It's not about the house.

Friday, October 31, 2008

It Ain't Over Till the Grey Hoodie Swings

Last week was the first time in three years the Patriots played a football game without me on the team. They won anyway, so I guess I wasn't the most crucial player or anything -- but then again, they're tied for first place in the division without Tom Brady or Rodney Harrison, so there's obviously no such thing as a most crucial player.

I mean, besides the coach. Sorry Coach. Oh my lord, I'm heartily sorry, Coach. I'll just be out here running suicides until you feel I've properly atoned...

Anyway, what I'm talking about is this:

I bought it a few weeks into his rookie season (in 2006) because I thought he was going to be good. I mean (and I'm not ashamed to say it, even now), I thought he could conceivably be hall-of-famer good. Those first few weeks, he ran like a Heisman trophy with a jet pack on its back. Sure, he jigged a little, but he was a rookie, with Corey Freakin' Dillon as his mentor. Soon enough, I thought, he was bound to learn to power through.

I always do like a rookie, anyway. They're like unwrapped Christmas presents: they could turn out to be anything. Besides, in a system with so many stars and so much turnover, do you really want to be wearing the same #12 jersey as everybody else (especially, gag, in pink)? Or #18, who played his heart out for us but was only ever slated to be here that single year?

So anyway, I bought #39. And learned that the thing about unwrapping Christmas presents is that sometimes, after you play with them a little bit, they up and break.

His rookie season went extremely well. But the next year they took Corey Dillon away and it turned out Maroney hadn't exactly learned to power through. Not consistently, at any rate. Then he hurt his shoulder, badly enough to need surgery, and he never played consistently again. He hadn't ever gotten hurt before, and it seemed to spook him. A few weeks ago, it started looking like he was actively avoiding potentially dangerous plays on the field -- when he had the ball -- and finally, on October 20th, they cut him. Well, not cut-cut. He does still have that rookie contract, after all. He's on injured reserve. Only everybody's wondering whether he's really hurt.

So I shelved my jersey.

Now, I am notoriously jinxy. I am willing to shoulder (so to speak) at least part of the responsibility for Maroney's jinxed career. For that same reason, I've been hesitant to buy myself a replacement shirt. I thought about going with an old standby -- but oh, lordy, I couldn't take the guilt if anything happened to Tedy Bruschi. Last weekend, watching the game, I thought I might go in for Ellis Hobbs -- he's been around long enough to prove sturdy and everything, yet he's not exactly an everybody's-wearing-his-shirt marquis star -- but no sooner did I have the thought then BAM. He got hurt. On his shoulder, nonetheless. They say he'll be okay, they say he'll play this week against the Colts, but I'm definitely going to leave his #27 shirt alone. I even briefly considered the new kid -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis -- but then I thought: he's got enough weight to carry around with all those extra names, he doesn't need me hanging off his back as well.

But then last night I had a dream. I dreamed that I was riding in the back of a moving pickup truck in the rain, with all wet leaves and everything along the road, and I decided it would be symbolically amusing to toss my Maroney jersey over the side. So I did, and as we drove on, I watched it sort of flatten itself and become one with the leaves and tar.

A few miles later, we stopped at an intersection, and there was a fellow in his front yard with a handsaw, slicing the number off the back of a football helmet. It was a vintage one, with the old logo on it, and the number that he cut off and tossed aside was 40. I asked him why he was doing it, and he said "Fuck him. He's like sixty years old these days. Who needs him?"

I jumped out of the truck and ran back all those miles in the rain, up and down hills, through leaves and everything -- past, for some reason, a display of Chicago Bears jerseys all mounted in hand-over-heart salute -- but when I got back to where I'd dropped Maroney, he was gone.

And I woke up.

There is no way I knew this at the time, but I googled it this morning. Number 40, from 1976-1982, was a fellow by the name of Michael Haynes. He, too, sat out almost an entire season on injured reserve -- after playing in the first six games, just like my boy. I know this has to be the fellow that I dreamed about, because there hasn't been a #40 since. The Patriots retired the number after he took it off. He's a hall of famer, now.

I'll be putting my #39 jersey on again this week. Until Santa Coach says this gift's broken for good, who am I to question the wisdom of his workshop? If nothing else, as long as Maroney isn't on the field, at least the Jinx can't be doing him any harm.

But, um, speaking of Santa Coach... can I stop running these suicides now? Pretty please? I'm really sorry!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

As a Matter of Fact: Update

I found the receipt! It was in the driveway. Must've fallen out of the car when i went to fill it up with beer yesterday.

Anyway, apparently a new tire doesn't cost a hundred dollars (if you click on the picture to make it bigger, you can read it fine):



What the hell?

As a Matter of Fact...

Somebody screwed me on the tire deal, I'm just not sure who it was.

Yesterday Guy did not try to sell me a new tie rod, or manifold, or engine mount, or any of the other woolly things I was certain he was going to try to pull over my eyes, but when he called he did say that:

A. My right front tire was completely bald. This was the newest of the four of them. The one that blew and was replaced in June. So why was it the baldiest? It was also the one I thought was wobblingest, however, so maybe it wasn't balanced right when it was mounted, and that's why it was bald? But Jimmy wouldn't do that to me, would he? Jimmy the tire guy?

And, worse:

B. My tires were four different sizes. Which would certainly explain the wobbling. Um, Jimmy? Seriously. What the hell?

Apparently one of them was the right size, and still good, so I only needed three new ones -- which he would "rotate" (I assume this meant he moved the single keeper?), balance and align for $250. This didn't sound too bad to me, considering one new tire costs $100, rotating and balancing four old ones costs about that, too, and an alignment alone runs $60-$80. I told him to do it. Johnny said why didn't we just go ahead and get the fourth tire so we'd have all new ones, but -- unable to think of a reason fast enough -- I just told him to shut up.

With tax it came to $265.something. I imagine he really just sold me the tires and threw the rest of it in for free, but I don't know. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a look at the receipt?


I thought I left it in the car, but I can't find it...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

If U're Good, I'll Even Let U Steer

I think I feel a rip off coming on...

Chuck (TFT) has been wobbling at high speeds for a while now, and we have a three-hour trip planned in a fe days so I thought I'd take him in and get his tires balanced so we wouldn't have to worry about losing one and getting stuck in Rhode Island any longer than is strictly necessary.

There is a tire place is right up the road. not Jimmy's, which I wrote about before, but it does have the advantage of being close enough to walk home from. I planned to drop off Chuck, then walk up to the post office, and -- if he hadn't called me on the cell already to tell me he was finished -- to walk home and wait for him to call. I planned to tell him when I dropped Chuck off that all I wanted was the tires balanced; that, if he found anything else wrong, I can't afford to fix it, so he shouldn't even ask. I planned to ask him to just please make a note of anything he noticed and carry on. I planned on being so savvy and smart.

Instead, what happened was, the building says "TIRE ALIGNMENT CENTER" on the side in big blue letters, so when I walked in, I accidentally said "I need an alignment" without even noticing that I misspoke.

"What makes you think so?"

"Well, it wobbles if I go above 55, 60 or so."

"An alignment won't fix that."

And with those five words, with me still not noticing we were talking about two different things, my brain and my brilliant plan went out the window. He asked me what kind of car I had, and I could not remember (I said Plymouth Reliant; it's a Voyager). He asked me for my license plate, and I recited two different ones from two different cars, neither of which was Chuck (TFT), but I couldn't remember this one until he was outside writing it down. And noticing it was a minivan and not a K car. By the time I handed him the keys, I felt like I should have just put my wallet on the counter, my pants around my ankles, and my palms down on the floor.

So now I'm not getting much done while I wait for him to call and tell me Chuck needs a thousand dollars worth of work. I plan to tell him, no matter what he says, that I meant to ask him to balance the tires; I plan to tell him to please just rotate them and do that and nothing else. I plan to make up for the girlie idiot I behaved like before.

But I'm practicing grabbing my ankles, just in case.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Adventures in Wine-Making, Week Three: Things to Fight About

1. "Remember to breathe when you lift that heavy thing or you'll give yourself a stroke! In fact, here, I'll do it..." "You will on yer arse. Fuck off."

2. "I already rinsed the tube!" "Yeah, but you have to get the inside of it as well." "I did!"

3. "I did not, however, whip it around in the air to dry it out. Hey! Watch where you're swinging that thing!" "Sorry."

4. "You didn't take me picture when I was suckin' it with me mouth?" "I did."

5. "Get me a cutting board." "Why?" "To put under one edge to tip it up." "If you do that, it will just slide along the counter." "No, it won't." "Yes. It will." "What do you suggest I do, then?" "Just tip it with your hands." "But then it will -- argh. Y'see? Get me a cutting board!" "Fine. Here. It'll slide." It didn't.

6. Next: Cider! But you don't have the proper yeast, which Johnny swore last weekend that you did, so you have to drive all the way to Cambridge and back to get it. Then when you get home you realize you don't have enough honey, so you have to go to the grocery store, and for some reason at the grocery store you decide to not buy any beer. And then you dissolve all the honey and brown sugar in the half-gallon of cider like it says, but while you're waiting for Johnny to rinse and wash and sterilize and rinse out the carboy, the half-gallon of cider cools and all the sugar and honey you so carefully dissolved fall out. So Johnny stirs and stirs it, but neglects to turn the burner on beneath it, and when you point this out to him he insists that "if he turns it on, it's gonna burn" and he sticks to this theory even after you point out that if he doesn't, it won't dissolve, finally turning the damn thing on only under duress. Then it says to filter all the cider when you pour it in, and Johnny insists this isn't necessary, but you think it's probably still a good idea, so Johnny thinks the best way is to shove the cheesecloth into the neck of the carboy, under the funnel. You try to find out how he expects to pull a wet ball of cider pulp through the neck of the bottle, but when his only answer is "You do realize I've been doing this for thirty years?" then your only option is to cry a little until he takes it out and lets you do it your way. The straining was not necessary; there was no cider pulp. Then he wants to put pectic enzyme in even though the recipe doesn't call for it and you let him because you're sick of fighting and also because the cider was a little cloudy the last time you made it. And you want to pitch the yeast first in warm water which also isn't called for and he lets you because the cider is still pretty goddamned cold, even with the twice-boiled half gallon with honey and brown sugar. Then Johnny insists you have to stare at it until it starts to pop, just to make sure the yeast is working, at which point you decide maybe Budweiser isn't such a bad beer after all.

There are no pictures of the cider.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

And Then...

...the big scary dinosaur reached his hand through the office window and made off with Johnny's beer.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Pint Trick: A Johnny Story

Before you play...

1. Don't be alarmed: that phone that rings in the middle there is ours. And the voice you'll hear on the machine is Andy's. (Remember Andy, anyone?)

2. Just to be clear: The name is Pecker Dunne, and there are two of them. One a friend of Johnny's ("My Pecker" or "Dublin Pecker") and one is what Johnny calls a knacker -- which I think might have of late become a not-very-nice thing to say, but there you go. Traveller, gypsy, substitute whatever word you will.

3. I'm sorry I talk like such a retard when I know I'm being videoed.

Now enjoy!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oh, and Also?

It's like 65 degrees out there today.

Soooo glad I caved and turned on the freakin' heat.

Oh, Man!

I forgot all about Hank. Or Henry. I forget which one was which. I also forgot all about both of their hammers.

But man, they sure didn't.

Bang bang bang bang...

I dreamt of pile-drivers on the Mississippi River last night.
Good thing I'm stocked up on the old Cafe DuMonde.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Cave

Every year, I try to wait until November 1st to turn the heat on. Every year on October 1st, I think "This is going to be easy!" -- because every year on October 1st it's 75 degrees and there's only four weeks left -- and then every year, sometime before November 1st, I cave.

I'm prouder of myself this year, even though I lasted shorter ("lasted shorter" = the official House and I opposite of "lasted longer") than I have other years, because this year we were swinging without a net.

God, it's been so long since I've written anything about the AssVac, you don't even know that we're fireplaceless this year! Yeah, we are. Boo, hiss. But we've promised ourselves to trudge out in the snow and warm ourselves by the chimenea once or twice. And we're risking it on Christmas Day, come hell- or chimney-fire.

What happened there was this: nobody will sweep our chimney anymore. Because #1. it isn't lined (which has always been true), and #2. it is apparently just a bunch of dust held together by creosote on the inside (which has not). We found this out last year, when it was swept for the final time, and we talked about solutions. I wanted to get a clay liner put in and continue using it as a fireplace; Johnny wanted to put a woodstove in and use it to actually heat the house. So we discussed it. For which read: we did nothing. All year long. And then I caved.

I don't even remember what my logic was. I think it went something along the lines of: what the hell. The woodstove is important to him, everybody else seems to think it's a good idea, I might as well let him win this one. The exact same argument worked out so swimmingly when we bought the AssVac -- what could possibly go awry here?

But I did put my foot down and insist that, if we were going to do this, we were going to do it right. No drunkies from the pubby who know a guy whose father used to be a chimney sweep. This was our house we were fucking with. This was fire. We would get a pro.

(Actually, first I insisted that we get the fire inspector down here to tell us exactly what we had to do, but the fire inspector said the chimney was not his gig. He said the it fell under the jurisdiction of the building inspector, which I thought was odd, considering that -- according to every other person at town(ville) hall that I talk to -- it's not true. But never mind.)

I was supposed to line up a bunch of guys and get a bunch of quotes, but yeah right. I never freakin' do that. Instead I procrastinated and then brought Johnny with me to the fireplace store down the street. That dude tried to sell us a gas insert, wanted to "make double-sure we were completely, absolutely comfortable with the idea of burning (dum dum dummmmm) solid fuels inside our home." I said "You mean wood? Yeah, I'm okay with that. I wouldn't want to torch, like, plutonium or anything, but I'm cool with a chopped-up oak."

Anyway, we convinced him we were okay with specific tree-based fuels and he informed us that it was going to cost upwards of $6000 to put a woodstove in our fireplace -- oh, and by the way, we couldn't get one until February because there is currently a worldwide shortage of cast iron.

Ah. Now I see why you're pushy with the gas. Well, I still don't want that, dude, so phooey on youey.

The backup plan was supposed to be the old clay liner (which is what I wanted originally, if you recall). But by the time we totted up what that would cost, plus two cords of wood at fuel-shortage, late-season prices, all for what really amounts to little more than living-room light-show entertainment (and which actually makes my bedroom colder, because the thermostat is out by the fireplace thinking it's toasty warm and knocking off the heat) we just couldn't justify the (still more than two-months' salary) expense. But, like I said, we'll be tossing a twelve-pack in the snow and whooping it up a few times this coming winter. If you see us out there, stop on by!

Anyway, all this is to (very long-windedly) say that we haven't even had fires so far this October to keep our tootsies warm and skirt the letter of the no-heat-till-November law. And it's been cold. Only very recently, but still. I woke up the other morning and it was twenty-nine degrees! Outside, that is, but -- again -- still!

I didn't actually know what the inside temperature was until yesterday, because the battery died in the thermostat last April and I never got around to changing the old one out. This was not just procrastination on my part. It was meant to be my secret weapon against Johnny in the annual No-Heat-Till-November Wars. If he decided to go behind my back and turn it on -- like he always does -- he would be foiled! And I knew he wouldn't take it upon himself to change the battery. He never changes the roll of toilet paper or the kitchen sponge -- and it took him four and a half years to change the blown-out light in the refrigerator -- so come on. I was going to win this years November War for sure!

(And yes, I could have changed the light bulb sooner, but no, I didn't care that it was dark. Meant I didn't have to clean the fridge. And when he did eventually change the bulb, he cleaned the fridge. So I won that one, too. From what I hear, it was disgusting.)

Now, crap. Where was I? Oh! So when I saw the Weather Channel say it was 29 degrees outside -- and mind you this was after sunrise, so it must have been a few degrees colder overnight -- decided I'd better put some batteries in the thermostat so it would at least kick itself on if the inside temp dropped below 55. That wasn't cheating. That's just good homeowner-sense. With which I unquestionably burst.

But then of course we had no batteries, and naturally I forgot to buy them, and finally yesterday I found and robbed one out of this little itty-bitty flashlight that we've had for years and never used. So you just know Johnny will be looking for that flashlight tomorrow (don't tell him why it doesn't work; we'll see if he is capable of changing a battery or if this defect is congenital).

When I finally put the battery in the thermostat, it said the AssVac's internal temperature was 59 degrees.

And it stuck there.

And it stuck.

It was also stuck on a 24-hour clock. That was annoying until eventually I figured out how to change it, but this 59-degree thing was neither a setting or malfunction. It was a temperature. In my house. And it was cold.

Now, I know 59 degrees is not so cold on the outside. It's all a question of perspective. Let it be 59 in the sunshine and I'll run out there in my shirtsleeves. But slap it up there on the wall and it is bleak.

For two days I paraded up and down in front of the thermostat, willing it to say 60, or 61. Sometimes it worked, if I got up close and breathed real heavily I could sometimes tick it up to 62! But I can't say that had a noticeable effect on the overall climate of the house.

Finally, this afternoon, I was sitting at my desk wearing a t-shirt, two sweatshirts (one with a hood) and a cotton sweater, jeans (alas, no long johns) and a blanket on my lap -- drinking tea! -- and I was still cold enough not to be able to concentrate on my work. Johnny was moving heavy things around, so he was okay in a long-sleeved tee and flannel shirt (oh, by the way: I have no more drywall pieces in my back hallway! Someday soon I'll show you pictures!). The dumb boy cat had pulled the blankets back on the day bed in my office and made himself a little nest. And Sister was stalking around looking for somebody to kill, kill, kill! I tried to explain to her that maybe, if she slept somewhere other than next to the biggest window in the house (which is really supposed to be a sliding door, but never mind), she might actually be a whole degree or two warmer -- and anyway,  aren't cats supposed to be famous for finding the warmest spots? But she just snorted and sized up my carotid artery.

And so I caved.

I turned the thermostat to 62. I took off the cotton sweater. Sister is now sleeping in the guest bedroom on the brand-clean, folded sheets (to ensure they'll have to be washed again before I can put them back on the bed; and to teach me a little lesson in prompt housekeepery). Dodo was sitting on my lap until a minute ago, when he fell asleep and toppled off. And Johnny's at the pub.

But he swears he's on his way home any second.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Good, the Bad, and the Seriously Tousled

Johnny does not have poison ivy.


He does, however, have his second appointment (well, technically fourth appointment, but second where they'll actually be doing something) for his root canal today.


That's why I decided not to use the flash.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We're Hookers!

Johnny and I played complete hooky this weekend, and now I'm scrambling to get my brain back where it was.

In the meantime, here's a picture of my stupid cat:

Sometimes, holding his own head up is just too freakin' hard.

Sometimes, I know exactly how he feels. But I drink beer.

What's his excuse?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Plums, Plums, Plums...

Dear Johnny,

I love you. But if you half-wrap a plum pit in toilet paper and throw it in the bathroom trash again, you'd best protect those plum-pits of your own.

I did not know what it was! And it did not look healthy!




P.S. I did not examine it closely enough to identify it. I freaked out and ran to the living room and asked him. He said "Plum pit!" as if it was the most normal thing in the world. I did not ask if he'd eaten the plum while actually sitting on the throne. Some things in marriage just have to remain a mystery.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Quick Question:

Is this poison ivy? Growing up the side of my house? That Johnny just spent an hour and a half ripping out? And trudging through? Before he noticed it? Because it was mixed in with the thorn bushes? And what are those thorn bushes, anyways? We used to think they were wild roses, but are they really? Should I have taken a picture of them? Isn't the poison ivy question more important?

Either way, that is definitely a shadow of my head.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Oil Can! Oil Can!

Thank god for this. Especially now. For reasons that I can't go into. But...

Remember that scene in the Wizard of Oz when they find the rusted Tin Man in the woods? And he's been standing there for who-knows how long with the lip-loosening juice he needs just ever so remotely out of reach? And then, ka-donk, ka-donk and pretty soon he's singing?

Yeah, like that.


The Endorsement

I don't usually do this, mostly because I don't usually notice or care about what products I'm using, and if I do then I don't usually remember what they are.

What kind of deodorant do I use, for example? Nay, what kind of deodorant have I used, consistently, for going on fifteen years? The red kind. Red package, that is, the product's blue. One Friend says it's supposed to be for men, but I don't care.

I briefly changed cleaning products a few years ago when the one I use altered its packaging and I couldn't find it and assumed it had been discontinued. Same with my clay mask. I still have to rely on One Friend to dig up that one for me.

But anyway, this product, I noticed. And I wasn't going to tell you about it because I thought it was local and I thought you couldn't get it, but when the container was empty I actually checked and it turns out I was wrong.

It's Edy's!

And it really tastes like mushed-up ice-cream sandwiches! With extra carrageenan gum in the ice-cream part and everything! Johnny surprised me with it the other night! It lasted three whole days!

I think in some parts of the country, Edy's is called Dreyer's -- yes? But I think you can still get it made by them (too bad for you all you wrong-side of the planet folks who read this: sorry). What most of you can't get, though, is Brigham's, which is what I thought it was.

Which is too bad, because Brigham's has a flavor called "Just Jimmies" that I was going to recommend till I realized y'all were out of luck. It isn't really just jimmies -- it's vanilla ice cream with jimmies and pieces of sugar cone mixed in! Also, they don't say so, but I'd swear some of the sugar-cone pieces are chocolate-coated! Too bad you can't get it!

Oh, well, in searching for a picture to show you -- because I don't happen to have an empty one of those lying around under the coffee grounds in the bottom of my trash can -- I discovered that I can no longer get it, either. Because, apparently, it was seasonal.

And apparently jimmie season's over for the year.

Don't say it! I know what you're thinking, and don't you say it!
They are TOO called jimmies! Yes, they are!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Let There Be Light

I couldn't take a picture of it where you could actually see the damage, but Johnny singed his whole left eyelashes and brow.

He's been re-glazing the windows on the sunny side of the house. He started out replacing the glass on the one he tripped and put his head through -- and he actually suggested we replace that one with Plexiglass. I said "we are not putting plastic in our windows!" He said "It's not plastic, it's plexi!" I gave him a look. He said "well, it's dangerous! What if it happens again?"

Listen, I love you, honey. And I'm sure it was scary to put your head through the window. It was scary enough for me to come home from my weekend away and find your baseball hat in the yard in a pile of broken glass. But plexi is plastic, and we're not replacing the windows with plastic on the off chance that such a fluke happens again. We'll just be glad it was the Green Bay Packers hat that Gerry gave you, and not the Patriots one that you got from my sister.

Anyway, in the process of replacing the broken one, he noticed that one of the windows in my office was practically falling out. Needless to say I never picked up on any such thing myself, but it would explain the arctic breezes that blow through. And replacing that one led to him doing that whole side of the house and now the porch. My kitchen's still not finished, but I suppose having actual panes in our windows come snowfall is ever-so-slightly more important.

So anyway, re-glazing windows involves taking the old glazing out and scraping and scraping and scraping and scraping. It involves a heat gun and lots of elbow grease. He mentioned something about having to burn off the something left around it (I don't know how taht sentence ened because I stuck my fingers in my ears and sang "La la!"). He has a bruise up the side of his right arm from when his hand slipped with all the scraping and he clattered the elbow of him off the wall. And then the other day I noticed he was missing all of his left-eye hair.

"My gosh, honey, did you singe yourself?"

"Yup," he answered with a little grin.

"That's not funny! How did you manage that?" I couldn't imagine accidentally putting the heat gun in your face long enough to singe your eye, and I didn't want to imagine the fireballs of lead paint that might be happening in the cracks of my house while I'm away.

"On th' stove."

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my Guild-Trained Irish husband can burn the glazing off the windows with a beer in one hand and a heat gun in the other.

But he nearly blew his face off trying to light a smoke.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Not True! False, I Say!

My silly news service tells me that this is going to be one of the big toy sellers this Christmas season:

Her name is Baby Born With Magic Potty, she comes in all kinds of different colors, just like people, and she really pees and poos. Just like, well, you know.

I have no problem with this. I am aching to say that I think it's really weird anyone would want a doll that pees and poos, but I have no right, because I really wanted one when I was little. And that is how I know that this part of the article ain't true:

"Launched in 1991, the crying, potty-going doll was the first to boast 'human functions.'"

Not true! False! It may have been launched in 1991, but if so then she was not the first. Because by 1991 I was 22 years old and had long outgrown my fascination with things potty (what? I said I had. It grew back since then, but I had), so the one I wanted must have been around whole decades earlier.

She was called Baby Alive, and if you fed her applesauce it would come out in her diaper, and my friend Dusty Lee had one. Dusty Lee was so cool. As if you can't tell by her name. That was her first name -- Dusty Lee -- and she refused to let it be abbreviated. You couldn't call her Dusty, or Lee, or whatever her last name was (I forget her last name, because we always called her mother Mrs. Nuts. She kind of was, a little bit, but the name came from the Mr. Peanut watch she always wore. Anyway...)

Dusty Lee had Baby Alive, and we fed it applesauce and it came out in the diaper, and then we went and played with something else, and when we came back there were ants crawling all through Baby Alive!!!! In her mouth, through all however-many feet of her pretend intestine, and out her diaper hole. It was creepy.

And that's how I know I can no longer trust Weird News Service. Which is too bad, because the next story is about a Roumanian cart-horse getting arrested for driving drunk. I happen to know the legal blood alcohol limit in Roumania is zero.

So he probably only had, like, one light beer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Townville. Feh.

This is the envelope for me to send my water/sewer payment in.

Can anybody tell me what's wrong with this picture?

Now, I know you can't see that the check inside is for north of $300. That is definitely wrong, but that's the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority for you, so that's not the "wrong" I'm talking about.

Here's a close-up:

Now do you see?

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Good News Is...

At least I can talk about the Patriots again.

I said nothing last week and they won, so I said nothing this week either.

And this happened...

There's no way that shit was my fault.

30-10. Feh.

Oh, and since I'm breaking my silence and I'm not afraid of jinxes anymore... Well, I can't quite bring myself to say the mean things I was going to say.

But I will say this:

What? What? I said it! What?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ask, and You'll Get Stuff!

One of my favorite blogs to read is Lucky Pork, though I don't know if "read" is really the right word. A silly picture, a caption of a hundred words or so (or sometimes no caption at all), which are together guaranteed to make me smile. Or snort. Because yes, I am exactly that demure.

Here's a random example, just to give you an idea:

Friday, September 28, 2007

a little too honest

I went out with some friends last night for a little happy fun. My friend Tracy told me that she doesn't like the lady that sits in the cube next to her at work so she farts and then points her fan in her direction. Sometimes i don't really want my friends to be that honest with me.

You see? You see what I'm telling you? Snort!

Okay so anyway, a couple months ago I asked this blogger-person (I have come to call her, endearingly, PorkPie) how she makes her pictures. She said she draws them by hand in black ink, then scans them in and colors them on the computer.

Time passed...

Then I got the nerve to ask her if she kept the originals, and if she did, could I have one. She said yes! Any one I wanted! All I had to do was choose!

Time passed...

I had a lot of fun looking through her archives. I made a list a mile long of favorites. I made another list of ones I didn't want (witness the above, for instance). But I could not winnow it down. I couldn't choose.

Time passed...

Finally, a few weeks ago, she posted a picture of herself and a donkey she met on vacation, and she implied that one or the other of them may have been slightly drunk.

THAT'S IT!!!!!!!!

(Sorry for the Lucy Van Pelt moment. Maybe it's the cartoonishness that put me in that frame of mind.)

So I gave her my address and she sent me not just that original ink drawing...

...and not just also the colorized version...

...but plus also an original little doodle that she whipped out just for me!

Well, for me and Johnny. Which is why they aren't hung yet. Because we're having a little disagreement about where they ought to hang. He wants to put them all together in the living room, and I want at least one of them in my office to provided me with convenient snorts as necessary.

We'll sort it out eventually, of course. I suspect I'll win because, well, any compromise is really a win for me in this one, right? But maybe not. He's been really good to me lately, and maybe I will just decide to let him have his way.

I will tell you this for nothing, though: she seems to have spilled something on the envelope, so Johnny thinks we ought to frame that, too...

... but we will not.

Thanks, PorkPie!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Adventures in Wine-Making, Day Nine

Sorry for the delay. I got distracted. This week, on Dirty Jobs, my Dirty Boy was making all kinds of Dirty Jokes about his Dirty Tool. I had to go to bed for two days with the Dirty Vapors...

But I'm back now, and ready to tell you all about Day Nine!

Day Nine is when you put it -- the juice/wine/must stuff, whatever you call it at this stage -- into the secondary fermentor. Which is just a fancy way of saying "clean bucket." Or bottle, as the case may be.

As the case is here:

That's it when it was still up on the counter full of sterilizing fluid. A.K.A. bleach.

No! A.K.A. not bleach! I was only kidding about the bleach! A.K.A. Something Else! I don't know what it is because Johnny's in charge of Buying Stuff, but it comes in a package that says "sterilizing jazz" (or something along those lines) so that you know it's not really just bleach -- just like you know that what's in a package labeled "lips and assholes" is not really just hot dogs.

Now, what you have to do is, you have to siphon the wine-solution out of the primary fermentor (first bucket) into the secondary (jug). Johnny got this step set up and going too fast for me to take a picture, because he didn't want you-all to know that he was using his mouth to get the siphon going.

I said "So what? How else are you supposed to do it? And besides, I'm just going to tell them anyway."

And he said "Well, then make sure to tell them not to swallow what they suck up in there, or else they'll have the scutters for a week!"

Which sent me into a fit of such hysterics that it was half done siphoning before I managed to get this shot:

(Okay, maybe not quite half done, but still...)

Here is where gravity -- the real gravity, not the specific kind -- comes in handy: bucket on the counter, jug on the floor, both of them covered with white napkins so God can't see them eating baby birds.


Okay, now both of them covered with -- well, so, that's a wad of toilet paper, but it works. Really it's just to keep the fruit flies out until we put the lid on.

Which, ta da!

Now the wineless primary looks like this:

And if you thought the wine would give you scutters, boy howdy! You don't want to go anywhere near that scudge. The glass or two of plonk you might manage to salvage just ain't worth it. Trust me. Or trust Johnny, actually. I wouldn't know. Cuz I don't poop.

And that's it! Put the glass jug somewhere out of the way and try not to jostle it for the next couple of weeks. The airlock will bubble away and the cloudiness will settle out as the yeast eats up all the sugar it can find and farts and dies.

Which, oddly enough, is almost exactly what I do when I drink it!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Adventures in Wine-Making, Day Eight

Actually, day eight is the same as days four through seven or so. It's not supposed to be, but it is. Because when you go to sterilize a carboy to decant the mess into, you realize that all the carboys in the house are full of old, other wines that Johnny made and never got around to bottling.

You may have written about this in a post somewhere before.

So before you can do your eighth-day-ish things, you have to get all of the other everythings out of all the other carboys, figure out what-all they are and whether or not you'll still dare to drink them (yes, yes, no, oh hell no), then bottle the keeper stuff and dump the rest (that third one turns out to be a very effective windowsill trap for the fruit flies that have been hovering over the airlock on the concord wine) and then sterilize all the gear (sterilize the living daylights out of that last one) before using any of it again.

This takes all day. Which is exactly the reason that it has never been done. Because these are all Johnny's projects, and Johnny sometimes has a little trouble finishing things he starts. Witness your kitchen. Johnny, in fact, is starting to suspect that this Concord Grape Wine experiment may be something you cooked up solely to force him to deal with all of those old wines and bottles. It is not. You only wish you were that clever. If you had been, you would have thought of it the first time you got grapes off those vines. In 2005.

So anyway, day eight seems to have come and gone and you're still standing here squeezing the bag.

Ah, hell, what's one more day, specific-gravitationally-speaking?

(Muskego Jeff suggests we invest in a hydrometer if we're going to keep this homebrew business up. THAT'S the word! The thing you use to measure the specific gravity. I don't know, though. I'm still not sure I even believe in this "specific gravity." Let alone "hydrometers." I mean, gravity, in my experience, has always been pretty freakin' general. "Down" more or less covers it. Right, Val?)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Adventures in Wine-Making, Days Four Through Seven or So

Well, really that title should say "Days three through six or so," but since we forgot day three, we're starting on day four and tacking an extra day on to the end. We don't know if that's necessary or if it's just plain wrong, but it's what we did.

Really, you're supposed to measure the specific gravity of the wine to tell you when it's done, which has something to do with how much heavier or lighter than water your liquid is, which tells you (I think) something about the alcohol content. But you need a special tool to measure it and we say bollocks to that. Dionysus didn't have no specific gravity measuring machine, and he did pretty well for himself, as far as we can tell. Right?

So for days four through seven or so, here's what you do:

Step One: Open the bucket...

See that scudge floating on top? That's yeast poop. Or dead yeast. Or something. Actually, I've no idea what it really is, but it's supposed to be there, so don't worry.

Step Two: Stir it...

You can't see it in this picture, but there's a spoon in Johnny's hand and he is stirring it. Make sure you stir in all the scudge, and get down to the bottom where more yeast poop/dead yeast/whatever has come to rest. Johnny says it doesn't matter if you scrape every last bit off the side of the bucket, but when it was my turn to stir I did anyway. Because I'm good like that. And maybe just the slightest bit obsessive.

Step Three: Squeeze the bag. This is not a euphemism. Use the spoon.

The neat thing is that it will turn itself over for you. As you squeeze the gas out of one side, when you release it the gas that's still in the other side makes it bouyant enough that it flips gently over and presents itself to you for squeezing. Very helpful.

Oh, and that gas, by the way? Definitely yeast farts. Definitely.

It's not necessary for you to taste a little of it every day, and in fact Johnny refused because he's scared of live yeast, but I did. Just, when I was done, I let a drip from the spoon fall on my finger. The first day (which as we know was technically the fourth day) it still tasted like Welch's grape juice, but by the last day it was actually starting to taste like wine.

Not good wine. Not yet. But at least we know it's working.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Weight

I'm new to the video, so the light is bad, but I promise you that this is not Kurt Cobain...

We Interrupt

I've mentioned how we're thinking about moving to Ireland if something bad happens here in November, right?

So Johnny's been talking to his brother -- who lives in the house we own and would be moving to -- about the state of it and how we would arrange this if it should happen. He's on the phone right now, in the other room, and I overhear this:

"No, no. Nobody ever died in the bathroom."

Adventures in Wine-Making, Day Three



You entirely forgot about Day Three.

Well, here's a Johnny story to tide you over...

and let's hope it will be okay if you do Day Three on Day Four.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Adventures in Wine-Making, Day Two. Finally.

Step One:

Open the bucket:

Don't worry, the future wine only looks brown for the first day or so, and even then only after you stir it. You really should remember to take the picture before you stir it. But you do deserve credit for finally rememberin to take the picture at all. So congratulations!

Oh, yeah.

Step Two:

Stir it.

Step Three:

Add the yeast.

Try not to dump it all right on top of the bag of pulp, if you can help it, because...

Step Four:

For god's sake, DON'T STIR IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just let it sit there and mellow until it starts to make itself at home. Smell that? That's yeast farts.

That means it's time to put the cover on and walk away.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Adventures in Wine-Making, Step -- Oh, Where Was I? Nine? Ten?

Let's see... picking, cleaning, squashing, tearing, straining, fighting, tying, and adding sugar-water. Okay, we're on Step Nine.

Step Nine, then, is adding this:

Half a teaspoon per gallon of must. "Must" means -- well, it probably means either the amount you have in the bucket right now, or else the amount you will have in the bucket after you remove the big fat bag of pulp. It definitely means something, that's for sure. We added 2 1/2 tsp.

Step Eleven is adding this:

This one wants one whole teaspoon per gallon of must. But the neck of the damn bottle is so small you can't get the spoon into it, and it's too lumped up in there to pour out smoothly, so you have to shake it out grain by grain until a big fat lump comes leaping out and smashes on the kitchen floor. Do not sweep those grains up and throw them in the wine. I added five teaspoons -- well, technically, I added one tablespoon and two teaspoons, which equals the same thing. We're obviously working on the assumption that we have five gallons of must, whatever "must" might turn out to be.

Please note: that label denotes this as food grade urea. This does not mean you might as well pee in your wine. I have it on good authority that food grade urea and human pee are not identical at all. Not even close enough for jazz.

hands, maybe...

Step Twelve is adding this:

These are tablets. I have no idea what's in them, but I know that you're supposed to put in one per gallon. It doesn't say "gallon of must," though, so it could mean per gallon of anything. We used five, just to be consistent. You have to crush the tablets up before you add them but for god's sake don't use the measuring spoons you just used for the urea, because you'll bend them all to hell trying to crush the tablets. Just use a soup spoon. No, you don't have to bleach it first. Why do you ask?

So you put all that stuff in and you stir it with a big-ass spoon, and you put the lid on it with water in the airlock and everything, and then you put it somewhere nobody's going to be tripping over it and now you are all done with Day One. Do absolutely nothing else to the wine until tomorrow.

Don't even take any pictures. Tomorrow, when you add the yeast, you can remember to take some goddamn pictures.

Hm.... I just now noticed that I seem to have skipped over step ten. Step Ten was being told you don't have any yeast Nutrient and fighting about how you should have been told that yesterday when the store was open and you read the recipe, and then looking in the fridge and finding a whole big bottle of it right there on the door where it belongs.

Yeah. That's step ten.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Adventures in Wine-Making, Step Two, Etc. Really This Time

Okay, sorry I got distracted by the earwigs for so long. You would've, too, if you'd seen the fuckers. They're all dead, now, though. I hope. And so we're moving on.

Step Two is putting all the (clean, earwig-free) grapes in a bucket, rolling up your sleeves, and squishing the living hell out of them. Traditionally, I suppose, you'd be rolling up your pants, but I was putting the final touches on The Massacre of the Insects, so Johnny was in charge of this step, and trust me when I tell you that you wouldn't want to put your lips near anything that touched that boy's bare feet. So we can all be grateful that he used his hands.

Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures because I was so busy wringing my own hands and humming along with the grind of the garbage disposal that I didn't notice he was doing it till it was done.

Step Three is pouring the whole lot through a strainer bag, making sure to catch the juice in a big bowl or bucket or whatever. Jeez! Don't dump the juice down the drain! Like I always do with chicken stock! that would be stupid!

I didn't get a picture of this, either, because I was In Charge of Holding the Bag.

Step Four is when the person in charge of holding the bag thinks she's (or he. It might be a he. You don't know) thinks she's being clever and tries to stretch the bag over the lip of the bowl and it rips and all the pulp goes through and you have to get a new bag but before you can use the new bag it has to be bleached first to sterilize it and after that it has to be rinsed really-really well, because bleach will also kill yeast and you need yeast in order to turn grape juice into wine, and this all takes a while and no, apparently you can't just skip this step and for god's sake while I'm doing this would you keep an eye on the juice/pulp to make sure the fruit flies don't get into it please thank you?

I didn't get a picture of this because there was Yelling Involved.

Step Five is a repeat of step four, only this time the bag already had a hole in it.

Step Six is cutting a piece of twine so you can tie the bag off under where the hole is and hopefully that will do the trick and everything will be okay, because at this point it's after 5 on Sunday and there's noplace open where you can buy another bag, and you can't just leave it like this in the bowl until tomorrow. And in case you're wondering, the answer's no. No, even though you absolutely had to bleach and rinse the bag, it apparently does not matter -- not one whit -- that the twine came straight out of your kitchen drawer and you cut it with scissors that were last used for who-knows-what but probably cutting the grapes off of the earwig vine. It doesn't matter. Just tie the goddamn thing already!

Step Seven is pouring all that juice into a sterilized bucket, along with the twined-up bag of pulp and ten pounds of sugar dissolved in some hot water. Ten pounds is a number that I think Johnny made up; "some hot water" means enough to cover it in that big black pot we have and then heating it on low till it dissolves. Also, stir the sugar while it's heating, or else shut it off for Jaysus' sake.

Step Eight is the very small hole on the bottom of the bag that you didn't notice until you let it go and it floated over on its belly, at which point you decide you're going to have to strain it when you decant it to the secondary anyway, and so who cares.

I'll tell you about step nine and etc. tomorrow. In the meantime, here's a picture of some pumpkins Johnny grew:

They are wee.