Ponder this:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What animals ARE these?

I do not live with two poodles.
I live with two ferrets in suits of poodle.
Ever watch a ferret for fifteen seconds?
It's up and over and all around, nosing here, darting there. In constant motion, in search of God knows what, but certainly not whatever's easily found.


All night long, the poodles want to get under the blankets. When they've accomplished that, they want to get out from under the blankets. Max has lost every sense he ever owned except a slight bit of scenting ability, which does not help him find the top of the blankets. He roots around, whanging his head upward every other step to knock the blanket out of his way, the whole circuit of the bed. While I lie not breathing, pretending that I can sleep through this. Finally, I open the blankets wide. The fresh cold air rushing underneath next to my warm body allows him to get out.


When I arise in the morning I have One Thing That I Must Do, and that is to medicate the poodles. I tried for a long time to pry their tiny jaws open as I was bent down to their height. It's physically easier to hide the quartered or eighthed pills in bits of butter, or liverwurst, or (and this is the result of lengthy and expensive research) Turkey and Turkey Gravy Gerber Stage 2 baby food. 
GERBER® 2ND FOODS® Meats – Turkey & Turkey Gravy
No matter what I use as disguise, they find the substance that they must ingest for continued health, eat the expensive and carefully applied disguise food, and spit out the infinitesimal bit of medication.
Afterward they go to the door, stare out and bark at nothing. They don't want to go out; they want me to get up and attend them. They don't need anything; they just want to know that they can make me come to them.


They don't want the food I've put before them. Each wants his brother's food. Same food, same dishes . . . his is different and better.


I've done it to them. I have done it to myself. I know this.
And this is why I must never get another puppy. I must only ever get grown up dogs Who Know How To Act.
I am too easily trained.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stupid Glue

This is not my oven; I borrowed the picture from This is BrokenI have a microwave oven that looks just like this, except that at the moment mine has no handle on the door. 
You know households where nothing is ever broken for more than a half hour? My impression of many of my usual commenters is that they live in households like that . . . that they live lives of Absolute Tidiness and Good Maintenance.
I and my household are not like that.



More than a year ago, the handle broke off the microwave oven. That is, the bottom of the handle broke loose from the door. We grew accustomed to pulling at the top of the handle, and quite forgot that there was anything amiss, until, of course, the top of the handle finally broke. 
As they always do, eventually. 
The final bond always tears loose, once the separation process has begun...


I waited for Husband to fix it. In the Rule Book, husbands are supposed to be the small appliance fixer people. He didn't fix it. After sufficient time had passed, I went to the store, bought some Super Glue (Husband calls it Stupid Glue) and reattached the handle. It's worked fine for several months now. Last night Husband broke it off again.
This morning I came downstairs and started the coffeemaker. Idly, I picked up the microwave handle to see if I could fit its broken pieces onto the broken pieces remaining on the appliance's door. Voila! It clicked into place without my feeling the first prickle of sweat. 
Amazing! Going to be a good day! I'll just get the Super Glue from the kitchen junk drawer and do this baby up and I'll be a heroine.
And that's when the trouble started.
I have a couple of junk drawers in my kitchen . . . in which are stored more batteries (a few C size, forty AAA, sixty-four N) than in the junk drawers of any twelve people you know. Some of them are in the sealed original packaging. Quite a few are rolling around loose, and yet others sit alone in the blister pack that cozily held two, one of which is now in service. I found four film canisters from a camera I can't even remember owning. I have been saving them for eventual developing. This morning I threw them all away. All the photos are probably of Lake George and the boat we had twenty-five years ago, and little black poodle BeauBear in his white sailor cap and sailor collar. I remember all that quite well enough and don't need pictures (that probably wouldn't develop anyway) to remind me of happy times past. I found several tubes of household adhesive: stuff that needs to be mixed together and applied with a putty knife. I know what that stuff looks like when the [admittedly failsafe] repair is complete. There's a black line that forever shouts, "This is where this thing was broken and got plastered back together!" I found a ring of keys on a keyholder that I loved while I used it. It was a four-inch-long piece of leather with a snap hook on one end. There were four keys on the ring. I have lived without those keys for more than five years; I suspect one of them is a key to a restaurant I worked in, and a couple of others might be to the old Village Hall, which long ago reverted to a private residence that's been owned by, I think, three parties since I worked there. I threw away that whole mess.
So. 
All this, and no tiny tube of Super Glue. I did find an unopened package of Lock Tite . . . an unspillable bottle with a brush the size of a nail polish brush. That's what the picture looked like, anyway. When I opened the package, and then the bottle, the brush was stuck in the dead dried up glue, so I never got a good look at the actual bristles. I remember hearing a comedian saying that you could only ever use Super Glue once because you'd never be able to get the cap off again. I laughed long and hard over that; the truest things are the funniest.


Before I started to write this, I Googled for a photo of a GE microwave with a broken handle and found messageboards full of messages from people with broken microwave handles who had unscrewed one end of the handle, couldn't find how to get at the lower screw attachment and were looking for help. The ensuing discussions got into how to remove and replace the rubber bumper that seals the door and blahblahblah. What?!?!?! Those are people who like the fixing and not the fixed. I guess that's how one fixes things properly
I can't be bothered.
I'll make a run to the store later, get another tube of Super Glue, stick the thing back together and call it good. We need milk anyway. After I've used it, maybe I'll put the Super Glue in my makeup bag or somewhere where I'll run across it from time to time and know where it is when I need it again. 


About once every blue moon I wear false eyelashes. 
The tube of eyelash adhesive is about the same size as the Super Glue tube. 


Better rethink that.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday morning, winter

Finally, winter weather. The blinding brightness of sunshine-on-snow is emotionally strengthening. I would not say that I had been wishing for snow cover, but in these first few days, it's pretty and not yet treacherous. After some time, after it's thawed and frozen, thawed and frozen, and it all becomes ice . . . then I'll want it to be gone. I am reserving lots of wood ash for traction. For now, with two more days of a long weekend, lots of wood for the stove, the cold and the howling wind makes me feel cozy . . . like a mouse cuddled up in my nest.
Image from "Old Balls Please" BBC Nature & Outdoors

The presence of the bright full moon has disrupted my hibernation mode. I have closed all the bedroom shades, but I can't stay asleep for more than two hours. Part of that is Max's doing . . . even with his diaper/belly band, he must be lifted to the floor to . . . feel better . . . and then replaced in bed. Part of it is that my brain train won't stop steaming down the track. Far too often I feel, as I lie in bed in the dark, in the quiet, that I am suffering a bout of Irish Alzheimer's, that is, forgetting everything but the grudges. What a weight to drag around! Jacob Marley, adrape in his chains, has nothin' on me in these full moon nights.


I have cinnamon raisin bread in the bread machine. It will be ready in about two hours . . . a long time from now. It does not yet tantalize with its yeasty warm aroma. 
I have the scatter rugs flopping and thumping around in the dryer upstairs. Putting down freshly cleaned scatter rugs makes me feel inordinately virtuous.
I paid the property taxes yesterday . . . drove down and around the hill to the Town Hall and handed over my check and that confusingly arranged tax bill. If not for my exposure to tax bills through Morning Job in Small Pond, I wouldn't have the vaguest idea what amount was required of me. Happily, the amount due is a few fewer hundreds of dollars this year. Thank you Agriculture Credit!


You might remember that last year my middle name, about this time of year, was Sparkles. I was obsessed with pearly sparkly jewelry, nail polish, lotion... I'm back to that now, but my focus seems to be narrowing onto my fingernails. I have a new toy: a crystal nail file. I love it. I keep filing my nails just for the fun of using the pretty thing.


I'm reading nothing but trash. Escapist goop. It suits my mental status in these winter months. 
All right. I have the wood stove going well, I have bread baking . . . I'm going back to bed. 
Because it's Sunday morning and I can.
I never claimed that I got any smarter or more ambitious in the wintertime.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Waitress anxiety dream #4031

It's full moon time again, kiddies, and we all know what that means: June has her epic nightmares and shares them with you. You might want to keep a half a Xanax handy.
Last time I saw the podiatrist, back when my toe was still broken, he said he'd always wanted to wait tables. 
"It's hard work," I said.
"Well, that's what everybody says, but I don't see what's so hard about it," he answered, the innocent. I wonder if I should share the following with him. It's a dream . . . a nightmare, but its parts are certainly real enough. I worked through many . . . many shifts like this.


Out of clean dishes, although there are plenty of dirty ones in the stacks. The heavy coffee mugs have pieces of food stuck and dried inside them. The dishwasher water heater gave up the ghost last night and nobody on the closing crew left a note so we could call the repair person before the store opened. It'll be washing dishes by hand in the bar sink all shift.
On the floor a pile of potato peels. One of the managers sees it, says, "What the hell?" and goes off, I think, to arrange for removal. But it's busy, he never comes back, so we all just step around it over it on top of it to get done what we need to get done. 


No more pre-measured coffee packets for the Bunn coffeemaker . . . partly used bags of No-Name ground coffee here and there in the waitstation. 
"How much to put into the filter?"
"Just so it looks about right." 
And where is the coffeemaker? Oh. Up there on the shelf an arm's length above my head. A maker but no warmer, so that once the pot is made (brewing while customers grit their teeth and tap their fingertips on the tables waiting for their cups) it sits and loses heat, which it does very quickly, necessitating brewing a new pot. ...if you can find enough raw materials and the few seconds and the room, among the coworkers darting here, reaching there . . . five of us with our trays in a twenty square foot floor space. 


No conversation in the waitstation except 


"Is this still hot?"
"Barely."



"This empty?" 
"More coming."


"What the hell is THIS???" from a waitress staring into a coffee cup with a dried bread ball stick inside it. 
"Mm. They're all like that."

I find one of the white crockery cups with the smallest flake of dried red sauce halfway down the inside, wonder for half a second if, untouched, it might just float off in the hot coffee and go down the customer's gullet unremarked. I chip it off with my thumbnail, and pour a cup of coffee from the half-filled brewing pot. Whoever comes after me will have watery coffee, but I have MY customer's, and I'm off out of the madhouse of the back of the house into the diningroom. White cloths, barely enough space to get between tables without my butt knocking over water glasses. 
The guests have no idea what the back of the house looks like, sounds like, smells like. 
Happy guests.


And now here come some disgruntled customers into the waitstation, coming after their coffee. Young men, soft and spoiled looking. 
"What's the problem here? Why have I been waiting for ten minutes for a simple cup of coffee? I'll get my own!" 
I am furious, stern-voiced: "Get out. Get out of here."
They were going, but my hand on one's polo shirted shoulder hurried him along. Part of me wished that his heel would find a drop of water on top of the greasy quarry tile and he'd go down, the pushy arrogant prick.


People at tables outside my station start to wave at me. "Can we get our bill?"  One of my fellow waitresses has left. Her shift is over: she's gone. Never mind her coworkers or her customers. I'm in the diningroom . . . on the stage, as it were, so like a mother bird, I lift my wing and make comforting welcoming noises, gather them underneath. Finding their checks, getting them more . . . what? 
"More coffee? Sure! I'll just whip up a fresh pot for you. It'll take just a few minutes." 
Turning, scanning tables, scanning heads, to see what else I can do on this trip. Anyone close to me would have heard, despite my lips moving not at all, "Oh God. Another flocking pot of flocking coffee."


Somebody orders two entrees and there is only enough left of one of them so that I have to take it out as a side, and lie to make it sound as if the cooks chose to present it that way because of the flavors or aesthetics or something. 
You don't want to admit that you've run out of food, clean dishes, coffee. 
You don't want to say, "We can't find our coffeemaker." 
You want to preserve, for the customers, the image of peace and competence.


And at the end of the shift, you'll go out and have pitchers of beer with your coworkers and laugh and laugh about sliding on a potato peel and nearly cracking your head on the counter edge. Somebody will say, "Why didn't he just go get me a broom so I could stick it up my ass and clean 'em up while I'm pouring drinks!" Laugh so hard you can't breathe . . . about the handle of the full-of-precious-hot-coffee pot coming loose as you reached way up there for it. Laugh about June pushing the customer out of the kitchen: [PUSH]"You can't be back here. [PUSH] We don't want you to [PUSH] get hurt!"

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

La Belle Langue

I studied and loved French for many years in school. I got pretty good at reading it, even aloud, but to converse with someone was always beyond my comfort level. Years ago when Husband and I were at Terre des Hommes in  Montréal, we enjoyed a ride in a little cart pulled by a strong young man on a bicycle. I tried to ask him if our little jaunt was free and I think I might have asked him if he had stolen the bicycle. He was very gracious in his correction of my error.


So my audible French is limited to reading aloud, preferably to non-French speakers.
And there are some words that I especially enjoy saying...
aucune
grenouille (or any "gr..." word, really)
Montréal (the way Montrealers say it . . . Ma'real)
le pêcheur
les étoiles
soixante-dix-huit
Connecting those words into any reasonable semblance of conversation is not only beyond my comfort level but at this point far far beyond my level of capability as well.


My father was in Brussels in World War II, always wanted to get into France, but never did, I gather. By the time any war stories would have been sensible to me he was dead so what daddy did during the war is a little sketchy. I do recall his speaking French with what sounded like a very authentic accent, though, and when I was first exposed to the study of the language I aspired to sound the way he had. I remember my high school French teacher telling me that when she went to France the muscles of her face hurt for a week from the unaccustomed exercise. 


Several years ago I met a young French exchange student who was staying with friends. I felt very shy about speaking her language to her, but it seemed only fair . . . after all, here she was having to speak American all the time! And O Joy! she told her hosts later that I had a very good accent. 
It remains one of my proudest moments.
I like to think that Dad would have been pleased.