Monday, August 31, 2009

New Vocabulary

It seems that not only are we going to completely renovate our new home, but in the process I am going to learn all kinds of new vocab to enrich my already stout command of the english language. There's a twofer for ya.

Last week we received via email the first pass by our landscape architects for the design of our ivy-less front yard. This came in the form of a PDF showing lots of lines around the foot print of our house. In other words, a 2d design that was pretty meaningless. I even went outside and even tried to "get in to the map" Joey Tribiani style - with out any luck. It's hard to visualize the landscape any different from the heap of overgrown flora that is already there. This, in a nutshell, is the likeliest reason that we hired a professional in the first place.

We had a meeting with our regular architects a couple days later where we discussed the design attributes of this meaningless sketch. There was much gazing at the PDF. There was a bit of discussion about the way the current stairs curve up to the house presently and whether or not that helped to "soften" the approach. In the end, the architects declared that they preferred the proposed rectilinear design.

That's where it took a massive amount of self-control not to burst out laughing. Rectilinear? I immediately had visions of Karma Sutra poses showing nekked folks entangled as only a highly skilled contortionist could handle. I had immediate visions of party tricks performed very very late every Saturday night in various dark sweaty bars in the Castro. As luck would have it, I was not drinking ginger ale, as there was no way that stuff wasn't going to be shooting out my nose.

I managed to hold it together - at least until I got in the car by myself later. From this point on, I will only be able to imagine my new front yard in shades of sexuality. First Trojans - now this. Oh dear.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No Willy

Today riding home in the car, George the Younger and I were having one of the Mom/Son moments where we were talking about sex. George the Younger, as I may have mentioned, turns 13 next week - so we are trying to get the talks in as we can. Today just happened to be one of those moments he and I were both in a good place talking about "things to come." (God, I really do love a good pun when it happens...) We had pretty much wrapped up the main conversation and were sitting there listening to "Hotel Room" by Pitbull - a classic romantic love song about your standard 1 v Many in a holiday inn - when the conversation took an interesting turn:

GTY: Mom, you know that commercial with the trojan?
Me: Trojan, as in condoms?
GTY: Mom, geeze, I know what a condom is.
Me: I wasn't questioning your knowledge of what a condom was, I was asking if you meant Trojans as in horse or trojans as in protection.
GTY: Whatever. Anyway, there's this commercial where they say that Trojan's make you feel as if nothing is there.
Me: And????
GTY: Why is that good if the girl didn't think that the boy had a dick?

A moment of silence. A moment to consider whether or not to call him on the carpet for the use of the word "dick." Ah what the heck, I burst out laughing. And then came the harder part trying to aptly explain about "who" exactly in that particular scenario was happy about feeling nothing and why.

My thanks to Trojan for the many faceted advertisement. Perhaps they didn't think of that interpretation.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Guess what we did this weekend? A whole lotta hunka nothing. It was beyond nice.

We sat around. We read books. We listened to the boys play with their friends who have discovered that they are home from camp. We made a great lobster dinner (decadent, but oh so yummy). We went to bed early and slept in late. Or, at least the three of us slept in late. George the Younger aka Rooster Boy was up at the butt crack of dawn, but he is stealth and knows to creep around until the rest stir. He's an ace of a kid.

On Sunday we did venture out once. We got an early start at Office Depot where we shopped for all-things-school-supply. We were grateful to get an early start since about 30 minutes in to it we were joined by dozens of our school supply shopping peers. Each carrying the lists of required supplies. Each trying to convince their kids that that $5 binder was going to disintegrate just as fast as the $9 binder. (An amusing aside: George the Younger's supply list was quite lengthy. Binders for every subject, notebooks and reams of paper and special pencils and the like. At the bottom of the page was a little disclaimer that warned parents that a child's backpack should only weigh 10% of their body weight. It took all four of us to carry all the crap to the car and unless George weighs neigh on 400 pounds, I think they missed the mark in prior planning there).

Next stop on our brief exodus from the house was our local mall to buy school shoes. Woe to all parents when their children exceed the sizes for kids. Size 6 = $50. Size 7 = $100. Maybe they should consider a sliding scale for shoe sizes. That way the jump from 6 to 7 isn't so brutal. If you went up 7.5% every shoe size, at least they'd ease you in to it.

George the Younger (channeling some popular gangsta rap star), was enthralled by a pair of high top shoes in silver. George the Elder commented that he resembled a friggin tin man. In my opinion, silver shoes in a size 8 on a kid that is about my height (5'2") make him look like he has huge steel girders attached to his ankles. He loved them so much though that we caved. He has been wearing them in the house, breaking them in before school starts. Silver High tops? What are we - the 2009 version of the Hans Brinker classic? Thankfully, Henry has absolutely an absence of fashion sense (not that George the Younger has any "real" fashion sense, he just wants to look like a member of Jabbawockeez - look it up if the reference is beyond you). He scanned the racks, picked the first pair of Nike's that he liked, tried them on and was finished. George the Younger took considerably more time.

And then we asked the question of both boys, "Do you need anything else before school starts?" Both resoundingly responded, "NO!" This makes school shopping so much quicker and easier. Both wear the same thing 365 days a year. Boy clothes. No "outfits" to worry about. No "what is Cindy wearing this year?" Bliss. School shopping bliss.

We returned home in exactly 2.5 hours and spent the rest of Sunday reading the paper. I even got to do all my Sunday crossword puzzles before George the Elder had dinner on the table. And, yes, you read that correctly. George the Elder cooks on Sunday. He's a keeper.

Friday, August 21, 2009


There is a thing called de-bugging. You do this when you have to remove some kind of scourge that has infested something where the scourge should not be dwelling. In a similar type of undertaking, George the Elder and I have spent the last week de-camping our young sons. This verbiage should not be confused with the actual word "decamp" - which decidedly has already occurred, hence their arrival back home from New Hampshire on a plane accompanied by bags of disgustingly dirty clothes. No, this is the removal of camp behavior that is perfectly acceptable when you are at camp - but not desirable in the "real world" or, better said, "The World in Which You Have A Mother Who Is Watching You."

You see, five weeks at camp surrounded by - no, immersed in - no, saturated in twenty-four-hour-a-day-seven-days-a-week macho manlike behavior has some not so pleasant after effects. These residual behaviors, acceptable only when 95% of the people that you have dealings with for 35 continuous days have a penis are:
  • Burping whenever and where ever the feeling strikes you. This shenanigan is immediately followed by a verbal judgement of the quality of burp or just good old fashioned laughter. Hardy har har har.
  • Farting whenever and wherever the feeling strikes you. This particular enterprise is often followed by a rapid-fire-verbal-exchange-post-fart-ritual that has something to do with doorknobs, no give backs and some other witty repartee that I cannot seem to follow. The verbal badinage may also be paired with some physical movement that requires the actual touching of a nearby real life door knob, the punching of a brother or some strange alien hand motions.
  • The use of the words "sucks", "pissed" and "balls"
  • The use of the word "balls" is ofttimes accompanied by references to certain actions, such as "suck my" or descriptive characteristics such as "hairy" or "swinging"
  • The pre-camp phrase of "Oh my Gosh" has been temporarily replaced by the phrase "Oh my God" and we have even been treated to a single time use of the phrase "What the Hell???" (I am doubtful we will hear that one again. Once uttered, the room became eerily quiet while the utterer realized that his life was dangling by a very very VERY thin thread)
  • The leaving of dishes and trash and clothes in places where dishes and trash and clothes do not belong. They do this as if someone will be right behind them to clean this up - say like the MAID or something.
I wish that I could say that George the Elder or I have some magical parenting secrets that would erase these errant behaviors from their current repertoires, but alas, we are armed only with the super-nasty parental stare/glare (as in "what the @#$ did you just do??"), our own over used phrases such as "would you like to do that again or would you prefer to live just a little while longer" and the tried and true, "Do you think that you are still at CAMP????"

Week One of the return will be up tomorrow. We believe that we have eradicated at least the burping and farting at will. We have two more weeks before school starts and we are optimistic that the rest will be dealt with by then. If not, we will need to resort to more stringent parenting techniques like public flogging or sensory deprivation. We haven't had to resort to these the past several years, but we are holding on to them as alternatives "just in case." Forewarned is forewarned.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lost in Translation...

Does anyone have any idea what the word "Ikea" actually means in Scandinavian? Well, I was curious, so I looked it up today at Turns out, loosely translated it means "Imminent-Killing spree-Elicited (by) - Aggravation". I'm not kidding. Okay, maybe I didn't really look it up at, but that was only because I was holding a itsy-bitsy-teensy-weensy Allan wrench at my own throat. I thought about poking my own eyes out, but realized that I probably wouldn't blind myself given the minuscule size of previously mentioned wrench.

What is it with Ikea? I get the whole "someone has to furnish it". I get the whole "pretty decent furniture for what you pay". I even get the whole, "why include words in the directions when you can effectively confuse just about anyone with close up photos of tiny little topless screws and funny photos of the blob man". What I don't get is why I continue to subject myself to purchasing something that has parts I cannot see with either my naked eye OR my naked eye assisted with some pretty powerful reading glasses.

I know why they include seven teeny wrenches with every part bag. Once you put them down, they become invisible until you sit down on them (taking a rest from utter frustration at not being able to decipher what Mr. Blob is pantomiming you to do) and they poke you in the ass. I know why they include the world's most puny little headless screws. Because somewhere in Scandinavia there is a GIANT POWERFUL satellite dish with a GIANT POWERFUL camera that has the ability to track and watch people putting together their shit. It is has xray vision so that it can not only see you through your roof - - but it can see you while you are scooting underneath the bed trying to find the lilliputian piece of hardware that makes an infant earwig look humongous. They laugh and laugh their Scandinavian laugh while watching you. There is a secret site - similar to Youtube - where members of the clandestine Ikea occult can watch you too. It's fun for the whole family.

There's an Urban Myth that when the designers are unable to locate anyone having difficulty with the paperclip width allen wrenches, the aphid egg sized topless screws, or the little bolty things that require insertion in to the tube/leg part, yet ensuring that the hole in the bolty thing matches up perfectly with the hole in the tube/leg part - - they go back to the drawing board complicate it up just a bit. They love laughing the Scandinavian laugh. It's a hearty, throat-filled guffaw. Sometimes they throw their heads back and grab their stomachs it's so fulfilling.

They laugh and then they head down to the HQ dining room for some meatballs or cod or something. They sometimes laugh all the way there and need to be reminded once they get to the dining room that laughing while eating swedish meatballs is just plain rude no matter how many people end up stabbing themselves in the knee with the mini wrench.

As for me, I "almost" have finished putting up the shades in the boys room that will keep out the sun and the street light and ensure that George the Younger does not need to dress "in front of the whole world". This is absurd since the house sits high above the street and it would take someone with a telephoto lens on a very tall ladder to even get a glimpse of his privates - - but we do what we can to appease the teen. Frankly, I'm just thinking of going back to Ikea and getting a few orders of those Swedish Meatballs and just smearing them over the windows. And then I will laugh a hearty laugh and flip those suckers the bird while they watch me.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I didn't type that...

Just read the blog entry from the other day about the boys coming home from camp and realized that what I wrote was something like "well, we could be happier to have them home". For what it's worth, I do not believe in Freudian slips. What I MEANT to say was, "well, we couldN'T be happier to have them home!" I'm a rotten typist / editor. We really are thrilled to have them home. Making boy noises, having someone to tuck in at night and kiss in the morning, leaving wet socks on the bathroom floor and eating more food in two days that I thought humanly possible. Plus, gosh, I HAVE missed watching George Lopez episodes (not so much).
It is now safe to remove my picture from your "crappy-parents-who-deserve-to-have-darts-thrown-at-them-board". Go ahead. I promise it's o.k.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Quiet has Broken

George the Younger and Henry returned triumphant from camp last night. We picked them up at the airport with lots of smiles, dirty hair, dirty clothes and a two entire duffel bags full of crusty (yet oddly damp) clothes and Winaukee sand. I can't imagine there's any sand left on the lakefront there. It's now all in my laundry room.

The first thing Henry said to me was, "Mom? Did you get shorter?" Yup. That's it, I shrunk. Last year they both grew an inch while they were away. Will need to measure them to see, but George the Younger is now looking me straight in the eye. Weird.

I cannot be entirely certain, but George the Younger seems to have turned in to a teenager while he was away. I suspect that this is also because he turns 13 in two weeks. His monosyllabic responses are now in a slightly deeper tone and he has mastered the teen eye-roll in the last five weeks. Lucky us.

Henry is still Henry. Talking up a mile a minute, digging in his backpack to show us his awards (yes, he goes to a sports camp. yes, he got the gold medal in...arts and crafts!). He talked all about what he did, the terrifying trip down the zip line, the winning of the doubles match in Color War. In fact, he practically talked until he got home and they both spied their PSPs, the TV, and George the Younger's CELL PHONE!!

Like lions at an antelope fest - they both stood mesmerized! I could actually see the scene through their eyes. A holy halo of light surrounding all of the electronics. Angelic music playing softly in the background. Nirvana. We gave them 30 minutes to imbibe and then put them to bed. Both were up at 6:30. I think it was a combination of still being on East coast time AND the electronic pulses that they could feel wafting in to their subconscious from the computers. Irresistible.

Even though it is a lovely day here in SF (oddly), it is likely that we will let them wallow in the splendor of discovery channel and ESPN. George the Younger has already started texting and has entered all the new contact info of his camp buddies. As for George the Elder and I, we will start getting used to the sounds of the boys in the house - and even with the TV, the cell phone beeping and the low level bickering that comes with having a real-honest-to-goodness teenager and a pestering little brother - well, we could be happier to have them home.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Back to It

Back from Vegas baby! Had a whiz-bang of a time. The downside was that I was channeling William H Macy in his role as the cooler - but still had fun rolling the dice. George tossed a few more sets than me - actually winning back some of the money that I had squandered before I left for my massage earlier in the day. But, after dinner we hit the tables again and, like magic, all the money won back was lost again. The biggest import in Vegas? Winners. The biggest export in Vegas? Losers. Oh well. I guess that half-bath in the new house plans will be nice as a closet.

As always we got to see a few interesting sights. George had a business meeting on Wednesday morning, so he left the room about 15 minutes earlier than I did on my way to breakfast. When we compared notes later in the morning, we realized that we had both seen the same early 20-something blond, clad only in her hotel bathrobe, messy hair, smeared make-up, stumbling around the elevator banks - absolutely stewed at 8:30 in the morning (and 8:45 in the morning). Poor thing. It must bite realizing it is morning, you are still VERY drunk AND you have absolutely no idea where you are, where your room is OR what floor it is on. She was heading down to 35 when we met up. We shared an elevator where she bounced from wall to wall like a terrycloth pin ball, unable to determine where her center of gravity was. I believe she left in beside the last shot of whatever it was she had been drinking. I thought about her for a good part of the day, wondering if she had found her way back, but since we never saw her again she was either passed out in a large potted plant or somebody had helped her in to her room where she was going to spend the better part of the day on her knees praying that death would come quickly.

And finally, I had been wishing for a couple of days where I could finally warm up all the parts of myself that have been slightly chilled for THE ENTIRE summer here in SF. Nope. No dice (ha ha ha). Yes, it was hot in Vegas. I don't know the temperature exactly, but I'm going to go with more than half as hot as the face of the sun. So, that sort of ruled out spending much time outdoors for me. Indoors in Vegas is kept at a temperature comparable to say, the inside of your every day cryogenic laboratory. Honestly, I was on the look out for that fog type stuff that floats around exposed dry ice. Damn. Within an hour of arriving, I was trolling the shops looking for some kind of wrap to reduce the chicken pox sized goose bumps all over my body.

I observed that this temperature did not thwart your average Vegas visitor from wearing thin sleeveless garments. George the Elder can attest that we saw more nipples standing at attention in any 15 minute period than can normally be seen in any Girls Gone Wild Wet T-shirt video. And that was at 2:00 in the afternoon. Unfortunately, it's kind of like going to topless beaches in Europe. The girls that you WANT to see without their tops on are NOT the ones actually without their tops on. Maybe that's why the topless reviews do well in Vegas. It comes to the point where you are actually willing to pay money to see the good stuff just to get the rest of it out of your head.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

You Can Get Anything You Want

Yup that's me. In the motorcycle jacket. Beside George the Elder's toy. Standing in front of Alice's Restaurant. Can't ya just hear Arlo in the background? I probably could have too if that parking lot wasn't filled with the sounds of much larger and louder motorcycles than can be seen in this photo.

Drove down Skyline Blvd on my very first long motorcycle ride. George the Elder has had the toy for nearly a year. This is the second time I have perched myself on the back of it. This is the first time I have gone over 35 miles an hour. This is the first time that I may have constantly thought about brush burn over 90% of my body for longer than 10 consecutive minutes. But, once I relaxed I realized that if I did fall off the back, I would be more likely to be run over by the car behind me before I could experience the pain of the brush burn. That made it so much more fun.

No really, it was a grand time. Did you know that motorcycle drivers wave to each other? Yup, just like people out on boats. It isn't exactly the same, since when you wave to each other on boats there's lots of smiling and waving. Smile and wave, smile and wave. We're happy to be on the water and you're happy to be on the water and we're all happy to be waving at each other cause we're Boaters! With motorcycle drivers the wave is more of a very brief hand flip palm side down to the road. No smile because as we all know - motorcycling is serious business. The wave seems to be more of an acknowledgement that you are both on the road with asses vibrating simultaneously. Or, it could be that the wave needs to be brief since one handed driving of a motorcycle may be akin to asking nicely to go sliding down the road with the motorcycle on top of you instead of vice versa. It also occurs to me that the whole smile thing may be a skosh risky given the possibility of eating insects (I wasn't so worried about that since I do have experience - ha ha ha).

We took the shorter road down - about 40 minutes there. And then the longer road back connecting with Highway 1 that runs along the ocean. Scenic I tell you. Just damn skeen-ic. Still, after an hour of riding back, my ass was completely numb and I couldn't tell if my arms were still attached to my body. It appears that sitting on the back of a throbbing engine isn't a passive activity. There's much leaning and squeezing and holding to be done.

When we pulled up to the house, I was absolutely unable to nimbly alight from the bike as I had done earlier in the day at Alice's (But really, how damn embarrassing would that have been? Could someone please come and help the old lady down from the ducati? She's stuck). In our driveway my disembarking could have better been described as "slithering" off the bike hoping upon hope that my missing legs would somehow still be operational. I came inside. Read the paper and promptly took a nap.

When I woke up and wiped the drool from my chin and ruffled my helmet-headed hair, I realized...Granny will live to ride again. My ass, unfortunately, may not.

Friday, August 7, 2009


What with all this bug eating, leaf blowing, old house cleaning, new house moving - I'm tired. Stick a fork in me. I'm done.

I know I am tired. But, it is a little disconcerting when George the Elder arrives home from work today, takes one look at me and grimaces. He then says something sweet and loving along the lines of "you look like shit". That silver-tongued devil. And this was after I had gone out of my way to ensure that he had a delicious piping hot dinner waiting for him when he got home from an exhausting day at the office. (I read somewhere that wives are supposed to do this). In fact, he arrived home just seconds after the pizza delivery guy had pulled away from the curb. All that slaving over dinner and he tells me I look tired. Hmphhh.

In other news, my ex-neighbor had stopped by last Friday to ask me if I had seen her cat. She has a couple of cats, and it seemed like she sort of expected me to know which one it was. I asked for clarification. She said it was the old furry one. Problem solved. I should, at this point, inform you that my ex-neighbor is a self acclaimed wiccan. Yup, I had a witch for a neighbor. And I mean that literally. Of course, she had a couple of cats. I think it's a requirement.

In any event, we thought that perhaps the old furry one had gotten in to the house during the time that the movers were in there. I went over, checked the place out and pronounced it feline free. Told the my Wiccan neighbor that he wasn't there.

Monday, I drive over the old house to get some last odds and ends and to water the lawn. I note that "lost cat" signs have been affixed to various tall items on the street. I think to myself, too bad, the witch still hasn't found her familiar.

Then, finally on Wednesday I go over to put out the trash for the last pick up and my neighbor is backing out of her drive way. We do the wave thing and then she backs up and rolls her window down. She has this huge smile on her face. She yells out the window in an exuberant tone, "We found the cat!" Cheshire grin still affixed. I yell back, "Where'd you find him finally?" Still smiling, this is what she says, "Oh! We found him under our bed yesterday. He was dead. Must have been there since Friday! (interject some laughter here and, if I'm not mistaken a little toss of the head) Well, gotta run!" and she drives off. Still delighted and beaming. I was left stunned and speechless.

So, let me get this straight. First, your cat is dead. Second, he's been dead for at least 5 days under your bed. Third, did they find him because he started to stink or because she just happened to look under there? Last, what's with the grinning? Is this a happy time when your spirit creature dies in the Wiccan world?

For me - well it was just down right disturbing.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Zillion!

Our new washer and dryer was delivered yesterday. Luckily, it was all hooked up without any problems. Doors opening the right way, gas line correctly identified as gas line when we ordered it (there was a little anxiety that it wasn't really a gas line, but it was) and presto! I'm back in the laundry business. Well shave me naked and call me a mole rat!

According to the advertisement on the right, I have now been awarded a ZILLION new carefree hours. Go me. So, today I got right on it and I used some of those. This is what I did:

  • I replaced the little screens that create ventilation at the bottom of my garage doors. To do this I had to remove the slabs of wood that the prior owner had placed there and secured with both nails and screws. Come to find out the prior owner was a "belt and suspenders" kind of handyman. That is if you can call both nailing and screwing planks of wood over an opening that just needed the screen replaced a "handyman" kind of thing. Personally, I think that one of her son-in-laws was just lazy and stupid.
  • After some trial and error I managed to get the second garage door to open. We have two. They slide side-to-side like barn doors. And, like barn doors they do not have an automatic opener. Super Drag. Even with the manual opening (aka shove all your weight on the door) the left side would open, but the right side refused. Turns out that the latch on the right side just needed some jiggling. Okay, technically it needed some serious prying with a GIANT screw driver and the application of some good old mus-cles. So, yes, it opens, but no I haven't solved the problem. I am content today with just having identified the problem. Tomorrow I will figure out the solution.
  • I worked in the backyard. Suffice to say that the backyard looks like it could have been one of the scenes from Beetlejuice when they leave the house to ride the giant striped snake thingy. S.C.A.R.Y The foliage that was originally planted there in 1949 has now grown tall, leaving nothing on the ground 'cept some gnarly piles of dirt, some heaving bricks and some dirt encrusted slate. Oh, yeah, there was the mega succulent-type-thing that was horror movie kinda creepy. It was like tendrils of alien arms encrusted in dried up stuck together leaves and spider webs. It used to be the view from my kitchen window. Today I neutralized it with a saw. (Just a regular saw, but a chainsaw might have been faster)
  • I used my handy-dandy electric leaf blower to try to clean up the decades of dried leaves that were back there as well. But that's where the fun began. That's when the word "carefree hours" felt most analogous with my actions. But the story is too long so here is the synopsis: No electrical outlets outside. Brilliant idea to plug it in to the kitchen through the kitchen window. Forgot to close window over cord. Merrily ran leaf blower. Much debris, detritus and filth was blown around. Much debris, detritus and filth was blown directly in to the aforementioned kitchen window. I win the gold medal for witless. Big round of applause.
  • I cleaned the kitchen top to bottom. Every cabinet, every counter top, every appliance, every knife in the damn knife holder etc. etc. etc. Look at your kitchen counters. Imagine everything covered in a fine layer of black soot and tiny little leaf particles. Imagine cleaning IT ALL.
My ZILLIONS of hours are just chalk full o'fun wouldn't you say? Tomorrow I am resigned to staying indoors while trying to do stupid things. Perhaps it's time for a little DIY electrical work in the bathroom??? I still have the gold medal around my neck. It should weld itself nicely to my chest when I stick the screwdriver in the socket.

Oh, and you thought the bug eating thing was the dumbest thing I could ever do. Have faith. I am exceptionally good at this...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

No Phantom

Yesterday I prematurely posted that my post-myrtle-weeding status was vermin free with some phantom itchy back thing that was "nothing". Well, not really.....

Last night I got up from the couch after attempting to finally do the Sunday crossword puzzle on Tuesday night. I arose from the settee and did the quick OCD scan to see if there was any thing that needed to be picked up. I thought that there was a nut or a piece of a cornflake on the cushion. (Although why I thought this, is somewhat curious in retrospect. I have neither eaten nuts or cornflakes since moving in to this house - - and the boys are away at camp - - but it looked like a nut or a cornflake so that's what I thought it was. If the boys were here, I could justify that they leave bits of whatever around the house at all times. Since it's just me - - I can easily say that I don't tend to leave bits of whatever around.) Still - I reached down to pick up the damn thing.

I did not have my glasses on, so I peered at it seeing just an undefined little nut. I can't see shit without my reading glasses any more. Then, I did the most bewildering thing. I put a little part of it in my mouth and bit down a bit just to see what it was. Yes, I am a gross and disgusting human. Not to mention - in hindsight - pretty gol dern stupid. Biting in to something that I just "thought" was a nut or a cornflake.

It snapped a little like sinking your teeth in to the outer sheath of a little piece of puffed rice. Then it hit me. We don't have ANY puffed rice at all in the whole damn house. Nuts. Yes. Corn Flakes. Yes. Puffed Rice. No. I fetched the glasses. Stat.

I can, with much humility, confess that I bit into a little live crunchy BUG. A little creature that had piggy-backed his way into my home with me. This little critter caused me some un-phantom itching and then put himself in the perfect scenario that allowed me to bite him.

I bit a bug. I technically didn't eat a bug, since I just snapped him like a little dried corn hull. But I did indeed nip him.

See!! Myrtle IS the devil's play toy. Sometimes it just take a while to understand that YOU are the reason he laughs hardest.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


When I was growing up, I lived on a street called sycamore. I have come to realize that this was ironic, since there wasn't a one sycamore tree on the whole damn street.

In the backyard of the house on Sycamore Street, we had a berm of myrtle. Myrtle looks and behaves suspiciously like english ivy in that it grows fast (even faster where it isn't supposed to be growing - sort of like kudzu in the south) - and covers up a lot of ground. Could that be why they call it "ground cover"? So apt. But apt or not, myrtle is actually Satan's play toy. Myrtle is evil.

Every so often - or about twice in a summer, my mother called upon us girls to do the most heinous chore I can recall having to do on a regular basis during my youth. Weed the reef o'myrtle. It must be noted that my mother also once asked (demanded) that I wade through shit in our basement when a sewer drain backed up in to the house - - and shit-wading absolutely trumps myrtle weeding - but that was a one time event not to ever be repeated. I don't care how much shit backs up in to my basement. But myrtle weeding was recurring wretchedness.

I cannot guarantee this, but I have a notion that my sisters might agree that this was the worst chore ever. Worse than raking leaves, worse than shoveling snow, worse even than taking the giant pooper-scooper and ridding the back yard of english sheep dog doody. Why?

Myrtle creates the perfect umbrella for other living organisms. It creates a lush green blanket under which numerous creepy crawlies can not only live but THRIVE. In order to weed the myrtle, you needed to get up in it. You cannot address the myrtle from afar, you must wade through it, sitting, kneeling, crouching. You are then easy fodder for ants to crawl up your arms, spiders to run up your ankles and a whole host of other myrtle dwelling creatures to have their insectitudinal way with you. I shiver even now. Worst. Chore. Ever.

But, you will note in yesterday's posting of the photo of our new abode that indeed, I was unable to conjure up this terrible memory in time to consider it before the purchase. We bought a house with a front yard full of ivy. A mountainous mound, a behemoth berm, a hellacious hill, a frickin whale of a giant dune of ivy. Yes, ivy. Myrtle's cruel and merciless cousin.

Today I weeded the ivy. 50 years of never trimmed or controlled coils and snarks of deep dark creature hiding greenery. Memories of myrtle weeding assaulted me, especially since my new neighbor, Margaret, told me this morning that ivy-makes-a-perfect-little-home-for-mice-and-geeze-wasn't-it-funny-but-she-saw-a-couple-frolicking-in-there-just-last-night-what-a-super-move-in-gift! Thanks Margaret. Some new neighbor you turned out to be.

Dismally, I realized that I did not bring along my wellies in the "stuff that is necessary for the new house". This should now be another bullet point on yesterday's post. These would have been perfect. I could have slipped on my wellies, rubber-banded them on the top, velcro-ed my heavy duty gardening gloves over my long sleeved sweatshirt and girded myself again the assault. But no. The second part was o.k., but my no-wellies solution was a pair of black knee socks and a pair of lace-up oxfords. Stunning ensemble. Not nearly as effective a large knee high rubber boots, but it was gonna have to do.

Thanks to my new pruning shears the work was fast done (except for this atrocious wheat-like weed thing that was pull one little sheath at a time nonsense). I finished the work without any obvious attack of garden creature large or small - although my back has been "phantom" itching like there's something there, but not. Holy ant itch batman!

The good news is that that is the first and last time I will ever weed the ivy. Even as we speak, numerous landscape architects, to the tune of $150 per hour, are putting their creative heads together and devising a keen and cunning plan to beautify the front of our house (post-renovation of course) having been given a clear and concise order that no ivy nor myrtle or any other fast-growing umbrella haven creating ground cover should be considered. That is unless a new variety of said ground cover has been developed that repels all forest creatures and insects. In that case, it may be considered in small areas. A tiny parcel where, just in case the repellent fails, any and all weeding can be done from afar without stepping in or among the flora. Or (ding!! Idea light-bulb) I will send the boys out to do it. There's nothing like traditions that are passed down generation to generation. Lekhaim!

Monday, August 3, 2009

We're In

Moving went as well as could be expected - given that "moving" is synonymous with "pain in the ass". Look in any thesaurus.

Having said that, we are used to BIG international moves. "Big International Moves" are synonymous with "killing of thousands of acres of rain forest" since everything, down to the most unassuming butter knife, is wrapped in seventeen layers of protective paper so that the ocean voyage does not harm it. Local moves are vastly different. They did pack our kitchen delicately - but most of the furniture was simply shrink wrapped in mega saran wrap. Pretty cool stuff.

Day One entailed moving everything that we were "keeping" in to our new place. They started at 8:00a.m. and finished unloading the last of the stuff from trip #2 at around 7:45 p.m. Day Two entailed packing up everything that we were "storing" and taking it to places unknown where it will sit in the dark until we call it back home sometime in the faraway future. They finished at a more reasonable hour of 6:00 p.m. Good Irishmen, all of them. We celebrated with a couple of beers at then. Like I said, Good Irishmen.

The very nicest thing about this move (and also kind of the very not nicest thing) was that we have arrived to our new home with the minimal amount of goods necessary to live over the next someteen months. The result is that unpacking was a walk in the park compared to previous moves. The downsides are as follows:
  • I am already finding that there were things we should have brought, but didn't. Rugs are on the top of the list. Why? This house is constructed entirely of hardwood and glass. Can you say echo chamber (echo chamber, echo chamber, echo chamber...)?
  • While Day Two found me managing movers at the other house, George the Elder stayed home to unpack and organize new home. When I finished at old house, I returned to new house to find that not only had George the Elder unpacked all of the boxes, but that he had also found the time to annihilate (he says trim) a tree in the front of the house that was "blocking his view". Setting aside his gardening skills, the problem here is that usually it takes a good piece longer to unpack a house. I think he was feeling measurably smug and oddly curious as to why the hell I have bitched in the past about what load of scutwork moving is. To my credit, his idea of "unpacking" was to get the crap out of the boxes and place them on various open surfaces so that I could place them in their final destination - but still. I'm wondering whether or not he is reassessing his traditional "move gift" to me of the day at the Spa given as compensation for all my labors? Hence, I should have packed more crap.

Other than that, things progress as things do in a move. I have purchased the "new mop" - as old mops can not transfer locations. I believe that evil spirits are transfered with mops from one place to another (no really, I just don't like to handle crusty germ infested mop heads for extended periods of time...) I also managed to fix the toilet in the master bedroom that was not running continuously - - but going off every 20-30 minutes or so as a result of a sloooooow leak in the flapper. Have you any idea how your sleep is effected when the silence of the night is loudly fractured by the sound of a 50 year old toilet trying to fill itself (please hearken back to lack of rugs and other noise absorbing household accoutrements such as artwork)? It was two nights of hell and an argument with George the Elder about the pros and cons of fixing a toilet that will be entirely removed during the renovations (that will start at some unknown point in the future, so the cost benefit analysis was working in my favor). I fixed the damn thing.

And last, I have managed to squeeze my scant amount of kitchen whatnot in to the world's most ineffectively, inefficiently and just plain stupidly designed kitchen. If I ever run in to the person who designed this space, I will happily strike him down with the large pot that will not fit in to a single kitchen cabinet and instead will be stored in a hall closet. Do you think that the woman who lived here had only a 2 qt saucepan and one small skillet? Improbable, but I am flummoxed about where she put her stuff. A question never to be answered but pondered for the ensuing months till the whole kitchen becomes dumpster fodder. Alas.