It's not about the house.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Sadie Hawk-up

Would you like to see the #1 reason why we bought this house? I crunched out in the 9-degree snow in my slippers (that’s Fahrenheit, for all you foreigners) at 6:30 this morning to take a picture of it, so I might as well go ahead and show it to you. Here:

Goddamn pussy willows.

See, I grew up down by the ’docks – the boondocks, that is. Not quite in the boonies, but you could sure as hell see ’em from the second-story windows. Our playground (which I loved, by the way) consisted of a gravel pit, a seasonal swamp – sorry, “vernal pool” – and a wooded hill that ran the length of the street behind everybody’s houses.

There was also a body of water on the other side of that hill. Officially, on maps and everything, it is named “Grassy Pond” and, since it was too overgrown for swimming or fishing, we would forget that it existed for summer months on end. But come winter, all the neighborhood kids clambered over with their ice skates – after somebody’s dad (usually ours) had wandered out and jumped around to make sure it was safe.

Coming back over that hill at the tail end of skating season, we’d push through snobs of soft grey pussy willows (“snobs” = a good name for a pack of cats if such an unnatural thing should happen to occur). Sometimes we’d get mesmerized among them, holding the branches with mittened hands, rubbing furry buds along a frozen cheek or lip – but usually we’d just rip off an armful as we hurried by, to present to Mum in gratitude for the homemade hot chocolate that was always waiting for us on the woodstove.

(Are you gagging on your Rockwell, Norman? Well, I’m not kidding. So suck on it a while.)

As time went by, I always remembered about the skating and the swamp and everything – I still love to tell stories about playing on the hill, and about the dead fish that I once spent hours chopping from the ice with the heel of my wee skate-blade (I thought I’d bring it home for dinner: Dad convinced me to just let it lie) – but I’d near forgotten about the pussy willows until four years ago today.

Because it was four years ago today that Johnny and I first set eyes on the AssVac. We did a drive-by, called the realtor, and he met us with the key. Before going inside, Johnny wanted to take a walk round the perimeter – which is a very smart idea, insofar as you’re already doomed to purchasing real estate, that is – and on that first walk through the yard I saw this catty shrub in soft grey bloom.

We went inside, of course. We looked around. We measured things and kicked things and scratched ourselves. But my head was too busy remembering things past to think about dry rot and black mold logically. I wanted that pussy willow, and so we bought this house.

Why couldn’t we have walked by a month later? Or sooner? Why couldn’t Pussy have been a bunch of dead sticks when we first saw her? Or in full, ugly, lime-green leaf? I would not have recognized the plant for what it was, would not have had my madeleine moment, and then I might not have been too stupefied to realize “NO! I don’t want to spend the next ten years racing an adjustable-rate mortgage to the move-in-condition, for-sale finish line!”

Then again, this is me we are discussing. “Stupefied” is a pretty good description of the way I go through life.

Since then, every year at this time, when the pussy willow blooms, I look at it through the kitchen window and my heartstrings tie in knots. I remember those idyllic years on Grassy Pond. I remember that first innocent walk-through, when we believed that the AssVac would be easy, even fun. Then the things she’s taken from us – the blood and tears and sweat and money and near-death experiences, the tears and cash and dignity and great gallons of wet, snotty tears – come crashing through in one grey fuzzy ball. And I hate the old girl all anew, because she ruined the pussy willow for me.

But this year, this day, this first Sadie Hawkins day since the one on which we met the abhorred bane of our existence, things are just a little different. I’m trying, but I can’t remember having wept over her since the last time the pussy willow bloomed. I’ve wept, for sure, but not over a house-related injury or an unexpected setback. This year, for the first time since we moved in, all injuries have been recreationally (or dentally) induced, and all setbacks have been expected. Or, if not expected, at least placidly embraced. Or, if not placidly embraced, at least bitched about ad nauseam on this blog.

So we’ve decided, for today, to pretend those first three years never happened. We’ve decided, for today, to pretend we bought the AssVac as she is and spent the last twelve months unpacking. We’ve decided, for tonight, to sit by the fire in the 100% finished living room (one of two rooms in the house that really are, yet) and pretend that, if we had the chance, we’d do ’er all again.

And also, while we’re at it, we’ll pretend our mortgage rate is not set to adjust until February 29th, 2044.

*Johnny never heard of Sadie Hawkins Day, and when I explained it to him he asked me who she was, she sounded Irish. (In case you haven’t noticed, everybody sounds Irish to Johnny. Oh, and in case you other non-Americans who read this have also never heard of Sadie Hawkins: it’s a Day on which you have a dance where the girls are allowed to ask the boys, instead of the other way around. A bit outdated now, perhaps, but try to think of it as another pussy willow from my youth). When Johnny asked, I realized I didn’t know where the name had come from, and so I looked old Sadie up.

Apparently, she was a character in
Li’l Abner. Some of you might have known that already. Also, apparently, the real Sadie Hawkins Day is in November – not on February 29th at all. And there are people on the internet getting really mad about making the distinction. But those people are mostly leap-year babies, and they’re just upset that we’re horning in on the thing that makes them special.

Probably it
did start out in November, I don’t know, but this is the first I’ve heard of that – and I’m going to keep using it in February if I damn well want to. By the next time it rolls around, with any luck, we’ll have sold the AssVac and be on the Airstream lam, where all those Leap Year Dudes can never catch me.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Comfortable Disease

For the past few days, I have been busily – okay, tortoisely – clearing stairs and shelves to put things on.

That is, I’ve been clearing shelves to put things on, and then also clearing stairs. Not clearing stairs to put things on. I would never do that. I mean, I’d put things there. I’d put things there as soon as look at them – and a hell of a lot sooner than walk up, I tell you what – but I would never clear them for the purpose. The attic stairs are usually a great big piley mess and (not those kinds of piles, gross!) and I’m not even usually the one who does it, anyway. Although I am usually the one who clears it off. Which now I’ve done. Again. See?

God, they’re ugly.

Anyway, so I started with the stairs, and since then I’ve been doing one shelf every day. I told myself that’s all I have to do until it’s finished. Or Saturday. Whichever comes first.

Which do you think is going to come first?

Well, hey, those top two shelves are empty. And, you know, the stairs.

Besides, so what? For that matter, I do not hereby swear to actually clean-sweep the things on Saturday. I know I promised myself I would and everything, but it wouldn’t be the first time that I haven’t kept my word. I’m pretty well good and g-d used to it by now. Hell, I’ve damn near come to expect it of me. After all, you don’t end up with an ass like mine by keeping every last this-time-I-mean-it vow.

Meanwhile, Johnny has been cleaning. He started with a tear through the house with the vacuum cleaner (suffice to say: it’s been a while) and then a whole day of congratulating himself and lipping his cookies to a soggy mess after each bite for fear of getting a single crumb on his clean floor. I told him for christ’s sake why didn’t he just go get a saucer, and he told me for christ’s sake why didn’t I just shut my bleedin’ hole, and then we both collapsed into a fit of hysterics. Still catching his breath, he wiped tears from his eyes with the back of his right hand – which may be why he missed the trash can with his left and dumped cookie-crumbs from the empty package all over the damn place. Ooh, I nearly shat myself on that one!

(“Biscuits,” he says. “Not cookies. Biscuits.” Not in this country, my friend! Why don’t you shut your own?)

Anyway, after vacuuming he went down cellar. He’s been organizing to make room to bring the cabinets down. Not that there wasn’t room, per se, but, well –

That was one of the first pictures I ever took – sometime around last April, I believe, the day the furnace blew. It’s gotten worse down there since then, what with all the Kids and Outies tromping in and out, but I didn’t think to get a picture before Johnny headed down.

I can imagine how that must disappoint you, but think of this: you and I will be surprised together to see it when it’s done. Because you’d better believe I haven’t so much as set a toe on the top cellar stair while the project’s going on. I don’t intend to.

And that’s a promise to myself I will not break.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sheesh, This One Was HARD.

[ed. Imagine I'm Bernadette Peters, and I'm standing on stage with my hands behind my back, blowing hair out of my eyes when I'm allowed to take a breath. Which is not often... ]

Okay, so…

If I put an ibid. where an ibid. shouldn't go, is it okay to op. cit. it or is that not apropos? Su sought to serve solutions so she said some stuff she know, but her ibid. info irked me insomuch as I was wro—

I was wr—
I was…

“That cannot be the case,” I cogitated. “It’s not so. I can’t be incorrect.” And I commenced my cocky crow. “Can anybody out there tell me what I want to know? Can I op. cit. an ibid.? Or do you not give a fo?”


Janice (known as Nana) thought I meant to say ditto. Charlie agreed with her, and then she cited Chicago. They were both right of course, you know, as far as ditto goes, but when I dittoed ibid. I was trying to be droll.

Funny, in a fuh-fuh sort of way…

Khurston and the Other Bear and cousin DonnaStaf, had no idea whate’er I meant but they all made me laugh. Braveheart seemed to understand, he disagreed with Chuck, and they both read Chicago, so I ask you: what the—?

Fuh-fuh funny?

That brings us round again, our big end back where we began. It’s down to me v. Su (don’t call her Susan or Suzanne). Consensus seems to be (although no one’s explained it quite): it really doesn’t matter, we ain’t either got it right.


Big finish...

Let me get my breath here...


Ignoratio elenchi, obscurum per obscurius (o.p.o. est idem quod ignotum per ignotius). Per reductio ad absurdum, quod erat demonstrandum. Id est: illegitimi (et/an res) non carborunduuuuum!


Thank you ! Thank you
very much!

[ed. again: And tomorrow, we'll get back to our regularly scheduled programming of me fixing up the house and bitching about it, I swear to god.]

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Think I Feel an Attack of Poesy Coming On

In my Ernestine post about an hour ago, I said this (in the context of other things):

"Do you want to hear me chastise myself for op. cit.-ing an ibid.? No. Because no one has used either of those terms in twenty years. "

Then Su said this:

"I know the rule.. you can ibid an ibid but must NEVER ibid an op cit. That is from my butt when I actually had to write documented term papers. Wow I love retirement!"

And now I'm confused.

I know you can ibid. an ibid. (and you can ibid. an ibidded ibid., ad infinitum), but I thought the other rule said that you can ibid. an op. cit. but you can't op. cit. an ibid.

I googled it before I posted it, because I didn't want any smarties out there telling me I was wrong. But I couldn't find the rule. Just lots of definitions of the terms, and lots of pointing out how obsolete I am -- I mean they. Are. How obsolete they are.

This led me to conclude that, if the rule was far enough out of date that even the internet has never heard of it, I could go ahead and make my little joke. That, if I fo'ed it up, no-one would be the wiser.


But this topic is just begging for iambic pentameter, don't you agree? So. If y'all are looking for something to do whilst I break dishes and hurt myself...

Let's have a POEM CONTEST!!!

What is the f-o rule I'm searching for? I know this is a toughie, so I'll be open to three types of entries:

1. You know because you just know (Anyone? All those editory-types out there who sometimes, I think, get drunk and read this blog?).
2. You think you know, because you googled (not easy, though; I tried -- and I am, like, a freaking genius).
3. You don't know, but you can make me laugh.

Don't send more than one of #2, though. We've got enough Number Two around the AssVac as it is.

One Ringy Dingy...

I have been sitting here for a half an hour, unable to think of a single stupid thing to share.

Do you want to hear about how I started the shelf-project last night by cleaning off the attic stairs? No. Because I wrote about that once before, and it was funnier back then.

Do you want to hear about how Johnny cleaned the whole entire house while I was at work and then, when I got home, tackled the basement? No. Because then you'll take his side in everything.

Do you want to hear the correct answers to yesterday's quiz? No. But I'll tell you anyway: 1. e (all of the above), 2. ibid., 3. a, 4. op. cit., 5. this was a trick question because, you see, that last picture was not really my husband.

(Do you want to hear me chastise myself for op. cit.-ing an ibid.? No. Because no one has used either of those terms in twenty years. )

All right. Fine. So I got nuthin'. But I don't want to stand accused of phoning it in just because I've got nothing to say. After all, why would I phone if I had nothing to say?

So I'm going to log off now and go do some stuff. Maybe, if we're lucky, I'll break a dish or hurt myself or something. Then I'll have something funny to tell you all about this afternoon.

ooh, ooh, ps in the meantime -- look what came in the mail the other day:

Okay, maybe I could have done without the flash, but still: FINAL NOTICE. Scary! Who's it from?

SCARY! What do they want?

Shoot! How did they find me?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Riddle Me This

1. If you’re having a lovely lazy Sunday, and at the tail end of it you flip the switch to turn on the garbage disposal and it does dud-freaking-nothing, you should:

a) turn on everything else in the entire kitchen because it’s easier than going down to check the fuse.
b) panic that you knocked a wire loose shifting things from one cabinet to another.
c) yell at your husband, because you didn’t put anything in the cabinet under the sink so he must have done it, after you specifically told him not to, and now he went and broke the frigging pig!
d) try the other switch.

2. Speaking of pigs, this


a) a pig.
b) a rat.
c) a noble cultural symbol that oughtn’t to be joked about, because it represents thousands of years of proud tradition and rich, spiritual history.
d) Baby Jebo.

3. Speaking of old prunes, this

a) Jean, in Estelle Getty’s bathroom, which looks an awful lot like mine.
b) Me, in my bathroom, which looks an awful lot like Estelle Getty's.
c) Estelle Getty, in my bathroom, looking an awful lot like Jean.
d) My new kitchen

4. Speaking of eating in the bathroom (which used to be my punishment for being bad), when I get home from work this afternoon, I should:

a) start knitting for the other baby already, so she won't wind up being christened in her birthday suit.
b) start organizing those shelves off of the attic stairs already, so maybe I can put my kitchen back together before 4th of July.
c) return the battery/charger to Radio Shack already, and go to Best Stupid Buy and get a new one, so I don't wind up throwing my new camera through a window.
d) watch a re-broadcast of the Oscars.*

5. Speaking of very small men, the cutest picture of my husband is which one of the following?


*Speaking of which, my theory is this: the Academy believes they really stuck it to George Bush by giving all the Oscars away to bleedin' foreigners, except for the ones they gave to the movie that "
demonstrates how pitiful ordinary human feelings are in the face of implacable injustice." That Academy, boy, they sure are radical lefties!

Answer, and discuss.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


1. I'm over here today. Hamlet was a punk. Pass it on.

2. After I post this, I'm logging off. For the entire day. I promised Someone. But if Someone goes out for cigarettes, I will sneak in.

3. Someone, as you can see from the pig-rat pictures below, is still pretty beardy. But I caught him doing this:

So I think he might be honing draw-chops for the beardy-shaving prize.

Or he could just be upset the daffodils got buried in snow this weekend, so decided to go ahead and draw himself a Bloom.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I Is So Organizized!

Ta da!

(Ignore the stuff on top; we'll deal with that later.)

And also: ta da!

I is so pwowd of me!

Except, well...

Remember what I said about keeping Johnny from piling crap all on my newly-empty space?

He didn't. I'm happy to report that, for once, he has (so far, at least) managed to let an empty space just be.

But, um, somebody else seems to have put a thing or two down on the counter.

On the table.

In the middle of the g-d dining room.

And, unfortunately, whoever did it has had just about enough organizizing for the afternoon. Weekend. Month. Year. Lifetime.

You want to know what's worse? I'm not even finished with the emptying.

But I've gone as far as conceivably possible with the filling-up.

(You will notice, please: I moved the plates.)
So all this crap I've piled around is going to have to stay right where it is. Until I can organizize the shelves inside the attic stairs. Ugh.

Yeah. Um.

How long, do you imagine, that job's going to take?

My House, Out of the Ordinary

I started working, but I balked at actually opening the bottom cabinets. I just can't imagine where I'm going to put everything that's in there. The new ones are already full. So instead, I started out by clearing the counter, which has the added advantage of allowing me to show and tell you this:

Last night, we may or may not have had a couple beers. I'm not saying. It's entirely possible that I took all those pig-rat pictures sober. Yes, it is. But I will say that Johnny left his cigarette in the ashtray again until it shortened and fell out. He does this all the time, to the extent that I have had to make rules about where the ashtrays are and are not allowed to be. I don't want all my furniture to have little burn marks on it. And I sure as hell don't want him burning down the house.

This time, we were in the kitchen. The ashtray was in an approved location. We got carried away discussing who is more Fascist and Usurping -- Super Delegates or Supreme Court -- as regards election-deciding without the input of the people. I said Court, because I support Barack Obama so I'm more upset about what went down last time than I am worried about what might happen now. Johnny's for Hil, though, so he said Super D. (Those weren't our official reasons, but they're what it was all really about, I think.)

By the time we finally agreed to disagree, his cigarette had fallen out and

But who cares? We're tearing it out next weekend, anyway! So of course I grabbed the Sharpie I'd been labelling spice bottles with, and wrote all over it. What would you have done?

I'm more concerned with stopping him from filling that empty counter up with another load of useless crap before we get a chance to haul it down to the basement. Because oh, yeah, that's the decision: we're keeping the cabinets and setting them up in the basement. For all of Johnny's useless crap.

AssVac/Destructo Landscaping Lesson #1

While we were bathing the cat--

Oh yeah, we bathe the cat:

I don't know who looks sadder about it, her or Johnny.

Anyway, while we were bathing the cat, we saw this out the kitchen window:

The city (or, technically, town) is snowblowing the sidewalk! Yay! We don't do it every time. We know we should, we're sorry that we don't, but we don't. We do it if we can, but the snowplows dump all the street snow there, and if the storm is big enough, I really just can't manage it. We don't own a snowblower. Another point of contention between me and the little Irishman. Although, now that my back is bad enough I can't stand up with a shovel full of snow, and so I have to do it all hunched over like Quasimodo, I might just let him win that one after all. If we could afford it.

Anyway, moving on...

There's a space there, in the corner, between the sidewalk and our fence, where there's maybe ten square feet of actually earth. Not wanting to have to drag the lawn mower out and around the fence all the time to deal with it, we dug it up and planted lilies and wildflowers. Then the neighbors decided to drag their lawnmower over. So we put down a bunch of rocks around it, to both demonstrate and enforce the idea that we didn't want it cut.

Guess what happens when the big city snowblower runs over a bunch of rocks.

I'm not quite sure myself, but boy howdy is it loud! And then the guy gets out and puzzles over it. And then he drives away.

I sure hope they're not going to hold us responsible.

Quick, Johnny, go hide all the rocks!

P.S. Guess where a wet cat settles after you put her through the indignity of a Head & Shoulders hosedown.

On your pillow, of course.

Does Putting a Drawer-Pull On a Cabinet-Drawer Count as DOING Something?

In case some of you were working or shoveling or doing some other industrious thing and didn't notice, I avoided all productive accomplishments yesterday in favor of playing with pig-rats and my new camera (see below).

Speaking of which: my new rechargeable battery for the camera should really be lasting longer than a couple snapshots, right? I thought so. Guess Destructo worked her magic charms again. But at least she didn't break the camera, like she thought she did. It turned out she'd just hit the button that makes the display screen go blank, only she didn't know that it was there, so she recharged the battery again and then when that didn't work she stomped and swore and threw pig-rats around. Then she noticed the button.

For those of you who were paying attention yesterday, this explains why the pictures stopped coming suddenly and then started up again.

Anyway, Johnny has made me promise no internetting tomorrow beyond the basic morning post. We're going to spend the day in front of the fire. After such a wasted yesterday, and anticipating such a wasted morrow, I really don't feel like doing anything today.

But I have to.

Those damn cabinets aren't empty yet, even though I swore they would be by this weekend.

So I'm going to go one shelf at a time, and I'm going to take a lot of pictures, and I'm going to make a lot of stupid jokes about our stupid crap. It's the only way I can see myself getting through it.

Hell, it's pretty much the only way I can see myself through anything.

Here's a little snifferee to get you started. I mean me. To get me started:

This is what happens when you really-really love Progresso Minestrone soup and they keep putting it on sale for a dollar, but your husband keeps on making homemade soup that's even better. Those two cans on the end are generic cream of celery. For green bean casserole. Because I don't eat mushrooms. Ever. Because they taste like you-know. Also, a girl's always got to have a can or two of Campbell's Tomato handy, just in case she needs a little impromptu coddling. And lastly, that green one in the middle: Healthy Choice clam chowder. Yuck.

Oh, and this?

This is not homemade soup. Don't think it is, and get confused, and spend all day worrying that Johnny's finally going off the deep end. This, it turns out, is the old-school way of removing paint from the hardware that you took off the living room windows two years ago and only just last month found in a Ziploc in a drawer.

And that? Underneath it? That is a dirty stove.

Go ahead. Make something of it.

Friday, February 22, 2008



Swiney Todd

Pig-Rat Hero

I'm working on the suggestions that were offered. Keep 'em coming!

Viva Las Pig-Rats

For Cake!

Anybody else got any bright ideas?

March of the Pig-Rats