Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 316: Lockout

We went to singing class again. The teacher told us that the four teenage girls were going to return to the class until the tae kwan do class starts in a few weeks. At the start of class, he shut the door. "Does that door lock?" one of my classmates asked.

The teacher didn't get it but I did. There are a few of us who find the four teenagers and the loud dance teacher quite annoying.

"If the four girls are bothering anyone, let me know," the teacher suggested, "and I'll say something."

I'm not sure why the burden of identifying bother should be on the other students and not on the teacher, but there you go. Perhaps the teacher is assuming that because this is a voluntary recreational class, there will be no students attending who are not actually interested in being there.

He closed the door. Dance Lady showed late, but was discreet for once.

We heard a light knock a few minutes later, but nothing. "Was that someone knocking?" the teacher asked. He went to the door and looked up and down the hallway. Nothing. He shrugged.

A little while after that, we heard giggling. There were the four girls, standing outside the door, laughing and talking. They would look through the window and laugh some more. I almost went to the door to ask them to be quiet, but then they went away.

After class, SH, Q'rs T'yna, and I went to karaoke. We invited the teacher - and anyone else in class - to join us. Teacher said sure! he'd love to and he'd be there in a few - he had to put away his equipment.

We waited and waited and waited. He didn't show. SH sang some of his show-off songs just in case. Who doesn't want to impress the teacher?

Good thing my ego is not bound up in singing. Good thing I know I'm a good cook so I have something else to bolster my confidence. Although being a good cook doesn't really get you that far socially. Unless you are entertaining a lot, which we do not. It gets you nowhere professionally unless you're a chef. Hmm. Now I realize being a good cook is worthless, at least from a self confidence POV. Should I be despondent?

Forty five minutes later, when we were almost ready to leave - SH was within 15 minutes of finishing his beer - he drinks about eight inches an hour, which makes going out to dinner with him pure agony, as he always saves three inches of beer for the end of his meal. It already takes him 40% longer to eat than it does me, so I have to sit there and twiddle my fingers while I watch him eat, knowing that the food being gone doesn't even mean we get to leave but that he'll still have beer to drink.

Sometimes going out to eat is not my favorite thing.

So 45 minutes later, the teacher showed up. "I had to talk to the parents of the girls," he said. "They told their parents I had locked them out of class."

If only.

"But you didn't," I said. "I'm confused. Why were the parents intervening? The girls didn't even try to come in!"

He shrugged. But we all knew the answer. Helicopter parents who are convinced that their child would never, never do anything wrong and that anything bad that happens must be the fault of someone else.

Then he sang and then we all left. The end.

PS I stuck to my strengths - Karen Carpenter and Olivia NJ. I tried Carly Simon's Anticipation, but realized after the first line that this was not going to happen, so rather than risk the "You suck!" calls from the pool table, I told Buttons to turn it off. My ego might not be bound up in my singing, but I still don't want complete humiliation.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 963: Oh no!

SH: Wait! Stop!

Me: Don't stop the movie!

SH: This is supposed to be in 1966, right?

Me: Yes.

SH: Look at that car on the right. That one's OK.

Me: Whatever.

SH: The one on the left. It's a least a 1980 model! They've got it all wrong!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 692: Who decides?

SH: Why did you get this out?

Me: The tahini?

SH: Yes! It should be in the fridge!

Me: Oh it's fine.

SH: It says to refrigerate after opening.

Me: It's like peanut butter. I don't refrigerate peanut butter.

SH: You're trying to kill me.

Me: No. If you are going to die, it needs to be in a work-related accident. More insurance that way.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 510: Top of the world

We went to the third (my second) singing class where we learned about singing with our head voice instead of our chest voice. The four obnoxious teenage girls who passed notes (why weren't they texting each other? isn't that the 2012 equivalent of passing notes?) and ignored the teacher were gone. They've switched to tae kwan do, the teacher told us.

The older lady who either runs the dance class or takes is was 15 minutes late. Again. I don't care if she's late. It's her money, not mine. I do, however, care that she is late and makes a big production out of coming into class. She had to tell the teacher just why she was late. Shut up! I wanted to yell at her. Just shut up and sit down while the rest of us concentrate on what the teacher is telling us!

The teacher is complicit, though. When someone arrives late, he stops talking so he can mark that person down on the roll. Why? Why can't he take care of that after class? At least he doesn't start the class from the beginning every time someone comes in late.

So dance lady, who wears more makeup than I have ever seen on a Woman of a Certain Age, except for the lady at church who must be 80 but has jet black hair and red red lips and blue eyeshadow and false lashes and rosy cheeks - I don't care for her look but I have to say at least she is making an effort, unlike the people who show up in pajama pants, not only arrives late, but then has to walk back and forth as she gets her bags arranged. She has a little pull-along bag and a huge messenger bag. She has to open the messenger bag and organize her cassette tapes. Loudly. I kept giving her the Glare of You Are Violating Social Norms, but she was immune.

I was not surprised.

When it came her turn to sing, I also was not surprised that she bellowed instead of singing. I was also relieved because it meant I was not the worst singer in the class.

So after that lesson, SH and I and another woman in class went to the karaoke place down the street.

I gave it another shot. No Gordon Lightfoot.

"Rookie mistake," my friend Rubi said. "Everyone's done it at least once."

SH agreed. "You have to pick songs you can sing, not just the songs you like."

"I went to a Gordon Lightfoot concert," other student said, "and security had to throw out a bunch of guys for being rowdy."

"At a Gordon Lightfoot concert?" SH and I asked in disbelief.Link
She nodded. "Can you believe it?"

I decided to be safe and repeat my previous success. I sang the same Olivia Newton John song. Then I sang another Olivia song.

Then I thought, "What other songs do I know really well by female singers who don't have to sing too high or too low?" (My range is about one octave.)

Then I remembered. The Carpenters.

Fifth grade music class, Bowie Elementary, Lubbock, Texas.

For James Bowie, silly. Of the Alamo. The Alamo of which I made a sugar cube model for school.

For music, the teacher would pass out mimeographed lyrics sheets. Rainy Days and Mondays. We've Only Just Begun. Top of the World.

Then she would pull the record out of the record jacket, place it on the record player, and put the needle very carefully on the song we were to sing.

And then we sang with Karen. About being depressed on Mondays. About just getting married. About being in love with a radio singer.

The usual fifth grade issues.

I knew those songs cold.

This is the same school system, by the way, that started the strings program in sixth grade so kids were ready for orchestra by junior high.

"I bet I can sing Karen Carpenter," I thought. "At least I know the songs."

So I did. And you know what? You never forget the songs you learned in fifth grade. I didn't even have to look at the monitor, which was good, because the monitor is on a small table in front of the microphone at about knee level. But when you sing, you don't want your head bent down. You want to lift your chin a little. When I lift my chin, though, I have to look down through the bottom half of my glasses, which is the part that lacks distance correction, as my eyes no longer like to overcome distance correction to see things that are close. Which means I can't read the lyrics anyhow because they are fuzzy.

But nobody laughed and nobody said, "You suck," so I am making progress.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wisconsin 101: No good deed goes unpunished

This is what happens when you let the little old man with three cans of Campbell's soup go in front of you in the line at the store. You are thinking, "Oh, poor old man. Doesn't even know how to cook for himself. Has to eat Campbell's soup. Bless his heart. Maybe he's a recent widower."

So you tell him to go ahead of you with your cauliflower, oranges, peppers, cilantro, and tomatoes. You have more items, you're going to take more time. You're not in a rush. Why not let the old guy go first?

He asks if you're sure.

Of course you are!

He puts his three pitiful cans of soup on the belt. The cashier scans them. The old man says, "Oh! I didn't know it was four for three dollars! Let me go get another can."

The cashier says, "You can still pay now, sir."

Old man: No - let me just run and get another can. [As he starts to shuffle. Bless his heart.]

Cashier: Sir. It's OK if you pay first and then get another. I'll keep these right here for you.

Old man: Well OK then. [Opens wallet, rifles through.] Can you break a fifty?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 687: See no evil

Me: Laverne has not shut up since I got home.

SH: She's noisy.

Me: And then there was cat vomit in the basement.

SH: Oh yeah. I saw that yesterday. I meant to tell you.

Me: Meant to tell me? Why didn't you just clean it up?

SH: Because I was scooping the box.

Me: So?

SH: So you asked me to scoop the box. You didn't ask me to clean cat vomit.

Me: That's because cat vomit is an ad hoc issue and the burden of cleaning it falls on the person who finds it.

SH: You didn't say anything about vomit.

Me: OK. From now and for always: if you see cat vomit, would you please clean it?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 310: Where I rate

At 1:30 p.m.

SH: I think I'll take a shower.

Me: Stop that crazy talk, you fool. It's not even night yet.

SH: But Lindley (my friend from Memphis who is taking her son to Chicago to check out the U of Chicago, which is crazy because he is just a wee little boy and then is driving up here to spend the night with us - as I keep reminding my friends, Chicago IS CLOSE TO MILWAUKEE so quit telling me you're spent the weekend or the week in Chicago AFTER THE FACT), will be here in a little while. I should be showered and dressed before they get here.

Me: I suppose.

SH: Does it bother you that I am worried about being showered for Lindley and not for you?

Me: Yes.

SH: Well, you don't want me to be a slob around her!

Me: No! I want you to shower for me, too!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 694: Splitting hairs

SH: What time is my haircut today?

Me: I don't know.

SH: You made the appointment.

Me: Yes, and then I told you when I got home.

SH: But I didn't write it down.

Me: That's not my fault.

SH: Yes, it is. There's a concept in computer programming called [the handoff or something like that]. Your telling me does not count until I have acknowledged receipt of the information.

Me: It's your haircut. It's your problem.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 532: Boundaries

Me: Are you almost done in there?

SH: Why? Do you want to pee?

Me: Yes.

SH: Some couples pee in front of each other.

Me: Not me.

SH: You don't think it's a sign of intimacy?

Me: I think it's a sign of having given up.

SH [as he looks at my pajamas - his old yellow, which looks awful on me, t-shirt from Beer Bike in college and the red and white horizontally striped jersey elastic pants from Lands End]: I think we've already mostly given up.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 124: Cross dressing

SH: Wow. These are tight for a medium.

Me: That's because it's a women's medium.

SH: What?!

Me: The running tights. That you're trying on. They're women's.

SH: Why did you get me women's clothes?

Me: Because the only thing I found last time in the men's was long underwear! And we didn't figure out that they didn't work* until after you had worn them and they couldn't be returned. I got a large, too. Try it.

SH: I can't wear women's clothes!

Me: Oh sure you can!

SH: No. I'm not trying them. Take these. I'm not wearing women's clothes.

Me: There is not one single characteristic of these tights that identifies them as women's. If I hadn't told you, you wouldn't know.

SH: But they're women's clothes! It's OK for women to wear men's clothes, but it's not OK for men to wear women's clothes.

Me: If you are running and get hit by a car, I can promise that there is not one single way that the ambulance people will be able to tell that you're wearing women's tights.

* The waist didn't stay up while SH was running, so he looked like a middle-aged hip-hopper running along, clutching the top of his pants so they would stay on, just like those kids have to hold up their jeans as they shuffle across the street. I look at those kids and think, "If there's a fire at school, kid, you're not going to make it out."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 924: Singing in the rain or the bar or wherever

SH and I are taking a singing class together so we can have a hobby in common that's not eating. Eating is about the only thing we have in common. And [wxyz]. But you can't eat all day long and you can't [wxyz] all day long, so there is time left over.

We started playing tennis a few summers ago, but tennis is not an option during the winter here unless you are willing to pay a lot of money to join a tennis club, which we are not. We'd rather pay our mortgage.

I wanted to make swing dancing or salsa dancing our winter joint hobby, but SH was all "Whooooo!" when we went to the swing class run by the two women who kept referring to the "leader" and the "follower," even though every single couple in the class consisted of a man and a woman. Maybe they expected the women to lead in some cases. I just know that when I have gotten impatient with my partner and started leading, my partner was not happy.

So we are taking a singing class through the recreation department. SH went to the first class last week - I had a meeting I couldn't miss - and then we both went to the class this week.

What I learned in the class is that I have a specific range and it goes up to C4 or something like that.

What I also learned in the class is that just because it is a completely optional class that nobody is making anyone take and that it costs money to take, it doesn't mean there won't be four teenage girls, giggling and passing notes and goofing off in the corner and then refusing to sing when the teacher wants to test their range.

After the class, with my range in hand, SH, The Nighttime Wife, Q'ryz T'na, and I retired to a nearby karaoke place. "Just a song or two," SH said.

I decided that because I had had one, yes one, singing class where I learned how to do some breathing exercises and how to stand properly to sing and where we had sung the C major scale a few times that I was now qualified to sing in public.

No, there was no alcohol involved, although that is a safe assumption as that is usually the case with amateur karaoke singers.

Ringers like Rubi don't need booze. She has sung professionally or almost professionally, so for her to take a karaoke mike is like me baking a cake for someone who thinks Oreos are good cookies because that's all he had as a kid. I've baked my entire life (although actually, I make crummy cakes, or at least not pretty ones, because I never really believe you are supposed to let the cake cool completely before frosting it - but YOU ARE), so it's easy for me. I've had baking training from The Big Factotum and from the Grand Factotum. Baking is in my blood.

Maybe I should use bread or apple strudel as an example of my baking abilities instead of cake. Let them eat strudel.

Anyhow, baking is easy for me but it looks impressive and super hard to an Oreo-eating non baker.

Just as singing is easy for someone with 1. talent and 2. training.

Apparently, one class does not count as "training" and the talent - well, that's debatable.

But I decided to sing. I was not horrible for my first song - "Let Me Be There," first sung by Olivia Newton John, who is a goddess with a golden throat. SH and The Nighttime Wife cheered and Buttons the guy running the karaoke show cheered.

They shouldn't have done that.

They just encouraged me.

So I sang another song.

"Blue Bayou" is not as easy as "Let Me Be There." I had to keep changing octaves because guess what? Linda Ronstadt and I don't sing in the same range.

But that wasn't what sealed my "You suck!" fate.

I had to go and try something I just liked as opposed to something I wouldn't screw up too badly. "Sing another Olivia Newton John song," SH suggested. SH knows. He has been karaoking for years. He knew what mistakes to avoid.

But I wanted to push myself as an artist.

So I picked a Gordon Lightfoot song.

Note that Gordon Lightfoot was a man.

I am a woman.

The song as structured for karaoke is for a person who sings in the same range as Gordon Lightfoot.

That person, I discovered, is not me.

Oh you guys. It was bad. If I started in one octave, I had to switch in the middle of the phrase to be able to reach the next note. And then switch back.

A song does not sound good when sung that way.

It also doesn't sound good when the singer squeaks. I was squeaking. Then I stopped squeaking and stopped singing.

I heard some boos from the pool table. I turned to Buttons and said, "Help me!" He picked up the mike and started singing. I dropped my mike. I didn't want to ruin the song for everyone. I should have just let Buttons finish it, or turn it off, but I thought, contrary to all evidence, "Oh I can finish!"

But I couldn't. SH was laughing and shaking his head. "You nailed the first one," he said, "but this one. Well, it's a common karaoke mistake. You have to pick the songs you can sing, not just the ones you like."

The good thing about karaoke and alcohol is that even if the singer isn't drinking, the other people in the bar are. And alcohol numbs the senses.

Still, I think I'll stick to baking from now on.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 597: Don't squeeze the Charmin

Me: My mom wants to know if I've been wearing the fluffy pants.

SH: The sexy fluffy pants?

Me: I told her that I save them for special occasions because you find them so alluring that I can't fight you off.

SH: I especially like how they shed.

Me: That's hot.

SH: But the fluffy pants aren't as sexy as the PJs you usually wear.

Me: There's nothing like Lands' End jersey pants with horizontal red stripes to flatter a 48-year-old butt.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 298: Should be called the Rewindies

SH: That's a Corvair!

Me: So?

He grabs the remote.

Me: Do not rewind the movie! Stop!

SH: It is! It is a Corvair!

He rewinds again.

Me: Stop rewinding the movie to look at a car!

SH But it's cool!

Me: No it's not.

SH: It's COOL! Why is there a Corvair? You never see Corvairs in the movies!

Me: Could we watch the movie, please?

We also have to rewind when SH has missed dialogue, even if I tell him, "She said, 'X.' Don't rewind!" He never believes me, even though I am almost always right and when I'm not, it doesn't matter.

He misses dialogue because he is talking or eating or doing something that is NOT MY FAULT, yet I am the one who is punished for it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 394: He gets me

SH: I got you this. [Hands me a small box from Blue Nile. That's always a good sign - that's how I got my diamond earrings our first Christmas together.]

Me: What is it?

SH: I got this to replace the one that broke last year.

I open the box to find a silver chain. I have a necklace SH bought me a few years ago that I have been unable to wear because the chain broke.

Me: That's perfect!

SH: I wanted to get it for Christmas, but then I decided to wait for a sale. And then I got a discount.

Me: Fine with me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 685: Valentine advice

At the ladies' room at the restaurant. I walk in to overhear a beautiful woman with white hair asking the woman in the stall, "When you were 26, what was on your mind?"

I always have to interrupt and give my opinion, so I said, "Finding a boyfriend."

Older lady: That's right! Getting laid!

Me: Well, I didn't want to be that blunt, but yes.

OL: And you didn't care if it was on the floor or in a bed.

Me: Nope. But now I demand comfort.

OL: I'm 65 and it's all over.

Me: Don't tell me it ends at 65! That seems too young!

OL: Oh no. It doesn't end. But the desire does. So do it now while you still want to!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 517: Valentine's Day

And this is why I don't care if SH ever does anything for Valentine's Day again.

When we were dating but on hiatus, he fixed my washer and dryer. Even after I had told him to stay away. Yes, I had told him I wanted to stop dating until I had a job so I could decide about us without factoring supporting myself into the equation.

Dumb, I know.

The machines broke.

came to Memphis and he fixed the machines.

And we lived happily ever after.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 597: Don't sqeeze the Charmin

SH: We need half and half.

Me: Yes.

SH: And toilet paper.

Me: Yes.

SH: It's on sale at Target.

Me: I could go on Friday after the gym.

SH: But we'll be out of half and half before then. Why can't we just go together Wednesday night after class? Target is on the way home. [We have signed up for a singing class so we can have a winter hobby that is not eating, which is our main common interest.]

Me: I don't want to shop with you.

SH: This isn't like buying bacon. I don't have to look at every single package. It's just toilet paper.

Me: You'll find a way.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 165: Too big for my britches

SH: Why are you getting rid of those jeans?*

Me: Because they are too big.

SH: But aren't you trending in their direction? They might fit just right in a little while.

Me: That's why they have to go.

* "Getting rid of" means "going to consignment" or to Goodwill, unless an item is beyond wearability. Then it goes to the rag bag. Poor people don't want stained or torn clothes, either.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wisconsin 101: Custard conspiracy

SH: The middle of February is going to be busy.

Me: Why?

SH: Because Kopps and Oscars have all the flavors I want at once.

Me: What do they have?

SH: Tiramisu on the 7th. Tiramisu again on the 17th. Chocolate chocolate chip on the 18th. Midnight chocolate cake on the 19th. Never Enough Chocolate on the 22nd.

Me: That is an awful lot of custard.

SH: Then Oscars has Death by Chocolate on the 17th!

Me: You cannot get all that custard.

SH: It's like there's a conspiracy to put all the chocolate flavors together in a small part of the month!

Me: And the purpose of that conspiracy?

SH: I don't know! But they're not doing it right.

Me: It's a good thing we bought the deep freezer.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 163: Paranoia

SH: Here's some bellybutton lint.

Me: Ick!

SH: It has a different consistency from regular bellybutton lint.

Me: I don't want to hear it.

SH: Because it's from long underwear.

Me: Oh. Different fiber.

SH: Yes.

Me: You're a weirdo. I can't believe you stick your finger in your bellybutton.

SH: No, you're a weirdo for not wanting anyone to stick his finger in your bellybutton.

Me: No I'm not. Stay away.

SH: You're a weirdo for not wanting to stick your own finger in your bellybutton.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 141: Beauty school dropout

Me: So I was facebookstalking people from high school last night.

SH: Yeah?

Me: There was this girl. We weren't friends. But I knew who she was. She was kind of obnoxious and strident.

SH: Um-hmm. [Pretending to be interested.]

Me: The main thing I remember about her was that she was so poorly groomed: sloppy, dirty hair, greasy face. But this cute guy in my class would neck with her! He wouldn't pay any attention to me, but he necked with her!

SH: Sweetie. Sometimes girls like that get attention because they put out.

Me: Maybe that's what she was doing. But she was so icky. I wasn't a fashion queen, but at least my hair was clean.

SH: Hmm.

Me [leaning forward and poking SH in the arm]: Guess what she's doing now. Guess!

SH: I have no idea.


SH: You don't have to look good to own a beauty school.

Me: I guess not!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Spain 13: Thwarted by saffron

I didn't tell you about the Great Saffron Quest of '11. How could I have left that story out? It shows how difficult it is to make a decision in the lack of complete market information. It was my walk on the dark side with SH of We Must Evaluate Every Option Before Making A Decision as opposed to We Decide What We Want And Get It As Soon As We Find It, which is my usual strategy..

(See: The Bacon-Buying Excursion of 2010.)

(See: Buying Milk With SH and Why I Prefer To Shop Alone.)

Our friends Pete and Julie had asked us to pick up some saffron when we were in Spain. I checked's prices before we left to get a good reference price.

I always do my research.

Except when I buy expensive Moroccan rugs. Then, I make an impulse decision despite Megan's warning NOT TO BUY A RUG IN FEZ OR YOU WILL PAY TOO MUCH.

I saw some saffron on the site for $15 a gram.

So we had to find a price better than $15 a gram to buy in Spain.

On our first day in Toledo, we started looking for saffron. It wasn't ubiquitous, but it was not hard to find. The first batch we saw was eight euros a gram, which is close to $15 but there wouldn't have been any shipping. As we wandered more and more through town, the prices dropped. We saw saffron in one store for three euros a gram.

"Toledo is a big tourist town," I said. "I'll be it will be even cheaper in Madrid. We can just get it from a grocery store. These are all tourist shops! The prices are higher here!"

SH agreed with me.

Which he shouldn't have done.

Why did he waste one of his rare instances of agreeing with me on a time when agreement was not the right thing to do?

When we got to Madrid, we went to the grocery store in the basement of El Corte Ingles.

We found the saffron.

It was six euros a gram.


It was Christmas Eve. We still had to buy shoes. We didn't have time.

But six euros was too much. We didn't get it.

We did buy some cheese, because we don't get enough cheese at home. We had to use the rest of our little stash of cash because El Corte Ingles will not take a credit card unless you show ID and we had left out passports in the safe at the hotel.

That was a pain in the neck, although not as frustrating as when a store says they'll take a credit card but then the card reader won't read it because it's an American credit card. They won't key it in because they don't do that. Shrug. If you are the train ticket seller in Paris, what do you care if I can't buy a ticket with my credit card and haven't gotten any cash yet? Will you lose your job if you don't sell enough tickets? Will you lose your job if those Americans can't use their Mastercard even though your sign says you accept Mastercard? Nope.

When I complained to my credit card company about the hassle I had had with my Mastercard when we were in Paris, they shrugged and told me that the card was supposed to be accepted everywhere and we couldn't possibly have had a problem.

We looked for saffron at the airport, which was the act of truly desperate persons because who goes to the airport for a bargain?

Ten euros a gram. TEN. That's $13 a gram to you and moi.

So we didn't buy it.

We love our friends, but ten euros a gram is too much.

Instead, when we visited them for New Years, I gave them a bunch of the cheap saffron we got in Morocco. It's probably a mixture of a tiny bit of saffron and some daisies or some other orange flower. Which I guess would not be daisies. Zinnias, maybe? I have forgotten what flowers look like. All I see when I look outside is mud and snow. Mud is better than snow, but it's still not as good as flowers.

When Pete, Julie, SH, and I went to Marshall's in search of something, we browsed the food shelf. I always look at the food there because you never know. You might find the Spanish pimenton you got in Madrid that you thought was so special only here it is on the shelf at Marshall's or TJMaxx or wherever.

We saw saffron.

From Spain.

For $5 a gram.

Our inability to buy in Spain was rewarded.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Spain 14: The tragedy of the shoes

Remember my beautiful leopard print shoes that I got in Madrid after lots of effort?

They are on sale.

For 30% less than I paid for them.

So are my boots.

And my high heels.

Is there any worse feeling than knowing you paid more than you had to for something?

I suppose not buying it in the first place hoping it would go on sale only to find that your size is gone once the sale starts, which is what always happens with 8.5 in the U.S., but Spanish women must have smaller feet than I do - they definitely have skinnier calves - so my size is still available.

At least here, if the store puts something on sale after you've bought it, you can get your price adjustment. SH spends Sunday mornings combing the Menards and Target ads, looking for things we have already bought so he can find the receipt in the Leaning Tower of Visa and get the price adjustment. He hasn't done this so much lately because of his Menards boycott and because we have been trying to buy less stuff.

I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that if I had waited for the sale in Madrid, I wouldn't have the shoes at all. And remember to go there in February next time instead of at Christmas.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Wisconsin 101:Of course they put macaroni in their chili doesn't everyone?

SH and I went to the Milwaukee Chili Cookoff.

We try to do cultural things. Otherwise, we get boring. Life isn't all Season Three of Friday Night Lights and Fritos. Sometimes, you need meat.

Which is where I am going with this, or at least part of this.

Blesstheir hearts, there were some contestants who were serving vegetarian chili.

I'm surprised spellcheck didn't delete that phrase with the comment that there is no such thing as chili without meat.

No disrespect, vegetarians, but what you are eating and calling chili is not chili. It's vegetable soup.

And there's nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. But it's like calling a chocolate chip cookie made without chocolate chips - maybe with carob, maybe with TVP - a chocolate chip cookie.

It's just not the same. It's a regular cookie without chocolate. There is room in the universe for many kinds of cookies. Just call it what it is.

The East Side vegetarian restaurant was offering their vegetarian chili.

I will not use their name because I do not want to insult them to their face.

When we walked past their booth, the lady asked us if we wanted to try their chili.

We had only eight tickets each and there were dozens of booths, so we politely declined.

"Oh, just take some," she said as she handed us a little cup.

Blessherheart we figured out quickly why she was giving it away.

It was not my favorite.

While SH stood between me and the lady, I sneaked around to the trash can. As soon as I was sure she wasn't watching and couldn't see around SH, I threw it away.

My people, you know I do not waste food. Ever. Even the grilled sardines. I scraped the cooked guts out of those sardines and fed the meat to the cats. I do not waste food. I gasp in horror when I see people throwing away leftovers just because they're tired of them. So? Stick it in the freezer! You know it has to be bad for me to throw something away.

Fortunately, SH liked the bratwurst chili with the sauerkraut topping, so that didn't go to waste. I liked the sound of it but the execution not so much.

We paid an entrance fee and then got eight tickets each. "Each ticket gets us a three-ounce sample of chili," SH said. "That's an awful lot of chili."

I agreed.

"Maybe we should take some tupperware with us," he suggested.

I love this man. He gets me. If we are going to get 48 ounces total of chili, do we want to make ourselves sick eating it all in one hour or do we want to taste and test and move on, saving the rest for later?

We sampled. We tasted and then poured the remainder into the tupperwares.

Not one person gave us a second look.

Not one person laughed at us.

You know why?

Because I am with My People here. The city of Milwaukee actually ran a budget surplus during the Depression because Germans do not mess around with money. They do not waste. To them, it makes sense to take tupperware to a chili cookoff. One lady saw us and said, "What a great idea! I wish I'd thought of that."

I liked the tenderloin chili with the orange gremolata. We both laughed at the claim of "Milwaukee's spiciest chili," although perhaps the cook meant spicy in the sense of "lots of spice" as opposed to "picante." Who knows? We both loved the Indian chili.

But we agreed that the ten-pepper bacon chili was the best. We had three tickets remaining. We had three empty tupperwares yet. Two were full, one with bean chili, one without. You remember SH doesn't like beans unless they are black beans or sometimes white beans as long as they are not too mushy and Marilyn's hopping john with black eyed peas wasn't bad at all.

We took an empty tupperware - 10 oz - to the ten-pepper chili guy. "How many tickets to fill this?" we asked. "We like yours the best."

He smiled. "One," he said.

Well OK. We weren't about to argue, although we did just to be polite. But he insisted.

Then we used the other tickets for the Indian chilis. Now we have food for days. The end.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 836: I vant to be alone

SH: Do you want me to stop bugging you?

Me: Yes.

SH: Do you want me to leave you alone so you can write?

Me: Yes.

SH: Do you want me to go out?

Me: Yes.

SH: Do you want me to get a business trip so you'll have the house to yourself for three days?

Me: Oh yes.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 120: Motion of the ocean, not the size of the ship

Me: Here it is. The Magnum pepper mill. Six inches.

SH: That's not it. There's a bigger one.

Me: Yes, this one is nine inches. But the gift certificate is for $50 and the nine inch mill costs $49, so we'd have to pay for shipping.*

SH: Oh. But the nine inch one is bigger. Sometimes people prefer that.

Me: Is it 50% better?

SH: Sometimes, people like bigger.

* No, we are not in the habit of spending $50 on a pepper mill, but we are buying this as a gift to use a gift certificate we got to a store that has NOTHING, NOTHING we want, unless you consider an alligator-shaped server for stuffed jalapeno peppers to be desirable.

SH got this pepper mill as a gift a few years ago and likes it, so we thought we would give it as a gift to our friends who lack a pepper mill. Better than the cert going to waste.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 210: For better or for hirsute

Me: Feel this. It's been a week since I shaved my legs.

SH: Why?

Me: I'm on strike against the shower and the bathroom heater. And winter.

SH: Yep. Not shaved. I finally have that long leg hair hippie chick I've always wanted.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Wisconsin 101: Time and nothingness

It's probably not a good idea to have a gun class at the same place where the music starts 90 minutes late - or where the music is cancelled 90 minutes after it was supposed to have started.

I am way less Type A than I used to be. Living in Chile for two years knocked it out of me. There is Latin time and then there is indigenous people time - I worked with a group of indigenous women, which is, "Ten o'clock? You mean while the sun is still in the sky."

I had to adapt or go crazy.

I thought when I moved to Wisconsin, the land of the Germans and the Scandinavians, that I would be among My People. Punctual. Early, even. My relatives are that way. Tell them 1:00 and they'll be at your house at 12:45. Which is fine as long as you know that's what's going on. Not so fine if you say, "One, one thirty" and they show up at 12:30 while you are still in the shower. Blesstheirhearts.

I thought I would be around people whose most annoying time problem was being too early. And I could live with that.

Then I discovered the subculture of bar/musician time.

And of St Pius time.

Believe it or not, the two are related.

I go to the church near my house. Depending on who is presiding that night, the service starts at 5:00, as 5:00 Mass should. Or at 5:10. Because we have to wait for the people who are late.

No! We don't! We don't have to wait for the people who are late! Do they not know what time church starts every single Saturday? Do they not know how long it takes to get from their house to the church?

My protest is that I walk in at 5:12. That way, I'm not early and I have the extra benefit of missing the part where you are supposed to introduce yourself to the people around you.

If I wanted to be touchy feely at church, I would not be Catholic. I just want to get in and get out with as little touching as possible.

So. Church starts late. (The Lutherans, however, start on time. What's that about?)

And music starts late.

If a band is supposed to start at 10:00, don't you think that's when they should start? If I have paid to watch a musician perform, shouldn't the musician honor her part of the contract by not making me wait 40 minutes past the designated start time to see her? I'm talking to you, Loretta Lynn at Summerfest 2011.

And if there is supposed to be a karaoke show that starts at 10:00, shouldn't that be when karaoke starts? Especially if the people in the bar are waiting to sing and paying for drinks and pizza while they wait?

SH thinks my stubborn adherence to the conventions of time is funny and unreasonable. "People come to bars to hang out!" he says.

"Not me," I replied. "The only reason I am here is to watch you sing. Otherwise, this is just a big fat waste of time."

"But you're supposed to hang out in a bar."

"I could be at home reading a book. How come nobody else is annoyed that the show hasn't started?"

"They don't read for fun," he said, "and they can DVR all the TV shows they like."

At 10:45, I finally surrendered and went home. The Nighttime Wife agreed to drop SH off on her way home.

When SH got home, I woke up because the cats were trying to get away so he couldn't put them in the basement for the night. They would rather sleep with us all night, which would be fine except for them, "all night" ends at 6:17 a.m.

"It's a good thing you went home," he said. "At 11:30, the bar owner said there wouldn't be any karaoke at all. You would have blown a gasket."

Yep. I would have.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 892: Waste not, stink not

Do any of you face this dilemma?

How do you throw away your husband's stuff without his going into the trash to get it?

I am not talking about the things I am dying to get my hands on and get rid of forever, like the box of phone bills from 1997 or his employee manual from when he worked at Apple in 1992 or whatever year it was - when the stock was not doing well or else we would be rolling in it - or the Beavis and Butthead masks, all of which I have promised not to touch while he is alive.

I am talking about things that anyone should have the authority to discard.

Like the empty deodorant containers.

Containers. Multiple.

SH claims they aren't empty yet. "Look!" he says. "All I have to do is bang it on the counter and more comes out!"

And then he demonstrates.

I tried last month to throw them out. There are two. I tried to throw away the two empty to the naked eye deodorant containers. I had tried to eke out more deodorant - remember, I am from the Tribe of We Who Do Not Waste, but there was none to be had by the normal means of screwing the bottom wheel to force the product out of the top. They were empty.

My mistake was that I put them in the bathroom trash instead of taking them outside and burying them under the kitty litter in the big trash bin.

Except he has been known to snatch junk mail back out of the recycling bin, claiming that I am withholding precious information about a Time Share Opportunity NOW! from him.

Later that day, after SH emerged from the shower, I heard a banging on the counter. He had retrieved the deodorant and was eking out the last sixteenth of a teaspoon.

That was a month ago. I heard the same banging yesterday. The deodorant still lives.

"I don't want to waste it!" he says.

OK. But then why does he feel compelled to rinse containers that are going into the trash? Not even the recycling, but the trash? Is that not a waste of water?

I won't even get into the waste of money that is beer and wine.

Next time, I put the deodorant in my purse and throw it away at the gym.