Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Not that easy being green

Finally opening the windows allowed large amounts of pollen to drift and settle. Result: most surfaces chez moi are currently topped by a mean green sheen, and it’s not invited to stay. Thing is, though, I can’t stand house cleaning. Ooh, I finally have some free time: now I can tackle those grout stains – just not the way my mind works. My inner lazy ass figured I could do the floors just by walking around in a pair of

slipper genies, but unless I did some really sloppy-legged walking, I was really just re-distributing my dust, lint, hair and dead skin particles and mixing them in with the green-ness.

Thought I’d also try the “magic” erasers some of my friends have been raving about. What the hell are these things made of and what’s so magical about them? My magic eraser is always too small, tends to fold under pressure, or it does the same thing my erasers did in elementary school: tears the paper.

I ended up giving the
RoboMaid a whirl.

It sweeps any floor surface, and the robotic ball in the center is kind of cool, but my RoboMaid had a nasty habit of going into rotating mode and cleaning the same area over and over while completely neglecting others. Think I’m going to make the dog wear the genie slippers while she herds the RoboMaid around, and hope for the best.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ridicule is the burden of genius

I’m married to one of those men who watch too much television in general, and way too much fishing television in particular. I long ago stopped feigning even a mild interest in watching men hyperventilate and/or overreact over the simple act of catching a fish, which just doesn’t seem to hold nearly the mystery and allure for some of us that it does for others (and we’re not really sorry that we don’t share the love).

Anyway, the other day one of the fishing shows took a commercial break. I was reading and trying not to listen, but you know how the volume tends to go up when it’s commercial time, so that even if you’ve gone into the other room you don’t miss the sales pitch. It was an
ad for Duck Hunter, an indoor hunting game. A father and son were shown enjoying themselves, their “camo” clothing matching the upholstery and curtains in their house, à la Sound of Music, as they gleefully shot infrared beams at the fake duck, which flapped its fake wings and flew around the house, carefully navigating objects like ceiling lights. Tell me this is how it would play out at your place, where there are clearly no impediments to indoor flight by an blind winged item that’s tossed randomly into the air. Meanwhile, it takes three successful shots to kill the duck, or stop its flight, so you’ve gotta work to take him down.

Indoor hunting games…almost as fun as indoor motocross and at a fraction of the cost. I might even get my guy the extreme indoor/outdoor version. Imagine, his playing outside!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oh, no, you din't

Ever been scammed, ripped off, cheated? And I’m not talking about something petty that happened on a schoolyard, or the emotional pain of being lied to by a significant other, I’m referring to the unparalleled lousy-ass experience of parting with money in order to obtain something, then finding out—much, much too late for any reaction on your part—that you’ve been swindled, fleeced, duped…all such ugly words. It’s bad enough when you buy something, say a piece of exercise equipment designed to make your belly fat disappear sans effort, and find it’s not going to live up to your expectations. That is not a good thing, but some part of you knew it wouldn’t work out. It’s another thing entirely to buy something you’re never going to get, because, my friend, you weren’t even making a purchase, you were a deer in someone’s headlights, in the wrong place at the wrong time with a very wrong person. Infuriating, but you pretty much have to suck it up, at least for public consumption, because, as my mother always said, “Who told you this world was going to be fair?”

Really, though, it’s a terrible feeling, isn’t it? Very difficult to get over. Not much you can do about it, either, and I don’t know about you, but I’m never fond of chalking things up to experience, living and learning, or allowing someone to get away with my money scot-free. Plus, there are all those moments of hindsight, of fervently wishing you’d seen through this person who really didn’t seem very trustworthy at the time, of angrily thinking of what you’d like to do to him/her should your paths ever cross again. But they won’t.

In my admittedly limited life experience, revenge has a nasty way of backfiring in unpleasant ways. However, unpardonable actions demand some sort of response beyond remorse and rumination. I’m recovering from a recent encounter with a con man, and opting for some preventive maintenance, trying to learn as much as possible as I can about the various ways in which people can, and will gladly, take advantage of me. So many ways, when you start doing a little research, it’s really quite overwhelming! I’m starting my lessons with the slow-motion swindle, which may seem old-fashioned, since many of us no longer carry cash or allow others’ hands to touch ours.

So I’m also getting this book, which is going to teach me how to cheat at everything. Everything!! In a few weeks I’ll be able to say, “This will never happen to me again,” although I’m not sure I’ll ever really believe it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

And eat it too

Been noticing America’s widespread love affair with cake? Seems like every couple of weeks a new television show about cake decorating appears, or a new cake blog or book comes out. And have you checked out the cake decorating section of your grocery store lately? (okay, me neither) In any case, cake is riding the fad tide, hanging out with the popular crowd and loving every minute of it.

However, there are still those of us living our lives largely without the involvement or assistance of cake; our face time with this dessert is usually and purposefully limited to one or two occurrences per year. I’m firmly in the “who’s eating all this cake?” camp, unable to comprehend the hoopla and frenzy. On the rare occasions that I make a cake at home, if both circles line up properly that’s a big deal. If there ends up being enough icing to cover all the cake without any show-through I’ve hit the heights. Didn’t your mom tell you not to play with your food? I just can’t get into this as an activity, but I don’t want to seem cake-uncool.

My way of coming to terms with this development: cake kits! They give me what my cakes lack: dimension, color, motion, and the appearance of being inedible. Then everyone’s happy. Meanwhile, I’m participating in a fad, and therefore vicariously acquire a sense of validation that often lasts for hours.

Best of all, now there are masculine-themed cake kits, because this craze isn’t just for the ladies.

Here’s a perfect example. This Indiana Jones cake topper kit really makes my mouth water. And if I hit a lever, that big round boulder will roll across the cake! How cake-tastic can you get? Men love this.

They also like the deer hunter cake kit, largely because they get to keep the plastic dolls. Er, action figures.

For that very special someone, we offer the Spiderman Classic Spin and Kick. You get a button to push (remotely!), which makes Spiderman whirl around the building, often with enough speed to blow out birthday candles. The manufacturer has even thrown in some “sugar srinkles,” which really set off any cake. It’s great to be alive during times like this!

Monday, February 22, 2010

How I Roll

Not sure if it’s the economy, my rapidly aging brain and body, or over-exposure to dry, heated air, but I’ve really been stressed out lately, feeling like the weight of my little slice of the world has become much heavier than usual, and as though the effort to counter this with any kind of vivacity or élan isn’t going to be happening soon, or meeting with much success. I’ll also be the first person to admit that February is my least favorite time of year, a month I like to think got designated shortest because of its surly and boorish unpleasantness and our desire to get it out of the way as quickly as possible.

In any case, there I was at the store, spending money I don’t have now and possibly never will, desperate to rid myself of this disagreeable contentiousness. And there as always, waiting for me, was a proposed solution, this time in the form of a bottle of roll-on stress relief lotion, which relaxes your mind and body simultaneously. I found the concept of mental and physical relaxation combined so highly appealing that I rushed home and freely applied this product to most of my bodily surfaces. I suggest you not follow my lead, because stinging regret showed up and in the end I would not have used the words “stress free” to describe myself. As usual. Turns out my problem was that I was craving a lack of stress. A quick once-over with some quit craving lotion brought about at least a modicum of relief.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Aw, but Jessie

Being able to watch your dog throughout the painful hours during which the two of you cannot be together just isn’t enough for some of you, who demand even closer and more intimate communication. Luckily technology has once again caught up with, or possibly even raced ahead of, your expectations and demands, and the resulting must-have is puppy tweets. (In fact, the product isn’t available everywhere just yet, but you’d better line up and order now, because these babies are gonna be flyin’ off the shelves.)

And just exactly what are you stepping up to pre-order? Why, over 500 of your pet’s favorite phrases! But it’s so much more than that, because these phrases get delivered directly to your pet's own Twitter site! Triggered by motion, this electronic dog tag generates messages each time your dog stretches, sneezes, yawns, barks, breaks wind, falls asleep, scratches itself or indulges in a rousing session of oral gratification, not to mention those moments of mailman-induced frenzy.

Imagine the possibilities! Say you’re in a meeting at work: things get a little dullish, you decide it’s time for a sly visit to Twitter…only to discover that Buster's day has been much more productive than yours. Or maybe not; maybe there's just been a whole lotta sleep going on. Either way, you're in the know. To no one’s surprise, dogs are naturals at this, and their tweets seem effortless. Ad copy actually suggests inviting friends and family to follow one’s pet on Twitter, and, hey, why not, when the dog’s making witty suggestions like getting sparkling water for the toilet bowl!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rat in me kitchen

Got up this morning, went into the kitchen to make coffee, opened the cupboard and found an early Valentine’s gift from better half perched beside the mugs.

Wasn’t he sweet, hiding them like that for maximum early morning enjoyment? This man is fluent in the language of love, let me tell you. And over the years he’s taught me enough that I, too, am capable of making the occasional romantic gesture, which is why he’ll be getting a love coupon book after dinner tonight.

‘Course, I removed all the coupons for things like back rubs, lap dances and snuggling. Hey, there are still three “control television all day” coupons, several that are good for a full-house vacuum, and one offering 50% off on a sincere show of empathy, so he still got the better end of this deal.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Parts is parts

I’m heaving a massive sigh of relief, emphasis on the heaving, after spending a long weekend with my crazy, cat-loving Great-Aunt Gertrude. So glad we do this only once a year! Trudi, as she’s called by her closest personal friends (i.e. what she calls herself) is a kind and gentle soul, an animal lover and only child who tells hilarious stories about her childhood, wears dramatically mis-applied make-up, and can make even the dullest of events memorable, but not always in a good way. Her love for animals doesn’t diminish her craving for their flesh, which has led to some meals that I’ll simply refer to as unfortunate and regretful as I try to re-introduce real food to my system.

See, the problem is, the older Gertrude gets, the stranger her meat-replacements are becoming. On our first evening together she proudly set down what appeared to be a cheese-topped casserole. I hoped it was macaroni, and bravely took a bite. The texture, the flavor, the immediate unwillingness to swallow—I couldn’t even wait until she turned her head to make use of my napkin. “What are we eating?” I gasped, reaching for a water glass.

Tender bits,” she said brightly.

“Of what?” I asked, then quickly said, “Never mind!” because I truly didn’t want to know, remembering where I was. And when I saw the can in the garbage as I was helping clean up, I pushed it down as far as possible so as to resist the temptation to read the ingredient list.

On the second night things seemed initially more promising. Dinner seemed to consist of some breaded meat patties, mashed potatoes, and a vegetable. But this was clearly impossible; if you knew Gertrude, you’d realize that she’d never eat anything so pedestrian. I started picking at my potatoes and vegetable, hoping for the best. “Don’t forget to finish your choplets, or you won’t get dessert,” Trudi said curtly. “Clean plate club.”

But I refrained from club membership and didn’t get any tofu pie that night. Aww.

For our final meal together I begged her to let me take her to a restaurant. “My treat!” I said, hungrily, unable to face another canned meat substitute. “Anywhere you like!” But she wanted none of it; she’d planned something special and couldn’t be dissuaded.

She spent the afternoon in the kitchen, humming loudly amidst the sound of the electric can opener, ignoring the smoke alarm’s repeated bleats. Later she came out of the kitchen a little unsteadily, bearing a large, steaming platter. All her cats came near the table and meowed demandingly. I kept trying to slip them parts of my meal under the table, but Trudi got all hawk-eyed on me and finally said, “If you don’t want the hostess cuts, fine, but don’t give it to the cats. It gives them the runs.”

Turns out I didn’t want the hostess cuts. In fact, I spent about an hour afterwards in the bathroom trying to brush that hostess cut flavor out of my mouth, while Gertrude prepared me a little doggie bag of leftovers to bring home to better half, along with her love. Even the raccoons won’t touch it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Inside outside leave me alone

Went to the store this morning and had the displeasure of ending up in line behind a woman who, for some reason, insisted on facing me/the back of the store, rather than standing in the direction of line motion and goal achievement. Worse, she just stood there staring at me, seemingly oblivious to my increasing discomfort. There are unspoken rules in our society, many of which involve body placement and direction, and most of the time we assume that everyone's read the same rule book, but, as usual, we're wrong.

In order to avoid conversation and eye contact (since the only thing I had to say was, “Hey, how about turning around?”), I suddenly became “captivated” by various items for sale in the checkout line. It’s always interesting to see the stuff they think we’re going to want at the last minute, isn’t it? The sewing kits, lip balm, razors, tape—it’s all there for a carefully reasoned point, folks; this ain’t accidental marketing. Possibly, then, you can imagine my surprise when I curiously picked up what turned out to be

a hemorrhoid treatment device, then read the packaging label. This little guy is used to massage internal hemorrhoids, which apparently calms them and reduces their size—and I sincerely wish I’d stopped right there. But I’m one of those “no paragraph unturned” readers, and besides, Mrs. Social Gaffe was still staring at me, possibly more intently now than ever, and so I persevered.

And thusly learned that another suggested use for this handy piece of rubbery plastic is doing incontinence and kegel exercises. For the next several moments my mind made frantic, yet feeble, attempts at un-reading, forgetting, erasing. My admittedly limited knowledge of hemorrhoids and incontinence (ignorance is bliss, baby!) involves two bodily orifices that would not be happy sharing the same piece of white plastic. Ever.

Luckily, that’s when the clerk finally said “Ma’am?” signaling my queue companion that her opportunity to make a financial transaction had arrived. This caused her to turn away from me at last, fascinating as I am, which is when I quickly replaced the item on its little metal display hook and noticed that the man in line behind me was also intently interested in my purchasing decisions. Just another reason why I love me some shopping. But this time I had to say thanks, but no thanks.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ashes to ashes

Today my niece becomes a teenager, and as I wish her well and look back to my own teen years, the first thing that comes to mind is this terrible woman who had the unfortunate task of teaching me what was called “Language Arts” the year I was 13 (and fully convinced that I’d already mastered the language and all its arts). She somehow managed to include the phrase “Neil Diamond” in every sentence of our grammar homework, every day. She sported visible dandruff, immense amounts of polyester, terrible shoes, and my intense scorn for an entire school year. Worst of all, she kept this jar on the corner of her desk. To scare us, I assumed.

I was fully convinced that she wanted me to become part of her collection, especially because I managed to make fun of Neil Diamond in every writing assignment, and managed a few sly remarks about the way dandruff shows up on polyester in an improvised speech. Even now, when I hear the phrase, “Those who can’t do, teach,” this individual pops into my head. I assume that when she retired—for she’s surely retired by now—she returned those ashes to the parents of hundreds of obnoxious teenagers throughout the area. Frankly, I’m still relieved to have escaped her clutches. Meanwhile, Happy Birthday to a special girl.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I do believe it's true

I'd thought sea monkeys were just about the only animal I could grow on my own, but I learned something new today (one of my many new year’s resolutions): we’re getting pretty advanced in this arena, which can’t help but be good. Always nice to see continual advancement, right?

As a result, I’m planning to grow my own zoo! And I like to start big, so I got some giraffe seeds. Actually, what I purchased claims to be a herd starter kit, but I don’t know how they can guarantee that I’ll get both a girl and a boy. Still! Think of having two or three giraffes! I hope I don’t overwater, which is usually how I roll.

And because giraffes are rather placid, I also picked up some rattlesnake eggs to keep things balanced. For now I’m following the instructions and keeping them in a cool place to avoid hatching (easy to do—it feels like the world is nothing but cool places), but as soon as it gets a little warmer I’ve got big plans for these guys, and for my entire back yard.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I'm ready, I'm ready

I spent many risky years on the snowy roads of winter, traveling long distances, often in near white-out conditions, fingers crossed and mind refusing to contemplate any of the pitfalls I might encounter. Not so these days; something about getting older seems to compel us to value our lives, even to take measures ahead of time to ensure our safety. Sounds crazy if you’re still under a certain age, but when you get to this phase of life, believe me, you’ll share this trait with your fellow geezers.

Now I leave the house engulfed in confidence, knowing that even if that worst-case scenario I can’t stop envisioning actually occurs, I’m kitted out and have what I need to see me through. I scoff at travel advisories and instead have adopted a "bring it!" approach to bad driving conditions. That’s because I went with the ever-trustworthy AAA and got myself a 65-piece severe winter weather travel kit. Why, there’s a folding shovel, three pieces of fleece, a strobe light, and a 46-piece first-aid kit (which can be further broken down into a 13-piece bandage kit and a 33-piece aspirin kit)! Kind of hard to see, but there’s also a whistle (hey!), a few tea candles, an ice scraper, and reading materials to pass the time. With 65 pieces, I've got all the bases covered and then some!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

When it gets too familiar I'll be gone

And the world gives a collective sigh, sucks it up and returns to business as usual, which is particularly cruel during a cold snap, right? Believe it: this week is one of the most-complained-about in the year, with statistics showing a record-breaking number of people faking sick yesterday simply because they couldn’t bear the idea of going back yet. Getting up extra early to scrap ice and snow off the windshield, then head off to workland doesn’t even begin to compare with the wondrous extra hours of sleep and leisure many of us were just starting to get used to before they were cruelly yanked away and replaced with—well, whatever you want to call it, it’s not fun. Little wonder this is one of the most popular times of year to contemplate, if not actually enjoy, an escape, preferably of the tropical and luxuriant variety.

And although my budget this year couldn’t absorb much beyond a glass of wine and a few hours spent messing around with Google Earth, I’m enjoying padding around the house in my new Silver Travel Trailer slippers as I wish I could really Airstream my way outta here.