Friday, February 29, 2008

Your Call Is Important To Us...

I'm thinking my call is not important to them, since I've been on hold now for more than half an hour. I'm sure my call would be much more important if I owed them money instead of the other way around.

In the meantime...what's up with y'all?

In the event that my call becomes important enough to actually pick up the phone, I'll have to go, but there doesn't seem to be much danger of that. So this would be an excellent time to say that finally the sun has come out and I can sort of imagine that life might be worth living again. Oh...and it's Friday. What's not to love about that?

I think I may have found a good truck on eBay, but there's still five days until the auction ends, and you know how that goes.

Okay...apparently my call is NOT important to them, since they just hung up on me. I don't think I'm up for another half hour worth of classical music and empty promises. If I were, I'd have stayed with my last girlfriend.

Just kidding...she didn't play classical music.

Our Hearts Were Light and Gay

Ha! I found out today that there's someone who reads us that:

a) Neither of us gave birth to.
b) Neither of us slept with.
c) Neither of us ever will, or will even potentially sleep with. What with him being...uhhh...penile. Like someone from a penile colony. Maybe he's Australian. Isn't Australia a penile colony?

We were informed, without solicitation or any money changing hands, that someone who could be doing important things instead chooses to read our homey little gay blog. On purpose. Not because we're pestering him at work, saying, "Hey! Read this! Do you think I'm brilliant??" Although he's actually the husband of Lori's friend, which sort of makes him a distant relative, so I think we may lose points for that.

Although we're both still vying for the rights to the Feral Mom fantasy, (but not the guitar nightmare...eeek!) any husbands of our friends will be safe from us, and not just because we're a pair of middle-aged dykes with no social skills. But as a consolation prize, all incompatible man-people will receive a "get-out-of-a-potentially-awkward-interaction-free" pass from us, some dubious medical advice, and a lovely parting gift...maybe a cat or two. Because we're neighborly here in Nowhere.

(Heh? Who's your favorite gay blog? Remember, members of the academy, when it's election early and vote often.)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

eBaying At The Moon

I'm back on eBay shopping for trucks. This time it's for Carrie's Man Friend, but really...I'd look for anyone. I love the strategy. I'm not a hunter or a fan of hunting but eBay has a sort of hunting feel to it. You go out and stalk a truck, then follow it through the woods until you can shoot it and drag it home.

What's not to love about that??

Anyway, when I find one, I'll post a picture in all it's crappy glory.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Election Fun From Nowhere

I don't normally blog about politics. Pandagon, Feministe and a few others do such a fantastic job that I'd be embarrassed by the comparison. But I do following it closely. I'm concerned about all the usual policy issues that liberal pinko lesbian mommies care about: our various wars and potential wars, health care, abortion, gay marriage, etc ... but I also follow it for the psychology. I love the psychology; it's a people-watching project at it's finest.

Part of the fascination is the marathon aspect of a two-year election cycle. American elections aren't won and lost in a single moment (with Howard Dean's scream being the possible exception), they're generally decided by a couple of candidates jockeying for an advantage, looking for a toehold, hoping to find some little something that will push them ahead long enough to gain that elusive momentum. Candidates get tired and accidentally speak candidly. They say things that sound human instead of presidential. Or they try to change directions, with disastrous results. Think of Hillary's "Yes, We Will" Obama ripoff. Now think of New Coke. Bad ideas. Go back to what was working for you.

Part of the process of electioneering is good campaigning, and part of it is strategic smearing by proxy. The polls say Americans don't approve, but it generally works like a charm. Karl Rove, for instance, speaking off the record about an illegitimate biracial McCain baby, can be more effective than a comprehensive healthcare policy at getting the public engaged. Swiftboating, Whitewater, plagiarism ... those buzzwords might be the lever that prys the election loose. Many voters don't know or care much about the stories behind those labels, they're just pretty sure that they're incriminating. And any lie repeated enough becomes the truth. If you can get the words to stick in people's minds with a negative connotation, it might be enough to put one or the other over the top.

I love the psychology, the sports parallels, the strategizing, the history. It's fun to view the sport of electioneering through a long lens and watch it evolve, or not, over centuries. The Founding Fathers were as vicious in their campaigning strategies as any Karl Rove. Allegations of sexual misconduct, racketeering, and outright treason are as old as democracy itself.

By a hair-thin margin, I think I'm for Obama. His platform is almost exactly the same as Hillary's, but I think he might be able to restore our international credibility somewhat better than Hillary can. He's fresh and new, and he's black, which might help cause the rest of the world to give us a second look after the eight long dark years of fascist White Guy domination.

Even though I support Obama, I like Hillary Clinton. I admire her toughness and intelligence, but I think a Clinton presidency would be a grim business. She'd be working hard trying to restore our nation and the Clinton family's personal legacy. I don't see a lot of joy emanating from a Clinton White House.

And that's too bad. I think Bill Clinton must have been one of those guys who knew how to think and work and strategize when he was "on", and then knew how to relax and laugh when he was on his own time. Hillary will be the sort of president who's up every night until 2a.m., poring over position papers and memos until she has a heart attack at her desk. She's a hard worker. She's like the kid who's number one in her class and isn't about to lose that spot by staying out late and skipping a homework assignment.

In the end, I'll be happy with either Obama or Clinton. I think both of them will dedicate themselves to undoing the last eight years of shameful American foreign and domestic policy and digging us out of this massive debt sinkhole Bush has created.

In fact, the biggest advantage either of them has is that they're not Bush. The only good thing about George Bush is that he set the bar so low, virtually anyone looks good in comparison.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

It's New, It's Blue, Get Used To It

I've been in a deep blue funk for the last few weeks. I'm tired of ice and snow and short days. I'm tired of looking at my pale, pasty coworkers. I'm tired of leaden skies, wet feet, stuck cars, heavy outerwear, slushy roads and broken trees.

Today Lori and I went for a walk, thinking that maybe a brisk walk in the bracing slush would lift our spirits. We walked down Kaolin road for a while and enjoyed the winter scenery. BTW...Kaolin, for those of you who are remiss in your education, is a slippery kind of clay that's used as the principle ingredient in Preparation-H. The walk was nice, and I felt a little more engaged, until we got to the curve in the road where the county animal shelter is located.

I stopped to pet a couple of the dogs in the outside enclosures. They were glad for the attention...lots of licking and snuffling and trying to press their noses through the wire. Then Lori and I noticed one laying very still. Like, deadly still. Like...dead. Bastards!

I don't know that the dog actually died from exposure, but if it was sick, I'll bet the cold didn't help it's chances any.

Let's think about this. We round up dogs...strays, runaways, neglected and protect them from the harsh world. Then we store them in wire pens in February. Then they die. See? No more need to save them from the world!

Clever, eh?

I went home and called the Sheriff's office, but really what I want to do is bitch someone out. Maybe at the next County Board meeting. I'm not much of a dog person; I prefer cats and their "screw you" attitude to dogs and their "please, please, please"-ing. But really, I still prefer the company of dogs to that of most humans. And nothing deserves that sort of treatment.

So...the walk would have helped with the funk. But the Universe and the County conspired against me.

Oh...and my friend Mark just called and told me to let it go. I'll consider it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ice Storm '08 - 1/2

Here we go again.

They've been predicting another ice storm in our area for the next couple of days, so when I looked outside this morning I was relieved to see just a light sprinkling of tiny ice pellets on the grass. Whew!

I got dressed and headed out to work. No. The tiny sprinkling of ice pellets is on top of the 1/4" of clear ice that has been falling since 2 AM. The cars are once again encased, the roads are once again ice rinks and it's only just begun. It's supposed to get worse and keep doing this off and on through tomorrow night without ever getting above freezing.

We were smarter this time and brought in LOTS of wood and stacked it all over the living room. Well, it looked like a lot last night. It doesn't look like enough now. Before it gets any worse out there I'm going to bring in more so it can be thawing BEFORE we need it this time. We never did get the emergency non-electric coffee pot or the kerosene lamps or the firestarters because the stores are still sold out of all of those, but so far we still have electricity. That probably won't last, since the trees are already icing and the ones that were stressed and mostly broken last week will probably go down this time. If I worked for the utility company I'd be suicidal about now.

So that's the news from Nowhere, IL ... (sigh).


Friday, February 15, 2008

Dude! Can You Push My Car?

Now that I've been to work one day in a row (and spent most of it talking about the repeal of the Texas dildo law), I'm worn out. Luckily it's not the work that's worn me out, since if my work was any more sedentary I'd be able to do it in an iron lung. I'm worn out from spending the week in a state of hypervigilance. Make sure the cars don't get squished. make sure everyone's got a warm, dry place to sleep, make sure we all have enough beer and cigarettes to survive an Armageddon...

At this point I've pretty much had it, and it's only been 4 days since our ice storm began. I think I wouldn't have made a very good Katrina survivor. If I were a Katrina survivor I'd have saved the girlfriend, the pets and the children, then climbed up on the roof with a six pack of beer and a book and tried to pretend this wasn't my life. The National Guard could save me or not, I don't care. As long as they regularly air dropped care packages of books and beer, I'm cool with sitting up there as long as I need to. Good luck to the rest of you.

So we survived our flirtation with Arctic living, and although I still haven't got my truck unstuck from the ice, I want to reward myself with a nice long drive this weekend. Maybe the weather will settle down enough for a trip somewhere. I think I can justify it if I say I'm going to Memphis for hurricane lamps and kerosene. I was in our local Wal-Mart last night and the camping aisle was wiped out of stovetop coffee makers, hurricane lamps, sterno stoves and candles. Like everyone else in Southern Illinois, we've made a solemn vow to stock up on those things for next year's ice storm, but if we don't get started buying them now, we won't think of it again until we're sitting in the house watching Mrs. Undrfoot, our yard cat, glaze over again.

I'm officially tired of winter now. I'm ready to tool around on the mower again. And sweat. And complain about sweating instead of complaining about freezing.

Maybe Memphis isn't far enough. Maybe the Yucatan. I remember now...we need sombreros and Bohemia beer from street vendors in Mexico more than we need candles. And a talavera toilet. Nothing says "Ice storm? What ice storm?" like a talavera toilet.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Part One, In Which We Push Cars and Contemplate Suicide

There are probably 30,000-ish people in the southern seven counties of Illinois. Although we all experienced my ice storm...screw 'em. It's my blog, so this is my story.

Monday I was a good little housebutch. I finally took the last of the Christmas decorations down to the shed, stored the tires from the ill-fated blue truck, and I started the laundry. I was standing in the yard at 11-ish talking with Carrie when it started to lightly snow. "Crap.", says I. It was going to be a pain in the ass to get to work.

By 1 o'clock, however, it wasn't a pain in the ass, it was impossible. I scraped and chipped the ice off my truck at the top of my driveway...and then stopped and scraped again at the bottom. I made it a mile into town before I stopped to scrape a third time...then I turned back and called in.

Yay! No work on a Monday!

I called Lori at work and told her to come home now, before she ended up spending the night in town, and got busy collecting firewood. Mountains of firewood. I thought that would last us until April at least. We congratulated ourselves for the weather, then put a movie on and sat down to enjoy our unexpected vacation.

We alternately watched "Gandhi" and watched the ice and rain falling. At 11 when we went to bed the ice was still falling and Gandhi was still dead. At 11:10, the power went out. We laid in bed, listening to the limbs break, and Lori said, "I hope the branches don't fall on the cars.

Well, okay. Guess who got up 7,000 times in the night to see if the exploding trees had landed on the cars? The crack of the trees breaking and falling became my nocturnal obsession. Every 10 minutes another tree fell, and ever 10 minutes plus one second I shot out of bed to stare presbyopically out the window for squished cars and/or trucks.

Finally the sun came up, and no cars were squished. An inch of ice coated everything and an enormous limb had landed 5 feet behind Lori's car, but we were in good shape. We boiled coffee water on the stove (Yay for gas stoves!), put on all the clothes we owned, and headed out into the yard.

The next door neighbor (Remember him? Lives with his dead parents behind a wall of unkempt grass and trees?) had a backyard that sounded like a war zone. Every few minutes one of his 40 foot tall trees exploded and fell over. We stood in our yard and watched in awe until we figured out that several of the exploding trees were precariously balanced over Lori's car.

We decided to move the car. After 10 minutes of spinning tires fruitlessly on ice, I decided to kill myself by wedging my head into the crotch of one of the neighbor's trees and waiting for it to explode. I figured, "Hey! I'm a lesbian. I'm all about wedging my head in crotches!"

Yeah, it would be chilly for a while, but not too much chillier than one of my exes, and the tree wouldn't call me at work later to tell me that I'm an asshole and it never wanted to see me again, but if it ever did, would I stop and pick up Chinese food on my way home? And fill up it's gas tank? And take it's trash cans down to the curb? And then go to hell, because I'm still an asshole and the tree still hates me?

So we crammed a lot of crap under the car tires until me, Carrie, and her Man Friend were able to push it across the field and onto a patch of gravel. Then we trudged home to fire up the chainsaw and start cutting up more trees.

Oh...and I hate Big Brother...which is why I'm blogging now and not in the morning, like the good lord intended. However Big Brother is almost over, CSI is about to start, and I'll finish my adventure story in the morning.

Ice Storm '08

That's what our local Storm Team Weather crew is calling it. Our favorite reporter interviewed a youngster over in Missouri who told us (repeatedly) that it's "really cold."

Well, yes. It IS really cold. It's really cold, it's really slick, it's really pretty and it was really inconvenient being without power for a couple of days.

Even if you have a fireplace, a kerosene heater, a lot of candles and a gas stove, a couple of days off the power grid sure makes you cognizant of the many ways you rely on electricity.

Next year we're going to store some firewood someplace out of the weather ... and buying a non-electric coffee percolator.
Ev's been composing a blog post in her head since the power went out on Monday night, but her usual blogging time is during her morning coffee and she's pretty wore out right now from all the chainsawing, ice chipping, wood thawing, car extricating and shivering. So I'll just leave you with a couple of pictures of our yard and she can fill you in on the details of our adventure when she's had some time to get warm and recover her sense of humor.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Plants Are Our Friends

I bought this poor unloved african violet at Wal-Mart a few months ago for 50 cents. It had three leaves left alive, and I felt bad for it. I guess the Wal-Mart associates in Lawn & Garden aren't the nurturing type. I figured that for 50 cents I could see if it could recover, and if I failed to bring it back it wouldn't be tragic. Now it's the most perfect african violet ever. Too bad I can't have this effect on humans. I should learn to like people like I love plants and cats.
Maybe someday.

Why Your Phlebotomist Hates You

Huh. Beware: full-blown rant ahead.

I just read a blog with a post about blood draws, and how awful they are. Okay, I've had enough. All you people who think that a) blood draws are excrutiatingly painful, b) your phlebotomist has it in for you personally, or c) 5 or even 10 tubes of blood is an exceptional amount, more painful, or likely to drain you dry...stop being such weenie-headed titty-babies.

Blood draws, especially for us reasonably healthy adults in decent shape, is a quick and mostly painless project if you shut up, stop wiggling, look away, and don't pretend you know more than we do. Phlebots draw blood from hundreds of people a day. just because you only have it drawn once a month doesn't make you special.

They know how to find a vein and insert a needle. They know how many tubes to draw (as long as some nurse doesn't call down to the lab 5 minutes later to add more tests), and they're not the slightest bit amused by your drama. Sit up, stick out your arm and shut up. If you're a fainter, tell them. It's a lot easier to get blood from an unconscious person who's laying on a bed than it is from a person who just slid out of her chair onto the floor. Plus, the laying-down people are less likely to puke.

And unless you're a child, or or over 80, or a cancer patient, a burn victim, or missing an arm...please, please don't demand your blood be drawn with a butterfly needle. They're expensive, they're more likely to clot (and cause the phlebe to stick you again), and they're a pain in the ass. A vacutainer draw is quick, easy, less likely to clot or hemolyze the blood, and less likely to cause your phlebe to think unkind thoughts about you.

By the way...the rule of thumb is that the sicker a patient is, the less likely they are to be babies. Cancer patients? Cheerful and brave. Twenty year old men getting their pre-employment screening so they can be longshoremen, lumberjacks or fork lift operators? Blubbering whiny assholes who beg for anesthetic, pass out on the floor, and wet themselves.

Remember...the more you whine and cry, the more we make fun of you after you leave.

Ennui. It's not just for breakfast anymore.

I'm restless AND suffering from ennui. Who says I can't multitask?

This is my only day off in a nine day stretch so I feel like I ought to make good use of it, but I can't seem to get moving. I've been pretty much sitting on the couch drinking coffee, watching the fire and reading since 10 o'clock this morning, and I'm about to have self-esteem issues.

What I should be doing is cutting some more dead trees before they fall down, taking the last of the Christmas oramentation down to the shed (Yeah, I know it's February. I've been busy, so shut up.) and driving around pretending to be checking the storm damage on the house but really just listening to NPR and watching the scenery. Instead...I'm not. I'm restless about the pace of this house buying project, anxious to get started on the fixing and cleaning, and frustrated that I can't. Therefore, I'm generally uninspired about actually doing anything beyond poking at the fire and snacking.

I can't decide if this is PMS or if my inner sloth has sprung forth, ready to do battle with SuperEvie, but I'd like her to go away please, and let me get back to my real self.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday

I just got a phone call from my son.

Usually he calls when he needs something (like money), but today he called because he was excited. He'd just voted for the first time in his life, and he wanted to tell me about it. I'll admit, I was somewhat surprised he even had a voter registration card. This is the same kid who didn't get around to getting a driver's license until he was 17. He's never shown much interest in politics, preferring to invest his energy in death metal music, graffiti-esque art, perfecting his homeless waif look and avoiding an education at all cost.

And then he went to the Obama rally in Phoenix. He saw Caroline Kennedy and heard Obama speak, and now he can't stop talking about being part of "history in the making" and going to college ... and voting. My God, it does a liberal Democrat mom's heart good!

Say what you will about Barack Obama, he's done what many have tried and few have accomplished ... he's getting out the youth vote. He's crossing party lines and color lines and gender lines and he's inspiring people. He's reaching disheartened old voters like me and disinterested young voters like my son, and getting them out to the polls because they're excited about casting their votes. He's more than a candidate, he's a phenomenon, and he's gotten two generations of Kwachie's all kinds of whipped up about the possibilities.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Home Ownership the Ev and Kwachie Way!

The only thing more fun than renovating an old house is renovating an old house with an audience, don't you think? And since the house renovation project will, no doubt, be fodder for a LOT of blog posts in the coming months, I thought I'd get a good early start by introducing you to what a $13,000 house in Cairo, Illinois looks like. That way you'll be able to really appreciate the story as it unfolds.

Right off the bat we know we have to rent a big dumpster and fill it up so we can see what we haven't been able to see under all the junk. Everything in the kitchen and basement goes in the dumpster, down to the walls. Then we get the home inspector to come and give us a thorough checklist of what we already know it needs and what we don't know about yet.

What we know already is that it has no heating or cooling, so we're going to have to buy a furnace. The chimney attached to the fireplace needs a flue and the old chimney that used to be attached to the original heating system has collapsed and will have to be removed. Then we need an electrician and a plumber to a) determine what works and what doesn't and b) fix what doesn't.

This is not Ev's first renovation and it's in far better shape than her first one. Her first renovation was a 100 year old farmhouse with big woe. The electric had to be 100% replaced, starting at the power pole. The bathtub had fallen through the floor into the basement, the roof had to be replaced from the rafters out, large areas of the wood floor had to be repaired, there was no kitchen to speak of, the septic system had to be replaced ... and then the whole front porch fell off one night while she was sleeping. When she tackled that project, on her own with the help of library books, she was a single mother with three little kids and two jobs, and her strategy was to get one room livable and then they all lived in that room while she worked on another one. The kids remember gathering around the kerosene heater holding umbrellas while it rained in the dining room.

In this house it won't be hard to have livable rooms to retreat to when we need a sanity break. There are many rooms that don't need anything but paint and cleaning. There are others that are more daunting, and unfortunately those are the ones that allow you to pee indoors and eat food. But there's a damn fine library in Cairo for the stuff Ev's forgotten, and now we have the Internet! I've already registered with an old house renovation discussion forum where we can pick up advice and encouragement as needed. I anticipate that our biggest hurdle is going to be the fact that we ain't as young as we used to be. On the other hand, we ain't as poor as we used to be, so we can pay people to do stuff this time. Hey, it's good for us AND good for the Cairo economy.

I'm going to call my friend who works in the Assessor's office in Cairo and find out about the house next door. It's a big, beautiful old thing on the corner lot that looks like it's had a fire upstairs. We want to find out if it's on the demolition list, and if it is we want to find out whether we can find the owner and pay them to let us salvage the good stuff before it's gone ... and then we want to buy the lot it's sitting on.

And so, without further adieu ... blogosphere? Meet the house. House? Meet the blogosphere.