Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wisconsin 101: So nice I bought it twice

I always check out the bargain counter at Sendik's. That's where I get my produce and my Miller's pretzel rolls. The gnocchi I made yesterday? That was with the bargain counter ricotta. There was nothing wrong with it - it was just within a day or two of expiration and they wanted to sell it rather than toss it. I got 11 pounds of butter that way. It was about to expire. I bought it and threw it in the freezer. Nothing wrong with frozen butter that can be easily converted into Italian sesame cookies, which is what I made on Sunday.

Yesterday, I picked through the grocery bargain bin. I got a bunch of sweetened condensed milk - Hello, key lime pie - that I guess maybe they are going to stop carrying, some coconut, two boxes of gluten-free ladyfingers (for gluten-free tiramisu) and a carton of matzo farfel. There were other post-Passover items, but when I read that cake meal is just a substitute for flour, I thought, "I have flour." So I didn't get the cake meal. Or the coconut-covered marshmallows, even though they looked good. Two dollars is still too expensive.

When I got home and took the stuff down to the pantry shelves in the basement - a basement is a nice thing to have if you don't want to have to be judicious about which junk comes into your house and which doesn't, which means SH is in junk-collecting heaven, I discovered I already had a carton of matzo farfel from last year.

It has not been opened.

Because I have no idea what matzo farfel is or how to use it.

But it was a good deal.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wisconsin 101: House proud

You guys, it's been a busy day - lots of cooking and cleaning and a haircut and swimming and SH drama, which is usually good copy but this was just regular I hate my job drama and really, who among us hasn't thought that almost every day sometimes?

Oh! I do have to tell you that I made the mistake of looking up some old enemies on LinkedIn and I discovered that the awful project manager at my old job had the nerve to describe himself as a "Visionary leader!"

AS IF!!!!

And yet, I was laid off and he was not. However, he had a protector high up in the company, which can be very useful. I did not. The people who liked me had all left the company, at least the people with power.

Do you want to know what I cooked? Well I'll tell you. Then I'll tell you what I started out to write.

I made amaretti cookies with my leftover almond flour and egg whites, but I used triple sec instead of amaretto and guess what? They were still delicious.

I also made green goddess dressing with leftover buttermilk and I have to say it's a bit boring.

I had leftover egg whites because I needed egg yolks to make the ricotta gnocchi. After I formed the gnocchi, which are in the freezer as we speak.

I will not be cooking for the next few days.

So where was I?

Oh. I had book club tonight. MJ cracked me up. She said she would host book club next month, but only the last week of the month. She was going to be out of town the third week, she said.

Then she paused.

"Wait," she said. "I have to tell you the truth. The reason I only want to do it the last week of the month is that I've hired a cleaning service for that Monday. So I want to take advantage of having a clean house."

She paused again. "Wait. I have to tell you more. The times I have had you over? My mother in law has come over to clean."

My solution would be just to dim the lights, but that's me.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wisconsin 101: This is how we sell beer for God

Do you guys remember when I volunteered with the church group at the Miranda Lambert concert? Brats and beer for God?

I volunteered at another concert - Nickelback, a band I have never heard of except for references on facebook as to how much they stink. All I can tell you is 1. they started on time and 2. they are very loud.

But that's not the point of the story. Remember the guy who runs the whole shebang from the volunteer side? And how he would flirt with all the ladies and tell them that we were on a mission from God because that got them to buy more beer and brats, not that people usually need to be encouraged to do that here, but I have to say the brats are rather expensive at the arena and they didn't look that good.

Well, this guy - let's call him "Art" - was working at a cash register the other night. A young woman got into his line. She was very pretty, but her heavy makeup made her look a little cheap. She didn't need it. I noticed her because she was so pretty and because she was rubbing her hand right above her bosom. That's not something you see people doing every day.

When she got to Art, she leaned way over the counter, lifted her chin, and whispered to him. Then she leaned further, hugged him, and kissed him on the cheek.

We all watched this in awe.

As soon as she left, I ran over to him. "Tell me you know her! Tell me that's your niece!" I demanded.

He shook his head, laughed, and said, "I've never seen her before in my life."

Half an hour later, she returned. This time, she had removed her jacket so you could see her tight pink tank top and all her assets. The flirtatious behavior continued: pursed lips, lifted shoulder, half-closed eyes. Honestly, if I had known half these tricks when I was in my 20s, I would have been in tall cotton.

I mosied on over to eavesdrop.

"You can come to where I work," she suggested to Art. "At Encore."

She blew a kiss at him and left again.

The next time she came back, I got over in time to hear her say, "If you come, I'll give you a lap dance!"

That's when Art blushed beet red. She looked up. Maybe that's when she saw the sign above Art that said we were a group from St B's Catholic Church.

She didn't come back.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 561: Underwater

SH: How can you eat that stuff (Splenda)? It has chlorine in it! It's bad for you!

Me: Do you know how much water I probably swallow when I swim? Do you know how much chlorine I probably ingest? A lot more than comes in the two teaspoons of Splenda I have in my coffee every morning.

SH: It's bad for you.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 657: Whining in stereo

SH, upon seeing me use the seam ripper to remove the tag from a shirt. Why, why, why do manufacturers insist on putting scratchy tags on clothes?: Oh! The seam ripper! Is that the one that infected my leg?

Me: Maybe.

SH: Or was it Dr B's office?

Me: Let's think about that. Which is the more likely patient zero spot for an infection: a doctor's office being run by a highly-trained medical professional or our house and an implement used for sewing?

SH: I think I got the infection in Dr B's office.

Me: Yeah, right.

SH: Plus, he called me a whiner.

Me: Well, if the shoe fits.

SH: I'm not a whiner!

Me: Yeah?

SH: He kept poking me and poking me. He said it would feel like a bee sting, but then after the fourth or fifth time, I said, "Ow!" He poked me about a dozen times with that needle!

Me: I see.

SH: I thought you said he had told you I was a whiner.

Me: And if he had, I would have said, "Yes. I know. I live with him."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 172: Blue shirts, redux

SH: Wait! What are you doing?

Me: Hanging your shirts to dry. [If you wash them on the "delicate" cycle, hang them, pull out the seams, and smooth the cuffs and plackets, you don't have to iron them.]

SH: But you're putting a good shirt on a not very good hanger.

Me: These are the hangers.

SH: I'm going to have to take this casual shirt off the good hanger so I can use the good hanger for the good shirt.

Me: Whatever.

SH: The casual shirt will be OK on a not-so-good hanger.

PS The red shirts are mine.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 322: Never on a Sunday

On Saturday night:

SH: Did you hear anything from that guy? [with whom I had a phone interview on Friday morning?]

Me: No. He said he would email me his contact information, but I didn't get anything from him yesterday.

SH: And he didn't send anything today?

Me: No! The last thing I want is an email from a prospective employer on a Saturday!

SH: Let's hope you don't hear anything tomorrow, either!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 432: It's too late baby

Me: Company Y [not the one where I had the phone interview] wants to interview me!

SH: Cool! When?

Me: Next Tuesday or Wednesday.

SH: But my performance evaluation is due on Tuesday.

Me: So?

SH: You need to have a job before next Tuesday so I can quit instead of doing the evaluation. This interview is too late.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wisconsin 101: Early = On Time

As I am waiting for the recruiter to call for my 9:00 a.m. phone interview.

Yes! I got an interview! I have to thank Alison at Ask a Manager for her great advice on cover letters. It was my cover letter, which I wrote based on her sample cover letters, that got me the interview. It's not your traditional cover letter, rehashing the resume. Instead, I talked about how I was not the right person for the job they had posted but I would be great reporting to that person. I also talked about using chocolate to motivate people and I directly addressed why I want to return to work after six years of gold digging.

The first thing the guy said when he called to schedule the interview was, "I loved your cover letter! It was delightful."

So anyway. SH was setting up the downstairs house phone/land line, which is usually his business line, with the headset so I could talk and use the computer at the same time. I had to be able to see my notes from six years ago. I can hardly remember what I had for lunch yesterday, so I'm really glad I saved a lot of the documentation from my old job. I'd forgotten a lot of the cool things I did.

SH: What time is he supposed to call?

Me: Nine o'clock.

SH: It's 8:45 now. He should be calling any second. This is Wisconsin.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 361: That solves the problem

This morning, when I got out of the gym, I looked at my phone. There was a missed call from SH. I called him.

SH: One minute after you left, I heard this banging in the kitchen. I went down to see and it was the cats. They were in the sink, going after the breakfast dishes.

Me: So?

SH: So you can't just leave the dishes! The cats mess with them!

Me: What did you do? Did you wash them?

SH: Nope. I put them all in the oven.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 136: Stuck!

SH: Look at the stitch count on this shirt.

Me: Wow.

SH: I'm really fussy about that sort of thing.

Me: You're fussy about everything.

SH: Uh huh.

Me: Except about who you marry.

SH: We've both made bad choices.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 162: Cleaning house

SH: I would clean the house if I didn't have a job.

Me: No you wouldn't.

SH: I would today. Just this once.

Me: And then what?

SH: Then it would be on an as-needed basis.

Me: It needs to be cleaned once a week.

SH: Maybe the kitchen. But dusting has to happen only when we have company.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 314: Drinking problem

SH: Look what I got at Costco!

Me [dreading what I'm going to see next]: What?

SH: Well, I got the goat cheese and mozzarella you asked for. Blueberries were too expensive. I got vitamins*. And I found this!

Me: Not more wine.

SH: Yes, I got some wine, but I also got this bottle of bourbon.

Me: But you don't drink bourbon. I don't drink bourbon.

SH: Sometimes I do. And it was a good deal.

Me: How much?

SH: Only $30!

Me: But - we don't drink bourbon.

SH: Sometimes I have some.

Me: Like when? I've never seen you drink bourbon. You have hard liquor about twice a year.

SH: Sometimes I have it. So now I have some.

Me: Well, based on how much I've seen you drink, I'd say we're set for life for bourbon. So you don't have to buy any more, OK?

SH: Maybe not.

* AKA Eye of Newt.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 362: Tying one on

As we were walking to the restaurant for SH's fancy birthday dinner. We eat at this place once a year. It's a little pricier than our usual eating out places, but for a birthday (and with the check my mom sends him), we make an exception. The food at this place is fabulous, but the service is a wee bit pretentious: Do we want bottled water? No, thank you, Milwaukee has excellent tap water that I'm already paying for.

The waiters work in pairs - serving partners. Waiter #1 insisted on explaining every single item on the special menu, just in case we didn't know what gnocchi were. Or lamb. Or minestrone, which was served as vegetables in a bowl accompanied by a small pitcher of vegetable jus with a few chicken bones added for richness that the waiter very carefully and slowly poured over the bowl of vegetables. He explained that the stinging net-tles in the gnocchi (also overpronounced) had been blanched so they were edible. They taste like chard, he said.

It took him five minutes to explain to us food we had already decided to order.

Waiter #2 read the situation much better and decided it was OK to vary from the script. He realized we were not interested in hearing him talk and talk and talk about the menu, so he just took our order and went away.

I preferred Waiter #2.

Oh. But I digress. The whole point of this story is that as we were walking to the restaurant, which is only a mile from our house, SH's shoes kept coming untied. So we had to keep stopping for him to re-tie them.

Me: Why don't you just tie them the right way?

SH: I've tried that and I can't.

Me: Are you saying you are incapable of learning anything new, Mr Phi Beta Kappa?

SH: It's too hard. Plus I don't think it would make a difference.

Me: Oh yes it would. If you tie them right, they stay tied.

SH: It's not worth the effort to learn.

Me: You live your life putting out fires. Think about how much time you would save overall (total cost of ownership, for you process geeks like me) if you only had to tie them once? Even if it took a little longer to do it right, you wouldn't be stopping all the time to re-tie.

SH: I don't think they'll stay tied.

Me: Wanna bet? Let me tie them, Mr I Can't Tie My Own Shoes.

We stopped. I tied them the right way. They stayed tied all the way to the restaurant, the entire time we were at the restaurant, the entire way home, and until he removed them to go to bed.

Now he wants me to tie his shoes for him again. But I can't always be there, can I? He needs to learn to do it himself.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 639: To sleep perchance to dream

SH: Hey! You're not doing it right! I got home from that meeting at 9:30 and you were already in bed!

Me: So?

SH: We're not farmers! We're not on social security! 9:30 is way too early!

Me: Being married to you is exhausting. I sleep when I can.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The fake blind lady strikes again

Remember the alleged blind lady who scolded me for not telling her I was getting out of the pool?

She reappeared today. I was in lane 2, the Good Lane. She was in lane 1, a not so good lane but the lane with the backstroke rope above it, the rope she claims is just for her because apparently, only fake blind people have problems swimming straight when they are swimming backstroke. The rest of us have an internal homing device that keeps us on the lane line. Actually, the rest of us have an eye on our butts that can see the lane line on the bottom of the pool. But not her. She is the only person who needs guidance to swim straight.

I saw her standing in the water at the shallow end, doing her stretches. I decided not to stop after my first 500 yards because I didn't want to give her a chance to ask me to switch lanes with her.

Undaunted, she swam halfway down the length of the pool, then stood and waited for me. As I passed, she reached over the lane ropes and tapped my shoulder. I ignored her and kept swimming.

I reached the end of the pool, turned, and started swimming back.

She swam under the lane ropes and got into my lane. Stood in the middle. Blocking me.

I stopped. I should have swum around her. I wish I had.

"Can I talk to you?" she asked.

Really? She wants to make a social call? Has this woman ever observed how things are done with lap swimming? I have been swimming off and on for years at pools all around this country and I can promise you that it is not standard swim etiquette to get in someone's face in the middle of their lane in the middle of the pool.

"What?" I asked. No, I was not very polite. I am trying to think of an equivalent exercise situation. She was hitting the stop button on my treadmill, blocking the aerobics instructor, throwing a roadblock on the jogging path. You get the picture. Actually, this was more like she stopped my treadmill and then got on it with me, she knocked the aerobics instructor to the floor, she tackled me as I was jogging.

"Do you have a problem with swimming in that lane?" She pointed to lane 1, where she had been swimming.

"Yes, I do. This is the best lane. I'm not going to switch lanes with you."

"But the woman who was in this lane before you said I could have it when she was done."

"Then where were you when she was done? She left, you weren't here, I took the lane. She had no authority to promise the lane to you."

"But I left my things there!"

I rolled my eyes. I had not looked for her things, wouldn't know what they were, wouldn't care.

"You can't dibs a lane," I said. And you can't. That's not how it works with swimming laps. You can't drop your whatever - I still don't know what personal items she left by the lane that she thought gave her ownership -and then go on about your other business and come back to the lane when you are ready. It's first come, first served. Some pools, when it's busy, will have a sign-up sheet, but I have yet to be at this pool when it's so busy I can't get a lane. Sometimes, I have to share, but even then, I'm swimming.

She had her own lane.

"They put that rope up for me," she said, indicating the backstroke rope.

"That's a backstroke rope. It's for everyone," I told her.

"They put it up for me."

"Fine. Be that as it may, I am not changing lanes."

"Fine," she huffed. "Now I understand your attitude." She ducked under the lane rope and returned to her lane.

My jaw dropped as I watched her. My attitude? She understood my attitude? She was the one who had yet to give me a compelling reason why she should have lane 2 instead of me. If she had said, "The waters in lane 2 have magical healing powers that restore my vision," I would have said, "Well OK then." But if she wants it just because it's better than lane 1? That's why I want it, too! And I was there first.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 332: Tomayto, tomahto

SH: Are you making a tomato salad?

Me: Yes.

SH: For me?

Me: Nope. For me.

SH: I can't have any?

Me: Sure, you may have some. But it's for me. So you'll have to eat it as is.

SH: But it's tomato salad! And you got basil!

Me: If you want to make your own, that's fine. Or you may have some of mine. AS IS.

SH: What do you mean, "as is?"

Me: I mean I am not cutting out the stem end.

SH: But I don't like the stem end!

Me: These are cherry tomatoes. It's not going to kill you. Eat it as it is or don't have any at all.

SH: You're mean to me.

Me: You're a crybaby.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 635: All cats are gray in the dark

Me: Oh look! They have these cafes in Japan where they have cats!

SH: What?

Me: Yes! You get your coffee and they have cats to keep you company. Think how nice it would be if you were on a work trip and stopped for a coffee and had a cat to keep you company. That way, you wouldn't miss Laverne and Shirley so much.

SH: So if I miss you, I should just go to a hooker?

Me: It's not the same.

SH: You're saying if I miss the cats, I should visit other cats. So if I miss you, I should visit other women.

Me: Not the same. Petting another cat is like talking to another woman. So it's OK.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 635: Life with an explainer

How an ordinary person asks for something after he's already in the shower: Honey, would you turn on the vent, please?

How an engineer asks: Honey, I know you hate to do this?

Me: What?

Engineer: Would you turn on the vent fan?

Me: OK. [Done]

Engineer: Because I hate the way the mirror gets all steamed up.

Me: Yeah, whatever.

Engineer: It makes it hard to see when I shave.

Me: It's on, OK?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Marriage 392, Lecture 66: Who took the cookies from the cookie jar?

After my friend visited overnight with her teenage son. SH had a meeting and didn't have breakfast with us.

SH [on the phone]: Is there any of that breakfast sausage left? (The sausage from my uncle, the sausage maker extraordinaire.)

Me: What do you think?

SH: I think no.

Me: You would be correct.

SH: I was a teenager once. I remember.

Not that I minded at all that Teenage Son ate the sausages. I offered them to him. Each time I asked if he wanted more, he said, "Yes, ma'am." He didn't ask for more. He only took what was offered. I kept asking until they were gone. He was my guest.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 664: What's yours is mine, honey

SH: Rice sweatshirt wearer. [I am not allowed to wear his prize Rice sweatshirt. I also went to Rice, so I think I have the right to wear it.]

Me: I thought you loved me.

SH: Yeah, but I acquired it many years before I met you, so it's not community property.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 510: All the time political arguer and annoyer

Me: You don't get to decide what the right thing to do is.

SH: Yes I do. I [hold certain political positions justify my deciding how everyone should think and live their lives].

Me: Yet you married me, a [person who holds the opposite political positions].

SH: You're a project. I married you to change you.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 302: Clean sweep

Me: I tried to sweep it up -

SH: Wait. Which broom did you use?

Me: The one in the closet. Anyhow, I tried, but -

SH: You used the inside broom outside?

Me: Yeah. So anyway, I --

SH: That's the inside broom! You can't use it outside! You should use the outside broom for outside sweeping!

Me: What? What are you talking about?

SH: That's the inside broom. It's dirty outside. For sweeping outside, you should get the push broom from the garage.

Me: You're kidding.

SH: No! Now you got the broom dirty!

Me: It was the driveway! It's not that dirty!

SH: You're not supposed to use the inside broom outside.

Me: Whatever, Martha.

SH: She would agree with me, I know.

Me: Uh-huh.

SH: And don't use the upstairs broom in the basement. There's a separate basement broom.

Me: I am married to a crazy man.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 667: Bad gold digger

Me: That boyfriend from [Belgium in this story, Amsterdam in the link below when I was trying to be more discreet] found me on LinkedIn the other day.

SH: Oh?

Me: The first thing he did was try to get me to hire someone he knew.

SH: Why?

Me: He thought I could do him some good, but it's been over five years since I was laid off, plus I am not necessarily in the mood to do him any favors when it seems like the only thing he wants from me is a job. Then, when I told him I had gotten married, he told me congratulations on achieving my "master plan."

SH: Your master plan?

Me: Yeah! Like I had always wanted nothing more than to be married and not work! If that's all I'd wanted, why didn't I marry him? He had a lot more money than you do!

SH: Are you saying he is calling you a gold digger but that you are not a very good gold digger?

Me: Yes. If I were a good gold digger, I never would have married you. You're not rich.

SH: That's because you're not doing it right.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 428: Cheap fare

When I got this email, allegedly from American Airlines, who does not even know me any more -

Dear Customer,
ELECTRONIC 900134277
DATE & TIME / DECEMBER 18, 2011, 11:53 PM
ARRIVING / Chicago

Please find your ticket attached.
You can print your ticket.
Thank you

I called SH.

Of course I called him. You didn't expect me to walk from the kitchen upstairs to his office, did you? Besides, when I walk into his office, he gets anxious because I am letting the heat out and he barks, "Close the door! Close the door!" But then he always starts to talk to me again just as I am opening the door to leave, which means I turn back to answer him, one hand on the door I have just opened, which makes him anxious again, even though it's his own fault that the door is open.

Besides, we have unlimited minutes between the two of us.

I called him to ask if there was any reason I should have an email from American Airlines - which we don't even use because SH has his status on Delta and once you are hooked into that status, you will not go outside your airline - traveling to Chicago on December 18. [This was an old email.]

"Yep," he said. "I'm shipping you out."

"I don't believe you," I said. "You would never pay $312 to fly me to Chicago when you could put me on the bus for $25."

PS Yes, this is an old post. I wrote it a few months ago and never published it because I forgot.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 13: Humiliation

I am assuming you guys already know the advantages of marriage: reduced living expenses, someone to zip up your dress, someone to point out when you're doing it wrong, but perhaps you are unaware of the disadvantages of a legal contract that can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to break.

One of the main disadvantages of this contract is that if you do something really, really stupid, you don't get to keep it to yourself. Even if this really, really stupid thing caused no damage to your car or to the other car and the other car owner says, after his daughter points out that, "Oh, Dad, that's what a bumper is for," and he has to bend over and get within two inches of the bumper just to see the one-inch scratch, "Well, I guess there's no point in spending $2,500 to replace an entire bumper just to get rid of one little scratch" and you sigh a huge sigh of relief because no, there isn't any point in spending $2,500 to replace an entire fender just to get rid of a tiny scratch and how many times did you wave off someone who had bumped into you? At least three. At least three. So now maybe your karma is coming around. But will it do you any good?

No. No it won't. Because when you waved people off, you were unmarried and driving your old Toyota and didn't have to explain yourself to anyone.

Now, you bumped into someone while you were driving 1. your husband's car 2. while you were married and 3. guess what you bumped into someone in the exact same spot while you were backing out of your driveway a year ago.


For the record, I'm blaming my sister. She was in the car with me and I was distracted.

Remember the van I hit right before we were leaving on a trip? The guy wouldn't take my insurance information. I kept trying to give it to him. He wanted to get together for lunch and talk about it. Which was weird. He emailed months later with an estimate. We told him to mail us a hard copy and we'd send him a check or submit it to our insurance and we never heard from him again.

So yesterday, I was backing out and not doing my due diligence. Our street is narrow and if you're not careful - well, bump. I bumped into the car parked on the street across the street.

I felt my stomach fall. I felt sick. I got out and looked. I couldn't see any damage, but I suspected eagle-eye SH might find some. To me, a car is merely a means to transport a person from Point A to Point B. I don't want to have too many scars, but I don't care about a few bumps and bruises. But he is a little more particular about his vehicles, a difference that has caused me to lament more than once that I should never have sold my car when I married him.

I walked the slow walk of the guilty to my neighbors' door and rang the doorbell. Ruth opened the door. I winced. "I just hit the car parked in front of your house," I said.

"Oh!" she said. "That's my dad's. He just got here."

Great, I thought. I have great timing. If I'd left for the store ten minutes ago, this wouldn't have happened.

They came out and looked at it. He didn't look too happy, but she waved it off. "Dad, it's not a big deal," she said. "That's what bumpers are for." I gave him my insurance information anyhow. "In case you decide to repair it," I said, silently praying that he would continue to think it complete insanity to spend thousands of dollars for what is truly a one-inch long almost-invisible scratch.

When we got back from the store, I noticed he'd moved his car into Ruth's driveway.

Smart man.

Telling Ruth's dad I'd hit his car was not the worst part.

The worst part was having to tell SH that 1. I had backed into a car 2. IN THE EXACT SAME SPOT I HAD BACKED INTO A CAR LAST YEAR.

This, my friends, is the reason to stay single.

The End.

Wisconsin 101: This is how we ride the train

Read this blog. This guy cracks me up.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 641: He married me for other reasons

My sister and her new beau came to visit this weekend. He - henceforth known as "Matt" - had business in the area and she, aka as "Jenny" as his Southwest companion, came along for nothing.

The nice thing about a visiting sister is the standards are looser. I know, I know. You should be as nice to your family as you are to your friends, but come on. You know you let things slide with family the way you wouldn't with people whose love you have to earn. Although we did put clean wax paper in the microwave. We are not complete slobs.

But I didn't make the bed in the guest room. I waited until they arrived, and then asked if they preferred cotton or flannel sheets.And then I left them to it.

I did, of course, clean the bathroom. Who doesn't clean the bathroom before guests arrive? Gross people, that's who. I always clean the tub and the toilet and the sink in the guest bath. I shudder at the idea of taking a shower in a dirty tub. I have done so, when I traveled through Latin America after the Peace Corps, staying in the F and G hotels in the South American Handbook. It's a good thing I'm nearsighted and couldn't see a lot of what I was standing in, but I saw enough and sometimes, you just have to suck it up and be glad that your shots are up to date. Ever since then, though, I have vowed that I will not bathe in a dirty tub and I will not ask my guests to do so, either.

SH got home and hugged Jenny. I had just hugged her and had noticed how different it was from hugging SH.

"It's not like hugging me, is it?" I asked him.

He shook his head and laughed. "Oh, no!"

"It's a completely different experience, isn't it?"

"Yessssss," he nodded.

And she got the makeup and accessory genes and naturally curly hair. And she was smart enough to choose a profession that can't be outsourced. But I still love her.

Blogger, if you are reading this, I HATE YOUR NEW INTERFACE. You fascists. I know I can't complain too much about a free product, but please explain to me why you felt compelled to fix something that wasn't broken. Have you been talking to facebook?

Friday, May 04, 2012

Marriage 306, Lecture 120: The in laws

My sister: SH, could I pour you a cup of coffee?

SH: No. I'll do it myself. I have my own way of doing it.

My sister: How's that?

SH: I put in the half and half first because that way I don't have to stir it and I put in the amount I want.

My sister: Oh my gosh. You guys were made for each other.

SH: What do you mean?

My sister: When we were kids, she would ask me to get her a glass of water. I'd get it and she'd say, "You didn't do it right." How can you not make a glass of ice water right? Well, she'd say, "You have to put the ice in first! That way, the water runs over the ice and cools as it goes into the glass."

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Wisconsin 101: It's not just me we all hate Marty Haugen's music and Gather

I walked into the hardware store to buy a nut and bolt to keep the doohickey thingy on the lawnmower. Fortunately, it fell off as I was finishing cutting the grass instead of when I was starting. Even so, I ran my foot over the grass trying to find the missing bolt, but only half-heartedly, because I wasn't sure if there had been a bolt there to being with. I mean, there had been one there when the lawnmower was manufactured, but at some point, the nut disappeared and then the bolt started to work its way loose and then it fell out and then the doohickey slipped and voila there we were. I could have gotten on my hands and knees to look for it but I didn't feel like it because the odds of finding the bolt were slim to negative so why bother?

No, if it's out there, I'll find it when I'm using the gas mower - I usually use the reel mower, not because I am a dedicated environmentalist but because I am too cheap to buy gas, so I get no credit for being Earth Friendly but whatever I don't care. I'll find it when the potential damage and expense is high because that's how these things work.

I pushed the mower back into the garage and put the little doohickey on the counter next to my purse. Laverne immediately nudged it off the counter onto the floor, then backed up two feet, wiggled her butt, and pounced on it, arching 18 inches into the air.

She killed it.

She stalked off, chin in the air, tail waving proudly.

I retrieved the dead doohickey and put it in my purse for safekeeping.

The next day, after the gym, I went to Puhl's, the little neighborhood hardware store that charges more than Lowe's but where you park ten feet from the front door and there's someone to help you as soon as you walk in.

Also as soon as I walked in was a bulletin board with community notices. The one that drew my attention was the one about the kittens. Five kittens. White kittens with light tabby markings. I called SH. "We need these kittens."

"No," he said flatly. "We don't need more cats." His voice softened. "Are they cute? Of course they're cute. I love kitties."

I sighed. "You're right. We don't need more cats."

I persevered in my quest. I walked to the counter. Sure enough, there was a man, waiting. But he wasn't a Puhl's guy. He was a late middle-aged guy with a neatly-trimmed white beard and a baseball hat. Khaki shorts. I recognized him, but from where? I cocked my head and pointed my finger at him. Which I know is rude. It's rude to point.

In Chile, instead of pointing with the finger, they pointed with the chin and lips. Imagine this: you lift your chin and point it in the direction of the person, then point your lips out. I call it the Latin American Lip Point.

I pointed. He pointed back. "Saint Pius," he said.

"That's right!" I answered. "Church!" He was an usher.

He stepped forward and put his hand out. "Fred," he said.

"Class Factotum."

We shook.

"Now that I know you," I said, "I should say that it is very nice of you to always offer a hymnal to me, but you don't need to bother. I feel rude saying this and I haven't said this at church, but I hate the music. I'm never going to sing it."

He laughed. "I hate it, too! There's a lot of us who feel that way!"

"You're kidding!"

Clerk #1 said, "Are you talking about Catholic music? It's awful!"

"Um-hmm," said Clerk #2.

"Are you Catholic?" I asked her.

"No, Baptist," she said.

"So you have good music," I said.

"Yes, but I've heard Catholic music."

Our reputation was known far and wide.

A customer walked up. "Oh, it's dreadful. And they make us sing every single little thing!"

I agreed. "Can't we just have an efficient service? Get in, get out. Not sing everything?" This is a German town. You'd think they would have gotten this church stuff down to a science.

"I wish we'd go back to Gregorian chant," Fred said.

"Or at least to music written by people who were born before 1950. Have you ever looked at the notes on the songs? David Haas, Marty Haugen, that other guy - all born after 1950. All the good stuff was written long before that!"

Another customer walked up. "Do you have good music in your church?" I asked.

"Yes," she answered.

"What denomination?"


"See?" I said triumphantly. "At the Reformation, we got the real estate, they got the music. Did you guys know that Marty Haugen is Lutheran? But they don't even sing his stuff in the Lutheran church? At least, not at the ELCA Lutheran church."

"Then why do we have to?" Fred asked.

I shrugged. "Maybe someone somewhere has compromising photos. That's usually how these things work. Although what could be more compromising than what's already going on I don't know."

Then I asked him, "What's the deal with the tyranny of the hand holding at Pius? I have to go into the bathroom for the Our Father just so I don't get forced to hold hands. The only person I hold hands with is my mom and even that is only because she's my mom and her feelings get hurt if I don't. I hate holding hands during the Our Father. I hate it."

"A lot of people have complained about that," Fred said. "We've lost members to other parishes. I need to talk to Father B about this stuff."

"Yeah, let's change the Catholic Church," I joked. 

The line was backing up. Not that anybody was impatient. They all agreed the music stinks and nobody likes the hand holding. Fred added that ushers are unnecessary because everyone knows what's going on. But I had a nut and bolt to get. I found a helper and it took him three minutes to find my stuff. Thirty two cents later, I was out of there. I'll let you know if the music gets any better.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 632: A wife for every occasion

My sister's boyfriend: Don't you need arm candy for this event?

Me: He has the Political Wife for that.

SH: You don't need to worry about her.

Me: Trust me, I don't.

SH: She's completely in love with her husband.

Me: Wrong answer, bucko.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Wisconsin 101: On a mission from God

I have decided that another way to kick start my career, in addition to applying for jobs and taking civil service exams - by the way, I scored only 80 or so on the state test. What was wrong with me? I know that I got that "1/8 = 0.125" question right. And the cat/veterinarian one.

But they asked all these technical questions about Access. I don't know all the terms - objects, tables, primary keys - but I do know how to work a database. I need to find out how long before I can take the test again. I'll take a little online tutorial and study all the terminology because everyone knows it's the person who knows all the terminology who can do the best analysis, right?

I guess I never finished that first sentence. So the other way to kick start my career is to update my resume by volunteering.

Which is why I went to the basketball arena with a group from church to work at the brats and beer stand.

See, if I were Baptist, I couldn't do this.


My senior year of high school, my teacher was a chaplain who had been in the (I think) Korean war. He said that on Friday nights, after the soldiers had gotten their beer and cigarettes and the Baptist boys had traded their beer and cigarettes for whatever you trade beer and cigarettes for, the Catholics and the more liberal Protestants would be playing cards, drinking, and smoking. The Baptists would be doing whatever they would do - please don't take this as an assault on Baptists - I have known some lovely Baptists indeed, but eventually would make their way to the loud, smoky, party with the card-playing, beer-drinking Catholics. They might not have joined in the drinking or the smoking, but they still wanted to hang out.

The group gets to keep about 12 % of the total revenues from the beer, brat, nacho, soda, and pretzel sales. The arena benefits because they don't have to hire, fire, and manage a group of employees and the volunteer groups raise money for their organizations.

"That's why I hated it when we had to sell chili dogs that one time," one of the volunteers, who had a consultant/accounting feel to him. "It took so long to make those darn things. I wanted to sell beer. That's where the money is. But we had customers backed up, waiting for those darn chili dogs."

The guy who runs the group is an older gentleman with white hair and twinkling blue eyes. He flirted with every single woman who came to the counter. With almost every one, he asked for ID. It worked. That, plus he told them we were a church group. "Would you like a pretzel with that beer?" he would ask. "Oh yah sure!" they would say.

My job was to --

Wait. Before I tell you what my job was and how it relates to my re-entering the workforce, I have to tell you what the main benefit was.

The main benefit was the people watching.

The event was a concert. A Miranda Lambert concert. Almost all women, many of them wearing very short shorts, which is not something I think is a good idea even when it's warm out and certainly not when it is April in Milwaukee although and I'm going to be tacky here although I am certainly in no position to be throwing stones although I was not wearing shorts that were barely there so maybe I can toss a few pebbles, but it's not like these girls were going to be cold if you know what I mean.

Where was I? Oh. Lots of very short shorts. Lots of big hair. Piercings! And tattoos! At a country music concert! I didn't think tats and piercings had gone country!

Lots of all the way around the eye eyeliner. Which is not a good look. For anyone.

Several stunningly beautiful women whose beauty was not completely marred but severely undermined because they were smacking chewing gum. You guys - don't do it. It looks bad. It makes you look cheap.

And I know you don't come to me for fashion advice, but I almost ran out to a woman to do a long butt jeans intervention. It might have been the worst case I have ever seen. The bottom of the back pockets on her jeans ended, yes, ended! about three inches below her waist.

Bless her heart, it made her butt look about forty inches long. That woman needed help.

The other thing you don't come to me for is parenting advice and why would you? You are all already perfect parents. So I know you will all share my aghastness at the mother who had her second grader in high heels at this concert. I am going to give her a pass on having a kid out that late on a school night. Special occasions can happen. But I can't see any reason ever to have a second grader wearing high heels. I'm 48 and I avoid them as much as possible. Not so much because I don't like how they look but because they hurt.

Back to my resume-enhancing work.

I can see that volunteering is the way to go. Applying for jobs online has not been doing it for me. I need to get out there, update my skills, show the marketplace what I can do.

Which is why I think I have a new in. I spent three hours pouring fountain Pepsi, diet Pepsi, and Mountain Dew. And I cleaned the popcorn machine. Oh - and I refilled the ice. I am ready to ask, "Do you want fries with that?"