Unbagging the Cats 1

Unbagging the Cats 1

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

No Free Milk From This Cow

I arrived home from a not-very-hard day at work to find that Blogger wants to interface with me. Ain't that a fine how-do-you-do? I barely had time to read my Big Brother updates before Blogger was trying to wedge himself between us. He can't stand it when I spend time with my other friends. Blogger is SO controlling.

I'm not so sure about jumping right into the interface sack with Blogger. What if things don't work out? Can I return to my single life again like nothing happened? Or will there be baggage to deal with? I'm not one to interface on the first request. Will Blogger stay with me if I interface for free? Come to think of it, I willingly joined in cahoots with Blogger for free. But there have been times when he locked me out. When he took my stuff. When he wouldn't let me see my friends.

What about disease? How do I know that interfacing with Blogger won't result in me bringing home a bouncing baby virus? Just like New Coke, at one time I tried New Blogger. And just like New Coke, I was not all that into him. I had trouble functioning right after our dalliance. So now I'm leery.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Blogger is trying to interface with every Dawn, Trish, and Mary on the internet. So I am withholding my interface affection for now. The nerve of that cad!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Little More Help

I read an article in Entertainment Weekly about THE HELP. Here's a link to the online version. I do not agree with the author, Mark Harris, on several points. Let's break it down:

1. "...the early-Amy-Irving ringlets on aspiring writer Skeeter Phelan seem to have been teleported from 15 years in the future..." D'ya think? Because I thought Skeeter had bad hair. And in the Mississippi humidity, it could frizzle and frazzle and perhaps look like that on a girl who didn't much give a hoot about her appearance most of the time. It's not like she went out and paid for a perm.

2. "... the white characters’ outfits are all too store-window new, their wigs too Hairspray bright." Weren't these society gals always trying to outdo each other? To have the biggest, the best, to be most popular? Isn't that why Mae Mobley's mama was so concerned about her homemade dresses? Because she couldn't afford to keep up with the Holbrooks?

3. "And the twist that a delicious meal cooked by a nice white lady is what gives outspoken Minny (Octavia Spencer) the fortitude to leave her abusive husband isn’t merely patronizing; it’s a violation of everything we know about her strong-willed character." Was this guy even watching the same movie as I was? Because clearly, Minny gained the fortitude to leave her abusive husband because Johnny Foote said she would have a job with them as long as she wanted. Right before they sat down to that delicious meal.

Maybe Mr. Harris should have read the book. Then he could put these issues in context before shooting off his fingers. Nationally. In such an article.

Of course, he's entitled to his own opinion. But so am I.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Blind. Leading the.

On the way to school this morning, I made my tires straddle a small corpse. My passenger, The Pony, insists on riding in the back seat. I don't know why. I'm sure it's not my driving. After all, he has ridden shotgun with The Master Sweaver himself. But for some reason, The Pony sits behind me, like a young blue-blood with a chauffeur. Most days he reads his Kindle during the trip. Today, he actually sat up and observed the surroundings. Which meant that my one-sided conversation had a companion.

"I can't even tell what that was. But I missed it."

"It looked like a puppy to me."

"Whew! That was no puppy!"

"Roll the windows down!"

"Keep the windows up!"

"Now we know what it was, anyway."

"Yeah. No puppy could smell like that. I guess the white stripe and tail were underneath."

"Well, it looked like a puppy to me."

"You would totally be that old lady in the cartoons who let the 'puppy' in the house and made it a bed and petted it and fed it a gourmet meal, only to find out at the last minute that it was a skunk. You'd be like Tweety's grandma."

"I love Tweety."

On the way home, about a mile before we reached the skunk corpse, on an entirely different road, we spied another object on the pavement. The Pony was on the case.

"Look. Another skunk."

"I don't think so."

"Oh. Ha, ha. It was somebody's blanket."

"What was your first clue, the size or the blue color?"

"It was kind of fluffy. And it was pink, not blue."

"I'm shocked you didn't think it was a puppy. Maybe we should get you another eye exam."

We continued our trip. The entire way, I had been pointing out a bug on the windshield. "Look. It's still there. I wonder how long. Was it on there at school? It hasn't let go yet." I bumped the car up the dusty gravel road and turned into our bumpy gravel driveway. "Wow. That bug rode all the way home with us. He looks like some kind of beetle. Like an overgrown lightning bug." The Pony stood up and leaned forward to push the garage door opener on the passenger-side visor.

"Um. Mom. That's not a bug. It's bird poop."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

You Don't Know What You Have Till It's Gone

I caught Genius digging through the laundry after church. That is SO not him. He won't even look for money that might be in his pockets. Several sets of earphones have gone through the wash and dry cycle. Yet there he was. Tossing clothes like a magician juggling silk scarves.

"What are you doing?"

"Looking for my yellow Nike shirt."

"It's in the washer right now. It was dirty."

"Not really. I only wore it to bowling yesterday."

"Well, it was in the dirty clothes basket."

"I know. But I only wore it a couple of hours. I think it still has several hours left on it."

"I'm sure it did. But now it's swimming in the Whirlpool."

"That's okay. I'll just get another shirt."

"In the future, keep it in your room if you think is still has wearing time left."

Somebody really needs to take a weekend to sort, wash, dry, hang and fold clothes for the entire household. Then he might be a little more reasonable with his apparel wearage. It won't be long until he goes off to college, and relies on the smell test for his wardrobe selection.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hows About a Little "Help"

Hear ye, hear ye! As the clock struck 1:15 today, I was cooling my heels in an AMC Theater eagerly awaiting the 1:00 showing of THE HELP. After being turned away on opening week for lack of the actual movie that had been touted with show times on their website, and informed the next week that THE HELP would not be making any sort of appearance at this theater...fortune smiled upon me and delivered THE HELP.

There were perhaps eighty people at this showing, which is pretty good for a Saturday afternoon in these parts, what with summer still in effect and the lakes and ORV staging areas popular destinations for the populace. Indeed, I have attended many a movie with less than ten people in the audience.

Let's begin this action-packed movie-going experience with the fact that I like to arrive early to get seats in the back row. Not the long middle back row. The side four-seat back row. With only two seats behind it. We were delayed by my mother's late arrival to drop off The Pony at his bowling league. Not enough to miss the movie, but enough to make me obsess over the possibility of not getting my preferred seat.

We parked. I grabbed my movie purse, which is only full of a tiny flip notebook, a pen, glasses, phone, and a leftover box of Buncha Crunch that has been in the car for over a month in that purse, and is surely a buncha melted mess by now. A carload of old ladies pulled up. They hustled out and made a beeline for the door. I turned to my mom. "I knew it. They are going to get my seat. Let's hurry."

Lucky for us, two of the three had canes, and the other one tripped on the sidewalk. She wasn't hurt. It was just a stumble. She even chuckled about it. We passed her handily, but those caned ladies were a force to be reckoned with. Fortunately, they got confused at the entrance and I surged ahead. Could I help it that they thought they still had to go through that strap-maze to the window slot? While they were milling around the other entrance door in search of an egress point, I stepped up to buy our tickets. My mom magnanimously hung back, herded them through the door, and insisted that they go ahead of her, because, "You were here first." Well, fiddle-dee-dee. We need to hold a summit on her shocking lack of cut-throat behavior to score coveted movie seats for her daughter. If we were interrogating perpetrators, she would totally go all Good Cop on them.

I was quite ecstatic to find my seats available. The previews started as we walked in. I left Mom and my movie purse to hold the seats, and went back for popcorn. The counter clerk started to scoop it as another one poured popcorn into the hopper. "Oh, if I'd waited a few minutes, I could have had fresh popcorn." The hopper clerk agreed. He told the other dude to wait and scoop mine after it was done. I took the soda and some Reese's Pieces to the theater and came back for my hot popped corn. This was turning out to be the best movie experience ever.

Then, at 1:20, just before the last of the previews, the bottom dropped out. A lady pushed a wheelchaired man through our door and parked him behind me. I'm not complaining about that part. It was his rightful area to cool his wheels and watch THE HELP. I don't know the nature of his different-abledness, but these things I know for sure. He had a healthy voice, two healthy arms, and a healthy mind. As well as a healthy appetite.

His laugh was a deep, booming bellow. Like you might hear on the laugh track of I Love Lucy. The one that stands out. I don't begrudge anyone a vocal bout of mirth while enjoying a movie. But I would like him to dial the decibels down a bit so I don't need industrial earphones like those worn by luggage handlers on the tarmac to protect their aural cavities from the roar of jet engines.

My other issue was with the backseat viewer's method of popcorn bag disposal. He and his woman companion partook of the feedbag and a refill. That's perfectly understandable. Always get your money's worth at the theater. But when the bag is empty, and of no use anymore, simply toss it into the nearest trash can. Simply. Toss. It.

There I was, sweltering in the Mississippi heat, listening to Minnie explain to Celia that she never burns the chicken, and the next thing I knew, I was in the middle of a restricted nuclear test site. The loud popping of the bomb and subsequent crackling of flames engulfing all objects within a sixty-mile radius reached me slightly before the whoosh of the nuclear wind. My hair blew forward even before I jumped out of my skin.

Seriously. Drop that bag in the wastebasket. You are not in your own living room. I demand a public service spot like the one about turning off cell phones. That little stunt took me right out of the movie. I don't even think he realized what he did. It was probably a habit he cultivates in the privacy of his home. But I doubt that his home is full of white-haired old ladies who may be in need of a defibrillator after such a shock to the system.

Still, I did not change my hard-won seat. THE HELP was excellent. It never dragged, did not seem two-and-a-half hours long, and somewhat surprised me when the credits started to roll. It followed the book quite closely. I heartily recommend it. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You might want to pop your paper popcorn sack.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Better Pill to Swallow

How the worm has turned on this final Friday of August.

I arose with a thumping headache in the sinus region above the windows to my soul. I piloted my way to work without the aid of tinted cockpit glass through the Dolly-Partonesque light of a clear blue morning.

By the end of my 2nd Hour planning period, I popped an ibuprofen. That, plus half a Diet Coke with Lime during my lunch that started at 10:53 a.m., perked me up enough to carry on.

After school, I was hummin'. Not in a musical way, but in the way of a busy little worker bee. By 4:00, I had wrapped up the week's loose ends of ungraded papers and tied them with a pretty pink bow of updated electronic gradebook entries. Grades were done, man!

The cherry on top of my tasty Friday sundae was the ethereal white glow of late-evening sun reflecting off the inter-fence coils of razor wire at the local maximum security state prison that I pass each day on my way home.

It's the little things, people.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Personal Hygiene of the Kyocera KM 6030

Do you ever wonder why the copy machine cannot run a simple set of thirty two-sided papers without stopping to lick its own butt? You may plan on darting in the workroom and darting out with your thirty copies hot off the press, but Kyocera has an agenda. A primping agenda. Oh, he may suck in your original. But you're not getting thirty copies. "How about five?" says Kyocera. Silently. And commences grooming, a now cleaning message left in fine print on the control panel.

You can never quite be sure when Kyocera will return. Somewhere, deep inside his housing unit, a de-grubbing scenario is unfolding. I can only imagine what is taking place. Here are my top ten suspicions.

1. Grandma Kyocera is relaxing in her pink enamel tub with some of the several hundred bath beads her grandchildren have lovingly provided her every single holiday since they were born.

2. Rapscallion Kyocera is passing a cat-saliva coated paw over his face for a quick lick-and-a-promise before spitting out the rest of your order.

3. Dirty, Dirty Girl Kyocera is douching and spritzing and powdering herself to appear presentable to polite society.

4. Harried Housewife Kyocera is soaking in an oatmeal bath, wishing she was submerged in mineral mud like that time she attended a time-share pitch in exchange for a day at the spa.

5. Man's Man Buck Kyocera is scrubbing with Irish-Spring-on-a-rope until his skin glows pink enough to complement his cabled fisherman's sweater.

6. Ivory Soap Ingenue Kyocera is 99 and 44/100 percent pure after sliding Ivory repeatedly over her porcelain epidermis in an effort to break away from evil twin Dirty Girl.

7. Little Pigpen Kyocera has evaded the dust cloud that normally envelopes him in order to sit in a heaping tub of Mr. Bubble, making sudsy facial hair, with dreams of Grandma walking in to shriek, "There's a MAN in my bathtub!"

8. Crusty Battleaxe Kyocera is not available for copies just now, as Calgon heard her cries and took her away.

9. Cialis Commercial Actress Kyocera is currently occupied lolling in side-by-side clawfoot tubs with her present paramour, Nonworking Canon.

10. Goop Guy Kyocera is obsessively rubbing his nooks and crannies with a jar of Goop Hand Cleaner and dreaming about his glory days.

11. Metrosexual Kyocera has lost track of time while plying himself with lotions and gels and styling mousse.


If you have time to kill, Kyocera will get right down to business and shoot those copies out like Nerf machine-gun darts at a little brother. No matter how grubby he is. That's the law of the White-Board Jungle.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mighty. See: "fallen."

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

There I sat, forking furiously at my big little salad, when a calamity of epic proportions manifested itself in the middle of my meal. My fork snapped. Snapped, like the hip of an osteoporosis-ridden septuagenarian trying to walk her precious Pomeranian after a bout of freezing rain.

I adore plastic forks. They are so smooth. So lightweight. No metal aftertaste. The best ones are from Captain D's. Or McDonald's. The ones that come with Walmart deli salads,  I throw away. None of those cheap, ridged-tine weaklings for shoveling my vittles. They go right into the wastebasket. The flimsy forks. Not the vittles. That would be like throwing the baby out, and keeping the bath. Except babies are not so tasty as a big little salad. That I know of.

When my fork failed, I was left holding the handle. It was a clean break. Approximately an inch from the body proper. At first I was horrified. Then I realized that the tines were intact. I picked up my new mini-fork and went back to town on that salad.

It was essential that I replenish the energy I had expended in tonight's repeat coldecystectomy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

If You Put It on TV, Somebody Will Watch It

I made a big little salad for supper. Not as big as Elaine's salad that George paid for and didn't get credit, because his girlfriend handed it to Elaine. Bigger than a side salad, but smaller than a meal salad. As Goldilocks might have described it, "That salad was just right."

The problem with my big little salad was the mushrooms. I had to carve them nigh to unrecognizability. Because I cannot stand gills in my mushrooms. You know, the dark feathery part under the cap. I can't deal with it. I trim the gills out, being careful not to touch them with my fingers. That stuff is too fungusy for me. I pop out the stems, and shudder at the sight. Nary a gill will touch my hearts of romaine.

The OCD Gourmet. Look for my new show on The Travel Channel. That little punk Andrew Zimmern needs to learn to eat durian, or he's gettin' the boot. I don't care how many roasted guinea pigs or how much wormy soft cheese he's consumed.

Monday, August 22, 2011

If a Writer Posts on the Internet, and Nobody is There to Read It, Does it Still Count as Writing?

What say you?

Does it matter if anybody reads what you have to say? Would you do it anyway, even if nobody commented? I would. That's how I roll. I enjoy the process. I crack myself up. Nobody wants to join me? Too bad, so sad. Your loss.

I suppose I could branch, out. Comment more places. Make a concerted effort to garner followers. But to what end? Does my self-esteem depend on how many people visit my little blog each day? Nope. I suit myself.

My other blog has been around for six years. It has fewer followers than this one. And it's a kick-a$$ blog, if I do say so myself. I can get lost in there for hours, reading about what once was.

Perhaps I'm a bit of a narcissistic egomaniac. As opposed to a selfless egomaniac.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Are Ya Thirsty for More?

Because of the enormous outcry for more details concerning my recent submission to Unsent Letters, I present to you...

Letters Which Still Remain Unsent:

Dear Unqualified People Shipping

Dear Territorial Town Librarian

Dear Just Born Candy Company, in Regard to Your PEEPS

Dear Mrs. Wendly Kate

Dear Doorstop Thief

Dear Substitute Teacher

Dear Fellow Prospective Jurors

Dear Butcher of Seville

Dear Orange Coat Girl

Dear Lunch Companions

Dear Lady Who Called Me Pretty and Asked If I Was Married

Dear New Car Salesman

Dear Drivers Who Obtained Your License From a Box of Cracker Jacks

Perhaps I'm stuck in a writing rut. Perhaps I should include a chapter in my work-in-progress with my own unsent letters. Because the real deal will only publish two letters from the same author in each book. And they may not even want any of mine. An unsent letter is a terrible thing to waste. And each one feels SO GOOD to write. Sarcastic whining is like crack for Val. The more she does, the more she wants to do.

The above ideas were originally blog posts on my supersecret blog, with different titles. All they need is the letter treatment, and some fine-tuning. They could be offered to the Unsent Letters blog if the Unsent Powers deem my first effort worthy. There appears to be no limit on the number accepted for the blog.

If I was Sissy Spacek playing Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter, Tommy Lee Jones as Doolittle Lynn might say to me, "You know, Loretta, we may have found something you know how to do."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

In Late Summer, an Old Lady's Fancy Lightly Turns to Thoughts of Submissions

I am sure Lord Tennyson will forgive me for the butchering of his quote. And even if he doesn't, what's he gonna do about it?

Today I sent an Unsent Letter. I have more at the ready, but the guidelines say to wait for a response to the first one before sending more. Perhaps my convoluted correspondence will not be their comforting cup of tea. Or their bowl of chicken soup. Though in my not-quite-humble opinion, Val's writing has a certain edge that seems better-tailored to a niche in this market than to the uplifting, feel-good anthologies.

Oh, I can make my submissions fit the feel-good. But it's not an entirely comfortable process. Like squeezing myself into some skinny jeans and a bustier. Technically, I am wearing the clothes. But I can't quite catch my breath, and everyone can see my muffin-top. I am the farmer's daughter, barefoot in overalls, called in from pig-rasslin' to mingle with the silky-smooth, glossy-lipped, impeccably-coiffed debutantes. I'm Sandra Bullock as Gracie Hart in Miss Congeniality. Dana Goodman as Carrie Mae in The House Bunny. Donna Douglas as Elly May Clampett of the Beverly Hillbillies. My body of work is not so much upper crust as super crusty.

Like economically-priced beer, my writing is an acquired taste.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What if They Threw a Meeting and Everybody Else Came?

Oops! I forgot about the monthly meeting of the local writers' group on Thursday. I can't imagine how that slipped my mind, what with it being at 5:30 p.m. on the first day of school. Since the July meeting was canceled, I had stowed away the next date in the back of my mind. As NEXT Thursday.

I'm sure everybody will understand my inability to attend. You know. Everybody. The guy who runs the group and his family. The only ones who ever attended a meeting with me.

The Great Gazoo has been making me question myself. What if everyone showed up again when I was absent?

I will check the website for minutes of Thursday's meeting. Just in case.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just the Prescription

I just nodded off to sleep in front of my keyboard. Funny how lack of oxygen due to one's head bobbing forward and constricting one's trachea will cause one to awake with a gasp.

It appears that more than five hours of sleep nightly is required to operate the heavy machinery that is Val's brain. Especially when the lubricant of caffeine is allowed to drop to critical levels. I doubt that I could out-See-N-Say a toddler tonight. And you know what that means.

Time to lean back the recliner and watch some reality TV.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ptomaine, Schmomaine

Life's rich tapestry has dropped yet another golden stitch into the fabric of my existence. One more opportunity to compose an Unsent Letter.


Dear McDonald's Manager:

I understand that you are commanding a less-than-ambitious work crew. Few folks aspire to retire after a rewarding career flipping burgers and proffering fries. However, as the leader of this wacky pack, you are responsible for their foibles.

I willingly paid my fee at the first window as directed. I even turned down the receipt. Because I trusted your fine fast-food establishment to uphold your part of the bargain. With only one car ahead of me, I expected smooth sailing.

But the sea was angry that day, my friend. Angry, like a teenage boy refused service for no shoes, no shirt. My clear passage through the drive-thru lane was thwarted by your too-long-leashed employees. My ship of hunger was stalled in the doldrums of their ineptitude.

My drinks were produced forthwith. Then I was asked to pull into the hurry-up-and-wait slot. I did so. Without a fuss. No more than an eye roll, really. A truck behind me was sent to a separate detainment arena. Ten minutes passed. The truck's food was brought out. Even though I was there first. The excuse that we were waiting for fries did not support this breach of first-come-first-served etiquette.

The van in line behind me was marooned at your hand-out window. I observed proceedings through my mirror. Purely for entertainment purposes. The driver received his sodas first. Just like me. He waited. And waited. I saw a bag of food pass through the window. He propped it on his portly abdomen. He opened it. He plunged his Popeye forearms elbow-deep into the feed bag and rummaged like there was no tomorrow. He folded the top of the sack and handed it back through the window.

Five minutes later, a new bag was foisted upon Popeye Forearms. A plastic bag. He peered inside, passed it to his passenger, and drove away.

I was left behind. Waiting for my order. Food I needed swiftly, because I had come from work to obtain sustenance. I was required to return to the workplace within the hour to host parents at open house.

The door opened and a juvenile approached. He poked a paper sack through the portal of my becalmed vessel. An excessively wrinkled paper sack, that appeared to have been folded, opened, crinkled, and re-folded. The food inside no doubt manhandled by Popeye Forearms.

I inquired of your underage minion: "Why is this bag so wrinkled? I certainly hope this is not the same bag of food that the guy behind me stuck his hands in before giving it back to you."

His answer was a shrug. "I really don't know anything about that."

Please tell me, O Great McDonald's Manager, how your workers can be oblivious to the basic public health guidelines which should be implemented in order to maintain a license to dish out foodstuffs to the masses.

Had I more time to spare, and the receipt I had so ignorantly refused, I would have stormed your castle of cholesterol and demanded a refund. Because I am not so ignorant as to assume that a complaint would garner me fresh food, free of tampering. I would sooner take my chances on ingesting microbes bestowed by the fondling my food had received courtesy of Popeye Forearms, an ersatz Typhoid Larry.

In the future, should I be served up an incorrect order, I shall take a bite out of each faulty item before returning it. Like my husband who insists on poking his thumb through every leftover roll in the bread basket, I pledge to save the public from recycled rejects.

And because I am such a Mother Teresa, I asked a relative to establish a scholarship in my name with the settlement he would receive if I died from McDonaldzuma's Revenge, after ingesting a meal so enthusiastically stroked by Popeye Forearms. A requirement for the award of such scholarship shall be an affidavit declaring that the applicant never, ever, worked at McDonald's.

In closing, I heartily wish you a belated feast fingered by a large, sweaty gentleman.

Retching in Revulsion

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Prim Reaper

After toiling twelve hours in the educational field today, I harvested a bumper crop of Open House visitors this evening. The jury is still out on whether a thanksgiving will be in order later in the semester.

On Wednesday, I will pen yet another Unsent Letter. Which has nothing to do with my chosen vocation.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dear Catered Buffet Busgirl

Laughing Karma, ruler of my universe, has decreed that I shall have no dearth of diatribes destined for Unsent Letters.

The latest in a series of events designed to upset my applecart manifested itself this morning upon my return to the world of working people. I have fought the urge all day to drop a line to the catered buffet busgirl. And now the opportunity presents itself.


Dear Catered Buffet Busgirl:

Let me congratulate you on the gusto with which you carry out your duties. I admire a person who is not afraid of good, old-fashioned work. Your are to be commended for your gung-ho table-clearing performance. A more driven individual I never shall meet.

You have elevated yourself to Wimbledon Ball Boy status in my eyes. For sixty minutes, you were at the ready, eager to pounce. Like a rat terrier left overnight in a vermin-infested restaurant. Only your prey was the empty foam plate. The nanosecond such a plate was relieved of its load of eggs, hash browns, bacon, biscuits, gravy, cinnamon roll, cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, and grapes, you sprang into action. Darting into the jumble of plastic-clothed tables, arms akimbo, you snagged the finished breakfast plates before the eater even knew she was done. Almost as if you were psychic.

I'm sure you never entertained the idea that some breakfasters might like to consume the three grapes, lone strawberry, or single cinnamon whorl that remained on the object of your ultimate quest. Perhaps you imagined the hunched shoulders and eagle-talon grip of your quarry-thwarters to be early manifestations of Dowager's hump, or arthritis. Au contraire.

Your haste has provoked us to react like so many Elaines trying to save theater seats from a horde of swarming moviegoers. "Taken. It's taken. TAKEN!" Except we are protecting the delectable morsels we worked so hard to pile upon our foam plates.

In the future, please allow patrons to consume all foodstuffs before removing plates from tables. Our administration has paid a pretty penny to stuff us with good will. It's not like we are savoring a seven-course repast with the intention of writing a review. We are teachers. We eat faster than any demographic on earth, with, perhaps, the exception of state penitentiary inmates and sixteen-year-old boys. Would another thirty seconds have put a crimp in your schedule?

President of the Clean Plate Club

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Assault on Mount Showerhead

I am preparing an assault on Mount Showerhead.

Every morning, I step into the shower, eager to for the controlled deluge to cascade over my tresses and down my back in a warm waterfall. But lately, my warm waterfall has been sorely lacking in warm water. Which can only mean one thing: it's time to soak the shower head in vinegar.

We have well water out here in paradise. It's full of healthy minerals that do double duty as miniature cloggers in the holes of the shower head. The problem is easily reversible. A fifteen-minute soak in vinegar will dissolve those mineral deposits forthwith. The monkey wrench in this procedure is the fact that I cannot get the shower head loose. It must be some kind of plumber's puzzle, a conundrum capable of rendering Val helpless in the arena of bathroom maintenance. I try to unscrew the golden knob. Lefty, loosey...righty, tighty. But it won't budge. I think I might need an actual monkey wrench.

Until Mount Showerhead is conquered, I must make do with the streams which issue forth from the source. Runnels that trickle in a shape similar to Horseshoe Falls. That would be fine and dandy if I suffered from male pattern baldness. Or if, perhaps, I was a monk who had given myself a severe trimming of my bangs. Because when I step into the shower, my back to Mount Showerhead, expecting a sprinkling of droplets like nature's own rain...I am sorely disappointed. There is no water in the center of the spray.

I've tried twisting and turning the golden grate of Mount Showerhead. With mixed results. Rogue rivulets shoot toward the ceiling, the shower door, over my head, down onto the shower floor in front of my feet, depending on how far I spin that metal dial. Hick must approach the summit with a different route. Because once I maneuver that third-rate-watering-can spout into a pattern of water flow that is acceptable, it only lasts for one shower. By the next day, it's back to the base camp. Time to formulate a new plan of attack.

Perhaps I'll pen a book-length tale of my struggle to master Mount Showerhead. I already have the title: Into Thin Hair.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What Drives Val Over the Edge?

In the middle of cutting tags off The Pony's new school clothes, and doing laundry, and cooking supper, I took a jaunt through the living room on the way to harvesting more dirty clothes. As I passed a stack of clean towels folded on the back of the couch, I spied something odd in the La-Z-Boy. Contrary to popular opinion, it was not Hick. Though he was the last person to sit there. And he is, indeed, odd. Hick had arisen mere moments before, stating that he was going to take his Mule for a ride. The four-wheeled kind of Mule.

I moved closer to the La-Z-Boy. What could that be? Then I recognized the offending object. No. It couldn't be. Could it? There is the edge of slothfulness, and then there is the abyss. What I spied in Hick's recliner sent me cartwheeling over the precipice of curiosity, deep into the ravine of disgust. What portion of a man's brain could possibly tell him that this is acceptable?

In case you can't quite tell from that photo, allow me to provide a closeup, courtesy of Genius and his latest expensive lens.

Yes. It's a banana peel. One from which the banana has been consumed. This is the part that people slip on in cartoons. The part that certain people sit on in my house. AND THEN WALK AWAY AND LEAVE IT IN THE LA-Z-BOY!

My domestic life is an uphill battle. I am the Sisyphus of housewives.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Feelin' Meeley

In my travels about the internet today, I found out that Arlee Bird had a childhood fondness for colorful Cowboys & Indians. I, too, enjoyed a good bag of plastic combatants back in the day. Cowboys, Indians, army men, Frito dinosaurs...all provided a pleasant interlude from running around the neighborhood barefoot, playing kick the can.

But my most favorite toy was a Johnny West collection. I had Johnny, Jane, Jay, and Josie. They had clothes and horses and tack and guns and cooking utensils and dogs and a Jeep with a trailer and a buckboard wagon and a cardboard ranch. Everything a plastic poseable family could want. Here's a family photo I found on the internet:

 And their method of transportation when they didn't want to saddle up:

When they wanted to rough it:

And the old homestead:

When I wasn't riding the range with the Wests, I loved a rousing game of Feeley Meeley. The object of the game was to reach into a hole in the box and grab the item that you needed for the card that you drew. No fair peeking, either. It's called Feeley Meeley, not Lookey Mookey. The box looked like this:

And you had to find these items:

Yeah. That's what kids played with back in the day. Not Nintendos. Not X-Boxes. Not phone apps. It was a simpler time. We read books from the library, or ordered at school through Scholastic. Books like Trixie Belden and the Bobbsey Twins and the Boxcar Children and the Black Stallion mysteries and Misty of Chincoteague. A Kindle or Nook? Bwah, ha, ha! We would have laughed ourselves silly at that thought. We listened to our music on transistor radios. I had a little red rectangular one in a brown leather case, with a strap. And later, I had a ball-shaped Panasonic that was the epitome of coolness. We could buy albums to play on our stereos, or hit singles, for which you needed a little round plastic dealybobber to get your turntable to play it at the right speed. Because singles were 45s, not 78s. That stood for rpm. How many revolutions per minute your vinyl disc made.

Calculators cost a fortune, and Texas Instruments cornered the market. Kids would not be caught dead carrying a backpack. Everybody had a blue cloth-covered ring binder with loose-leaf paper, yellow #2 pencils with Frito Bandito erasers, and called each other on party lines by first dialing a two-letter/one-number exchange. For example, PL6-4983. The lunch ladies served up real home-cookin' in the cafeteria, like beans and ham, or chicken pot pie, or beef stew, or fried chicken. Sides were lima beans or stewed tomatoes or spinach (with vinegar dispensers on the tables). Dessert was gingerbread or cake or vanilla ice cream in plastic cups with cardboard lids and flat wooden spoons. We ran around on our two recesses playing tag and kickball, and had P.E. every day where we did calisthenics and played dodgeball and suffered through interminable tumbling units. Every so often, we had a drill that had something to do with those yellow hazard triangles placed all around the school. And in the summer, school was the place to go eat a sugar cube with some kind of vaccine on it.

Funny, the things you start to remember without even trying.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How "The Help" Cost Me $522.24

I arose a half hour early today, all excited about seeing The Help. I know it opened August 10. Today was the earliest I could work it into my busy schedule. My mom rearranged lunch plans with my sister so she could go with me. The Pony had no choice. We put off picking up his 8th grade schedule until afternoon, just so we could go to the first showing at 10:00 a.m. Genius called after getting his own schedule, and said that he, too, would like to see The Help, and that he would meet us at the theater at 9:30. We go early to get the seats we like. In the back. Four to a row, so people don't crawl over us. Not that we expected a big crowd so early on a weekday. Besides, school starts Monday, and I won't have time to go after the next few days.

Our little convoy lined up in the parking lot. It's a twenty-mile trip from my house to the movies. A little shorter for my mom. We sent The Pony to see if the doors were open. Not yet. They said it would be ten or fifteen minutes. A van arrived with two women. "They look like Helpers", I said. "I hope they aren't here early to get our seats." Another car arrived. A woman went around front to the door. "We'll see if she gets in. She looks like a Helper, too." That woman came back. She got in her car and left. My mom thought maybe she was buying her ticket for a later showing.

After fifteen minutes had passed, my mom went to see if the doors were open. No. The women in the van told her they would open at 10:00. That's what the manager told them when they checked. We waited. We wondered why the doors would open at 10:00 if the movie started at 10:00. That's poor business practices. The workers were there. The audience was there. I'll be gosh-darned if I'm going to miss the previews and the movie to buy overpriced popcorn and soda. Good thing I brought my kids, to stand in line for me. Normally, this place opens thirty minutes before the first movie starts.

FINALLY, the manager opened the door and motioned invitingly. The van Helpers out-hoofed us. As we walked in, the manager asked what we were there to see. "The Help!"

"Oh, that's a problem. We don't have The Help."

"I checked your website for the time. It says you have The Help!"

"We were supposed to have The Help. But our distributor pulled it."

"Then you should get it off your website."

"Maybe you can watch something else."


We left. Genius has already seen the Harry Potter, and The Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I had no desire to see Captain America or Cowboys and Aliens. I was not happy. We drove all that way for nothing. While we were in a town with two shoe stores, I took the boys for school shoes. From there, Genius went to pick up school supplies for himself. The Pony and I went to pick up his schedule, and then his own school supplies and some clothes. Genius called to ask if he could spend the leftover money on lunch. The Pony had eaten no breakfast, so he needed lunch.

When I tallied the receipts, and added in the wasted gas for the movie trip, I was out $522.24 for The Help. Good thing I'm a teacher and make the big bucks.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Nonsticky Situation

I cannot figure out how the masking tape I use in my classroom is not sticky enough to keep pictures on the wall, but when I remove the limp, spent pieces, I cannot get the sticky off my fingers. After three scrubs with Germ-X.

Throughout the school year, I arrive in the morning to find posters and old calendar photos littering the floor. They must fall off overnight, when the temperature or humidity changes. But when I try to pick them up, they are stuck to the floor. Because things always fall sticky-side down, you know. I could understand if it was just the laminated evacuation directions, the ones that point out what to do in case of "torndado", fire, or earthquake. Because they're heavy. And no, I am not the one responsible for typing, printing, and laminating twenty posters labeled "torndado".

Years ago, I found out that such unsticky masking tape was really hard to remove from the back of the paper or cardboard. It would rip hunks right off. So I cut the little loopy thing and smoothed down the flat piece of tape left clinging to the paper. Then I applied a new loop of tape to hang it again.

Don't even try to persuade me to try Sticky Tack. It has never worked for me. I think it has something to do with our glossy-painted concrete block walls. They are not a smooth surface. It's like a wall of warts. Smooth, white warts. That don't want to support classroom eye candy. At one school, I used white athletic tape. It lasted a good long time. But now I don't have access to it. And what you might think is the same stuff from Walmart is not. I've tried it.

The worst part is that no matter how sticky that old tape is on my fingers, it would not hold the poster on the wall for twenty-four hours. But it would hold my fingers to the wall for twenty-four hours.

This has got to be part of some bigger conspiracy. Like the missing furniture wheels.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Mensa Brain Trust Reinvents the Wheel

Yesterday, I went to school with the purpose of putting my classroom in shipshape before the students arrive next week. The Pony went along to help, and Genius showed up later for the heavy lifting.

Last year, one of my rolling chairs inherited from the business lab suffered a major health crisis. He cracked a wheel. Still, he had five good wheels left. And if you could keep from rolling, he proved to be a regular throne in comparison to the hard plastic student seats. But the time came when I had to hang a "Broken Chair" sign on his back. That's because you really don't want the principal choosing him as a perch when he comes in to evaluate you.

I had another rolling chair just like Brokey. But he was not as comfortable. His back would not adjust to my back. Let's call him Inflexible. On the last day of school, I left the sign on Brokey's back. I didn't trash him, because some boys kept offering to take him to the shop and superglue his cracked wheel. Time got away from us, what with their final projects needing to be finished.

I returned yesterday to find Brokey, Inflexible, and a new chair in town. New Chair was exactly like the other two, but with all parts working. I came up with the idea for Genius to take the back off Brokey, and put it on Inflexible. Then I would have another sound seat, and we could do away with old five-wheel and stuck-back. I ran this by the custodian, who said that sounded fine to him, just carry Brokey to the equipment room so his exposed screw did not scuff the newly-waxed tiles.

Therein lies a mystery. What happened to Brokey's broken wheel? It was there all along. But if you turned wrong or leaned on that side, the wheel snapped and you could tip. If you propped it right, and sat still, Brokey didn't dump you. Stranger things have happened over the summer, when furniture is stacked in the hall during waxing. Having not staked out my equipment for nine weeks, nor viewed the surveillance tapes of the hallway, I can only imagine scenarios that might have led to the disappearance of Brokey's wheel.

Scenario 1-Wheelie fell off and was discarded. All equipment was carried back into the room. The crew wiped their collective brow. "Whew! That one's done. What's this? We even had an extra wheel left over. Huh. Throw that thing away before it scratches the wax." August wax is king.

Scenario 2-Wheelie was abducted by another teacher missing a chair wheel. "Hey! There's a wheel nobody's using. I might as well put it on my chair. No need to let that go to waste. There's no name on it." Because in the summer, it's finders keepers.

Scenario 3-Wheelie was chucked at a student during summer school. "Get back. I was first. There's enough water to go around. What's that? Man, this thing will hurt. Watch me nail Timmy between the shoulder blades." C'mon. Who among us hasn't picked up a loose chair wheel and had the urge to fire it at a friend?

No matter what happened to Wheelie, the fact remained that some type of intervention was necessary to salvage a seat. Genius borrowed a socket set from the custodian. The Pony handed him parts like an underage, unknowledgable surgical assistant. While I was away looking for the teacher resources for my new textbooks, Genius discovered that he could only remove the bottom seat cushion. The back cushion and metal part that wouldn't adjust were welded in place.

Then the lightning bolt of truth struck. That's why I was valedictorian, you know. Because I got some smarts. "Why don't you just take a wheel off of Inflexible and put it on Brokey?" He tried my brilliant plan. But my Genius could not make the wheels come off the chair. Unless he broke them. And that would kind of defeat the purpose. But it WAS the most sensible idea. If I do say so myself.

I hope nobody comes after New Chair. He was not marked. I found him in my room. But just in case, I'm going to flip him over and check his nether regions for a masking tape label. No need being caught red-seated.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Brought to You by the Letter "U"

The new school year is fast approaching, and I'm trying to decide if work will get in the way of my blogging schedule. I normally brainstorm an idea around 4:00, let is simmer in the back of my mind until 8:00, and then post it before 10:00. Once I'm working my real job again, my oodles and oodles of spare time will be limited to a couple of hours per evening.

Should I try to keep the same blogging schedule? I've toyed with changing it over the past week. I've been so clever in naming my blog with a letter from the bottom of the alphabet. It puts me low on the totem pole of blogrolls. I'm like the unknown comic. But without the paper bag over my head. Not because it hasn't been suggested. Even if blogs use that updatey thingy that puts the most recent posts at the top of the column, my timing still puts me at the bottom during the hours I assume most people read blogs. Though I imagine I'm quite popular with night-owls. And people who like the letter "U".

By posting so late in the evening, when sensible people are having family time or watching TV, I can get lost in the internet cracks. My little batch of followers may never see my enticingly-titled posts pop up in their Blogger reading list. Out of sight, out of mind. Like that petrified McDonald's cheeseburger that I found when cleaning out my Yukon to trade it for a Tahoe. The Yukon. Not the cheeseburger. But wouldn't THAT be a heck of a deal?

I could schedule my posts to automatically appear each morning, when people are having coffee and cinnamon rolls and living the carefree life, without ringmastering the big-top circus main act of corralling kids and backpacks and lunches and trombones before setting off to work. Or post it a bit later for working people to read on morning break. But that might create a problem if anybody at work discovered my clandestine writing hobby, and thought I was doing it on company time and employer's dime. Because I don't imagine the time-shifting argument would hold up very well with people who are not familiar with the concept, and without a concrete method of proof. So I never write or read blogs on the job.

Then there's the awkwardness of mind-juggling my tenses. If I sit down to write about something that happened during my day, I don't want switch yesterday for today, and day-before-yesterday for yesterday, and earlier this week for day-before-yesterday, and...see, it's already become tedious. And what if I was a drinking woman, which I'm not, but for the sake of argument, what if I said, "I'm so stressed out that I'm on my second bottle of wine." And there's the post with an 8:30 a.m. time stamp, and folks raising one eyebrow and sucking air through their teeth, thinking, "Val has a little problem."

After typing up this in-depth look at all the factors, I guess I'll keep my regular blogging schedule of night-time posting and comment-answering. Thanks for reading this little exercise in How Val Makes a Decision. I am now passing out the worksheets. Make sure your name is on it. You must turn in your worksheet before you leave.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What, the Fork?

When it comes to dish washing, I'm the one to come to. Or as my son, Genius, tells me, "Somebody really needs to wash the dishes, because we're out of forks."

The boy exaggerates a bit. The kitchen is never completely without forks. It's just out of the forks that he prefers. The short forks. That's what we call them around here, though if we were the Rockefellers, our servants would probably refer to them as salad forks. My boys like to use the short forks. I'm guessing that's because they can be maneuvered more quickly, cutting meal time down to a three-minute interlude instead of four.

It's bad enough that I am the only woman left on the face of the earth who does not have a dishwasher. At least I have the space below the kitchen cabinet reserved for one. But until one magically appears, I soap the dishes up by hand in my little Flintstone world, and leave them in the drainer to dry. Surely you don't expect me to dry them as well as wash and rinse them. Mother Nature can assist me in that chore. Why waste a perfectly good step in the water cycle, we science teachers always say.

A few days ago, I caught Genius eating with a regular fork. A long fork. I thought my little boy had finally grown up. Even though, at the time, he was squatting on his heels on a stool at the cutting block. "Oh, I see you are using a long fork today."

"Well, I tried to find a short one. I reached in the drainer and pulled out a long fork. Then I tried again, and pulled out another long fork. The third time, it was still long. So I gave up and decided to use it."

I started putting away the silverware. "Why aren't the long forks in the silverware drawer?"

"Oh, I put them back in the drainer when it wasn't what I wanted."

That boy needs a refresher course in the law of probability.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Backing Up: The Argument

Hick and I are having a difference of opinion. Surprise, surprise.

He believes that the best tool for unclogging a toilet is a pot of hot water. You would think that with two teenage boys in the household, Hick would have had plenty of time and opportunity to research this issue fully. Yet he always falls back on his old stand-by: the pot of hot water.

I disagree. An industrial-strength plunger should be the tool of choice. Not one of those flimsy red Dollar Store plungers, that turn inside-out on the first little jab. I'm talking about a heavy-duty thick black plunger, perhaps ordered from a plumbing supply catalog.

To support my argument, I present the following facts:

Number One: I have never seen a plumber (in real life or in fiction) hike up his pants, scratch his head, and say, "Well, I've got to resort to my secret weapon, The Hot Water Pot." And then amble (they're paid by the hour, you know) back to his panel van parked at the curb, select a faithful copper-bottom from the pan rack hanging from its ceiling, fire up his wood-burning stove, empty two gallon plastic jugs of water into the pot, heat it up, and stroll back to the house. Several times.

Number Two: (heh, heh, number two, heh, heh, get it?) In my family home, my dad used a plunger. Or a snake. Or an old, unbent wire coat hanger.

Number Three: The clogging material, ahem, that Hick is trying to clear from the pipes is not what I would call dissolvable. Even in hot water. It's not like we're making gelatin here.

Hick begs to differ. Of course plumbers don't use this most effective method of unclogging stubborn blockages! They make money by the hour. Why would they use the simple method of a pot of hot water when they can fiddle around and take the entire toilet apart? Besides, you might see them using hot water, and then you would never call them again. There goes business. Down the drain. (That was my part. Hick was born without a funny bone.)

Hick believes my dad was just old-fashioned and unimaginative. He didn't understand that a plumber's snake can't bend around the angles needed to probe the nether regions of a toilet. I beg to differ on this one, because my dad had a snake light, and that thing bent seven ways to Sunday. In fact, I think that's how it got its name, snake. So it only stands to reason that a plumber's snake is flexible.

Hick says that of course hot water will dissolve the blockage. He disagrees that it's the force of the water that moves the clog along, and that a pot of cold water would work just as well to supply extra pressure. In my opinion, Hick needs to do an expose on Drano, because those folks would have you believe that hot water can not even dissolve a grease clog.

Next cat out of the bag, Hick will be patenting his hot water treatment in the health care arena. Surely a few injections of hot water can dissolve those fatty artery deposits.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Who Put the Lettuce in My Salad?

I have a confession to make. I cheated Hardee's out of $2.98. Plus tax. Shh...I don't know if I could handle a stint in the county jail. Or work on the chain gang, weed-eating the highway right-of-ways. I'm soft. Can't stand the heat. So I need to stay out of the kitchen. The kitchen that makes two taco salads and sells them to me for the 2/$5.00 price I quoted at the drive-thru from the coupon I said that I had. Which I DID have, but forgot to hand over with the money. Accidentally.

I told The Pony on the way home, "Oops! There's that coupon still in my pocket. I forgot to give it to the girl. I feel bad." The Pony did not reply. I interpreted that as acceptance for my scofflaw ways.

Karma has a way of Even-Stevening my sometimes socially-unacceptable antics. Once home, I put one of the salads in the refrigerator for Hick's supper. The other salad, my lunch, was accessorized with a drizzle of Frank's Red Hot Original Hot Wing Sauce, and a dollop of Save-A-Lot Senora Verde Mild Salsa. Then I chowed down.

Much to my dismay, the lettuce at the bottom of the taco salad was...LETTUCE! Not shredded. Large, leafy, LETTUCE! You could have plopped an infant in that leaf and called Anne Geddes to commemorate the occasion.

Or used two of them for a bun in a Hardee's Low-Carb ThickBurger.

But they did not belong in my one-pocket-discount taco salad. It's attention to detail that this generation lacks. Big lettuce = burgers. Little lettuce = taco salad. Somebody make up a poster and market it to Hardee's/Red Burrito franchises. Because I would hate to see this calamity befall any other unsuspecting taco-salad eater who can not complain because she stiffed the company $2.98. Plus tax.

I was so incensed that I swore I would never buy a taco salad from Hardee's again. Until I remembered that I still have a 2/$5.00 coupon.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Real Stand-Up Kind of Guy

Here's the latest in my continuing series I have named, "The Odd Things I Saw on my Rural Road Today."

The Truth in Blogging Law requires me to divulge that I actually saw this sight yesterday, after a medical visit and a bout of errand-running. Just outside the city limits, on my way home on two-lane blacktop, I was confronted by Denis Leary with a crewcut riding a buzz bike. He approached me in the oncoming traffic lane, standing up while coasting down a slight depression. Denis did not look a day under forty. He wore a dark T-shirt with cut-off sleeves, a pair of jeans shorts, and black shoes with white crew socks. His skin was like tanned leather. Still, those facts are somewhat unremarkable.

Of course, it wasn't the REAL Denis Leary. I'm sure he has a much better place to ride his buzz bike. But this guy looked just like Denis Leary, with shorter hair. And an extra layer of dirt.

Faux-Denis met my eye, then turned to look over his left shoulder for approaching traffic. I assume that's what he was looking for, at the risk of making an A$$ out of U and ME. I suppose he could have just been paranoid. But the problem is not with the reason that Denis turned, but with the act of Denis turning. No no no no no! As any diver or gymnast can tell you...the body follows the head. When Denis turned his head, his bike veered toward the center lane. The center lane that is quite a poor barrier when it comes to keeping a bicycle out from under the tires of a Tahoe.

Denis must have had an angel on his shoulder, because he turned back quick enough to see the error of his head, and jerked his high-rise handlebars. The buzz bike returned to its rightful traffic lane, and Denis and I parted ways.

Once a stand-up, always a stand-up, I suppose. Did Denis not realize that his style of riding was wasting a perfectly good banana seat?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Provisions 'R' Us

Who needs a calendar when you can tell the season by the Walmart aisles? Apparently, the new school year is sweeping down the plain like an Oscar Hammerstein lyric in a Shirley Jones musical.

I've been quizzing my boys about what items they need this year. Then I saw this: "I've Got Whos-Its and Whats-Its Galore". Which set me off, of course. Because I'm an insider. I know what gets used in a classroom. And I don't see the reasoning behind some of these required items on the lists my kids have been bringing home over the past ten years. Maybe an elementary insider can fill me in. But as a high school and used-to-be middle school teacher, I am suspicious. It's a conspiracy in the making.


KLEENEX - What are we doing, building a Homecoming Parade float during recess?
Pardon my math, but my classroom uses about 1 box of Kleenex per week during cold and flu season. At most, that's 36 boxes per year. Yet some of my boys' teachers have requested that each student bring 2 boxes of Kleenex for the classroom cupboard. Estimate 20 students per class, 6 classes per day...that's 360 boxes of Kleenex. Even if that teacher doubles up, and teaches the same set of kids twice a day, for example, as in English/Reading or Civics/History, that's still 180 boxes of Kleenex.

Believe me, kids don't go blowing their nose that often. Have you ever seen these teens and tweens? They are more likely to let that snot rope dangle to the tile and then SNIIIIIFFFFFF it back in than to get up and grab a Kleenex. Granted, not all kids will bring their 2 boxes. But that's still too many tissues for the estimated usage over the school year.

ZIP-LOC BAGS - Does the teacher bring a sack lunch?
The only time I've seen my kids bring home anything to do with a Zip-Loc bag was sight words written on cut-up manilla folders. Once. In elementary school.

INDEX CARDS - Who's writing a graduate thesis?
In high school, the students I teach talk of writing 1 research paper. In 10th grade. They need 5 index cards for source cards. And more to record information. Which not many of them use, because this is not the dark ages where they hike to a monastery to do research in books written on parchment with a quill dipped into a cow-horn of ink made from roots and nuts. They use the internet on school laptops, and save their information on the student drive.

DRI-ERASE MARKERS - Fill out a requisition already!
I only know of one elementary grade in which my kids used a piece of white board at their desk to write things with these markers. But a lot of teacher lists include this item. Students should not have to buy classroom supplies for the teacher. We give them free lunch and breakfast, by cracky! Surely they can learn for free as well.

MAGAZINE RACKS - What is this, a classroom or a waiting room?
One year in elementary school, the kids needed a magazine rack. They said it was to put their workbooks in. I suppose their desks were too full of Zip-Loc bags and index cards and dri-erase markers. But seriously. What kind of masochist wants 20-30 kids with magazine racks under their desks. That's stuff my nightmares are made of. That, and sentences ended with prepositions.

You might think that when you send a 12-pack of pretty paisley pencils, or those manly camouflage #2s, that your child will be happily scrawling away on the loose-leaf wide-ruled 500-page pack of paper that you sent so loving on the first day of school. Au contraire. Those items go into a community bin to be stored in the pantry for when somebody needs one. They are doled out randomly by the teacher. If you want your child to actually use the items you pick out, send them a couple weeks later, in the backpack, clandestinely. Because in elementary classrooms, what you thought was yours is theirs.


What do I require my high school students to have for class? A notebook and a pen. Period.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hot Enough For Me

Funny how the air conditioner unit that wasn't broken two weeks ago that my husband scheduled a repair appointment for...stopped working last night. Not funny, ha ha. Funny, conspiracy theory.

That last repair man charged $79. That's for the house call from Dr. Air Dud. After his visit, Hick bought some cleaner-in-a-can and sprayed our coil or ducts or both. It was like going to the doctor when you gouge a skin canyon into your forearm on nails in the garage wall that hold fishing poles, and the doctor tells you to go to Walmart and buy some triple antibiotic ointment and treat yourself. But without the tetanus shot.

This new repair man walked up to the porch, said he thought it was the capacitor before I even spoke my speech that Hick had prepared for me, and elaborated, after my eloquent oratory, "Like I said, it's the capacitor." He went around back and fiddled for a while, then came in and told me he'd used an entire can of wasp spray because a horde attacked him. Funny how they never attack anybody in the pool three feet away.

The diagnosis was...guess what. A bad capacitor. Did you know that every call he made this morning was for a bad capacitor? For all I know, he made it up after watching Back to the Future. The bill was $79 for the house call, $136 for the capacitor, and $50 for labor. Which brings several questions to mind:

1-How much of that labor charge paid you to spray wasps under my deck?

2-Where's my old capacitor?

3-Am I going to have something else go bad two weeks after your visit?

I'm always suspicious. If Hick was here, I might go along without question. Upon hearing the tale, Hick said, "I probably could have picked up a capacitor for $20 and put it in myself. But I would have needed to turn off the unit and take the old one to the supply store to make sure I bought the right one, and then you would have been without air conditioning for a day." Hick does business with this company at his job. After one service call concerning the heating portion of this heat pump, he called the boss to complain, and the bill was reduced considerably. I don't think that's necessary this time.

But the conspiracy theorist in me says that there's a roving band of repairmen switching out parts so repeat house calls are needed at short intervals. I have a suspicious nature.

At least I can fume about it in my cool, cool house, happy that Hick has connections to wangle a heating and cooling house call the morning after the AC breaks. The porch thermometer read an even 100 at 5:00 p.m.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Somewhat Inappropriate Example

Several years ago, on my other blog, I vented about a subject that rankled me. That's what blogs are for, right? I was annoyed with commenters who go out of their way to be world-class a$$ki$$ers. I'm not talking about regular commenters who are friendly with the blogger. I'm talking about people who comment on hugely popular blogs, the blogs with hundreds of comments per day. Did you ever notice how nobody disagrees with such bloggers?

I'm not saying that popular bloggers deserve to be disagreed with. It's not like they're bragging about eating fetuses, or making jeans out of human skin. But sometimes, commenters justify things that I find appalling. Maybe the popular blogger wiped a hamburger bun on his butt and served it to a rude customer. Or told off her child's principal after Sonny was suspended for missing 43 days of school. Yet the commenters fall all over themselves congratulating the blogger for such behavior. Do people do this to look cool? To draw traffic to their own blogs? In hopes of getting listed on the blogroll? How many new points can be made after the first 100 comments? "I agree." "Right on." "I did the same thing." What's the point of comments like that?

Because I am a spiteful, jealous old hag, I am going to pretend I am a popular blogger. Here's a post from my fictional, widely-read blog named:


Sunday, February 31, 2013

Yep, it's that time again--time to go harvest the eyeballs out of the kittens. I had to drive over to the kitten coop, since we moved it from the back yard to our new farm, The Kitty Ranch. My kids should be OK for the five or six hours that I'll be gone. I put Angus in the pet carrier again, and handcuffed Mortimer to the bedposts. Had to cuff the legs and arms this time. Who'd a-thunk that boy could drag a four-poster bed all the way to the living room. He is extremely buff for a 5-year-old. As a precaution, I gave Angus his granddaddy's pistol in case Mortimer gets loose and starts poking him with the butcher knife again. Angus has darn good aim for a 2-year-old.

Do you think I'm rushing the harvest with these 3-week-old kittens? I get a better price for the tender eyeballs. Once they've aged a few more days, they toughen up, and I lose one cent per eyeball. That really adds up. The kids love the harvest season. All those leftover kitties to play with (and by play, I mean dropping them in the sinkhole, chasing them with the 4-wheelers, lining them up for target practice, seeing whose dog can catch the most, betting on which one falls off the porch first, etc.).

Tonight I am using some of the fresh kitty eyeballs to make a delectable chutney to serve with my rack of lamb. Pomegranate, kiwi, pawpaw, kumquat, and fresh kitten eyeballs. Yum! I can hardly wait. In fact, I'm going to get started right now. Tomorrow, I'll let you know how it turned out.

posted by THE SH*T at 2:47 p.m.  ...comments  10 sh*tters sh*tting

Butt-Smoocher says...
Great post, SH*T! I love hearing about your daily life. Can't wait to hear how that chutney turned out!

Snooty McSnooterson says...
My kids love it when I send some fresh kitten eyes with caviar and toast points in their lunch for Montessori school.

ChesterM says...
It would be my pleasure to babysit them SH*T kids! Any time, any place. Preferably that isolated ol' woodshed ya got out back.

Miss KissieA$$ says...
There's nothing like fresh kitten eyes to add a burst of flavor. I like to make my own pizza dough from scratch, then layer fresh mozzarella, kitten eyes, and sun-dried tomatoes. So simple, yet so delicious! Baked on my pizza stone in my wood-burning oven, it is TO DIE FOR!

WorldsBestMom says...
Ain't kids a blessing? My Zebulon could shoot before he could walk.

Cocoa Nose says...
My Dear Hubby loves the smoothie I make him with kitten eyes, mango, and fresh-squeezed goat's milk! You ROCK, TS!

Voice of Reason says...
Um...maybe it's just me, but popping out kittens' eyes is illegal in my state. Could I substitute some other ingredient? Maybe those imitation kitten eyes that are made from tofu? Walmart has them in the deli. :)

Sycophant says...
We love the eye-harvesting season, too! Nothing like popping those puppies out with your thumbs and filling a bucket in no time! Haha! I crack myself up! I referred to kitten eyes as 'puppies'! Haha! Love your blog! I'm adding you to my blogroll.

A$$munch says...
Great Googley Moogley, where is that ignorant Voice from, Missouri? And Psychophant? Any fool knows that kitten eyeballs must be popped out with a silver-plated platinum eye-scoop with a filigreed handle. What a freak! I bet she's still doing it under the light of a full moon, and wearing overalls instead of silk pajamas. Country bumpkin!

THE SH*T says...

Yeah, I'm gonna block Voice's IP. I don't need his kind of sh*t here. How dare he discredit me on my own blog!

You're right about Psychophant, A$$munch! Freakin' hayseed!

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a real blog entry. It is not intended to imitate any blogs I have or have not read. It is a general statement about how I perceive some comments to be ridiculous. It is only MY opinion. I have five cats, they have all been neutered, and amongst themselves, they have ten good eyes. That's "good" as in working eyes with which they see. Not as in delicious.