One drink...

...apparently that's all it takes these days.
Kenju posted a link to this video on her blog, and it was profound enough in a Whoa, dude! way I had to share it. It's about 5 minutes long, and you don't need sound to appreciate it. It'll make you wonder...what's next?


This landed in the Dear So and So mailbox this morning. It touched a nerve for me; not the fight this woman is gearing up for--I've had my own skirmishes but never a battle like she's facing--but the pain. The frustration over feeling like your body has betrayed you. But I think most of all I appreciate that she's clearly defined that the body that is betraying her is not her. Sometimes, when you're wrestling with chronic pain, it's easy to forget that the pain is not you.

That could be a mantra.

Life sucks, but the suckiness is not you. Deal with it, and move on.

(Hmmm, apparently 'suckiness' is not a real word as evidenced by the spell check in Blogger putting a pretty red line under it.)

((Well, it is now.))



I woke up this morning wanting chili. It was damn near visceral. Must. Have. Chili. Chili.

The problem is that I don't know how to make chili, other than opening a can. Now, my mom made some wicked good chili when I was little, but I never bothered to learn to make it, because hey! SHE makes it. Who can top that?

(I did learn to make other favorites...I'm backwards but not 100% stupid. Mostly.)

I don't like much canned chili, either. I do like Wendy's chili.

I fought the urge. I ate breakfast and then got online to check email, surf a few forums, knowing I was not hungry so it was not going to be an issue. I poked around with an idea for a manuscript that's been floating around in the back of my head; it has the tiniest of notions but I don't have a fully formed story, so there were some thoughts about stabbing myself in the temple with a sharp object to get the idea to pour out, but that thought was cast aside by another little voice in my head that started to whine chili.

Then there was the brief notion that if I stabbed myself in the temple with a dull object, I could shut that voice up. But no, by then I was actually hungry, and the voice was louder, and I could feel little feet stomping in the recesses of my gray matter, my inner toddler throwing a temper tantrum and whining chili, chili, CHILI! over and over.

So I caved. I went to Wendy's.

There was an older guy in line ahead of me who must have had the same craving; he ordered 2 large chilis and a Coke, then stepped aside to wait for the 12 year old manager type guy to scoop it up. I placed my order--one small chili and a small diet, please--and the kid at the chili pan turned and said, "Sorry, he got the last of it."

Now, I was grasping for my big girl panties so I could make sure they didn't wedge right up into my buttcrack and cause the inner toddler to cry, and I almost had the words "all right, I'll just get a burger" out, but the other guy put on his superhero cape and said "I'LL SAVE YOU!"

Or maybe it was just, "Wait, I only need one chili. I'll get a baked potato instead and she can have the other chili."

That's when I dropped to my knees and licked his shoes.

Or not.

I do know that I thanked him. But I may have said it like I was stuck in the Valley. "Dude! That's, like, so COOL of you! Thank you!" And that may be why he grabbed his food and ran out to his car.

As I paid for mine, the girl at the counter asked if I needed anything else, and I swear, I turned into a three year old and asked in my best I'm A Big Girl Voice, can i please have some extra crackers? because DUDE! If you don't ask like you're a polite munchkin, they won't let you have them.

At least I'm pretty sure that's why I asked like that.

So now I'm home and not hungry and all chili-fied, and my inner toddler can just shut up until dinner time, when there will be an all out BUT I DON'T WANT TO COOK DINNER wrestling match, but this time, I'm bitch slapping the little shit, because she totally got pizza for dinner last night, and tonight, she gets meatloaf.


It was fairly obvious that the people who lived here before us moved out without bothering to clean. Who could blame them? I wouldn't have; if I was losing my house to foreclosure I'd probably pack up and leave without bothering to move a single dust bunny. I wouldn't go to the extremes of some of the horror stories we've heard--cement poured down sinks and toilets, ritual small animal sacrifice in the middle of white living room carpet--but the last few weeks of gook would be left right where they were.

So I wasn't surprised or upset that the oven that came with this place was obviously well used. Just clean it and get on with things, no big deal.

Well, no big deal except I hate cooking, and I hate cleaning, so I put it off for a while. When I finally caved and realized we needed use of the oven, I put it on self clean, grimaced through the smell it emitted and waited five hours for it to finish, then opened the door.

Still kinda gross.

So I grabbed some wet paper towels to wipe it out, and as I reached in I wondered why it smelled so funky. Kind of like a diabetic cat's breath after two or three cans of fish and shrimp wet food. Sickly sweet, rancid...gross.

And then I pulled back the paper towel and realized that some of what I wiped up...mouse poop.

Now, there was not a mouse in the oven, and surely the high heat from the self cleaning cycle took care of one if it was under the base of the oven, and I would think that much heat killed any cooties, but there was no way in hell I was ever cooking in it. The thought skeeved me out on about 53 levels, and almost made me gag a little.

The Spouse Thingy just shrugged and said Ok, we'll replace it.

I think he would have eaten food cooked in a mouse-cootied hotbox, but why fight the inevitable? Thumper was not going to use it. Ever.

So we went to Home Depot and selected a nice replacement for our smelly, mouse poop infected range. Yesterday it was delivered and installed, and it was baptized with pumpkin pie.

The I kind of have to use it, at least semi-regularly.

And clean it.



Buddah discovers the warmest place in the house...

The warmest place in the house

...right where the warm air hits the floor.


You couldn't pay me to be in a restaurant on Valentine's Day. Or Mother's Day, to be honest. I dislike crowds in restaurants so much that when the Spouse Thingy and I go out, we're most likely to go early, when the old folks (shuddup...older than us) typically dine. Tonight everywhere is going to be packed, every table in use, and that would drive me a little bit nuts.

You'd think tonight would be an awesome night to be a server. And it might be, if it wasn't Saturday. Saturday's usually a decent night to be part of the waitstaff; more people are dining out on Friday and Saturday, and it's a reasonable tip night (note I said reasonable, not good; there's a difference there and we can thank the economy for that) But combine Valentine's Day and Saturday, and it's just a really busy night when a whole lot of poor tippers are out, buying the least expensive things on the menu they can, and tipping 10%.

That's not their fault; you get what you can afford and tip what you can. Tonight people who normally don't eat out because of cash flow will...on a Saturday when the customer base is usually made up of people who can tip in the 15-20% range.

Like it or not, the guy that brings you your food in Applebee's or Chili's relies on those tips, and Uncle Sam makes presumptions about how much you're going to tip, and taxes him on the total of your tab. Because of the economy, business in restaurants is down (as much as 50%, depending on who you talk to.) Some of the chain restaurants are closing some of their stores, because business has dropped off so much. Fewer customers = fewer tips = cash strapped servers.

Why does it matter to me? Probably because the Boy works as a server. It's not an easy job; you get to deal with a lot of nice people, but you also get a huge share of society's assholes, the egomaniacs who seem to think they're so much better than the person taking their order and bringing them their food. You get screaming kids, you get jerks who send food back because OHMYGOD the parsley is touching the corn, you get confused customers who insist they ordered the enchilada supreme the last time they were there,m even though it's an Italian restaurant. You get the worst of what the population has to offer, but you have to be nice to them because hey, forget the tip, they have stabby things like forks and knives on their tables.

Servers get screwed by the types of people they have to serve, and then by the insulting tips those people leave.

But you're not one of those jerks...right?

If you go out tonight, think of the person who's working hard to make sure your Valentine's dinner is a decent one. The person is liable to have been on his or her feet all day long, working a double shift because times are tight, the staff is short, and frankly, they need the money. They're not out celebrating, because someone needs to be there to make sure YOUR V-Day happens.

Chances are your server is going to be way overworked today and is going to be gritting through his or her teeth because of sore feet, aching back, pounding head...yet they will make every effort to be pleasant and helpful. Be patient and return the favor. Please.

Tip heavy if you can. Make your baseline 20%. If you have a coupon, great, use it, but tip on what the total would have been before factoring that in. If your server goes above what you expect, throw an extra buck or two in there. Just for tonight. If your service was horrible and it's not because of the crowds and confusion, tip lower, but still tip.

Tip in cash. Yes, it's easier to add it to a credit card or debit card charge, but trust tips work best for your server (anytime, not just tonight.) That way they don't have to wait to be paid; they have the cash in hand at the end of the night, and tonight they just may want to end their very long workday with a drink. And they have to tip on that, too.

If your meal was spectacular, send a tip back to the cook, too. Trust me, cooks remember this.

Sounds expensive, but come on...this is a big night, right? It might be my kid smiling at you even though his feet are on fire and his back is =this close= to giving out. He's working his ass off, he knows what this night means, and he's giving it his all. Don't stiff him on the tip. He earned it, and he has to pay rent, too.

(And for the record, I rarely tip less than 20%. I know way too much now about what servers and cooks go through to ever think that 10-12% is "enough." That low is a punishment tip...and oh yeah, they get the message.)

Happy Valentine's Day


Max is an extremely verbal cat; he talks a lot, and mostly to me. I've learned what particular meow means "Hey, feed me," "What'cha doing?" "Get Buddah away from me" "Um, I'm trapped in the closet" "I'm singing for you, deal with it," "Die already!" and "I need help."

I woke up at 4:30 this morning, hearing Max in another room meowing, and it was definitely "I need help." I forced myself awake, and he was talking nonstop, as if saying "Hey, someone come out here. Please? I really need you help. Someone come help me."

So I got up. He obviously wasn't singing to hear his own voice, and it didn't sound like Buddah was the problem. His fountain broke yesterday, and he might have been crying because it was leaking again. He gets upset when he throws up in the middle of the night, so he might have been upset that his hairball was going to sit there and disturb his inner peace. Maybe he was stuck on top of the fridge and afraid to jump down. He needed help and I wasn't taking the chance that it was important.

I plodded out towards the living room, listening for him; I found him in my office, in his own bed. He was stretched out there, his chin resting on the edge of the wicker basket.

Facing the fireplace.

He wanted someone to get up and turn the fire on.

I got up at 4:30 in the morning because he needed help, and it was needing help to turn the freaking fireplace on.

Damn cat.

Oh yeah, and the useless fireplace tools are going to stay, because it occurred to me they're not so useless. They hide the switch that turns the flame on, and since Max has already demonstrated the ability to flip a light switch...


Ok, so it's a gas fireplace...

It's a gas fireplace... why are there fireplace tools, and why do they look used?

Electrician Dude came today, and fixed our living room. Turned out to be a loose wire, but in poking around he discovered previous owners had tried to do a little rewiring themselves, and he fixed their mistake. So yay! Now we can turn lights on in the living room!

And apparently rats are not fond of chewing electric wires; they tend to prefer things like phone lines. So that lowers one concern. And today the Spouse Thingy did some arboreal surgery and amputated a major limb from the cherry tree out front, one that the roofs rats could use for attic access. Remove a bush, get the roof sealed, and the little suckers should then die out. Quickly, I hope. I want them dead but I don't want to torture the little disease carriers. I know, I'm a little off that way...


Why I Should Not Give Directions For At Least A Year...

Man with wife and kids in car: Excuse me...can you tell us how to get to Subway?

Me, headed into Safeway for milk: Sure. Just go up the Interstate toward Sacramento, it's at the next exit. There's two actually, one in the Super Walmart and one in the little strip mall at that corner.

MWWANIC: Damn, we passed it. Thanks.

He rolls up his window and they head towards the parking lot exit. I watch for a moment, and realize DUH...there's a Subway across the street. Apparently, they see it, too.

MWWAKIC: What a freaking moron...

I'm just guessing at that last part.


You know you're in a small town when the police blotter is filled with things like this:

  • 1415 Found Property, Hall Park
  • 1830 Dine and dash, 1200 blk Stratford
  • 1900 Found property, Pitt School Road
  • 2035 Solicitor, Knight Ct
  • 2200 Loud party, 200 blk Foster Ln

Don't get a DUI here unless you want your name in the police blotter. I'm think Isaac Balderas, 30, is experiencing some humiliation this week...


Yesterday morning I watched a little TV in the living room, then turned it off, turned off the electric fireplace, turned off the lamp, and went into my office where I pretended to be busy with Important Things. That was about 10:30.

Somewhere around 12:30, the Spouse Thingy woke up, stumbled into the living room to plop down on the couch while he watched a little TV while he woke up a little more.

But the TV wouldn't turn on.

And the lamp wouldn't turn on.

Nothing in the living room would turn on.

So being the industrious person he is, he put slippers on and wandered outside to flip the circuit breaker, because surely that was the problem.

Except that it wasn't.

So perhaps there was an outlet with a breaker built in that had been tripped.

But there wasn't.

We searched high and low for another circuit breaker box, but there was none. No easily recognizable reason for every freaking outlet in the living to room up and die between 10:30 in the morning and 12:30 in the afternoon.

But hey! We have a home warranty. Let's call them and have them send someone over to figure the whole thing out.

And they will. Someone from We're So Awesome Electric will call you within 24 hours.

Well, there's some prompt service.

We hung around the house the rest of the day, puttering here and there because someone from We're So Awesome Electric would be calling.

But they didn't.

At 8 p.m. or thereabouts, the rest of the lights began to flicker. So the Spouse Thingy put his shoes on and went to the Super Walmart just a mile from the house and bought several flashlights. Just in case.

But I never needed one.

This morning, right about 10:30, a woman from We're So Awesome Electric called to set an appointment to have someone come over and take a look at our wayward outlets.

We can be Thursday.

That's a long time to be without electricity, I pointed out.

Yeah, your warranty company, maybe they can find someone else to come play with your electricity. Call us if you need to cancel our appointment. Bye!


And to add to the joy, the Spouse Thingy caught a rat in the attic. Well, ok, the rat trap caught it and he found it, and being the Manly Man that he is, he disposed of it without me having to see its dead little carcass. And I'm not sure, but I think he got a weird little thrill out of it. Not the disposing of the dead little rat carcass, but the Hey! I Done Caught Me A Rat! thing.

Apparently, it was HUGE.

So. Our electrical sucks, and we still have rats.

Oh joy.


I swear, it's like having little kids...can't even talk on the phone without them trying to "help."

In the library

Bonus points: click through and find the original sized photo, and see almost 70% of the book titles. Guess which are mine, and which are the Spouse Thingy's. You'd be surprised...


Oh holy...Congress voted to delay the switch to digital broadcasting from this month to June? Because too many people are unprepared?

We've know this was coming for TEN YEARS, peoples. We've been inundated with commercials warning IT'S COMING for over a year. How can anyone not be ready for it? Yes, the converter boxes cost money, and sure, the government ran out of discount coupons. But the boxes don't cost six billion dollars, and a year was plenty of time to save up the $60 it might cost.

C'mon, if you're not ready after all this time, suffer a little instead of making the rest of us listen to those damned commercials for four more months.

Or just provide me with a steady stream of chocolate until June 12, and I won't care...



Let me get my wet noodle out and punish him.

:::rolls eyes:::

It's not like the boy was caught mainlining Heroine or stabbing ferrets with a pen. He smoked a little grass. The earth will not stop spinning on its axis.

I, for one, am glad he did it and glad he admitted it, for no other reason than I found it absurdly funny to hear Barbara Walters say "weed" several times this morning.

She's hip, that Barbara...