Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Accidents in the Home

I feel that there are too many untoward incidents about the house. Last night, we were lounging in the living room when a muffled fump, sound in the kitchen. I asked Jeff if he knew what that noise was, and he said he had not heard a noise. I asked him to go into the kitchen to see if it was the noise of a potato exploding.
Warily, Jeff went to the kitchen, and upon opening the oven remarked loudly so that I could hear in the other room, “A potato blew up”.
The truth is that he has nearly quit questioning me when I make preposterous statements, because these things are invariably true. As he is truly male; he continues to find my pronouncements suspect, because to him, they just sound ridiculous. He was, in fact amazed not only that I had heard the noise, but that I could accurately identify it. I am not the type who can readily recognize mystery noises from radio contests, and I had never heard a potato detonate, but in fact, that is quite what it sounded like to me given the knowledge that I was actually baking some spuds.
At that point I hauled myself off the couch to see what damage had been done, and what I could do to salvage dinner. The potato, a large russet, had exploded quite dramatically covering the inside of the oven more or less completely. The oven, representation notwithstanding, is NOT self- cleaning. I removed the potato, some fragments thereof, and the other potato, still in its original shape if not condition, and finished cooking the brisket. The brisket did not come out as it should have. They are sending them to the store much leaner than the greasy but delectable wonders that my mother used to cook. I’m sure we are all healthier now, but for congenital high cholesterol in my case, and our taste buds mourn the loss.
Nevertheless, dinner was had, dishes were done, and I closed the oven until the next day.
I have been basking in my unemployment, but keeping the house and accounts in order, and writing the odd tidbit here and there, takes up the bulk of my days. Heavy duty cleaning is not my favorite thing to do but someone has to, and being available makes it my chore.
My oven in our former apartment was low quality and easy to clean. The door actually came off quite easily, and that oven was cleaned every several months and I had not allowed what mom called “the patina” to build up. I felt that the patina would cause more household fires than not, and so did away with it. As I do a lot of baking and roasting, the color buildup is fairly rapid. My new oven in our house is not so easy to clean.
Being that the oven was filled by brown toasted bits, I decided to start by using the vacuum to get rid of the larger stuff. That was a good idea and it worked as well as I had expected.
Now comes the part where the caustics are brought into the picture: I had let the oven self-clean once last year, which resulted in a heavy white ash reminiscent of Pompeii, which needed removal, a task the oven was not willing to perform. After that experience, I decided that I could lower the electric bill by four hours by starting in with the chemical assault. You may find this a tedious and boring story. I find it to be only marginally interesting, and it is about me, so I understand if you have lost patience. I have had one go already with some noxious product, which upon wiping revealed the original crud underneath, and so have had to try another tack. I have left ammonia in the oven. It has worked before, and I daresay it will work again. It is great stuff to use unless you have any desire to breathe while using it, in which case you may have a problem. I know that I have a problem, because I cannot get the door off of this machine, and so have to lean over the open door while trying to mop out the crud while sucking in the unpleasant air. I dislike it so much that I have come upstairs while the fumes work, to write this down. I suppose I could be reading or something, but this appealed more. I have dawdled long enough though. Let me assure you that I do not mean to injure myself when I say, I must go now and stick my head in the oven.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Analysis of Purchase

One day at the store I urged a family of aged Ukrainians who were buying the store out of its entire supply of citrus fruits to go ahead of me in line. They were really old and did not entirely speak English, and it seemed a good thing to do. As a consequence, they offered to have me join them at home for what one can only imagine was one hell of a fruit cocktail. Actually they gave the impression that they wished to adopt me in some way just on the evidence of one good deed.
This is an example of my pastime of trying to figure how the items chosen by others fit into their lives, and whether this tells me anything about them. I may have to found a school of psychiatry on this analysis of purchase. At the very least, it can be no more harmful or less accurate than the casting of bones.
Often I find myself in line behind a person with 8 loaves of white bread, dog food, cheese curls and sardines. You do the math, this is not typical, and seems like just picking up odds and ends, and that is probably all that it is, but in other cases, it seems like I have been behind someone provisioning a lost boys’ home, or dateless girl binge evening, or something imminently more disastrous. One has only to be observant, and imaginative to turn a mundane chore into a psychological survey.
Last night, a friend of mine told me he had been to some kind of therapy called excer-dynamics or something of the kind. It involved holding strenuous physical positions while talking about your problems. So Dan sat against the wall without benefit of a chair for so long that the therapist had to remark on it. Dan replied that it is a ski exercise and that he is a ski instructor. You think he could have asked you? I wondered aloud. Dan said he felt better, but on the way home had a few cocktails, and so when he called me at 12A.M. I had questions on the efficacy of the therapy. Perhaps if I were to go to the grocery store with him we could clear up all of his problems.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Ms. Monkeyskaya was a gift to a special friend, but I don't collect monkeys. Posted by Hello

A Gift Horse

“Jeffrey, there’s an extra Saint in the yard, do you know anything about that?” I was addressing the space where he had been a moment ago, but had somehow managed to vacate without my notice. He does that a lot. Jeffrey is a lot more swift and silent than a moving body of 6’4” has any right to be.

The Saint in question was sort of a white ceramic monk, and although less than a foot in stature, it gave me the creeps. “It was a gift from the Millers, Lucia says he is the patron Saint of Gardeners. See, he has a shovel” he said moving the leaves of a Rhododendron that all but obscured the little hooded monk.
I had the feeling from the first that it was Lucia’s handiwork, as lawn ornaments and the like are very big with her. There is so much statuary and cement decor on our circle, that when we bought the house I wondered if it was necessary to make the purchase of several unwieldy items for the yard to comply with some obscure local code. As it turned out, with the few we brought, and the ones left by the previous owner we were flush with heavy and immobile crap and had only to put plants in the most obvious ones to fit in.
The fact that Lucia had placed the statue in our yard meant that I had to leave it or risk alienating our neighbor. People are altogether too touchy about matters of taste, and I have returned enough gifts to insult every one I have ever received a gift from. I have also irritated many who did not send me presents, but that is an entirely different matter.

Gift giving is a fine art, which most people do not possess. It requires attention to precisely what a person likes and dislikes and must allow for subtleties. I have two cats. This does not mean that I like anything or everything that has a cat on it. If I like a particular color, there are parameters that evade most mortals as to what shade and hue of that color I like. I do not know what makes people give me things with feathers and/or fringe or why I receive the most hair ornaments just after cutting my hair very short. Thankfully, hair grows back. (So far.)

Some people are grateful and gracefully receive and cherish every piece of junk ever handed to them, and I sadly, am not in that group. I mostly do not like everything, including a lot of things that I buy for myself that are questionable upon purchase and which grow more odious with time.

I was in the shower, thinking about not looking a gift horse in the mouth. I understand the premise to be: a horse with bad teeth or no teeth or who is so old that you are going to have to get rid of the carcass is better than no horse at all. That does not sound to me like something one should be thankful for. On the other hand, if the horse is young and sound and you don’t have to chop him up for dog food or bury him in the family plot, I suppose that would be a good thing indeed. I say forewarned is forearmed. Look the damn horse in the mouth. Have yard sales and don’t invite your friends. Regift whenever possible. Put me in your will. You may have something that I like, and if I do, I will thank you by medium.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Word of the Day:

Andy and I were kicking around the prime time lineup as usual and he remarked, I don’t like the judges of that “Perfect” show.
Who are they, anyway? I mean that bald guy? Who is he??
He was Rosie O’Donnel’s hairdresser, I said.
Well first of all, would YOU trust a bald hairdresser? He asked.
(The thing about us is that we both cut our own hair. His is rather close to the skull, but neither of us trusts anybody with our hair.)
I guess probably not, but the other two are no better, I continued, I mean they are not really celebrities; they are more like sub-lebrities.
I think you have something there Andy agreed.
So, word for the day: sublebrity, not to be confused with subriety, which would be just a little drunk.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Lactose Lament

It seems one of the cats is lactose intolerant. I had read that milk is not good for cats, but who doesn’t know that cats adore all dairy food? The animals will vie over cheese, ice cream and leftover cereal milk.

They sit as vultures in our laps waiting for a handout, or simply for something to drip. If you have never dealt with this situation, it is precarious at the least to balance 2 cats and a sloshy bowl of cereal in your lap. The older cat does not like being near the other but she can endure the agony if the result is that she gets to lick off the ice cream bowl.

For people going eeww! You let the cat lick your bowls, I merely reply, eeww, you let your kids eat off your fork. I rest my case.

Minnie, the feline in question has been throwing up the milk lately. This is not as bad as say, 1 cup of cat food, or mouse parts, but it is enough to put you off, and stain the rugs.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Legs of Dorian Gray

I don’t know how long it has been that I have studiously avoided the condition of my legs. My theory here is that as I get older and continue to look okay, my legs are taking the beating for it. I am grateful that it is not my face which is bearing all of the aging although there are days when my jowls seem to sink into my neck.

I remember being disgusted by older women when I was in my 20’s and 30’s, thinking; I will never let that happen to me.
I also had rules about never going out with bad hair or no makeup, and I have pretty much thrown both those rules to the wind with abandon.

I look pretty good for 50, good enough that people ask my 34 year old sister which of us is the elder. My sister is a master of the slow burn. “I’m going to the kitchen now to cut my wrists.” I worked with other people last year. That was a big departure in that I generally work alone. None of those people could guess my age. None of those people ever saw my legs.

It started with some cellulite when I was in college, when I did my best to avoid looking. In the last year or so, I developed dark spots that I attributed to the sun. Then, the spots started to spread. This is a very unattractive development, and I cringe while slathering the firming moisturizers on. I don’t know that the so-called firming creams work, but hope springs eternal. I realized one day- I have old lady legs while the rest of me remains middle aged. I’m like a walking version of Dorian Gray. Instead of in the attic, all of the changes are going on in the basement. As long as I don’t give any tours, I’ll probably be okay.

Tissues: an Endorsement

Tissues : An Endorsement

I was in the bathroom for a change. This time I was dealing with some sort of intestinal unpleasantness. I suddenly was suffused with an intense feeling of good will towards tissues.
Tissues are just the right size unless you have the kind of cold which turns you into a mucus faucet, but barring that, they are perfect.
Somebody got it right the first time for a change and was wise enough not to mess with it. You have to experiment and get the right texture, too cheap and they chafe. Some have smells or colors and I don't care for that. I realize that I spring for the expensive ones and pay more for the little square boxes. Sometimes, in a fit of thriftiness I buy the larger box and refill the small ones from that. I like the heft of the paper and the finality when you pull them out of the box. Just then phuff, another magically takes its place. Toilet paper, on the other hand, just goes on for miles. I use miles of it, but there's a lint problem, or an irritation factor, or it clogs the pipes when you least expect it. I don't know what to do with this, it is information I'm sure no one needs to know. Maybe I can use it in a story if I ever finish writing one. (if I ever start writing one.).
For now, I just wanted to go on record. Tissues: a good thing.
There is a slight chance that dehydration has made me delirious.
It could happen.