in the first part of that movie.

Me: What?

SH: They open with a plane flying over San Francisco that's about to land. Only that's not the flight pattern you use if you land in San Francisco.

Me: Uh-huh.

SH: And then the plane that lands has a different registration number from the one that was flying over the city!

Me: Oh no.

SH: Can you believe they did that?

Me: I can't believe you noticed.

SH: I'm a plane buff. I notice things like that.

Me: You're an Aspergery nerd is what you are.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chats du jour: While the people are away

The cats will play on the stove.


Monday photo

My mom, Bonnie and I went to Old World Wisconsin today. Very cool. And I loved this guy's t-shirt.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Not to brag...

but y'all have to see the sweet things Privilege said about me.

AND she gave me a prize.

Also not to brag, but here's the little supper we threw together for my mom: grilled fennel, sauteed asparagus (in bacon grease, of course), a salad with store-bought lettuce and the spinach, lettuce and pea shoots I thinned from my garden, and fabulous SH steaks. Also, the Good Salt and the Good Pepper. My mom is worth it. Not just because she is my mom and is a fabulous mom (which is enough) but also because she spent a couple hours on Friday helping us get the water out of the carpet and spent a couple of hours today as my garden coach, helping me plant the irises she had brought with her from her garden in Colorado. And she pulled weeds. And trimmed the peonies and tulips. Without being asked.

Marriage 101, Lecture 776: Marry a man who can fix things!

Thanks to The Engineer's hard work, brilliant taping, and foresight to buy a second dehumidifier a few weeks ago (because heaven forbid that the boxes holding the >300 bottles of wine* in the laundry room, which now has to remain closed and hence does not get the draw** from the dehumidifier in the furnace room, get damp), it looks like we have averted a carpet tragedy.

We had to move the furniture off the wet carpet and then bring in fans and dehumidifiers. SH then sealed off the doors with plastic.

The mitigator told us that he thought we could dry the carpet ourselves. Not to diminish our tragedy, he said, but he had enough work -- a customer with a hole in his warehouse and $2 million of rain damage was next on his list. We agreed that 20 square feet of wet carpet that could be maybe dried and if not dried, then replaced for less than $1,000 (although a huge pain in the neck to move everything out of the room) did not qualify as tragedy. Not only that, but honestly, if I have to spend $500, I would rather buy some swanky shoes than pay an insurance deductible. Not that I would ever spend $500 on shoes. I dream about it. I just don't do it.***

SH adjusts the cat flap.

The big challenge was teaching the cats to go through the little flap SH left at the corner of each door after he had taped it off. The litter box is in the furnace room and Lord knows we don't want to cut off access to it. Laverne got it right away, but when SH tried to lure Shirley (the Pretty One) through the flap with some kibble, she wasn't interested, wanting to sit and listen to the blissfully loud noise coming from the dehumidifier. Oh, if only I would run the vacuum cleaner all the time, Shirley would be in heaven.****

* Our friend Gary on facebook after SH commented about the flood: "Is the wine OK?"

** See "Shirley breaks into the laundry room for the third time but isn't smart enough to open a door"

*** I do, however, spend $20 on almost-new Michael Kors moccasins at the new Goodwill boutique in downtown Milwaukee. They are diverting all the good stuff to that shop and charge more, which is OK because it's still cheap (Ralph Lauren sweater, $7) and it doesn't have that used-clothes smell that the regular Goodwill has. And you have to look through a lot less stuff.

**** Laverne, however, hisses at the sight of the silent vacuum cleaner. It is the enemy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Marriage 101, Lecture 695: Togetherness

SH and I had our first tennis lesson this morning.

We are really, really bad.

The real reason we are taking lessons is because we need a hobby that we enjoy doing together that is not other hobby that we enjoy doing together, which is eating. These are the fried dill pickles at the Memphis restaurant, Southern Crow, owned by my former neighbor.

Fortunately, I am taking the class with The engineer, who will be sure to ask questions like, "At exactly which angle should I tilt my racket? 37 degrees or 38? How much do I bend my knees? When you say, 'Face the fence,' what part of the fence do you mean?" The answers to these questions will help me in my quest to win but I don't have to look like the pain in the neck for asking them.

I am fiercely competitive and Want To Win. I want to Crush the Opposition. I want to make up for years of grade school, junior high and high school sports humiliations where I was routinely the last one picked for any team and justifiably so because I was so bad. Sure, I got second place in the 100-yard butterfly in a high school race once, but it was because there were only two people racing.

So I want to be good at this.

At the same time (and here is the dilemma) I do not want to work at it or follow the teacher's instructions. So what that she plays college tennis and has been coaching for five years? What does she know about holding the racket for a backhand? I am a one-handed backhander, but she claims that I need to hold the racket with both hands.

Even worse, she doesn't serve the ball to exactly where I am, which means I have to run for it if I want to hit it, which now I am thinking is a matter legitimately up for debate: how much running do I really want to do on a hot, humid (yes, we went straight from winter to summer) day?

And the answer is: enough running so we can indulge our other hobby without repercussions.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Marriage 101, Lecture 352: Arguments you do not want to have

At 2:24 a.m. Why it is OK to use the Good Towels to soak up the water in the carpet that is wet because the basement flooded when the sewers backed up with the torrential rain.

Note that this sort of flooding was not supposed to happen again so soon. I would refer you to my post last June, "Sounds you do not want to hear, What it sounds like when you step on wet carpet in the basement of the house you just closed on 11 days ago," except of course I cannot link to journalspace.com which lost four years of blogging and no longer exists.

It is OK to use the Good Towels because it is cheaper and easier to replace towels than carpet.

PS Yes, I would rather raw sewage be dumped into Lake Michigan than my basement flood. Sue me.

How an engineer thinks: "Oh good! A chance to buy a shop vac!"

How I think: "Let's rent something first." Of course, everyone else in town has the same idea. Fortunately, I was able to track down a carpet shampooer. We have a Save Big Money at Menard's Shopvac ("Normally, they're 3 gajillion horsepower, but this one goes to 11!") as a backup.

My mother gets put to work. Think you're going to visit our house and be treated well? No. There are chores.

PPS Why are we doing this ourselves instead of waiting for the mitigator to do it? Because the mitigator would cost @$2,000 and new carpet would cost only $1,000. The mitigator said he thought we could get it just as dry as he could and told us what to do. We'd rather not pay the $500 deductible and as our insurance company is a mutual company, well, a $2,000 claim hits us worse than a $1,000 claim does. Alas, I got the one bad customer service person at USAA, who asked in a bewildered tone why I cared as we were only responsible for the deductible either way. Sigh. Why bother to be responsible?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Marriage 101, Lecture 225: Optimizing the spice rack

Me: Where's the thyme?

SH: How should I know?

The front bin has things I use frequently, like cumin, basil, oregano, smoked paprika and ras al hanout. The back bins have the cardamom, the fenugreek (I have never used this spice and have no idea how to use it -- I bought it in Guatemala City 14 years ago), and the lemongrass.

Me: It's supposed to be in this front spice bin.

SH: I didn't do anything.

Me: I keep it in this bin. You moved it.

SH: No I didn't.

Me: What's it doing in this bin that goes in the back? Oh, look, there's peppercorns here, too.

SH: Yeah, I put the pepper there.

Me: I knew it. You moved my thyme.

SH: Oh. Well, I did rearrange some things.

Me: Why?

SH: The thyme is in a bag. The rest of that stuff is in jars. A bag shouldn't go in with jars.

Me: I have it organized by frequency of use! I use the thyme a lot, which is why it's in this front bin!

SH: But it's in a bag and the rest of those spices are in jars. It's not organized right!


Busy Thursday photos

I have been working, so don't have anything interesting to say. I am taking the lazy way out and posting photos from our 2006 trip to Spain and Morocco.

Some boys herding sheep in Fez.

Old-school waiter in a village in the mountains. I would tell you the name of the village but I don't remember and of course I can't go to my journalspace.com archives to look because JOURNALSPACE LOST FOUR YEARS OF BLOGGING.

Women in the same village.

Downtown Madrid with post-it reminders to buy bread.

Selling sweet potatoes and I think chestnuts in Madrid.

Anyone who has been to Madrid has seen the Tio Pepe sign.

Painter in the Plaza Mayor.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Math at Walgreen's

Umm. Yeah. Am I missing something here? When I saw this, I had had no sugar. Even now, after breaking my no-sugar vow with one of the two biscotti I kept here before delivering the rest to the librarian, I am not quite seeing the big bargain.

OK. True confessions. I also had the chocolate truffle that I brought home from book club last night. I haven't touched the rhubarb bar or the cheesecake. Yet. But the hostess insisted we take leftovers home with us.


I used to do that -- do a bunch of cooking for a party and then send people home with the leftover food, but I don't do that any more, not after the big tapas party that SH and I hosted where I made about seven kinds of tapas, all by hand -- it took me two days of cooking -- and then I stupidly made people take stuff with them instead of freezing it (we were leaving for our first joint trip to Morocco soon) and boy did I regret that a few weeks later when it would have been nice to have food available without doing more than taking it out to thaw.

No sugar

Here is why today must be a no-sugar day.

I spent Sunday eating chocolate, Nutella straight from the jar, and Hagen-Daz coffee chocolate chip ice cream. And baklava.

I would totally break my no-sugar vow if churros y chocolate appeared in front of me.

I spent Monday eating marzipan.

Yesterday, I had rhubarb bars and cheesecake at book club and about seven biscotti as I was baking them. Chocolate chocolate-chip walnut biscotti. I had to test them because it was a recipe I hadn't used before and because they had to be right for the librarian who made an exception to the Milwaukee library policy that if you turn in a book that somehow has gotten water damage and you don't know how and it's driving you crazy trying to figure it out, you are supposed to pay the full price to replace the book.

Random Morocco photo. These guys are stoking the fire at a pottery factory.

Even if it wasn't very good and you hated the protagonist because at her ten-year high school reunion she was just as mean to her old friend as she had been to the friend in high school. (The book is called, "Don't You Forget About Me," but I would recommend that you do forget it.)

You are not supposed to be able to replace the book, even if you can get it for $16 on amazon.com and the library wants $24 because that's what they paid for it but good grief, why is the library paying cover price for books?

The reason you can't just replace the book at 67% of what the library paid for it because what if the library doesn't want to replace the book and wants to use the money for something else? OK, so what do they do with old books they don't want to replace? They sell them at the library book sale for $3, so if all they could have gotten for this book was $3, then why do I have to pay $24?

A cat waiting hopefully at the meat vendor in the Fez medina.

You see my dilemma. I argued with two librarians, then asked to speak to someone higher up. I didn't argue very hard, because I have to admit I definitely get my money's worth from the library and the book was water damaged (how? how??) on my watch, but still, I don't want to pay $24 to own a book I didn't even like.

Finally, I got a supervisor in tech services and she said that yes, they would be replacing the book (I didn't tell her it was bad and not to bother because I am not that generous and selfless) and yes, she would make an exception and let me buy the book rather than give them the money.

So for someone who saves me $8, I make cookies. And sample along the way because how awful would it be to give somebody bad cookies?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lrn 2 spel

The teachers at Tosa East High School would probably prefer that the girls who vandalized this bench had left the school out of it:




Monday, June 15, 2009

Marriage 101, Lecture 252: Nocturnal vs diurnal

Me: I was planning to go out with you tomorrow. [SH usually goes to this karaoke bar on Tuesday nights.]

SH: But you hate going out.

My brother, my mom, Dr J and SH singing the weekend of our wedding. The post-modern wedding: going out to a dive Milwaukee bar to sing karaoke with your family and new spouse.

Me: Yes, but you have been nagging me about it, so I am going to go.

SH: I haven't been nagging you. I just said I wished you liked to go out.

Me: So I'll go.

SH: But you won't have any fun. I only got to sing three times last time.

Me: I thought you wanted me to go.

SH: I want you to want to go. That's different.

Me: So it doesn't count if I go because I don't have the right motives? [See: Using reusable grocery bags, line-drying clothes, growing your own vegetables, buying jeans at Goodwill, walking to the library instead of driving: Don't count if you are a conservative doing it just to save money. It only counts if you are a liberal environmentalist.]

Marriage 101, Lecture 603: Procrastinator vs Planner

SH: The house is ready for your mom and she doesn't even get here until Thursday.

This is the Guest Chocolate Chez Cheeseguy and Doc.

Me: Not quite ready.

SH: But you've cleaned the guest room and the guest bathroom. There's really nothing left to do.

Me: I still have to wash that bathroom floor and dust.*

SH: Pffft.

Me: [shrug]

SH: Don't you want to wait until the night before she comes and then stay up all night cleaning the way I used to have to do with Imelda [his ex wife]?

Me: Um. No.

* And put out the Guest Chocolate and a few bottles of water and some current magazines.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday photos

On the way from church to the grocery store and then to the Greek Festival again. We ate there last night and it was so good we returned for lunch.

Don't ask me. Not my yard.

It is actually warm enough today to be outside.

See? Sidewalk dining in Wauwatosa. Sure, it's at the grocery store, but what's wrong with that? You can buy your brat or hot dog at the stand then sit to eat. Before you buy food, though, you make the circuit of samples: pretzel bread at the bakery, two kinds of dip by the deli counter, then pineapple, cantaloupe and honeydew melon in produce, where, sadly, the only items in the bargain bin were lettuce and eggplant. SH told me he doesn't really like baba ganoush, so there's no point in getting eggplant. No, I am not going to make eggplant parmigiana -- it is way too much trouble.

And then to the Greek fest, where if you no like meat, they make lamb. The chicken was so good (in the lamb and chicken dinner from last night) we bought a whole one to take home. We also tried four different kinds of pastry, all sold to me by yia yias who speak English as a second language. Who knew there was such a big Greek community in Wauwatosa? And yes, there was beer. And of course they have a fish fry every Friday. This is Wisconsin.

Seeing these Greek guys preparing lamb and chicken and saganaki reminded me of our trip to Morocco in October.

A food vendor in Marrakesh, the city to which we will never return* because some of the people in the square were so obnoxious. As in, when we politely declined to eat at one stall, the guy said, "F U" to me, only he said the whole thing. Right. Now I'm ready to spend money at your restaurant. Our soup guy, however, was perfectly nice and polite and his food was delicious. Steve and Megan told us to eat where the Moroccans were eating, not the tourists, and they were right.

Selling cilantro. The meat guys use it to give a fresh aroma to their stands.

Bean seller. We got some and they were delicious. I love fava beans.

I can't find my sheepshead photo right now, but here's a guy in Madrid carving serrano ham.

Found them. Meat guys in Fez.



Another update:

LPC asked about the clothes the men in Fez are wearing. Here are some more Morocco shots:

The medina in Essouira.

Woman in the narrow street.

Old man at the Chella in Rabat.

Water seller in Fez.

Medina taxi in Fez.

* Please note that the rest of Morocco was fine. It's just Marrakesh. What a pit. Don't go there. Go to Fez and Essouiara and Volubulis but don't go to Marrakesh.