Monday, January 25, 2010

Next Weekend I'm Expecting Locusts.


It started on Thursday with the ice machine, my favorite household appliance.  One minute there were lovely half-moon cubes tumbling on demand from the door of the refrigerator, and the next, no cubes, no matter how insistently I pushed the little paddle in with my glass. For awhile the refrigerator still made that grinding sound that meant here come the cubes!, but soon even that pretense was abandoned, and everything was silent.

Little did I know that lukewarm, European-style beverages were to be the least of my troubles.

Friday night the flood came.  I was in the shower singing show tunes and checking for moles when I heard a pounding noise coming from somewhere in the house. I stopped singing to listen, and it stopped.   Hmmm.  Must have imagined it. I went back to my singing. More distant pounding.

Then the pounding got really loud, and my husband burst through the door, (Which I had locked. A lady needs privacy) his eyes wild, a vein bulging in his forehead.

"Water!!" he yelled over the sound of the shower.

Thank you, Captain Obvious! I thought. Men.

"Flood!" he yelled, and pointed to the floor, which I now saw was covered in an inch of water.  Where did that come from? 

Then, with a little flourish, he opened the door to the narrow elevator- shaft-room that houses the toilet, and the contents of Hoover Dam poured out.

Oh.  Flood.  Flood!  I did some naked panicking then, running in little circles in the shower while I thought what to do, and my husband disappeared from the room, presumably leaving me to drown while clutching my soap bar.

I knew I had to do something (shower time was over), and luckily I was already wet so opening the shower door and swimming through the rapids in my bathroom was easy enough.  The rest of the night was not.

Downstairs, in the kitchen, a waterfall was pouring from each of the three light fixtures. One of the lights  sparked and crackled festively before going dark and emitting curls of black smoke from under its shade.

The dog's dish was filling up with water and bloated kibble.

Then from the garage, like an avenger, came the husband, festooned with vacuum hoses and old towels, a look of grim determination on his face.

After that it was all night with the shop vac sucking up gallons of water from the upstairs floor/kitchen ceiling, and mopping, and then floor heaters pointed at the ceiling in an effort to prevent the drywall from buckling and swooping like a Salvador Dali painting, ( or just sloughing off onto the floor altogether) and a little bit of swearing and maybe some gentle weeping.

About three in the morning, when we went to turn the heat up to help dry the ceiling, we discovered that the furnace had joined ranks with the ice maker and the toilet, and had given up normal operations.

No heat.

Not only was it wet and cold outside (Stormwatch 2010!!), it was wet and cold inside, and likely to stay that way.

We went to bed.

The next morning, after dreaming I was riding a giant lizard through the park, I awoke to the sounds of my husband in the hallway, banging on assorted furnace innards with his manly- man tools.

The husband is part MacGyver, and has already managed to get our elderly furnace running again two winters in a row, so I had reason to believe he could get it to work, at least for awhile.

And, he did! It was nice and warm for a couple of hours.

Until the fireball.

Apparently one thing MacGyver forgot was to bypass the thingamajig that regulates the timer on the whatchamacallit. This is bad, because forgetting this leads to gas being pumped out willynillly,too many seconds before the igniter ignites, resulting in a house-rattling explosion.

Cats hate fireballs.

Especially when the flames throw the door to the furnace open with shocking force and then shoot out to lick the edges of the Tower of Babel cat tree in which they are reclining.


After that it was all anticlimactic, fortunately.  The cats escaped intact (one flaming animal per week is our limit)

the Tower of Babel remains, and the house has not burned to the ground. The kitchen ceiling decided to stick around. The house has a slight indoor-swimming pool smell to it, but I'm hoping that will go away.

Best of all, a two hour drive to see an amused appliance parts salesman (originally from Turks and Caicos)  yielded fresh components for the ice maker and the furnace.  The toilet has received a stern talking-to.

Also, the rain storm outside, after depositing 400 inches of rain into our backyard, has left for Arizona.


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The week is looking up.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Probably We're Changing His Name to "Sparky" Now. Or "Mr. Burns."

Tonight my dog caught on fire. 

Really. 

One minute we were having a quiet moment in front of the fire on a cold and rainy night. I was telling him how handsome he is, and combing his Einstein eyebrows with my finger.   The next minute, Terrier Flambe.

It was the cats' fault.  They slither and slink in tight formation, sometimes rubbing the entire length of their bodies along the side of his head, and my poor little Jiffy Pop Dog interprets this as a feline assassination attempt. So when they did their jazzy approach tonight, the dog backed up.  Into the fireplace.

Well, only his tail went in, and we put it out for him right away, so it's okay.  I don't even think he knows, but the cats do.  They keep licking the singed hair on the end of his tail and smirking.

I'm looking into a therapist for my dog.

Other highlights of the week:

Yesterday our school and every other school in the district was put on lock down.  For a change it wasn't because of text message death threats and rumors of snipers on the roof (Snipers are so last year.  Last spring, specifically. One of my students hyperventilated because a maintenance man was walking around on the roof of my classroom and she thought it was a man with a gun).

This time we were on lock down because of a tornado.   In southern California.  It was heading straight for us!!  But then it took a wrong turn somewhere and got lost, and we lived.   I got to be in lock down alone, because it happened during my prep period and the next class period never came.  I did a great job of comforting myself.


I'm calling in fake tornado warnings every week from now on.

Also, I saw this at the junk store on Saturday, and I'm seriously thinking about buying it, even though I'm completely terrified of clowns.  Especially driftwood clowns. 



If you want we could share it.  It would look great over your dining room table.  I call him Spartacus.  Spartacus the Driftwood Clown.


And finally, (because my last post was really long, and I am practicing the fine art of restraint)--

The verification monkeys are starting to get on my nerves.




It's not like I'm gurgling all the time, it was just that once, and I was really quiet.  I kept my mouth closed.

Get off my back, internet spies.


Monday, January 18, 2010

"Heed!" (Does This Headdress Make My Head Look Fat?)

Someone stole two weeks from me, and I didn't even know.

It can happen.  Usually when you're doing other things like explaining what a cavity search is to your eleven year old,
(Me: Are you watching A & E again?  A cavity search is... um... when they look for...well...hidden items in your...well, openings... and ....
Son:  huh? 
Husband :  Sometimes people shove something up their butt and the police have to stick their arm up there and pull it out.
Son:  Oh! )
and cleaning bubbly gray broccoli out of the back of your refrigerator.

In addition, worrying can eat up a lot of your time.  Worrying is stupid, and I know this.  For instance, Haiti is bad.  Heartbreakingly bad.   Also, my district is facing pretty significant teacher layoffs, along with every other school district in California.  I can't fix either one of these things, or any of the other hard things on the world's laundry list, no matter how much I worry, but I can't help it. So I choose to worry about the trivial.  I like trivial.

For instance:

1.) I hear Lady Gaga is "sick".   Judging from the news over the last year there is some kind of dastardly plot afoot to kill off all thirty-and-under celebrities, and maybe her crazy shrubbery headdresses and tiny diapers have made her the next target. I think at this point the only thing that can save her is a polyester pantsuit and some sensible shoes.  I'm rooting for her. (When I say, Get better soon! what I really mean is Take off those hooker platforms and run, Lady Gaga, run! )

2.) Last year my daughter's orthodontist told me, all smirky, that I have an "asymmetrical chin".  He's a rude little man in a Hawaiian shirt, and at first I was going to bring up his shiny bald spot but chickened out, and then I went home and looked in the mirror, and it did seem a little off .  Then I forgot about it until recently when I got sucked in to www.ancestry.com, a site that makes it really easy to research your ancestors, and suddenly my chin issue started to make sense.

See, I've been there a lot, (me and all the other eighty-year-old ladies, and some Mormons) and what I found was interesting.  For instance, one of my ancestors in the 1600's was scalped by a local irate indian.  He got bored half-way through and left her to die, but she didn't, she just flapped the hunk of skin back over her skull and went home.  We're hardy people.

Anyway, most of the branches of my family seemed to be doing fine, except when I got into the 1800's.  One branch of my family seemed, well, closer than you'd expect, with the same last name appearing on both sides of the marrying line.  At first I thought I did something wrong, because at several points all manner of cousins were marrying all over the place, and then an aunt and a nephew.  I double-checked.   Everything seemed accurate. Hmm.

So, just a smidgen of inbreeding.  Nothing to worry about probably.

(I looked up "effects of inbreeding" on Wikipedia, and it didn't list crooked chins, but I'm thinking they didn't have room to list everything.  At least there's no hemophilia or an overwhelming urge to sit on one of the thrones of Europe.)

3.) Also, we seem to be distantly related to the Bushes. I know what you're thinking, but not the inbred branch. I always thought Barbara Bush looked like my great-grandmother, and now I know why.

4.) My biggest trivial worry these days is that I think we've got another epidemic on the horizon, one that no one seems to be talking about, and believe me, I've looked.  It may take another twenty or thirty years, but it's inevitable.

I'm speaking, of course, about Panda Head.

I started thinking about pandas (apparently a popular blog topic these days!) over Christmas break while playing Taboo with some friends.  The clues were eastern, Chinese, beast of burden.  Someone, not me, shouted "panda!".  You, of course, know that the answer was "yak", but it got me thinking about how unfair that is, that the yak should get all the hard jobs while the panda, also large, gets to hang around all day.

Why can't a panda be a beast of burden?  Sure, you'd have to fit it with some kind of special backpack, and you couldn't be in a hurry to get anywhere, but it could work.

So I looked up pandas on Wikipedia too (let's hope I never commit a crime and then the police have to look at my search history) and it turns out pandas are not considered reliable workers.

What they do really well is lie around and eat a huge amount of nutrient-poor bamboo.  They have to eat tons of it because their bodies are actually designed to eat meat, but they don't, because they're stubborn or something.  They only eat bamboo, and lots of it, just to have enough energy to lie around all day.
The scary part is where the article said that pandas have developed not only large bodies as a result of their low LOW metabolism, but that their heads have gotten large and bulbous for the same reason.

I think pretty much we're doomed.  Because bamboo is nature's cheese puffs.  Replace the tree branches with a love seat, and you've got a picture of half of America.  We're all just a Saved By the Bell marathon and a large bag of chips away from Panda Head.

This is really bad news for Americans, from an evolutionary standpoint, but great news for me, the forward-thinking entrepreneur.  Because not only do I see elastic waist pants as a growth industry, I  also foresee a new market for plus-size hats.  

Nobody steal my idea.

5.) And huge heads might even be the least of our worries.  Pandas are so lazy that in captivity they have to show the males XXX panda porn and give them Viagra just to get them to reproduce.  I'm not making this up.

We may just be snacking our way into extinction.

Maybe I've wandered away from "trivial" here. 

6.) Did I mention my son has one really long blond hair that grows out of his baby-soft cheek, and when we pull it out it regrows in the same place?  If we don't catch it the hair can reach an inch or more of luxurious waving growth. He wanted a razor for Christmas.

Here.  I made this for you.  And put down those cheese puffs, for God's sake.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Eric Clapton needs a deep-fried Mexican.

I'm pretty sure that's what he was saying.

Last night we went out to eat for New Year's Eve.  I was in the bathroom at the restaurant, humming along to the piped-in music and enjoying the acoustics, and never mind what else I was doing, until he got to the line,  I need a deep fried Mexi-cc-aann.  I was taken aback.  True, it had his signature bluesey guitar sound, and so his need was unavoidably heartfelt and touching, but still it seemed wrong to require anyone to be deep-fried, Mexican or not.

I missed the rest of the next verse, but I made sure to listen really close when he got to the chorus again, and this time the words sounded more like I need a big, strong Mexi-cc-aaan.  Hmmmm.  Better, but still not appropriate.  Why not a big strong American?  Or, a big strong Austrian? Austrians are strong and they also wear leather shorts and handlebar mustaches, so they do all your heavy-lifting with style.

 I listened to the whole rest of the song, which means I was gone so long that my husband gave me a sympathetic look when I finally made it back to the table.  I asked him if he knew the "deep-fried Mexican" song that Eric Clapton sings, and he paused a minute and then asked me if I was sure it was Eric Clapton and not a chicken.

Which was uncalled for and cruel.

For the record, I haven't heard the chicken playing since Christmas Eve, so probably he's picked up his piano and moved on, and besides, chickens are too high-strung to play the blues. Everyone knows that.

2009 was a challenging year.

For instance, this time last year we had one pet.  A dog.  Sometimes he was lumpy.  Sometimes not.

Then there were three betta fish, who started out okay, until one of them developed a gigantic eyeball, so now he's like a different fish on each side of his head.  Totally changes his profile.

Then we got two cats, which most of you know, because one of them died, like in a horrible Lifetime for Cats movie, complete with crying, and then we got another one, so now there are two cats again.  They probably ride the dog around the house during the day while we are at work, and sometimes when I leave my bedroom in the morning, one of them will narrow his eyes at my outfit and shake his head. It's a lot of pressure.

Still, we didn't learn. For Christmas, my husband and I gave in to the hugely unsubtle hints dropped by our offspring and bought them tiny frogs from Brookstone.  ("Frogosphere" is what they call the little plastic aquarium they come in.)  We hid them in my closet until Christmas, away from the cats, and I had to keep going in there to check on them, and once when I went in, one of them was missing.

I called the frog, but he didn't come.  Then I tried luring it out of my clothes hamper with a pellet of food from the package in the box, but I guess he wasn't hungry.  I was pretty close to bringing in the cats to flush it out, but then, just to be sure, I looked in the frogosphere again, and there he was, nestled in the gravel at the bottom, belly-up and stiff.

Did you know Brookstone has a strict policy against returning dead frogs? 

Luckily we found an elderly clerk who didn't know this, and so we got a replacement.  Here is a picture I took of him, after he was liberated from my closet on Christmas morning:


 I plan on naming him Regis. 

Also in 2009, I met my nemesis, and spent some time doing A Christmas Carol.  I had a really great cane in a couple of "not really blind"-beggar- woman scenes:




It turns out my nemesis wasn't so bad in the end, and I never rolled into the orchestra pit, so I count that experience as a success. 2009 was also the year I finished my degree, almost met the mayor of London, fought off aliens,  spied on the neighbors, learned about paprika, and attended four middle school band concerts. 

I had my one-year blog anniversary in December, but I forgot about it, and also I have a couple of very ancient entries from before the dawn of time (2005), so it's possible it doesn't count anyway.  Maybe I should do a belated celebration with a drawing.  I could give away a frog!  Or a hoof bottle.  I'll give it some thought.

Anyway, I've decided 2010 is going to be great.  I have wonderful friends, (both in-person and blogworld varieties) my health, and a job.  I have not killed any frogs in the last week. If I ever manage to meet my phantom doctor, I am scheduling myself for a hearing test, just in case.

And I still have that blowtorch my husband gave me for my birthday to break in.

Life is good.