Thursday, August 7, 2008

I Love Irony. But Cooooome Ooooon!

You call the local pizzeria. Your phone number shows on their Caller ID, and they ask if you want "The Usual." (Large veggie, hold the onions, double eggplant.) Affirmative, it arrives at your front door in 20 minutes.

Ditto, the Great Wall of China. Tofu with broccoli. And free veggie eggrolls.

You call the Automated Customer Service Number on the back of your credit card to get your balance. Which you will pay off in full, because you just had a GREAT yard sale. It recognizes your number, asks for the corresponding Zip Code, and gives you the info you seek.

The pharmacy recognizes your number, and asks you which of your prescriptions you would like to refill (and they offer to call your doc for expired 'scrips, to boot.)

The county tax info line knows exactly who you are based on your phone number. They REALLY want your money, and plug you into their "Pay Your Tax Bill On-Line" page immediately.

Then, you call the Local Phone Company. To report "buzzing" on your line. You are connected to a robot, who asks you to input your phone number. The phone number you have with the FREAKING PHONE COMPANY. And, then, the robot informs you, you MIGHT (will) have to input the number again down the line, "In order to provide outstanding Customer Service."

You re-enter your number, after selecting the option of "noise on the line."

The "noise on the line" department is closed, but they will respond the next business day.

You are asked to input the number where you can be reached. Hello, by the Phone Company. Who knows full well where you can be reached. Forget that they also provide your cell service, and your Internet.

Maybe these folks could learn something by ordering takeout.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Tax Holiday. Not Exactly a Walk in the Park.

Something - indeed, several things - have compelled me to purchase a laptop computer:

A) I have this overwhelming urge to join (after 8 years) the 21st century;

B) The husband wants my desktop for his office;

C) I live a carefree (ha) and nomadic (true, that) life;

D) I love PURPLE! There is a purple laptop out there!; and

E) This weekend is the GA "Tax Holiday."

How could I resist? So I spend half the afternoon researching options and talking to Geek Son via phone. I wait on "Live Chat" with Dell for 45 minutes to find out that tax holiday applies on line. I get an on-line price; with a 7 to 10 day shipping delay.

Hubby really NEEDS the desktop, to read Yahoo Sports and order Todd Snider CDs via Amazon. 7 to 10 days is a long time. And I REALLY want the purple laptop... so I head to the local Big Box Store, where they are handing out numbers to LOOK at the laptops, because it is a Tax Holiday.

I get to the front of the line, where the "Specialist" tells me they do not carry what I want. They can't order it, because it isn't even on their website.

I look at some other things with the "Specialist", who tells me (sotto voce) that the computer I am looking at on line is superior to what she has.

I check out two other stores who do not carry on-line model, either. And they are not even giving out numbers, so they look like a Chinese subway at rush hour. That reminds me to

Order Chinese food.

I eat tofu while Geek son comes by to see what I am planning to order.

I get approval from Geek son, except for the Windows Vista operating system, which is more despicable than beets. You might have your own parameter, but for me, it doesn't get worse than beets.

Click to buy. Go through verrrrrrry slow checkout.

Get confirmation of order from Dell.

Get call from Bank, who assumes that purchase is fraudulent because I used an old (but still valid) credit card number - even though the old card is not expired, and the old card was used successfully just hours ago to buy linen pants (on sale). I am informed that I must call Dell with new number.

I get email from Dell because card was rejected.

I call Dell Customer Service to give them the new number. I talk to a nice Indian woman (Rani) who says "the system is down, call back in two hours."

I e-mail Dell. Get response that says to call Credit Card Services.

I call Credit Card Services, which is closed until 10 AM Monday.

I get email from Dell asking whether to re-run old card.

I call the Bank to get authorization to re-run, using the old number.

I am told that old number was eliminated when new cards were activated. Even though old cards are not yet expired.

I ask to speak to supervisor.

I get transferred to "Authorization."

I get accidentally transferred to "Customer Service."

I explain my story to a person who says that the old number is not eliminated, and is still OK for 90 days.

I get fraud alert lifted.

I e-mail Dell to tell them to re-run old number.

I pray.

I fix drink. Stiff drink.

Holidays are not for the feint of heart.

Friday, July 18, 2008

So, This Would be Pretty Funny. If it Happened in Real Life.


(Somewhere in Alabama...)

Person A has a rental SUV. Person A and Person B have gone to Walmart, to buy a bunch of bulky things like plastic laundry baskets and a gas can, because they have a rental SUV.

The SUV starts flashing and dinging that it is getting hungry - AWFULLY SOON AFTER ITS LAST MEAL, IF YOU ASK ME - and Person A (PA, for short) pulls into a hugantic ginormous mega gas station where the gas is a penny cheaper a gallon than the last fillup, which makes PA almost giddy.

Person B (PB) leaps out of the passenger seat to pump. PB has had a very long day selecting laundry baskets and gas cans and a mower to go with the gas can, and eating a big breakfast. PB is not on the top of PB's game. PB inserts a credit card to pay for fuel, but the credit card never comes back out of the slot.

Because it is the slot from which receipts emerge.

PB uses some colorful language, which attracts the attention of PA. PA exits car and looks in slot, where PB has already looked. Credit card is baaaaaaarely visible, but they both note that it might be extractable. PA has smaller fingers, and attempts to reach it; to no avail. PA suggests that PB alert the staff of the hugantic ginormous gas station; who might have a key to open the front of the pump.

PB is not excited about admitting to sticking a credit card into the receipt slot.

PA suggests buying a pair of tweezers from the attached convenience store. Maybe a private extraction is possible. PB goes indoors to shop for tweezers.

Meanwhile, PA thinks that it might be possible to open a keyring, slide it on either side of the sliver of visible credit card, squeeze the ring, and ease the card out.

Oh, so carefully, PA conducts the delicate maneuver...holds PA's breath, and...SUCCESS! PA fills tank with gas.

PA is deliriously happy. PA reaches into rental SUV, grabs the keys from the console, locks the doors with the inside push-button doorlock, closes the driver's door and rushes into the convenience store to share the good news with PB.

PA encounters PB in the doorway. PB has had no luck buying tweezers. PB admitted the credit card gaffe to the amusement of the very large staff of the hugantic, ginormous gas station; and borrowed some toenail clippers from one of them.

PA and PB rejoice together, return the nail clippers, and head back to rental SUV. Where PA realizes that the keys in PA's hand are not for the rental SUV. They are for the car in the garage at home.

And the rental SUV is locked, safely securing the laundry basket and gas can from highway bandits.

PA goes into convenience store to face 10 snickering gasmongers. It is not the first time they have heard this story, but it IS the funniest. Fortunately, they know the number for the Heavily Tattooed Locksmith. They call him, and offer PA and PB, who are vegetarians, a hot dog while they wait.

The Heavily Tattooed Locksmith arrives, and asks PA the year model of the rental SUV. PA has no idea. HTL tries many high-tech wedgy-ratchety-inflatable-bendy tools that look like they would come in handy in prison. They do not open the rental SUV.

HTL looks in his trunk, where he finds a coat hanger. Success. HTL gets a bunch of money, and a tip.

PA and PB go home without filling gas can for lawn mower. And decide not to use credit cards anymore.

Yes, that would be pretty funny, if it happened in real life. Oh, my - is it 11 already? the SUV has to be back by noon! Gotta dash.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Give Me a Hand!

I make jewelry. My jewelry is handmade by my own two hands (and sometimes a foot or an elbow for stability's sake, but they have no place in this story and I'm getting sidetracked as usual.) Because my jewelry is handmade, it is unique. Even if I try to make the exact same thing I just made, it will be a little different the second time.

I sell my jewelry here at Etsy - a site for artists who make things by hand. This serves as a disclaimer. Everyone who comes to Etsy to shop knows (or can read, in big, bold letters) that Etsy is a marketplace for handmade. People shop at Etsy to find things one-of-a-kind, or a bit off the beaten path (sometimes all the way over the cliff) or anti-department store, if they are feeling particularly negative.

"By hand" is good. But, pardon the intended pun, the hand stuff has gotten a little (come on, you knew it was coming) out of hand.

For example. Every restaurant worth its fleur-de-sel in a teeny tiny dish that you (and anyone else who has had the dish before you, or will have it after you) access via fingers has a "Hand-Cut Prime Rib," likely served with "Hand-Cut Steak Fries."

Now, A) I have no idea why fries are only for steak. I don't eat steak, and I like fries, so I think they are losing a large demographic of potential buyers suggesting that you can only get the fries if you get a steak. I mean, lots of people like a side of fries with, say, pizza. And besides, prime rib is not a steak, so why do the prime rib people get fries? And B) Could someone explain to me why on EARTH I would want anyone to touch my prime rib? If I ate prime rib, which I don't. But, does hand-cutting make the prime rib unique? Or is it a disclaimer so that people know that the sizes of the cuts of prime rib vary wildly, and they can't complain to the waitron (is that the PC term? Or is it "waitperson?") that his slice is bigger than your slice. The server can point (with a flourish) to the description on the menu and simply say, "Look, honey; you were warned. The Prime Rib is HAND-CUT. If you think you can do it better, have at it. The carver's parole restrictions limit his knife to 3 1/2 inches...I'd like to see you make anything but a mess with that. Oh, by the way. I gave you the smaller piece because, honey, you could really stand to lose about 20 pounds."

And another thing. Hand-ground meat at the grocery store. Why would I spend hard earned money on it (if I ate it, which I don't) when all those butchers are missing fingers?

Two blocks away we have the Touchless Hands-Free carwash, competing with the Hand-Detailed Carwash with Fancy Coffee Cafe. How to choose?

Hand-breaded fried chicken. It's OK at Mama's house, but not so appetizing at KFC.

Yesterday I saw a drive-thru offering "Hand-Spun Milkshakes." What do they do, juggle them? And what are they going to do with their milkshake machine now? I'll bet it broke, and they told the burger-flippers that their job description now includes juggling. Come to think of it, that place is represented by a clown. Clowns juggle. Savvy marketing ploy, no? Wish I could have been in on the Executive Strategy Marketing Initiative Leadership Media Relations Brand-Globalizing Council Meeting for that idea.

Yeah, I'm a hands-on kind girl, but I am definitely hands-off my food. Indifferent about the carwash thing.

Oh, and if you plan to move a king-sized Tempurpedic mattress (along with about 4 bazillion tons of other stuff) from a fourth-floor condo down a freight elevator and into a 16-foot rental truck that stands about 5 feet off the ground, be sure the lift gate works before you drive it off the rental lot. Just saying.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Isn't She Lovely?

I won! The Arte Y Pico Award! Many thanks to Ronalyn, discoverer of all things artistically interesting, over at A World of Creativity for the honor. Ronalyn, herself a recipient, chose our blog (along with 4 other fabulous bloggers - you can read about them here) because, in her words, "this girl is smart and funny, her cats are cute and I like it." Ronalyn, so sorry to disillusion you, honey. The Kitties tell me what to write, generally after waaaay too much catnip. And, yes, they are cute. Which is why they are still around after throwing irreplaceable handblown glass lamps to the hardwood floor.

But, I digress. I just LOVE the pretty award lady, all dressed in - how did they know? - PURPLE! And I didn't have to find a dress for the Awards Ceremony, I accepted the trophy in my pajamas. Of course, since I heard the news, I have been working on an acceptance speech. Here is what I have, so far:

You like me! You really like me! Oh, wait, that's been done before...

I would like to thank all seven of my blog readers, especially Ronalyn, who likes cute Kitties. And my mother, for spraying FeBreeze down the vents when there was a dead thing in the basement. I loved writing that post. And my friend David, for slogging through treatment for colon cancer, and getting a ZERO on his circulating tumor test, BIG YAY!, and giving me a reason to blog about colonoscopies. And my dad, for persevering through 13 different doctors who thought they had the answers to his dizziness. And laughing at his own convoluted treatment regimen when I documented it. And, of course, those cute Kitties. Who are not much on Thank-Yous; and are rolling in catnip at this very moment. They look like breaded pork chops with legs.

I'd better not forget my friend, Penelope; and Stacy and Clinton. But I have to say, those constant emails angling for prominence in yet another post is getting old, guys.

Speaking of Stacy and accept the Arte Y Pico award, I have to agree to The Rules. Now I have to decide on future recipients, like this:

1) I must choose 5 blogs that I consider deserving of this award by virtue of creativity, design, general interest, and contribution to the blogging community, regardless of language (the Arte Y Pico site is in Portuguese. Did I ever tell you about the time I was in Lisbon and I thought I asked the waiter for a napkin? When, in fact, I asked for a sanitary napkin? It would be best to use an online translation site if you want to read the Arte Y Pico blog, rather than asking for my help.)

2) Each award must include the name of the author and also a link to the blog, so that everyone can visit.

3) Each award winner must display the award and include the name and link to the blogger who bestowed the award.

4) The award winner, along with the award giver, must include a link to the "Arte Y Pico" blog.

5) The Rules must be displayed.

So, like I'm not busy enough picking up lamp shards and growing organic catnip; now I have to go blog shopping. Geez...I can't wait! Stay tuned. It might take a while, but you'll be the first to know when I make my decisions!

In the meantime, don't forget the auction for the displaced animals in Iowa, here. There are just a few days left! And I've got that BIG project moved from the back burner to the front burner. I will need your help.

Mwa! Mwa! (Air kisses!) Thanks for checking in, and thanks again, Ronalyn!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Who Needs an Alarm Clock?

When you have Sweet Little Dewi, the Precious Black Kitty.

Who recognized that I overslept this morning; and knew that would have grave consequences. Specifically, that Dewi's morning treats would be delayed.

7:15 AM: Poke, poke, poke

"Dewi, leave me alone."

7:15:30 AM: Poke, poke, poke

"Dewi, I mean it. Go away."

7:16 AM: pull, pull, pull strands of hair.

"Dewi, get lost."

7:16:30 AM: lick, lick, lick cheek.

"Dewi, that's disgusting. Shoo!"

7:17 AM: study on problem.

7:17:30 AM: poke, poke, poke handblown, irreplaceable glass lamp on nightstand. Poke really hard.

CRASH! Glass and animals scatter, scatter, scatter.

Kitties get treats to keep them out of glass shards during clean-up.

All - I have taken a little break from Funny this week, to make an auction item for a fundraiser benefiting the animal victims of the Iowa floods. The website is

and the auction begins on Wednesday, 25 June. Please bookmark the page, and check out the offerings later this week. And Dewi and I (along with the whole Frillz Furry Family) ask you to please be generous so that these animals and the people who love them can be reunited.

Also Coming Soon to This Blog...

A BIG project that will warm even the coldest heart. I am very excited to be a part of it, and I am going to beg you to hop on board.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Everything Old is New Again

I have always been rather proud of my cleverness. I can string together words and sometimes people laugh. I can make art out of trash, which probably wouldn't have gotten me a seat on a Titanic life boat. I can get a pill down a cat gullet, which I don't mention often, because my friends all have cat gullets in need of pills; and they are not shy about asking for assistance. And I usually know how to get from here to there, which used to mean a lot of panicked calls to my cell phone until I gave out GPS units one year for Christmas.

But now I realize my "clever" is really just "marginally clever." Maybe even just "kinda clever for a non-clever person." Possibly even, "well, she THINKS she's clever. What's the harm?" I have just faced Mega Clever, And I've had a two-hour drive to marvel over it. I have returned from the house my brother-in-law (with help and encouragement from my sister-in-law, of course) built.

Oh, so YOUR brother-in-law builds houses, too? I bet he feels very clever. But I'll also bet he doesn't build log cabins.

Yeah? He built one? Put the kit together all by himself in a week? Well, nanny-nanny-boo-boo...he didn't build it out of

raw trees.

No joke, BIL cleared a "footing" ("place to put a house", if you're not building literate) and peeled the resulting trees, which were now officially logs. I mean, I guess he peeled them. They don't have any bark anymore. They are about the size of interstate bridge pilings. I have trouble peeling thick asparagus.

Then he stood some up on end, and glued others lengthwise in between. I understand the concept, but I can't imagine how. The strongest stuff I know is Gorilla Glue, but I wouldn't trust it to keep a pile of eight foot long logs in an eight foot high, one atop another configuration. Maybe he used that stuff they show in the infomercial where they put a blob of it on the roof of a Volkswagen Beetle and stick a crane hook in the blob and crank the VW up to the top of a building. Which I think is a pretty stupid idea these days, given all the crane accidents. So now crane manufacturers are scrambling to prove that not only were none of those accidents their faults; but their cranes are also perfectly safe for lifting Volkswagens with blobs of Infomercial Adhesive.

Eventually, BIL made a Log Box. It had a main room and a sleeping loft; and an outhouse. So if nature called during the night, one had to shimmy down a ladder and walk through the wilderness to answer the call. Prompting my sister-in-law to maintain a 4 PM fluid intake cutoff, until BIL decided to add a real bathroom. (I think that was very clever on her part. A Fluid Boycott.)

There was a problem, though. BIL had used up all his native pine trees, and had also run out of friends and family to convince that "that pine there really needs to come down. A little bit of ice, and it's Hello Living Room! Hey, I just happen to have my equipment with me - let's deal with it and I'll haul it away for you." So he had to come up with a new method of tree collection.

You know when there's a storm and everything gets knocked around and amazingly a Good Samaritan in a flannel jacket shows up (with a gas powered chain saw) and kindly clears the road for you? And tells the local On The Scene news reporter "Just trying to help a neighbor..." That's BIL.

He next added a living room and a bedroom, using logs cleverly scavenged (with permission) from a logging site nearby.

Then he built a fireplace out of pieces of an old patio a friend replaced. (BIL marvels, "They were going to throw them away!") My repurposed candy wrappers and bottlecaps are now mere specks of dust in the recycling universe.

My sister-in-law pointed out a subtle but Oh-So-Clever touch in The House Made of Trees - the curtains (can't confirm or deny whether they were dyed by boiling them with local plants) are held back with, not ties! Oh, no! Antlers.

So I was thinking as I drove, these folks have it going on. They are prepared. Yeah, I can change a dead-bolt, and I can get my car radio out of "Safe Mode" (whatever that is. I think it means "doesn't work") without going to the dealership. In case of emergency (or getting chosen to be on a Reality TV Show) it is good to know how to build a house out of trees. And how to peel them, and stick them together.

I spend too much time on this computer. I am going to shut it down for the night, churn some butter.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Not a typo...a Yard Sale for ART! It's all over Etsy. Just jump through the portal below to see what The Kitties and I have contributed (in the section labeled "Yart Sale") and use our shop as a comfy home base to check out the other vendors! There are PEPSIs in the 'fridge, and extra pillows in the closet. And The Kitties will show you where we keep their treats. Have fun!

Nancy and The Kitties on Etsy

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I'm Not Wild About Harry

Harry is a neighbor who could make even Mr. Rogers cry. It is one of the great mysteries of life how Harry snagged a mortgage on what was once a showplace; decorated by an Artiste in a gold Lexus with a license plate that said "le peche." The couple who hired The Peach to decorate the showplace spent about 75% of their waking hours beautifying yard and pool, and the other 25% sipping perfect martinis poolside, with Frank Sinatra crooning in the background. Harry, well, he has "worked" in the yard once since he moved in; when the grandkids were coming to visit and it was impossible to enter the house through the front door because the bushes had grown through the railings and across the steps. After he cut the bushes (with a box cutter) he reverted to his normal routine, sitting by the algae-green pool with a bottomless beer, smoking assorted things like, but not limited to, cigarettes and cigars; and throwing the butts into the "swamp."

Harry gives new meaning to the concept of MacGuyvering. For instance, when the glass panel in his front door shattered about a year ago, he covered the opening (inside and out) with clear packing tape. You can hardly tell, except for sometimes the "glass" comes unstuck and flaps in and out of the house with the breeze. Then there's his clever solution to the "algae pond," which has been a problem for a few of the neighbors, resulting in complaints to the county and a few (unpaid) fines. Forget pricey pool chemicals. When it gets green enough to cause comment - approximately every 10 days or so - Harry just pulls the plug, then runs the hose for a few days to refill it.

Which might have something to do with the fact that his water bill has apparently been, um, neglected for some time. Like long enough to earn him a disconnect. I wasn't aware of this, and would have been very happy in my ignorance-is-bliss; had the county not accidentally cut off our water instead of his.

The very day after the air conditioning decided to take its annual summer vacation. Don, our amazing Fix-It Guy, is very proud to have coaxed 21 years (so far) out of our antiquated HVAC system. Once when the "fan basket" (who knew we had one?) broke (or that they could break?) Don told us not to worry. He saw one on the ground behind the Dairy Dip in Hopeville, and he would fetch it. So I can't exactly entrust the system to anyone else. It likes Don. Don likes it. But Don can't get out here until the first of next week because of a crisis with the A/C at the Sizzler; and so we swelter.

With no water. Not having a clue why we were dry, I called the county water department. There is an outage 3 zip codes south, says the Customer Service Representative; after I have been assured that this conversation could be monitored for quality assurance. I replied that I didn't think that was close enough to affect us. "Please hold a moment" gave me enough time to log in to on-line banking, check that I had paid the water bill (whew,) see that it had been processed by the water department (double whew!) and bake two batches of chocolate chip cookies with coconut chips instead of the chocolate, and walnuts rather than pecans. And let the dogs out twice.

Finally, the Customer Service Representative returned, thanked me for holding, and explained that our water had been disconnected "in error." But she was going to write a "Service Ticket" and it would be "Highest Priority" and someone would be dispatched posthaste to turn the water on.

I gave thought to dragging our hose to Harry's pool deck, site of his outdoor faucet, to hook it up and collect the water that was Rightfully Ours so that I could at least flush; until a cursory peek out of an upstairs window yielded the following:

The pool deck was inhabited by a very large woman in a hot pink bikini and a thick coating of very shiny oil sunning herself (and swatting flying things) by the opaque, emerald-green, uh, hole in the ground.

So I deadheaded gardenias instead. In the 100 degree heat. Sweated myself silly, sure I'd have a shower waiting. Came back inside to find, 3 hours later, no water. I called the county again, and got a different Customer Service Representative (probably second string, because all the regular folks were at lunch) who told me this was all news to them, there was "no report on our account." She took the information grudgingly (because she didn't get to go to lunch until the Important Customer Service Representatives returned) and I could tell she thought I was scamming her. Again, she promised me "highest priority."

I'd hate to be "lowest priority", which might be sometime after the next ice age. (Oh, Ice! Glorious ice! I would wallow in ice! I would crunch it, caress it, worship it!) Four more hours passed, and closing time for Customer Service was imminent. I called again and got yet another Customer Service Representative, who assured me that my "report" was "in the system" but I had to be patient. There were Many, Many Important Things that had to be attended to by the people who turned water off and on. I told her that I had small children at home (didn't mention that they had four legs and fur) and that I had to make their dinner. And that, if someone didn't show up soon, I would call back every three minutes until someone DID show up - and I would cry.

I think the Customer Service Representatives were getting tired of toying with me at this point. Fifteen minutes later a woman came to turn my water on, but she did not turn Harry's water off. I think her job is "On Only." An "Off Only" technician, or possibly an "On/Off Technician" is required to "Off" someone, which is clearly more dangerous than "Onning." Plus, the "Onner" was talking on the phone, so she might have been just too busy ordering dinner to "Off" Harry, even if she was qualified to do so.

Really, I don't care. No more Evian in the dogs' water bowl. I can wash lettuce for a salad. And I can rinse off that dang gardenia juice. Best of all, we can flush. Life is good.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Two, Four, Six, Eight! Colonoscopies are Great!

Easy for me to say. Mine is, ahem, behind me; and I don't need another one for a couple of years. You, however, are a different story. You, or someone you love, might be putting it off. So your Colonoscopy Cheerleader is here to Kick Some Chicken Butt.

You Can Do It! Let's Get To It!

Step number one: Call the doctor's office. You will be put on infinite hold. DO NOT HANG UP, even if you are really, really planning to call again tomorrow. Clean out that drawer with the warped birthday candles, ball of string and keys to cars you had in college. The Front Desk Lady will finally come back, and your drawer will be empty (except for two yellow candles and one green one that didn't look so bad.) When you explain to the Front Desk Lady that you would like to (well you wouldn't really LIKE to, but try to be polite) schedule a colonoscopy she will connect you to the Office of the Colonoscopy Scheduling Lady (and, no, the Front Desk Lady was not giggling as she transferred you.) Choose another drawer to work on, because the Colonoscopy Scheduling Lady will have to put you on hold while she checks the Colonoscopy Schedule. The Lady will return to tell you that she has one appointment next February, and a cancellation on Monday you want that?

Don't Be a Baby! Say YES! Not no, or maybe! Y-A-Y, You!

The good thing: you will not have to worry about having a colonoscopy for months before you have it. The bad thing: yes, you do have to cancel your Sunday dinner plans. You will, um, be catching up on your reading. But that new fusion Mexican Vietnamese restaurant will still be there next week. Maybe.

You, You Got It! You, You, You, You Got It!

The Packet Of Very Important Information. From the Doctor's office. Confirming your 7 AM appointment on Monday. Containing the prescription for two gallons of something that tastes like a can of Gatorade mixed with an entire box of baking soda, a canister of salt, a whole bottle of those little Saccharin pellets and some "lemon" flavoring concocted by a mad scientist who had just come from a Going Out Of Business Sale at the Mad Scientist Store.

And instructions, which tell you to drink one gallon of the something the night before the procedure. And to drink the other gallon FOUR HOURS BEFORE the procedure. Hmmm...7 AM minus 4 hours would be about 3 AM? It's probably safe to guess that you were not the only one "lucky" enough to ever snag a Monday morning 7 AM cancellation.

One Day! To Go! It's Time to Start This Show!

Sunday! Sunday! probably won't dawn with its usual happy possibilities. If you're going to church, I strongly advise the early service. You have laid in your supply of Jello (no red flavors,) unless of course you are me and you have a rule about not eating anything that wiggles more than you do. Then you have vegetable broth, ginger tea and water. Which might be enough to have you looking forward to the gallon of artificially flavored Gatorade, baking soda and Saccharin. Well, until the first sip. (My recommendation is to hold your breath and drink it, as fast as you can. It is not really, really terrible; but the shorter the time on the palate the better. And you are going to dream about that second gallon, ready and waiting on the kitchen counter, all night. Or at least until 3 AM.)

Be Strong! Be Good! Tomorrow You Get Food!

No cheating. Because if your doc can't maneuver that Mercedes of MiniCams around the ess turns and hairpin bends, you are quite literally SOL. And your doctor will be quite disappointed in you; perhaps recommending that Nurse Ratchet administer a serious enema next time.

I'm Here! I'm Ready! Let's Get This Done Already!

Worryworryworry your way to the hospital. Worryworryworry in the waiting room. Worryworryworry when they call your name. Stick you in a cubicle. Take all of your clothes (except your shoes? True that, so they have traction when they "rearrange" your legs, and your legs don't fall on the floor.) Give you a very thin sheet as cover, in a very cold cubicle. Worryworryworry when the chipper (who the H-E-Double Toothpicks is CHIPPER at 7 AM?) nurse asks if you are ready to go. Worryworryworry down the hall, into The Room. See lots of medical stuff, worryworryworry, get some ahhh anesthesia and ahhh have a lovely nap and ahh ask the nurse when you wake up 20 minutes later if you were good; and if so, could you take a little of that sleepy stuff home as a prize? Get dressed, get a visit from the doc who tells you that you had the cleanest colon he had seen all day (forget that it was also the ONLY colon he had seen all day) thank him for the compliment and go out to breakfast.

You Are A Champion!

It might occur to you that Blogging About Colonoscopies is weird, and that maybe Nancy and the Kitties are weird, too. You might be right. But, my mother is a colon cancer survivor. A very, very brave one. My friend, David, who I have know since before either one of us had to shave, is a colon cancer survivor. He could use your support, you can visit him here:

David's Caring Bridge Site

Colon cancer stinks. It is not funny. Bottom line - Wipe it out. Get a colonoscopy.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Canine Eating Disorders - The New Frontier!

The Brown Dog is a Food Snob. She comes by it naturally, because she was raised by a chef. (Who, I think, put her up for adoption due to the rising cost of truffle oil. She likes her scrambled eggs with a little spritz.) You can read about The Dog Who Loves Cauliflower here.

We have tried to dial down her palate by mixing the dreaded Dog Food into her jasmine rice with curried chicken. She successfully separated good from bad, and the floor was covered with curried kibbles, to the delight of the other hounds. We have left her home alone, with only Rachael Ray for company; in hopes that she would realize caviar is not a staple. We have secretly replaced her Roaring Forties blue cheese with Velveeta. And gotten The Look, and a flounce off to the bedroom, in return. It is hopeless. But at least she isn't a

Compulsive Overeater.

Fortunately, if your dog IS a CO, there is a treatment. Go to your vet and get a prescription for Slentrol. This oily liquid, dispensed daily via syringe on your dog's food, or directly into your dog's mouth will curb her appetite. You will notice she eats less, and gradually she will lose weight. Um, couldn't I just skip the whole vet thing and put less in her bowl to begin with? Hello?

Oh, but then I wouldn't be addressing the emotional component of her overeating. Maybe she is upset because her favorite stuffed squirrel is losing its stuffing. Or maybe she missed me when I went to the dentist last week. Time to call the Dog Whisperer, or maybe the Pet Psychic.

Thank goodness there is a potential cure for compulsive overeating in dogs, but what about other eating disorders? Like Canine Bulimia? Anorexia? I think yearly vet visits should include checking teeth for acid wear caused by binging/purging behavior. Forget Doggy Day Camps. What we need are Inpatient Treatment Centers for Canine Anorectics.

The pharmaceutical companies clearly have their work cut out for them, but they are making progress. I just hope that, once they cure these devastating dog diseases, they take a long, hard look at cats. I have a feeling there is a whole lot more to "finicky" than the wrong flavor of Fancy Feast.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Working From Home: All That and a Bag of Chips! or is it?

Do you think you want to work from home? Do you envision a beautifully organized "Home Office," full of Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and The Container Store "Systems?" A DayRunner with entries like:

Thursday, 8:15 AM - CALL MR. BIG! (lock barking dogs in basement bathroom first)

Thursday, 9:30 AM - Go to Starbucks.

Thursday, 10:00 AM - CALL MR. BIG AGAIN because he was not in at 8:15, but it's good to have a nice, early time stamp on voicemail.

Thursday, 10:30 AM - Doodle while catching up on TV shows and the weekend plans with office-bound peers.

Thursday, 1 PM - Record All My Children. Heck, the phone is quiet, just watch it. And do a load of laundry.

Thursday, 2 PM - Reheat leftover pizza. Eat while filling out expense report and playing solitaire (in a separate tab, of course.)

Thursday, 2:30 PM - Quit for day to make up for working through lunch. Go shopping.

Sound good? Go for it! But when you discuss your Work-From-Home Plan with the boss, it is IMPERATIVE that your agreement includes a Personal Emergency System Lanyard Alarm Button.

I work in my basement studio, and also wherever I happen to drag my jewelry parts. Sometimes I hammer metal on the deck. Sometimes I make silver curly-cues while I am talking to my mother about gout. And frequently I assemble necklaces in waiting rooms while my mother-in-law has physical therapy. I can, and do, work almost anywhere.

This morning I hit the ground running; well, after the requisite caffeine fix. Dealt with family business first. We needed rocks for a retaining wall, and some agave plants for the back yard. (FYI: There are no plans to brew tequila. Do you "brew" tequila? Ferment it? It's probably a good thing that tequila is not the plan.) I was on the phone, and on line for a few hours with this Personal Business before I got down to Impersonal Business. Still in my cute-but-indoor-only Vera Wang navy and white pajamas. With matching flip-flops. I was mixing resin, alone in my basement, and there is no dress code there.

Man-o-man, I was Exceeding Expectations! Great rock deals, the jewelry sparkled; and there was hummus and pita in the fridge for lunch. Life was good.

And then, the Old Dog looked kind of...squirmy. The way she looks when she really, really, really needs to go out. Let me pause a moment here to tell you that she is deaf, and virtually blind. And when she gets nervous she scatters about like a pinball.

I opened the front door; she dashed out. As did The Dog Who Has No Idea You Are Talking To Her. This one is a "rescue" from a puppy mill. She spent years in a concrete box, making cute puppies, with no human companionship whatsoever. Conversation is merely background noise to her. She understands nothing beyond the word "cookie.". She is happy now, in a generic way; but, like the blind person who has surgery at age 40 and discovers sight that makes no sense, she just doesn't get the idea that vocalizations relate to her.

The two rather challenged canines took care of business and headed straight back to the corral, because sometimes cookies are handed out if they have been good. I was standing outside on the front step, ready to lead them to their rewards, and grabbed the door handle, which

Fell off in my hand. Wait, FELL OFF??? The door handle just fell off. I was on the outside of the door. The door handle just fell off. I couldn't get into the house. Where I work. Where these creatures live. Where my cell phone is. And my clothes. What the...

My neighbors were all working in office complexes bordered with Windmill Palm Trees (hardy to Zone 3, I learned when I ordered the agaves.) No way to break in, All the doors and windows except this one have burglar bars. And my cute-but-not-so-socially-appropriate Vera Wang Pajamas with matching flip flops were not a good look for flagging down passing vehicles.

I willed myself to stop panicking and be resourceful...coerce the hounds to the back door. We couldn't get in because of the burglar bars, but I could trap the dogs safely on the deck and...think...think...think...of what to do next.

Except, the dogs decided they must be in trouble (or I was insane) because I was flailing about and making loud noises; so they fled in the direction of the nearest busy road. My flip-flops precluded effective chase. Calling a deaf dog and one who has no language skills is not very helpful, but I tried. Fortunately, they encountered a brick wall a few houses down; and turned around. To run the other way. Down in the gully, which leads to the lake. Brambles, rocks and probably sunning snakes. I needed a game plan. Fast. Scrambled up the deck steps and pretended to be eating something delicious. Made lots of yummy smacking noises, and pantomimed exaggerated eating behavior. The dogs stopped running and came toward me, obviously intrigued. (As were the neighbors, I'm sure.) But when they reached the deck to find me dragging the storage bench across the stairs and the "food opportunity" looking a little sketchy the suspicions returned; and they made another mad dash, this one back to the relative safety of the front door. Fortunately they were bordering on exhaustion, so I had no trouble threading the flower hose through their collars to immobilize them.

Forty-five minutes of "tag," now I could sit down to think.

Should I break a window? Could we climb in? (As the cats climbed out...) Would there be any way to reach the keys to the burglar bars through a window? Should we wait, tethered to the hose, for 5 hours until Son One returned from work to pick up HIS dog (who is barking at us from inside, because we are clearly trying to break in?) Maybe I should wiggle that little remaining piece of the handle a little more?

Wiggling seemed the least dangerous option, so I started there.

I wiggled to the left. To the right. Up, down; listening (between barks) like a safe cracker. Slowly, carefully, methodically. OK, obsessively. Maniacally. For a half an hour, and suddenly

I felt something "click." Said a prayer, pushed and

I was in the house. With clothes! And a telephone! And all the animals! Oops, except for the ones tied to the hose. They fought like bulls, but I disentangled them and pushed them through the door.

Took a shower, and it was back to work as usual. Right after I ordered a new door handle, arranged a Door Handle Inspection by a Certified Door Handle Specialist, and called for my Personal Emergency System Lanyard Alarm Button. (Because I dialed "within the next ten minutes" I will also receive a Bonus Personal Emergency System Keyring Alarm Button. I think I will keep it outside, under the hose.)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Chemical Reaction

It is important, over the Memorial Day weekend, to remember our heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. It is also important to have margaritas with your girlfriends, and discuss hair color.

Men don't have to talk about single- versus double- process, or permanent versus demi-permanent, or highlights or lowlights or foiling, over cocktails. That is because, as men age, they become "Distinguished Silver-haired Gentlemen;" while women "go gray." This is clearly unfair, discriminatory, and mean. So we deserve our margaritas. Top shelf.

I have friends, beautiful and brilliant women friends, who wear their argent tresses like fine platinum jewelry. They are stunning; and they are in the minority. The rest of us cut our coloring teeth on Sun-In (Extra-Strength for me! Red hair plus Regular-Strength equaled Electric Orange; if I sprung for the Premium Sun-In I could get something loosely resembling "blonde" but most easily described [color and texture] as "shredded wheat.") and there is no patch for our addiction. Also, I firmly believe that if God had intended for us to have gray hair, we would have been born that way.

The trouble is, hair color is very dangerous. You can tell because Nick Arrojo puts on full combat gear before he foils a "contributor." You read it in the warning missives in the drugstore brands:

Do not use on eyebrows, product could cause blindness.

Use product immediately after mixing, to reduce possibility of explosion.

Conduct "patch test" 48 hours before application. Have physician biopsy area before proceeding.

Do not use if you are allergic to strawberries, Tide Laundry Detergent, or shellfish other than bivalves.

Send pets to pet hotel and send children to neighbor's house before applying.

And then, of course, one has to wonder. What's with the gloves? We are putting this stuff on our heads. Right on top of our brains, for crying out loud. The manufacturers see this as normal behavior. But we are supposed to wear gloves to protect our HANDS?

Women become oblivious to the dangers when they combine hair color with margaritas. My friend Laura interrupted my lament. "Nancy," she said, "that's enough. Sometimes it is better not to know." And my friend Penelope, who manages to insinuate herself into this blog even more often than Stacy and Clinton, added (brightly,) "That's why I have someone else do my coloring for me! (puts hands over ears) La,la,la,la,la!"

Why don't you have to sign medical waivers at hair salons?

OK, I've never heard of anyone dying from dyeing. (Oh, I do crack myself up.) But, all those chemicals...I might as well be a

Pest Control Technician.

Penelope called me last week with ants. Tiny dead ants all over her sun room. Also piles of "sawdust," and ant poop on her curtains. My sage advice, since it had been nearly 40 years since I took an entomology class, was to phone an exterminator. Pennie found a company highly recommended in a book the company had paid to be listed in, as a "highly recommended company." Sherman, the highly-recommended technician, stopped by to confirm that she had ants. In the vaulted ceiling. And the only thing high about that company (except, maybe Sherman) was the recommendation. The company didn't have a ladder long enough to reach the problem area. Pennie asked if Sherman could help her find someone with a long-enough ladder. He demurred - he couldn't recommend the competition. She called the main office; spoke with the GM. He would, of course, help her find someone with a ladder. Five days later, no referral, no ladder. More sawdust, more ants. Pennie is, as I type, putting in calls to other highly recommended companies and creating a Ladder Height Spreadsheet.

We once had palmetto bugs. Roaches on steroids. In this part of the world they come in under the sliders, through the holes in the screens, when you let the dogs in, or have a pizza delivered. And, you know how sometimes there is a knock at the door, but when you open it there is no one there? Not the nine-year-old from next door. Palmetto bugs. They are ugly, sneaky, scary and aggressive. Alan The Technician (from a highly-recommended company) treated our house for them 3 or 4 times, but I would still be bugged by a bug once a month or so. In frustration, I asked Alan what I could do to make them go away. He assured me that if I dumped the contents of all the bottles in the liquor cabinet, they would disappear.

Alan disappeared shortly thereafter.

That DID explain, however, all those tiny shot glasses I found strewn across the living room on Saturday mornings; not to mention the lime peels and dirty margarita pitcher in the sink. And why we were always so low on salt.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pantyhose is so.........Undead.

In my circle, coming of age meant getting your first pair of "heels" (the Pappagallo patent-leather, bow-adorned 1"-chunky-heeled trainer) and a garter belt. Not a fancy lace-and-ribbon pole dance garter belt. A contraption similar to (but not as colorful as) the rubber band holding the raw asparagus stalks together at the grocery store, with smaller attached rubber bands ending in fabric covered rubber "fleshtone" snaps, the size of kiwis.

It was the '60s, and we were NOT going to wear our mothers' girdles; and The Fashion Designers decided rubber bands were more fashionable so we begged for garter belts. Our mothers knew our skirts were too short and they would ride up and our garters would show, and we were Too Young for Stockings Anyway; but we took vows of modesty and the mothers relented. And we got our garter belts, and stockings in every color of the rainbow (COLORED stockings? Our grandmothers just shook their heads and adjusted their girdles and wondered what was happening to Young People Today) and matching patent leather 1" heels with bows. And our garters showed.

I remember, at age 12, taking the day-long Amtrak Trek from Atlanta to New York City, because we were "School Safety Patrols" and no one had gotten squashed by passing traffic on our watch so we all got to go to see the Empire State Building. My friend, Elizabeth and I shared a hotel room IN NEW YORK CITY with NO ADULT SUPERVISION and found our way to the bus that was taking the myriad unsupervised 12-year-olds to the Empire State Building without incident. It was Easter weekend, and we were going to CHURCH before the ESB (this was a public school trip, go figure) and we were all to wear "dress-up" clothes for a photo and our dose of religion. Every girl had a Jackie O shift dress and matching stockings and Pappagallo patent leather 1" bow pumps. My ensemble was turquoise, Elizabeth's was yellow. We thought it might be rather fun to swap stocking legs, so we each had one yellow and one aqua. You can't tell from the group photo, though; because it is black and white. (I will tell you that the 2 chaperones - for 75 boys and girls - were not amused but had much more serious things to deal with. Like half the crowd who were barfing from the egg salad sandwiches at the Automat the day before.)

It took a very long time to set up for the photo. The tall girls (that would be me) had to sit on the grass in our Jackie O shifts, because our precocious hormone-induced growth spurts caused us to tower dangerously over the boys (and the two chaperones and the photographer.) We tried (without 100% success) to arrange our gangly limbs in proper photo fashion, with garters neatly tucked away. The GrownUps concentrated on arranging the barfing people in the back row where they could barf over their shoulders if necessary. There was a great deal of "Where's Mark? Where's Debbie?" and scurrying to the Central Park bathrooms (for a variety of reasons) and eventually everyone was accounted for and we got the photo. And then we went to church. Sometime between church and the Empire State Building, pantyhose was invented.

Because our mothers complained that our garter belts showed and (I think) found out that Elizabeth and I traded stocking legs.

(And 15 minutes after the invention of Thank God Pantyhose, came the Miniskirt. Which wouldn't have worked so well with the asparagus rubberbands.)

We loved pantyhose. If you had a run in one leg, you could cut the bad leg off and wear it with the "good leg" of another pair. So practical! Our garters never showed. And, as we got older, neither did our varicose veins and sunspots.

And then. Somewhere around the mid 1990s, Famous People like Jennifer Aniston decided that pantyhose were stupid. They stopped wearing them, we stopped wearing them. Except to places our mothers would INSIST that we wear them. Well, everyone but me stopped wearing them. I didn't know about Jennifer Aniston; and, frankly, I didn't go to many places that my mother would insist I wore pantyhose.

Until last week. I was going to a wedding. I went to T.J. Maxx for a new purse, and decided to pick up some Wedding Pantyhose while I was there. Public Service Announcement: There IS NO LONGER a Pantyhose Section at T.J. Maxx. I brought this to the attention of my friends, who knew all about Jennifer Aniston and told me that even The Queen doesn't wear pantyhose anymore. My friend, Penelope, who once bought a REAL Chanel suit worth $3500 off eBay for $600, proving that she has great fashion sense, told me that the only place to get pantyhose now is in those little eggs at the grocery store. I still couldn't imagine a "dressy dress" without them, so I wore an old pair to the wedding, but stood at the front of the venue before the nuptials to conduct a poll. Only three other women had hosiery on. My mother-in-law, and the two grandmothers of the bride. So I went into the bathroom, took them off and threw them away. Panty hose is so dead.

After the wedding I did a little research, because I was feeling extremely old. I had witnessed the birth of the Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread (which, to my knowledge, Jennifer Aniston has not taken a stand on) and then its death.

This is what I found. (On Wikipedia, so it MUST be true)

(I)n the mid-to-late '00s of this century, pantyhose have been appearing once again in fashion and in public, indicating the recurring cycle of couture once again bringing the leg covering back into vogue, especially in the form of thicker, dark tights and shades of black pantyhose. Pantyhose have even made a return to Paris runways and Haute Couture

If you know Jennifer, or T. J. Maxx, please let them know. Pantyhose is now Undead. Like Zombies. Which brings me to the question...are Zombies good or bad?

When we wore stockings, Zombies were extremely scary. Our parents wouldn't let us go to Zombie movies, because we would have nightmares. So we snuck into the movie theaters and watched the Zombie movies (we had friends who worked the popcorn machine. They accidentally left the back door of the theater ajar when they took out the trash; and, while there was no line at the box office there was quite a crowd at the back door.) Then we had nightmares. Now, if we have, for example, a son who thinks Zombies are The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread we can get him this T-shirt. And, we can put this in his Easter basket.

(If you're calling Jennifer about the pantyhose thing, would you ask her opinion on Zombies?)

So, in conclusion (one must always have a concluding paragraph to tie loose ends neatly in a bow. Unless a celebrity and The Queen have concurred that this is no longer necessary, and I have not yet been told.) Jennifer Aniston killed pantyhose. Except for the ones in the plastic eggs. But, just like Zombies, pantyhose aren't really dead. You shouldn't put bunnies in Easter baskets anymore, because Zombies are the new bunnies. If you want to get into the movies for free, befriend the Popcorn Person. And if you take 75 12-year-olds to New York City to see the Empire State Building it would be wise to avoid the egg salad at the Automat.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Clean Sweep

I really don't mind cleaning, and I'm pretty good at it. The problem is, I am a model of inefficiency. In fact, if Inefficiency was an Olympic Event I could take at least the silver medal; unless, of course, there were competitors from Guam. The Guam Motto is, "We're Guam, and We're Inefficient!" The motto, on a flashing billboard, is the first thing you see when your plane taxis to the gate at the A. B. Won Pat International Airport. It is on the sides of garbage trucks. It is stamped on Styrofoam fried chicken boxes left to disintegrate (or not) at the beach. I like Guam. I like Tumon Bay, and all the Japanese Indoor Rifle Ranges, and bubble tea, and Shirley's Coffee House where you get rice with your eggs. But I could never beat someone from Guam in an Inefficiency Competition.

Here is my cleaning system: I wake up knowing that it is Friday, which is Dust-And-Vacuum day. Start the coffee. Get the duster and head for the bedroom. Where I notice that the stick from the incense I burned last night is still in the burner. I pluck it, to toss before dusting and realize that dusting would be much more pleasant with fresh incense burning. It's off to the incense drawer, and I remember enroute that I have no more matches in the bedroom. Matchbooks are in the kitchen, in a drawer. Next to the drawer where we keep the dog pills. Did I give the dog her pills this morning? Check the pill drawer and it appears I did not. Gather dog pills, hunt the dog who knows what's about to happen and slithers behind the sofa. Move the sofa to get to the dog, and THERE are all the cats' pom-poms! Take them into the laundry room so cats can find them when they use the litter box, also in the laundry room. Oh, no, I did laundry yesterday! It is sitting in the washer. Smells a little funky. Set it to rewash, get the stuff out of the dryer (as long as I'm there,) take the dry load to the bedroom, fold it and put it away. As I'm shelving sheets, I see that we are nearly out of TP. Better head to the grocery store while I'm thinking about it - a bad thing to run out of.

Remember the bake sale on the way to the grocery store, pick up the ingredients for brownies, find a nice piece of fish for dinner. Go home, stopping for the mail on the way, remember that yesterday was Bill-Paying Day, and I didn't. Bake brownies while On-Line Banking loads. Pay bills. Wrap brownies attractively, put in basket, put basket in car.

Feed milling dogs and cats, cook fish, put now non-funky wash in dryer, answerphoneanswerphoneanswerphone, crash in bed in state of exhaustion and wonder what a duster is doing in the bed.

Now that I look at it in black-and-white, I might just give those folks on Guam a run for their money.

I have tried hiring out the cleaning. First there was Belinda. She needed six weeks off every nine months to have her next baby. The first 3 months of each pregnancy she felt like throwing up and had to go home. The last 3 months she had contractions and had to go home. And the three months in the middle - well, every Thursday morning one of the brood had an ear infection. About the only time we saw Belinda for more than 10 minutes was when she came over to pick up clothes our kids had outgrown. She finally gave up "cleaning" to homeschool.

Then, there was Maggie. She would only clean houses on HER side of Spaghetti Junction, the infamous highway interchange that defines Atlanta. She made that clear in her ad in the paper. She made it clear in conversation. She had never, and will not ever, ever, drive across Spaghetti Junction. Fortunately, she could safely get to our house without encountering The Beast. Unfortunately, she didn't work from 1 PM to 3 PM because she had to watch her "stories." She left us notes that said, "You know that Bureto in the refrigerater? I ate it." And she occasionally called us from the bowling alley in the middle of the night, because she had consumed "a little white wine." Also, she was certain her lovely daughter, Shayree, was the perfect match for our son. Luckily, Shayree had other ideas, and Maggie had to stop cleaning and stay home with her "stories" because Shayree's boyfriend got kicked out of his house and moved in with Maggie and Shayree and there was too much laundry and cooking to do (when you added in "story" time) for Maggie to work outside of the home.

Patti came next, and she was far-and-away the favorite. Yes, she brought the toddling Baby Grace. Grace was pretty and sweet, and except for the time she shoved a sandwich in the VCR (which later, in revenge, ate her Barney tape) she was no trouble at all. Patti had dogs. Lots of dogs. Hair on the furniture was no match for her, and she did not rest until every fuzzy was gone. The house sparkled when Patti was finished. Sigh. We loved Patti. And so did her ex-husband; his stalking became a bit of a problem so she moved out-of-state and changed her name.

Again without help, I could conquer the laundry and dog-pilling and bill-paying and grocery shopping, but still managed to distract myself from vacuuming even while wearing my new (and quite stylish) Professional BacPacVac. Yes. I was wearing a vacuum, and I would forget to vacuum. No. I don't think I am suffering from dementia. I am just observant (and I hate to vacuum.) Example: See that frayed cord on the antique lamp? I'd best remove BacPacVac, head to garage for lamp parts, notice that the stuff for the next yard sale is in a messy heap. Rearrange it for a couple of hours until it is too late to vacuum because the natural light is gone and I miss too many spots by lamplight. Capiche? Easy Peasy.

And then I whined and whined about the unfinished vacuuming. Friends and family made the outlandish suggestion that I find another housekeeper. I had every excuse in the book - a cat would escape through a door left open (not likely when they are all quaking under the bed,) a dog would bite someone (no, the dog only bites when she doesn't get Gorgonzola on her dinner,) and the above-mentioned examples of Housekeeper Horrors.

My friend Penelope had heard enough.

"I'm sending over The Swarm Of Locusts."

Everything Pennie hates about her cleaning crew makes them perfect for me. They don't spend all day with their clients. They don't do laundry. They don't pay bills, or arrange the cereals by box height.

And they don't bring children, or watch stories or have stalking husbands. That I know of.

The Swarm blows through the front door, waving rags and plugging in vacuums on their way. They disperse like an Alka-Seltzer. Like Whirling Dervishes. No one speaks, but the noise is deafening. Furniture flung to the center of the room. Clunk, thunk, vacuums blaze. Every surface is sprayed with something. Rags and mops dance in perfectly choreographed formation. Not a cat in sight. (Dogs are shaking in the basement. They have only been down there a few times, when tornadoes threatened the neighborhood. They are sure this is "The Big One.")

And, before you know it, The Swarm is gone. Vaporized. It is eerily silent, like the wake of an F-5 tornado. We emerge, like Dorothy and Toto, from our shelters. Things are out of place, but there is no dust! There are no dust bunnies under the bed! (Well, yeah, the bed is in the middle of the room. But it's freshly made.)

The house is very clean. I might be pleased with The Swarm. But I'll reserve judgment until I see if I get a late-night call from a bowling alley.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Message in the Music

It was shaping up, according to the clawed and chewed DayRunner, to be a busy day for Nancy and the Kitties. I planned to take my mother-in-law for Post Mother's Day Pizza at "that new place where you get two slices and a drink all for one price. And the lady from church said the slices are big and very filling." Before I headed off in the direction of pizza, however; I had to wrap, pack and post silver tornado-shaped earrings to a newly-minted Meteorologist in California. And after pizza, I planned to finish a "belly chain," which I understand to be some kind of necklace you wear around your waist, and it might or might not attach somehow to a pierced navel. So a little research (other than asking the younger of my mostly older friends whether they had heard of these things, which quickly morphed into a discussion of tattoos, which really didn't help me at all) was in order. I also ABSOLUTELY HAD to go to the ATM, which had one of those armored trucks parked in front of it the last three times I buzzed it. (I finally decided the driver parked there because there is a canopy over the ATM and he had enough shade for a good nap. Or else someone shot him dead, took all the money and no one had noticed because we were all driving by making up stories about the driver taking a nap.) And then, off to teach a dance class, which really wasn't that crucial because if I didn't show up the ladies would just swap recipes and talk trash about those of us who weren't there, and maybe pour the water from their now-unnecessary water bottles on the flowers we planted in front of our building and then go home for dinner.

The Kitties had planned to claw and chew the DayRunner a little more, and then make zillions of little corrugated cardboard crumbs out of their Costly Cosmic Catnip Corrugated Cardboard Couch Scratcher, and then hiss and spit about who got to sit on top of the Catnip Corrugated Couch; and to bring downstairs all the Glitter Rats that I had heaved upstairs for the 4 millionth time, because the dogs are confined to the downstairs and they eat Glitter Rats and then make Glitter Poop.

So there was really no time for a flat tire.

Therefore, I had a flat tire.

Ha! I am a Flat Tire Magnet. After flat tires caused by the common nail, the uncommon nail, heat bubbles, errant forks, a screwdriver, acts of God, and vicious slashing by a copy editor who took exception to my disagreement with his use of the words "that" vs "which", I have learned that I need Road Hazard Protection. "My Guys" fix my tires often, and often for free. I do not fear the Flat Tire. But I still had all this stuff to do. So I borrowed my mother's car.

It is a spankin' new, bells-and-whistles minivan; perfect because I could use it to carry home a table and my trampoline which I had forgotten that I took to dance class. (Yes, trampoline. It is a rather involved story, best left to the imagination.) And the minivan has Satellite Radio. Which is code for "Only-Works-If-No-Trees-Are-Blocking-Transmission." The signal comes and goes, but the people who pay for it are so excited about the 126 channels, they are willing to live with sound that reminds me of the back of a Chevy at a Drive-In Theater in 1968.

I have no idea how to change the Satellite Radio to the "I'm Post Fifty But I Think I'm Still A Bit Edgy and Cool" channel, so I leave it on my mother's "Movin' EZ" channel, which I might call "Barely Movin' ZZZZZZZZ" channel. At first I listen in shock, with the windows up; because I know every word and I'm singing. And someone might HEAR ME SINGING. And I don't know why I am singing "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo"? "It's Another Tequila Sunrise"????? "Someone Left the Cake Out In the Rain?" Come on. Who would bake a cake and leave it outside unless they had Alzheimer's? Then again, I left rice in the rice cooker overnight one time. "There's Got to be a Morning After" from the Poseidon Adventure. The Freaking Poseidon Adventure!!!!!!

"Feelings." "Afternoon Delight."

There is a message in this music, and our PARENTS are listening. They could be driving our children around, listening to this...this...there are no words for the horror. And SINGING ALONG.

Somebody needs to speak with our parents about the Message In The Music.

And learn from my experience. Don't borrow your mother's minivan unless you can handle her "Movin' EZ."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Helicopter Parents (hovering, hovering...)

We were Free Range Children. If we cleaned our rooms to minimum hygienic standards we were Free To Roam for the rest of the day, until the streetlights came on. There were a few rules. We were not to go into the houses under construction (but we did.) We were not supposed to play in the creek (but we did, and then we stayed in the woods climbing trees until our clothes dried out so no one would know.) We were not supposed to climb trees. (But we had to do something while our clothes dried out.)

When our children came along, Free Range was no longer in vogue. Something Terrible in the form of Scary Strangers would happen to children allowed to play in their front yards, so we fenced in the back yard and put up a swing set. We read books to our kids about shadowy men in shiny cars asking them to help find lost puppies. We turned pages advising that children should scream "Fire" if someone kidnapped them, even though we thought it would work better to shout, "Hey this person is kidnapping me!" (The Experts promised us that "Fire!" attracted more attention. And The Experts never told us what the kids should scream if there was an actual fire. "Stampede!"? "Free Ice Cream!"? "Hey, Macarena!"?) And we embraced Children's Television, which kept the darlings safely in the living room with Mr. Rogers, The Electric Company and Oscar The Grouch.

Is it any wonder a generation of children on the lookout for lurking Scary Strangers, trying to remember what they were supposed to shout, would grow up to embrace The Disposable Toddler Helmet? Buy 'em like disposable diapers, slap one on your newly toddling toddler because, dang, she is toddling, and that fireplace corner could be SHARP! Oh, My God, she's veering off that way! Thank goodness she's wearing her Disposable Toddler Helmet!...You can even use the link to sign up to carry them in your retail establishment. Perhaps, for example, you own a grocery store. You could offer them as freebies, right next to the sanitizer wipes, for anyone who dares to put a child in the "child seat" (with safety strap) of the buggy, instead of the AWESOME (and sanitized daily) Plastic Race Car cum Shopping Cart, capable of blocking Aisle Two completely even if little Maddie is not reaching out for the Chocolate Chex. (I really want to know who was in the focus groups for that one. Women with cramps and a migraine so bad that they couldn't cook breakfast because the sound of cracking eggshells was too loud? Perimenopausal women wearing T-shirts that say, "I'm out of Estrogen and I Have a Gun"? Who else would think Chocolate CHEX was a good idea?) I also think there is a market for a Disposable Toddler Helmet Vending Machine. What kind of parent wouldn't cough up a few tuppence for the peace of mind afforded by Disposable Toddler Helmets? Because if your little one should happen to reach for the Chocolate CHEX and overextend, or Heaven forbid, her brother pushes her out of the Plastic Race Car cum Shopping Cart, it is a good six inches to the floor and there is no recycled rubber chip padding.

I think that the next frontier is disposable goggles. In case a child learns to USE A FORK, which might put an eye out. Or runs with scissors, or chases his brother with a stick. Until then, I have two words:

Bubble Wrap.

Oh, I need two more:

Duct Tape.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Oh, NO! It's Wednesday, and We're out of Cat Food!

Due to circumstances beyond my control, dear friends in town for a conference, re-scheduled doctor's appointments and my car still being full of all the stuff from Saturday's show, it is now Wednesday. It is supposed to be Monday. Grocery day. Big-Buggy-Full-of-Cat-Litter-Kibbles-Dog-Biscuits-Laundry-
Potato-Chips Day. There is no coffee creamer in the fridge. There are no eggs. The Brown Dog "needs" her cauliflower. And we are dangerously low on Kitty High (street name. AKA, catnip.) That means I have to do the grocery shopping. On Wednesday. On

Styrofoam-Cups-of-Weak-Coffee Day.

There are two major problems here. I am tall. DOPWDCSCWCs are not. There will be a great deal of, "Honey, would you reach that Metamucil on the top shelf for me? They keep the freshest ones up there, you know." And by the time I stand on the lowest shelf, clinging to the shelf divider - because even in my platform flip-flops I'm not quite able to reach it - and snag the Metamucil (which I had to poke forward with the DOPWDCSCWC's umbrella first,) the intended recipient has wandered over to the meat counter to join a crowd admiring freshly cut round steak and I'm not exactly sure which one she is until I see the umbrella. I'll smile and hand her the canister, and she'll say, "Thank you, honey, but the store brand was on sale so I just picked up one of those." Don't get me wrong, I am glad to use my God-given gift of height to help out at the grocery store. But I also need to buy toothpaste.

The other problem is a bit more complex. Many of my fellow Wednesday shoppers knew me when I was six. Played bridge with my parents. In fact, had gallbladder surgery, angioplasty and bunion removal with my parents. Some of them led my Girl Scout troops (they don't, thank goodness, remember that little brouhaha resulting in my eventual "retirement" from the World of Scouting) and can wax poetic on those glitter pine cones we made that year in the church basement. And many of them think I am my sister.

My sister and I have looked so alike in the past that one of us could walk into a family party for the first time and a family member would ask us why we changed clothes. And our sense of style, or lack thereof, has been eerily similar as well. We have on more than one occasion shown up to an event in the same shoes. (Not the same PAIR of shoes; two sets of shoes. I just realized I might have confused some people. I decided to expand and clarify.)

So shopping on Wednesday requires me to limber up first, in case I need to be tall; and remember which sister I am and which children are mine in case someone inquires about them, and - God help me - WHO that man is, asking about my father's dizziness.

Arriving at the store, I'll scan the parking lot for familiar vehicles - the ones with ancient school booster stickers, or American Flag decals strategically placed. I'll take note of the "Hollywood Cars", the boat-like Caddies and Lincoln Towncars so favored by Mr. and Mrs. SoandSo. I'll grab a cup of the weak coffee, which gives me a little mental edge (very little) and helps me to blend in. And then I will

Attempt. To. Shop.

If I am lucky, I will remember everyone familiar by name. I will be tall gracefully. And I will remember that the "Self-Checkout" volume is dialed up on Wednesday, so I won't jump out of my skin when the AutoChick shouts, "WELCOME, VALUED CUSTOMER!" And I will not hyperventilate when I reach into my wallet for my credit card, and notice again, with tremors of shock, that it is right next to

My AARP Membership Card.

I hate Wednesdays.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

What do you get when you combine

A dozen talented and especially charming artists, totally unpredictable weather, some tables, some tents, some shoppers, and ten dozen Krispy Kreme donuts? All hosted by a "Well-Bred Ladies' Dance Group" (and Gretchen...she is not Well-Bred but we let her hang around with us anyway)?

I have no idea, but it sure was fun.

A Virgin Venue, we had never attempted an art sale at Sketchworks before. But the theatre folks were excited to give it a try, and so was a group of mostly Etsy sellers. For some, it was their very first show, so it was doubly exciting.

A nailbiter yesterday. We knew we had a lot of drive-by visibility from the road in front of the theatre, and thought that, given "pretty" weather, we could set up all over the lawn for curb appeal. Vendors had tents, umbrellas, vividly colored would have been a lovely scene. BUT, Mother Nature had other ideas. Yesterday emails (or "Convos," if you speak "Etsy") flew here and there. Do we give in to the weather? Do we chance that it won't get messy until later in the afternoon (the prevailing wisdom at that moment)? The forecasts were ambiguous, we had a "rain plan", and we "went for it."

Today dawned, well, threateningly. No fluffy cirrus or cumulus clouds for us! Big, black icky blobs. Some of us were brave. Especially the very shy and retiring LeAnn Christian, Lampwork-Icon-to-Be. In her very shy and retiring style, LeAnn had a GIANT rainbow patio umbrella, and the most decidedly fancy set-up. She became our Official Lawn Ornament, until Gen and Hubby of Sewphisticate hit the scene with their EXTREMELY ELABORATE tent. Which they had to set up using an instruction manual. Which, thank God, they had with them. They bravely joined LeAnn as the Front Yard Team; which worked until it started to drizzle.

Not a drizzle that becomes steady to clearly indicate that we should all go home because it is about to turn into a downpour. More like a drizzle when one person says, "Oh look! It's clearing to the west!" And someone else says, "I just heard on the car radio that we are about to get tornadoes." So, we mostly moved tables out on the lawn, back under the covered patio, and in and out of tents until...

A very kind and wonderful benefactor donated 10 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts to us to sell for profit. At that point, since we were short on customers, we made a "Free Donuts" sign and fed all the vendors donuts and handed freebies to people walking home from the grocery store and ate too many ourselves, and fed them to our very cute children who were extremely well-behaved up to that point and we all suffered a collective sugar high.

And we talked to each other, and we bought things from each other; and I'll bet everyone who was there feels like they ended the day with a whole bunch of new friends.

My personal highlights:

I felt a little warm in the afternoon and couldn't figure out why. The temp had dropped, it was damp; but I realized I WAS wearing the most beautiful purple scarf that everyone who knew me thought I should buy. And I did, because it was ME! Product of Adripratt - and it is sooooooo soft! My gut tells me I looked just a little silly, with a scarf (that matched my outfit so well) in 70 degree weather.

I have new notecards! The Jinkywink girls have the PRETTIEST '50s retro dinner party designs! And their own website, with even more goodies at more jinkywink.

Gen of Sewphisticate has the most wondrous hammered copper jewelry. I want it, and I could probably do it myself; but after seeing her work out on her anvil (she brought it for a little demo) with 6 gauge copper wire (really more like rebar!) I am going to let her make it for me. And her husband is going to bring his FORGE! Yes, I said, FORGE! to the next sale, to do demonstrations. Be still, my beating heart.

I lovelovelove what Danielle of GracefulBabies makes. Tutus! American Sign Language Initial Onesies! Pillowcase pinafores! Monkeypants with Banana pockets! I cannot wait for people small enough to wear them in my life. And it was so nice to have Danielle's personal babies around to keep us all amused.!

More FAB baby stuff at SugarPlumDelights. Oh, my goodness, the adorableness of the bibs! (It seems like a million years ago since I needed bibs for tiny people...I can't wait to need them again!) I Know I am not alone. Many friends told me they would so love to have a reason to purchase baby goodies...

I was completely captivated by Diana of Knotty Sheep, and her stuffed sheep and her "knottiness." How she can remember all those patterns! Watching her at work, doing something I can't even conceive. And they are soooo Personal Fashion Consultant helped me to select a pair of earrings that will match everything earthtone I own. Love.

I am going to learn how to make glass beads! From the ICON, according to LeAnn. (Shy and retiring Leann exudes quiet wisdom in the lampwork world.) StudioMarcy! The woman who told me I can etch Czech glass. You don't know what that means to me...I can etch(?) Czech glass? I LOVELOVELOVE Czech glass and I can make something new and different out of what I already have? How much do I love this?

And, The Most Amusing Moment of the Day had to be when tsiphotography(y'all, she repairs old photos, and rehabs Uncle So-and-So's slides!) had a display of her pet portraits, a terrier on one side, and a calico cat on the other. My friend Cynthia's dog, Pete; who LOVES cats and comes to my house to hunt for them, was asked repeatedly - where is the Kitty? And he lunged at the appropriately feline figure in Sam's display every single time; much to the amusement of everyone involved. Gifted photographer, or brilliant Keeshond? You be the judge.

Carol Southerland, Orchid Documenter Extraodinaire, was also a part of the crowd. She is famous for botanical works showing in venues from the Botanical Gardens to the Varsity; and a true Atlanta Gem.

So the weather pretty much stunk.

But. We had a bake sale. We had cover; and we HAD EACH OTHER. We had fun!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ArtMart! May 3rd! 11 AM to 5 PM!!!

Sketchworks Theatre
3041 North Decatur Road
Scottdale, GA 30079

(Scottdale is just a little suburb of Decatur. If you're in Atlanta you don't need to pack a lunch and drive a billboard-ridden highway to get there.)

We have been planning for months. We have made our rain arrangements. The grass will be mowed Friday. The Vendors are mostly Etsians, like me. (Etsy is another planet. About 4 light years from the moon. People there just make stuff all day long, and sell it. But we are happy, we Artsy Craftsy Types. No worries about gas prices or presidential candidate meltdowns. No Global Warming or Recycling Issues. We can make everything into something else on Planet Etsy, and we are happy.)

I would like to tell you about some of the May 3rd participants, because I am in awe.

is one of my very first friends from Planet Etsy. I am enamored of her work because

a) she makes chainmaille keyrings, which impress 20-something sons and nephews who are often very difficult to shop for; and,

b)her husband has a FORGE. Can you imagine how much fun a FORGE could be???? I can.

Graceful Babies is coming from NY(!) to participate; gotta love piratewear and argyles for the wee ones.

LeAnn Christian and Studio Marcy can make glass do their bidding!! Lampwork is fascinating. Each little piece is its own little world. I want to do this. In the worst way...I want to take pieces of glass and FIRE and combine the two to create ART. I want to shriek "It's MELTING!" like the Wicked Witch of the West! I loved Wicked, didn't you? Oh, I'm sorry. Where was I?

Jinkywink has invitations, announcements and paper things to adore.

Sugarplumdelights, your source for finger puppets, burp cloths and tutus! Tutus! Who doesn't need a tutu? My dance group will be drooling. (Of course, some of us are prone to drool anyway...) We LOVE tutus.

Knotty Sheep makes jewelry using Chinese knotting techniques. I've been to China, but I didn't see such corded prettiness there.

knits and crochets all manner of wearables and home goods, many from organic materials (soy yarn? who knew?)

And the drama of TSI Photography. Images to make you think! People, animals, nature; amazing.

Oh. The Kitties are poking my legs as I type. They want me to mention that I will have THEIR creations, their very own frillz art-to-wear, at the show, also. The Kitties, unfortunately, will not be able to join us because their rabies shots are not up-to-date. I told them over and over to take care of that little chore; but they kept claiming to be "too busy" (yeah, right. Chasing sunbeams and worrying my vintage crystal beads is "busy?" How about lying around in the laundry?) Upshot (ha, an unintended but clever pun!) being, they can't get an appointment for their shots until next week, so they have to miss the ArtMart.

Also, as a special added attraction, The Ladies of Dancin' Dynamics (yes, the ones who covet "ladylike" is that, really?) are hosting a Bake Sale! We are proud to offer The Secret Recipe University Inn Granola, among other deliciousness.

And what brought this show on, you might ask? Or not, but I will tell you. It's one part Local Artist Showcase, one part Thank You to Sketchworks Theatre because Dancin' Dynamics just looooves our Sketchworks friends, and belonging to The Theatre Scene; and the rest is "Why not? Sounds like fun, and everyone benefits!"

Please come join us! Meet some incredible artists! You might even brush shoulders with Very Famous Actors. The Very Famous Actors might even consent to photo ops...for a small fee.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Kitties Are Behaving!

They are, in fact, using their flea spray. They are working out diligently on their scratching posts to keep their nails filed. They come when called, kill the scary bugs and let the lady bugs out the front door; they put their dishes away after dinner. I have seen no evidence of plagiarism in their recent writings. So, as I promised, I am going to let them repost some of their favorite entries from the archives. (Not, of course, the ones that caused that National Security Issue, and set off the whole Plagiarism Scandal. Those have been shredded. [I attached them to the scratching posts and had the Kitties do it themselves.] And, just to be safe, we shredded the monitor and hard drive, also. I think I will make the scrap into jewelry.)

Remember these? (Insert that dreamy harp music and some wavy lines to indicate a flashback, like on reruns of The Brady Bunch, here:)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Your Mom

Oh, the nuggets of wisdom we glean from our moms. Roll the curlers under, not up; where the salad fork goes; bourbon, honey and lemon for a cough ( I detect a little tickle in my throat?); the "secret" family recipe for macaroni and cheese; how to hang spoons on your face (well, maybe I should save that for another entry...); the list goes on and on.

And sometimes you're not quite sure what to do with your mother's wisdom.

Like the day your mom calls to tell you she thinks there is a "dead thing" in the basement.

"How do you know there's a 'dead thing' in the basement?", you ask.

"Well, it smells."

"OK, there's a 'dead thing' in the basement and it smells. Have you looked for it so you can remove it?"

" Yes, your father looked. He couldn't find it, so I looked. I couldn't find it. We looked together, but we still couldn't find it."

"Do you want me to come over to look?"

"No, you won't find it. We looked everywhere."

"Why don't you call on of those critter catchers to get rid of it?"

"Well, it doesn't smell as bad as it did yesterday. I think I'll just spray some FeBreeze down the vents."

Friday, March 14, 2008
Nothing Cures The Blues Like a Trip to the Dentist!

So, I broke a crown. On the most valuable tooth in my mouth, at that. This tooth bought my last dentist a Lexus. That man did everything to my molar except move it to the other side of my mouth. To my credit, when he made that suggestion, and I noticed the treads on his Lexus tires were looking a little ratty, I took my cash cow of a mouth elsewhere.

And landed squarely in the practice of...a standup comic. More fun than Tim Conway and Harvey Korman with Novocaine; no laughing gas necessary.

A call to the combination Dental Office/Comedy Club yielded (after a fair amount of rearranging our respective schedules) a "work-in" appointment. I would park in a chair and be attended to while other patients rinsed their mouths and paid their bills and watched infomercials about veneers.

A vignette:

The sweet Xray tech puts the film in my mouth, positions it just so, asks me if I'm pregnant (haha, and she's not even a comedienne), covers me with the 40 lb lead blanket, positions the camera just so on my cheek, tells me to be veryveryvery still, and steps back to push the Xray button just as

my dentist (from the next cubicle, where she's seeing a rather nervous teenage girl with cavities) starts telling me a story about how her son skipped school so she took his glasses away from him for a week and made him wear his sports goggles instead and he is now known as Steve Urkel.

When that happens to you and you are trying to be veryveryvery still and you have an Xray camera pressed up against your cheek and a big wad of plastic and film between your jaws and YOU DON'T DARE LAUGH; well, snot comes out your nose, and you move, and you have to take the picture again.

Three hours, forty jokes, one temporary crown, four wax impressions a couple thousand dollars, and an appointment for another crown in two weeks later, I walk out of the office into a gorgeous sunset. Life is good when you get to spend the afternoon with your dentist.

If she only served margaritas.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Why Buying Jeans is so Difficult

I need a new pair of jeans. I have been watching Stacy and Clinton religiously (well, maybe that is a bit strong. Maybe "regularly" is better) to find out where the "waist" of our jeans is this season. It seems that rarely is the "waist" at one's waist. I'm pretty sure that the "waist" is never above one's waist, unless one lives in a modular home subdivision, which includes a hospital and a restaurant with Early Bird Specials, located in Florida or Arizona. But how far is the "waist" below the waist right now?

The problem is, I can't read Roman Numerals. I can watch an entire episode of Stacy and Clinton and copy down all "The Rules" and then sit all the way through the credits to find out if it is a "current" show or if it is recycled from 2003; and then the copyright date comes up and I can't see it because I don't have my glasses and I can't find them and finally realize that they are on my head. And I pull them down over my eyes and the screen will say, Copyright MMQRP or something to that effect. It will take me a minute to realize that those letters are supposed to be a date and I will wonder for the millionth time why regular people are taught to write our birthdate as November 12, 1955 and at the same time people who make credits for TV shows and movies persist in archiving them with letters. Didn't these people go to the same schools we did? Do they think that replacing numbers with letters is just more "artistic?" Like those teenagers who write in RaNsOm TyPe (I stole that phrase from a very clever Etsy artist, WinonaCookie and she deserves credit here for it) because it is "cute?" Doesn't that make it doubly hard for Historians, who have to take college classes in number-numbers AND letter-numbers just to pass their Historian exams? And don't even get me started on Europe. Those people don't know that the day of the month comes before the name of the month. Just think if you were European and wanted to be an Historian. You'd be so confused that someone could write the date in binary notation as a joke, and you'd worry that you missed a lecture in Historian class. That's probably why you don't hear about too many Historians from Europe.

I only bring this up because the "waist" of jeans has been so many places in such a short time. And heaven forbid if the "waist" is one inch below the belly-button when it's supposed to be two. Stacey and Clinton will call you out. (Of course, if your birthdate is remotely close to the [hypothetical] one above, no one REALLY should have any idea how far your bellybutton is from the "waist" of your jeans except a very select inner circle, and possibly the cat.) So it is extremely important to be able to read Roman Numerals so you can discern whether you are getting fresh fashion advice, or something that's been sitting in the hamper for a while.

It is also important to take ibuprofen before shopping for jeans. This, of course, is standard for everyone before trying on piles of unyielding denim with metal zippers that sometimes require lying on a floor covered with straight pins in a cramped dressing room, to zip them up. Knowing the whole time that once you buy them in a size that causes breathing to be painful they will let down their guard as soon as you get them home and will immediately be 2 sizes too large. (The corollary is also true. If you buy jeans that fit perfectly in the store they will suffer a fit of pique at being washed and shrink to fit your twelve-year-old daughter who wouldn't be caught dead in anything that rose so close to the belly button.) It is even MORE important to take ibuprofen if you are tall. Because the (two) pairs of "long" jeans in any given store - presumably stocked for those of us approaching or exceeding 6 feet in height - will be on the lowest possible shelf, requiring you to bend your knees to retrieve them; and even worse, straighten your knees to stand up again. (Again, I'm not saying anything bad about that [hypothetical] birthdate above; but "bend-and-stretch" might not be a favorite exercise of individuals in that particular ballpark.) And, really, who came up with the idea to keep those (two) pairs of jeans on the bottom shelf? The "short" jeans aren't on the top shelf, because then the staff would have to keep retrieving them for customers. Everyone knows there is no shame in asking for help to get something you're not tall enough to reach. But very few people will ask the staff to bend down to get something off the floor. So I conclude that it is a vast conspiracy to humiliate tall women "of a certain age" who can't bend easily. There are probably dozens of YouTube videos on this very topic, and they all have very high star ratings. Probably as high as those pole-dancing subway ladies, or that dog who dances to the song from "Grease" or the OKGo guys on the treadmill.

Now that I've given it some thought, maybe I don't need new jeans. I can just wear skirts. After all, they hang at eye level. No ibuprofen required. And I don't need to know Roman Numerals to buy the right ones.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Not go to Your Doctor Complaining of "Dizziness"

1. Your general practitioner will say you need to get off your blood pressure medicine, and switch to this new one. It will not work. He will refer you to a "specialist" who

2. Will suggest that you get off the new blood pressure medicine and take the one you just discontinued. And in addition, you should get off your current cholesterol medicine and switch to this new one. It will not work. The "specialist" will tell you that "dizziness is very hard to cure."

3. A friend will "refer" you to another "specialist," because her aunt went to him with the exact same problem and was fixed in two weeks; he will - miraculously - have an appointment available that very afternoon. This "specialist" will tell you that you have "rocks" between your ears that occasionally slip out of place, causing the dizziness, and he will refer you to "physical therapy" to re-seat the rocks in your head. You will go to Rock Rearranging Therapy for 6 weeks, where you hang upside down, get strapped to a "tilt board" and practice the meditative "rock-re-seating" "exercises" diligently at home; graduate, and still be dizzy.

4. Your daughter will insist that you go to a neurologist because one of her best friends is a neurologist who thinks that it could be a neurology issue. You will select a nearby neurologist, who it turns out, you don't really like and doesn't seem too interested in dizziness; also his office is a mess and his office manager is mean. But he is convenient.

5. Your daughter will nag because her friend, The Neurologist, says the nearby neurologist is not a Good Neurologist. You will go to a neurologist meeting the approval of your daughter, and her friend, The Neurologist.

6. The Good Neurologist will order a Cat Scan, Brain Scan, Liver Scan, MRI, EKG, EEG and a BLT. They will all be negative, except the BLT; which will be delicious.

7. The Good Neurologist will tell you that you might have a narrowing of the carotid artery, and that you should talk to your general practitioner about it.

8. You will talk to your GP, who will order carotid surgery. As pre-op, you will need another Cat Scan, Brain Scan, Liver Scan, MRI, EKG, EEG; and also a 1099. Possibly WD-40. Carotid surgery will be scheduled, you will arrive at 6 AM on the appointed day, wait 5 hours for an operating room, be anesthetized and your GP will attempt the procedure. But, the blockage will be too severe; you will be labeled "A Walking Timebomb," necessitating a "more invasive" procedure in a couple of weeks. You will be brought out of anesthesia, but have to stay in the hospital because you have had a "procedure" even though nothing is fixed; and you must pee, poop, eat, recite the ABC's and watch 4 old episodes of M*A*S*H before they can release you. Oh, and by the way, there was some swelling in your tonsil which might be throat cancer, so that has to be biopsied before your next surgery is scheduled.

9. You will worry for 2 weeks about the biopsy, which cannot be performed at the same time as the "more invasive" procedure because you have to be "on" aspirin for the more invasive procedure and "off" aspirin for the biopsy. You have the biopsy as the wife and nagging daughter waitandwaitandwait and it appears that the problem is an old and unrelated infection in the tonsil. YAY! "The More Invasive Procedure" is on! Just as soon as you take 72 antibiotics, a handful at a time; and get back "on" the aspirin. Finally, the day of "The More Invasive Procedure" is here! Wife and nagging daughter wait in the "family area." Doctor emerges to tell family, Great News! He doesn't need the procedure after all! There is no blockage! And we got fabulous pictures! Great.

10. You will still be dizzy.

Note: Although I am a Medical Diviner of some renown (via my matrilineal heritage - my mother has been the recipient of numerous Medical Diviner Emmys, Oscars, Nobels and Pulitzers; and was once crowned Medical Diviner American Idol [North American Continent]) I am not a doctor. This piece is for Entertainment Purposes Only. Please consult a physician or another Health Care Professional if you feel dizzy, even if you know it is because you just played "Ring Around the Rosy" with your 3 year-old niece, and you forgot to eat lunch because the Walters Report was due at 1 PM. You need Very Important Tests to rule out Scary Things; and Medical Diviners are not licensed in all states to run Very Important Tests. (We also do not diagnose Scary Things. We are more prone to say stuff like, "Your blood sugar is probably low. You should have some chocolate." or, "Sounds like the pollen is getting to you; you'd better skip the vacuuming today." Or "Could be stress. I think you need a margarita.")

Should you need Medical Divining, of course, please feel free to contact me; everyone else does. References provided upon request, and I will bill your insurance...Which never, never, ever pays for Medical Divining, BTW.