Friday, November 30, 2007

Another Day, Another Truck


In the immortal words of the dwarf...

I am NOT Happy.

I finally finished my CAP survey at 11:00 last night with several hours to spare before it's due today. Thank freakin' God. If I never see another DVD of swimming sperm it'll be too soon. The only thing lacking from this one was a soundtrack. It was disappointingly silent. Lori suggested "Flight of the Bumblebees" as an option and then I couldn't get it out of my head as I watched.

So I headed home at 11:00 singing, oddly, The Who's "Pinball Wizard" on the drive home, and I was trying to puzzle out some of the lyrics. Remember the bridge?

"I thought I was_____, but I just handed my pinball crown to him." What??

What did Roger Daltrey think he was?

Anyway, I was driving south, concentrating on Pinball Wizard, when a deer appeared in front of my truck. I never saw it run out there. It just...was. So I stood on the brake and whipped the wheel to the left. Cleverly, the deer ran to my left also. I hit it broadside at about 45 miles per hour and it exploded in front of my eyes.

You know how time slows down in a crisis? I was standing on the brake, fishtailing towards a ditch, watching the deer's head and neck fly over the roof of my truck while the front half and the back half of the torso broke apart at the ribs, and I was thinking, "Huh! I never would have expected it to do that!"

The truck continued to spin after the impact and eventually it landed in a shallow ditch on the northbound side of the road. It was smoking like mad but still running somehow, so I turned it around and ran it back up the hill and onto the road.

It was making a godawful racket; the valved were clattering, something was dragging underneath, the radiator was steaming and hissing, there was a grinding, scraping sound coming from the engine, but was still moving. My left headlight was pointed at the treetops on the right side of the road and my right headlight was gone completely. The frame was bent, so I was pointed in a vaguely southeasterly direction while the wheels were aimed due south. But it was still moving. Yay!

I was about 15 miles from home on a dark road without too much traffic, and it would have been a long, cold walk home if it had died completely, so I slowly crept towards home. It was tricky, since neither of my headlights were actually pointed at the road, but I figured what the hell. What was I going to do, hit another deer? At that speed, it would have laughed and walked away.

After about 5 miles the heat stopped working and I noticed that the temperature gauge was pegged at the top, and the oil pressure gauge was pegged at the bottom. But it was still moving. I made it to my mom's house and thought that if I get desperate, I can wake her up. But my mom isn't good in a crisis, so I was hoping not to have to go that route. A couple more miles and I was in Cobden, which was dark, cold and empty. Even the cop who stakes out the place near the park where the Mexicans hang out and play basketball...even he was gone. The OneStop was closed, the taco stand was shuttered...Fuzzy's Bar may have been open, but since the truck was still moving, I kept going. At that point I was thinking that if I had to walk now, it would only be 7 miles home.

But the truck kept going...loudly and smokily, but still moving. Just as I pulled into my driveway, whatever had been dragging fell off and I ran it over. I'm still hoping it was a truck part and not a deer part. I parked the truck and shut it off and one last cloud of smoke belched forth. Now it's as dead as the deer, and probably just as unsightly. list of things to do today is to get the other truck going again, and put the valiant little Ranger out by the road with a "Free" sign on it's windshield. Someone will take it for parts, I'm sure.

This is precisely why I buy $400 trucks on eBay. Although this was scary and inconvenient, it was a fairly inexpensive disaster. Besides oil changes and new wiper blades, I hadn't invested a dime in that truck in the 6 months I owned it, which means that the price was roughly $75 a month, plus the cost of gas. Luckily the other truck, the one I paid $300 for, is my favorite. I'll get that one back up and running and after Christmas I'll start shopping for another crappy eBay backup truck again.

This morning my right leg hurts from ankle to hip from braking so hard, but otherwise I'm pretty okay.

But I am NOT Happy.

Another One Bites the Dust

On my way home from work tonight I hit a deer. The deer exploded. The truck is totalled. I've had two naprosyn and three beers and I'm stiffening up as I type.

On the bright side, I finished my survey.

The details of the story will be tomorrow's post...provided I can get out of bed. And how's your day been?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Project!

When my son was a little kid, I started buying Klutz Guides. His favorite was "Juggling for the Complete Klutz" and the set of beanbag juggling balls it came with. My favorite was "The Incredible Clay Book" with it's rainbow assortment of polymer clay and detailed instructions on how to make millefiore beads, buttons, jewelry ... and miniature food.

I loved it so much that I bought a lot of little tools and spent most of my evenings making tiny soda crackers, tiny fruit, tiny pies, tiny cakes, tiny veggies, tiny cookies, tiny candy ... and then storing them in a Rubbermaid container because I had nothing else to do with them. Somewhere along the way, I decided that someday I wanted to build a dollhouse to display the tiny food. That's as far as I got on that project.

I've moved several times since then, and the tiny food hasn't traveled very well, but there are still a few pieces left unsmashed, and I still get a kick out of making it, although it's significantly harder now that I need bifocals. It's also a little difficult to take a picture of!

Last year I started buying books on miniature making, and this year I've asked for a dollhouse kit and a fancy stylus Dremel tool for Christmas. When I dragged Ev to the St. Louis Miniature Museum last month she bought me a kit to build a 1/4" scale Christmas village. So, tonight I bought all the supplies needed for assembly, cut out all the pieces and sorted them into Ziplock baggies, and with any luck I'm going to turn this:

Into this:

in time for Christmas. I'll let you know how that goes. Now, where did I put those magnifying glasses??

A Rebuttal

I read Lori's post with my first cup of coffee this morning and I'm considering it. I'll cop to the blogging slump and the Christmas-hating, but not to the post-Thanksgiving depression.

Mostly I'm mentally bogged down with work stuff. I've got a huge CAP (that's College of American Pathologists to you acronym-challenged folks) proficiency survey due Friday, and several other end-of-the-year things to do, and I've been so freaking busy lately that I can't figure out when I'm going to get them done. So every night I leave work more and more anxious about how I'll get it all done in a holiday-foreshortened month.

The only bright side to that dilemma is that I have Friday off this week so come hell or high water, I'll have to finish the survey by Thursday night, and Friday it'll be out of my hands.

You know those people who thrive on stress? I'm not one of them.

So the leftover turkey is turning into soup as we speak, the chainsaw will be back from the shop Friday and new firewood will be forthcoming. The pies are gone, but I'm too fat anyway. Maybe having the pies go bad will help me stave off my heart attack for a few extra months.

But let's not forget, Gentle Internet, that winter is a time of senescence. The universe clearly wants us to do less, since it provides us with less daytime to do things. Outside it's cold and muddy and dark; it's much more fun to be sitting in a recliner in front of the fireplace with a book and a cat.

But yes, it's true that I also dread Christmas and all it's obligatory merriment. I like food and I love my family, but I hate decorating and I LOATHE pressure. And Christmas, with it's mandatory shopping requirements and suicide-generating faux-cheer, is the worst of all holidays for me. Give me a Memorial Day picnic or a Labor Day barbecue any day. Those are holidays I can get behind. Christmas makes me anxious about time and money and schedules...and being pushed into a state of anxiety by societal responsibility makes me angry.

I don't begrudge Lori her decorating and planning, I just don't have any desire to participate. I like going to pick out a tree at the tree farm, and I don't mind bringing it home and wrestling it into the tree stand. At that point my decorating needs are met and I'll be spending the rest of the month hiding from the calender.

But I'll blog more after Friday, scout's honor.

It's Bleak, Folks

I can't help but notice that we finally blew off NaBloMe in a big way. I know I keep waiting for Ev to have some bolt of inspiration and blog something, and I suspect she might be hoping I'll pick up the ball and run with it for a few yards, but I'm afraid we're in a slump here in Nowhere, IL.

We kicked it into high gear to get through Thanksgiving, and then ... we tanked. Maybe it was the tryptophan. You see, we thought we were going to have several out-of-town guests for the holiday, so Ev roasted a 25 pound turkey. It turned out to be just us and our veggie-eating girls, so we've been working our way through that Big Bird ever since. Yesterday we finally had to throw out the remains of the pies that had begun to get moldy. No matter how much you love pie it just isn't possible for two women to eat six pies in five days when they have to spend part of every day at work.

Now we're heading into our official Holiday Slump. It's cold and drizzly outside, the leaves have all fallen, the grass is crunchy with frost every morning, the dog has decided it's too fucking cold to go outside to pee, we're burning through our woodpile like (you should pardon the expression) a house afire, we need to whack down another dead tree for more fire wood but the chainsaw is in the repair shop and there are tubs of Christmas decorations in the shed taunting me. I can feel Ev psychologically holding her breath hoping against hope that this year it just won't happen. We won't hang the stockings by the chimney with care. We won't deck the halls with boughs of holly. We won't hear any Christmas music. We won't shop. We won't don our gay apparel. (Well, okay, we'll have to don our gay apparel because the only alternative would be going naked and NO ONE want's that.)

But on the upside, we're going to be visited by our missing sons this Christmas, so there's that to look forward to.

Deep in the innermost reaches of my subconscious I've been dangling "December 1st" in front of my medulla oblongata as a sort of semi-goal for putting away the Thanksgiving decorations and considering the remote possibility of starting to unpack Christmas, but I know that's the first step on the slippery slope that will plunge us into the black hole of despair that only this time of year can bring, so I'm dragging my feet.

And neither of us want to blog. Sorry, but we suck in December, and for all intents and purposes, the last half of November, too.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Yeah, yeah...I'm going to hell.

And speaking of "My cats were NOT happy"...This is one of my all-time favorite jokes. :-)

I rear-ended a car this morning. I knew it was going to be a really bad day. The driver got out of the other car and I looked down and I realized he was a dwarf. He looked up at me and said “I am NOT happy!”

So I said, “Well then, which one are you?”

And that’s how the fight started.

LOLOL...Ha! You Asked!

People from the middle of the country scare the crap out of me.

Maybe Bennie was right, if we made Turkey the national bird we would all be eating something else tomorrow.

Okay, I got to ask. How did Turkey save your cat?

21 November, 2007

Well, funny you should ask. Ha! I get to tell another story. And by request this time! :-)

Several years ago my daughter Carrie dropped by our house with her new cat. My cats were NOT happy. Muffy Puffy, our 10 year old cat, was particularly displeased. She hissed, and then ran into my bedroom to hide. Carrie and the cat stayed for a couple of hours and then went home.

Several days passed. Since I'm not an attentive cat mother (and I'm iffy on my human children too), I didn't notice that Muffy Puffy was missing. Finally, we figured out that she was gone and started searching the house for her. We found her under my bed, where she'd been hiding for the three days since Carrie had been there. She hadn't eaten, drank, or pottied in that time. When I dragged her out, the whites of her eyes were a bright golden color, as were her ears, and every other place her skin showed through her fur.

I took her to the vet and she said that Muffy Puffy was jaundiced, and that her liver had failed during the time she hid under the bed with no food or water, and she would probably die. She sent us home with special food and we made an appointment to come back in a week.

She wouldn't eat the special food. In fact, she wouldn't eat any food. Muffy Puffy, who was famously obese, got skinnier and skinnier and more and more lethargic. I kept taking her to the vet and the vet kept changing food, trying to find one she'd eat. Finally, we were force feeding her high-calorie food via a syringe, and hydrating her with IV fluids delivered with a 21 gauge needle that we'd stick in the back of her neck several times a day. For months she got sicker and sicker and we debated daily about putting her down. In the meantime, we'd try to cram a few teaspoons of food into her, and run enough IV fluids into her to keep her alive.

One day, I cooked a turkey. I don't think it was the Thanksgiving turkey...I can't remember... but while it was cooling on the counter and we were doing something else, Muffy Puffy jumped up on the counter and started eating it. This is the cat that hadn't eaten anything for months. She stood there and ate probably a pound of turkey while we watched in amazement.

And that was that. We fed her the rest of the turkey (I wouldn't let anyone else eat belonged to Muffy Puffy now) and in a few weeks she was completely healed.

But she hated us for the force feeding and the IV, and as soon as she was better, she ran away and moved in with the neighbors. I used to see her sitting in their window, glaring as I walked by. Bitch.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sin Is Our Friend

I think MY sin package is much more tasteful and balanced than Kwachie's...don't you?

Envy:Very Low

Take the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz

How Deadly Are Your Sins?

Looks like a couple of these will come in handy when the turkey hits the fan tomorrow ... yay gluttony and sloth!

Envy:Very Low
Lust:Very Low

Take the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Turkey Story

I believe it's entirely possible that now that I've been blogging for more than a year I'll be retelling last year's stories. Luckily I've been hit in the head and don't remember last year, so if you're offended, I recommend a stout thump on the side of your own head to improve your attitude.

So...The Turkey Story.

Many years ago, when my three kids were small and I was living with the Girlfriend Who's Birthday I No Longer Remember, we went to an SIU women's basketball game over the Thanksgiving break. Even though SIU had been in the NCAA championship Final Four the year before, they had pretty sparse attendance at most games. At the game during the Thanksgiving break, the crown consisted of me, my kids, the Bad Girlfriend, and Dr. Englert, my genetics professor, who never missed a game.

They had a raffle at the ticket counter...they were raffling off 5 free turkeys.

Do the math. Five of us, one genetics professor...we were a shoo in for a turkey.

We actually won all five of the turkeys. They called all of our names and we came out of the stands and lined up like there were actually people there to see us and our five turkeys and maybe cheer. Apparently Dr. Englert forgot to fill out the ticket, because it was statistically incorrect for him to not get a turkey. Maybe he's a vegetarian.

So after the game, we lugged our five turkeys out to the car, went home, and stuck them all in the deep freeze (that made a grand total of six turkeys, since we already had one for the next day's Thanksgiving meal).

This is why it's important to support women's sports. Because there may be a year's worth of meat involved.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

From Lemons...Lemonade


Once again the NoYouDonBloOftAsYouSho has ended in failure. This time, though, I was the innocent victim of my own overzealous domesticity. I thought I'd spiff up the yard in anticipation of our Thanksgiving holiday guests, so I went out back to finish cutting up the trees that I cut down and then left laying sprawled on the ground like this week's scantily clad dead hooker on CSI Miami.

So me and my chainsaw (my chainsaw and I?) got started with our tree decimation project...and then the saw broke. So I threw it in the truck and took it to the repair guy, who agreed with me that it's a crappy design, since I've managed to break it twice already in just a couple of months.

I left the saw with him and came home , planning to at least get the weed whacking done around the jungle in back of the house. I've got a brush cutter blade that tears through stuff in no time flat...and I keep Cedar in mind when I'm using it.

So I was blissfully slicing through the weeds and Whoops!...I cleverly sliced through the phone line. And boy, was it easy! I didn't have to chop at it or anything. phone, no Internet, no blog.

But I went to Carrie's, called Verizon, and got the automated yet warm voice of the service robot. She told me that a service tech would be here between "8 o'clock a.m. and 1:03 pm tomorrow."

I couldn't drag myself out of bed by 8, but at 9:30 I was parked in front of Regis and Kelly, watching out the window for the Verizon guy, and his life-sustaining Internet access. I waited...through The Price is Right (and may I add that Drew Carey sucks raw eggs as the new Bob Barker), through The Young and the Restless (Victor and Nikki should stop fighting and come together while Victoria is in her coma, don't you think?), and through The Bold and the Beautiful (Stephanie...let it go. Eric doesn't want you, he wants Donna now. Move on, Babe.).

At noon...still no Verizon guy. I watched the local news...the Franklin County animal shelter burned down and almost all the animals were killed in their cages (I cried over that), and then some municipal workers fished a kitten out of the sewer line (I cried over that, too). Verizon guy, but the gay guy in the wheelchair on As the World Turns and his handsome and devoted boyfriend warmed my heart. Gay and disabled! That's two, two...two minorities in one!

Finally, at 1 o'clock I got in the shower and left for work. No Internet, but I made up for the 20 year gap in my soap opera watching, so at least I felt good about that.

The Verizon man called me at work at 4. He said he's on his way. Cross your fingers, or tomorrow we'll all discover who shot Stephanie at the end of today's Bold and the Beautiful.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Widgets and Buttons and Possums, Oh My!

I've been playing with the blog today when I should be cleaning the house in preparation for Thanksgiving. I added the smart-assed "Ask A Lesbian" crystal ball widget for your clicking pleasure and the nifty RSS feed button to make us appear all techno-literate and hip (do they still say hip?). I also stuck on an annoying widget that pays us a few paltry bucks if you do your Christmas book buying online.

But I got the most fun out of using the "search this blog" box! Who knew we'd written that many posts involving the word "possum"?

It appears that I've run clear out of avoidance antics now, so I'm off to the scullery.

Another Reason Any Blind Fool Could See We're All Related

This morning we have a special guest daughter Katie. Let's give it up for Katie, shall we?

I suppose I should start with my alarm clock. It is a tiny little travel clock that I got for $4 at Walmart to take with me on trips to Tucson. It runs on one AA battery and is about the size (and weight) of an index card. It's very handy for on-the-go time telling, but rather shitty as a permanent fixture to one's bedroom. I sleep with it on the corner of my bed, because I have no bedside table and my room is too damn cold to walk across in my underwear as soon as I wake up.

So this morning my alarm went off. I had knocked it off of my bed in the night, as I sometimes do, and it landed about 6 feet away from my bed. It beeps about 5 times before it goes into SUPER BEEP MODE and is capable of waking all the dead animals in the fridge. Unfortunately, it usually takes me about 4 regular beeps to finally shake me out of my sleep, so by the time I realized it was on the floor it was already in SUPER BEEP MODE. I got up, walked across the way too cold room, turned it off, and climbed back into the covers. "Oh fuck!" I thought, "I never did that English paper!" Lying there, I went through my list.

1) I could stay home?
-No. I'm not even remotely sick. It's mom's day off. Mr. Horn will know that I skipped. Can't get away with that.

2) Make up an excuse?
-Oh please. The guy's not stupid. Anything too creative will be an obvious lie, and anything not creative enough is an excuse that I'm sure he's heard before. As tempting as "Oh no! Why isn't it showing up on my flash drive?!" is, it would never work.

3) Just accept the consequences of my irresponsibility?
-Am I crazy? I have a 91% in that class! We're on an 8 point grading scale, so that's a B+. My only B, that I could easily get to an A should I turn in a good paper, or easily never recover from, should I not turn anything in. This thing will be worth 200 points, easily.

So I rolled out of bed and shuffled over to my computer to start researching. The paper must be at least 3 pages, in MLA format, with a works cited page and no more than 10 passive verbs. It's about the religious symbolism in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It was 6:05. My bus comes at 7:30. Oh yeah, and I didn't have my text book, which held my actual copy of the story.

As I typed furiously, the hopelessness of the situation was dawning on me. There was no way I could research it, formulate my ideas, type everything up, rephrase all sentences with active verbs, and then write a correctly-formatted bibliography in an hour (I still had to get ready for school). This paper needs 4 hours, at least. I could just stay home, tell my mom what happened, have her lecture me and ride my ass about it all day, then never hear the end of it for the rest of my life. The story would be told at the table this Thanksgiving, so as to shame me further, in front of guests. Nope. Not happening.As I started beating myself over the head for not having done it yesterday, like anyone with a brain would have done, I wondered where the day had gone.

No really, where had the day gone?



It's Sunday.

The alarm must have gotten switched on when the clock fell off of my bed.
I took it as a lesson: I really need to stop procrastinating. Waking up late the morning before something is due is pretty common for me. Usually, I set my alarm for 3am, and put in my 4 hours of work in the silence of the wee hours of morning. It's not a flawless strategy, but time is an excellent motivator for me.

So I continued researching, and began the paper. I'm done with one page, and now I'll have breakfast, and if I keep up this pace, I may be done by lunch time, and then the rest of the day I won't have to fret and put it off more.

I'll still be up at 3 doing my trig homework the morning it's due though.

An Alarming Juxtaposition of Events

Last year, on October 29th, MelonKiwi...the greatest cat ever, the love of my life, my soulmate...came to live with us. A week later, the tragic story of my leg occurred. A year later, it still hurts.

Today, in a blinding flash of insight, I've come to understand: Melon has been demonically possessing my leg! I don't know why it didn't occur to me a year ago! My leg problem is clearly not from a lack of exercise, it's a lack of exorcism!

I wonder where I can get an exorcist on short notice. Do you think they charge extra around the holiday season? It seems like the casting out of demons would have a season aspect to it...

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Ack! This evening we had a 17 year old kid with a fever come into our E.R.

The Doc ordered a spinal tap first, and then serum tests for:

1. HIV
2. Syphilis
3. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
4. Epstein-Barr Virus
5. Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis
6. West Nile
7. Lyme Disease
After the spinal tap and after packaging all that esoteric stuff to send to our reference lab, the E.R. added on a rapid test for mononucleosis.

Guess who has mono? Who says defensive medicine isn't fun?

There's No "I" in "Lose" (But There Is in "I Lose")

We just didn't win the "Best GLBT Blog" award. Not that we particularly deserve it, but when Lori went to check out the winner's blog, it was much gayer than ours. I think that's the problem. We're not writing a dykey enough blog. I think we ought to frame the edges with little pictures of power tools, and talk about famous gay people doing famously gay things.

I'm pretty sure we're losing dyke points by being too conventional. We ought to go out clubbing and take cruises on that dyke cruise line that I can't remember the name of. And we need drama. LOTS of drama.

However, we've already mastered the processing part. We can process like nobody's business. We can even process the process of processing. There's no emotional nuance so subtle or inconsequential that it can't benefit from a thorough analysis, followed by pie or a steak dinner. Maybe a steak dinner with pie, when the processing gets particularly hairy.

Maybe if we process our feelings about Ellen Degeneres here, on our famously GLBT blog, we'd be in the running for the best gay blog. I can see it's a cutthroat business, this gay blogging. We may have to process a strategy.

Pie, anyone?

A Few of Lori's Favorite Things...

There's a reason today is the day for posting our favorite things. Apparently it's also the 48th anniversary of the Broadway opening of "The Sound of Music" -- which, coincidentally, is on my long list of favorite things. I have many fond memories of the movie, not the least of which is the story about how my big sister smashed in the front bumper of my dad's brand new VW bug.

My sister had a brand new driver's license and the Catalina Theater was showing the brand new Julie Andrews movie. In order to be allowed to use our dad's car, she was forced to take me along with a couple of her real friends to see it. After the movie we piled in the bug and headed for the parking lot exit with my sister exuberantly singing "Climb Every Mountain" at the top of her lungs ... and that's when she plowed into the car stopped at the parking lot exit. We fabricated a huge whopper to tell my parents, and it was at least 20 years before we told them the truth on one of those great days you get to have with your parents when you're all grown up and can smoke and drink and confess things to them on their patio by the pool.

And so, with nostalgic memories of that evening in 1965 playing in my head, I shall proceed to wax all mushy about my other favorite things:

1. Christmas:

Exhibit A -- The Christmases of my youth - especially the year Santa brought me the book "The Littlest Angel" and I sat on my mom's lap while she read it to me and then explained, in one of the best mothering moments of her life, that Santa was not a real person, but the Spirit of Christmas and giving to those we love ... just like the Littlest Angel gave the things he loved the most to the Baby Jesus. I believe that may have set the stage for my lumping Santa and Jesus together under the heading of "great fairy tales."

Exhibit B -- Christmas trees - especially the Christmas trees of my youth. We used those big Noma lights with the red-hot bulbs and the thick, fabric-wrapped electrical cords for twenty years, and it was my dad's job to find the blown lights, change the fuses, string the lights on the tree and then cuss and move them around until they met my mom's approval. No same-colored lights together, of course. Then we took turns hanging the ornaments. My mother performed the last detail --the ritual Hanging of the Tinsel -- because it was a job no one else wanted. It was the bean picking of tree decoration and it took roughly three days to hang those thousands of strands of tinsel, starting from the inside of the tree to the tips of each branch. Equally as labor-intensive as the tinsel hanging was the tinsel retrieval from the dead tree a couple of weeks later. Because you can't just throw it away, you know ... you have to save each strand, untangled, in folded newspaper to re-use next year. Ahhh, but when it was all done and my mom's tinsel all hung there neatly and tidily reflecting my dad's lights, and we laid underneath it in our footie pajamas peering at the little lighted Christmas village under the tree, it was so worth it! I can still picture the tiny trees, little groups of snowman candles (sort of squatty from semi-melting while in storage), and Santa in his sleigh coming down a "snowy" hill covered with cotton batting and mica snow.

Exhibit C -- Christmas music - especially the traditional Christmas carols. While I enjoy "Grandma Got Runned Over By a Reindeer" as much as the next guy, it's Bing Crosby singing "Adeste Fidelis" that really does it for me. I can remember shopping in downtown Tucson when there still was a downtown Tucson. All the fancy department stores had Christmas displays in their windows (just like New York!) and elevator operators who said things like, "First Floor, ladies dresses, Second Floor, lingerie" and let you off at some mysterious non-floor called the "Mezzanine," and they played "Silver Bells" over outside loudspeakers. One of my great Christmas memories is shopping with my son when he was little. I would threaten to embarrass him if he wandered off from me, and I did it by singing "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" ... at a steadily increasing volume ... until he would run back and walk with me to shut me up. I have no shame.

Exhibit D -- The Miracle of Snow - especially snow in the desert southwest. Over the course of my life in Arizona I probably saw snow fall on Tucson a half dozen times. It would leave a light dusting of white on the tops of cactus and about 1/4 inch of flakes on the ground, and we'd call it a "snow day" and stay home from school, but it never happened at Christmas. But the year my son was born, it really snowed. He was three months old and we were driving from Phoenix to have Christmas at my parent's house in Tucson, singing along to the Christmas music on the car radio, when it started. But this time, for the first time in my life, it didn't stop. It snowed all night. On Christmas morning Tucson was blanketed with almost a foot of snow. It was piled up on our poolside lounges and the diving board. It had to be swept off the front porch. There was even enough for my ex-husband to construct a full-sized naked snow woman with nipples facing the kitchen window to greet my mom when she got up to cook Christmas dinner.

2. Thanksgiving -- especially big Thanksgivings with lots of relatives and lots of food and the playing of board games after dinner.

3. Autumn -- especially now that I live where there are visible seasons and the changing of leaves. I love the smells of Autumn, not the least of which are woodsmoke from fireplaces and the kitchen smells of baking and roasting.

4. A long hot bubble bath with a good book.

5. A movie that makes me cry in a good way. Guaranteed multiple-tissue choices include The Trip to Bountiful, The Color Purple and Seabiscuit.

6. The first bite of a perfect, juicy, medium-rare steak.

7. Thick-sliced bacon, toasted buttermilk biscuits and plum preserves for breakfast.

8. Going places in the car with Ev. I love long car trips to actual destinations with her, or short day trips out touring around aimlessly, but I'll settle for a five minute drive to WalMart. She's my favorite person to be alone with, always.

9. Our house. I love coming home, especially when Ev's been off work and there's a fire in the fireplace. I love the way our house looks, especially the antique furniture we've bought to add to the antique furniture Ev already owned. It's roomy and yet cozy -- colorful without being an assault on the senses. It sits up on a grassy hill tucked up into the trees with a broad view from the back deck.

10. Having all the clothes washed, dried, folded and put away.

11. How good the bed feels when you first crawl in at night and the sheets are cold and the pillows are fluffy.

12. Driving with the top down.

13. Hearing a song on the radio you haven't heard for a zillion years and still remembering all the words.

14. Looking through old picture albums.

15. The little coffee cup I inherited from my grandfather that came from a Southern Pacific Railroad dining car, my fraternal grandmother's glass cream and sugar bowls, the tiny cordial glass my dad used to fill with chipped ice and a tablespoonful of Kahlua so I could have a "cocktail" when the big people were having theirs and my maternal grandmother's crockery mixing bowls ... and having a place to put them all out where I can see them every day.

16. Necking with Ev.

17. A hug from my grown son now that he's all tall and lanky and I'm the little one.

18. Good lord, I almost forgot to mention chocolate!

I'll stop there, but I might want to revisit this list in the future. This morning I read Feral Mom's blog post suggesting we all list the five things that always cheer us up. My first thought was that I don't have things that always cheer me up, but I guess I do. Making this list was certainly cheery!

Whoring For Fun and Profit

I've got 18 minutes before I have to get in the shower and get ready for work. In the meantime, I was reading Linda at Straight Up and Slightly Dirty which, though amusing, is not NEARLY dirty enough. However, just because she doesn't have enough hot realtor-on-realtor porn doesn't mean I won't steal her ideas like a white-trash meth addict steals your pit bull out of your yard. So I'm stealing Linda's idea and chaining it up in my OWN yard, and pretending it's my own.

A list of my favorite things, which I hope will encourage you other toothless wasted meth addicts to steal this idea and chain it up in your own yards:

1. Lori
2. beer
3. cats
4. aimless driving
5. books
6. bonus games
7. tractors
8. haircuts
9. quiet Saturdays at work
10.doing piddly-ass things with my kids

What are a few of your favorite things?

Oh...and Katie is just a little outraged that she placed lower than the tractors and the bonus games, but hey...a few years ago, she wouldn't have made the list at all. Half full/half empty...don't be such a baby. You're lucky to have a mother. When I was your age, we had to walk 10 miles in the snow to be insulted by our mother.

You kids don't know how easy you've got it. Now shut up and eat your brussel sprouts.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Give or Take

I got a flu shot at work yesterday. It's not quite mandatory, but the Nursing Supervisor will be down every day to bully you until you consent. It's not a bad idea anyway, since I'm in the sick people business and the flu mightily sucks.

But I was talking about it with a coworker and she said, "I never take a flu shot." That sounded weird to me. I would have said, "I never get a flu shot." To me, take is something you actively do...take a pill, take a friend to lunch, etc. Get is something that's bestowed on you...get a gift, get a sharp stick in the eye.

Now I wonder if the two...take and get...are interchangeable in this situation, or if that's one of those examples of Southern Illinois language butchery, like the use of "whenever" instead of 'when", like in this sentence:

"Whenever I went to the doctor's office, he said I should take the flu shot."

So what do you think? Take or get? Which do you do?

My Heart is Blue...Not the Black Heart You May Think I Have

I stole this from Ms. Sassy Pants. It has the advantage of being fun AND fulfilling my blogging obligation in case I dont get to it.

A buy one-get one deal. Who doesn't love that?

Your Heart Is Blue
Love is a doing word for you. You know it's love when you treat each other well.You are a giving lover, but you don't give too much. You expect something in return.
Your flirting style: Friendly
Your lucky first date: Lunch at an outdoor cafe
Your dream lover: Is both generous and selfish
What you bring to relationships: Loyalty

What Color Heart Do You Have?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tag, I'm It!

I've long subscribed to the notion that sacred cows make the best burgers, so I find myself drawn to bloggers who know how to grill them. As a result, I confess to having what amounts to a case of bloggy hero worship where Feral Mom is concerned. She's funny, she's smart, she's irreverant, she's unabashed, she swears like a sailor and she's a product of the Midwest ... she's the total Blog Package. So you can imagine that seeing our little blog tagged by Her Feralness was quite a thrill for me. I was tempted to blow off work just to stay home and respond to the tag.

8 Random Things About Me:

1. Among the useless skills I possess is the ability to write upside down and backward in cursive. This took a considerable amount of time and concentration to learn, and I believe they may have been teaching math while I was working on it, which is why I can barely do basic arithmetic.

2. I can sing several songs in Spanish, Latin, French, Italian and Irish. I cannot speak any of those languages, but I have some kind of weird gift for dialects.

3. I wanted to be either an actress, a writer, a singer, an anthropologist or a marine biologist when I grew up. I became a lowly, overworked, underpaid ophthalmic technician instead. Don't feel bad if you have no idea what that is ... no one does.

4. My sister and I started out life sharing a last name. It took a combination of seven husbands between the two of us to wrap around to sharing a different last name. There's probably a mathematical probability in there somewhere, but I wouldn't have a foggy clue what it is or how to determine it (see Random Thing #1).

5. I'm terror-struck by the sensation of falling. I hate both negative and positive G's, which keeps me off the back of motorcycles, three meter diving boards and roller coasters, and would have been a huge drawback to my other childhood dream of being the first woman astronaut. I couldn't voluntarily jump out of a perfectly good airplane wearing a parachute if it was spiralling toward the ground and my ass was on fire.

6. I love the sensation of floating. I float in the tub, I float in the swimming pool, I've always wanted to float in a sensory deprivation tank (but I don't want to come out with blood all over my mouth, no vocal chords and chimpanzee hair on my knuckles) and I'd like to experience weightlessness if it didn't involve experiencing either positive or negative G's to get there (see Random Thing #5).

7. I lived in Arizona for 50 years and never saw the Grand Canyon. Never hiked it, never stood at the edge and looked into it -- never even drove past it. I've flown over it a couple of times, but I don't think that counts. More importantly, I don't feel that my life has been diminished in any way by missing it.

8. I watch the You Tube videos on Feral Mom's posts, and feel that they've vastly expanded my mind and spirit. I was especially moved by the glowing moose genitals on the Michigan post. More importantly, I feel that my life might have been diminished in some esoteric way if I'd missed it.

Now comes the part where someone else gets tagged! Okay ... Urban Pedestrian, Flea at One Good Thing, and Suzanne at CUSS ... 8 Random Things, please. (I'm letting Cedar off the offical hook because she's recuperating from surgery, although I think blogging is a perfectly good way to spend time while recuperating, so she should really do it, too.)


8 MORE Things About Us

Unfortunately, Feral Mom tagged us for 8 Random Things About You. Since we recently did it with only 7 things, I'm low on things. Also, it was unfair to raise the bar by 14%, so you can have...three. Maybe I'll think of 5 more later. Or maybe Kwachie has 5 she'd like to throw in. Here are my three:

1. When I was a teenager I got in a car wreck that threw me out onto the pavement on my face. Among various other owies, I knocked out one of my front teeth. I had a crown put on it, and that lasted until I was 30-ish, until I knocked the same damn tooth out at a fire. After that, I didn't want to look like toothless white trash (I prefer the more classy look of white trash with teeth.), but I could only afford a temporary crown. I've had this "temporary" crown now for 14 years. It falls out at regular intervals, but I glue it back in with Super Glue and it lasts another 6 months or so. I'm hoping to continue doing this until I die.

2. Along that same vein...I hate change. So I own 4 identical pairs of faux-Carhartt pants, and about 10 identical shirts in various colors. I rotate them all, but I'm pretty sure my coworkers think I only own one pair of pants.

Although I've met a lot of people online that I really like, I only have a strong desire to meet Cedar and Marl, because I suspect neither one of them would be likely to be off put by my social ineptitude. I'm not exactly sure why I think this. Kwachie, however, has fabulous social skills and would be a pleasure for anyone to meet.

Clearly, she doesn't love me for my fabulous fashion sense OR my social grace. It must be the tooth.

Monday, November 12, 2007


As Ev said, we're real low-rollers. We're the people who play the penny slots and we really do play them for pennies. We play one credit per line, we blanch at anything over a 25-line game, we sit together taking turns spinning the reels on the same game and we high-five each other like ninnies when we hit a line pay over a buck. We play these games because our goal isn't to walk away with a life-changing wad of cash. Our goal is to plink away a few hours for about the same money other people spend on dinner and a movie, and what we really want is to get to play the bonus game. A game sucks if it takes our whole ten or twenty bucks and never lets us play the bonus game.

When we're playing a sucky game we have the following conversation, verbatim:

Ev: See? That should have been a shape.

Lori: Everything should be a shape.

Ev: And everything should be wild for everything every time.

Lori: And it should pay from both directions.

Ev: And we should hit the bone-ass. We're nice people.

It's all about The Bonus. This weekend, in between people watching and designing the perfect slot game, we also came up with the perfect bonus game, which we call The Cocksucking Bonus. It would look something like this (use your imagination) and the Big Win would payout when the hilt is all that's left.

I ask you, is it too much to ask to hit the Cocksucking Bonus??


We're Home! Did You Miss Us?

I've decided to pretend that 30 posts in 30 days in November is the same thing as my post-a-day commitment. In order for that charade to stay airborne, I'll need all of you to clap your hands, sprinkle yourselves with fairy dust and say, "I believe!"

So anyway...we're back from NeverNeverLand (which can be distinguished from NeverLand Ranch by the lack of zoo animals and seductive 7 year old boys) and we had a fantabulous time. The food was good, the companionship was fantastic, and the sex was mortifyingly loud. We actually spent Saturday slinking up and down the hotel corridor, in case we accidentally bumped into our next-room-over neighbors, who probably hate us.

On the bright side, though...we had fun. And we don't get enough vacations to feel too guilty yet. After all, if they didn't want to hear loud middle-aged lesbian sex, they should have stayed in a different hotel. It was clearly poor planning on their part.

We stayed at the Harrah's St. Louis, distinguished by it's comfy king-sized beds, Tiffany rotunda, and freeness. As in, pay-nothing-ness. We got a three free night offer, and we took it. In exchange for the freeness, we probably gave them back the cost of the free room by dinking away at the penny slots in the evenings. However, since we're low-rollers, we can get 6 hours of amusement and a couple of exciting jangly $10 jackpots out of $100 and not hate ourselves later.

Here's the two fascinatingly appalling stories that Lori threatened you with:

Saturday night we were sitting in the penny slot section, playing the Gem Drop game for 20 cents a spin. I think we'd been playing the same $20 for about 2 hours...up $10, down $12, up $15, down $20...that sort of thing. Behind us was a bank of games we refer to as "That Damn Lion Game", which is a 100 line penny game, 2 lines per penny, that tantalizes you with flashes of greatness, but never actually produces least not in our case.

As we were dinking away at our machine, the man behind us shouted, threw his hands up, and danced back from the Damn Lion Game. He had hit the jackpot, the REAL jackpot...all 100 lines, every single square in every possible combination had lined up with lions or wilds. He won $1700 on a single spin of a penny machine.

So he hooted and hollered and kissed his wife and danced around...all that stuff that people do when they've won a ton of money. The casino people came over and hand-paid him his money and took his picture, and the guy next to me nudged me and said, "He's gonna get some good lovin' tonight."

Except that our Big Winner was drunk off his ass, and the minute they paid him for his huge win, he turned around to the machine behind him and dropped in a $100 bill and then lost it in about three minutes. Then he dropped in another one...and lost it in about two minutes. We watched him, in the space of about 15 minutes, lose at least $600 of his big win. Me and the neighbor guy exchanged glances a few times, and decided that his window for the Good Lovin' was closing fast. If he didn't knock that shit off soon, instead of the Good Lovin' he was gonna be getting the Bad Ass Chewin'.

We left while he was still staggering around slinging his big jackpot around like a guy who wins $1700 on penny slots all the time. We decided that the next day, when he sobered up and iced down all the places the wife had beaten him with the baseball bat, he was going to be a very depressed man.

The other story, a cautionary tale for those of you who cling to the fantasy that our children will take good care of us in our dotage:

We wandered through the casino on Saturday afternoon, and saw a middle aged couple playing the slots side-by-side, with an ancient old woman in a wheelchair behind them. She looked like a contemporary of King Tut, shrivelled and wizened like an old apple, and held in an approximately upright position with a series of straps. She had her chin on her chest and a bib tied around her neck to catch the drool leaking from her toothless mouth. She was completely oblivious to her surroundings, and quite possibly dead.

In the meantime, her children were enjoying Mom's Day Out of the Home by gambling feverishly. Family bonding, it seems, looks all kinds of ways for all kinds of families.

Anyway, other than those starkly unattractive displays of the more unseemly side of the human spirit, we had a good time. We ate the free buffets, enjoyed the free room, cursed the non-free WiFi (and c'mon...who knew there still places in the world that don't have free WiFi?) and toured and shopped St. Louis.

Now we're waiting for the coupon for three free days in New Orleans to mature in January. Watch for us, we'll be coming to a free hotel near you.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Okay, so maybe NEXT year we'll NaBloPoMo ...

We had a totally wonderful time in St. Louis and spent four fun days and three nights in a very nice room at Harrah's with the best bathtub on the planet, a beer fridge and a flat screen TV the size of a small theater screen ... but NO free Internet access. They'll be happy to charge you $10.95 PER DAY for Internet access, but we thought that was a little bit exorbitant for something every other hotel on the planet gives away for free, so we didn't pay it. We made a half-assed attempt to drag the laptop around St. Louis on Friday searching for free WiFi, but then we got a little distracted by the excellent beer sampler and kick-ass food at the Schlafley Pub ... and then there was the excellent sex ... and the sleeping till noon ... and ... well ... we didn't blog. We didn't even take pictures.

We did make it to the Miniature Museum, which rocked, and Ev surprised herself by enjoying it and being fascinated by the detail in the tiny things and the very cool enormous doll house displays (although the term "doll house" doesn't come close to describing them). From the micro world to the macro world, we also went to the Woodcrafter store and shopped for all the woodworking tools and exotic woods of Ev's dreams. I think I might be able to convince her that doll house construction is almost woodworking ... and, in turn, I'll help her assemble the pretty turned wood pens she wants to make. In the meantime, she bought me a kit to make a group of miniature houses for the mantel this Christmas ... and we picked up two cases of her favorite beer at Schlafleys.

At the very least, I think we both have a reason to want to go back to St. Louis again soon ... like Christmas shopping, for instance!

I'll let Ev blog about the rest of the weekend and the two most pathetic things we've ever seen in a casino, because she'll tell the story much better than I will.

We got home and had company ... Ev's ex-husband and his friend Lori were here hanging out with the kids (yes, Ev and Rob both have "Lori's"... just to avoid confusion). So Ev and the girls regaled them for a few hours with family stories and showed Rob's "young and studly" pictures to Lori, which is always a fun and embarassing thing to do, and we all laughed and enjoyed the fireplace while I made a gigantic mess out of a skein of yarn I was trying to knit a muffler with.

If Ev ever gets unwound from her determined attempt at untangling it, I'm sure she'll blog.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

In Which Ev and Kwachie Have An Adventure

It's time once again to revisit the topic of Evie's Head Injury.

As I've already mentioned, I got new glasses last week. They're a lot stronger than the old ones, and they've really taken some getting used to. But I've been adjusting slowly over the last few days. Yesterday, however...I couldn't see crap. My vision was so distorted and weird that I kept taking my new glasses off and looking at them to see if they were damaged or dirty or something. It was so bad I could barely shuffle around the yard, let alone actually try to drive somewhere.

Last night, I complained about my glasses to Lori. She said, "Umm...Ev? Did you take your medicine?"

Ah! But I did then, and an hour later my glasses had miraculously healed themselves.

Urban Pedestrian posted a reply to our blog entry yesterday, talking about our adventures. That cracked me up. Feral Mom goes out of her way to meet other bloggers. Suzanne from CUSS travels and writes books. We rarely do anything. We hang around the house with the family and never go much of anywhere except to work and to town. We've recently started taking little driving trips around the Midwest (this weekend we'll be in St. Louis), but even that much activity is pretty new for us.

I joke a lot that I'm autistic, but what actually happened when I injured my brain is that my ability to sort stimulus and ignore the unimportant stuff...ambient noise, movement, smells, etc...was severely diminished. As a result, I'm easily overwhelmed by sensory input. Loud things freak me out. That takes a lot of activities that other people do... movies and concerts and things like that... off my plate. Crowds of people freak me out because they all move around a lot, and in unpredictable ways. That takes care of events, plays, malls, etc. I tend to be undone by seeing a lot of movement, especially if it appears random. I want people and things to just sit still, please.

Now that I'm sufficiently and steadily medicated, those things are less of an issue in my life. I can go places that have people and not flee after a few minutes, but I think I still have enough residual caution to keep me from going too far out of my comfort zone. I'm happy to hang around the house, putter in the yard, and fantasize about what the neighbors are up to.

I worry that I might be crazy, or that I might appear crazy, so for a long time I avoided people who knew me before I hurt my head. Occasionally I bump into someone who says, "Ev! I heard you were back in town! It's great to see you!"

And I say, "You know? I got hit on the head a few years ago, and I don't remember a lot of things, and well...I don't remember you. Can you tell me again why I know you?"

Or else I just avoid going places where people might recognize me.

So all of that is the lead in for this: We're going to St. Louis tonight, and I'm really excited about it, but I can feel that I'm also a little apprehensive because it's out of my routine. That means that the things I do that soothe me when I'm rattled won't be puttering in the yard or petting the cats or sitting on the porch in the sun.

So I kind of laughed at the word "adventures" since I'm the least adventurous person I know, but we'll go to St. Louis, see the Botanical Gardens and the antique stores in St. Charles and visit Hannibal, MO and see Mark Twain's home and have fun. I'll feel safe with Lori...I know that if I tell her I'm overwhelmed, she won't mind stopping whatever we're doing and do something else. We'll take a lot of pictures and see lots of interesting things and blog about the things we see, and I'll be proud of myself for doing something different.

And then we'll come home and I'll be able to get back to my rituals. Whew!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

If Your Neighbor Eats His Parents in the Forest and Nobody Sees Him, Are They Still Food?

We have a next door neighbor.

It took us almost a year to notice the aforementioned next door neighbor, because his house is entirely grown up in weeds and it just sort of blended into the woods on that side. Not just tall-grass-weeds. but the kind of weeds that have a several year head start, and now has thistles as high as your head, and maple trees spontaneously springing forth every two feet or so.

As a dedicated anarchist, I totally support the right of anyone to live any way they like. However, last winter when the leaves fell off the trees and we noticed that there was a house a few hundred yards away, it was sort of a surprise. At the time, we thought it was's in terrible shape. It appears that any repairs that have been done at all have been done with scraps of plywood or 2x4s and left, mismatched and unpainted, to warp in the sun and rain.

So my next guess was that this was the house of some elderly person who couldn't afford to pay someone to take care of it. That's pretty common here; old folks try to stay independent as long as possible, but they have more and more trouble with big maintenance projects and things start falling apart unless there's an adult child to help.

But no. No elderly person.

Since I first noticed that house over there, I've been sort of fascinated by it. It used to be a nice house. There's a big porch in front that would be excellent for porch-sitting if it were repaired, a nice big yard, a couple of outbuildings, and a garage. Now that I'm paying attention, I see a fairly young man, maybe 40-ish, dressed professionally and driving an SUV, going up and down the unbelievably overgrown and rutted gravel driveway and parking in front of the falling-down garage every day.

So what the hell? He's not old, he's not disabled, and he's not even very busy. He seems to work something like banker's hours. Why not cut your grass and fix your porch before it falls off?

Unless this is one of those horror movie scenarios where he's got his dead parents in the house and he's eating them for supper every night after he comes home from work in his Dockers and his SUV and he let the weeds grow because he doesn't want the house to be noticed because that might remind people that no one has seen the parents in 10 or 15 years.

I'm just sayin'.

Or he's just REALLY lazy.

But for the last few days, the electric company, CIPS, has been cleaning up his yard for him. They've been cutting down all the trees that have sprung up under the power lines, and now his sordid life with his dead parents is about to be exposed to the world. Or at least to us.

I'd love to Gladys Kravitz him and go look through the windows and see if the house is really a dungeon and find out if he tortured his parents for years before killing and eating them, but that seems rude. Maybe I can get Lori to do it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Beer...It's What's For Breakfast!

I know it must be getting close to wintertime because I'm organizing my head to start brewing beer. The steps that precede any project for me are:

1) Think about it.

2) Imagine what that project will look like.

3) Drive by it once or twice, and see if it looks scary.

4) Do it.

So I'm planning to brew beer soon. I've been in Step 1 for a couple of weeks, and I've recently progressed to Step 2. I'm planning to start with my two favorites: An oatmeal stout with a bit of coffee and chocolate added, and a lighter honey ale.

The stout is super rich and creamy, and ends up with some ungodly amount of alcohol in it...something like 9 or 10%. Really, it's more like dessert than beer. But it's the kind of dessert that knocks you on your ass and makes the rest of the family roll their eyes in disgust and embarrassment at your pathetic drunken antics.

The honey ale uses about about quart of honey as a fermentable sugar for the yeasts to metabolize into their life-sustaining alcohol. Combined with a ton of Willamette hops to bitter it up, it's the kind of beer you can drink all day long (especially if you have this handy and stylish hand-free beer dispensing device) and not notice it's effect until you cut off your leg with the chainsaw. And if you've brewed it in kegs, there'll be plenty to share with the EMTs when they come to pick you up!

So now I'm moving on to step 3. I'm going to drive by the plan, and see if it's more of a commitment than I'm willing to make. I'm going to go root around in the shed and see if I can track down all the tools and vessels and bottles that go into this project. If that doesn't break my spirit, the next step will be to track down the ingredients from an online brewing supply house like Northern Brewer. After a couple of weeks of fermenting and then the bottling phase, there'll be nothing left to do but kick back and watch my liver enzymes go through the roof between now and springtime!

Monday, November 05, 2007


I was so excited about my stuttering biker and dwarf experience last night that I raced home to tell Lori and then blog about it. Unfortunately, I got ahead of myself and ended up posting it before Midnight, which caused it to be dated the 4th and didn't fulfill my NaBloPoMo blogging obligation for today, the 5th.

However, just posting to bitch about it has taken care of today's posting requirement, so I'm not bitter anymore. It's all good.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Why It's Fun to be Evie, part 4 or 5...I've Lost Count

This is it. The quintessential Southern Illinois story. The reason all of you in the rest of the country wish you could live here:

I was driving home from the hospital tonight at 10:30-ish, because I work evening shift. It's a 25 mile drive from our house, down a two lane highway that has pretty much gas stations, no stores, and barely any houses. About halfway down the road between work and home, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, I saw an old green 1970s Olds Cutlass pulled off onto the shoulder, and a little farther on, a big hairy biker-ish looking man with one of those biker headscarf thingies on his head, walking down the road with a little kid.

I felt bad for them. There's nothing that sucks worse than having your car break down with kids in it. So I went back and asked them if they needed a ride somewhere. The man said, "Yeah...we ran out of gas." I asked him where they were going, and he said to his brother's house on Union Springs Rd.

That's sort of on my way; maybe a five mile detour, but, like I said, it sucks to be broken down. So I told them I'd drive them, and they climbed in. That was when I realized that the child was really a dwarf woman. So the biker guy hikes the dwarf up onto the bench seat of my Ford Ranger, then crams himself in next to her. It was a very tight fit for the three of us, and I realized that the woman was probably sitting on my drill that I've been driving around with for the last few weeks....but at least she didn't say anything about it. I put the truck into first gear and took off. It was crowded. Very crowded. The dwarf was panting from the walk with the long-legged biker, and it was beginning to have a surreal feel, like a bad movie or maybe too much mescaline.

When I tried to shift into second gear, I banged the stick shift into the sole of the dwarf's shoe, which was sticking out slightly past the end of the seat, straight out into space. Did I mention that the dwarf was a woman, by the way? She was. A woman. I think she was the girlfriend of the biker guy.

So we took off down the dark highway, me shifting from 1st to 3rd to 5th, trying to avoid those gears that would make me bang my hand against the tiny shoes of the tiny woman, and force me into a position where I might have to say something about her tiny little feet, and how they were in my way. Instead, I made small talk with them. They told me they were from Mount Vernon and had come down to visit the Biker Guy's brother. It was hard to follow the conversation, because the biker had a pretty bad stammer.

So just to recap...I had a stuttering biker and a dwarf in my truck, sitting on my drill, at 11 o'clock on a Sunday night, driving off into the middle of nowhere.

They told me that they thought they'd make it down from Mount Vernon okay; they had brought some extra money, but they inexplicably stopped to go bowling on the way down, and that left them short on gas money.

I swear, I'm not making this up.

At the turn off to Union Springs Road there's a big mercury vapor street light, since the migrant camp is on that road and that makes it easier for the county cops to find the Mexicans for their tazing. I turned the corner under that bright light, and that's when I saw the gun inside his jacket in the waistband of his jeans. we have the dwarf, the bowling, and the stuttering biker, packing a pistol. I didn't actually laugh, but I did wish I could somehow capture this moment for posterity.

As we're driving, the man asked me how come I was out driving at 11 o'clock at night. I told him I work at the hospital, and I was on my way home when I saw them. He said, "I'm glad we got picked up by someone nice."

Hello? I'm not the one with the gun?

The man and his tiny girlfriend switched to discussing the brother, and how much they hope he's still awake, since apparently he has a vicious guard dog chained up in the yard and they're both terrified of it. I asked him if maybe the dog would recognize them, and he said maybe him, but the dog had never seen the dwarf girlfriend, and she could never outrun it. Then she said, "If that dog is out and your brother's not awake, I am NOT getting out of this truck. "

Like hell. I'll throw your tiny ass out the window if I have to. I am NOT going to take these two home with me and explain them to Lori.

Finally, way down at the end of Union Springs Road, past the place where the pavement turns to gravel, and next to the snake-handling church, we came to a little clearing in the woods with a singlewide trailer and about 30 broken down cars and trucks scattered around it. The biker guy got out of the truck and tapped on the window of the trailer. A child appeared. The dwarf woman said, "What's Brittany doing up this late? On a school night!"

Just because they're a gun-toting biker-and-dwarf couple doesn't mean they don't take an interest in the kid's education.

Brittany came out and tied up the vicious dog, which was sleeping on the porch and hadn't even noticed our arrival. Then the biker guy lifted the dwarf girlfriend down from the seat, and they disappeared from my life. But left me so much richer for the experience of having met them.

Morris the Midget Moose

Proving that the themes of male endowment, inadequacy and the use of phallic enhancement devices are universal and timeless. Really, this sweet little film gives a whole new meaning to "hung like a moose" doesn't it?


Disney: Children Under 18 Not Allowed

The other day I went out to the shed to look for a book I promised to loan to my friend Wanda. We have many, many boxes of books in the shed...probably 50 or 60 after having brought in all that the house could hold. So I was rooting around in all those boxes, and I came across a couple of boxes of movies that I thought the kids might get a kick out of. They were full of all the Disney movies and shorts that they used to watch when they were kids.

This morning, while Lori and I were lazing around in bed watching Charles Osgood and contemplating The Deed ( and who ever thought of Charles Osgood and The Deed juxtaposed that way??), We had a parenting moment. Carrie, my adult daughter with a home of her own, practically a fully-functioning adult, came into our house, then into our bedroom, then stood at the foot of our bed, begging us to get out of bed and entertain her.

So I did what moms have been doing since time immemorial: I popped in a Disney movie to distract her so maybe she wouldn't notice if we snuck back to bed for a little sex. Unfortunately, as a full grown adult, she wasn't falling for that anymore. Instead, Carrie, Lori and I sat in the living room in our jammies and watched The Reluctant Dragon and Morris the Midget Moose.

Oh. My. Freakin'. God.
If there is a gayer half hour in the whole Disney World?...well, forget it. There isn't. The Dragon and Sir Giles the Dragon Slayer compete in the Disney Gay-Off...having tea parties, singing to each other, and taking turns reciting poetry... until the townspeople demand some action. And not the queer guy-on-guy action, either. They want some butch MAN action. With pants. The Dragon and Sir Giles then stage the gayest mock battle ever, complete with pirouettes, a tea party, and the phallic use of a lance, until Sir Giles pretends to thrust the lance into the Dragon and the Dragon falls to the ground with his erect penis..err, tail...pointing heavenward. All the while, the Dragon and Sir Giles' real competition is for the queerest poem, with lines like, "Poor little upside down cake, his top is on his bottom."

Personally, I'm pretty sure Sir Giles was the top, but if he ever does end up on the bottom, that dragon will crush the resistance right out of him. But since there wasn't enough testosterone between the two of them to coat a china teacup, I think the only real danger in their relationship was poking out an eye with the Dragon's mascara wand.

Next, Morris the Midget Moose, with his a tiny little stunted moose body, and enormous rack.

...Of antlers, gutter brain.

After enduring a lifetime of mockery from all the straight meese, Morris joins forces with Balsam, a huge, beefy, puffed up, steroid-enhanced moose with tiny little steroid-diminished antlers...but plenty of rage. Together, Morris and Balsam (with Morris riding Balsam in the most homoerotic 30 seconds of children's filmdom ever) strike a blow for gay pride.

Unfortunately, it's all fun and games until one of them goes to donate blood. "Have you had sex with a moose that's had sex with a moose since 1977?"
I can't believe parents let their children watch this stuff in the '50s and '60s. No wonder we're all queer now.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

St. Louis

Once I get through this weekend, I've got seven days off in a row! I'm going to spend the first two or three puttering around in the yard. I've got a few more dead trees to bring down, and I'd like to finish a few projects before winter arrives.

But then at the end of the week, we're going to St. Louis for a four day weekend! The kind where someone else does the cooking and makes the bed!

Even though St. Louis is our local Big City, we usually go there for some specific reason, do that thing, and then come home. This time we're going to do all those things we always mean to do...go to the Botanical Gardens, the miniature museum, go antiquing in St. Charles, and see Hannibal, MO.

I got a visitor's guide from the Chamber of Commerce with 25 fun things to do in St. Louis, but we're not much fun, so we don't want to eat out in snazzy restaurants or go to plays. We DO, however, like a nice brewery tour...we've done the Anheuser-Busch tour twice...and we're always on the lookout for cool things to see and do that doesn't involve shopping in malls. We've been to the Arch a few times, and seen the museum underneath it, so I'm pretty much done with that.

So...any recommendations? Anyone ever spent time touring in St. Louis?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Who Says We Ain't Smart?

High school kids all across the country take the SAT test before college. The scores are added to the myriad other factors that are supposed to be indicators of their potential academic success. These include their high school grades, class ranking, community activities, and parental legacy status.

George Bush, for instance...noted moron, dismal student, failure at everything he's ever attempted including numerous businesses, baseball operations, and of course...presidenting. However, the one thing he DID have success at was riding into Yale on the legacy coattails of George Senior and Prescott Bush, proving that it can certainly help your academic career to be spawned by the right sperm.

But I digress, as usual.

Every college-bound high school kid in the country takes the SAT except Midwestern kids. Kids here inexplicably take the ACT test. The ACTs are used by Midwestern colleges and universities the same way that the SATs are used everywhere ferret out the kids that may actually graduate, and then sign them up. But the ACTs also have another purpose: they tether Midwestern kids to Midwestern colleges.

No one who's spent an entire day in a high school auditorium trying to decipher "Dog is to table leg as pencil is to..." really wants to repeat the experience with the SATs. So kids who have parents who can actually afford out-of-state tuition frequently choose to apply to Midwestern colleges anyway.

Sneaky, huh?

Katie is signing up for her ACT test today. She's an honor student with a crapload of AP courses, including the math and science classes that kids are supposed to dread. She's also in the marching band, which ought to help her chances in college, since it proves that whether she actually absorbed any calculus in high school, she can at least count to four.

However, since she's taking the ACT, I hope that means she'll be staying right here, going to a good solid Midwestern University the way God intended. Heck, I've already paved the way for her. I'll bet she can get some legacy points from Southern Illinois University for my distinguished SIU career, in which I managed to skulk away with a 4 year degree in a mere 6 years. Besides, I'm sure SIU looks just like Yale if you drink enough.

People scoff, but mark my words...someday this country will be run by SIU Ag majors. Then those Yale sissies will be sorry. Skull and Bones has nothing on "taking the Strip" in Carbondale on a Halloween night. THAT prepared a kid for post-academic greatness.

So Katie, do a good job on the ACTs, graduate from a nice Midwestern University with a good Ag program, and then take over the world. And if you can do it in Carhartts, so much the better.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

They All Come Back

Since NaBloPoMo recommends we go with a theme to sustain our month long marathon, I've decided to write about Midwestern life, more or less. Although that's not too terribly different from what i write about anyway, my theme will mostly be to make 30 lame justifications about why it's better to live here than somewhere people have actually heard of. Why Nowhere is better than Somewhere.

I was taking my supper break last night at the same time as our new phlebotomist, Brittany. Or maybe Brianna....something like that. Anyway, Brittany/Brianna and I were talking about how low paying her job is here, and I told her how much Robbie makes for the same job in Tucson.

She was amazed that we left Tucson to move back to the Midwest. She did that typical Midwestern double take and said, "Why would you want to come back here?" I told her I was homesick, and she was amazed.

After a while, I went back to Hematology and considered that, while I waded through the diffs on my bench.

Almost every Southern Illinois native I've ever known plans to grow up and escape. They see Southern Illinois as hopelessly backwater, and dream of life in the city. Their goal, as Tom's daughter Emily famously phrased it, is to "Get out of Hooterville." People seem to be vaguely embarrassed and apologetic for living here, like the only ones who stayed on were too lazy or too stupid to get away.

But then...we all come back. It doesn't take too many years of living in the city somewhere to make us homesick. Cities are expensive and loud, and city dwellers are much more competitive and unkind. People drive aggressively and thoughtlessly, because there are no repercussions. If you drive like an asshole here, 9 times out of 10 the person you cut off is one of your mom's church pals, or one of your coworkers, or the clerk at your pharmacy...and they'll recognize you, and remember that you acted like a jerk. It's a lot harder to be rude and bad mannered when there's no anonymity to hide behind, so people tend to be a little more polite. They'll take a personal check without a phone number, because they know your parents and recognize you. If you don't have enough money for the gas you just pumped, they'll tell you to stop by with it later. If your car breaks down, not only will someone stop and give you a ride, but he'll also come back with tools and fix it for you.

When you first leave Hooterville, it's exciting. Big cities have a lot of cool things to do. You can buy beer on Sunday. The same crappy job you had in Carbondale pays twice as much in Chicago. But then after a few years, you realize that it's not worth it. You stop going out to the cool places, and the extra money is more than offset by the extra expense of city life, and many of the former refugees get homesick and come back.

When anyone we know leaves here triumphantly proclaiming, "I'm so glad to glad to be getting out of here!", we old refugees smile and say to each other, "She'll be back. They all come back."

I was listening to a piece on NPR a while ago about Amish teens. When they're grown, they have the option of leaving the community and living a secular life in the larger society. They are also welcome to come back at any time if they choose. Most of them return. After they get their fill of all the cool things they've always dreamed about, they realize how much harder and less rewarding an anonymous life is. Consider Southern Illinois as an Amish community, but with power tools and without those funny hats.

So I believe Brittany/Brianna when she says she plans to take her Junior College education and hightail it to California some day. But I also won't be surprised when I see her back at her old job in a couple of years. There's nothing like spending a few years in a place where you could die and be eaten by your cats before anyone noticed you'd gone missing, to make you appreciate a boring small town life with it's nosy, gossipy neighbors, unnatural obsession with the weather, and many festivals named for agricultural products.

We all come back.