It's not about the house.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Filled 'N' Gard

Once upon a time -- just a few days ago, in fact -- there was a delicate and dainty, most agreeable Young Lady running around to every grocery store in her local area. She was on a quest, for beets to pickle with onions and eggs, and it was a challenging quest to say the least. But she eventually succeeded, and along the way she picked up a few other things.

One of the items she accumulated in her travels was a can of chocolate-filled hard-candies -- like those her grandmother, and her great-aunts, and all of the Old Ladies she used to know, would set out in their homes at Christmastime. Like these:

(Only not these. But we'll have to make do with this image because said agreeable Young Lady was too fluster-headed to remember to take a picture of the can she bought, before Her Johnny put the can out with the recycling. And then all of a sudden -- poof! -- the can was gone):

This was some days ago, and when Agreeable and Delicate Young Lady eagerly showed Her Johnny what she'd found, he expressed his fond approval. But when she moved to open said can and put the candies in a dish, Her Johnny did protest.

"They'll just get all gross and stuck together," Her Johnny importuned. "At least wait until we're finished canning, so there won't be steam from giant, boiling pots floating throughout the house."

"Okay," Young Lady said. And then, when Her Johnny ducked into the bog, she did it anyway. He knew she would, and he emerged shaking his Irish head.

"So?" Young Lady said. "I wanted to, and so I did. You're not the boss of me. Besides, look how pretty the candies are in the bowl your sister gave us!"

His sister had indeed given them that bowl, as a wedding present after they eloped. Waterford cut crystal, it is, direct from the Old Country. And does it not look like it was made to hold these candies?

Well. Young Lady and Her Johnny went ahead and canned those pickled beets, and Young Lady enjoyed selecting candies from the crystal while they did. Some days went by thereafter, in which Young Lady all but forgot about the candies and the dish -- what with some excitement going on regarding hot chocolate and Christmas Peeps. But eventually, returning home from work one early Friday afternoon with a hankering for something sweet, she remembered, and reached out for, her old friends.

They were stuck fast. So fast, in fact, that our Young Lady could turn over the Waterford and not a single candy would drop out.

They are still pry-loose-able, but if Young Lady does not remove them soon she may find they'll yield to nothing short of Girlie Screwdriver -- an act which would be verboten by Her Johnny, and which Young Lady dast not disobey.

Why? Because this...

...if you turn it rightways and zoom in...


Garda Championship
Group Three Winner

So the moral of the story is: If you're going to recycle tournament trophies as wedding presents, make sure you're Irish when you do it. Because then it's hysterical and it makes Young Lady love the present even more. It also doesn't hurt if Young Lady once spanked said Gardaí's ass at snooker -- a game which, to that point, she had never played -- so she can pretend she won the trophy from him fair and square. Even if she suspects he really won it playing golf.

Oh, and also: If you
are this Delicate and Agreeable Young Lady, listen to your husband when he tells you about candy. It is yet another thing about which he knows whereof he speaks.


Johnny finished the shower!

On Wednesday night, when Johnny was supposed to be putting the second coat of caulking on the shower, after which we were supposed to be embarking on our "other kitchen project," John B. showed up at the door. With a twelve-pack of Bud Light. For himself.

John B. is in the process of buying a house (cue the violins). It's not his first house. He bought his first house with his first wife. She still lives in it. He still pays the mortgage. After something like fifteen years. There is no second wife. And he's been renting.

When did I turn into James Ellroy? Gag.

Anyway, First Wife is getting married in a couple months, which means John B. no longer has to pay her mortgage, which means he can finally-finally-finally get A House Of His Own. Yay, him. He found one for something like $240,000, in somewhere like Abington. He's supposed to be closing in a couple weeks and he is all excited.

Now, Johnny and I have a policy when it comes to friends of ours buying property in general: we mirror their moods. We offer no advice, no opinions, no dampers on their enthusiasm or encouragement towards same. If they're happy, we're happy, and if they're sad, we're sad. If they're overwrought and suicidal, well, we won't tie the noose but we do let them know they're always welcome for a beer.

John B. was ready to hang, but he was tired of drinking Johnny's regular-old Budweiser and so he'd brought his own. (Me, I tend to avoid the entire Anheiser-Busch milieu, but I'm always surprised by what snobs Bud Light drinkers are -- they're always like "Bud? Why are you drinking that crap?" As if Bud Light is the goddamn champagne of beers or something. Hey, wait a second...)

Turns out the seller is splitting the property in half, and John B. didn't know that. He thought he was buying a big old yard and he was making plans for swimming pools and everything. Of course, the intent to split was probably disclosed at some point -- if nowhere else, then at least in the square-footage of the delineated property. But if he didn't read the fine print and just assumed the yard attached to the house when he saw it would be the yard he got, well, let's just say he wouldn't be the first. And they're asking $180,000 for the other half-a-yard.

Now, since he's been paying the mortgage on First Wife's house and rent for himself for whatever, twenty years, he hasn't exactly saved up a down payment. He borrowed $15,000 from his mother for it. Which, I haven't asked too many questions, but I have to assume he's signed the P&S already, in which case he won't be able to get it back. Not if the intent to split had been disclosed, which I have to believe it was.

What it boils down to is he'll be moving about forty-five minutes away, to live next door to a construction site and an eventual next-door neighbor whose house he'll be able to lay hands on from his own. Yay, him. So Johnny sat with him in the living room while he got drunk on Wednesday night, and I sat in my king-sized bed watching "Pushing Daisies" (my new favorite show) and sulking about my shower.

Hey, when I said I mirror their moods, I never claimed to swallow any tantrums of my own.

So yesterday, on my way home, I ran into Johnny on his way up the street. When he told me where he was going I got really-really mad, and I may or may not have peeled rubber away from him when he asked me for a lift. Then I got home and found his note:

"Hello Love,
Your shower's all set and dinner's ready to go. I'm going for smokes and a quick pint. It's 4:00. I'll be back in an hour."

He wasn't. He stayed for two. But can you blame him?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Guess the Answer Is No

I awoke this morning at 5:45 and I don’t even have to be at work till noon. I don’t work out anymore since I hurt my ankle, and I’ve given myself a vacation from the writing till the end of the year (not everybody knew that; now they do: Hi, Everybody!). I don’t have anything to do.

The only reason I was up so early is that the stupid radiator in the bedroom – now that it actually, finally gets hot – has a water hammer that it never had before. And I thought steam radiators did not get water hammers.

(Water Hammer, for the uninitiated, is that loud BANG that happens deep inside the pipes. The noise is made by water – hence the name; clever, eh? – and apparently it can cause damage over the long term. Yay.)

This one is not that loud, not yet. But, like I said, I thought steam systems didn’t get them.

In our last apartment we got water-hammer super-loud – loud enough to (seriously) wake the neighbors. And I didn’t care, because that’s the beauty of paying rent: not having to give a hoo about anything that’s not a direct threat to your life. That place had hot-water heat, and I was under the impression that the hammering was caused by air bubbles trapped in it.

I gather I was right as far as that went. Yay, me. But now I learn that hammers are also caused by water-bubbles caught in steam. I didn’t know that. Now I do. Yay, me.

I’m still confused about a lot of other things, however, steam-system-wise.

For example: I’ve been told by actual, honest-to-god plumbers (who had been called here, and were inches from getting paid for, this express purpose) that steam systems don’t need to be bled. That was years ago, when we were trying anything we could think of to get ourselves some freakin’ heat. But now that we’re warm I wonder: if one does not bleed the system, how does one get rid of water hammer?

Also, all those years when I was wearing hats and scarves and ski parkas to bed each night for six months of the year, lots of people told me I could regulate the system by dialing certain rooms down to lower levels and other rooms all the way up – thereby “forcing” the steam out to the desired radiator. It never worked, but once I set it that way I just left it, because at least it didn’t make things any worse.

Now I read that steam radiators are supposed to be either all the way on or all the way off. I read that terrible things will happen if I leave them in between. I’ve gone around now and turned them all up in the meantime, but which is it?

Except I haven’t technically turned all of them all the way up, because plus also? The other radiator in my bedroom? (There are two, the big one hammers and then there’s this little one.) If I turn the knob all the way to “open”? The entire knob-piece comes off in my hand.


And then – it wasn’t on when I took this picture, but when it is on – hot steam shoots up through the hole and you have to push the piece back in like the Little Dutch Boy. The Little Dutch Boy, that is, with his hand-skin coming off in sheets.

Finally, there’s these air-vents, or air-valves, or steam-either thingmabobs.

I don’t know what to do with them. If I turn them to “open,” steam hisses out – which I’ve read should not be happening. But I’ve also read they should not be turned to “closed.”

What I need is a tutorial on this entire thing, but I am not calling the Kid back here (or his mysterious, supposed-father) and I don’t want to wind up paying somebody else to do nothing but walk in the house and fiddle with some knobs.

Johnny says I should call the gas company and see if they’ll send somebody out, but the last time they sent somebody out he showed up in a suit, with dollar signs where his eyes were supposed to be. Plus I’m flat-out tired of dealing with the farty old gas company.

I think what I’ll do is stop off at the plumbing-supply place on my way home this afternoon, see if I can’t get those air-valve screws I was looking for a month ago. I’ll ask those guys up there if they’ve got any pointers regarding this whole mess. And if they don’t, then I guess I’ll have to try my luck with national “lower case’ gridspan.

Of course, any pointers anybody wants to leave here for me would be appreciated. In fact, let’s turn it into a GAME – and let’s make up some rules. I can’t police it, but we’ll go on the honor system:

You’re not allowed to read anybody else’s comments before you post your own. Just tell me what you think, or what you heard, or what you found out when you googled, and then you can go back and see what other people had to offer.

Let’s see whether we come up with a list of corresponding advice I can trust – in which case I’m the stupid one, again – or if we get a list of contradictory ideas like I’ve come up with so far. In which case, I guess, that proves that I can read. And if we don’t get anything, then that proves nobody loves me after all.

(Oh come on, how can you not play after such a naked grab for the heartstrings?)

However it shakes down, I’ll turn the results somehow into a (hopefully) funny post.

So be warned.

Oh, and bonus points for anyone who wants to explain the title. This one should be easy…

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Here Is What You Have To Do

Step 1: Get yourself some Christmas-edition, peppermint-flavored Peeps. You can’t see it here, but instead of sugar on the outside, they have what tastes like very finely crushed-up candy-canes. I know there are two schools of thought on the whole "Peep" issue, but as far as I’m concerned, if you don’t like them, you are un-American.

Step 2: Make yourself a really, really giant cup of cocoa. Johnny insists that this isn’t, in fact, cocoa. He says it’s hot chocolate. I don’t know what the difference is. He is un-American.

Step 3: Ta-Da!

Step 4: L.L. Bean flannel pyjamas aren’t such a bad idea at this point, either. Hi, Sister!

I wasn’t going to do any of this until much, much later tonight, but I wanted to make sure you all got the message before you left your desks, in case you need to stop for Peeps and cocoa on the way back home. Plus I’m having post-dental traumatic owies -- again -- so I’ve decided to eat cocoa-’n’-Peeps instead of my main meal.

It’s so good, tomorrow I might just have to go buy up all the Christmas peppermint-flavored Peeps that I can find, so I can have Peeps-’n’-cocoa all year long.

Johnny sez I better get more cocoa, too. I sez there’s always cocoa, but pep-peeps are only here for a limited time. Check with your local retailer and buy your supplies now!

Pickled Beets & Eggs!

I know you probably think that title is some kind of joke -- like a new swear-word I made up or something -- but it isn't. It's what Johnny and I did with our yesterday. And by "we" I really do mean both of us, and by "yesterday" I really do mean that it took all freaking day.

See, a couple years ago, the Lady I work for mentioned that her mother used to make pickled beets and eggs when she was little, and she loved them. Said Lady is in her mid-sixties, not a big fan of "things" around the house, and rather fond of Mother Earth and All Her Creatures. So, when she mentioned this particular gustatory madeleine, I filed it away in my trusty noggin. Every year for Christmas since, we've given her a thing or two out of the Heifer catalog, and a quart or two of pickled beets and eggs. She loves it.

Except we've never managed to grow the beets ourselves. When we try, we get acres of beet greens and a couple bloody-looking peas. So we have to buy them at the grocery store -- and, if you've never noticed, fresh beets are apparently not the biggest sellers. At least not at this time of the year.

Remember the other day when I said I went to nine different stores in search of shower curtain rings? Well, that was not 100% true. I was also looking for beets. I went to four different grocery stores looking for beets (I checked for the rings while I was there, so I'm not completely lying), and I came up with exactly two bundles. Eight beets. So yesterday I tried three more stores, and came up with another two. Bundles, that is. But that would have to do.

Onions aren't so hard to find.

Or eggs.

Unfortunately, when we were ready to begin in earnest, I realized I forgot to check if we needed vinegar, so I had to go back out.

And when I got back with the vinegar and read the recipe again, I realized it said cider vinegar, so I had to go back out.

And then we didn't have enough brown sugar. Argh.

So from here on it was Johnny's job: cutting up the onions...

cutting up the beets, with the inherent bloody aftermath...

(Johnny insisted I wanted a picture of his bloody hands with the cut-up beets, to give it context. I didn't, but here it is anyway, because I'm all into marital harmony these days.)

I measured out the spices and put them in the tea ball -- you're supposed to use a cheesecloth, but who knows where the hell the cheesecloth ever is? -- while Johnny measured out the sugars, vinegar and water.

And then we remembered we hadn't sterilized our jars. So we had to put everything aside and sit and wait for the giant pot to come to boil.

In the meantime, I read Johnny a New Yorker article by Peter Hessler about why Chinese people are such terrible drivers. He laughs about this all the time, and it used to make me nervous that he did. I thought it was a racist thing. But this article explains -- humorously, but factually -- that nobody over there had cars until about ten years ago, and the driving schools are allowed to teach essentially whatever the hell they want. So they turn out nervous, awful drivers. Apparently, it's true.

(Another thing about Chinese and Johnny that used to make me nervous is that he says "Chinee" -- as in "where did that Chinee learn to drive?" Only about two years ago did I figure out that, to a dyslexic Dubliner, "Chinee" is the singular: one Chinee, two Chinese. It's not right, but it's not racist, and he's been saying it for 47 years so I just let it go.)

Eventually the water boiled, and Johnny packed the jars.

Then he poured the syrup into them, and for some reason it was my job to place them back in the hot water bath. Probably so that it would be my fault when one of the lids turned out to have a pinprick in it and that jar had to come out for an emergency lid-switcharoo.

The recipe said to process them for thirty minutes, but that sounds excessive (doesn't it to you?) so we process them for just fifteen. We've done it every year like this and no one's keeled over yet.

Ta da! (Those little white spots are where the eggs are touching the sides of the jars; they'll turn purple as they pickle.)

Except, the whole reason I started taking these pictures as we went along in the first place was because I wanted a shot of the shite sink with all the bloody beet juice in it.

(That's supposed to say "white sink" but I like the typo so I left it in. Actually, it's not a shite sink. It's pretty almost new. About a year and a half. When we did the beets thing last year my heart stopped a little bit, but it turns out that the beet juice washes easily away. Which leads me to...)

I forgot to tell Johnny I wanted to get that photograph, and he drained the beets and cleaned the sink while I was out getting the vinegar. Or the other vinegar. Or the brown sugar. I forget.

All that remained of gore-mess in the sink was this one fingernail-sized bit of stupid skin, which doesn't even look as meagerly disgusting in this picture as it did in person.

Ah well, it's finished. And tonight we have a whole new Christmas-related kitchen project to embark on, but I can't tell you about that one because the person we're making it for might actually be out there reading this dreck. If you can imagine.

Oh, yeah, and it probably won't be tonight after all. Because I have another dentist's appointment today and I'll probably have to come home and crawl in bed with my pop ice and my Dirty Boy.

Pickled beets and eggs!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Seriously... am I supposed to write like this?

And here's the same picture with explanatory notes, just for s&g:

Not Even He That Hath Her

He did it. I nagged and shrieked and generally shrewed myself into a Katharina frenzy until he had to do it just to shut me up.

I’m talking about the caulk.

He said the stuff we had was probably not good enough. I said “Is there silicone in it? Then it’s fine!”

He said the marine caulk he was talking about was specially made for just this sort of thing. I said “I don’t believe there’s any such thing as marine caulk!”

He said John B. told him that some showers aren’t designed to be caulked, and that we’d best be sure that this one was or else it might just wind up trapping moisture. I said “Oh yeah? You think there’s meant to be booger-strings of mold creeping down from behind the plastic when I’m in the shower?”

He said – oh my god – he said I should remember that I also had to clean the shower, that maybe the mold I was talking about could have been prevented with a little, you know, elbow grease. I said “I only didn’t clean the shower because I was waiting for you!”

And then I said:

“If you’d done what you were supposed to instead of pissing around and talking to everyone about it, it would be done by now and we wouldn’t have all these asshole opinions to consider!”

He said fine, he’d do it. But if it turned out, next week or next year or later, to have been a bad idea, then I should take note of this moment and remember: Whatever damage happened after this would be entirely my fault.

That gave me pause. For a moment. Then I remembered Kate and shouted “No! You’re the one who told me that it should have been done in the first place! Two years ago! And you’re the one who said we had to do it now! You’re the one who said you would do it – on Saturday! All I’m responsible for is trying to make you keep your word!”

Well, you don’t impugn Johnny’s word-keeping integrity and get away with it, so at this point he shut up and caulked the shower. And while he did, Muskego Jeff left a comment here telling me that there was, in fact, such thing as marine caulk, and that he’d heard it was particularly good for use on shower pans – by which I assume he means (although I haven’t looked it up) the floor part of an insert, standing shower.

The job took Johnny all of twenty minutes, and when he came out the fight was over. Not only had I won, but I’d also eaten a bowl of his homemade turkey soup while he was in there (I’d been hungry when I shrewed him – is anyone surprised?), and I had been proven ever so very slightly wrong. He didn’t know this yet, and with any luck he never would, but the combination humbled me enough to hug him and thank him and tell him I was sorry, that I loved him, and his soup was really good.

He said he'd put another coat on it tomorrow morning (which is now, although technically right now he’s still asleep) and then it would have to cure three days before I could start to use it. And then he sighed and, when gently prompted, confessed his fear that when I did start to use it – as soon as I should set foot in the shower – the floor part would separate instantly from the wall.

I said “Oh.”

I said “I think it’s called a ‘shower pan.’”

And I said “If that happens, we’ll get the Special Marine Caulking that you wanted.

“Okay, hon?”

Isn’t Katharina just the best wife in the world?

Monday, November 26, 2007

He Didn't Do It.

He says "somebody" told him to use "special marine caulk" if he wants to do it right. He says "special marine caulk" costs $28 a tube.

He's going to get a tube of special marine caulking right ... through ... his ... skull.

He's got it coming.

He's got it coming!

He's had it coming all week long.

I'm gonna do it.

And when I've done it,

You'll all agree that it was not wrong.

Like Flynn

I hear Dirty Boy is working on a novel. I wonder if I'm in it!

If not, I'm sure I could still see clear to put aside my cameraphobia and pose with him for a bodice-ripping cover. With him, I said. Not freaking Fabio. Cuz yuck.

Oh, also, I know that this will shock and awe you, but Johnny did not, in fact, caulk the shower yesterday. He spent the whole day on the couch watching stupid tv. I made an apple pie, I folded laundry (which may also shock and awe you), I swept five bags of leaves up off of the sidewalk.

Johnny watched Men in Black. He watched The Librarian. I think I might have even caught him watching Happy Gilmore. Considering that Johnny never manages to spend an entire day doing nothing like this, it didn't really bother me too much. He's not working this week. He can caulk tomorrow. What's one more day, in the grand scheme of things?

But then at 8:05 p.m. he managed to pry his ass from the couch to run in and tell me that "It started!"

"It did?" I said, gathering my water bottle, soda can, and coffee cup. "It's not supposed to start till 8:15!"

"Not the game," he said. "A Christmas Story!"

Now, Christmas Story happens to be my favorite Christmas movie. They also happen to show the thing a thousand times between Thanksgiving and New Year's, plus, if I'm not mistaken, we own the DVD. It was not time to watch A Christmas Story right now. It was time to watch my boys issue their weekly display of utter domination.

But, being the big-hearted woman that I am, and not wishing to introduce disharmony this far into what had been a fairly lazy and good-humored Sunday, I decided to let him watch his movie on the couch. I could watch the bloodbath from the bedroom.

Except the massacre was cancelled and there was a game instead. More interesting to watch, for certain, but come on -- we almost lost! The blame for which I place wholly on my husband's head.

By 11:00 (Patriots 24, Eagles 28 -- and halfway through A Christmas Story for the second time ) Johnny was fast asleep. I crept out and watched the fourth quarter sitting on his toes. Thanks to this, mostly (and a little help from the YACman), the boys in blue managed to pull a final touchdown out of their collective heinies.

(Actually, they pulled two, but there was this guy in garish black-and-white who made believe one of them didn't count.)

So they won. And they've made it to the playoffs (surprise, surprise). But from now on, I don't care if God himself is talking straight to Johnny through the TV in the living room. I will not be going through that agony again.

And he's caulking that g-d shower stall today, or else I'm cancelling the cable.

So there.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

This Is Just Plain Silly

As far as longest place-names go you’ve got a few to choose
First there’s Tetaumatawhakatangihangakoau-
(which continues) –aotamateaurehaeaturipu-
(and then goes on to say) -kapihimaungahoronu-
(and finishes) –kupokaiwhenuaakitanarahu!

They say it means “The place where Tamatea, with big knees
“Slid, climbed, and swallowed mountains – the land-eater, if you please –
“Played flute for his loved one,” but I don’t know who she was
Or why he played the flute for her, I guess it’s just because.

And then there’s Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerych-
(take a breath) –wyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch
I know you’ll be surprised when I tell you that it’s in Wales
Where apparently they buy their vowels just in close-out sales.

This one is like a map, telling you where to find a church.
St. Mary’s by the white tree there – the hazel, not the birch –
Near the rapid whirlpool, the one by the red cave
Owned by St. Tysilio (I’ve never heard that name!).

So you see by comparison Chargoggagoggmanchaugg-
Agoggchaubunagungamaugg is only half a hog.
I grew up right next to it, Muskego Jeff did not
But heard it on the radio and he never forgot!

The translation has something to do with where the Nipmucs met
To share a truce and cast a line and get their sore feet wet
Some think a syllable or two refers to perfidy
By so-called “English knifemen” – but this is news to me.

I grew up thinking that the name meant “You fish on your side
“I will do the same on mine and – if we both abide –
“Nobody fishes in the middle.” It’s a perfect plan!
Too bad that it was fabricated by a silly man.

At any rate, this is the pun that I was playing on:
I’ve got the master bathroom – also known as the suite en –
Johnny has the other one (he keeps it really clean)
And, if we’re very lucky, no one pisses in between!

Seeing Red

I did put plastic on the windows yesterday. Johnny did not caulk the shower. I did have a screaming-yelling, foot-stomping, temper-tantrum in the house all by myself when I discovered this. I tore up the note he left and threw the bits in the air and everything. And then, when I calmed down, I sheepishly picked the whole mess up.

Here’s what happened:

The plasticing (plasticking? Plasticification? Plastifying? Plastation? Plasting? I can’t find a word for this that spellcheck doesn’t underline in red. But then, I just noticed that spellcheck underlines “spellcheck” in red, so what does it know about anything?) the wrapping of the windows went by without incident. I even took the opportunity to put up an honest-to-god, made-for-the-purpose, curtain rod on the rotten windows in my office. It’s just the white-metal, cheapy-cheap kind, but it’s much better than what used to be there. Which I didn’t take a picture of while it was still up on the window, but here it is waiting to go out with the trash:

See? It’s not even really “it.” It’s really “they” – as in “they” are not even really curtain rods but just some pieces of bamboo and metal that we found to help us hide the ugly windows temporarily, and then "temporarily" stretched into three and a half freakin’ years. “They,” as in “they” needed one another because neither piece was long enough to stretch cross the whole window, so the metal rod held the left side curtain and the bamboo held the right. And yes, I had the cheapy metal proper item in the attic all along.

Cheapy: underlined in red by spellcheck. Moving on.

So I put up the new curtain rod. See?

And so what if the curtains are tied back with thumbtacks and baling twine?

Then I hung the plastic wrap. See?

Well, okay, so you can’t see, because it’s plastic and it’s clear. And because when I took a picture anyway, the sun shone through and whited the whole thing out (whited: also underlined in red. Damn spellcheck). So you’ll just have to trust me.

And now begins the saga that would, eventually, induce the temper-tantrum.

I had intended to busy myself around the house while listening to NPR, and then run errands when my shows were done at 4:00. I asked Johnny to, at some point, check whether he had enough caulk to do the shower, and if not I’d pick it up when I went out. At 4:00.

But at 2:30 he decided he needed to make a bread – like, now – and there wasn’t any yeast, and when was I going out already anyway? I should probably remind you all at this point that Johnny doesn’t drive. And I’d also like to mention that This American Life (my favorite show) starts here at 3:00.

Now, Johnny doesn’t sit around doing nothing very well. I could have told him to just wait for ninety minutes, but he was getting yantsy (which spellcheck underlines in red but which is not a typo; I think it’s a Dublin thing), and I was afraid that if I insisted on waiting until 4:00 to run my errands, he might decide he needed to “go for a little walk.” It’s not like there’s not a radio in Chuck (TFT) and besides, if I hurried, I might even make it back.

But he hadn’t checked yet for the caulk. And when he went downstairs to look for it, he wound up shouting up for me to check under the bathroom sink. It wasn’t there, of course. There’s nothing there, not even a cabinet: why did he make me look?

Well, when he came up he made fun of me for not knowing which bathroom sink he meant. I was looking under his, and he found it under mine (where, apparently, it has been waiting patiently for going on two years, laughing at me every time I turned on the stupid shower).

Then we noticed that the tube has a sort of stain on it.

Which led us both to wonder if there’s a leak under that new sink in the new bathroom that we heretofore had never noticed. We agreed, unspokenly, to worry about that another time (unspokenly: underlined in red).

Now, Johnny didn’t know this, but the errands that I planned on running included the finishing touches on his bathroom. It was going to be a surprise. I was going to grab him a black bathmat, new shower curtain, black curtain rings and switchplate (underlined in red), and then set them up in his bathroom while he was caulking mine. So, even though we didn’t need the caulk, my first stop was at Blowe’s.

This post is plenty long enough already, so I don’t think I’ll enumerate the next eight stops I made in my fruitless quest. Suffice to say I missed most of my favorite show and didn’t get home until three hours later, with exactly half of the items on my stupid list, only to find a note from Johnny saying that John B. had shown up and they’d gone out for a pint. Excuse me, let me quotate that: they'd gone out for “a” pint.

(Quotate: underlined in red. Listen Spellcheck, I know, okay? I’m being colloquial. Der.)

I should probably mention at this point that stop number three, out of the nine I made in those three hours, was back at the freaking house to drop off his freaking yeast so he could make his freaking bread while I continued to chase around after the freaking geese.

So, yeah, I tore up the note and stomped and cursed his Irish name. I also threw my three-hours worth of purchases down on the kitchen floor and swore to leave them there till he got home, even if that meant the post-Thanksgiving, on-sale turkey started to grow fur.

But just then my dad happened to call, and he talked me off the ledge. I hung up the phone, picked up my mess – including the torn-up bits of note – and dealt properly with the items that I did manage to find.

See? Switchplate.



Then I watched a couple episodes of Dirty Boy on demand while working my way through the final-markdown Halloween candy that I had so thoughtfully brought home from one of my nine stops for the husband I'd assumed was hard at work. And finally, feeling good and sick, I went to bed.

Johnny reports this morning that he had a grand old time last night. The place they went turns out to be owned by an old friend he hasn't seen in donkey's years, which is why they wound up staying out so long. That's great. I'm thrilled for him. But today, so help me god, he’ll caulk that shower.

Or I will underline his jackeen ass in red.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Okay now finally it’s time for me to write about the shower. Again.

If you remember – which there’s no reason you should because I’ve changed the subject like twelve times since I mentioned it, but – this is the shower in my bathroom. And when I say “my bathroom,” I mean the master bathroom which, except in an emergency, I am the only one to use. As opposed to when I say “the bathroom,” by which I mean the public one that's sometimes also known as “Johnny’s.”

Got it?

In other words, this time, I’m talking about my super-duper, en suite, pod-bay shower:

Which never got caulked up completely when it was installed and I didn’t know that when I started using it and Johnny (let’s be honest) didn’t have the sack to tell me. So the water was getting in the cracks between the pieces, and therefore in the wall behind the pieces, making all this yucky mildew slime that would come oozing out the creepy cracks when I was in the shower.


So I stopped using it for a week or so. To let the nasty thing dry out a bit. Then Johnny, as he says, “bleached the piss out of it.” And I would like to state for the record that there wasn’t any piss in it. Not when he bleached it, anyway. I’m not going to swear I’ve never.

Oh come on, are you seriously going to claim you’ve never?


Neither have I.


Moving on.

Apparently, however, I was wrong to disparage Johnny’s gonadal dimensions. Because when he finished this chlorinated task – and I don’t know the details of how he got Chlorox in all the cracks, but get it there he did – he had the sterile balls to come out and say to me: “You know, Love, you also have to clean the shower sometimes.”


Moving on.

No, you know what? Not moving on. I have to say in my defense, that this bleach job had been imminent for weeks before it happened, and I saw no sense in scrubbing the shower before he climbed all in it with his boots on. Plus he was going to be spraying bleach all over! Why not see what that takes off before I get on my hands and knees?

It’s also true that we were caught in a sort of catch-22. I say “sort of” catch-22 because it’s not really a catch-22, and I hate when people use that phrase for things that just don’t qualify at all. Like, I heard somebody say “I’m hungry but – catch-22 – if I eat now I won’t be hungry at dinnertime.” No, not catch-22 (also not a concept I can understand, by the way: ruining dinner). A catch-22 would be if you don’t eat now you won’t get dinner later. See?

Anyway, we were caught in a sort of conundrum whereby he needed me to stop using my shower for a few days before he’d bleach it, but I needed to know for sure he would bleach it before I’d stop. And since I couldn’t be sure he would until he did, and since he couldn’t do it till I stopped, we sort of circled the wagons round each other for a couple weeks. Hence the soap scum about which Johnny’s sack so prissily complained.

And then the shower broke. So that solved that problem.

The stupid hand-held nozzle for which I never installed the hanger-thing because I didn’t want to put a screw-hole in the wall and risk getting shower-water in there (you decide whether that’s irony or not: no way I’m going there). It had been hanging headfirst by its hose this whole time, occasionally getting dropped and banged around, and this time when I went to turn the jet-adjuster thingy (and I don’t remember why I went to turn the jet-adjuster thingy, but it had nothing to do with Dirty Boy, I swear) it just came off in my hand.


So I started using Johnny’s shower and Johnny, eventually, bleached mine. That, I believe, was this past Tuesday. I’m going to see if I can get him to caulk it up for me today while I spend nine and a half frustrating hours blow-drying plastic wrap onto all the old windows that need replacing.

Then I’ll go buy me a new shower nozzle for my bathroom, and some black curtain rings for Johnny’s. And he wants a black switchplate, too, if I can find one. And bathmat. So it will be full-on, come-up-and-see-me-sometime, bordello décor.

Hey, he's the one who's going to be pissing in there. If he’s got the sack for it, why not?

Anybody out there? Want to explain the title to me for a POEM CONTEST? Don't just google and define it, tell me what stupid pun I'm making...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Sub-Prime Mortgage Massacree

This post is called The Sub-Prime Massacree, and it's about the Sub-Prime, and the Massacree, but Sub-Prime Massacree is not the name of the Massacree, that's just the name of the post, and that's why I called the post the Sub-Prime Massacree.

You can get anything you want, and you don’t need documents!
You can get anything you want, and you don’t need documents!
Walk right in there’s beer in the fridge,
Just a half a mile from the damn drawbridge.
You can get anything you want, and you don’t need documents!

Now it all started four Thanksgivings ago, was on – well, actually was on Groundhog Day, when my Johnny bought himself a scratch ticket. Johnny didn’t live in the scratch ticket store but he lived nearby the scratch ticket store, on the second floor, with me and Him and Her, the two cats. And livin’ nearby the scratch ticket store like that, we got a lot of tickets where our bank balance used to be. Havin’ all those tickets, seein’ as how we had no money, we decided that we didn’t have to be responsible adults for a good long time.

But we got up this day, this Groundhog Day, we found a down payment in one of them tickets, and we decided it would be a friendly gesture to take the ticket down to the Lottery Commission and trade it in for actual cash dollars. So we took the scratched-off ticket, put it in the back of a red Cadillac Sedan DeVille, took passports and licenses and implements of identification and headed on toward the Lottery Commission.

Well we got there and there was a chain along the wall and a big sign saying “Welcome to the Mass State Lottery” and there was Fox News on the television. And we had never seen Fox News on the television before, and with tears in our eyes we cashed that ticket and went looking for a safe place to dump the money.

We didn’t find one. Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the side road there was a fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the cliff there was a credit union. And we decided that one big pile is better than lots of little piles, and rather than empty the credit union we decided to throw our money in there.

That’s what we did, and we drove back to the cats, had a piss-up that could not be beat, went to sleep and didn’t get up until the next year, when we got a phone call from the universe. It said “Kids, we found your name on an account at the bottom of a ton of money, and just wanted to know if you had any intentions regarding it.” And I said “Yes, sir, Universe, I cannot tell a lie. I intend to ignore it for a little while longer.”

After speaking to the Universe for about forty-five days on the telephone we finally arrived at the truth of the matter and said that we had to go down and put that money to some Practical Use. So we got in the red Cadillac Sedan DeVille with the passports and the licenses and implements of identification and headed on toward the realtor’s office.

Now friends, there was only one or two things that the Universe coulda done at the Realtor’s office, and the first was it could have given us a medal for having avoided homeownership for this long, which wasn’t very likely, and we didn’t expect it, and the other thing was it could have bawled us out and told us never to be seen sittin’ on a wad of money like that again, which is what we expected, but when we got to the Realtor’s office there was a third possibility that we hadn’t even counted upon, and we was both immediately bamboozled. Bemused. And I said “Universe, I don’t think I can invest that money with these here blinders on.” Universe said “Shut up, kid. Get in the back of the patrol car.”

And that’s what we did, sat in the back of the patrol car and drove to quote Houses For Sale unquote. I want to tell you about fixer-uppers, which we looked at here. They got three kinds of poison, two infestations, and one major structural issue, but when we got to the AssVac there was five kinds of poison and three major issues, being the rottenest house of the last fifty years, and everybody wanted us to get in on the action around her. So we set to taking twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs or our bank accounts, with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was, to be used as evidence against us.

After the ordeal, we went back to the Realtor’s Office. Universe said he was going to put us in the red. Said, "Kid, I'm going to put you in the red, I want your wallet and your belt." And I said, "Uni, I can understand you wanting my wallet so I don't have any money to spend while I'm in the red, but what do you want my belt for?" And it said, "Kid, we don't want any hangings." I said, "Now there’s an idea," and I handed it over. Uni said he was making sure, and friends it’s a good thing he was, cause what we went through next I wanted to hit myself over the head and drown, and ‘bout the only thing I haven’t done with toilet paper since is roll it out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape.

But first we had to get a mortgage.

We walked in, sat down, with twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures of our bank account, with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one. Universe walked in, sat down. Man came in said, "All rise." We all stood up, and we presented our twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures, and the broker walked in sat down with a seeing eye dog. And he sat down, we sat down. Universe looked at the seeing eye dog, then at the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, and looked at the seeing eye dog and began to laugh, as we came to the realization that it was a typical case of Undocumented Lending, and there wasn't nothing we could do about it. The broker wasn't going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. We was given 5% fixed for ten years and had to pick up the garbage in the AssVac, but that’s not what I came to tell you about.

Came to talk about foreclosure.

They got a final step in buying a house, called Closing, where you walk in, you get injected, inspected, detected, infected, neglected and selected. I went down to get my Closing one day, and I got good and drunk the night before so I looked and felt my best when I went in that morning. `Cause I wanted to look like the all-American kid from Townville. Man I wanted, I wanted to feel like the all-, I wanted to be the all American kid from Townville! I was hung down, brung down, hung up, and all kinds o' mean nasty ugly things. And I walked in and sat down and they gave me a piece of paper, said: "Kid, sign this sayin’ you’re not poor."

And I went up there, I said, "Bank, I’m poor. I mean, I’m freakin’, I’m freakin’ poor. Poor. I eat soup three days a week, I reuse my tea bags. Eat dead burnt hamburgers for breakfast. I mean poor, Poor, POOR, POOR." And I started jumpin’ up and down yelling, "POOR! POOR!" and he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yelling, "POOR! POOR!" And the banker came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said, "You're our boy."

Didn't feel too good about it.

Proceeded on down the hall, skippin’ all the injections, inspections, detections, neglections and all kinds of stuff that they wasn’t doin' to me at the thing there, and I was there for two hours, three hours, four hours, I was there for a long time going through all kinds of mean nasty ugly papers I didn’t understand and I was just having a tough time there. Proceeded through, and when I finally came to the see the last man after that whole big thing there, I walked up and said, "What do you want?" He said, "Kid, we only got one question.

"Have you got a down payment?"

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the Scratch Ticket Lottery, with full orchestration and five part harmony and stuff like that - and he stopped me right there and said "Kid, did you ever cash it in?"

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the Cadillac Sedan DeVille and the Fox News on the television, and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, I want you to go and sit down on that bench that says Undocumented .... NOW kid!!"

And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there. Undocumented’s where they put you if you may not be qualified to get a mortgage after spending all your money, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly looking people on the bench there. Single mothers. Immigrants. Single immigrants! Single immigrants sitting right there on the bench next to me! And the singlest, immigrantest mother of them all was coming over to me and she was mean 'n' ugly 'n' nasty 'n' horrible and all kind of things and she sat down next to me and said, "Kid, whad'ya get?"

I said, "I got 5% fixed for 10 and I have to pick up the garbage."

She said, "What house did you buy, kid?" And I said, "AssVac." And they all moved away from me on the bench there, and gave me the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean nasty things, till I said, "I’m gonna fix it up and sell it." And they all came back, shook my hand, and we had a great time on the bench, talkin about money, real estate, bein’ poor, all kinds of groovy things that we was talking about on the bench. And everything was fine, we was smoking cigarettes and all kinds of things, until the Banker came over, had some paper in his hand, held it up and said.

"Kids, this-piece-of-paper's-got-47-words-37-sentences-we-wanna- know-details-of-the-any-other-kind-of-thing-you-gotta-say-pertaining-to-and-about-the-I-want-to-know-names-and" and talked for forty-five minutes and nobody understood a word that he said, but we had fun filling out the forms and playing with the pencils on the bench there, and I filled out about the scratch ticket with the four part harmony, I wrote it down there, just like it was, and everything was fine and I put down the pencil. And I turned over the piece of paper, and there, there on the other side, in the middle of the other side, away from everything else on the other side, in parentheses, capital letters, quotated, read the following words:


I went over to the bank, and I said, "Bank, you got a lotta damn gall to ask me if I’m a liar, I mean, I mean, I mean I'm just, I'm sittin' here on the bench, I mean I'm sittin here on the Undocumented bench 'cause you want to know if I'm stupid enough to buy a house, burn money, hit myself on the head and drown myself after winnin’ the lottery." He looked at me and said, "Kid, we don't like your kind, and we're gonna send your mortgage application off to Washington."

And friends, somewhere in Washington enshrined in some little folder, is a study in black and white of my mortage application. And the only reason I'm singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if you're in a situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into the bank wherever you are, just walk in and say "Bank: You can get anything you want, and you don’t need documents!" And walk out.

You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't notice. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think it’s performance art and they won't notice them either. And if three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin’ a bar of Don’t Need No Documents and walking out? They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in, singin’ a bar of Don’t Need No Documents and walking out? Friends, they may think it's a movement.

And that's what it is, the Sub-Prime Mortgage Anti-Massacree Movement, and all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar.

With feeling.

So we'll wait for it to come around on the guitar here and sing it when it does. Here it comes.

You can get anything you want, and you don’t need documents!
You can get anything you want, and you don’t need documents!
Walk right in there’s beer in the fridge
Just a half a mile from the damn drawbridge
You can get anything you want, and you don’t need documents

That was horrible. If you want to avoid recession and stuff you got to sing loud. I've been writing this post now for three and a half hours. I could write it for another twenty minutes. I'm not proud... or tired.

So we'll wait till it comes around again, and this time with four part harmony and feeling.

We're just waitin' for it to come around is what we're doing. And while we’re waitin’ we’ll say hello to LadyScot, if anybody out there's still reading. Because she knew Eugene O’Neill and I promised her a poem for that today but I spent all my free time doing this instead. I meant to work her in here somehow, but I got carried away with the circles and the arrows and I just, well I plum forgot. So now she just gets this here chatter while we wait for the chorus to come around again.

And now here it comes.

You can get anything you want, and you don’t need documents!
You’ll wish you didn’t
You can get anything you want, and you don’t need documents!
Walk right in there’s beer in the fridge
Just a half a mile from the damn drawbridge
You can get anything you want, and you don’t need documents!

Da da da da da da da dum
You don’t need documents!

For those of you who know and love me, you should know that, although everything I've said is true, I am not in danger of foreclosure or anything. Not yet!

And for everybody else, if you spam me with email or comments about refinancing, I will post your email on the template of this blog, permanently, for all to see and counter-spam.

Oh, and apologies to Arlo. Somehow, I think he'd understand.

Da da da da da da da dum
You don’t need documents!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Today. Not For the Faint of Heart.

And definitely not for the housebloggers. Here's the rundown:

1. Three hours in the dentist's chair.

2. Verdict = yes, on the hoped-to-be-avoided "gentle shaving away" of the jawbone (and if anybody out there says "of an ass," I'll killya).

3. Plus I also need a little something new called "pocket elimination." Translation? Well, let's say you've decided you no longer want the back pocket on your jeans -- how would you "eliminate" it? Yeah. Exactly. Except this pocket is in my gums.

4. A whole new cavity has been discovered, which has to be dealt with pronto, before above two surgeries can occur.

5. And I need two more appointments that I didn't know about, both of which come after surgery but before I'm done.

6. Plus of course there's still the four I knew of.

By then it will have been five months since this whole ordeal began. Do you think they'll give me permission to skip my six-month checkup?

I don't care if they do, I'm skipping it anyway. So there. Poo on them.

No. No, I'm not. That's how this whole thing started in the first place. Dammit.

I swear to god, my teeth are healthy. I know you all are picturing some English Yuckmouth or something, but I swear that they're my proudest body part -- or, the part I'm proudest of, I mean. I have no idea how proud they are of themselves. Why don't you ask them?


Oh, whoops. I forgot. Taking picture of me, have to point camera other way. Hi, toilet paper!

Okay, now look for real this time:

Michael Rennie was ill the day the earth stood still...

It's not the greatest picture because my camera's (say it with me) ass -- plus there was the whole couldn't-see-the-shot thing -- but those are me, I swear to god. Mine. My never-spent-a-day-in-braces pearly-whites. Real pearly, too, not bleached and capped and polished. Beautiful, like Doctor German said. And virgin.

Well, not all of them. Not anymore.

But if anybody out there says they're sluts, I'll killya.

Well-Learned Politesse

Back in August, when the plumber Kid was here, he had a little incident with an abscessed tooth.


I was slightly less than sympathetic towards him then. I seemed to think I could be -- here, at least -- because I knew he'd never read this. Because, even if he did, I never once referred to him by name.

And, in a cosmic case of karmic whup-ass, I have been in the dentist's chair every Tuesday ever since.

I'll be there this afternoon, in fact. If I'm very lucky, today's work will take only three or four hours and leave me with only three or four appointments left to go. If my luck runs out (because lord knows it's been holding steady so far), then it's the surgery and the bone-shaving and the gum-removal and the black flies in my goddamn chardonnay.

So what made me think it was a good idea to express anything less than utmost sympathy for the Bossman here this morning?

He just called. He went to the doctor yesterday. He has diverticulitis. So badly that they sent him in this morning for a catscan to see how far gone his bowel was, and whether or not any of it would have to be removed. He just got out, but he doesn't have results yet.

And he's picking Johnny up for work this afternoon.

Please, Hammer, if you have to hurt me, can I take gum surgery for $1000 and leave it there, at that?

I don't want to have to wear a bag.

I toyed with whether or not to label this post "houseblogs" or not. This one's not house-related, of course, but it seems only fair to the Bossman that anyone who read this morning's ought to get a chance to read how it turned out. Plus, they do say you get a 30% cushion of non-related poop.

So let's call this one that.

If I Had Any Nerves

Johnny bleached the shower yesterday. Because –

Hey, speaking of which, can I tell you what is worse than hiring an unreliable contractor? Working for one.

I mean, it’s unpleasant and all to live in a construction site for weeks or months while a fella you hired in good faith is in absentia. But how ‘bout if you wake up every day and get ready for work, only to be told to stand down because “something came up”? Or how bout if you’re not even told, just never picked up when you’re supposed to be? And how ‘bout if, when you finally do get to go back to finish, he screws off, and you’re the one who has to listen to the homeowners complaints?

Fun, huh? And that’s not even to mention the paychecks that don’t just automatically arrive in the mailbox every Friday.

So anyway, Johnny bleached the shower yesterday, because here’s what happened:

Last week, Johnny wasn’t feeling well. Very not well, in a manner he would neither want me to disclose, nor would you want to read. (Or, rather, nor should you want to read – judging from my responses to yesterday's post, some of you people are sick, sick, sick.). Let’s just say his euphemism was discomposing.

He worked through it, hoped it would go away, and when it finally didn’t he asked me to make a doctor’s appointment for him on Saturday morning.

Coincidentally, Bossman started feeling poorly in the exact same way on Thursday afternoon. So poorly, in fact, that they quite simply had to knock off early on Friday. And trust me when I promise you that discomposing euphemisms aren’t contagious.

The plan was for Johnny to see the doctor Saturday morning, then call Bossman and go to work to finish what they were supposed to have got done the day before. But when Bossman heard the result of Johnny's examination, he exclaimed “Oh my lord, I have that?” -- and took promptly to his bed. Well, first to the internet for scare-mongering, and then to bed.

(I’m still not telling. Suffice to say we don’t know how it happened, he’s on antibiotics, and it’s not an STD. And, if Bossman really has it, he most certainly did not catch it from Johnny.)

So Johnny recommended that, if Bossman genuinely believed he had the same condition, he should see his doctor right away and start a course of Cipro his own self (no, it isn't Anthrax, either). If he did so, Johnny was sure, they’d both be well enough to work on Monday morning.

Monday rolls around, Johnny's up at five and ready for the Bossman to pick him up at six. Six o'clock, no Bossman. Six fifteen, no Bossman. Johnny calls, no answer. 6:45, 7:30, same.

At 7:45 the phone rang. It was Andy. Sober! He was getting out of work in fifteen minutes and needed Johnny’s help picking up a piece of furniture. Johnny said he didn’t know if he could help or not.

Andy arrived at 8:00, they waited until 8:15, called Bossman one last time, and left. Two hours and fifteen minutes after Bossman was supposed to be here.

At 8:30, Bossman called. I gave him Andy’s cell phone number. I hoped perhaps he’d be picking Johnny up at 9:00 or something but, I found out later, no. He had “a lot of things going on,” he said, and would not be working that day after all.

Like what? I asked Johnny later, when I heard.

“I don’t know,” says Johnny. “Maybe he’s going to see his doctor.”

Yeah, well, maybe.

I don’t know whether Bossman saw the doc or not, but I do know he was supposed to be here at 6:00 again this morning and I know, again, he ain’t. I won’t go so far as to say I hope that Bossman’s euphemism dries up and falls off.

But I do hope it discomposes him a little.

Huh. Remember the shower? This was a post about the shower. I guess we’ll have to wait for it to come around again.

In the meantime, anybody want to finish that quote in the title? For one last pre-Thanksgiving POEM CONTEST?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hey, Housebloggers!

So it turns out that not everyone at wants to read about my poop and dental problems. I mean, my dental problems and my poop -- not my poop problems. Not my poop, either, actually, but all the kinds of poop I manage to find myself in the middle of before I know what hit me. Well, not in the middle of, exactly. Or hit me, either, for that matter.

Not everybody wants to read this garbage, if you can imagine.

So the good folks at have set up a program (not just for me; apparently there are other folks out there posting on poop and dental problems) whereby if I type the word "Houseblogs" waaaay down at the bottom of the post (you see it down there? it's green), then the post will show up on their website. If I don't, it won't.

And I'm only allowed to do that if the post is somehow marginally related to my actual, you know, house. Or, not necessarily my house, but houses or housing. Or anything related to it like heat or gas or oil. Contractors or insulation. Stripping paint off woodwork for two freaking years. Even the President of the United States of America if he happens to mention any of the above. But not if he mentions poop, or dental problems.


For those of you who come here from and are relieved by this development, I deeply apologize and humbly bow from the waist.

For those who come from and actually, due to some old head injury or something, sincerely want to read about my poop and dental problems -- if you get a kick out of my silly poems, stupid pictures and etcetera -- may I suggest that you subscribe (using that big orange button over there --->) or else bookmark me for perusing at your own discretion?

And for those of you who come to me from elsewhere, carry on. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Or his poop.

Or dental problems.

Are You Tired of Hearing About My Heat Yet?

There’s this rebate program out there, offering folks up to a thousand dollars to convert their heat to gas. Technically, it’s supposed to be incentive – for, you know, folks who haven't really thought about changing over yet. And, technically, I didn’t hear about it until after we were done. But, technically I don’t give a holy hoo. Money’s money, right? So I printed out the form.

Oh, I’d say about a month ago.

What follows are my thoughts on trying to fill it in this weekend:

1. Oh balls, they want my account number. Well, I’ll fill out the rest and just hold onto it until next month when the gas bill gets here. And if you think I’ll still know where this form is when the gas bill gets here — oh no wait, I’ll thumbtack it to my wall! There we go. I is so or-gee-nised…

2. Oh, balls! You have to have bought the equipment after September 1? When did we buy ours? How will I ever figure that out? Oh wait, hang on, I’ll check the blog archives… August. Damn. Well, it can’t hurt to call and ask. Do I call Keyspan or GasNetworks? GasNetworks, phew. Will anybody answer that number on the weekend? Yes, and huzzah! He says ignore what the instructions say, they go by installation date – I’m still in!

3. Model number? Balls! Where’s that old email from Keyspan from when I couldn’t find the model number to fill out the warranty? Jeez. You’d think I might have written the damn thing down somewhere. I hope I didn’t delete the email permanently. How many deleted emails are there in this g-d file? Oh good god, I am a chatty little devil, ain’t I? Blah-blah, blah-blah, blah-blah… Aha! Forty minutes later, here it is!

4. Wait, what does ECM mean? Did we buy a “Natural Gas Furnace ≥ 92% AFUE” or a “Natural Gas Furnace W/ECM ≥ 92% AFUE”? I don’t freakin’ know. I don’t know what AFUE is, either, but since both choices are the same on that, I’m assuming I don’t have to. The manual doesn’t mention any of this. Keyspan could probably tell me what I bought. If I asked. But I’m getting tired of this. Let’s just keep moving forward for now and come back to this question later.

5. Huh. I always thought “furnace” and “boiler” were different words for the same thing. Maybe – did we actually buy a “Natural Gas Steam Boiler ≥ 82% AFUE”? At least I know I can rule out the “Natural Gas Hot Water Boiler” – at ≥ both 85 and 92% AFUE – but why doesn’t the owners manual say any of these words in it anywhere? I mean, it might, actually. But there’s no index, and I’m getting tired of flipping through the g-d thing. It appears to just keep saying the same three things in thirteen different languages. Anybody out there speak Mandarin?

6. Keyspan could probably answer all these questions for me. I’ll just call them real quick. Yeah. Real quick my ass. I'm out of practice with this. I forgot about their phone system. And the fact that, on the weekends, they answer their phones but can’t actually answer any questions. Plus, when are they going to admit they’ve been bought out by national “lower case” grid, in some way other than the logo on the Ho Chi Minh tank? Whatever. I hang up after being on hold for twenty minutes. I don’t have the patience for this. Maybe I’ll send an email.

7. Hey, could we get a rebate on the water heater, too? Probably not. That was definitely installed before September 1st. But how would they ever know?

8. Receipts? Oh. Balls.

Well, that’s enough of that work for one weekend. Maybe, if I’m feeling industrious, I will send national gridspan a quick email this morning.

Then I can consider that enough of that for the entire week.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

For the Worms

Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.
If you’re a bird, be an early bird—
But if you’re a worm, sleep late.
—Uncle Shelby

I was only supposed to be playing picture games on Friday, but some folks were apparently having so much fun with it that the requests are still coming in. Never one to let my bleaders down -- especially when it comes to gratuitous humor -- here are a few lazy laughs for Sunday morning.

Whoops, afternoon.

For Jolie (not Angelina):

For Charlie (and even she might not get it):

For Everyone Who Asked:

A picture of me, holding my cat, who thinks he is a human baby and insists on being carted around the house on my ample hip.

You see? I do look like Chloe Sevigny. Exactly. And my face is always flawlessly made up, even when I'm braless in my held-up-with-baling-twine, two-sizes-too-big-for-me cK overalls.

And, finally...

For Robert:

Sir, your comment proves
Even if you don’t see them
Orange peels exist.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

See More Glass


... is the setting sun shining through the old glass in the windows in my office and settling on the otherwise not-so-very-pretty wall. Those colored things are thumbtacks. You can ignore them.

Unfortunately, this...

... is what the window-casing looks like. You can't so much tell by this picture, but it isn't just a paint job that it needs. They're rotten, and they've got to go.

It is for to weep, because when we first moved in here everybody, everybody, everybody told us that we had to put in all new windows -- there was even some sort of government grant program to pay for them -- and I refused, refused, refused. We wouldn't have qualified for the grant program, anyway, as it turned out. And we've paid the price in heating bills (though we've had bigger problems than this with heating bills, to be sure). But I just could not, could not, could not be responsible for ripping out that wavy glass.

Now that we've been here for a while, though, I've had time to look around and make a rational decision. Such as it is. I mean, we have met one another, right? And the conclusion that I (by which I mean we, sort of) have come to is:

The ones in the living room are staying, because they're beautiful and I spent a little time stripping the paint off them. I don't remember how long, exactly...

And it's curtains (so to speak) for all the rest.

This is not as heartless as it sounds: of the twenty-one windows in the house (not counting attic or basement) only twelve are actually old.

Three got replaced before we moved in.

Six were in the rotten room.

The two in the dining room have already, inexplicably, had their original, antique, beautiful casings replaced by ugly nondescript stuff. Not by us.

These two in the office are, like I said, rotting clear away.

And the two in the kitchen -- well.

When we half-redid our kitchen eighteen months ago, somebody -- who shall remain nameless but who does happen to live here and who isn't me -- took it upon himself (see? not me) in the absence of the nominal, official Owner (c'est moi, though I try not to play that card to often -- like, at all), to decide that the two windows in there would be replaced. Said "Somebody" tore out a good bit of the casings before Moi saw and stopped him, and then the torny bits got left out in the rain. They are really, most sincerely dead.

The reason there are still gaping holes there, however, which I cleverly insulated with packing tape last winter -- and by "reason" I mean aside from the fact that we are equally lacking in both money and motivation -- was that we (meaning I) hoped to be able to salvage trim from somewhere else and piece it in. But that's just not going to happen. There isn't anywhere else in the house to take it from. Ah well, one of those windows is mostly useless anyway. Plus, someday when we win the lottery again we're going to get around to finishing this kitchen, and then a few new shiny windows in there will make much more sense than the patched-up, not-actually-wavy and mostly-useless old ones.

In other words, Somebody was right.

But you will not, will not, will not tell him I said so.

Friday, November 16, 2007

For Sparkle

Really I'm going to bed now.