This site’s being tossed away like 3-year-old lawn-mowing sneakers. It was fun but not quite what I had in mind when starting it. So, if you want to keep up, visit my new Home on teh Innerwebs.

Thanks (and sorry) to all of you who took the effort to include me on your blogroll, hopefully I won’t be hopscotching around for a while.

Ever have one of those days when you want to knock off work early? Like a rainy day when you’ve been setting tile from 8:30 in the morning (when you were shooting for 8 on the dot but traffic in the rain is just like traffic in snow around here) until more than the end of the day? I had a day like that. I was thinking I’d bail out early and go bang on the drums a while, once I hit a good stopping point. That stopping point happened to be at 5:02 PM. Drat, phooey, and shit.

Plus which, I had 2 stops to make, one to Home Depot (my toy store) and one to the storage unit at which my table saw lives when not aboard my truck. The drum hitting happened around 8PM, and that’s 3 hours too late, if you ask me.

******

As I type, the house is filling with the aroma of basmati rice and Chicken Kiev. You wish you were here, I guaran-damn-tee you.

You know what’s special about Wednesdays? If you click the link, you will.

*****

Renn, I’m still waiting on your email. I need a business site that says, “It’s business time.” Thank you.

*****

Last week, when the Priming of the House was taking place, I was slinging oil paint like mad while a wonderful chef I know was preparing dinner. She asked through an open kitchen window, “Why does this fish smell like paint?”

All I could do was wave a paint-loaded brush in the air and say that I didn’t know.

******

Reminds me of a song that was featured on Bob & Tom many moons ago, since I used to listen to them every morning in Michigan but can’t here.

Fish and paint are the same
Fish and paint are the same
They really are the same

Both come in many colors
Both don’t have legs
And both hate turpentine

It’s one of those tunes that will get stuck in your head, if you let it.

*****

I registered 2 new blog names last week that could be filed under ‘seemed like a good idea at the time.’ They’re called ‘Paint Your Taint’ and ‘Braille for the Deaf.’ I have no idea what to do with them. Any ideas?

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S’all I got now. Seeya next time!

Well, a weekend has come and is on the way to gone. As I sit here and experience the aroma of dogfarts (and am chagrined to find there is no antonym for ‘savor’), I recall the events of the week. I registered two new blog names, just because I like ’em. I have no idea what to do with them. One suggestion was to put up really offensive & raunchy stuff. I’m just not very offensive (on purpose), so what would I do? Put a pass-through link to meatspin dot com? I think not.

I was working with my friend Patrick this week, and a couple things came up. One day, we were mixing concrete in a large pan. I invited him to step into the pan for a while, and I’d toss him into a river. He laughed at me and said there were no rivers around deep enough.

This is what it made me think of.

Also, he told me about a couple he knew, the guy is from West Virginia and the girl from Ohio. She played women’s basketball, and also cheered for the men’s basketball. Their cheer?

“Strawberry Shortcake,

Raspberry Jam,

Who’s gonna win?

We am! We am!”

*****

If you see a sign like this, pay attention. They mean it. I got a nice set of full color pictures of myself (well, myself driving my truck) in the mail last week, from 3 different angles. I wondered where the lightning was coming from as I was cruising through the yellow-turning-red light. At $50, it’s not a mistake I’ll make again.

Although, I’m a little chuffed at the idea of the program. It’s about revenue, and no human decisions were involved in my ticketing. Of course, would I rather be pulled over by a cop, sit there for 20-30 minutes, and get a ticket that may involve points on my license? No.

That doesn’t mean I have to like it.

*****

Blogging the Square happened today, and Tiff already has a great account of it. She and Mojo and I were the only non-lurking bloggers in the joint, along with a cuppa other friends and thousands of fellow Raleighans. Oh the humanity! I waited for a very long time in a meat onnabun line behind a girl with a heavy silver chain connecting her ear and lower lip. Mojo wanted to know if she was afraid her ear was going to fall off, or the lip. There were several other interesting (read: freakish) people there, as well as reasonably normal folks. The guy in drag with the tall boots, mini-skirt, and stuffed top sure made an impression.

Regular humanity is pretty cool, up until they get drunk and obnoxious, litter all over the place, and poop on the porta-john seats. I stood in line for what seemed like 7 minutes, waiting for one of 20 outhouses to become vacant. I finally made it into 4th place in my line, and a stall opened up. I mentioned it to the folks in front of me, but they weren’t using that one. We had all heard some poor girl make a difficult transaction, and the next customer went in but came right back out. Fast. Well, I didn’t stand in line for nuttin’, so I went in with the encouragement of my linemates. I took a deep breath of outside air, tucked my nose into my shirt, tried not to look at the mess on the seat (think peanut butter and tuna fish), and piddled as fast as I could.

It wasn’t fast enough.

I crashed out of the stall like it was on fire (which is what would happen if I happened to own that unit) to fresh air, and the cheers and thumbs-ups of a dozen waiters-in-line. It was the 2nd best cheer I got all day.

We left too early, but at just the right time too. Traffic out sucked, but not as bad as it would after the headline band played and 5000 possibly-drunk citizens tried to leave at once. I’m glad I went, but I’m finding my speed is more along the lines of non-shouted conversations and people who bring you food and drinks, rather than trekking across a crowded park to wait in a crowded line to pay lots of money for food on a stick.

*****

Partially painted the house this week. Here’s a sneak-peek of the before & after color (siding only).

*****

Finally, I have a business that has a really simple website. I’d like it to be better. Anyone know a good and reasonably-priced web designer?

That’s what I used to think hummingbirds sounded like. Until today, when one spontaneously combusted flew into the garage of the house I was working on. It was buzzing around the ceiling like a golf ball with wings, or perhaps an overgrown june bug. Its beak was open; I think it was panting. It’d been in there for a while while I was patching and painting on the outside of the house. It said ‘Cheep chip chirp’ urgently, and I decided it must be helped. After a few tries, I hatched a plan (like the ornithology theme there?), and using an extension pole, a wet red washcloth, and my wits, I transferred the bird from garage door opener bracket to the outdoors. It buzzed up into the woods, and I watched it disappear in the leaves. I turned back to my truck with a smile, and looked up to see a hummingbird hovering overhead. “You’re welcome,” I said.

Tonight, while turning on the lawn sprinkler, I saw a hummingbird in the back yard – which hasn’t happened until today. Sweet.

I had particular reason to be grateful for the kindness of straingers myself today (Southern accent activated). I was working on a steep shingled roof, doing some repairs that another craftsman sold (long story). It was time to get off the roof, partly because the work was done, but also because the sun was turning the shingles into runny pebble-coated goo. I shimmied down the valley to where my trusty ladder was parked, and attempted to step onto it. The ladder scooted sideways across the gutter like a girl at a bar who detected bad breath or bad intent. Plopping myself upon the roof again, I thought about how to tackle this problem. Cell phone? In the truck. 20 feet down and 30 feet across – no good. Rope? Tied to the crab apple tree on the other side of the house – no good. Try again? Only option. Same result. I tried removing the ladder mittens and lowering the fly section (the moving bit of an extension ladder) so I could step over the top instead of around the side. Slippy slidey.

The only thing left to do was wait – and pray. So that’s what I did. That, and recall in horrifying detail the last time I fell off a roof – it was a wintry day in Michigan, and I was carrying plywood across an icy deck with a coworker. I slipped, landed on my tookus, and slid 40 feet to the eave, where I nearly grabbed a safety cleat. I watched the roof edge and 12 feet of brick ascend rapidly, until my feet hit the tundra. Then my butt, right arm, and head – in rapid succession. No injuries, thankfully. But I was sore for days. Then I remembered a friend from years ago who was working on his garage roof. He took a step backward, and landed on his feet on the concrete below. He’s been in a wheelchair for 20 years now.

A while later (about 20-30 minutes) a neighbor rolled into her driveway, interrupting my reverie. “Excuse me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?” I would have asked, were I not desperate. Instead, I croaked, “Help?” She came over and asked what I needed. “Could you hold the ladder for me – oh, and grab the bungee cord on the passenger seat please!” I strapped the skittish ladder to the gutter, and with a stranger half my weight on the bottom rung, swung a leg over and made it off the roof. My right hand is still sore from the molten shingle-burn I got, but I’m immensely grateful.

Bruised pride is better than broken ankles.

After that episode, I didn’t set foot on the roof again. I’ve been in much scarier places, but I’d rather not. The painting was achieved using my Hummingbird Rescue Pole, some duct tape, and a brush that could be dipped in a bucket on the sidewalk below. Job done, paid, and customer happy.

That, and I didn’t even squish the scary spider. It was near one of my work areas, and I wanted to be damn sure she stayed in her zone, and I’d stay in mine. This was a critter that, if it landed on you, you would feel its weight.

That’s a 1″ pipe next to it. Jibblies.

This was a line I read in my current book, American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I think it’s a quote of someone else, but it stuck with me. This is a book that has taken me by surprise in lots of ways, not least of which is its vulgarity. I love some of Gaiman’s other work (Stardust – the book and the movie, Anansi Boys, and Sandman – not to mention Good Omens), so I knew I’d enjoy it. But this book is like sticking your head in a blast furnace in its naughty surprises. So far I’m thoroughly enjoying the story, but not sure how heartily I’d recommend it yet.

This is compared, probably unfairly, to Terry Pratchett’s work. I’ve read most of his enormous catalog, and his stuff is universally well written, hilariously funny, brilliantly intelligent, with great characters and scenes. There may be one swear word per book, but it always fits delightfully with the story. On my trip to Michigan last weekend, I started and finished one of his in 2 days (one day on a plane, and one day every chance I had to sit alone). I brought American Gods as a backup, because I figured that would happen.

*****

Speaking of Michigan, this was an eventful weekend.

I go back about every month to visit family, and this time it converged perfectly with a few big events. My 88-year-old maternal Gramma was making her annual circuit from California to the family reunion in New York to family in Michigan. My mom has been in a nursing home for over 6 years, totally dependent because of MS, so Gramma and Aunt Patty come out twice a year to visit, gossip, and make sure the care she’s getting is up to snuff. Gramma is very insistent. Mom gets a haircut and the nurses and administrators know that everything had better be top-notch, or they’ll have a large bulldog of a little old lady in their faces.

My sister’s husband was also celebrating his 40th birthday this weekend. We used to play football, bloody murder, and capture the flag in the yards around our houses growing up. It took some getting used to at first, seeing this kid married to my sister. But it’s all good now.

The trip out was perfectly smooth (although my preferred airline’s rates were double Delta’s), and I arrived Friday morning in a strange airport. Normally I fly into Grand Rapids, but since the family was all converging in Lansing, that’s where I went. I got a hotel room down the hall from Gramma, and she even wrangled me a little discount because she’s in with the management. And she’s old as dirt, and visits twice a year. Hey, 30 bucks is $30.

On the first day, my dad picked me up at the airport, and I treated him to lunch. It was nice to hang out with him and catch up on the doings in his life. He shared in far too much detail what he has to go through since prostate cancer treatment. It’s something I never want, even though he’s in pretty good health for an old, overweight, diabetic cancer survivor. Let’s just leave it at ‘I never wear light colored pants anymore.’

Gramma and Aunt Patty arrived a few hours later, and we visited together with Mom at the nursing home. Mom is somewhat of a mystery, as her communication is pretty limited. On good days, she will laugh and smile and answer questions or statements with a word or two. On regular days, she’s nearly catatonic. She will look me in the eye, but won’t speak or respond. She makes faces often, usually of disgust or pain or sleepiness. This was a regular day, and the 3 of us visited while she napped or watched TV Land.

The next day was the Big Party in Grand Rapids, and after a morning visit with Mom, we made the 1 1/2 hour trip. My aunt drove, and while we got there safely, I was immensely grateful to have a book with me. If I looked out the windows, I would surely have been a wreck of nerves and hesitant politeness. Instead, I kept my nose buried between the pages and pretended we weren’t swerving suddenly from to to fro and back again. We stopped at Meijer, which is a superstore that easily kicks Mal Wart and Super Targets’ respective asses. Gramma napped in the car, I got beer and batteries for my BIL’s birthday present, and Aunt Patty got a card. I picked up a dozen items, got back to the car, and read a whole chapter before AP picked out her card.

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OK, THIS is why I couldn’t imagine writing a book. I left this post to simmer on the wayback burner for a whole fargin’ WEEK while I got back into life as I know it. Oh, and thanks ETW for prompting me to get back to it. So, where was I…

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Swan boats and some guy not related to me

Swan boats and some guy not related to me

Oh yeah, we arrived at the party which was staged at the park outside the zoo. It’s a nice, big place with lots of green space and a pavilion and a duck pond and lots of parking. Except for this day, which was the day of ‘Taste Of Grand Rapids,’ where scads of local restaurants show off their stuff to thousands of ticket-holding tasters. After 3 laps around the parking lot, we found a space within walking distance of the party site. My new frisbee was instantly tossed in the duck pond by a random nephew, and my sister was paddling around the pond in a swan boat with her son. Someone asked, “Which one is she in?” and my dad immediately answered, “The one that’s leaning over.”

My sister is not petite.

A good time was had by all, and especially me. I got to see some very special people, and it was a surprise to me. In the divorce proceedings, my 2 kids have decided that since their Mom and I have split up, someone has to be the bad guy. I’m it, so they have declined to see me at every opportunity for a long time. They showed up at the party, and it was delightful to catch up with them. I hope for more time like that.

I found out from my middle sister, after the party, that Gramma had a problem with the beer. She said, “I didn’t know he was bringing beer. I wouldn’t have approved.” Apparently, someone in the family was an alcoholic. Therefore, beer is evil (or so I suppose). Glad I didn’t ask permission then.

The next day, it was time to fly home. I got to visit with Mom again, and after a few minutes decided to trek across the street to McDonald’s for a shake. She seemed to be in a shake mood. When we were kids, the only kind of ice cream we got was Neapolitan, which Mom called Vanchocstraw. I tried to get that in a shake for her, but the machines are automatic now. So you only get one flavor at a time. Drat. I returned with a vanilla shake, and fed it to Mom in small sips. She was bright and cheery, and smiled a lot. When it was time to go, I asked if I could smootch her on the cheek – and got the biggest smile from her I’ve seen in 20 years.

Totally worth it.

*****

Gramma and Aunt Patty were supposed to return home on Wednesday, but Gramma had shortness of breath and chest pains on Tuesday morning. She was admitted to the local hospital (wrecking their airline tickets) until she stabilized. She’s been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, which I’m told can be lived with. They’re on their way home now, and all is well – but it was a tense couple of days.

Today was a beautiful day in the ONS. I visited an Indian (Slurpee, not casino) for a fruitless estimate, then went to my next appointment, which turned into work. I got a new power washer that does things like this to driveways. Tis a good way to spend a day in the sun. Up until I powerwashed my eyeglasses right into the weeds, and didn’t find ’em until 2 hours later when they were covered with muck. No new scratches, so I got that goin’ for me. Which is nice.

Tomorrow I get up at the crack of darkness, travel to my local airport, and wing my way back to Meechigan for a visit with family. My aging Gramma from California has announced that this may be her last time flying cross-country (she normally makes 2 circuits a year to visit family in NY and MI). So, I’ll definitely be there to get hugs and mushy smootches and hang out with her and other relatively types. I have a brother in law who’s turning 40 this weekend too, so there will be partying to do. Lately I’ve not been looking forward to trips back ‘home’ but this one promises to be enjoyable.

Got any weekend plans? Do share, and feel free to share more than once.

That’s one of my most favorite words. As a bonus, it’s onomatopoeic. which makes it even more fun. Vastly more fun than a barrel of monkeys, which just sits there uneasily and starts to smell bad after a while.

*****

I bought myself a new toy last week, after being lost for nearly 2 hours. I have a map book, and had been to this customer’s home twice before. But the highways in that neighborhood have been strung like wet crepe paper by a band of drunken monkeys, and I know I went right around it a few times (via a few college campi and several one-way streets). My current location was always 3 pages from my destination, since it was near the edge of the page. I eventually found myself in front of a Sam’s Club, and went in waving my membership badge for to purchase my rescue from eternal lostness.

I whipped out my utility knife and sliced open the 80-lb-test plastic packaging, plugged in the power cord, and waited for it to find the satellites. I punched in the address, and BOING! It told me where to go and when I’d arrive. Turns out I was 4 minutes from the destination.

It’s the most satisfying purchase I’ve made in a long time. I go somewhere different nearly every day, and average 100 miles a day. So I’m sure it’ll pay for itself in lost time and lost gas just for being lost. Or at least, nearly lost – not lost enough to ask for directions, but too lost to drive straight there.

*****

I got to play with my toy extensively last week. There was a vacation to take, my first ‘real’ vacation since my big life-change last year. We drove over 750 miles in a week, only about half of them for getting there and back. The rest were for silly errands and commuting, shopping trips for extra beer and syrup, replacement towable toys (it’s a bad idea to tow a husky-pants man behind a pontoon boat on a tube that’s not quite as large as he is; it could lead to breakage of some sort), and the like. One of my fellow vacationers has a wise philosophy during Lake Week: There is no travel that doesn’t involve floating. His car didn’t move from its spot in seven days. I hope to make that my mantra if I’m lucky enough to go next year.

I got to meet the people that will be family soon if things go according to plan, and was delighted by all of ’em. We floated, boated, played games, talked politics (ghasp), and generally had a blast. I even tried kneeboarding. I failed miserably, what with my inability to get the board under my knees before skimming along the surface. At one point, I was atop the board for a good hundred yards – but a sideways board will not let you get much farther than that. My companions (one 11 years old, one 17, and one adult about my size) all popped out of the water with ease, doing jumps and spins and various expert maneuvers with grace and style. Good thing I don’t stake my ego on my kneeboarding abilities, cuz it’d be shot by now.

*****

Do you know how much fun Waverunners are? I do. Enough fun to stay on one for over 7 straight hours, taking various chirlen on rides and towing tubes, doing loops and jumps, slow speed putts and high speed tear-inducing cruises, and falling over at most unexpected times. I thought ahead and put plenty of sunscreen on most of my bits. But I forgot the top of my feet. ‘Tis a good thing I had water shoes on, or I’d be unable to walk for the pain – as it is, the tops of my ankles turned piggybank pink and hurt pretty good for a cuppa days.

Totally worth it.

A day’s rental, a lifetime’s memories. I might like to buy one (more likely two, because it’s always more fun to be on the water WITH someone), but the math would have to make more sense. A pair of used machines, trailers, and insurance could go for about $8000. Paid monthly, that would be $222 a month for 3 years. Or, I could rent a newish, well maintained machine for a week per year for about $700. Includes insurance, and I don’t have to tow or store it.

There’s very little I do just for fun that justifies $222 per month. Of course, that will change when I get my pilot’s license…

*****

The innernet is down at the homestead again. Came back from holiday to find the cable modem staring at me with brainless, unblinking eyes like a zombie on a game show. The power light is not on, and the twinkle of any activity is missing from the lights that are glowing. Clearly, it has shat the bed.

So, here I am, getting Phantom Ass Syndrome at the coffee house because it is a Sunday and Time Warner Cable is not open for the likes of us on Sunday. Monday, it shall be fixed. Again.

And now, I leave you with my current wallpaper. Have a nice day.

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