Hot Damn! Hot Dog!

My Dearly Beloved hates malls.  You and I have discussed this before.  His mall trauma has, until recently, paled in comparison to his Big Box store phobia.  I’ve always gone alone to those because it wasn’t worth the effort of having to call Security to strap him onto a dolly for me to get him inside.  It leaves so little room for purchases.

Costco is his worst nightmare.

We aren’t bulk buyers since it’s just the two of us.  I  joined Costco mainly for the  pharmacy.  My prescription not covered by insurance is about 40% less there.   One trip paid the membership.  (I recently read on Facebook that they make most of their profits on membership fees and break even on most of the merchandise. Must be true with such a stellar source, right?)

But I digress.  Tuesday, it was time for another Costco pharmacy run.  DB came willingly, along with my assurance that I had no long list.  (He agrees that I shouldn’t need to depend on the kindness of strangers when I struggle with heavy items, so he has gone with me several times now.  He’s even dropped the whimpers and martyr face.  His sighs are much softer.)  

Once in the store though, he assumes Old Fart Costco Cart Shuffle position: stooped over the cart, elbows leaning on the cart handle.  Thinking that he might enjoy looking at gardening supplies, I suggested that he head there while I dropped off my prescription for the (gulp!) coming colonoscopy prep.

Silly me.  He wasn’t even browsing.  He’d parked on the right side of the main aisle, phone in hand, looking like he was calling Roadside Assistance.  I longed for a broomstick prod.

We cruised the wine aisles and he showed enough interest to select a few bottles.  Although he’d told me that we didn’t need birdseed, when he saw the price, he stuck a bag under the cart.  Now see, THAT’S why I needed him.  Had I tried that, I would have gotten stuck in bent-over position and needed EMT assistance.  I hate for that to happen when I have frozen items in the cart.

Let me pause here to say that I bought box of authentic Moravian Meyer Lemon Cookies. . .   delightful!!!  DB chose the coffees and his own snacks, but gasped when he saw the price of toilet tissue.   He suggested that we put some of our food items back so that we’d have need of fewer rolls.   Always a thinker, that man.

He was thrilled when we checked out for less than $200 and thought we should lunch there to celebrate.  Call me a snob, but I have never had a yen to try the  Costco food court;  I did a bit of whimpering myself.  Nevertheless, I agreed.  He went to find a table and I got in line to buy him a hotdog.

My order was a hot dog, two drinks, and some kind of barbecued beef sandwich for me.  When I took it to our table, DB asked how much the spread had cost.

$7.62.

He was ecstatic!  He loaded his hot dog with their relish, onions, and mustard and wolfed it down. . . with relish of his own.   For the next 24 hours, he kept telling me how good it had been and no, he assured me, he was not still tasting it.

Today I need to go to Lowe’s to buy soil conditioner.  My man is going to help me load the heavy bags in the station wagon.  He’s offered to buy lunch afterwards at his new favorite, intimate cafe:

La Petit Costco.

(OOPS: My friend Beanie, who taught French, says that it should be Le Petit Costco or La Petite Costco, so pardon my French.  As North Carolina is already deep into transgender hysteria, I wish to offend no one.  Choose whichever you’re comfortable with. . . and let everyone else do the same.)  

 

 

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Moving… to the State of Panic

Don’t think that the grandkids left behind a string of broken items and a wrecked house to put me in this state.  I’m the one that created the situation in which I now find myself:  the deep doodoo place.

Normal grandmothers would, by now, have the guest rooms all fresh and clean and cookies baked for the next visit.  Instead, this grandmother is spending my days searching for things I put away for “safekeeping”  during the grandkids’ recent Thanksgiving visit.

Although I vaguely remember putting my laptop cord someplace out of sight, I assumed it would surface before I needed it.  When the power level on my laptop dropped to 7%,  I put Plan B into operation:  I got really serious about trying to remember where I’d stuck it to keep it out of little Granddaughter’s reach.

Stupid of me to hide it in the first place.  What could she do to a power cord as long as she didn’t flush it?

I began an intensive search of all the possible places I might have stashed it.  At this point I can safely say that it isn’t in a closet or a drawer.  It isn’t hidden behind the toilet paper stash in the bathrooms or the sheets in the linen closet.  It isn’t under the bed, the sofas, or anything else with a skirt.

I’m beginning to wonder if I flushed it myself.

While I was looking for the cord, I was also hoping to come upon  a couple of Christmas presents I’d hidden before the family arrived.  Those gifts are not in any of the above places either.  One of them is a gift for our Atlanta daughter who was here.  This is the first time I can remember that she didn’t “happen to come upon” her obscurely hidden gift.   When it comes to discovering presents, the girl has some bloodhound in her.

The first of the week,  I dejectedly trudged into the Apple Store to buy a new power adapter for my laptop.  That sucker was $80!!!  The person who assisted me said that if I found mine within two weeks, I could return this one (even used) and get a full refund.  I’m down to 11 days now and I still don’t have a clue. I’m thinking of asking my daughter to come back for a quick visit.  If I dropped a hint that her Christmas gift might be very near something that smells like a power cord, who knows?

It used to be that my super-organized spouse would shake his head at my disorganization, but now, he is completely sympathetic.   Having hit the age when  chronic CRS screws around with our brains and our attention span, he understands.  Bob Dylan is right: the times, they are a-changing.

Just yesterday, my Dearly Beloved consoled me by confessing that he poured himself a cup of coffee and almost put the coffee pot in the refrigerator.  The only thing that stopped him, he said, was that the fridge was so full of leftovers, he couldn’t find room for it.

Hmmm.

I’d better check there for the cord.

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Boxed In

Every time my Dearly Beloved sees that I’m writing a blog post, he asks bluntly, “Is this one going to make me out to be a dumbass?”

Dumbassness is in the eye of the beholder on this one.  You decide.

Our cable/internet provider periodically announces big doings to improve service, blah, blah, blah.   Although hope springs eternal, we haven’t as yet found that to be the case.  In fact, the last time our Atlanta grandkids were here and their parents allowed “screen time,”  forty toes lined up across the foot of the bed in the middle bedroom because that’s the only room that has a consistent internet connection.

The company’s best option for providing us with dependable service might be to buy us a king-sized bed for that room.

During the times we’ve moved around the country, I discovered that it was simpler to  register utilities in my name instead of his.  Back then, when I’d report an outage,  the customer service people insisted that only the Mister could to that, since the account was in his name.  Pshaw!  The damn service had gone out; I wanted service, not secret nuclear codes.

Once I put the accounts in my name, reporting problems became easier.  I had only to tell them my “social” (grrrrr!) to prove my true identity.   Of course, it’s simpler now because usually, customer service is a computer.

What I’m getting around to is that I can’t send them an e-mail about a problem, the cable company sends out a lot of e-mails to me these days.  However, once DB retired, I decided that he could now be the cable communicator.  I forward the e-mails to him for handling.  Like his predecessor, he ignores them.

In the spring, he eventually read one that said we needed to order a  doohickey for any TV that didn’t already have an ugly black cable box.   We have a small TV in the kitchen that doesn’t.

DB called and ordered it and not long afterwards, they sent a cardboard box inside a large, inpenatrable envelope made of some Spanx-like material.  Although a box of that size from Amazon would have been ripped open in the entry hall, this one sat unopened  for three months.

Oh, speaking of Amazon, I usually try to keep a few of their neat, small/medium boxes on hand for mailing packages.  DB,  promptly puts them in the recycling bin.  Thus, when I made cookies to send to friends last week, there was no box available. . . until I spotted the doohickey box.  Perfect size!

By then, DB had opened the box, but hadn’t done anything with the contents, so I dumped everything onto a countertop and mailed off the cookies in the box.

Having the pieces lying there may have inspired him to speed up the process, or maybe he’d planned to do it all along, but DB moved them all to the kitchen island and set about the task of connecting, even going so far as to read the instructions.

That TV is not an easy one to reach because it’s on a shelf above the ovens.    DB spent most of the day mumbling to himself as he fiddled with it, hanging it off the shelf in various precarious positions to get to the back of it with his growing assortment of tools.   No service.

The Doohickey
                           The Doohickey

The next day, he went over his work a second time.  At some point, he came upon an instruction that read something like,  If you’ve gotten this far and it isn’t working, call us.

Hell, for my husband, is a tossup between holding and painting.  That day was pretty bad because periodically I’d hear him muttering, “I hate having to hold.”

Don’t we all, Babe.

Finally, he was told that NOW it would work, just give it time to set itself.

For the next two days, he’d go into the kitchen to check that blank grey screen “resetting” itself.  Long after all my watched pots had boiled, the screen continued to hibernate.

DB went over all the steps–except for calling them–another time.  Still nothing.

That night he advised me that he was at an age that he didn’t have to dance to the cable company’s tune, he was going to do exactly what he wanted to and figure it out himself in his own time.

His “figuring” seems to be happening in glacial time.   He hasn’t touched it since.

Dear Cable Company:  your doohickey isn’t worth a toot, according to my husband.

But I must say,  the cardboard box worked perfectly.

The Battery Isn’t The Only Thing Chirping

A couple of weeks ago, one of the batteries in our wireless alarm system chirped its death song in the early morning hours.  Don’t they always. . . ?  

Dearly Beloved yanked the battery from the offending device and went back to bed.  The next morning  he began opening drawers for batteries in a size I knew we didn’t have,  I reminded him that we have a service contract, which includes changing batteries.   He consented to call them, but added, “Okay, but I’m having them do that one only.”

So, Venus asked Mars what the heck was the reasoning behind that crazy statement.  He said, “Because I don’t want them roaming around my house.”

Sometimes it’s like living with Earl in the Pickles comic strip.  Just call me Opal.

When the repairman did come, DB met him at the door and ushered him to the chirping station.  The guy changed the battery and said, “Now, there are some more that I should go ahead and replace while I’m here.”  

“No, that’s the only one,” DB informed him.

The repairman held out a piece of equipment he was carrying and said, “This sensor says there is another weak one here in the hall. . . .”

Once again, DB jumped in with, “No, THIS is the only one in the hall.”

I couldn’t stand it any longer.  I hollered from the sunroom, “There’s one at the far end of the hall.” 

DB shook his head.  “That’s just a motion detector.”  

The service guy shrugged, “Well, it has a battery that needs replacing.”

DB turned to me and asked, “Where is it back there, anyhow?”

I explained that it was at the top of the built-in bookcase, behind the gnomes.

That, of course, gave Himself a chance to interject a smart crack about the gnomes, which he knows darned well I didn’t buy. They were part of a collection that my mother assembled over the years.  She liked them, large and small, and kept them displayed on a long table in her living room.  After she tired of dusting them over the years, she simply covered the entire table with a sheet.  It looked like a gnome morgue.

My gnome inheritance is high on a bookshelf so that I can’t see the dust.

I’ve digressed here.  Back to the repairman, who’d replaced the second battery and headed for the main panel to see what else might need his attention.  The monitor indicated the playroom battery.  Of course, DB was there at once to “enlighten” him that it was a mistake–that wasn’t labeled properly.  I yelled out, “The playroom is down the basement stairs.”

That battery now replaced, the service rep came back into the sunroom to ask me about the location of others.  DB  hurried in to tell the guy that he surely didn’t want to ask me because I’d be sending him all over the place, up the chimney, under the house, etc.  He was saying all of this with a big smile and laughter in his voice.  Nevertheless. . . .

I shook my head and told the repairman not to feel bad, that DB followed the cable people. the HVAC guy, and any other service personnel around so that he could tell them how to do their jobs, too.

The man looked at DB and said, “Oh, I remembered you as soon as I drove up. The last time I came to this house, I was sitting out in my truck getting my work order ready when you came to the front door and yelled, ‘What are you doing out there?  You can’t get anything fixed sitting in your truck!'”

He smiled at DB and said, “I got out of my truck thinking to myself, ‘What have I got here?  Is this guy for real?  I was pretty cautious even coming in until I saw you grinning.”  

They began talking about sports and DB, mouth still running, followed the guy out to his truck now that all weak batteries had been replaced.

Over the weekend he was complaining about his aging cellphone and how he needed a new one.

“You were just in the mall, buying Good Egg Son a birthday present.  Why in the world didn’t you go in the Apple Store and pick one up while you were there?”

He shuddered.  “Because it’s a mall.”

Sheesh!  I surrender.

What is it we need here?  A butler?

Does Apple make house calls?

I Don’t Give a Fig. Usually.

Last night I dreamed, not of Mandalay, but of the fig tree outside our bedroom window.

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More specifically, I dreamed of a monster squirrel in the fig tree.  He had an orange material wrapped tightly around part of his tail, ninja-style, and when I tried to scare him away, he shook it haughtily at me as if it were a snake rattler.

Yes, I really did dream that.

We planted the fig tree in that location to shield our bedroom bay window from the southeastern sun exposure in summer without having to keep the blinds closed.  We pruned it to grow as a single-trunk tree rather than a bush.  Having it there also offered complete privacy I thought,  yet looking at the photo now, I realize there is exposure on one side.  Gulp. Thank goodness I noticed before I got an urge to do any naked frolicking .  (Of course,  I could simply open the window and grab a few fig leaves should the urge overtake me.)  

Because of the slope of the land, I’m able to stand on the deck and pick figs from the near branches.  Still, it is growing rapidly in its tree form shape, so more and more are beyond my reach.

It’s visible from the sunroom, also, so only a short distance for me to run out screaming and waving a broom whenever I see birds or squirrels messing around in there.  Not long ago,  I tapped on the window to shoo away a squirrel headed for one of the few remaining figs, only to watch in horror as a cardinal swooped in and took a big bite of the fig  before the squirrel could grab it.

This was the summer I was determined to get figs and, thanks to my vigilance, I did exactly that.  I picked enough to make three batches of low-sugar fig preserves for toast and for my favorite– fig, arugula, and prosciutto pizzas.

It hasn’t been easy and frankly,  I became way too obsessed with those figs, taking on a persona somewhere between Mrs. Danvers and the Incredible Hulk where the fig tree was concerned.

One day as I was raking magnolia leaves along the back fence, I glanced toward the house doing my regular fig tree perusal, when I noticed DB standing under it with a pair of  pruning loppers in hand.

“HEY!” I yelled, “What are you doing with those loppers?”

As usual, he had those darned earbuds blasting music into his ears and couldn’t hear a thing. I yelled again, looking around frantically for something to toss his way and catch his attention.  Nothing caught my eye. . . except the rake in my hand.

No way could I throw it that far, so I started to run toward DB.    Still oblivious to my maniacal rants, he blithely cut away one a branch of the tree and reached for another.  I kept running.

He glanced up to see the mother of his children raging toward him, weapon in hand.

“What are you DOING???”  I screamed.

Looking non-perturbed, he popped out an earbud and said, “I was just cutting off these low-hanging branches so we wouldn’t have to duck or walk around them.” 

“But I can only REACH the low ones to pick the figs!”  I told him.

Oh.  Okay, I won’t cut any more,”  he answered agreeably and reach down to pick up the branch he’d already cut.  What could I say?  I turned to go back to my raking.

“Hey,” he called, and I turned to see a quizzical look on his face.  “Exactly WHAT were you planning to do with that rake?”  

To this day, I’m not sure.  I’m pretty sure I had a bead on his backside,  but I don’t remember which end of the rake I was aiming or exactly what I intended to do with the rake.  It was all a bit unsettling.

I put my remaining canning jars away for the season.  After that, whenever I saw a squirrel or a bird in the fig tree, I simply shrugged.

But if that ninja turtle ever shows up, forget the loppers, I’m handing DB the axe.

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t. Even. Ask.

The Evidence:

1.  Cherry tree.

2.  Chain saw.

3.  Duct tape.

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George Washington?  Chain Saw Massacre?

I told you. . . best not to ask.

“I’m telling you, the gorgeous of the world can actually look pretty intimidating when they scowl. Imagine a snow-white swan with a scary tattoo holding a chain saw. There’s just no way to really prepare for that.”

― Jim Benton, Okay, So Maybe I Do Have Superpowers

A Tool and a Man’s Opportune Parting

Two packages were delivered to our house last week.  Take a guess as to which one is mine:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yes, of course mine is the box which contained sensible sandals.  The big orange BOX clearly belonged to Dearly Beloved.

When he first decided he wanted to take over care of the lawn, DB had to buy a new mower, rotary tiller and a couple of other tools.  Then there was the archeological dig in the garage to unearth some other equipment he’d saved–older than any of our grandsons.  He found two old trimmers and combined parts to come up with one working trimmer.  Who knows how many times they’ve moved with us?!   There’s a special bond between a man, his lawn, and his power tools.

Our lawn, to be honest, looks great. The unofficial committee of the nonexistent Yard of the Month award has told him that he is the unofficial recipient.  He enjoys working on it.

Some of his equipment, however, just wasn’t cutting it.  Literally.  The trimmer kept breaking.  The electric leaf blower that I had talked him into wasn’t strong enough to do its job either..

In fairness to myself, back when he bought that blower, there was no plan for him to be waltzing around on the roof with a duct-taped leaf blower, the cord and extension cord dragging behind him.  It’s a retirement skill.  Our horrified neighbors have protested.  Heck, I’d protest, too, but he waits until I leave the house to climb up there.  I have come home and found small groups of neighbors standing in the front yard, watching.  You’d think he was a Wallenda.

When his other disappointment– that old, cobbled-together string trimmer that he’s repaired again and again with parts from one even older, broke this time, instead of putting them back in the garage, he gave last rites to both and passed them onto Earl, the dump truck driver.  Earl says he’ll rebuild them into something powerful enough to cut down trees.

DB hates going shopping,  a fact so well-known that Little Mary Sunshine is grouchy after a shopping excursion with him. BUT, since he has discovered Amazon Prime, internet shopping has opened new worlds for him.  He began a search for the perfect POWER trimmer.

When we returned from an outing last week,  the BOX was leaning against the side of the house.  Even DB was surprised by its size.  He had to carry it battering-ram style through the front door.

This new trimmer/brush cutter can slice and dice as well as amputate and mutilate. I don’t know how he can even carry it around.  The box alone weighs more than the old trimmers.

Our son-in-law had a similarly dinky model electric weed trimmer for years.  Electric, at our daughter’s insistence.   Son-in-law found it too embarrassing to use it during daylight hours.  He called it his “weed bender,” since it wasn’t powerful enough to cut anything..

DB couldn’t wait to tell him about this new one.

A pair of goggles came in the BOX as part of the equipment.  DB thought that might be overkill until he used it for about five minutes.  He had to come inside and change from shorts and t-shirt into jeans and a long-sleeved sweatshirt because the trimmings were flying with such force that his legs and face were getting cut. Now he believes that a helmet and knee pads would be appropriate as standard equipment, too.

I won’t be touching it.  Even leaned against the garage wall, it looks more menacing than anything in Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Just tell me . . .  does this thing need to be registered as an assault weapon?

 

My mom said the only reason men are alive is for lawn care and vehicle maintenance.
Tim Allen

… mow the lawn perfectly, but neglect to make the bed? It’s pure, unadulterated logic.Everyone can see the yard – nobody can see the bed. The lawn is the canvas uponwhich guys judge each other. It’s the great redeemer. If we aren’t great lawn men, we’re nothing.   – Kevin Kerwin, 47 Husband Mysteries