Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 301: Hooked on Texas

SH: Why don't you want to watch an episode of Friday Night Lights with me? [Note that this is the show that a mere month or two ago, SH had no interest in watching because he did not want to watch 1. a stupid TV show 2. about Texas and 3. football. Oh how the mighty have fallen.]

Me: Because I am sleepy. I've been sleepy all day. I want to go to bed.

SH: It's only 42 minutes long!

Me: No it's not. You pause the show to get more wine. [Because he can pour only one inch of wine into his glass at a time. No more than that! Noooo! Wine people probably understand the one-inch limitation, but practical people who are watching TV in the basement while the open wine bottle is upstairs in the kitchen do not.]

SH: So?

Me: And then you pause it to ask, "What did he say? What did he say?" And then you don't believe me when I tell you, so you rewind.

SH: So?

Me: And then you pause it to ask me why Smash is trying to get a walk-on tryout, even though it has been only two days since you saw the episode where that was explained!

SH: So?

Me: By the time you are done pausing, it's over an hour. Then you have to organize and grade your hangers by wire gauge and do all kinds of piddly tasks because you can't stand to leave any disorder when you go out of town and then you pack and then it's midnight before we turn out the lights. That's why I don't want to watch.

Wisconsin 101: Glove rules <> finders keepers

It didn't take much paying attention for me to realize that 1. there are lost gloves all over the place and 2. the proper protocol is not to take said lost glove home with you, throw it in the washing machine and use it because you lost one of your gloves and wanted to keep both of your hands warm.

To wit.

I am a taker of lost gloves. When we were in Paris, I lost one black glove. Fortunately, I had a second pair of gloves with me, but the second pair red gloves? Did not enhance my Michelin woman outfit of down vest underneath the vinyl zebra-skin coat that by itself was not warm enough for the freezing Paris temps and even with the down vest underneath, giving me that welcome added bulk around my belly, was still not warm enough.

As SH and I strolled down the Paris street, as I kept my eye on the sidewalk so I could walk around the dog poop, I saw a black glove.

It was like a sign.

A sign that I should be wearing black gloves.

Even though SH, who is 1. remarkably squeamish and 2. a eater of raw meat, tendon, and tripe, was disgusted, I picked it up and brought it home without a second thought. My imported, French black glove that almost matches my one remaining black Target $3 glove. I washed it and now I'm cool. I have a pair of black gloves again.

But what I learned last night is that when you find a lost glove, you are supposed to take it to the lost and found or stick it on a fencepost (if you're outside next to the library) or put it on top of the vending machine (if you're at the Y). You are not supposed to assume ownership of the glove.

Fortunately for my friend Bonnie, most Wisconsin people have better glove manners than I do and Do The Right Thing. If I had found her cute Marks and Spencer fur cuff glove - her IMPORTED ENGLISH GLOVE - I might have kept it and hoped the other glove would fall in my path as well.

Bonnie, her husband Gary, SH and I went to a show last night in downtown Milwaukee. We met at the theater. They walked into the lobby after we did, Bonnie slightly bereft because she had lost one of her IMPORTED ENGLISH GLOVES on the way from the car to the theater.

Why she lost it doesn't matter, even though it's because somebody had to know while they were walking if she had the tickets (even though she had already checked her purse at our house to make sure she did) which meant she had to take off her glove to open and get into her purse.

She lost the glove, so she and Gary retraced their steps in an IMPORTED ENGLISH GLOVE search.

No luck.

After the show, I suggested SH and I walk with them for one more glove search expedition. Gary, who is not as concerned with IMPORTED ENGLISH GLOVES as Bonnie, SH and I are, was not excited about the idea, but I nagged.

"Two eyes good, four eyes better," I said, even though that wasn't exactly accurate. I should have said "pairs of eyes," but then the allusion becomes awkward and nobody gets it.

We walked around three of the four sides of the theater complex in the cold, windy Milwaukee night. We walked past the point where they had searched the first time. It was a cold Tuesday evening downtown. Not busy. We were hoping the glove would still be there.

It wasn't.

Bonnie was a little bit sad that we had not found the glove but put on a brave face. Gary was not very sympathetic, but he is a guy and does not understand why the loss of an IMPORTED ENGLISH GLOVE with a cute fur cuff would be such a tragedy. To most men, I suppose, gloves are merely something to keep the hands from freezing. But to Bonnie and me, a cute IMPORTED ENGLISH GLOVE with a fur cuff is a fashion item that draws comment and admiration, because these gloves are indeed noteworthy.

(SH cared about the IMPORTED ENGLISH GLOVE because he hates losing things.)

"Marks and Spencer is like the English Target," Gary commented.

Well, I like the American Target and the English Target has a certain cachet if you ask me. Why yes I'm a snob. Is that news to you?

I felt bad that I had encouraged everyone to waste their time.

SH suggested we walk back through the theater complex as a shortcut. "Plus it will be warmer than being outside," he noted.

We took four steps inside the complex. SH wandered over to the Pabst Theater box office, which was closed. Which bugged me because now that we had failed on our glove hunting mission, I wanted to get home, eat some more of the raspberry chocolate tart we'd had for dessert, and go to bed. Why was he detouring? That man has NO SENSE of efficiency.

SH turned to Bonnie, holding something in his hand.

"Is this it?"


Somebody had found it on the sidewalk, brought it inside, and left it on the ledge of the box office.

Somebody had Done The Right Thing.

Somebody was a far far better human being than I. Lucky for Bonnie.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 339: Old-timers' disease

As we are watching Friday Night Lights.

SH: Wait! Why is Smash trying to get a walk-on spot? What about his scholarship?

Me: He lost it.

SH: But then he got the other one to Whitmore.

Me: No, he lost that one, too.

SH: What? [grabbing the remote and hitting "pause"]

Me: He lost it.

SH: When?

Me: He lost it after he got injured.

SH: When?

Me: LAST EPISODE! [which we watched one day ago]

SH: He did?

Me: You are not very good at watching a soap opera. [I, on the other hand, can still recite the major plot lines from General Hospital summer of 1979, including the Scottie/Laura/Luke drama and the stuff with that nurse played by Jackie someone who wanted Scottie who wanted Laura.]

SH: How am I supposed to remember something that happened one or two episodes ago?

Me: I thought you were The Rememberer.

Marriage 301, Lecture 669: For your own good

SH: I stacked the laundry baskets. I know you don't like it when I do that.*

Me: Then why did you do it?

SH: To give us more floor space!**

Me: We don't need more floor space in the laundry room.

SH: It also makes it look neater.

Me: No it doesn't. Besides, who cares if the laundry room looks neat?

SH: I do.

Me: You're nuts.

* It might be useful to point out that SH has today as a vacation day but is not using his power for good.

** May I also point out that SH has no problems keeping boxes - empty boxes - that he brought to Wisconsin from California and then moved into this house from his apartment on the floor of the basement and of his office, although he did start clearing the office boxes out yesterday so he could set up a stereo in his office. We also have six extra rolls of insulation stacked in the basement. We insulated the attic last year and had leftover insulation, which I wanted SH to return to Menards but he said we should keep it just in case we needed it. Good idea. You never know when you will need more insulation for your 1928 brick and plaster-walled house.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 594: You want me to die

After SH has patched the flat tire himself with a kit he got online because the three garages by our house refused to do it. Too Dangerous, they said. Not Advised, they said.

Too Afraid of Liability, SH scoffed. Not Dangerous.

Me: Are you sure about this?

SH: It's not in the sidewall! It's at the tread. This will be OK.

Me: You want the tire to blow out. You want me to die.

SH: No I don't! I don't have any life insurance on you!

Things I know

1. A wooden toilet seat is almost as warm as a heated toilet seat and does not have the disadvantage of needing to be plugged in to the outlet that is conveniently located on the other side of the sink, which would mean the cord would have to be run either under the front of the vanity (cat hair trap) or across the top of the vanity to the outlet.

There would appear to be a market for battery operated heated toilet seats. I'll put that in my "Business Ideas" file next to TV remotes with buttons that glow in the dark. Am I the only person in the world who watches movies with the lights turned off? Do you know what a pain in the neck it is to have to take off one's glasses and tilt the remote toward the flickering light of the TV to be able to see and hit the "pause" button?

My lovely husband gave me the toilet seat for Christmas and I love him for it. He really listens to me and looks for gifts that will enhance my daily life. (See: Engagement Trash Can.)

2. Only a Truly Superior Human Being can make it through almost-midnight Mass while the person behind her click click clicks on his blackberry sending text after text to who knows where. As I am only a Moderately Superior Human Being, I could not overlook this transgression. I kept hearing a noise behind me and finally turned to see what it was.

It was a man in his mid-20s clicking away. I turned my head to the front quickly, shocked at what I had seen.

He continued. He continued!

I turned to look again, only this time I let my gaze linger, which is church code for I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU ARE TEXTING IN CHURCH, YOU JERK!

(I know I am not the texting police and if he had been texting noiselessly, I would have shrugged and thought, "Obviously I am a SUPERIOR HUMAN BEING because I limit my non-church activities to making a grocery list during the psalm and to when they are doing an interpretative dance to the readings even though I watch said dance in horror. My non-church activities do not make noise or distract/annoy other people.")

He was unmoved.

He was unmoved by my lingering gaze. What was he, inhuman? How can anyone withstand the lingering gaze of a disapproving pew sitter?

He clicked his way through the gospel.

Even if you do not belong to a particular religion or denomination, I would suspect that most people would know it is bad manners to text noisily during a religious service, although I would encourage anyone to text while a Marty Haugen song is being performed because nobody should have to suffer through that drivel.

Maybe he was a transplant surgeon, texting the instructions for replacing Heart A with Heart B: Cut open da chest. HV u done that? K, now cut out da old heart. Yeah, u have to clamp off da arteries before u do that. Now, sew in da new heart.

The normal rules do not apply to transplant surgeons.

I took the chance that he was not a transplant surgeon and steeled myself to say something. Just the thought of CONFRONTING SOMEONE made my heart race and adrenalin flood my body. I felt shaky. Yet I turned to him and politely asked, "That noise is distracting. Would you mind not doing that?"

He stopped.


And when we shook hands, he didn't want to shake my hand or even make eye contact, which confirmed my opinion that he knew he had been doing something wrong and was ashamed of it.

But I just smiled, took his hand, and said, "Merry Christmas!"

3. If you send your mom the fancy handmade soap you got at the farmers market in Paris and the fancy handmade soap smells like chocolate cinnamon orange and you thought it was good enough to eat and even commented on such to the vendor and the fancy handmade soap label just has a pretty picture on it and perhaps not the word "savon" which might not matter anyway because it's been many years since your mother had high-school French, you should somehow make sure your mother knows it is soap and not, say, a candy bar. Even though the smell would indicate that it is a candy bar and hence edible.

Trust me on this one.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Chats du jour: Christmas

What we're getting the cats for Christmas:

A peach.



A hat.

Another hat.

A massage.


A paper bag.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 496: Taking candy from a baby

SH: I want a [whatever that chocolate is that his parents sent that he asked me to hide from him].

Me: I'm already in bed. I'm not getting out just to get you some chocolate.

SH: But I want some.

Me: Then I'll have to tell you where it is so you can get it yourself.


Me: You didn't last very long.

SH: It's been more than 48 hours.

Marriage 301, Lecture 493: Anatomy of a crime part 4

I haven't finished the story of the slight, tiny, small car accident I had in November. When I last left you, I had asked SH to identify remodeling projects around the house as it appeared that the carpenter whose van I hit was hitting on me in retaliation.

I had also told Van Guy I would leave a bribe = brownies for him on the porch. I made the brownies - with nuts, as he had requested - and left them out for him the next morning.

When I returned that afternoon, they were still there.


Was he rejecting the bribebrownies because he wanted $2,000 instead? What was I going to do with all those bribebrownies? I like brownies a lot but I also like fitting into my clothes and there is not a lot of play in my jeans these days. SH doesn't want bribebrownies with nuts - he claims that nuts spoil chocolate. He is dead wrong on that but that's not a hill to die on.

I put the bribebrownies in the fridge and waited for the expensive email/phone call.


The next day, I did the laundry. I was in the back yard, hanging out the clothes in my usual housecleaning outfit of pajamas, which consists of red and white striped knit pants and SH's 27 year old long-sleeved mustard yellow (a color that makes me look putrid but it's the only long-sleeved t-shirt to which I have access) Weiss Beer Bike t-shirt, and the pink Fluffy Socks with flip flops.

My hair had not been washed in two days. Don't judge me until you have lived in a cold climate where the heater and the cold = no humidity at all = skin so dry that it hurts. This weather leads to every other day bathing.

The coup de grace was the dime-sized clump of Clearasil on my forehead, just above my right eyebrow, where I was trying to contain a massive pre-Paris breakout but was not having any luck.

What a man-catching outfit, hey?

I heard a voice behind me.

It was Van Guy.

Oh heck.

He told me he'd been too busy to come the day before. I went inside and got his brownies. Asked him again about how much I owed him. He hadn't had time to get more information but he was sure it wouldn't be expensive.

I reminded him we would be gone but didn't tell him we were going to Paris because I didn't want him to think, Well if they can afford a vacation to Paris they can sure afford to fix my van, which I suppose technically is true but we did go on frequent flier miles and hotel points, so the big expenses were covered, and we had to eat no matter where we were and we are not big shoppers except when we overpay for rugs in Fez even though Megan warned us not to buy our rugs there.

I just said we would be out of town. Not a lie.

I thanked him again for being so nice about everything. Said I needed to get on with my housework. Said goodbye.

And heard nothing. Nothing nothing nothing. No email. No phone call. Is he tell-tale hearting me? Dragging it out? Or am I completely off the hook for something that was my fault and for which he justly deserves compensation? Were the brownies that good?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 550: The I Want You to Die Meal

Me: I got squash ravioli and pesto ravioli. We can have the pesto tonight.

SH: What kind of squash?

Me: Butternut.

SH: But I don't like that kind.

Me: I know. That's why we can have the pesto.

SH: But why did you buy it? You know I don't like it!

Me: I eat when you're not here, you know.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 893: A ship in a harbor is safe

After we discover a huge bent nail stuck into the side of the back wheel and SH puts on the spare.

SH: You can't take the car to the gym tomorrow.

Me: Why not?

SH: Because of the spare.

Me: Is it because you are worried about the spare on snow or because you don't want it to get dirty?

SH: See, now you're complaining about not going.

Me: Nope. I just want to know. It's because you don't want it to get dirty, isn't it?

SH: It's a brand-new tire!

Me: I knew it! It's the dirty thing.

SH: So?

Marriage 301, Lecture 550: Live by the chocolate, die by the chocolate

Me: That's nice - your mom sent you the chocolates you like so much [that I cannot spell and am too lazy to look up but it's kind of like "non-pareil."]

SH: I love these.

Me: They're all for you.

SH: You don't want any?

Me: You like them way more than I do. They're yours.

SH: I need you to hide them for me.

Me: You want me to hide your candy from you?

SH: Yes.

Me: Does this mean I have to go get them for you whenever you want them?

SH: I dunno.

Me: Because I'm not hiding them downstairs if I have to get you some four times a day.

Chats du jour: Is that for cats?

We are waiting to decorate until we know if the cats plan to climb the tree. Of course, they are probably waiting until we decorate to climb.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 994: Country mice, big city, part deux

The plan was to go to live band karaoke Saturday night after we finished with supper, which we were through eating at 7:30. We headed back to the hotel after a detour to Navy Pier, which was a dumb idea because if you want to be warm in Chicago in the winter, you do not walk toward the water. Plus Navy Pier is just a big generic mall on the inside anyhow with the added advantage of perhaps the slowest-walking people we have ever encountered.

(Yeah, I was short tempered. Why do you ask?)

We got back to the hotel and that's when SH informed me that live-band karaoke didn't start until 11:00 p.m., which he had told me before many many times but which I had somehow remembered as 9:00 p.m. because my mind recoils at the idea of being

1. in a bar under any circumstances because I hate noisy, crowded, smoky places and sure, there's no cigarette smoking in Illinois bars any more, but when are they going to concentrate on the other parts of bars that make them so odious, like the noisy and crowded part? and

2. awake at 11:00 p.m. unless I am reading a book of the caliber of Lonesome Dove, which if you've ever read, you know is a book you just don't put down until you are done and why hasn't Larry McMurtry written anything else like that although The Last Picture Show is pretty darn good, too.

So yeah he had told me 11:00 but my brain had translated that to "9:00," which was perhaps my brain's way of protecting me from the trauma of anticipating going out so late. I had already accepted the "noisy crowded bar" part because how do you get out of that? When I had my musician boyfriend, John, I would take a book with me to his shows so I had something to do when he wasn't playing. I was informed that it is not exactly bar culture to read a book in a bar, but I didn't and still don't care. The only reason I was in the bar was to hear John play and I couldn't have cared less about listening to anyone else. He was worth it.

But when SH reminded me that it was indeed 11:00, I heaved a great, loud, tragic sigh and perhaps emitted a few wails to accompany the sigh. He told me that I didn't have to go if I really didn't want to, but how often should a wife play that card? I decided to save my Get Out of Jail Free for some other time, although I did offer to let him put his finger in my bellybutton if he would go to the bar alone. (He declined.) If only there were a way to watch him sing without having to listen to anyone else and without having to be in a bar.

We left the hotel at about 10:30 so we could get there in plenty of time for SH to be one of the first singers. The bar was only three miles away. I did point out that even though the band was supposed to start at 11:00, bands operate on Musician Time, not CF time, which is to say they would not be starting before 11:30.

And I was right, which was a good thing because have you ever driven in Chicago on a Saturday night? Open the dictionary to the word "congestion" and you will see a photo of Milwaukee Ave in Chicago. The street was full of cars looking for non-existent free parking and cars waiting patiently - Patiently! that's the part that amazed me - sometimes midwesterners are too darn nice - for the cabs that stopped IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD to pick up passengers. Is it in the Chicago Cabbie Code that other drivers must be inconvenienced as much as possible? So what that there is plenty of room to pull over to the right! Let the other drivers eat cake!

We were not moving and not moving but were within three blocks of the bar.

"I'm going to walk there and get you on the list," I informed SH grimly. I hopped out of the car and walked briskly yet carefully because remember the icy, snowy sidewalk situation? to the bar. I breezed right past the bouncer, who did not bother to ask for my ID and why is that, I ask? Do I really look my age? Does my Clairol Natural Instincts #24 Clove not conceal my middle-aged-ness?

The band was just setting up. At 10:55. They were nowhere near ready. Why was I not shocked?

I found the karaoke guy, who said, "The guitar player isn't here yet* and he has the list."

I grabbed Karaoke Guy by the collar, lifted him off the floor, and growled, "Listen, buster. My husband and I drove from Milwaukee just so he could sing here tonight. I am staying up late for this even though I wanted to sleep. He has had a crummy week and is trying to fight his way to a parking space and by golly, I want him to sing first."

Karaoke Guy pulled away, rubbed his neck, and said, "I can't put him on the list if I don't know what he's going to sing."

"Come Sail Away," I said.

"Not on the list tonight," he smirked.

"But it's on the website!" I protested.

He shrugged. "Not tonight."


OK, that's not exactly true. I asked if SH could sing first, they said, "Sure! What does he want to sing?" I told them "Come Sail Away," they said, "Not tonight Josephine," so I said, "Suspicious Minds" and they said, "Dude!" because they are musicians and think that everyone calls everyone, "Dude," even though that is not the case in adult real life.

I found a table and waited for SH, who arrived in a few minutes. The bouncer took one look at him and looked away. We were older than the average customer, which means nobody has been lying to us our entire life to build our self esteem, a fact that becomes important later. We were also more sober, which also becomes important.

At 11:30, the band finally started. Karaoke Guy sang first, then called SH up. SH was a little worried because he hadn't warmed up and because "Suspicious Minds" is a hard song to sing, but he was his usual wonderful self.

It pretty much went downhill from there. The next singer was adequate. The next one was excellent but thought that suggestive hand placement enhanced her singing, which it did not.

After that, it was nothing but bad. Drunk people think they can sing, apparently. They might think that sober as well because of a lifetime of 11th-place ribbons, but SH was the only sober singer. Yes, I know the point of karaoke is to have fun and more importantly, to keep people in the bar and buying beer, but wow. There are some spectacularly bad singers out there and now everyone knows who they are. Bad singer + drunk singer = bad experience.

I did enjoy watching the hip, ironic dude with the hip, ironic big white-framed glasses who was on a date with a girl who could do way better than him if you ask me. Even with his hip irony, he couldn't take the bad drunk singing and left even sooner than we did, but that might be because he had already finished his beer. SH did not want to waste his beer and I am OK with that because I am of the Tribe of We Who Do Not Waste.

SH sang with a band and he was great and maybe this summer, he can do more singing with a band. The End.

* Guitar Player Syndrome, the original GPS.

Marriage 301, Lecture 994: Country mice in the big city

Chicago churros. Good pastry, but the chocolate was lacking.

SH and I went to Chicago yesterday so we could use his free hotel night before it expired.

This entailed driving 100 miles to Chicago, spending 70 gajillion dollars on the toll road between here and there (because what are gas taxes for? In Wisconsin, for funding Gov. Doyle's non-transportation projects, but that's something else), 198 gajillion dollars to park in downtown Chicago overnight, and eating out several meals we could have had at home.


The food was excellent, I must say, and all the waiters were way more polite and nice than that jerk on Mont St Michel.

The food included tapas at the Spanish restaurant where I ate with my sister in October, Vietnamese sandwiches made on good bread (finally), and bagels and rye bread from the deli in Skokie. We are well supplied with leftovers for a while. At least a day.

But the main thing we wanted were the churros y chocolate at Xoco, Rick Bayless' newest restaurant. We had thought we would amble over there from our hotel two blocks away, sit down, and have a leisurely little snack at 3:30 p.m., but apparently, 3:30 p.m. on Saturday is when all those Chicago people eat their lunch because the wait for a table was 45 minutes and we were not that interested in the ambiance of the place. We just wanted the food.

We got churros y chocolate to go and returned to our hotel in the 21-degree chill, which would not have been so bad except 1. it was also windy and 2. it must not be the law to clear one's sidewalks in Chicago because there was still a lot of snow and ice left from last weekend's storm, so we had to be very careful.

The churros were better than any other churros we have had in the US, but they still don't match what you can get in Madrid. Yeah, I know that makes me sound like a churro snob and perhaps I am a churro snob, but Rick, churros should not be rolled in cinnamon and sugar and the chocolate is not supposed to be overly sweet and cornstarchy and it should have cream in it.

Professional churros in Madrid.

Next post: Our adventures in live-band karaoke, which include 1. getting there despite Chicago cab drivers, who are officially the Worst Drivers in the World and I have traveled through all of Latin America and lived in Miami, so bad drivers? I know them, 2. finding a place to park, 3. surviving Musician Time and 4. surviving people who have never had anyone be honest with them about their singing ability.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 535: If you can't take the cold

Me: I want a heated toilet seat for Christmas.

SH: Why?

Me: Because I am tired of the cold one every time I sit!

SH: It's not that cold.

Me: Yes it is! You don't notice it?

SH: I have fat in my butt, so I don't feel the cold.

Me: I have a lot more fat in my butt than you do and I feel it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wisconsin 101: Can you spare a cigarette?

SH and the "I smoke hash!" guy in Marrakesh.

Conversation with the young woman standing outside the Vietnamese grocery store that happens to be next to a police station.

YW: Ma'am, would you buy me some cigarettes [in the convenience store next to the Vietnamese store, which is the best place to shop for persimmons, bok choy, and shallots]?

Me: No.

YW: Please! I'll give you the money.

Me: No. If you're asking me, it's because you're underage and that's illegal.*

YW: I'm 24!

Me: Then why don't you buy them yourself?

YW: Because I can't buy in there!

Me: Why not?

YW: No reason.

Me: No.

YW: Please? Please?

Me: No.

Conversation the man who drove up as I was leaving had with the same young woman.

YW: Sir, would you buy cigarettes for me?

Man: No.

YW: Please! I'll give you the money.

Man: I ain't buying cigarettes for someone underage.

YW: I'm 24!

Man: Then buy them yourself.

YW: I can't!

Man: Why not?

YW: No reason.

Man: There has to be a reason.

YW: There isn't.

Man: No.

* I am not interested in breaking the law for someone else and I especially am not interested in going into a store and waiting in line to do a favor for a stranger.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 497: Priorities

SH: What's more important to you, tuna (that we are planning to have for supper) or wxyz?

Me: Tuna.

SH: Tuna!?

Me: Yes!

SH: Tuna?!

Me: I'm hungry!

SH: Tuna?!

Me: Are you asking either/or? Because I would rather eat than wxyz.

SH: But you eat enough!

Me: Oh that's helping your case.

Marriage 301, Lecture 396: If you can't take the heat

The 8', lit from the inside, inflatable penguin still has not been installed in our front yard, much to my great disappointment.

(Because I want us to look like tacky people. No, I don't. I don't mind inflatable penguins in other peoples' yards. Just don't want one in mine. But I lost on this one. SH agrees that it's tacky but claims that's what's so funny about it.)

It has not been installed yet because we have had a lot of Drama around here lately. The Minor Drama* has been that our furnace was

1. not working properly, then
2. not working at all

It is difficult to concentrate on putting up an 8', lit from the inside, inflatable penguin when you are worried that

1. you are going to have to replace your 11-year-old furnace whose warranty ran out in Ought Nine, which was a mere 12 months ago
2. You are worried about freezing to death in your own bed
3. You are worried about your cats freezing to death
4. You are worried about your pipes freezing, bursting, and causing hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of damage
5. You should have just stayed in the darn apartment with the Crazy Laundry People who did laundry every single day at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. You gotta stay on top of it, you know.

Why is our furnace not working?

Because we did not have it maintained.

We know to have the pear tree pruned every year if we want more than a dozen pears.

We know to have the sewer lines roto-rootered every other year, even though the roto-rootering guys told us just to wait until the next time the basement flooded, then have the lines cleaned in [(Number of years between cleaning and flooding) minus one year] years.

But did we know that we should have the furnace serviced annually?

We should have known.

1. I had my 80-year-old furnace serviced every year when I lived in Memphis.
2. My dad was a maintenance control officer, which meant he was in charge of making sure the planes were inspected and maintained before there was a problem. It's not like I haven't heard of preventive maintenance before.
3. On my overland return from Chile to the US in 1995, I stopped in Panama to visit my old high school. I asked my cab driver what he thought would change once the canal was completely turned over to the Panamanians in a few years. He thought about it for a minute, then told me that when the Americans ran things, the Panamanians would laugh. "They had their black binders and they would look at the binder, then replace a perfectly good cable. We thought they were idiots. But now, nobody does any preventive maintenance and nothing works."

So this was our own stupid fault, although I will point out that the previous owners of the house also did not have the furnace maintained. But still, we should have had it checked, especially when we noticed on the service record posted RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE FURNACE that it had not been serviced since it was installed in 1999.

We noticed it had stopped working completely last night at 5:49, 49 minutes after the repair place had closed. SH already had a service call in for today, but now we were without furnace heat completely. We played around with it for a while, SH turning on the emergency override switch, which he knew to do as he is Terminator Engineer and can read those stupid manuals.

I would have gone straight to space heaters, but he wanted to Fix The Problem instead of Watch Friday Night Lights or Watch A Movie, which I thought was crazy, but he's a guy and he's a fixit guy, so I don't want to stifle his creativity, especially if it means saving hundreds of dollars that I could spend on shoes and purses. (See: Gold-digging Catholic Ho.)

It wouldn't work and wouldn't work, even though we kept opening it and shining a flashlight on it (that is almost always effective), so SH called the 24-hour emergency line at the repair place, where he got a recording that emergency calls cost $189 an hour with a one-hour minimum, which made me realize majoring in English was a huge mistake and I should have become an HVAC chick, but it's a little late now.

That was the motivation to try again and lo, Terminator Engineer finally got the emergency override to work. We cranked the thermostat up to 80 in hopes of pumping enough heat into the house that if the furnace stopped in the middle of the night, the 6 degree temperature outside would not drag us into freezing before the repairman could get here.

We watched Tami try to leave the baby at day care unsuccessfully only to triumph at the end and went upstairs, when SH realized that the thermostat was programmed to drop to 58 overnight and the switch from 80 to 58 made the heater turn off and no matter how much SH cussed and moaned the Song Of Something Bad Happened, it wasn't coming back on.

I voted for a night of being cold-ish rather than calling the repair place again and SH thought so too, so he put a space heater in the kitchen and in the upstairs bathroom and left them on all night, which should give us a happy surprise when we get our next WE Energies bill because as my friend Ilene was told after she had used her space heater all month 24-7 in an attempt to save money, it is like running a hairdryer all day. Lots of volts or whatever that is that sucks up money.

We woke up, called the repair place and asked to be first in line. The repairman was already on a call, but came to our house at 9:15 and diagnosed the problem in 56 seconds, which is about 1/60*$189, or $3.15 of emergency labor without the one-hour minimum but only $1.67 of straight time labor, but again. Bad career decisions on my part.

SH was as happy as a guy can be, talking to the repairman, who told us he tinks dat we need to have da maintenance every odder year at least. He stayed for 75 minutes, cheerfully discussed everything he was doing with SH, declined my offer of coffee, and handed us an invoice for $235, which is pretty darn cheap if you ask me, even though I did realize that the $120 for the part he had to replace would have been covered under the warranty a year ago and the problem would have been discovered had we called for preventive maintenance. The End.

* The Major Drama is the Gold-digging Catholic Ho Drama.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 493: Anatomy of a crime part 3

You can read part 1 of this story here and part 2 here.

I took SH to the airport. When I got home, the Van Guy was back. SH and I were going to be out of town for ten days, so I wanted VG to have my phone number and email to let us know what the mechanic said. I wrote them down, then walked across the street and had one of the workers summon him.

He came outside. "Hey, I'm sorry if I got you into trouble with your husband," he said. "I went over there to tell you about the wheel. I didn't see the car but thought you might be there."

"No, it's fine," I said. "He's just upset that he had to hear it from someone else instead of from me."

I explained that we would be gone and handed him the information.

"I took the van to my mechanic at lunch," he said. "He wants to replace the whole thing, but I told him that it didn't have to look perfect, it just had to work. So I'm going to take it to the body shop later and see what they have to say."

"I am so sorry," I groaned. "You're having to go through all this trouble and it's all my fault."

"Don't worry about it," he assured me. "It was an accident."

"You're being so nice about it!" I told him.

"I'm pretty sure you didn't wake up this morning and think, 'I'd like to hit someone's van today,'" he shrugged.

"Actually, I thought that would be the perfect start to a busy week!" I said. "Really, though, I came over here before to ask what kind of brownies you and your crew wanted."

"You're going to make brownies?"

"I was going to make them to thank you for fixing it yourself, but now I guess I am just going to make them. They're not a bribe, though." [Yes they are.]

"We're leaving in 15 minutes."

"That's not enough time. Are you here tomorrow?"

"Just for a little while. We're done with this job."

I told him I would make them and leave them on the porch for him. He looked at the paper I had given him.

"This is your cell?" he asked.

"Yes. Just give me a call when you have the estimate."

He paused. "Maybe we could go out to lunch and talk about it once it's ready."

What?! What on earth does lunch have to do with this?

I swallowed and said, "Well sure maybe." I haven't been asked on a date in over five years, so I don't know if this is one or what and I certainly didn't have a turn-down answer ready.

I reached my hand out to shake his. "It's been nice to meet you." I paused and thought about it. "Well, no, I guess I can't say that because I only met you because I hit your van. But you have been very nice about it."

"Maybe it happened for a reason," he said. "You never know about these things."

"Um-hmm!" I said as I nodded. Maybe it happened because I was careless and hey, who needs our $500 for the deductible anyhow?

"Years from now, you could need someone to do some remodeling and you might think of me."

"Oh definitely," I assured him.

Then I asked SH if he thought I had been hit on. Oh yes, he said. OK then, I told him. If I am going to have an affair with a carpenter, you need to figure out what house projects you want done. We might as well take advantage.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chats du jour: If you can't stand the heat

get off the stove.

Chats du jour: It's five o'clock somewhere

Do you guys remember that scene in Terms of Endearment where Shirley McClaine screams at the nurse to give her daughter the medicine? That IT'S FIVE O'CLOCK AND SHE JUST HAD TO WAIT UNTIL FIVE O'CLOCK TO GET HER NEXT DOSE?

Laverne has internalized that scene. Laverne knows that scene. Lives that scene. Her vigil starts every day at 3:00, when she begins to hover at my feet, my chest, my head. By 4:30, she has begun her restless pacing between wherever I am and the kitchen because WHAT IF I FORGET TO FEED HER? WHAT IF?

At 5:00, the really loud whining starts. She knows. It's 5:00! That's when they eat! So feed her already!

She pulled that act on me yesterday, at 5:05. I was late! I had to feed her!

So I did.

She gobbled her food, which is her usual eating method, compared to Shirley's slow and deliberate and infuriating 32 chews of each kibble strategy.

Then she tried to start on Shirley's food, which Shirley was not present to eat, which was odd, because Shirley had been whining just 15 minutes before. I rattled the food container to entice Shirley to get off the furnace, the only warm spot in our 1928 uninsulated brick and plaster house with the new furnace that doesn't work so well when it's really cold, but to no avail.

That's when it hit me.

Had SH already fed them?

Oh yes he had. He had done it while I was in the bathroom and he had told me, but I had forgotten because I have more important things on my mind than cat feeding, like, Oh man, is there such a thing as a heated toilet seat because if so, I want one.

That Laverne. Quite an actress. This might explain her recent weight gain from 8.5 lbs to 9.5 lbs, a difference that is quite noticeable on a cat. This, plus her constant pilfering of lettuce ribs, asparagus ends, and apple cores from the compost bowl on the kitchen counter, which I now drape with a dishcloth to keep her out, as it is not so practical to empty it every day now that I have to put on full arctic gear just to walk out behind the garage.

Now I know Laverne is a liar. And a brilliant actress.

She is also on a diet.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 493: Anatomy of a crime part 2

Remember that little tiny car accident I had a few weeks ago? I didn't want to write any more about it until everything was resolved. Well, it's resolved. I think.

I strolled casually over to the car.

"What are you doing, sweetie?" I asked SH.

"What happened? Why didn't you tell me? The car is damaged!"

I squinted and looked at the bumper. It was scuffed a bit, but I had thought some spit and rubbing would solve that problem.

"It's cracked!"

I didn't see it, but I am also of the belief that the function of a bumper is to bump and sometimes bumpers do not stay factory perfect, especially on 8 year old cars.

"How did you know?" I asked.

"The guy came and knocked on the door! He told me that when he drove the van, the bumper rubbed against the wheel! Why didn't you tell me!"

That stinker! He ratted me out!

"Because he said he was going to fix it and not to worry and I didn't think there was anything to tell!"

SH stomped around the car and did his guy who loves cars emoting.

"Um - are we going to have to pay to repair his car now?" I asked.

"He said he would take it to his mechanic to see if the mechanic could just pull out the bumper a bit," SH said. "He thought the mechanic might do it as a favor or charge $100. He's going to let us know."

"Why didn't you tell me? Wouldn't it have been better for me to hear it from you than from him?"

I answered, "If he had just kept his mouth shut, there wouldn't be anything to tell!"

So now we wait.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 49: Anatomy of a drama

This is what happens when SH discovers water leaking into the basement and falling onto his wine boxes.

We realize it's water leaking in from outside because of the snow/rain combo. The guy who inspected our house had told us we needed to put in some more fill dirt back there to increase the grade blah blah blah and we didn't and now we have wet wine. We will do it this summer, along with painting the windowsills the proper way instead of just patching the bare spots.

We also realize that it is having overnight company is what seems to prompt basement water. Which means we might not allow any more friends to visit. Or not. Depends.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 430: Fair game

SH: Did you watch that video I posted on facebook?

Me: No.

SH: But why not?

Me: You don't read my blog. I don't watch your facebook videos.

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

Marriage 301, Lecture 936: Emergency management

SH: You're only thinking of the things that could go wrong. You always go straight to the worst-case scenario!

Me: Well, I plan for it. That's just good strategy.

SH: What - so do you think of my plane crashing every time I go on a trip?

Me: Yes.

SH: Really?

Me: Sure.

SH: But why?

Me: I plan what of your crap I would throw away first.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 526: Bacon

SH: I just did something you probably think is gross.

Me: Probably.

SH: I know you'd think it's gross.

Me: Then don't tell me. I don't care.

SH: I ate a piece of this [cold, almost all fat] bacon.

Me: Why did you tell me? I told you not to tell me.

SH: You do think it's gross, don't you?

Me: Stop telling me this stuff.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Chats du jour: Is that for cats?

Marriage 301, Lecture 562: Togetherness

SH: You have your morning routine.

Me: Yes.

SH: It's not to come back to bed with me.

Me: Nope.

SH: You did when I complained.

Me: That's why I was glad when you stopped complaining.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 499: Snow job

SH: When you get a chance, would you put those [snow] shovels [that I left out after shoveling on Saturday] back inside?

Me [horribly put upon because sheesh, don't I have enough to do what with watching Season One of Glee FINALLY?]: Fine.

SH: They might be stolen!

Me: What? Is there a hot market in stolen snow shovels here?

SH: They're nice shovels.

Marriage 301, Lecture 550: You don't care

SH: You didn't change your [facebook] photo to a cartoon character.

Me: Nope.

SH: So you're for child abuse.

Me: [roll eyes]

SH: You don't care.

Me: So that's why you changed yours? Because you think it will stop child abuse?

SH: No. I did it because it gave me an excuse to put up a picture of Beevis.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 643: Wining

Me: Should I buy these purses [on eBay]?

SH: You already have a purse.

Me: I want more.

SH: You only need one.

Me: You have more than one bottle of wine.

SH: That's different.

Me: Yeah, you pee wine out. At least purses get used again.

Marriage 301, Lecture 531: The clothes wouldn't have fit

SH: You're not an engineer.

Me: What do you mean?

SH: You can fit more bacon in the pan if you alternate directions.

Me: I have them all going the same direction so I know which ones I've turned and which ones I haven't.

SH: Then I've screwed it up.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 660: What's sausage for the goose is not sausage for the gander

Me: Let's have some [of my uncle's] venison sausage tomorrow morning [Sunday].

SH: But you'll mess up the freezer if you get it out! I just organized everything in there. And I'm leaving Monday, so I won't get my share.

Me: Your share?

SH: My share of the sausage. We should make it on Saturday so there is more time for me to eat my share. I'll only get a few links if we make it tomorrow. I won't get enough. You'll get more.

Me: Yeah. I get more because he's my uncle.

SH: No! I get more because I'm bigger!

Chats du jour: What happen is that?

About an hour after this incident, she whined to go out again. SH put on her leash and she ran to the door. As soon as he opened the door and she saw the snow, she turned around and tried to run down the basement stairs. SH put her out anyhow and she got a puffy tail and ran back in.

She is not happy.