Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Stupid Times

Before the Age of Aquarius, came the Stupid Times. These were the days before bike helmets, seatbelts, and sunscreen. We were dumb and liked it that way. Countless hours were spent pushing our bikes up long hills, and riding down them as fast as we could, sans helmets. At that time, only astronauts and football players wore helmets. I never crashed and burned on my bike. Amazing! Seatbelts were another phenomenon that came later. We just rolled around loose in the car, like marbles in a shoebox. There was no "Click It or Ticket", because there was nothing to click. Sunscreen needed to be invented way before it was. I was on Unwanted Facial Hair Patrol the other night, and noticed new brown spots on my face. Maybe I will get so many they will blend together to give me a natural fake tan. Back in the dumb old days, a third degree sunburn was just part of summer. Having chills and blistered skin was merely the gateway to a kick-ass tan. I never really liked being in the sun, but I gave it a good try. I used to get out the chaise lounge, radio, cold drink, and a book. I would lather up with sun tan lotion, or Baby Oil if I was feeling hardcore, and lay down. At a maximum of five minutes, I would be sitting in the shade with a Popsicle. I was a lightweight in the boxing arena of tanning. My only recourse to get a tan was to hang out in a pool. The chlorine bleached me a bit, but I eventually got tan. Nowadays I don't care that I have lily-white skin. If it weren't so damn cold on Halloween, I would wear shorts and rent out my legs. I'm sure the light of my legs could lead legions of trick or treaters. I could be the Human Glow Stick, and all without blisters. What a deal!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sign Of The Times

I drove past Jiffy Lube today. An employee was standing outside, shaking a sign offering a $12 discount. The man looked pretty disheartened and less than thrilled to be on sign duty. He was also holding the sign upside down. Awesome! I have a thing about making people stand outside their jobs and hold signs. It’s tacky and I feel sorry for them. I don’t mind so much when people are specifically hired to hold signs for a liquidation sale. They obviously need the work. But to make sign holding part of one’s job seems wrong to me. During tax season, one local accounting firm has people dress like the Statue of Liberty and wave at cars. One particularly memorable Lady of Liberty was a teenage boy who wore his backwards baseball hat underneath the spiky green crown. He was listening to his iPod and danced instead of just holding his sign. He was a great dancer, and was totally into his job. I was sorry my traffic light turned green so soon. I could have watched longer. The costume didn’t make me want to take my tax business to his company, but I did want a copy of his playlist. Another time, the Lady Liberty position was inhabited by a teenage girl with many body piercings and tattoos. What was that phrase inscribed on the Statue of Liberty? “Give me your tired, your weary, your pierced and inked up...” So, I’m not sure how effective this sign-holding tactic is. It doesn’t work on me. I make a mental note not to patronize businesses who do this. Ok, I admit I use Jiffy Lube, but not because their sign lured me in. I guess that makes me a hypocrite, and I will now go and take a shower because I feel dirty.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Downsize That Butt

I was changing channels on my car radio as I drove to the airport. I stopped on a show with John Tesh who was dispensing advice, as usual. He had just completed a scary warning about how scientists think getting a manicure can give you skin cancer. Something about the UV rays from the dryers used is really bad for you. Who knew? (besides the wise John Tesh). His next comment was something like “Next up... We now know that horizontal stripes can make you look bigger than you really are”. At this point, I started to yell at my radio. “Now??? NOW we know???” Hello... I’ve known that since I was a toddler. Where ya been, John Tesh? From my mother’s comments, I assume I was born with a large ass. I was a skinny, gangly little girl but it seems like Mom was always coming up with ways to make my lower half look smaller. Horizontal stripes were a big no-no. Light colors on top, dark colors on the bottom. The dawning of the 1980’s brought my mom’s very most favorite butt-reducing trick - shoulder pads. OMG how I hated those things. Still do. I think Mom sewed shoulder pads in all her clothes. I wouldn’t be surprised if her jammies had them. I just never got why looking like a linebacker was attractive. If I’m going to tackle someone, I want the element of surprise. I have always removed shoulder pads when I’ve purchased clothes that had them. At one time I had a whole sack full of the annoying little buggers. They came in handy once, though, when my son went to preschool on Circus Day dressed as the Strong Man. I sewed shoulder pads in his costume as muscles. They made awesome fake biceps. I’m a very creative person, but that’s the only alternate use I’ve come up with for shoulder pads. I refuse to put them where they were intended. Sorry, Mom. My big bootie and I are defying you. Besides, the 1980’s are over... at least for now.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Chatting Up My Appliances

I talked to the vacuum today. I had been cleaning the house and was trying to move the canister vacuum past some bins temporarily sitting in my dining room. Without thinking I said “Come on!”. Not angrily, but with a coaxing lilt to my voice. After I realized I was talking to an appliance, I reviewed possible reasons why this had occurred. The first reason, of course, was that I was losing my mind. This thought occurs to me daily, and the jury is still out. Then I thought I really needed to get more friends, since I seemed to be bonding with my vacuum. I was home alone except for my three dogs. Perhaps I was yearning for human companionship. My husband left for work early but I had seen him last night, so I doubt that was the reason. I finally decided it was due to my relationship with my dogs. Let me explain. I don’t consider them as animals. They are my furry, yappy, and sometimes smelly children. Hey, if the Supreme Court says corporations are people then I can say my pets are people too. I talk to them all the time, no matter where we are and they don’t seem to mind. I have to drag Lucy much of the time when we walk. I dislike doing that, but it’s the only thing that gets her moving. I believe when I was dragging my vacuum past the bins, I went into walking-the-dogs mode and automatically talked to it. That’s all I can figure. I didn’t offer it a treat, or anything silly like that. Just a little chat. Totally innocent. So, yah I’m not crazy. Nope. I have a date next weekend with the coffee maker, though. We’re going shoe shopping.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Local Ads

There is a universal rule that local business ads are always terrible. I’m sure of it. Today I was reminded of this when I saw a Jim Dandy truck drive by. My jaw dropped, and I wasn’t able to scramble for my cell phone fast enough to take a photo. Jim Dandy is some sort of plumbing business. What made my mouth hang open was a cartoony graphic on the doors of the truck. A side view of a person sitting on a toilet, with his pants down around his ankles was on the door. The graphic was drawn to make it look like the driver was tooling around town while sitting on a toilet. Sans pants. Creepy, creepy, creepy! A different plumbing company has a cartoon character on the side of its van. “Poopy the Plunger” is an upside-down plunger, wearing boots on little legs, and gloves on his cartoon hands. He has big googley eyes and a toothy smile. I don’t remember the name of the business, so maybe Poopy hasn’t done his job. At least he makes me smile, and doesn’t creep me out (are you listening Jim Dandy???). One more plumbing business inexplicably has a photo of lady on its vans. She is pretty, has big hair and even bigger breasts. What does a tight sweater have to do with plumbing? Obviously, the buxom lady on the truck is for the benefit of all the males out there trolling for a really good, hopefully hot, plumber. On TV the worst local ad is for Stop Bugging Me, a pest control company. The hero of the TV ad is a guy in tights and a cape. For some strange reason, SBP guy also wears a Bluetooth in his ear. Is he going to take calls during the commercial? I would assume if there were such a thing as a super hero, he wouldn’t need to be linked to a cell phone. Besides, where in his tights would he keep it? All these businesses have ads or logos that are memorable. Not for their high-quality services, but for the intense annoyance factor. Is that good enough? You got me...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chore Guidelines

I was walking down the hallway in my house the other day, and saw something moving on the floor alongside me. I freaked out, assuming it was a spider the size of one of my dogs. Luckily, it was only a dust bunny (the size of one of my dogs). I believe it’s time to set up some guidelines on when to do chores, as obviously things have gone downhill. Here goes…

Vacuuming – When dust bunnies, or dust tumbleweeds get big enough to move on their own power throughout the house, it’s time to vacuum. When the dogs eat dirt blobs, because they think a rump roast has fallen off someone’s plate, it’s high time to vacuum.

Washing the dishes – When people use serving spoons, melon ballers, or those weird little butter-scooping spoons because all the other ones are dirty, it’s time to wash the dishes. If people are using corn skewers as forks, it’s gone beyond wash time. When our vintage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cups emerge from the deepest, darkest reaches of the cupboard, it’s waaaay beyond wash time.

Laundry – If the dogs steal underpants and socks from the dirty laundry, it’s time to get the sorted piles of clothes into the washing machine. Back in our renting days, I was known to buy new underwear in order to put off my next to visit the laundromat. I was so thrilled when we bought our first washer and dryer, I sent out birth announcements. To this day, I try not to complain about doing laundry. The nasty laundromat experience is still fresh in my mind. When we first moved into our current house, the laundry chute was a big deal. Ben quite enjoyed tossing Molly’s Barbie dolls down the chute. It made doing the laundry much more interesting, never knowing what I would find. Nowadays, I might see an iPod or cell phone mixed in with the dirty clothes. Laundry treasure has certainly gone up in value. These little surprises add mystery to the mundane tasks in life. I'll take all the help I can get.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Missing My Dad

They say girls marry their dads. In my case, that’s sort of true. My husband is a terrific father. Rick is goofy and funny like my dad. He is also very smart and loves books, which would be like my dad as well. Rick isn’t the neat-nik my dad was, but he’s not a slob. That would have been a deal breaker for me. Thinking about Father’s Day, I can hardly believe Dad has been gone twenty years. I didn’t spend enough time with him growing up, and I deeply regret that. What I do remember is all good, though. My mom took on the role of disciplinarian, so Dad never fell off his pedestal. We all idolized him. Dad was an airline pilot. He actually could have been the poster child for what a pilot should look like - handsome, tan, curly dark hair with white side burns. He was the total package. He flew jets, but always drove like a little old man. In fact, he once got a ticket for driving too slow. At home, my parents kind of lead reversed traditional roles. Mom was the handyman, while Dad liked to clean. I remember seeing him return home after a three-day trip. He had his tie loosened, pilot hat askew, and was picking up little pieces of lint as he went up the stairs. We didn’t have company all that often, but when we did Dad would have the vacuum out before our guest’s car hit the end of the driveway. He had two vacuums - a spare in case one broke down. I guess I got my Planning For Disaster gene from him. My mom was my dad’s wardrobe consultant. The 1970s was the era of white shoes with matching white belt. One day my dad stopped by the airport to check his mail. A flight attendant apologized and warned him that the little dog she had with her had pooped under his mailbox. My dad looked down to see the most perfect turd he had ever seen. He assumed this was a joke and proceeded to step on the turd and squish it with his white shoes. The flight attendant look at him like he’d lost his mind, while my dad realized he’d stepped on a real piece of poop. Then he gagged. My dad was thrifty but I’ll bet those loafers went to the landfill. I hope the white shoes/white belt fashion trend never comes back, but it would be awesome if my dad could.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nothing To Crow About

I notice stuff. This morning on my way to work, I saw some crow activity at a construction site. Two crows were exploring the dirt. One found a small plastic cup that was probably used for catsup. He took one of his claws and pinned the cup to the ground, at an angle that would afford him the best access to whatever was still in there. Genius! I know crows are smart... scary smart. A friend has assured me that crows are awesome, and mate for life. Whatever. They still creep me out because I suspect they are more intelligent than I am. Case in point: We like to throw peanuts out for squirrels. When we are almost home from our morning walk with the dogs, a crow in a tree always yells to his buddies. By the time we get to the back yard, a bunch of crows are waiting, licking their chops... er beaks. Even though the peanuts are intended for squirrels, 90% are taken by crows and a couple of blue jays. I was outside once, chasing away the crows. I’d wave my arms and they would hop away, and then come back. This went on for a while. Then, one crow swooped down and picked up one of the little rocks I had lining the edge of my garden. I said something dumb like “Hey come back here with my rock!”. The crow flew out to the alley, with me in hot pursuit. Me on the ground, crow in the air. This was not going to turn out well. As soon as I got to the alley, and away from the peanuts, the crow dropped my rock. It had all been a diversion, with me as the dupe. I’m not sure, but as I slunk back to the house in disgrace (clutching my little rock), I think I heard snickers from the damn crows. In Boston they’d refer to them as “wicked smart”. And I, no doubt, would be called a “wicked doofus”.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Two Kinds Of People

I was chatting with my younger sister, Mickey, today. We were talking about how people go through life. She thinks there are two types of people - Those who ask permission before doing something, so as not to offend, step on anyone’s toes or (God forbid) get in trouble. That would be me. The other type of people don’t ask permission. They just do what they want, and it all works out. Or if they get in trouble, no big deal. This would be Mickey’s way. Let me clarify - She does what she wants, but isn’t mean and doesn’t abuse other people. She just doesn’t seem to worry about stuff (this may be why my hair is almost white, and hers isn’t). My older sister, Kathy, is a bit more of the permission-asking type than I am. Once in a great while I will stray, step out of the old box, and dare fate. But not often. Mickey drove the hearse from my aunt’s funeral, and also drove a digger machine that arrived to do work on her property. She just said “Hi, I’m Mickey and I’ll be driving this. Scoot over.” I think we are stamped at birth with our personalities. The way we cope is set, barring any life-altering event. I am a planner, my euphemism for not adventurous, loving routine, not minding rules. I know it’s silly to try to foresee any disaster ahead, but I do it anyway. I hate to scramble at the last minute and have to go to Plan B. I want my life always to be on Plan A, but know that’s just not how it works... damn it all. After my conversation with Mickey, I drove to get a latte. On my way I saw a girl riding a bike wearing flip-flops. I automatically scrolled through the Rule Rolodex in my brain and went straight for the flip-flop rule (actually there were two of them). 1. Never, never, never ride a bike in flip-flops. You can scrape your toes. 2. Never, never, but never mow the lawn wearing flip-flops. That’s a great way to cut off your toes. So, Mickey has a lot more fun making her way through life. And I stick to the rules, which apparently makes me happy. Also, I will probably make it to the end with all my toes.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tennis Elbow

Thursday, my husband was the victim of a hit-and-run driver. Rick called me as I was driving home from work to say a flatbed truck had hit his car. The driver got so close when trying to pass him, that he scraped and dented Rick’s car. Bad Driver also hit Rick’s elbow (resting on his open window) before taking off the side mirror. Then he sped off, as cowardly creeps do. Rick followed him, and got his license plate number. Then he drove to Swedish Ballard Hospital ER. I showed up a little while later with a fresh shirt to replace the one covered with blood. Rick’s elbow wasn’t broken, but was severely bruised and extremely swollen. When I saw his elbow, it reminded me of a boa constrictor that had just swallowed a pig. Rick’s wound looked like someone had pulled his skin over a tennis ball. Is this what they mean by “tennis elbow”? The doctor asked Rick to rate his pain from 1 to 10. Rick said it was a 3. I said mine was a 6, just looking at it. Nobody cared what my vote was, but I gotta be me. That poor, banged up elbow wasn’t getting nearly enough sympathy. I was appalled that someone had done this, and run away. I really wanted to give Bad Driver a tennis elbow of his own, and maybe a baseball head, croquet ball nose, and perhaps bowling ball knee caps. Good thing I’m not a violent person. In my imagination, though, I’m the Terminator, Godzilla, and a crew of zombies rolled into one. We found out that this was Bad Driver’s third hit-and-run accident. Three...count ‘em... three! OMG! How is it possible to do this three times and not be in jail??? The police wouldn’t give Rick the guy’s name. Maybe they could read my mind from afar. Anyway, it’s been referred to the Hit and Run Squad. Too bad there is a need for such a department. Updates to follow...

Monday, June 4, 2012

My TV Addiction

I was born with a TV Guide in my hand. Television has always been my drug of choice. Early on, I perfected the art of getting stuff done during commercial breaks. The one and only time I remember attending a family meeting, I was about 7 years old. Seems like the subject of the meeting was “Chore Assignments During Summer Vacation”. After being told our chores had to be completed before watching TV, I swallowed hard, and probably raised my hand to be called on (it’s hard to overcome Catholic school protocol, even on vacation). I pointed out that, surely, “I Love Lucy” was exempt from this plan. I negotiated a deal to complete my chores during commercials. In my mind, I had my priorities straight. The first Mercury space flight occurred when I was in first grade. It was all very exciting. Even more titillating was the fact that someone brought in a TV so we could watch the lift off. A TV... at school. OMG! Forget about the first US astronaut to blast off into outer space. There was an honest-to-God television in my classroom. It was so close I could practically reach out and lick it (the thought did occur to me). Televisions in classromms, especially Catholic classrooms, were unheard of back in the early 1960’s. I became a big fan of the space program at that point, and memorized each crew. I even wanted to become an astronaut, until I found out about all that pesky math and science I’d have to learn. Plus, I’m sure I’d have my head buried in a barf bag the entire time. Also, the spacesuit would probably make my butt look big. I wonder if I would have been so interested in outer space if it hadn’t been for that TV in my classroom back in 1961. That memory still makes me smile, and lick my lips.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Buddy Can You Spare A Nail?

Today my daughter asked me to help her hang pictures in her new apartment. I was thrilled. Either she was really desiring my picture-hanging skills, or just throwing me a bone. Win-win for me either way, as I really like spending time with her. Molly organized her bookshelves while I tackled the walls. I was in The Zone, and my secret measuring process was cruising along. I had two metal Ikea bulletin boards to hang that had no hardware. Seriously? Ikea items always have extras, sometimes even little tools. This time, though? Bupkiss. Molly Googled the nearest hardware store, and I set out to buy 4 nails. The hardware store was one I had driven by before. I had always thought it was a closed down, abandoned business. It looked pretty grotty. The door was open, and a strange guy was in the doorway talking to the store proprietor. I was on a mission, and would not be thwarted. I said “Excuse me” and moved into the store. And then I stepped back at least 60 years. This store had junk piled almost to the ceiling. There were no windows, and the only light came through the front door. It was like being in a cave, the cave of a hoarder grizzly bear who had a fetish for bins and boxes of rusty, dusty junk. I asked where to find nails, and Mr. Storekeeper led the way toward the back. We had to turn sideways and tippy-toe down a mini-aisle between two rows of lawn mowers to get to the nails. The man showed me different nails by reaching into several dirty boxes. All the nails were loose, and seemingly used. Or maybe they had just been sitting around for decades getting filthy and rusty. Anyway, I bought 6 nails (2 extra for possible hammering mishaps), and made it out alive and still relatively clean. Out into the sunshine and back to the 21st century. I felt like I needed a shower but had achieved my goal and it only cost me .15 cents. Prices from 60 years ago... maybe it wasn’t a bad experience after all.