It's not about the house.

Monday, December 31, 2007

What I Pulled Out of My Butt This Morning

For Christmas, my mother gave me about a dozen pairs of sleep pants and pyjamas. At first this made me nervous – I thought maybe I was dying and no one had told me – but then I decided it meant I was Collette: as long as I’m at home, there is no need for me to be dressed. Or vertical.

So that is how I spent my weekend. Friday night I wore the plaid flannel red-and-black pair; Saturday I wore the plaid flannel red-and-grey; and yesterday I wore plaid flannel red-and-white. (Hm, I seem to be sensing a pattern here. Maybe I am not Collette. Maybe I’m the Brawny version.)

Yesterday, I didn’t even take a shower. But I did this morning. And when I did, right there in the you-know of my ample mm-hm I found a note that read “Inspected by number 34.”

Sheesh. And I slept through it.

Well, if they left a note then I guess that means I passed.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Yeah, That's Right.

We got 'em.

"Now," Tedy says. "Everybody...

"Back on your heads!"

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Northern Exposure

They sell these pizzas at the pub where Johnny drinks – they serve them there, I should say, plain or with pepperoni, but they’ll also sell them to you frozen to take home. For three dollars, they’re not bad. We aren’t generally frozen-pizza buyers, so I have nothing to compare them to, but with a few onions on top and cooked straight on the oven rack so they get all nice and crispy, they are a perfectly edible lazy-time treat.

Last night was supposed to have been one of those lazy times. I had given Johnny the complete Northern Exposure on DVD for Christmas, and it was his idea that we make Friday night Alaska Night each week until we’ve watched them all. With a fire and some comfort food in front of the TV, it sounded fun. Right? Almost, dare I say, romantic?

Well. Please allow me to introduce you to my husband.

Actually, first let me back up a little piece...

Last weekend, I laid in the fixin’s for us to have an Irish Breakfast on St. Stephen’s Day (which some of you may think of as Boxing Day, but that’s because you are Orange and/or in service to the Queen). Bangers, rashers, white and black puddings – of which I myself will eat only the rashers, and those I won’t enjoy, so I’d also bought good old American bacon – and tomatoes.

Unfortunately, you don’t see “eggs” on that list anywhere. That’s because we had 30 of them in the house when I went shopping, but I’d devilled a dozen for Christmas Eve, and made two Spanish tortillas for Christmas morning from the rest.


I went up to Tedeschi’s on St. Stephen’s morning in my pjs to buy eggs, but they were sold out, and by the time I got back and put on real clothes to go to the real store, Johnny had caved in to starvation and was eating a piece of toast. Johnny doesn’t eat much – a piece of toast inside him meant he wouldn’t want breakfast until dinnertime, and we all know how well I do waiting for a meal – so we decided to have Irish B on Sunday, and I crawled back into my ’js.

All of this is to say that I was in the living room at spot-on six o’clock last night, reading my book and waiting for Johnny to put the pizza in and join me for a little small-town weirdness (fictional small-town weirdness, that is), when he decided that Irish Breakfast would be the Perfect Topping for a Frozen Pizza.

Yuck, I thought. But whatever. It’s his meat. It’s his holiday breakfast that got ruined by my failure to save a single egg. Let him pile it on, I can always pick it all off as I go.

But of course you can’t just slice up raw bangers and throw them on a ’za. You have to cook them first. The rashers, too. In the end, thank god, he decided against the puddings but, to make a long story medium-sized, the pie did not go in until almost 7:45.

Through all of this, I read my book and had a little nap. Johnny was enjoying himself in the kitchen, so I left him to it. The only advice he asked me for was what temperature to cook it at and how long to set the timer, and to confirm that he should slide it straight on to the oven rack. For all this, he was content to let me shout to him from my chair, which is unusual, but – other than appreciating my good-book-by-the-fire solitude – I did not give it a second thought. I was getting hungrier and more impatient in the living room, but I did my best to just keep my nose in my book and my ass in my chair, knowing that – now the pie was in the cooker at long last – our Cicely evening would officially begin in fifteen minutes.


I knew something was wrong as soon as the timer went off and he tried to take it out. It’s supposed to slide right off the rack. Maybe sometimes a bit of cheese burns or something and you have to give it a little jab, but generally it’s not a complicated process. And yet there he stood, bent over the oven, jabbing and jabbing and jabbing with a spatula in each hand, but the damn thing would not budge. And also, there was all this thick black smoke…

My ass would not stay in its seat a moment longer, no matter what I said or did to convince it that chiming in at this juncture might not be the best idea. And sure enough, when it saw what was happening in the kitchen, it decided once and for all to have its hungry say.

It’s not entirely my assy fault, the fighting that ensued. Johnny kicked it off by snapping at me because the pizza was stuck to the rack that I had told him to put it directly on. I didn’t have to react to this by yelling “Hey, it’s not my fault you did it wrong!” Especially because I had no reason to believe that to be true. Yet. Just, it never sticks when I do it, and it sure as shinola was sticking with a vengeance now. Plus, I was hungry. So ipso facto, q.e.d., he’d done it wrong.

And oh. He had.

This loving and adoring and very capable at many things husband of mine, had somehow managed to make this pizza upside down. He’d put all his Irish Breakfast meaties on the crust side of the pizza, and put the pizza – straight onto the oven rack – with the cheese side down.

Then, for good measure, he’d turned the convection on.

We bought this cooker almost two years ago, and chose it in part for the convection feature. Johnny is fascinated with it. He wants to use it every time he puts anything in there, and I can’t seem to make him understand that it is simply not always the way to go. Left to his own devices this time, he opted for convection, and the pizza dough, instead of cooking and crisping up, had merely thawed. Straight on the oven rack, just like I told him. Cheese side down.

Now, if we were different people, or this were a different day, or if I hadn’t already been waiting two hours for a fifteen-minute frozen pizza (because we do remember how patiently I wait for feedings, right?), this might have been something to laugh about. It is already now, in fact. Ha ha.

But what ensued at the time was a lot of slamming of doors and opening of windows and setting off of smoke alarms, and Johnny going out for cigarettes. And coming back – which easily, at the time, could have gone either way.

So Johnny scraped the blackness off the bottom of the cooker, while I scraped all his cooked meats off the bottom of the pie. There was a second pizza in the freezer, which I took out and threw the twice-cooked meaties on – cheese side up, this time – and then I tossed it in the oven. With convection off. In ten minutes – which means by now sometime well after nine o’clock – there was edible food.

We took our slices to our separate corners, wolfed them down in rapid silence and, by unspoken agreement, went to bed.

Maybe next week we’ll make it to Alaska.

What do you want to bet?

Friday, December 28, 2007


Why are people always telling me not to eat the poinsettia?

“Don’t!” they exclaim. “It’s poisonous!”

I mean, I know. It know it’s poisonous and everything. Or, rather, I’ve heard it is. Or that it might be. The truth is I don’t actually know whether it is poisonous or not, but I do know “they” have always said so. It could be bullshit. It just so happens that I’ve also heard it’s definitely not, so who's to say? I’ve heard that full-grown people have nothing to worry about, but it will sure as shootin’ kill your dog (an idiom which has never seemed quite so apt to me before). Or off your cat. Or something.

But why do these well-meaning interjectors always feel the need for telling me? I mean, have they seen me running around chewing on greenery?

“Well, no,” someone once explained. “But if it breaks, and you get that white stuff on your hand or something – you shouldn’t, you know, lick it off.”

Oh, sure. I see. That makes much more sense. Because what I usually do when some random plant oozes it sticky sap on my dainty digits, is: I lick it off.

And then I spend the next three weeks seeing elves and hearing sleigh bells everywhere I turn.

OoohhhPretty colors...

Hey, now I think I understand what would possess a person to put those light-up wind-socks out on their front lawn!

I think I see the penguin moving...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

So… How Was YOUR Christmas?

My mom (whom some of you might know as Su) got herself a dog.

Not on Christmas, not even for Christmas, but he came into her life just a couple weeks ago and so he was kind of the Star of the Holiday – even more so than my Football Buddy, if you can imagine. His name is Charlie, and he is a Good Dog.

In the wee hours of Christmas morning, while we were nestled all snug in our beds, Mom took Charlie out for a walk. As she passed a certain house about a quarter-mile down the road, the dog inside started barking, and so they let him out. Without a leash. In the scuffle that ensued, Mom got knocked over backwards and she cracked her skull and split her head open on the pavement.

The dog-owning family called 911 and somebody in town, somebody who knows my parents, heard the alert go out on her police scanner and called the house. It was 7:10 a.m. I was asleep in the basement with earplugs in because of Mr. Snores-a-lot, so I didn’t hear the phone ring. Snores-a-lot might have heard it, but if he did, he probably figured it was none of his beeswax, it being not his house and everything.

My dad got the call, put on his shoes and shot out of the house to find her. But, having woken from a sound sleep, he didn’t quite understand what was going on. He thought she was at the house of the person who was calling, so he headed off in what turned out to be the wrong direction. My brother, also woken by the telephone, thought she couldn’t possibly have walked Charlie all the way up to where Dad was heading, so he got in his own car and went off in the other direction.

Johnny and I, meanwhile, dreamt of sugarplums.

The police got to her before my brother did. He stopped where he saw the cruisers and sure enough, there was my mom, lying in the street in a pool of her own blood, saying over and over to anyone who’d listen, “He’s a good dog. It wasn’t Charlie’s fault.”

My brother left his car there and rode in the ambulance with her to the hospital. He didn’t think she was going to make it. There was so much blood.

For about a half an hour, then, my brother was calling the house from the scene and from the ambulance with updates, and my dad was calling from his car trying to find out where the hell she was, and my poor sister-in-law – my poor, six-months-pregnant, not-familiar-with-this-neighborhood sister-in-law – was trying to relay information and help everybody find each other.

Somewhere around here is where I woke up.

I came upstairs to brush my teeth (because, you know, that’s loud; I didn’t want to risk waking up Snoresy) and found Sister-in-law in the kitchen on the phone, saying something about the dog, and then sounding relieved to be saying “Oh, Erin’s up now. I’ll ask her to come with me.”

I did try to impress upon her the notion that she could have waked me sooner, but everyone was just too frazzled to be thinking straight.

The latest news from the ambulance was that Mom was going to be fine. She’d never lost consciousness, she hadn’t even lost all that much blood – it just looks like a lot more all spread out on the street like that. They were taking her in for stitches and a catscan, just to make absolutely sure, but then she’d be coming home. Dad had been set straight and was meeting them at the hospital. Our job was to retrieve the dog and, while we were at it, my brother’s car, then bring Mom some clothes to come home in, because they’d had to cut hers off her in the ambulance.

Except that Sister-in-law and I were going on my dad’s directions, and my dad was still under the impression that she’d been on Main Street somewhere. We drove up and down Main Street until Sister-in-law suggested that we ask in at the police station. They told us where it happened – six houses down from ours – and we went back, retrieved dog and car, and took them home.

Poor Charlie. He’d only just come to Mom from another family who’d decided they didn’t want him anymore. He thought she had dumped him at yet another stranger’s house and, after causing all of this commotion by letting their own dog out to say hello, these people hadn’t even let Charlie inside to keep warm. He was shivering by the time we found him, and whimpering and scared. We took him home, left him with Johnny, left Johnny with instructions to answer the phone if it rang and to tell whomever might be calling what was going on. I ran upstairs to grab some clothes for Mom, and Sister-in-law and I were off to UMASS Memorial.

We got there, she was fine. Not Fine-with-a-capital-F, but the crisis was over and she was just waiting for her turn at the brain-scanning machine. My poor brother was completely wiped. He’s not a morning person, anyway, and this had been a hell of a how-de-do. But he’d pulled through in the crisis, which we all agreed bodes well for his prospects in the delivery room at the end of March.

Turns out, however, that the clothes I’d grabbed for Mom were from her skinny stash. She checked the labels when I handed them to her and said “Ooh, they’re twelves. They won’t fit. But thank you, honey.” Mom, it seems, hovers around a fourteen except in very good months, just like me.

Just like me.

So I took off my jeans and sweatshirt and put on the too-small clothes I’d brought her, and Dad sent us “kids” home to get the Christmas breakfast ready while they waited for the headscan and the discharge. They rolled in by one o’clock or so, by which time we had quiche and meatballs and cinnamon buns all hot and waiting. Charlie, who had been pacing around the house and whimpering all morning, took a good sniff of his finally-back-home mom and went to sleep.

Mom didn’t eat much, but she had a Bloody Mary – which the doctor said would be okay, and which seemed like the appropriate beverage of choice, considering.

Mom didn’t open many presents, either. She has by now, I would imagine. I know we were all looking for a cool old copy of this book to give her before all of this happened, and I don’t know for sure if anybody found it. If they didn’t, I think that it’s imperative somebody find it now.

Merry Christmas Concussion, Mommie Dearest!

And sweet dreams, Charlie.

Good dog.

Monday, December 24, 2007

O'Christ Divine

We babysat for my Football Buddy yesterday. Remember my Football Buddy?

That wasn’t taken yesterday because, you know, no camera. But she doesn’t look too much different these days. Bigger.

Football Buddy is three years and one month old; this is her first Christmas where she really gets it. Santa Claus and Baby Jesus and Deck Them Halls and All That Jazz.

My whole “Baby Jebo” thing, in fact, comes from her. When she first saw the Nativity scene in her house she decided the beautiful baby’s name ought to be Vanessa. Her folks explained that the baby already had a name, so she started calling him Baby Jebo. And she put him in Time Out.

She’s pretty much got it straight now, pronouncing “Jesus” just like a grown-up does. When she got to my house yesterday and saw my Nativity (I have the Fontanini*; she has a Lladró), she asked me what this baby’s name was. I told her. She thought about it for a minute and then announced “I have a friend named Jesus, too.”

“You do?” I said, thinking maybe there was a little Hispanic boy in her day-care class.

“Yes,” she answered. “But my Jesus is white.”

Ah, Lladró.

I thought about giving her a whole “they come in all sorts of colors” speech, but then I remembered that she's three. And she is, after all, correct: her Jesus is white. And mine is brown. That's lesson enough for one year, right?

* * *

Later, Johnny had gone out “shopping” and my Football Buddy came running over and crawled up in my lap. “Auntie Erin, what does Uncle Johnny call my underwear?”

This is a game the two of them play. He’d said it his way once when we were dressing her, and she got upset because he hadn’t used the proper word. They play-fought about it for a while, and now every time they see each other they do a little back-and-forth. But Johnny was gone “shopping,” so she’d decided I could play the game with her instead. I answered as he would.

“Knickers,” I said.

“No…” she said, slyly, like always. And then: ”Why does Uncle Johnny say knickers?”

She’s in a ‘why’ stage.

“Uncle Johnny says knickers because he’s Irish.”

“Why is he Irish?”

“Because he comes from Ireland.”

“Why does he come from Ireland?”

“Because that’s where his mommy lived when he was born.”

“Where is his mommy now?”

Whoops. Wasn't expecting that one. I skipped the race conversation and now I've cornered myself into explaining death? Um...

“Well, honey, she’s gone now.”

“But where is she?”

And then it hit me.

This is not something I’d usually say, because it’s not something I technically believe. But it sure seemed like an easy out, and I’m almost certain her parents wouldn’t mind me putting the idea into her little head. I am her Catholic Godmother after all (don't ask: even I don't know what back door they slipped me through for that one) -- and anyway, better this than telling her what I really do believe. So I took a deep breath and I said it.

“Well, sweetheart, Johnny’s mommy is with Baby Jesus.”

So now she thinks Jesus is from Ireland.

She hopped off my lap and went over to the crêche. Picked up Mary in one hand and the baby in the other, bounced Mary and squeaked “Baby Jesus, where did you come from?”

And Baby Jesus answered “I’m from Ima!”

*I'm sorry, but I have to point out that, if you follow that link, you will not see the set I have. Apparently, Fontanini is coloring their pieces now. This is WRONG. The Fontanini Nativity is brown. Period.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Hey Dad! I got it!

I Do Hate a Crooked Record

Apparently 'Phaz did acknowledge receipt of the lovely toys I sent. But he put it in a comment on the original post declaring him the winner and, well, who checks for comments on month-old posts, anyway? In the interest of setting records straight, here is his acceptance speech in its entirety:

Yay 4 me!
I'd like to thank all the little people who helped make this possible. My mum my dad, my sisters, and of course my beautiful wife without whose love and loyalty I'd never have believed in myself enough to be here today.
Let's see...My cat Emma (Bugsy) for throwing up on the bedspread at 3 AM and inspiring me to be at the PC instead of asleep to begin with (She sounded a lot like the old Heinz "Keg "o" Ketchup" bottle when you hit the bottom to unstick it)...
It just goes to show that if you want something badly enough and you cling to those dreams in spite of all the times they seem so distant and unreachable, then maybe someday it'll be you that is honored at the unveiling of the mural depicting the heroic struggle of the little guys to finish the mural.
I've never won anything before...
;)Thanks for the toys!!! They arrived yesterday, -love the cap torpedo and the shroom 'specially-
Emma is fascinated most of all by the concept of a paper bag that smells like, could it be? Yes, it most assuredly smells like boy butt!!!

So I'm sorry for disparaging him. Except really it was Robert who did most of the disparaging...

For some reason, though, in one of those comments on one of the old posts, Eliphaz put in a link to this low-rent, local, so-called "etiquette" maven who calls herself Miss Conduct. Now, I'm in a bit of a tiff with Miss Conduct these days (which is why I'm not providing you the link) because one of my alleged real-life "friends" wrote to her complaining about me -- if you can imagine. She accused me of a breach of etiquette that was never even true, and she made sure to do it in a way that all our non-perfidious acquaintances would know who'd written it and who it was about.

The nerve!

(I'd like to take this opportunity to inform and/or remind you all that my One Literary Hero Of All Time is Truman Capote -- and was, decades before every second movie that came out was about him. So. If you've never read "La Côte Basque 1965," then go here and read about it. When you're done, come back and tell me why it's not a good idea to piss off a writer. Especially one who drinks.)

Anyway, Miss Conduct (who I was about to abbreviate to MC, but that would be an insult to another MC I know) had a good laugh at my expense -- which is fine, that's her job and everything -- but she was wrong, wrong, wrong. As she usually is. I don't think 'Phaz knows this whole background story, so I don't think that was why he included the link in his comment to me. I think he was just trying to scold me for my behavior and he got Miss Conduct confused with Miss Manners -- which is kind of like confusing chopped liver with foie gras, if you'll pardon my french.

For the record: it is Miss Manners who plays the role of Behavioral Advisor Inside the Confines of My Head. Miss Conduct, on the other hand, can suck it.

But no, 'Phaz is right. MM would probably not have approved of my little public smackdown. So I'm sorry. And I'm sure Robert is doubly so. Shame on you, Robert...

(By the way, I went to the Post Office to mail Robert his prize today, but -- did you know that three days before Christmas is not a good time to go to the Post Office? I didn't even park the car. I'll mail it Wednesday, Robert. Consider the waiting time your punishment for ticking off Miss Manners.)

Also, since we're straightening up around here: while I was scavenging through the old posts to see if I'd missed anything else, I saw JM dope-slapping herself for saying "Maxwell Wilson" instead of "Maxwell Edison" -- because I'd said she'd said that, and I said that was why she didn't win. Well, she didn't. Say that. She said Edison. I just made the switch in my own head somehow. Jeebers. Good thing this isn't a real gambling operation, with enforcement-mooks and everything.

So I'm sorry also to JM! But I don't think it calls for a recount or anything, because I do stand by my second reason why Maxwell Edison couldn't be the radiator name, which was: I wouldn't name somebody who lives outside my bedroom after a guy who killed his girlfriend, any more than I would name my daughter after Lizzie Borden.


Whack! Whack!



There. I believe that adds up to forty, now.

Any more complaints?

Friday, December 21, 2007

I Deeply Apologize and Humbly Bow From the Waist

I was wrong.

The winner.


What's even worse than the fact that I completely forgot about this Best Christmas Song Ever, is that, before I met the Dirty Boy, Robert Earl used to be my Secret Boyfriend. Heck, we were together for almost ten years, going back to before I met Johnny. I once bought half-a-dozen Shiner Bocks and pranced myself backstage at La Zona Rosa by telling the bouncer I was getting beers for Robert and his band. It was not a lie. I gave the beers to the band. Five of them, anyway. Robert Earl saw the long-stemmed flower someone had bought me on the sidewalk and I'd stuck in the belt loop of my faded button-flies, and he chortled and told me that I had Rose Hips. He's a chortler. He was drunk. So was I. I was also a lot cuter then. But he was married. He still is. And now I am, too. Sigh.

Anyway, "Merry Christmas From The Family." It wins.

And I am, yet again, an idiot.

Thanks, Charlie.

Okay, FIRST Of All...

Thanks for all of your good wishes on my dental visit (and let's pass them all along to Tara, too). As it turned out, 'tweren't nuthin. I waited forever, but when I finally got in she poked at it and said "You're fine. Go home. No charge."

Then I ran around for a lot of hours doing a lot of things, and now I come home to find there is a LOT of confusion that needs a lot of clearing up. So here goes:

1. I Love Upstate -- I just so happen to have heard Bing Crosby and David Bowie in the car on the way home about ten minutes ago, so I'm happy to report that it is every bit as twee as I remember. It reminds me of that scene from The Breakfast Club where Judd Nelson acts out Anthony Michael Hall's imagined-idyllic family life. "Bing, isn't our song swell?" "Yes, Bow'. Isn't peace swell?" Smooch. Smooch. POW!

2. Sparkle -- Hey, I thought you were on the long road to Poochville! Somehow I seem to have missed out on the Waitresses song entirely. Guess I'm not as cool as I thought. But if I never heard of it, it can't be on the list. So there.

3. Courtney -- I'm at the dentist and you're talking to me about Shane McGowan? For shame! Besides, if I wanted to include a slit-my-wrists song then the hands-down choice would have to be Joni Mitchell's "River." But I didn't want to go depressing anyone. Ahem.

4. Courtney again -- "Christians and Pagans" is not a bad song, but there is this melange of girl-guitarist-songwriters from the mid-nineties that I just will never be able to keep straight. Dar Williams happens to be one of them. And one of the rules here is: if the performer could be easily swapped out for someone else, then the song doesn't make the cut. So, nope. Sorry. Wrong.

4. Poppo -- your suggestion (for those of you who did not follow the link, it was Yogi Yorgessen's "I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas"), although probably now considered politically incorrect on about a hundred different levels, came closest to being Not-Wrong. And a lot of that was probably exactly because it would now be considered politically correct on about a hundred different levels. But, in the end, it's really more of a novelty-kitcsh thing, isn't it? Whereas the Partridge Family, well, that shit's just timeless.

5. Robert -- Oh sure, ha-ha, Patsy and Elmo are hy-freakin'-sterical. Maybe you should find out how both my Grandmas died before you go throwing jokes like that out into the ether. Huh? It's not so funny when it happens to someone you know, is it, and even less funny the second time around. Still laughing now? Yeah, I didn't think so.


Go on, try me some more. I dare ya!

How UNlucky Am I? Vote now!

Oh crap. The cement holding my temporary crown in my head has commenced to crumble and fall out. The tooth itself is holding so far, but with the weekend nearly here and the holiday around the corner, I dasn't take my usual course of action -- which is to ignore the problem and hope it goes away.

So I'm off this morning to sit in Dental Emergency, on the last business day before Christmas, hoping against hope that I will waste a half a day there only to be told it's No Big Deal.

Jeebers, I hope they aren't going to charge me to tell me that...

Anyway, since I don't have much time this morning for my usual musical musings, let's take a vote. Have a little poll. With nothing hinging on the outcome except possible class war, race war, or a minor Generation-X revolt (if we can all get off our slacker asses long enough).


Best Christmas Song Ever:

1. Joan Jett's Little Drummer Boy

2. Otis Redding's White Christmas

3. The Kinks's Father Christmas

Or, just for me, because I know nobody will vote for it, because I know deep down it really sucks, and yet still I can't resist adding it in...

4. The Partridge Family's My Christmas Card To You

Vote now with your comments!

Feel free to suggest a ditty of your own if your favorite's not up here. But consider this fair warning: if your favorite's not up here, you are wrong, wrong, wrong.

And if I hear the words "Mannheim" or "Steamroller" I will block you from this site. I don't even know if that's possible, but I will figure out a way!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

How Lucky Am I?

This was me today. I'm the little one.

Okay, maybe I'm lying a little bit. Maybe that picture wasn't exactly taken today. But the point is, I work here:

And today, I did this:

My Lady had me elfing around, dropping off presents for her friendly neighborhood businesspeople all over Beacon Hill.

That is not Chuck (TFT) in that picture. That's not today, either. None of these are. I don't have a camera, remember? But just across the street from Looks-Like-Chuck up there, just outside the shot, to the left of Hooded Sweatshirt Guy -- that would be John Kerry's house. The John Kerry. Coulda-been-President John Kerry. Shoulda-been-President John Kerry. The Junior Senator from Massachusetts. It isn't small. The house, that is. I didn't go in there today, but I have done. My Lady likes to write letters to her Senators and she has a theory that her thoughts will get more personal attention if she sends them to the house -- their house, that is, not The House. That would be stupid, seeing as how they're Senators and everything. (I have exactly the opposite theory, by the way, about the whole send-it-where-they-live thing, but I don't argue with My Lady.) I've never been dispatched to Hyannisport, but she did have me hand-deliver a missive up to Louisburg Square one afternoon, and the lower-case lady who opened the door asked me if I wouldn't step inside. This was before he ran for president. Before 9-11. And before I took to raving like a lunatic. It is not small in there. Just goes to show what a little bit of ketchup can do for a hot dog.

I don't know what that meant.

This is where I work.

How lucky am I?

Oh My God, Robert So Totally Wins AGAIN!

And not just because he's the only one who entered, either. I do believe if I had a hundred entries, I would still have chosen this, because it made me jump back and kiss myself.
Still does, every time I read it.

You try!

Once there was one Elephant--
Forgot to use the telephant.
No! No! I mean one Elephone--
Forgot to use the telephone.
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I've got it right.)

Howe'er it was (this is no gag)
He gave no thanks for all his swag;
There was so much he got for free,
And, think, it might have come to me!
(I fear as poet I'm a spaz
but Prudence must drop Eliphaz!)

with apologies to Laura Richards.

Jump, kiss. See? Can't drop him, though. He ain't heavy...

Robert: send me your address private-like and I will pick out something silly just for you. And don't you go gettin' all Winehouse on me, either. I meant what I said and I said what I meant, a Prudence keeps her word, one hundred percent.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

You're A Keen One...

It was Thelma, and her wench.
And Robert knew the deal.
He’s as seeded as his Chargers,
As moray-cious as an eel
In the clinch.

He’s the top banana—
No. The Lord Privy Seal.

That means “not much,” Mr. Clinch.
I warned you I’d get bold.
My house is full of spiders,
I've got pudding in my soul.
I won’t flinch!

I still say “doody,” and I’m
Thirty-eight-and-a-half years old.

I’m an ill one, Mr. Clinch.
I have termites in my sill.
I have all the tender sweetness
Of a jagged little pill.
Mr. Clinch.

Given the choice between the AssVac and me,
You should take the freakin’ pills.

I’m a scowler, Mr. Clinch.
I'm a bitchy, witchy, blunt.
My mouth is full of rotten words
(Did not want to say “blunt”!)
Mr. Clinch.

The three words that best describe me,
Are, as follows, and I quote: "Drink. Drank. Drunk."

So now, Robert. Mr. Clinch.
You're the king of my bon mots.
But my yard still kills tomato pots
It’s only green in spots,
Mr. Clinch.

My home is an appalling dung heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled up knots.

It bilifies me, Mr. Clinch.
With a bilious super-bile.
It’s a pit of pony pockey
And I bought it all sub-prime.
Mr. Clinch.

It’s a one-decker pickled-beet and pink-egg sandwich
With Cozymel’s sauce!

Sorry, Mr. Geisel. And Mr. Robert. Happy Merry!

Oh also PS there's still that contest I declared this morning down there. Nobody's played yet, and if nobody does by tomorrow morning I'll just nix it all together.

Ten Random Thoughts Before I Go Back in the Chair

Hey look! There's a REAL, FOR-SOMETHING CONTEST at the end of this random post! Where did that come from?

1. If you walk away for one second and come back to find your cat licking your keyboard, does that mean: a) Your keyboard is and always has been made of chicken guts, b) You spilled a drop of coffee on the numbers-end of it yesterday and now he thinks there might be a secret well of same beneath the keys, or c) Your cat is and always has been a total moron.

2. Last night, Dirty Jobs re-ran the Shark Week episode in which DB spends a half an hour wearing nothing but wet swim trunks. I? Opted to watch The Grinch instead. Oddly, I'm taking this as a sign of emotional maturity. Also, I didn't know about the Dirt Man until the Grinch was almost over.

3. I mailed off some packages of Christmas Peeps a few weeks ago to some folks who seemed to need them. The package to Worcester, MA got there in two days. The one to Michigan got there in three. The last one arrived in Australia -- that's right, I said Australia -- yesterday. I believe that the Postal Service is one of the miracles of the modern world, and I say that without any wise-assitude or irony. Pay 'em eleven dollars and in a week and a half those Peppermint Peeps are on the other side of the freakin' planet, bringing a little taste of home to a girl who's Very Far Away. If that ain't a Christmas Miracle, I don't know what is.

4. I mailed Josie's Christmas pudding to I Love Upstate at the same time. I don't know when she got it, but she wrote about it yesterday. (If you follow that link you have to promise to skip past the "bursting with diarrhea" part -- that has absolutely nothing to do with me or Josie's pudding. I swear to god.) When she wrote that it was my "mother-in-law's recipe," my first thought was "No it isn't, it's Josie's." And then I remembered: Oh yeah, married, now...

5. I got home last night and Andy was passed out on my couch. After we ate and put on our pyjamas , he woke up wanting pizza (oh, sure, decide to order -- and pay for -- a pizza AFTER I've stuffed myself on leftover squash stew). Andy doesn't like to call for delivery for some reason, so he went out in the cold to pick his pizza up. When he came back, he had two boxes in his hand -- one pizza, and one decidedly non-. He said: "This was left out on the front step with your name on it." Immediately, I thought it was going to turn out to be poo or something else Andy would think is just hysterical, but it was not. It was from Peep Friend #3. Not only did she get my package, but she sent me something beau-tee-ful in return. Something her sister-in-law's mother-in-law made. How's that for Christmas Cheer!?

6. On the same day I mailed those Peeps and puddings, I also mailed the prize from my Radiator-Naming Contest. Peeps got around the world, pudding got to Upstate New York, a present got back to me from Michigan -- and still I haven't heard from Eliphaz. Not about the fact that he's the winner of the contest. Not about the box of toys I sent him without showing any of them to y'all because I didn't want to make him wait a moment longer. Not about nuthin'. This, after I fretted for days over whether I ought to let him win at all because I've known him my entire life and everything. Phooey. Phooey on 'Phaz, I say. He's not eligible for any contests, anymore.

7. Unless, maybe the Postal Miracle failed me this one time? Maybe that box-o-toys is in limbo out there somewhere, hoping against hope to make it to the Land of Misfits before Santa comes along?

8. Ah well. I'm off to yet another dental appointment. I've promised to compose a dirty ditty for Robert while I'm in the chair, because he of all people recognized the Thelma & Louise quote that I used for a blog post title yesterday. But -- because I'm feeling all Christmasy with Spirits -- if any of y'all want to whip out a haiku or a limerick or a single dactyl about Eliphaz and the Lost Toys, I'll pick my favorite and send you something good. I don't know what yet, but I'll get it at the same store I got the box-o-toys.

9. Whatever it is, I promise that it won't be there in time for Christmas.

10. And 'Phaz ain't eligible. Phooey on him.

Have fun!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I've Never Been Lucky! Not One Time!

Saturday afternoon, Johnny and I had a Date.

We never do this -- seriously, never -- but we had a $50 Bertucci's gift card, and I had an inexplicable but undeniable desire to see the Chipmunks movie. Can't explain it except to say that those squeaky little buggers always did manage to make me laugh, the new CGI ones are so tootin' cute, and you really can't much go wrong with the Devil playing Dave and all.


Tee hee.

Anyway, it was sold out.

I ate lunch, we mapped out our afternoon around movie houses that were near Bertucci's and also JC Penney -- because something that I wanted was on sale there but not till after four o'clock. So I went on line and googled and got directions to a mall twenty minutes from my house that I never even knew existed. But then, I'm not a big mall person anyway.

Did you know that malls aren't necessarily all in the same building anymore? And that there's a big driveway that circles all around them, with signs at each entrance to the parking lot telling you which stores are in the area? And it doesn't matter anyway because if you turn in near the store you want to go to, you'll just end up in a line behind twenty other drivers all looking for the same nonexistent parking space?


So the movie theater wasn't technically in the mall, it was sort of behind it and across the street. But there were parking spots there! So huzzah! Johnny had to pee, so we practically ran in, only to see a sign posted on the door telling us that the 2:50 Alvin & the Chipmunks movie was sold out. Good lord, who the hell is going to see Alvin & the Chipmunks at 2:50 in the afternoon across the street from a shopping mall on the next to last Saturday before Christmas?

Oh. Yeah. Well. Apparently not me.

My first thought was "What will we see instead?" Because here we were, parked and everything, and I couldn't go to JC Penney for an hour and a half. But Johnny's first thought was "Will they let me use the bathroom anyway?" Which they did. And his second thought was "Let's go to Bertucci's and have a beer!"

Which we did.

Now, I haven't been to Bertucci's in a while, and I'd forgotten all about their bread. Marón! But if you suck down two Bertucci's rolls with olive oil and garlic, then two chicken wings that your hungry husband ordered as an appetizer and that you don't know why you ate because you weren't that hungry and you're not even all that fond of chicken wings, then you don't so much want the head-sized calzone that you ordered. And it's possible that you knew you wouldn't want it, seeing as how you ate lunch just an hour and a half ago, because you thought you were seeing a movie and going shopping first, but the calzone is what you decided you were ordering when you decided you were going to Bertucci's, and so you ordered it anyway, goddamnit, and you took it home.

It was still really good when I heated it up later. To be perfectly honest, I didn't exactly wait till I was hungry, either. And I am infinitely glad we didn't eat at someplace called Cozymel's and get served something that looks like throw-up. Anyway...

We went from Bertucci's to JC Penney (anytime either of them might want to send endorsement checks, by the way, I'm ready -- those toys ain't just gonna buy themselves!). I got my bargain at Je Suis Pénible and we went home.

Hm. Do you think I might have kiboshed my endorsement deal with that one? Ah, well.

When we got home I called My Best Friend to bitch and moan about how nothing ever works out for me, never, not one time, and she gave me permision to open her Christmas present early -- my Christmas present from her, which had arrived three days before and which I actually hadn't opened yet, which is some kind of Christmas miracle right there. And which I'd seen on the box that it came from the Discovery Store, but somehow never imagined what could possibly be inside...

And so I opened it. And it was this:

Or, no, wait. This new camera. Argh. Maybe I didn't need the flash. Let's try this again.

Well, still argh, but you get the picture -- so to speak. The Dirt Man (as Johnny has begun to call him) on DVD! Who needs cartoon chipmunks when you have six hunky feet of puerile poo-jokes at your fingertips whenever you decide to punch them up?

So I did. Punch them up, I mean. And I have been. And I hope it doesn't wind up like working in an ice cream parlor, where eventually even the thought of butter brickle makes you want to puke. Because if having him around whenever I want is going to ruin him for me, well then, frankly, I would rather starve. But for now, yummy!

Really, though, the point of this whole post, and the reason for the title* -- aside from the fact that I missed my movie, waah -- is that I sent these two pictures to My Picture-Takey Friend, and she says it's not me, it's the camera. So I'm returning it. Today.

She recommended another one, but it costs $130 and I just was not prepared to spend that much on a stupid camera that I don't even want. I probably will, though. Because the cheapy-ass crap is not exactly working out for me, in case you haven't noticed. I'll wait till after Christmas and see if it goes on sale -- so in the meantime, just to warn you, I'll be footloose and picture-free -- but then I'll probably just order the damn thing and figure out where the money will come from later.

Because you -- you people -- you deserve high-resolution documentation of my mold and mess and broken shit.

And also poo.

*Hey, we haven't done a POEM CONTEST in a while: Does anybody know where the title comes from? Tell me, and I'll write a dirty little ditty for ya'...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Here Is What Happened To Someone Who Is Not Me

Someone Who Is Not Me was thinking about getting a new car. Not just a new-to-them car, but an actual, brand-new, never-been-driven-off-the-lot-before new car. Both of Someone WINM's family cars were getting on in years (the youngest was exhibiting distinct signs of puberty) and, in the time since they were new, SWINM had built up an actual family to put in them.

So SWINM and SWINM's spouse took the family on a tour of car-selling places. They looked, they read, they test-drove, they comparison-shopped, and then they went home with paperwork and studied up. They took their time, they slept on it, they figured out where they could get the best deal on the car they decided was the smartest buy. And then they slept on it some more.

This weekend, Family Car #2 coughed twice and keeled over. So SWINM and the family Flintstoned it down to the dealership, said "We'll have that one right there, please," and drove home in their new, smartly-purchased, 2007 Silver Car.

"That," said Johnny and I to each other, "is how grown-up people do things."

That is not, needless to say, how things happen around here.

Around here, we keep fixing cars past the point that it makes sense to do so, because we can't stand the thought of the process involved in their replacement. When they cough, we give them a lozenge and turn up the radio. Eventually there comes a point where all the duct tape in the world won't put off the inevitable any longer, and then Our Friend George usually knows somebody willing to sell us another clunker for $500. We buy it, register it, have about a week and a half of peace of mind, then start the whole process again from the beginning.

This is how we wound up with Chuck (TFT). This is also, by the way, more or less how we wound up with the AssVac. And let me tell you, there isn't enough duct tape in the world...

I am holding out a very small hope that maybe, possibly, sometime in 2008, I might, maybe, possibly, be in a position to buy myself my very first off-the-lot new car. I know what I want. I even happen to have heard on Car Talk that it was voted best something-or-other -- so it might, maybe, possibly not prove to be the Worst Decision That I Ever Made. Or even Second Worst. Ahem.

But when the time comes, if the time comes, I'll be asking Dad for help. Because -- that Someone whom I referenced above?

Really Not Me.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Do You Believe In Miracles?

The magic leaf from Monday still adorns my bedroom skylight this snowy Sunday morning. A week went by, two noreasters blew through town, and still I have my secret message from above.

Can you find it?

No? How 'bout now?

Let me enlarge it for you.

Damn camera.

Fine, then I'll make this one itsy-bitsy to compare:

See? I told you.

Mission from God.

And may He have mercy on Mangini's soul...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I Am De-Dumbo

I simply cannot figure out how to use this camera.

I tried to take pictures of the ornaments as they went on the tree, but they came out too dark.

Or all pinkish.

Or fuzzy.

I did (you might want to sit down before I finish this sentence) read the owner's manual. The owner's manual told me how to change the settings on things like “exposure” and “white balance,” but it didn’t so much explain what these things were, and/or what settings might be optimal for, say, taking pictures of Christmas ornaments at night in a room lit by 900 tiny white bulbs and a few of those stupid so-called energy-conserving, world-saving fluorescents.

(Which, by the way, are going in the trash when they burn out, mercury or no, and I’m never buying another one of the damn things again. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, either, I’m just stupid enough to admit it. So I’ll be seeing the rest of you, whoever you are, in the whole new circle of hell being reserved for those of us who Don’t Do Enough For The Environment. Where, I imagine, it will be Globally Warm.)

By fiddling around with high and sharp and +3 and whatever, I did manage to squeeze off a picture or two that looked right. Which is good, because when you’re in nursery school and you deliberately leave a big chunk of empty space between the gingerbread man’s neck and arm for fear of chopping off the poor paper cookie’s head, the last thing you want, thirty-five years later, is an off-color depiction of your slightly retarded motor skills.

But then, if you don’t pay attention to it for a minute and a half, the camera has a hissy fit and shuts its whole system down. Sheesh, if I wanted a wife

And when you, after much coaxing and stroking and cooing and maybe a doghouse rose or two, manage to turn it on again, it acts like it doesn’t remember who you are. All its settings have defaulted back to “auto” and all your pictures once again come out like ass.

Man. I sure hope I didn’t get caught taking that one!

So here’s a picture of my finished tree.*

It’s the best I’ve managed to do. Trust me that it’s prettier in person than I’ve managed to present it here. If we’re all still doing this when next Christmas rolls around, I’ll give you a better tour of the rest of my retarded ornaments, I promise. If, that is, I’ve by then somehow figured out what to do with the device that takes the pictures.

Or else just broken it and got a new one.

*I couldn’t find the snippers to cut that top branch down a bit, so it wouldn’t look quite so much like the Angel was doing all she could to disassociate herself from what had been so ceremoniously stuck up her ass. Johnny was supposed to find the snippers for me last night. Needless to say, he didn’t even look. I won’t bore you with the daily updates of my not-getting-the-snippers, but I will tell you when it happens. I recommend that you not hold your breath.

Friday, December 14, 2007


I fiddled with the camera a little bit (thanks, Anony-mouse!), and now you can see the candy canes.

Well, if you click on it to make the image bigger, you can sort of see them...

I think there's still something not quite right, though. Because now everything else looks kind of blue. Not in a west-coast, modal way, that is, but actually, you know, kind of...

I'll fix it. But not this second. Dirty Jobs is starting right now, so I've gotta go!

No C.C.-Ums

Certain people have been clamoring for photos of my 60-c.c. tree, and now that I'm all rested and camera-ready I'm afraid I'm going to have to disappoint them.

On my honor, there are five dozen candy canes hanging on this tree.

I mean, like I said, they're not meant to leap off the tree and poke you in the eye. But in person you can at least pick them out.

When I went to take the picture, though, if I stood back far enough to get the entire tree, you couldn't see the candy canes at all.

(Still gotta fix those popcorn strings.)

So I up-closed and sectioned it, felt the need to point them out even then -- and still couldn't see more than a third of what I knew was there.

Now, here, you-all can't see them even as well as I could when I counted them. Plus it's hard to keep track with overlapping images. I believe I've been honest up to this point in not counting any visible candy twice, but somewhere around here I just lost count.

You're simply going to have to trust me that there are sixty candy canes on that there tree -- and that they are actually visible when you're in the room.

Oh! I know! See, look:

Twelve and twelve and twelve and twelve -- plus a dozen more "of color" (is that better, Jen?) -- adds up to three even score. They're all in their places there, really and true.*

Doesn't bode well for the prospect of showing you the hundreds of ornaments I plan to put on it this afternoon. But at least I will know it's beautiful. Or, who can say? Maybe I'll read the manual that came with the camera and discover what it is I'm doing wrong.

Not bloody likely!

*Sorry. I've always wanted to work all three "ðéiər"s** into a single sentence, so when I saw my chance I knew I had to take it.

Also, sorry again. That's the phonetic spelling. And sorry a third time for being such a language geek. I promise to lay off the grammar jokes for a little while. Because I know your sides are split to bursting from all the gerundific hilariousity.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Prudence Is Pouting

Prudence thought that she had dinner plans tonight. Prudence did, in fact, have dinner plans tonight -- and not just go-to-a-restaurant-and-give-them-money-in-exchange-for-food plans, either. Prudence would have gone to Her Friend's House, and Her Friend would have cooked.

You've noticed, right, that I'm using past passive conditional? Good. Now define it.

It all started with (yet another) dentist appointment. This one to get her stitches out. Prudence's appointment was at 9:00, and she had to drive to get there, because you can't get to the Dentist's Office on Public Transportation. Well, you can, but it involves Buses, which Prudence Doesn't Do.

So she drove. She'd been told that taking stitches out takes twenty minutes, which left her plenty of time to drive Chuck (TFT) back to his usual parking spot and take the T -- the real T -- to work as usual. And then from there on to her dinner date with Home-Cooking Friend. But the Dentist wasn't ready for her until 9:50, so she had to drive Chuck (TFT) to Beacon Hill.

And then it snowed.

Apparently, this was predicted. Prudence p'shawed it, because that's what Prudence does. She's lived in New England her whole life. She strings popcorn and cranberries, for heaven's sake. She used to drive from the Pioneer Valley all the way to Cambridge at ten p.m. in raging blizzards just to watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show and race the sunrise back to school. She was not afraid of what the weathermen predicted might be (gasp) a half-a-foot of powder-fluff.

But apparently she was the only one.

First Prudence was told by her Nice Lady to go home from work at 1:00, and Lady wouldn't take no for an answer. With nothing to do between then and dinnertime, she called Her Friend and asked if she could come to dinner early. Like, right now. Her Friend also insisted she go home. And so, alas, she did.

Or so she tried.

And so she cried.

Having hopped into Chuck (TFT) at 1:18 precisely, Prudence cried for the first time at 3:12. You can hardly blame her. She'd only travelled a whopping mile and a half, and the Burger Meister wouldn't let her use the facilities in his establishment unless she purchased something. The whole reason she had to use them in the first place was because she'd already had too many Diet Cokes, so she was forced to eat french fries for dinner instead of Homemade Food. Sniff. Poor her.

Prudence cried for the second time at 4:08, while leaving a message for her husband so he wouldn't be concerned. That was effective. He was working, anyway, which is why he wasn't there to take the call, and in the end he wouldn't even hear the message, either, because Prudence beat him home.

Yes, in fact, to make a long story somewhat shorter, let's cut to that point right there, which is roughly now: Prudence got home, shovelled herself into the driveway, and fell through the door at long last at precisely twenty minutes after five. Almost four hours exactly from the moment she stepped in the car.

Did I mention that this trip was all of a dozen miles? No, I didn't think I had.

Her husband walked in, through no fault of his own, two minutes later. Just as she was deleting her psychotic messages from the answering machine. And then he went out to help the single-mom across the street shovel herself in.

Prudence loves him for being so thoughtful and considerate. She thinks he's just swellacious. But she can't help but want to punch him in the throat for not having arrived ten minutes earlier and helping her.

Why is it that cold weather makes me want to drink Kahlua with milk?

Mm. That is one fine sombrero.

Oh yeah, so PS: I'm not finishing the tree this evening, either.

Tomorrow, I swear to god
and Baby Jebo.

The Christmas Tree, Part 4: The Garland

The garland is actually Part 3, in terms of The Proper Order In Which To Put Things On Your Tree, but I got all out of order because of the digital-camera debacle. I’ve killed everyone responsible, and now it’s back to work.

But I should clarify: I’ve never actually thought of this as a “garland” before. I had to call it something to post about it here, and I realized that, technically, I supposed that’s what it was. I kind of choked on using the word a little, because in general I agree with Charlie: garland is gauche. Silver tinsel, strings of beads, stars of many sizes… tacky-o. Unless you are or have a child under the age of ten, in which case you’re allowed construction-paper rings.

But this…

…this is not really a garland. This is tradition. This is necessary. And to do without it would be unacceptable.

So, herewith, The Rules:

1. Oh my god do I even have to tell you that it’s real? The fake plastic kind should not be allowed to exist, let alone go on anybody’s tree. Period.

2. Do it yourself. If you have kids, then they can do it, in which case the rest of these rules are hereby officially relaxed. But if you buy it anywhere or pay someone to do it because you think that it’s too hard – well then, Jed, I don’t even want to know you.

3. Air-popped corn, made a day ahead and left out on the counter to get stale. Johnny does this for me. Makes it a lot easier to get the needle through. If you use oil, you will regret it in a week when your house smells like the bottom of an unwashed frying pan. And if I have to explain why you can’t use the microwaved kind, well, then happy Hanukah!

4. Black thread.

5. Fresh cranberries. Der.

6. Bigger needles are easier to thread. Smaller needles are less likely to smash popcorn kernels. You figure it out. (Hint: which of these things will you be doing more of? Right.)

7. Seams are bad. Ideally, one strand will go all the way around the tree. This isn’t always possible because you don’t have abominable snowman arms. So tie the ends together to avoid them drooping down.

8. Every strand begins and ends with a cranberry. This is not nutty, it’s actually practical advice gleaned from years of experience: popcorn can somehow work its way past the end-knot and fall off. Cranberries don’t. If you have to tie two strands together, you’ll wind up with two cranberries next to each other. This, in this one instance, is okay.

9. Otherwise: five popcorn kernels, one cranberry. Five corns, one berry. Five, one. No exceptions.

10. Cranberries go on the long way. Der.

Ta da!

Baby Jebo! I’m going to have to straighten out a couple of those strands. How did I not notice how funked-up they were before?

Oh, and:

11. At the end of the season, the tree goes in the yard with the garland and some other assorted goodies to be named later still left on. Birds and squirrels and assorted woodland creatures will be grateful for the popcorn and assorted goods. But…

12. Nobody eats the cranberries.

Next: actual, real-live ornaments! But probably not until tomorrow night. Prudence has dinner plans.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I Got a New Camera. Phew.

I had to go to the grocery store for cat litter and beer (it's a big night at the AssVac houshold), and they happened to have one there so I just sacked up and bought it. I paid $55 for it, and this one actually works.


That's my Dirty Boy computer wallpaper. The glass in front is my Kahlua Sombrero, and the pill bottle in the back is my painkillers from my neverending dental damn.

And the old SD card works just fine. So I'll bring the new one back to the Walmarts tomorrow.

Also, tomorrow, I'll post pictures of my garland! But in the meantime, because I know you're dying out there, here's a little taste of my lovely so-far tree with my brand-new 4.1 megapixel (whatever that means) camera...

Hi, toilet paper! Hi, Baby Jebo! Hi, 60 candy canes that you can't even see!

Also, the walls are white. Well, sand, actually. I don't know where that yellow came from. Maybe it's a special feature on the camera that I don't know how to use yet.


I bought a new camera just like the old one, intending to keep the new one and return the old one the next day -- in the new package with the new receipt -- because I don't ever keep anything like receipts and stuff and I also don't have any conscience whatsoever.

Except the new camera didn't work, either. In exactly the same way the old one didn't. So I called the number on the package. You might think I could have done this in the first place, except I didn't have the number in the first place, beacuse I didn't have the package. Of course I didn't have the package. I don't save anything, remember?

The nice Mumbai-nese man who answered the 800 number told me to take the batteries out of the camera, uninstall the photo-transfer program, shut the computer off and let the whole thing sit and rest for a couple hours, then put everything back together and re-install. He called this "resetting," and he told me if it didn't work to call them back.

It didn't work. I called them back. The second nice Mumbai-nese man told me to return the camera. I explained to him that I had, in fact, already bought a new one and the new one was broken too. He said, and I quote:

"Well, they can't all be broken."


So I returned the new camera in the new package with the new receipt -- or maybe it was the old camera, I don't know -- and told them it didn't work (which was the truth, go figure) and I wanted my money back (also not a lie).

I took my money and I bought a new SD card. Mr. Mumbai had suggested maybe the one I had wasn't big enough. I told him it had been working fine up to that point, and he said yes, but if mine was only 1 GB then maybe that was the problem anyway, because they really recommend I use a 5. Except the package says right on it "Use with any SD card up to 1 gigabyte." Or it says something like that anyway. I don't know. I returned it.

So I wasn't going to get the big-butt 5 one, but I did get a new 1 one, and this was the new plan: I was going away overnight. I would "reset" everything again just like they told me, only this time I'd leave it all uninstalled and everything for 36 hours. Because when he told me to wait a couple hours last time, the truth is I'd waited exactly 120 minutes. So it's just possible that maybe I had not been quite exactly patient enough with the resetting the first time.

I know, me, right?

So I'd leave it for a day and a half, then re-install everything when I got home, and if that didn't work then I'd try the new SD card. If that didn't work, then I'd return it, too. Who cares? The Walmarts can afford it.

I just got home (did you miss me?) and I put the batteries in the camera. It seems to be working the same funked up way it was before I left, but I can't be sure until I re-install the program... which I can't do because I returned the package with the disc!

No I don't still have the old one around here anywhere. Yes, I looked. Yes, I know it used to be right there -- for, like, freakin' ever -- but it's not there now. All right? So just shut your stupid face about it already, will you?

I looked behind and under and in and on top of everything. I even found a file folder labelled "Camera" and I said "Aha! Eureka! I have found it!"

You know what was in there?

The phone number.

I am an idiot.

So tomorrow I'll go somewhere and get a stupid camera that I will pay real money for. Maybe. Or maybe I'll get the Dora the Explorer one I saw for $14.

And then, when it breaks, I can curse in Spanish.

¡Puta madre!

Don't worry, I haven't made any more progress on the tree and I don't think I will tonight, either. I think tonight I need to curl up on the couch in my green flannel pjs with a quart of Kahlua sombrero and some Totino's pizza rolls, to watch the Very Special Christmas Episode of Pushing Daisies that's on at eight o'clock.

And if Kahlua or Totino's -- or Pushing Daisies, for that matter -- wants to give me a small consideration for my shameless plug, I promise to use it to buy another bag of toys. Which first one I had to mail without taking any pictures of the contents of. Because, you see, my camera broke.

And this, I believe, is where I came in...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Christmas Tree, Part 3: The Candy Canes

I’m skipping over the garland because I still don’t have a working camera (I’ll post later about that whole saga) and I really do need to show you pictures of my garland for you to understand. Well, maybe not “need” to, but when you see it, you’ll understand why I want every ounce of credit for it, damnit!

But I figure you already know what candy canes look like. So I can go ahead and spell out the rules regarding them and you can make up your own mental images. (By which I mean pictures in your minds, not images that are actually mental in nature. That would be weird.).


Rule #1: Red and white. Period.*

2. Be very careful when you buy them. Sometimes the red bleeds into the white a little and the whole thing winds up kind of pink. This is unacceptable. Also, there has to be the perfect ratio of red-to-white, which can be extremely difficult to achieve. Go to a couple different stores if you have to. Fortunately for this rule, they start selling candy canes as soon as Halloween is over, so you have plenty of time to shop around.

(2.a. Don’t think you can get away with saving the perfect ones that you found last year. When they get old, they get mushy and the color bleeds. Unacceptable. Delicious, but unacceptable.)

3. Candy canes go on first – after lights and garland – because they are the thing you’ll have the greatest number of. I have 60 on my tree, plus a dozen or so spares for filling holes in at the end.

4. Candy canes are not ornaments: they’re accents. They don’t get dorked thoughtlessly onto branch-ends in places of honor. You will want those honor-places later. Candy canes get sort of hidden. If you hang one, then step back and can barely see it anymore, you’ve done your job.

5. This one’s going to sound a little nutty, but trust me: all the candy canes on the tree have to face the same direction. I usually put the short end on the left, but I imagine you could go the other way around. No, wait. Now that I picture it, that is unacceptable. Short end goes left. Period.

6. It does go without saying that they get evenly spaced around the tree, trunk deep, and should under no circumstances come out looking like a pattern of any sort. Right?

*This year, for the first time, I allowed Johnny to hang a single box of colored candy canes. He loves him some candy, but not so much the mint, so he wanted fruity flavors. He begged. I refused. I believe exactly what I said was “Johnny, I am not hanging colored candy canes on my Christmas tree.”


And then, hours later, the tape of that sentence in my head came back to haunt me. I sounded like Joan Freakin' Crawford. (“Didn't I tell you, Johnny? No. Colored. Candy canes!”) Plus, I am all about the marital harmony these days.

“Who’s it going to kill,” I said (to anyone, to everyone, and never quite convinced myself), “if the tree has an orange candy cane or two?”


So yesterday I bought them. It nearly killed me, but I figured that way I would at least have control over getting the least tacky colors I could find, and at the same time avoid any chance of winding up with cartoon characters stamped on the plastic wrappers (I would have had to stab one through my own heart in a festive act of hara kiri). But when I got home, I handed him the box and let him put all twelve of them on the tree himself.

I held my breath, I held my tongue, and damned if he didn’t hang all except the two strawberry-flavored, red-and-white ones in the back against the wall! The integrity of my rule-bound tree was going to survive!

Then, with my first relieved breath, I asked him to turn them all to face the left.

He looked at me like I was mental, but he did.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Destructo Strikes Again

My camera broke.

I really don't think I did it, but I don't know what happened. I put the garland on the tree, took pictures of it, and when I plugged the camera into the computer to show them to you-all, the transfer program didn't work and the pictures disappeared.

They aren't irreplaceable pictures. I can take them again. I only paid $20 for the camera (in case anyone's been wondering why my pictures are such ass) and I figure I got my money's worth out of it, so if they still have them at the Walmarts then I'll pick up a new one on my way home this afternoon.

Ugh. Walmarts two weeks before Christmas. Maybe I should just go ahead and buy a gun.

That was a joke, internets!

Do you know what really sucks about this, though? There is a leaf on my bedroom skylight this morning that looks exactly like the Patriots logo -- or, how the logo would look if it were brown. It was the first thing I saw when I woke up this morning, and I leapt for the camera with the intention to post it, with the logo underneath it, and tell you all that this is proof positive my boys are on a Mission From God. But when I went to download the picture, poof. And by the time I get home with the new one, I'm sure the leaf will be gone, too.

Which should in no way be taken to mean they aren't on a Mission. They are. If a week spent up to his ears in the Word gets Laurence Maroney to power through a defensive line like Corey Dillon used to do, then somebody big is pulling for them somewhere.


So since I don't have a camera to show you the progress on my tree (and don't worry, this tree is a four-day process: you're not missing anything), I thought I'd bitch today instead about my newspaper guy.

I only get the Sunday paper, and that only during football season. I used to get it every day, but then the Globe sold out to the NYT and stopped hiring freelancers, and now it generally just really blows. Except for sports. You really can't beat the Boston Globe for sports writing, no matter how all-encompassing those guys in Bristol get.

But it just so happens that football season coincides with Christmas season, and at Christmastime it's customary to tip your paper guy. I don't have a problem with this. The only reason I get it delivered during football season is I don't want to have to go out in the cold and get it for myself. I can certainly flip the fellow what amounts to a buck a week for his trouble.

But I want it to be my decision.

Every year at this time, Newspaper Guy slips an envelope into the baggy with the Sunday paper. Actually, he slips an envelope in there once a month or so, but the rest of them I just ignore because I pay my bill automatically by Visa. This one's different: this one has a Christmas Card in it. Nice, right? Except it isn't signed, it's got a stamp on it, and it's addressed to him.

This pisses me off.

If he could be bothered to get out of his car instead of hurling the ten-pound paper at the front door from the street, he might notice that I left him a card with his name on it on the front step. I woke up early and snuck out there just to do it. Actually, I only went that far the first year. He didn't pick it up, and I was so offended by his self-addressed, stamped request for gratuity that I took it back and kept it for myself.

The second year, I used my own card and stamp and mailed him his Christmas tip. I thought I was making a subtle point, although I picture him getting an unfamiliar card in the mail and scratching his head, wondering who the hell it came from.

So last year I used his damn-o card, and I put his damn-o tip in there, but all I wrote inside it was my own damn-o name. And address. I signed my damn-o name with my address so he would maybe try a little harder not to break my windows. But I couldn't bring myself to wish him Merry Christmas.

Yesterday, the SASE came again. This morning, I sit at my desk with the card in front of me, getting angrier and angrier the more I look at it. I am sorely tempted to tear the whole thing into bits.

Let it go, Prudence. It's Christmas...

I know, Goody. I know.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Christmas Tree, Part 2: The Lights

You already know the Murphy’s laws about the lights. That they’re going to be tangled when you take them out, no matter how carefully you packed them up last year. Although mine weren’t. That, inevitably, one strand will fail to work and you’ll have to drop the project in the middle and run out to the CVS for more. Although I picked up my spare set in November. And that you’re either going to end up with a bare foot and a half at the top of the tree, or else six extra feet of twinklies hanging down the back. Although, somehow, mine always seems to come out exactly right.

Since you know all this already, and since I'm so gosh-darn Christmas-perfect, I thought I’d go ahead and share my – I mean, Prudence and Goody’s – Six Important Rules Regarding Lights on the AssVac’s Christmas Tree:

1. They are white. Period.

2. And they are small. Big bulbs are for retro-kitsch and airport runways only. Maybe an EZ-Bake oven, if you get your mom’s okay.

3. For thirty-eight years I’ve been dying to tell you what you can do with the red-tipped bulb that makes the whole thing blink as if it were endeavoring to spell out “Live Nude Girls.” And now… well, being a Christmas woman, I can’t say it!

3. Lights go all the way around the tree – 360 degrees, even if it’s in a corner. Trust me. You can tell.

4. And they go all the way inside. I’m talking trunk-deep. That sucker should sparkle from within.

5. Never, never, never string them in patterns like a garland.

6. And last but not least: don’t be stingy…

…there are upwards of 900 bulbs on that seven-foot fir.

I do wish it was eight-foot, though. But if it were, I suppose I would’ve had to run out to the drugstore after all. Then I would not be quite so Christmas-perfect.

And you would not be nearly so impressed.

Next: Garland!

The Christmas Tree, Part 1: The Stand

Let me tell you about one of the smartest purchases I ever made – actually, probably the smartest purchase that I ever made – which is this Christmas tree stand in the shape of an old-fashioned sled.

The wooden parts are made of actual wood, and the metal parts (including the exactly-trunk-sized vessel where the water goes) are of painted wrought iron. Probably lead paint, but who cares? The thing measures 15”x24” and weighs – I made Johnny stand on the scale with it – just over nineteen pounds.

It has a jabber thing sticking up out of the bottom , so you don’t have to fuss with leaving space below the trunk so it can drink…

… and those one-inch lug nuts on all four sides are like little hands holding your tree steady all month long.

With this stand, a person could put the tree up by her lonesome if she has to (trust me, I have). It never leans as long as the screws are tight (trust me, I know). And once it’s up, you cannot knock it down (just trust me).

All a person has to do is slip the stand over the trunk while the tree lies on the porch (that trunk, by the way, is 5½” in diameter) …

… while keeping out a careful eye for Christmas ghosts:

Jeebers, I hope that one didn’t get inside while the door was open!

Then lift the whole thing up, carry it into the living room, and set it down. A little butter on your hands to get the pitch off, and voilá!

(That tree's smaller than I usually like, but que será. You will notice I put the tree skirt underneath the stand. Don't want to mar up those refinished floors!)

No more swearing, fighting, sweating. No more toppling trees, screws in the floor, or fishing-wire strung from every wall. No more anything, for that matter, associated with putting up the Christmas Tree except for Ho-Ho Harmony and Merry Cheer.

Best. Marital Aid. Ever.

I wish I could tell you where to get your very own, but I got mine almost ten years ago. Whatever third-world orphans had a hand in crafting it are probably long dead by now. And I do know that it was made by third-world orphans because, you see, I paid just fifteen dollars for it.

Saved us probably thousands in couple’s therapy.

Next: Lights!

Saturday, December 8, 2007


We’re getting our Christmas Tree today! I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say on that topic later, but I wanted to update first on a couple yesterday-things.

First of all: I haven’t heard from ’Phaz yet on the fact he won the contest. When I do, I’ll get his permission to post pictures of his prize. Or not, if he wants to be a dink about it. Which I’m allowed to say because I know him. I would never say such a thing if one of you lovelies had won.

Second: thank you, thank you, thank you Nana Jan, for defending Josie’s Christmas Pudding against Anonymous (ahem) cake-sniffers!

Nana Jan says, and I quote: “There shouldn't be a problem with eating this - its been well preserved in three ways - the high sugar content (lollies don't go off because of the high sugar content), the high alcohol content (you don't throw away your whiskey when its a year old) and the vacuum sealed bag as well! It used to be a tradition to save the top tier of the wedding cake (fruit cake, similar to this fruit pudding) to eat at the first child's christening - that could be a year or two but the cake was well preserved by the sugar (not just the added sugar but the sugar in the dried fruit) and any alcohol it may have been soaked in.”

See, nay-sayers? And Nana Jan survived just fine! Plus, when I read her comment to Johnny, he remembered eating baby-cake as well. So we're going to eat that Christmas Pudding and we're going to love it. In fact, if I hadn't blogged about it here, we would probably have served it to the family without telling them its provenance and they never would have been the wiser! Now, however, we suspect we'll be the only people brave enough to put it in our mouths -- except for a single intrepid bleader up in New York State whose first name I only just now learned. How's that for a throw-down?

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, I Love Upstate has offered – of her own volition – to taste, and blog about, Josie’s Year-Old Christmas Pudding. I ought to be able to get it out to her today if I can get a move on here, but it’s up to her to decide when to eat it. If she wanted to save it for Christmas, I wouldn’t blame her. That's what we plan to do.

Last but not least, regarding yesterday: I had my oral surgery. That whole shaving-away-the-bone thing I’ve been fretting over since September? I thought I had it scheduled for next week, but My Canadian Dentist called me Thursday night and asked if I could come in Friday morning.

“No” I said

“No?” she said.

No I said!”

Well. It turned out what I had set up for next week was just a consultation, and after that there wasn’t an available appointment for the actual surgery until into the new year. My Canadian Dentist didn’t want me to have to wait that long, so she ran around and found a person to do it and a time to do it at and a room to do it in, and if I really couldn’t make it she would understand, but…

“O-kay,” I said.

“I was lying about the ‘no’ part,” I admitted.

“I can come.”

I was going to tell you all about this yesterday, and mewl and puke about it like I usually do, but I decided to sack up (as the Bard would say) and see how it went. So I did, and now it’s over, and I’m feeling about a billion times better than I thought I would have been.

It wasn't fun on the table (or chair, I suppose), that's for sure, but it didn't hurt. For some reason the Novocain refused to kick in, but I wasn’t shy about hollering for more. I came home feeling like I'd been kicked all over, went to bed, and Johnny made me scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes for dinner. Then, cocoa with Peeps. Or hot chocolate. Whatever.

I've got a whole complicated regimen of cleaning that I have to follow twice a day, and instructions on what and when I can and cannot eat and drink. But I'm really not in any pain, and the stitches are supposed to come out in a week – at which point, I believe, I can eat and clean like normal. So, all in all, it is nowhere near as bad as I fretted for three months about it being.

Oh, and when this doctor (who was, I believe, Syrian; I’ve had the g-d United Nations in my mouth these past few months. Reminds me of the early ’90s, only this time I’m paying them. Ba-dump-bump. Anyway…) when this doctor first looked in my mouth, he said: “You’ve had braces, yes?”

“Uh-uh,” I grunted.

“No?” he said. “God did that?” And then called all the students over to look at my perfect teeth. He had me open and close and smile and bite, and used a pointer to show them how everything was lined up just the way it should be. Later, when the assistant was talking up the merits of gold crowns over porcelain, Dr. Syrian interrupted him to say “Yes. Usually.

"But it would be a sin to do that here.”

I like Dr. Syrian!