It's not about the house.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Look At Us

Johnny caught me wearing the shoes.

"Why are you wearing those stupid things?" he said. And then he took a picture of my feet.

But he doesn't understand about the delay in the digital camera, so the picture he took is actually of the bottom of my chair.

I think that might be my left foot there in the shadows -- but that doesn't make me Christy Brown or anything. Who, by the way, Johnny used to know back in the day in Dublin, and who was apparently such a drunken fuck, they used to push him out to the sidewalk in his wheelchair and leave him there when he got too annoying.

I don't know if I've said this yet about the man I love, but he's not big. When I stand up in these shoes, the top of his head comes to about the bottom of my armpit.

He says: "When we go to a wedding or something, when you wear these shoes, what are we gonna look like?"

And I say: "Like a big red-hot mama and the man she loves."

Kidding. Kidding! Jeez...

One Good Thing About The AssVac

It's a craftsman bungalow, which means it knows how to play the weather against all comers.

It can be sad to never have an ounce of sunlight in your house except for those so-called "pools of light" -- which are more like puddles, really. Dried-up puddles with worms dying in them in the driveway. But I digress...

When it's 95 degrees outside, and inside -- without air conditioning -- it's 84? Well, then you want to kiss those dried-up worms.

It's not 95 outside today. I've been meaning to say this sort of thing for a while, but the reason I finally thought of it is that it's 75 today, but was still 84 in here until I put the big fan in the window. About an hour ago. It's 75 in here now. Which brings me to my next point.

Even with the crap-ass insulation we have, this sucker knows how to hold the heat. Now granted, we're not talking about insulation keeping these particular 10 degrees hanging around (I don't know what insulation does when it's 75), but once it's warm, it stays that way.

(The fact that it's been costing us $500 a month to heat the place has more to do with the fact that the boiler was brimming with blackstrap molasses. At least that's what I'm telling myself, now that we have a brand new furnace. In the kitchen.)

Anyway, I do so much bitching about Bertha the AssVac. I just figured, since I was thinking good thoughts, that I'd share.

P.S. I'm wearing the shoes. With blue jeans. And cotton socks. I am a red-hot mama.

Oh Where Can You Go When Your Money Gets Low?

Filene’s Basement is closing.

And for those of you who don’t live in the Boston area, I’m not talking about the chain of mall stores that come off like a downmarket TJMaxx. I’m talking about the Filene’s Basement. The one your grandmother used to talk about. Even if she’d never been to Boston, I know she talked about it. And it’s closing.

Not forever. Or so they say. Just for two years, for renovations. But even if it does re-open (and even if they have the best intentions, there’s no guarantee of that) you just know it isn’t going to be the same. The new landlords will probably make them mop the floors and build changing stalls into the ladies fitting rooms. You know, new-fangled conveniences like that.

But in the meantime, Filene’s Basement is closing – which means a closing sale!

Prudence took herself down there. She was meeting a friend for drinks and she had a little time to kill…

It was weird. All the merchandise was shoved into a little area and roped off with yellow caution tape. The racks where I got all five pairs of fabu sunglasses – gone. The changing room where I tried on one red dress after another in front of twenty-seven gorgeous black ladies of several sizes till I finally settled on this beauty:

Kidding. This one:


All that was left on the racks were scads of men’s dress shirts, with swarms of men milling about – all obviously under orders from their wives to hit the sale before it ended, and all obviously without a notion what to do now they were here.

In the bins were stacks of packageless designer underwear. This is where the men wound up. They knew how to buy their skivvies. Check the number! 34? No. 42? No. 28? Hell, no. 36? Just right… Every time a clerk-lady would dump a new bucket-o-briefs in there, it was like Cousteau dumping chum over the side of ay Calypso. They were like piranhas!

(I can mix my similes, it’s all right. Goody said so.)

My favorite Filene’s Basement story, speaking of sales clerk ladies? I once went in to get myself a wallet. I use the men’s kind, because I mostly like to keep it in my pants (now I do, anyway – not so much when I was younger). But I couldn’t find them. Belts, shoes, handkerchiefs, eyeglasses, eyeglass cases – every single other men’s accessory – but snake-eyes on the calfskin. So I found a very stately-looking African-American salesclerk lady standing at military ease in one of the aisles.

“Can you tell me where I’d find men’s wallets?” I asked her.

“In their pockets, usually,” she replied, with just the barest hint of smile. And then she told me where to really look.

She was there today. She’ll be unemployed now.

But the upstairs was where it was really at. Ladies Department. Stand back, boys, the professionals are here…

My Grammy Ferg would have been proud. Everybody had to touch everything, nothing was good enough even though it was all 75% off, and they were all commenting about it to each other and to me.

“You should’ve been here yesterday. They were still using the regular markdown system then.”

“These here should be free – look at them.”

“Oh my goodness, they look like they’ve been left out in the rain!”

(That last was me, channeling Grammy Ferg.)

You had to fight and bite and scratch and tear just to get a look at something, and if whoever had it in their hands decided no, they dropped it on the floor. (Grammy Ferg would not approve of that.)

I decided I didn’t have the patience for most of it. I don’t need cheap jeans as badly as all that, and if I do I’m not too proud for Goodwill. Plus most of them here were a size 2, anyways. Which I am not. And never will be. I know that now.

So I concentrated on the dress-up stuff. Who knows when I’ll need it? Maybe never, maybe soon, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had anything nice and new (that red dress was for my cousin’s wedding in September of ’03 – I wasn’t shopping formal this time, but you see my point).

I scored a pair of Anne Klein suit pants for $7.50. Black with tiny pinstripes, in size 12. Which I am also not. But I was last week and will be again. That's more realistic.

I scored this shirt:

I don’t know what brand it is and it’s really not so much my style, but it cost $1.50 so why not? And who knows, maybe my boobs will be higher someday. And not quite so big.

These, however – these are the coup de grace (pardon my French):

Barney’s NY. Originally priced $275. TWENTY BUCKS! Don’t know when I’ll have occasion to wear them out, or if they’ll still be fashionable when I do. But you can bet your bippy I’ll be parading around the AssVac in them when Johnny’s out of town, smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo (don’t tell me I’ve nothing to do in fabu shoes!)...

Goodbye F.B. Every time I’m in my undies in front of a bunch of strangers, I’ll think of you and shed a cheap-ass tear…

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Prank This

Remember how a few days ago we had a bunch of big strong men moving big strong things around our kitchen?

Well, one of the big strong things they moved was the refrigerator -- so they could maneuver the other big strong thing to the cellar door.

When they realized that the other big strong thing would not go through, they put the refrigerator back where it belongs... but they never plugged the plug back in!

Nothing's rotten yet, but I'm getting the idea we're going to be eating a lot of soup over the next week or so. And what does it say about us that it took two days for us to notice that refrigerator wasn't running?

Guess I better go check on Prince Albert and the DC-10...

Ode To Johnny's Toe

Sorry about the way the lines break -- it's Blogger's fault...

It was the twenty-sixth, another sleepy, Massachusetts day
We was waitin’ for the Kid, wastin’ our summer right away
And at supper time we got a call from friends who live right down the street
And Johnny hollered “leave a note, we’re gonna go and wet our feet”
He should have said “go break them,” cuz the first time he jumped off the ledge
His feet went up his nose – I’m talking arches all up in his bridge

And Prudence said to Johnny as he passed out from his blackeyed knees
"Well, you’ve never had a lick of sense. Now we’re off to Emergency."
"There’s a hundred people there before me – I just know there will be now"
And Johnny said "Besides, I’d much prefer to see my own doc, anyhow."
But nothin' ever comes to no good when I try to call the switch-
Board operator at the place where Johnny’s favorite doctor is.

Doc said the knee was only sprained, though he wanted x-rays of the toe
But we had to come back for 'em, the man who takes the pictures had gone home
Wasn’t I talkin’ to Appointment Lady on the telephone last night?
Didn’t I tell her he was broken? This is what, to me, did not seem right.
At any rate, he ain’t – all his tarsals and his metatarsals lived
They said it’s just “severely traumatized,” so now it fits right in.

Jeff thought it was the doctor I was mad at, which was not quite right
But he cooked me up a haiku, so I tip my many hats to him tonight.
That nice young painter, John, quoted a fellow-client from my agency
But when I tried to rhyme with Sartre, I realized there was no way it could be.
Someone made a drink joke that was funny, but I don’t know who it is.
(And, Robert, here’s the line ’bout throwing somethin' off the Tallahatchie Bridge)

Janice, my kiwi Nana, offered advice just like a Nana should
And she’s right, and I’ll try, but I don’t think I will ever be that good.
Hagrid made me laugh, he was very near the one that I chose for it
But I can’t chose an imposter: the real giant would never have said “sure’s shit”
So LadyScot’s the winner, for her distinctly Gaelic-hardened edge

Cuz sometimes I want to throw my husband off of the Fore River Bridge

Hey, I said you had to be careful with the Royal Consort. I love him, so I can say whatever I want…

Oh, and PS, just so's you don't think I was way overreacting about this all week: it wasn't really the toe. It was really the ball of the foot. But I didn't feel like making a bunch of ball jokes, and toe is just plain funnier.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Unfair and Seriously Unbalanced

I'm not even going to editorialize about our our recent health care experience. I'm just going to report. You decide how I feel about it.*

I will preface by saying that any normal person would have gone to the emergency room on Sunday when it happened. Johnny, as you may be aware, is not any normal person -- but it took until Tuesday morning for him to tell me why (not why he's abnormal, that part's still a mystery, just why he wouldn't go to hospital).

He said he knew his owie leg would be last priority amongst assorted bleeders, and he didn't want to sit around for eight or fifteen hours only to be told to see a specialist. "If I see my doc," he said, " he'll get me an appointment with a specialist if I need one. And I'd rather sit on the couch for two days than in the emergency room for twelve hours on a Sunday night."

Fair enough, I guess. It's his leg. Though you should see him try to balance on it.

So on Monday night (when I finally understood that he was refusing just the E.R. and not medical attention in general) I called the Urgent Care line at the clinic where his doctor is. I told the Appointment Lady that I thought my husband broke himself, and asked for the earliest appointment they could give me. I said I didn't even care if he saw his doc, just the first appointment that they had, with anyone.

(This is how Urgent Care is supposed to work -- and I know, because I've done it. They just give you the first appointment they have with whoever's available. Unless, I imagine, you're a man and the first appointment's with a gynecologist or something. Though I can't be sure of that. I've never tried it as a man with a gynecologist...)

Appointment Lady gave me an appointment with Johnny's own doctor at 5:40 Tuesday evening.

We got there at 5:10 (well, I didn't want to be late) and the doc saw him at 5:50. At around 6:10 he came out with orders for x-rays and instructions to go have the pictures taken and come straight back up. So we proceeded down to radiology.

Which had been closed since 5:30.

So we have to go back this morning.

*Let's do this week's CONTEST a little differently. Instead of "first right answer wins," let's do "everybody plays and I choose my favorite." I suspect I won't be able to check in again until after we see however many doctors we have to see this morning -- and then of course I'll have to go to work -- so you'll have plenty of time to ponder this instead of whatever it is you're supposed to be doing at that computer...

So here's the game: Tell
me how I feel about all this. Insult anyone you like (though be careful how far you go with the Royal Consort), and be creative. Could be one word, could be a poem, could be a Kurdish curse. But venture something. And make me laugh. Because if I get home after this ordeal and I have just two entries and they're both from my best friend who makes up fake names to make me feel better, I swear to god I'll make like Billy Joe McAllister.

Though the Tallahatchie is a long way off, so I'll settle for the Fore...

Purty, ain't she? I swear to god there's a river under her somewhere...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Is This A Dirty Joke?

Q: How many Big Strong Men does it take to get the furnace down the cellar stairs?

A: How the fuck should I know? And: Do you like my new kitchen table?

Seriously, we could cut a hole in a tablecloth, put a candle in that sticky-outy pipe thing. Hell, I know lots of people who paid much more than $500 for their kitchen tables, and -- well, and they were actually dining room tables, or dining room sets actually, that came with dining room chairs and everything, and you could actually eat off of them and stuff (the tables, that is, not the chairs, although I don't see why not)...

Andy and his Royal Helper gave up waiting for the Kid at 11:58, but Andy said if he showed up within a half an hour we should call his cell phone and he'd turn aroung (except he said "around," without the typo). Kid showed up -- I shit you not -- at 11:59. Andy pulled out of the driveway and drove off to the left; Kid came from the right and pulled in while we could still see Andy's car.

I called him, he came back. God bless him. The four of them (which I just now realized had just two names between them) tried for over an hour to get the damne thinge (which is kind of like Olde Shoppe, except not on purpose) down the cellar stairs, but it would not go.

There's this corner, see, around the top three steps. It turns out that the only way to get it around the corner is to let one guy hold it on his own, and not even Lou Ferrigno could pull off a stunt like that. The Hulk, maybe, but not old Lou.

Now, I'm going to say this once, and I'm going to whisper, so please pay careful attention:


So the end result of today is five hours of waiting around, $40 bucks out of pocket for Royal Helper (who dothed protest, but the Princess insisted) and a furnace in the kitchen. Andy insists the smart thing to do is blow the bulkhead now -- and he's right, it would be the smart thing. If those cinder blocks were stuffed with silver coins, and if I had more than a week to get the furnace hooked up before they charged me assloads of money as a punishment for waiting around——

Wait a second, who the fuck is Keyspan to tell me to hurry up? Screw-ew-ew them! Didn't I wait five months for my gas line to go in three years ago? Didn't I wait all day back in April for a contractor who never showed? Didn't I then wait two weeks for my next appointment? Haven't I been waiting since freaking springtime just to talk to somebody from Keyspan about this? And now they wait until after they deliver it to tell me there's a deadline for installation? Keyspan -- and their new British owners -- can go ahead and kiss my royal ass.

Kid says he can get it through the (ahem) basement window, but I think I just made up my mind. Andy says he'll blow the bulkhead for us and let us pay him when we can. I have to admit, I did harbor fantasies of waiting till the book came out and then arranging a little cross-promotion by calling up a certain Dirty TV show host to do the job. But I guess we'll have to go ahead and let Andy do it now. Poops.

Don't look so sad, Mikey. There's lots more dirty work to be done around this shithole...

A Fractured Furnace Tale

Once upon a time, there was a man named Andy. Andy looked a bit like a beer-bellied Alfred E. Newman, and he shared Newman's philosophy about most things:

"What, me worry?"

Andy worked hard, and when he wasn't working, he played even harder. Captain Morgan's and cranberry juice was Andy's drink (yuck), though in a pinch any other kind of juice would do.

Andy liked doing things for other people, so when Princess Prudence needed an extra Strong Body to move a furnace down her cellar stairs, he was the first man she called. But he was busy. Doing Something Else for Someone Other than Herself.

No one else showed up either to move the furnace down the stairs, and Prudence was pondering the likelihood of she and her Royal Consort moving the hateful thing themselves, when the Consort came up lame.

Prudence was overwhelmed. Consort had been in the process of gathering paperwork for something called a "biometrics" appointment with the INS, which was fast approaching. Now she would have to take over this responsibility, as well as the care and feeding of the Consort, and Things One through Six that she does daily anyway (plus, if all goes according to plan, Thing Six is on the verge of spawning Thing Seven).

So Monday night, after doing her own six Things and stopping by Consort's last workplace to clean it up and bring home all his tools, after making an appointment for Consort to see Bones and making several phone calls regarding Biometrics, after calling the Kid to tell him he'd be on his own moving the furnace because Consort was laid up and she was plum out of ideas, after calling Keyspan to tell them it might be longer than two weeks before the damn thing was installed and they'd just have to deal with it, and after feeding and icing and there-there-ing the Consort (but before cleaning up the dinner mess), Princess Prudence took to chambers.

Princess did not sleep well. She still didn't know how badly Consort had damaged his royal leg. She didn't know if the Kid would show up in the morning. She didn't understand what sort of paperwork she was supposed to be gathering for the government, let alone where to get it from or if it could be had in time for the imminent appointment. She didn't know whether, if she did it wrong, the government would send the Consort home. She didn't even want to know how much Keyspan would charge her for the furnace if they didn't get it in on time, and she felt as though she'd been lax lately on Things Two and Six. She fretted over all of this until finally, fitfully, she slept.

She awoke four hours later, dutifully on time, and worried Thing Two for a couple hours. Then, at quarter to Royal seven the Princess' phone rang. It was Andy.

"Did you ever get that furnace in?"

Why no, we didn't.

"Okay. I'm leaving now to pick up Royal Helper. We'll be there sometime after 9:00."

God bless you, Andykins. If any of the liquor stores were open at this hour, I would even deign to purchase Captain Morgan's for your liquid refreshment.

But I wouldn't give you any until after you were done moving the half-ton of Royal Scrap.

We called the Kid and told him two Big Strong Men would be here at 9:00. He said he'd grab one more and be here shortly after. It's now 10:38. No sign of Kid. Andy and Helper and I got the thing into the kitchen, where at least it'll be protected from the weather (for now, at least, until the roof gives in). I can't open the fridge or get down to the basement. I can't put my dishes away or sit down at the table. And I think I hurt my shoulder. But at least the freakin' furnace is in out of the rain...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Oh, Ick.

You're not going to believe what I left in my bag this time...

Brie cheese.

Since Thursday.

What is wrong with me?

The Continuing Stooory...

Still no word from the Kid.

Today, I got a notice from Keyspan telling me he'd ordered a furnace for me (which they, um, delivered on Friday), and that I would have two weeks to install it once they drop it off (which they, um, did on Friday.

I don't know or else what. Or else they take it back? Or else they charge me more? Or else they program it to self-destruct? Or else they repossess my house and I live happily ever after in an Airstream trailer on the road?


Anyway, the last thing I said to the Kid was that Johnny would be home on Tuesday to help him bring it in, but that's no longer true. Johnny did a stupid thing in the swimming pool yesterday afternoon...

Tomorrow I have to take him in to find out if it's broken.


I found the vaccum bags.

In the linen closet.

Of course!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Gone Swimmin'

Here's what we did yesterday:


And then


And a little bit of


And then went swimming!

Here's why:

First of all, the Kid called on Friday night to say that he would be here in the morning to put the furnace in the basement. Probably not install it, but just bring it in. It's big, and it's heavy, and he said he'd need four Big Strong Guys to get it down there: himself and his helper, Johnny and -- could we provide another Guy?

(There was a time this sort of thing would have got my Paglias all in a twist, but #1. I've decided it's kind of nice not to be expected to help out with dirty, heavy stuff, and #2. my back hurts.)

But this was eight o'clock on Friday evening, and were talking about 9:00 or so Saturday morning. Johnny was up at the pub. Who was I going to call -- who was going to be home right now and free tomorrow -- to ask them to report in twelve hours for heavy, dirty work?

I called Andy. Good old Andy. I caught him in his car on his way home, and I think he'd had a few, so I really didn't want to keep him on the phone. Best use all available brain cells for driving, Andy, even if I really wish you weren't doing that. I nutshelled the situation for him.

Well, first he misunderstood. When I said "put the furnace in the basement" he thought I meant install it. When we cleared that up, he told me we didn't need four guys and what was the Kid's phone number, he'd set him straight. No, no, Andy. Thank you, but that's all right. Can you help us, though?

Nope. Had to help Mom.


There were three other Guys I thought to call. Both George and Chris would come, I knew, but they both have kids and it just felt wrong to ask them on such short notice. Then there was John B.

You remember John B. -- the one that bit the head of the asshole neighbor guy when they were back in high school? He's a nice guy (despite the fact that he once bit someone on the head), but Johnny says that he's afraid of me because I'm a Big Strong Woman (did I mention this is a 6'2" bear of a man who once bit someone's head?). He doesn't talk to me when he telephones for Johnny, doesn't stay to chat if he stops by and Johnny isn't home -- he recently lent us a roller and wanted to leave it in the car rather than bring it to the door and hand it to me -- but he does sometimes bring me presents. A patriots doo-dad, a six-pack of IPA. I was pretty sure John B. would help if Johnny asked him, but I didn't know what he'd do if I should be the one to make the call. Besides shit himself, that is. So I waited for Johnny to come home.

John B. was busy, too. Or else just a big old fraidy-bear.

So Johnny and I made the executive decision that four Big Guys wouldn't fit on the cellar stairs all at the same time, anyway, and if some extra hands were needed, I was capable of helping out even if I am a Little Girl. So we went to bed, resolving to tell Kid when he called at 9:00 just to come on over.

Ahem: when he called at 9:00...

We waited, but he didn't call until 11:30, and then to say that he was just finishing up a job and would be right over. So we waited.

We waited, and at 2:00 the Hills called to invite us to go swimming in their pool. We said we yay but that we couldn't leave until the Kid showed up. I considered throwing Johnny under the bus and splashing in without him, leaving him behind to meet the Kid -- but that felt mean, and so I waited.

We waited, and Kid called at 3:00 to say he'd only finished, he was just going to have a wash and he'd be here. And so we waited.

We waited, and we called him at 4:45 to say we're going out, don't bother, but he swore he would be here in twenty minutes. So we waited.

We waited, and at 5:25, we left. Put a note on the door saying "Gone Swimming" and took off.

It wasn't even hot anymore by the time we jumped in the pool, but jump we did. When we got home there was a note from him, saying he'd taken some measurements and he was sure that it would fit, saying he was sorry for making us wait like that, saying he'd be calling us tomorrow. Not that measurements were ever a question, really. Not that I hadn't already taken them and told him so. Not that there was any reason for him to have come over yesterday at all if he wasn't going to actually bring the furnace in the house. Not that he could have done that by whatever time he did show up, because we had gone swimming.

And here we are today, Sunday, waiting for him to call. It's 12:59 p.m., and there's no word yet.

We're giving him another hour...

And then we're going swimming.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tara's Poem

Misanthropic I am not
(or, okay, maybe just a spot).
There are things about the Pack,
Brattish as I am, I lack.
I absorb their indiscretion
But not their laissez-faire direction.
The Breakfast Club defined my youth
(perhaps that's why I'm so uncouth),
But Tara's too -- uncouth, that is --
For recognizing Bender's biz.
(I've never even read Moliere
but I referenced his ass up there...)

Oh My Head

First of all, sorry. All this time I’ve been saying “spin-sander” when I should have been saying “orbital.” (I’m sure some of you knew that when you saw the picture. Thanks for not being all know-it-all about it and pointing out my linguistical faux pas.) There is a spin-sander down there. It’s a big, scary, industrial-type thing that looks like it wants to take your face off. I ain’t touchin’ it.

Second, in Johnny’s defense, it turns out those shelves are for George’s tools. Our friend George, who is a mechanic and fixes Chuck (TFT) when he breaks down (which is always). George lives in an apartment and so doesn’t have a basement; he’s been storing his tools in ours for donkey’s years. So long that I forgot. And apparently I’m the one who put our spin— sorry, orbital sander on George’s shelf (which is probably even true, since I’m the last one who used it, and lord knows Himself never just spontaneously puts something away). Johnny didn’t look on George’s shelf, because it’s not where our stuff belongs.


But the worst of it is third.

I have to sand again. And not just cuz Johnny said so. I knew it as soon as I looked at the thing this morning. It’s the shellac. It’s not like paint or poly. You can’t just buff it with an emery board and expect the paint to stick. And that’s what 150-grade sandpaper is, essentially. A big old girly nail file.

I asked Johnny’s opinion, because I hoped there was a chance he’d say it was okay, but he didn’t. I have to go to Blowe’s and get new pads for the or-bi-tal-san-der. And more by-hand stuff too.

“Blowe’s” is right.

This does.

Holy Crap

I actually did it: I sanded the g-d door. Yesterday afternoon. I didn’t even know I was going to, but before I knew it, it was done. I cleaned up the mess and everything.

And now that I have, now that it’s over, let’s examine the particulars of spin-sanding – shall we? First off, you have to have the proper pads. Second, in a perfect world you’re wearing goggles so’s you don’t get door-bits in your eyes. Third – well, I don’t know what third base is because I’m a good girl.

I had four different kinds of pads, but none were exactly right: too big, too small, the holes don’t line up, not sticky. I chose the one that seemed most likely to stick to the spinner (too big). I couldn't find anything on the package to tell me what grade it was, but when I peeled the backing off, it said it was 150 – so way not anywhere close to the 60 Johnny gave me. But oh well.

I stuck on the pad and turned on the machine (goggles? I don’t need no stinking goggles!), put it to the door and—

Did someone say "spin-spun hypnotic vortices"?

…and then the pad went flying – ptew! – straight down the hall.

You know what? I was right. I’m just not cut out for this spin-sanding thing.

So, even though I wasted three days sitting around convincing myself I wouldn’t have to, I picked up the non-power #60 after all.

Scratch-scratch. Sand-sand. Rub-rub…

Yeah, no. This ain’t what’s gonna happen.

I tested out the other kinds of pads, but the 150s really were the only ones that stuck, so I just resolved to pushed harder and never let it come up off the door while it was spinning. I held on to the bucking thing for dear life – especially up around the top bits where the windows are – because I was convinced I’d lose control and send the damn thing through the glass.

The glass survived, but being so close to it reminded me that, even if I was the Spin-Sand Mistress of the Universe, I was still going to have to hand-do the edges by the windows and all the decorative panel corner crap.

God do I hate sanding!

And so on and so forth until I’m on my hands and knees with the vacuum cleaner, sucking up all the mess I made. Once I’ve got the dust off it, the lower right panel doesn’t look exactly sanded after all, so I hit it with the #60 and now it looks like crap, but who cares? It's getting painted!

And that’s it. I’m done. I considered carrying the door back to the kitchen, but screw it. I’ll move it if the Kid shows up, but otherwise I’m painting it right there.

After all, how many times should I have to haul the thing around?

PS Kid called. He’ll be here at 9:00.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mom, It's Broken

Where would you look for a spin-sander, if you were looking for one? I mean, if you knew you had one, and if you knew there was a shelving unit in the basement where all the tools were supposed to go... Would you look on that shelf?

And, if someone told you he’d looked everywhere and couldn’t find the spin-sander, would you assume that he’d looked on that shelf? Because that’s where I would look. To start with, anyway.

In fact, that’s where I did look. To start with and to finish. Because, you see…

Do you see? Little yellow thing, down in the bottom right hand corner? How's this:

That’s right my dearies. Spin-sander. On the shelf where it belongs. Took me all of fourteen seconds to find what Johnny turned the basement upside down in search of. I didn’t have to move or touch or even look at another thing.

Oh, but when I did move something – when I moved that red metal box which if I’m not mistaken holds a ratchet set – look what I found:

That’s right. Sand pads.

How do boys look for things? I mean, I didn’t even look, I just stood there and the damn thing jumped up and waved. What did Johnny do? Stand with his face against the wall for twenty minutes until he had to admit it wasn't right in front of him and come upstairs?

No, see the thing is – the worst of it is – I don’t even doubt he looked. I know he looked. I know for a fact that he was down there for a half an hour turning things over and swearing a blue streak. Which is why I was so thoroughly convinced the spin-sander really did do the skedaddle.


Mom it’s broken… Mom, it’s broken… Mom it’s broken…

Like School On Sunday... Kid!

I just got home from work, and there's a furnace in the yard. There's a note on the table telling me that there's a furnace in the yard. But there's no Kid.

I don't know. Maybe we got our wires crossed. I guess, now that I thought about it, all he said was that the furnace would be here on Friday. I guess, when I play the conversation over in my mind, he might not have actually said he'd put it in -- but it was a reasonable assumption, don't you think?

His note says he'll call us later, so I'll just sit tight. He doesn't have a cell phone (ahem) and I don't want to bother his wife if he's not home yet.

(Here's a hint for those of you whose spouses don't work in the trades: wives aren't secretaries. Nor are they liaisons, ombudsmen or punching bags. If you call and ask for your plumber or your painter or your candlestick-maker and you're told that he's not home, you leave your name and phone number, say thank you, and hang up. We don't want to hear it. And if you offend, annoy, or otherwise piss us off, we can make it so much worse on you.)

Meanwhile all the back-hall stuff's still in the kitchen, and it's not raining after all. Oh, what the heck. I'll go down cellar and find the spin-sander and listen for the phone. If I find it soon enough, I'll take the door outside and have a go.

I just hope he calls before the game starts, cuz they say my boy's playing tonight!

Please, Panthers, don't hurt 'im!

Doorn't You Forget About Me

I finished heat-gun-stripping that door, when, Tuesday? And I was going to sand it, but I didn’t want to sand it and later find out I’d missed a step and had to sand it again. ’Cuz I’d kill it. I’d kill it, and its fucking parents would sue me and it’d be a big mess and I don’t care enough about it to bother…

So I waited to ask Johnny.

And Johnny said “Just sand it.”

So I killed him.

No, no, nobody’s dead (well, the spider that was crawling on my arm in bed last night – he’s not so much alive anymore. But nobody that didn’t come from hell to begin with has been sent there lately, is what I’m saying.)

Seriously, Johnny says all I have to do is sand and paint and I’m done. That’s it. This whole dirty job will be done with. But he says I have to use the spin sander.

I don’t trust myself with the spin sander. I’m afraid I’m going to leave little spin-spun hypnotic vortices all over the door in little Hurricane Erin patterns. Like the floor in this one apartment that we rented, where someone who obviously didn’t know what he was doing apparently thought refinishing hardwood was a job any monkey could accomplish. Stupid monkey…

I asked Johnny if I couldn’t just use sandpaper, and he said probably not but seriously there was no way I could screw it up. He’d get the spin sander for me and the pads I’d need before we left for work, so I could have at it in the afternoon. This would have been Wednesday afternoon.

Except he couldn’t find the spin sander. And if he can’t find it, I sure as hell don’t know where to look, because have you seen our basement? He did bring up a piece of rough (#60) sandpaper for me to use, but I wasn’t going to sand with paper if I was only going to have to go over it again later when the spin sander showed up…

So the #60 paper has been sitting on the windowsill in the back hall for going on three days. Right next to the door (going on, erm, three weeks? longer?). I was going to have at it yesterday, but when I got home from work there was a message from the Kid. The furnace is coming today! Which meant I had to clear out the back hall so they’d have room to lug it through. And you know the rules: anything related to the furnace project counts as a house-job for that day.

Oh, Prudence, you are so smart!

You might remember that I did this once before, but Johnny put everything back one afternoon because we didn’t know how long we’d be waiting for the furnace and he was tired of having to reach over the bookcase to get himself a Jammie Dodger in the night (he’s not that tall, my Johnny, and he does love a sweetie in the wee smalls). So I took the hour that I’d set aside for sanding and watched my Secret Dirty Boyfriend with it instead. During commercial breaks I moved the door, shoved the bookcase, sorted the recycling.

(My SDB was in another wetsuit, by the way, and I’ll tell you this: I don't know if he’s a big gay homosexual or not, but I’m fairly certain he’s no son of Isaac – or Ishmael, for that matter – if you know what I’m saying.)

So I can’t sand that door this afternoon, because it’s in the kitchen. I could take it outside, but it’s raining (too bad). Prudence did say that anything to do with the furnace project counts as work, and writing checks can be damned exhausting…

I’ll tell you what? Well, actually, no. I was going to say I’d at least find the spin-sander if it killed me, but the Kid’s going to be down cellar all afternoon, and I wouldn’t want to be in anybody’s way…

CONTEST ALERT: Anybody want to explain that first paragraph for those who weren't in high school in 1985? I'll write a poem for whoever gets it first. (PS The title's another hint. Hey, it can't always be Shakespeare...)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

EGE's Head Is On Straight Now

Okay. I'm sorry. I moved my site and I funked up my feedburner account. Some of y'all were kind enough to resubscribe but I funked that up too.

I thought the internet was broken, but thanks to my good and patient friends over at houseblogs, I realized that the problem was, in fact, me.

Or "I", as my new name would have it.

But this time I really and truly fixed it (there are so many steps to these things!).

So if you're a subscriber-type person, please to try once more. It won't change again, ever ever, I promise. Swear to god. Swear on my new cell phone (and you know how much that means to me).

And if you ain't subscription-service types o' folks, you ain't and nuthin wrong with that. Keep coming back the same ol' way.

I don't care how you gets here so long as you does...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Omnis Cellula a Cellula

I bought this:

I had to buy it. I didn’t want it, I’ve never had one, but I had to do it. I couldn’t put the damn thing off for any longer.

Seriously, think about it: there’s no way George Bush can win again next year, no matter what the diabolical booby does, and whoever takes his place is going to be needing bucketfuls of Prudential advice. Who else would they call? I’ve got to be reachable.

Now, I know that saying-so will lump me in with the sorts of folks who claim to never watch TV and listen just to public radio, but I hate them. Cell phones, that is (and, okay, those sorts of people too).

I’ve resisted it this long, partly because I’m busy enough when I am available. It’s kind of nice to know that while I’m walking around, or commuting, or actually at my (non-landline) job, no one’s going to accost me. Unless they want a dollar, which I don’t have to give them, anyway.

Which brings up reason #2 I’ve resisted for so long: I can’t afford it. I mean, I acknowledge that it’s become a thing you sort of have to have (when I got a flat tire on the turnpike and thought I didn’t have a jack – which I did, but that’s another story – I sat on the guardrail and waited for the nice man in the yellow truck to come and help me, and when he did, I told him: “I don’t have a jack, and I don’t have a cell phone.” “You don’t have a cell phone?” he replied. As if it was okay to drive without a jack as long as you had your trusty hunk of Verizon wireless in your back pocket. But I digress…)

I acknowledge that it’s become the sort of thing you kind of have to have these days, but I don't acknowledge it enough to justify spending sixty bucks a month on something I’m just gonna lose. Or break. Or accidentally throw away. (Because you know me...)

Yet another reason I resisted it was: I know it’s clichĂ©, but I hear the conversations people have. Sometimes they’re stupid (“I’m nowhere! Where are you? You’re nowhere, too? Then there’s a pair of us…”). But sometimes they’re important. I once overheard a man trying to find a lawyer for his son who’d just been arrested for vandalism at his high school. Is that the sort of thing to which I ought be privy?

What do I say on the telephone? Do I want strangers hearing it? I mean, reading about my underwear on this stupid blog is one thing, but nobody wants to hear that and have to picture me in it while they do. Trust me. There’s a reason I’ve got an avatar up there.

(Dig me, knowing about avatars ’n’ shit…)

But mostly the reason is, well, um…

Okay, so let’s be honest: I know how these things happen. You get it, you get used to it, and then you’re one of them. I used to hate web logs as much as I hate cell phones, and now look at me. Telling my name the livelong day to an admiring blog…

But anyway now I had to get a cell phone. Without getting into the real reasons why, let’s just keep up the pretense that Hillary, or Barack, or (god forbid) Mitt is going to be needing my advice.

I had it on good council that Verizon was the way to go. I knew I was going to be doing this on my way home this afternoon, but I forgot to look in the phone book before I left this morning, so my plan was to drive around until I happened by a Verizon store (I know I see one sometimes, I just can’t remember where) and if I didn’t find it, then I’d go to the mall. (I also hate the mall, but that’s a whole 'nuther blog post nobody cares about...)

But when I happened to mention this plan to my Lady, she said “Here,” and handed me her (ahem) cell phone. “Call Information. Ask them where to find a Verizon store.”

Okay, fine.

And I did. And they told me. And it was right on my way home. Where I (of course) saw it every day. But not (ahem) where I was planning on going driving to look for it.

So I sucked it up, and I went in. And it was like a freakin’ Bennetton ad in there. Three young men behind the counter: one black, one Asian, and one white. Rub-a-dub-dub…

The black guy was with a customer, the Asian guy was sitting at a station looking like he was waiting for someone to help, the white guy was just milling around. So I tried to make eye contact with the Asian guy, but the white guy spoke over his head.

“Can I help you?”

I tried to go back to my original choice, because I don’t know if they’re working on commission and I didn’t want to get stolen out from under anybody, but Asian guy got up and walked away. So okay, fine.

“I need to buy a cell phone,” I said. “I’ve never had a cell phone, I don’t want a cell phone, but I have to get a cell phone now.”

“Okay,” says White Guy. “Why don’t you come on over here.”

Well, to make a long story medium-sized (short’s off the table at this point), White Guy was very nice. He didn’t try to sell me anything I didn’t need, and it didn’t hurt that he looked a bit like this:
Plus, the brochure he handed me had this guy on the back cover:

So okay. I guess I’ll live.

White guy wanted to know what I needed from the phone itself, and I said "Nothing." And he said “Well, this one costs just forty bucks and comes with nothing. This one next to it is the same thing, it costs $100, but comes with insurance against loss. Or breakage. Or accidental throw-aways.”

How did he know?

So I bought it and I signed on it and choked on it and left.

I have a cell phone.

I’m not giving anyone the number (Mommie Dearest and Poppo excepted), and I’m never making any calls (unless maybe, maybe, unless Chuck (TFT) breaks down). This is just in case John Edwards needs to get in touch to talk about what sub-prime borrowers are thinking, or Hil wants to discuss the tribulations of the uninsured.

And now, for doing that, I deserve this:

¡Ipa! ¡Celular!


We figured out what the PAPs were.

We also figured out that when you're trying to hit "ctrl/i" to make something italic, but you hit "ctrl/p" instead, that means publish... Sorry, to those subscribers who received my three-word accident-post a little while ago. (And to those of you who aren't subscribers and now feel like you missed out on something fabulous -- well, you didn't, but you can subscribe by clicking that giant, gorgeous orange button to the right ------>)

Anyway, the PAPs, it turns out, were screws popping in the walls in our new bedroom. New as in two or so years old now.

New as in was completely rotten when we bought the house and we took it back to studs.

New as in even the studs we used are new although the old ones are still in there, because we put new ones right next to the old ones, because the old ones were too rotten to be trusted any longer, but too close to the property line to be rebuilt if we pulled them out, since there's just a crawlspace under there and not an actual, for-real foundation.

New, as in we spent two years and somewhere along the lines of $20,000 making this room livable again.

New, as in we splurged and went for plaster on the walls.

New, as in (as I understand it, anyway) if we could have used the old studs, they would not be absorbing moisture and swelling with the heat, and the screws would not be popping (but then again, if we could have used the old studs we probably wouldn't have been doing the work -- or, for that matter, have been able to afford to buy Big Bertha in the first place). And anyway, this part may not be true. That drippy door I spent weeks stripping is older than those studs, and it sure as hell absorbs moisture from the air.

New, as in the only thing to do is sit and listen to the PAPs and wait for there to be enough of them to make a patch job worth our while.

New, as in Johnny says "Nothing you can do about it, nothing structurally to worry about. When they're bad enough you punch them in and patch the plaster. Happens in new houses all the time."


As in the kind of house I didn't buy, because it was going to be so much PAPping fun to fix up this one!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

But Soft...

I don’t know where you live, but it has been unseasonably cold around here lately – I bet it was only like 45 degrees last night! Or more like 55. Or maybe 60?

I don’t know what the heck degrees it was, but I know that as soon as I got out of bed this morning I had to run around closing all the windows. Which would have been a smart thing to do before I got into bed last night, so I wouldn’t have wound up suffocating myself with my pillows over my head to keep warm (because that’s so much easier than getting up for another blanket), and I wouldn’t have slept through the alarm clock (because two big downy pillows over your head do tend to muffle noise), so I wouldn’t have lost an hour this morning, which wouldn’t have funked up my whole routine, so I would have been out of the shower long before just this very second (okay, ten minutes; I’m not still wet or anything), and I wouldn’t have had to skip my watermelon-and-“Big Love” Tuesday lunchbreak.

If only there were some modern-type device to tell a gal ahead of time what the weather’s going to be, so she could plan ahead and shut her windows…

But hey, at least it’s not like there’s any heat that’s going to go kicking itself on and warming up the entire eastern seaboard!

Anyway, I shut all the windows and I got my coffee and I sat down at my desk and I thought “Now why's it still so cold in here? And why does it still sound like there’s a window open somewhere?”

Ummmm, could it be this giant gaping hole where your front door’s supposed to be?

Oh! Goody! Crap! You scared me! I thought you had gone back to England, or taken the vow, or died or something. Balls. I mean, nice to see you, how've you been...?

Turns out there is a magical modern device that predicts weather, and it seems to think it might get warm again someday, but in the meantime autumn approacheth, and it mightn’t be a bad idea to have a front door to greet it at when it arrives.

If I hung the blasted thing back up unfinished, Johnny would kill me. (Actually, no he wouldn't. I’d fight him off with photos of the bathroom he’s left half-done for going on a year now. He would be powerless against me…) But Goody would kill me for sure. And, if I were any kind of prudent girl, I'd kill myself.

So I did it. Okay? Are you happy? I finished stripping the g-d door.

Sort of.

I got all the paint off the flat parts, but I’d been admonished – under penalty of death – to get the heat gun nowhere near the panes of glass. Because this is what happens when you get heat guns too near glass:

(Which is also why you never bother to finish stripping that particular piece of window hardware, which you had to leave in place because it wouldn’t come off no matter which screwdriver you used – and, now that you think of it, maybe you broke that glass when you tried to use the power drill attachment and it slipped, and you only told Johnny that you broke it with the heat gun, but, at any rate -- what was my point?)

Oh, yeah: replacing glass in this door is much more complicated than replacing it in a window (which, as you can see, we’re right on top of), so don’t Fugger it up.

So I had to leave the near-the-glass bits the way I found them.

If it’s up to me, I don’t care if they just get sanded and painted over, but I’m sure Johnny will have some big complicated process for doing it “the right way.” Which is the other reason I quit when I did. Because, believe it or not (and you know me, so form your own opinions), I was actually planning on sanding down the door after stripping it this afternoon (or, actually, I was planning on doing it this morning, but old marshmallow-head changed the plans on that one).

But the more I thought about it, I wasn’t sure that was the right next step. And I hate sanding more than anything. And if I sanded it down today, only to have Johnny tell me I had to do something else to it and then sand it down again, I might’ve taken this thing to them both:

And so help me, Goody, if you say one word about the "g-d door" comment I made up there, I'm coming for you next...

Sucking Wind

I cleaned the house yesterday. Sort of. Halfway. All right, all I did was vacuum. But it really, really needed it.

I was twenty minutes (and barely half a room) in before I realized that the bag was full. Which it always is. And I didn't have any. Which I never do, even though I buy them in bulk every time this happens. I think I must stash them in a secret place and then can't remember where. I think someday I'm going to open a cupboard or a drawer or a closet or something and a wave of vacuum bags is going to wash out and bury me alive.

(Please don't write to say "why don't you just keep them with the vacuum?", because the vacuum doesn't really have a permanent place to live. For now we stash it -- well, for now, honestly, we mostly leave it where it lies when we're done using it, until we need to pick it up again -- but if "again" doesn't roll around soon enough (ahem), or if company's coming, then we stash it in the scary cubby under the stairs. But I'm kind of proud of not having filled the scary cubby up with stashy stuff since we cleaned it out a couple months ago, and Johnny -- if he sees one thing in there -- will read it as permission to commence stashing, so I don't want to get that whole cycle started. Although what we're saving the scary cubby for, I do not know.

Anyway, you can only get these vacuum bags by mail order. They're nothing special. Eureka model T. But I think it's a big conspiracy with vacuum companies (and mop heads, while we're at it) to sell you the vacuum (or mop) for cheap, charge you twelve dollars for two measly bags (or one mop head), then more or less instantaneously discontinue the bags (heads) so you need to buy a new vacuum (mop) even though the old one still works perfectly well.

But the internet foiled all that (curses! bwah ha ha). I can now buy counterfeit Model T bags by the dozen for $5. They're probably handcrafted by orphans in Indonesia, but whatever it takes to get the shag carpet off my hardwood floors every six weeks or so, I always say.

I still haven't figured out where to buy those mop heads, though, and I haven't given in and bought (gosh, but I always want to say "boughten" here, don't you?) a new mop yet. So for now I'm still mopping with a (sing it with me: "r-a-g-g m-o-p-p") rag mop I prefer not to think about. Which is why I didn't bother mopping yesterday.

Oh, right, yesterday. So I had no bags and could not run out and buy them, which meant I had to do the whole pull-the-old-crap-out-through-the bag-hole trick, which is just disgusting. I've tried cutting the bag open on one end and dumping it out that way, which empties it out just fine but tape won't stick to the dust-covered mess to hold it closed again. I suppose, now that I think about it, a stapler might do the trick... huh. Wish I'd thought about it yesterday.

Anyway, mostly it's the cat hair and cat litter and cat food in there that gives me pause. Who knows what might have crawled in to eat the kibble and discovered a nice soft nest of woolly, dirty, goodness -- and now I have to stick my finger in? Heeby-freakin'-jeeby. I imagine people without cats don't ever need to vacuum. I imagine people without cats walk around all day in white socks on pristine floors and never feel the need to check the bottoms of their feet before answering an unexpected knock upon the door. (Hey, people without cats! What do you find in your vac bags?)

Here's where it feels like I ought to have a punch line, but I don't. I picked the crud out of the bag and finished vacuuming and that was all I had the energy to do -- oh. Have I mentioned about the vacuum cleaner? About how, when I just about first got it I sucked up something huge (I don't want to think about what it might have been) and a big food/litter/hair wad got stuck in the middle of the wand? And how I tried to poke it out with the mop handle, which worked and which I thought exceedingly clever, but then when I pulled it out the cap end of it popped off and got stuck in there? And I decided there was no way the wand didn't come apart somehow, and so I made it? And it truly was not supposed to? And so ever since I've been vacuuming on my hands and knees?

Well, I wasn't about to throw away the vacuum, was I? It was practically brand new! Although it has been seven years now, so it's not brand new anymore. Still works fine, but maybe I can justify a new one after seven years. But, for those of you reading this who actually know me in person and who right this minute might be thinking "aha, possible present for Erin!" -- just skip it. I'm particular about the vortexes I allow into my life. I need to know for sure the amount of suckage I can get out of something before I'll agree to let it in my home. Or let it be my home, as the case may be...

Yeah, so it takes me the better part of two hours to vacuum the house. Or, since we're being honest here, the three rooms-plus-hall-and-bath I actually accomplished yesterday. I told myself I'd clean my whole office today and vacuum it when I was done, and I had clean laundry all over the floor in the bedroom. We'll see how far I get in the office today, but in the meantime I'm happy to report that I folded all that laundry while watching "Weeds" on DVD last night.

Now, about those bags...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Courtnet #30

When in the crawlspace my knife to go sought,
I summoned up remembrance of its past.
I sighed the lack of many things I ought
To learnt from woes I've wailed my dear life’s waste.
Then did I try and try, fearing to go
Where precious Knife hid in Big Bertha’s blight.
I wept afresh my long since cancelled hope,
And moaned the expense of my many plights.
But ere I grieved for my poor knife-be-gone,
I found a broom to pull the poor thing o'er.
This sad account, this long-protracted moan,
Ended more happily than those before.
And was acknowledged by Courtney, dear friend.
All losses are restored and sorrows end.

P.S. That last line means I got the camera. See?

My knife in the lamplight.

Oh, and Dad? The bag is okay, too...

Signifying Nothing

This first part is not my fault:

Remember my knife? And how I said the other day that it was broken and I found it in my drawer? Well I fixed it. But it broke again. And the pieces of it were in my bag when I cleaned it out yesterday.

When I was going to bed last night – when the game was tied at 24 and I was bored and frustrated – I walked past the knife parts on the kitchen counter and thought “I better put those back in the bedside table drawer for safekeeping.”

Except, when I was walking through the bedroom door, I dropped the knife.

And the knife, thinking it would have a bit of fun, slid four feet across the knotty pine and – sft – down into the little hole where the radiator pipe comes through the floor.

I tried to get it out, but I could only get my four fingers through the hole – old Thumby had to stay outside, preventing Fingers from getting far enough to do anything but push Knife off the shelf of insulation it was resting on and down permanently out of Fingers' reach.

It could have been worse. This could have been a real house, with real floors, where there’s wood and stuff on both sides of the insulation. But we, the AssVac, Big Old Bertha? We have a crawl space. Not under the whole house, but under the addition that is the master bedroom. You go down cellar and walk up into the crawl space through the stairs that used to be the bulkhead before they built the bedroom over the only outside access to the basement.

Well, at that point last night I gave up and went to bed, and this morning I’d forgotten all about it. Until, as I was typing, I looked at the back of my hand and thought “How the hell did I get all those scratche— oh.”

So just now in my pyjamas I went down there. Johnny told me I'd have to cut through the insulation to get at it, and that would fuck everything up. He said that maybe it was a sign: the knife broke last week and had now taken its ownself down through the rabbit hole. Maybe it was just time for me to not have it anymore. My knife had found me on its own, maybe now it was doing its damndest to try and lose me.

Yeah, yeah. Do you think I could just put my hand up under the insulation from the edge?

Because, see, I might have made it sound a little simpler to get into the crawlspace than it really is. Those bulkhead stairs aren’t exactly accessible themselves, because whoever built the bedroom over them also decided there was no reason to properly dispose of an old oil tank when there was a perfectly good but useless bulkhead staircase waiting to be filled. So to get into the crawlspace you have to lean a ladder up against the rusty old oil tank and clamber over. And I really didn’t want to.

But I knew that if I didn’t do it now I would, over time, decide I really didn’t need the knife that badly. And I really did.

(I know that Johnny would have gone in for me, but by this time he’d gone fishing. And I don't mean that metaphorically. And I’m pretty sure he won't be home till ten o’clock tonight.)

There is one other option, though, which is actually how Johnny usually does it – or, I should say, used to do it, when we were still putting in the laundry room and stuff back there. It’s not like he sometimes likes to go into the filthy crawlspace and roll around there just for fun.

The cinder block wall has a hole in it that the other plumbers jackhammered out when they were running the pipes to the laundry room and stuff. It’s about four blocks wide (cinder blocks, not city blocks) with a big old PVC pipe running through it, but you can squish around the pipe and work your body through. Or Johnny can, at least. I’ve never tried.

But it just so happens that this plumber – the Kid – when he was taking down the old pipe yesterday, chose this particular cranny, out of the whole entire cellar, to store the bits and pieces in. Big bits, giant pieces, and this shit ain't PVC. It's too heavy for me to lift. Well, too heavy for me to lift from just the six-inch end that was protruding, when I was in my PJs and before I had my coffee, anyway.

But it was while I was on the ladder with my head in that hole, flicking the flashlight around and pretending to be deciding what to do, that I saw it. My knife! Lying in the dust right by the wall! I didn’t have to cut through insulation, or guess where it might be, or make any stinking decisions whatsoever! It was lying right there waiting for me, and it looked so sad to have been left there overnight…

Because I couldn’t lean the ladder up against the working pipe, or against the protruding pieces of superseded pipe, I had to put the ladder against the wall and reach my arm around behind. Which meant I had to grope blindly through cobwebs and black widow poo, and scrabble around in the dust and the grime on the bottom of the infernal crawlspace.

My arm wasn't long enough. I couldn’t reach the knife. And now I have cinder scratches on my armpit to match the knot-pine scratches on my hand.

I had to shift some stuff out of the way in order to move the ladder so I could try reaching from another angle, and as I grabbed hold of a broom I thought “Hey, I wonder if I could reach the knife with something other than my arm?!”


So I pulled it with the broom, and along with it a big pile of dirt and dust and spider poo which I had to scrabble my fingers through to fish it out. But I did get it. My knife. Phew. It’s still broken, but it’s back. Even if it doesn't want me anymore. I'll kill it before I'll let it leave me for someone else.

Now, I still say I can’t be blamed for any of the above. I accidentally dropped the knife, it made its own pathetic dash for freedom, and I’m pretty proud of myself that I managed to get it back. But here’s the fucking retard part:

I took all sorts of pictures to illustrate this story. The doorway where I dropped it. The expanse of floor it shot across. The hole that it went down. I even brought the camera to the basement and took a picture of my knife in the dust, illuminated by the beam of my Black & Decker flashlight. But, after I took that last picture, I put the camera down on the cement shelf created by that hole the pipe goes through…

And dropped it through the cinder-blocky hole.

I tried to reach it. I put my arm down through at least two and maybe three cinder blocks worth of dank, dark hole, but then I got a little skittish. I’ll try later, when I’m dressed, with a long stick and maybe a really, really giant wad of gum.

But for now, just now – just now – I’m having coffee.

It kind of tastes a bit like spider poo.

Let's have an "Explain the Title CONTEST," shall we? I'll write a sonnet for whoever gets it first...

Did We Win?

It was tied when I went to bed. I don't even know if they go into extra innings for an exhibition game, but I know I sure don't.

Not when we're losing to Tennessee.

I dreamed that a neighbor lady (who does not exist) was letting her toddlers come over and play in our yard unsupervised, and when we asked her not to do that she pitched a tent and staged a sit in with the entire neighborhood. They brought dishes and furniture and everything. But I was afraid to call the police because "I didn't want to start something."

Bodes well for my assertiveness in upcoming ventures, what?

The plumber is about half done, we're waiting now on Keyspan to deliver the furnace. Apparently that's the procedure. They won't just deliver the g-d thing, they want you to get your house torn up and the project half finished and then they make you wait a week and then they call the plumber to tell him they're delivering it to your house. So then he calls you and schedules it and then he calls them back to let them know.

Keyspan. It's how we roll.

I'm taking the weekend off from a bunch of Things. I've got family obligations to attend to tomorrow, and today I have to clean my house. There are empty beer bottles threatening to take over my porch.

And I have to strip that goddamn door.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Take the Gum, Leave the Tahini

Um... I didn't strip the door.

But I have an excuse! And it's a good one, too!

Okay, maybe not a good one. But it's valid, anyway...

(I don't have much time, so bear with me on the typos and the barely-english)

My Lady, a few days ago, told me that she had something she wanted to give me. A pot of hoo-moos-tahini (as she said), that she had bought but tasted and didn't like. It was too garlicky for her, and if I wanted it I should bring it home.

Sure! I like hoo-moos-tahini! So I put it in my bag.

And, um, forgot about it.

Did I mention this was a couple days ago?

So this afternoon I was doing dishes in the sink and there were a few empty hoo-moos tubs in there (because Johnny loves the stuff, which is why I took hers in the first place, and he also can not throw away a usable container) and suddenly I remembered the hoo-moos in my bag.

Quick! Get it out and throw it in the trash! Before Johnny sees it and decides that it's still edible!

Except, when I found it, it looked like this:

There was hoo-moos all over my shoulder bag. Which is not a fancy bag, but I love it. My folks gave it to me for Christmas last year, and I don't think it really is, but it looks like an old Albanian Army bag (which I guess I haven't mentioned yet, but I'm Albanian).

So I pulled out the tub and emptied all the pockets whilst dodging splots of splotting hoo-moos on the floor. There was gum and tampons and allergy pills and pens (more pens, I'm happy to report, than I found in my bedside table), a book and a notebook and a GQ and a Bible (don't ask). And then I rinsed the whole thing in the sink.

See, I love this bag so mujch that I'm shy of washing it in the machine. It's needed it for a while, but I don't want to do it. Or get in the habit of doing it, anyway. I want it to last forever. And, as we all know from our favorite pairs of Levi's: they lst longer if you don't wash them all that much.

But the rinse in the sink didn't do it, so I tossed it in the wash.

And I wish I had a report for you on how the thing turned out, but look what time it is! I've got to change my clothes and get my game on!

Ahhh, that's better...

I'll report tomorrow on the Illyrie bag. And maybe then I'll also strip some paint

Moving The Chains

Remember last week? When I said I had too many things to do and something was going to have to give? And I said I had a solution and you should tune in later to find out what it was?

Well, I kind of forgot. Because, as the days went by, the solution receded and didn't seem quite so solutary (solutive? solutional? solutative?). But here we are at Friday again and I remembered!

Are you ready?

For some...


I can get through Things One through Six if I can get sit on the couch and get drunk and eat crap and scream and yell. Now that football season's here, it'll help me cut that kind of behavior down to once a week...

Keep my head down, my shoulder forward, and keep plowing through. And every Friday, then Sunday, and sometimes Monday night, I get a screaming-yelling, bacchanalian reward.

Tonight's exhibition game (Thing Seven) doesn't start till 8:00, so I might even have time after work (Thing One), if I finish writing (Thing Two) to finish heat-gunning that g-d door (Thing Three) and blog about it (Thing Four).

But I'm putting Thing Six off till next week.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Halfway House

Lookit what happened!

This is just down the road from us.

The foundation cracked, and he hired some guys to brace up the house and fix the foundation, but while they were still on the bracing-up part, the house went kee-RACK and fell into the ocean! Guy was standing right there and watched it happen.

(Okay, it's not the ocean, it's the bay, but still... )

Maybe we're not the unluckiest people in the whole entire world.

Bear With Me...

I'll be fiddling around with this blog over the next few days. I'm trying to redesign it and move to my own domain name, but I've no idea what the hell I'm doing.

So you might come by and see a new title, or a new picture, or nothing at all for a minute or two, but please keep coming back.

I'll be here all the while, in the corner, dancing and singing and hamming my fool head off.


How I love ya, how I love ya... MAAAAAMMYYYYYYY!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rock Me

I'm a hurricane!

Oh yeesh, I just got home from work and I have dinner plans in an hour and there might be a newspaper photographer coming to my house tomorrow and have I mentioned we're in the middle of this construction project and my house is just a pit?

So I don't have time to talk!

Except for, wait a second. That link I put up there, I just noticed is for a hurricane Erin in 2001. So I re-googled to find another, proper link -- to the one I heard is going to hit Texas any minute -- and I found hurricane Erins also in 1989 and 1995.

So why the hell do I come up so often? Am I really and truly cursed? And is this at all related to the reason why everything I buy is broken?

Talk amongst yourselves -- I really gotta go!


Anonymous said...
hot guy who likes sweating and gettin' dirty with other men = GAY! hello? you can't have him. he's mine, mine, mine

Just for that, I'm listening to Ferron.

Today, I am an angry lesbian.

After that, I don't care if my Mikey is a big gay homosexual. He makes my teeth sweat anyway.

But Anonymous? Girlfriend? I'm hatin' you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Little Bit Crunchy...

So I went back to stripping the g-d door. This time I chose the Klezmatics to listen to (because I am, at heart, an angry Jew)…

I’d forgotten, from when I stripped the first half or so of this door (because it was, ahem, not exactly yesterday), that this paint comes off in strips – really, Tara, like a sunburn! And I didn’t even have to put it in the crockpot. Just put the heat gun on it (and find the proper tool to get it started) and shwoop – whole big sheets!

Like this:

Now, the reason it comes off in whole big sheets is also the reason those sheets have that pretty golden color on the back of them: there’s a layer of shellac on under there.

Which is nice, in that it does make the paint come mostly off in those big sheets. But annoying in that the not-mostly parts leave random spots like this:

That shmear like this:

when you try to scrape them off. Which is why it's a good thing I'm not trying to take this back down to wood.

I'm not. Right, Goody?

No, Prudence, just paint it...

Do you know what else? When I hit this door with 750 degrees of heat gun, I got a yummy smell like at the fair. Which means there’s either beetles in the fried dough, lead in the clam fritters, or pine sap in the cotton candy. Or else that's not shellac at all but candy-apple crap.

I’m thinking the beetle theory sounds most likely, it being the state fair and all.

And on that note, I’m calling it quits for the afternoon. Johnny just went to “play his numbers,” so I’m going to take my traditional day-off lunch break that I didn’t get earlier: a half a watermelon and an episode of “Big Love” on demand.

Hey, maybe tomorrow I’ll be an angry Mormon! Except I don’t think I own any Donny & Marie.

I sure as hell hope I don’t own any Donny & Marie…

Goldilocks and the Wee Bear

I've started stripping this door:

Except I'm doing it in the back hallway.

I'll write more about it later, but I had to sneak in here and just tell you that it is not going well.

I got myself all set up with the extension cord and the heat gun, the boom box and Stand! by Sly & the Family Stone (because, at heart, I am an angry black man) -- only to discover that my secret special stripping tools (which are not actually stripping tools at all but they're what I've been using for -- say it with me -- two freaking years) went missing somewhere in this past month of flurry-scurry, move-things-around-a-lot-to-get-them-out-of-this-or-that-person's-way, but-still-not-get-anything-done.

So I got mad and shouty, which made Johnny mad and shouty (because oh, yeah, the job fell through so he's home with me on my day off, which is always a good thing), until I gave up and decided to use the crappy plastic tool I bought back when I still thought citrus stripper might actually work (I also used to think you could get high smoking banana peels -- you try something once, you make a big mess and throw up a little bit -- you learn a lesson about fruit).

The crappy plastic tool folds like a limp carrot when the heat gun hits it. So more mad and shouty from me...

Now he's in the basement -- instead of doing all the stuff he was supposed to do today -- digging through every bucket of everything, determined to find me either my tool (which I've given up on) or something I can use instead. Every five minutes or so he comes up and hands me something, which is either too hard or too soft, too sharp or too dull, and stands over my while I try it out, so I feel obliged to keep using it at least until he walks away.

Thank you honey, this one's just right...

I've got six or seven of them strewn about me now, I've been at this for an hour, and I'm not even 1/4 of the way through it yet.

There's no way I'm finishing this job today...


I've been accused of not really cleaning out the drawer. To wit:

Ladysot said...
Uh, how much of it did you actually clean out - as in throw away? Or, did you just tidy up ('cause we know how long that's gonna last...)? :)

Nice, huh?

So, for the record, let me just remind you...



And, before anybody accuses me of anything else, Sister really did eat this ear of corn:

Though a good second job for today might be to mop that floor.

Also, somewhere in the night I managed to lose my knife.

I hope I didn't (
ahem) throw it away...

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Junk Drawer In The Bedside Table...'s a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.

Ergo, herewith, sans further ado...

Contents of same:

Spare pair of fabu sunglasses. Used to have five pair identical. Now down to the ones I wear and these. The style is called "Dottie."

White kid gloves that belonged to my grandmother. I have her hands, so I got all her gloves. (By which I mean my hands look like her hands: I don't have her hands. Yuck!)

This is not crack:

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you: my poor knife broke the other day. I tucked it away for safe keeping until I was sober enough to try to fix it. Haven't been able to find it since. So this is where I tucked it...

Because where else would you keep the picture-hangers...?

Hey! Sister-cat! Out of the way!

Girlie screwdriver is not a toy, Sister!

Nor is the skylight-crank!


This is the direct phone number to Dad's hospital room. Dad was discharged last October.

I don't know whose phone number this is, but I sure hope he had a pleasant evening.

Apparently I smoke in bed...

...and drink.

Is it okay to throw out the manual for the pulsating shower head if it has a little piece of soggy candy-cane stuck to it?

A tube of Arnica cream my Lady gave me when I fell down the F-O stairs...

...but why so many tubes of Bacitracin?

Expired in January:

Because the drawer wouldn't close if I left them in the box:

Bandaids are not a toy, Sister!

Here, Sister... this:

Yum yum.

Now, where were we? Oh yeah.

Because I do so much mending:

Hot balls are a good late-night snack.

But these I'm throwing out. They are dis gus ting.

Because you never know when you may have to jam...

... or deal a quickie hand of five-card stud.

A pile of assorted extra parts and hardware. Yes, that is a shower head. No, I don't remember how it got there. Or why.

Ooh, gotta keep this. It's the itty-bitty allen wrench in case the toilet roll falls off the wall.

Does this belong to anybody? Seriously, I found it in my car one night after a bunch of us went out to dinner. Sarah? Lisa? Wendy? Apollonia?

Pretty jewelry...

... but am I the only one who thinks this might be a lump of hash?

Aha! The missing button off my overalls! Now I can quit tying them with baling twine...

...but what do I need so many other buttons for?

And a whopping seven cents:

Actually, it's eight cents. I just thought "seven" sounded better. I'm writerly like that, but too integretous (a word I just made up?) to throw a coin out of the picture for the story's sake. Speaking of which...

I'm a writer, for crying out loud, and the thing I've got the least of in my drawer is writing implements? Two pens and a stubby scoring pencil. Good grief.

Okay three pens. But you better watch your back, Sister...

...even if I am thirty-eight years old and still keep a tube of Clearasil in my bedside table drawer:

At least my allergies haven't been so bad this year.

Et voilá! C'est finis!

Because really, where else would you keep the picture hangers?