Monday, June 30, 2008

Good for a laugh

My children are in the basement playing a video game in which you make up your own characters. In so doing, they are laughing the kind of laughs that completely take your breath away. Still, somehow, between the massive spasms of hilarity, they manage to spit out a few words. What are these words?


What else could possibly be so funny? Nothing is funnier than a fart.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Today Kelsey and I went to the salvage yard. We had a couple of sewing machines to get rid of. One of them a neighbor gave us a few years ago. They didn't know where it came from or if it worked, but we needed one, so they handed it over. It didn't work. The other was Eric's mom's, which also didn't work. Kelsey was upset we were getting rid of something of Grandma Max's until she found out it was useless. Eric swore at that thing for years.

Anyway, the salvage yard. It's much like any other junk yard/recycling center – it's a pit. But it's close and they take almost everything. So we walked in and there was no one there, just the sound of a radio and the smell of grease and spoilage. Kelsey started fanning her nose. We looked around and finally I decided to just start walking through the discarded chunks of American consumerism awaiting dismantling, melting and repurposing. Past the smashed bits of vehicle but before the wasteland of dehumidifiers, a man poked his head at me.

"Are you looking for Maury?" he asked, coming a little closer and wiping his blackened hands on an equally blackened towel.

"I just want to get rid of some stuff," I said.

"Go through that gray door," he said, pointing toward a gray door that said the area was for hard hats and employees only. We went through, stepping carefully over the piles of debris and oil-soaked dirt.

On the other side of the door, the room was quiet. Out back were more heaps of metal and plastic. Trucks awaited emptying and filling, and a crane stood idle. There were three rows of conveyor belts. Directly in front of us were about 15 carburetors. Past that were air conditioners, and past that it's anyone's guess. Assorted pieces of machinery were in various states of disassembly and the space between the rows was taken up with absolutely anything imaginable that might have some metal on it. There was even a Trek mountain bike that appeared to be in pretty good shape except for a bit of rust around the brake calipers. I wondered if that was there for recycling or if it was something Maury rode to work.

I called out, "Hello?" No answer. "Hello?" Nothing.

Kelsey kept my hand tight and close as I scanned for signs of life. There was a large, gray door that said in white letters, "KEEP DOOR LOCKED AT ALL TIMES." It was open, so we walked toward it through the metal graveyard where something was hissing its last gasp on the conveyor belt.

Nearing the door, we heard a voice. It sounded like Maury was on the phone.

We got to the open door that was supposed to be locked. I gave a quick glance inside and saw stairs and another open door that led to what must have been a break room. The voice was close, but still a little muffled. I called again. "Hello?"

"What do you need?" came the voice, closer than I expected, and I looked through the door and around the corner. The voice came from behind another door that read, "TOILET."

I smiled and said I wondered if I could drop off some stuff.

"I'll be out in a minute."

Kelsey and I hurried back to the door that said hard hats and employees only. I didn't want to be standing there when he flushed. I wondered if he would flush at all, if he would be too embarrassed to flush after being caught talking on the phone taking a dump in a dump. He did. He washed his hands, too, not that anyone could tell, and he was dripping in sweat. I can only wonder if it was very hot in the john or if he had an excruciating time of it. Like a dog shitting peach pits, he was.

"Whaddya got?" he asked, coming nearer, a dubious expression on his face.

"Can you take old sewing machines?" In a moment of feminine passivity, I didn't know if they'd be interested in something so paltry. I mean, I wasn't delivering half a Buick.

"I'll take a look at 'em."

As I led him to my car, which looks like a four-door Smart Car, he asked, "Are they pretty big?"


He said he'd take them. I should back my car up and just leave them by the green sign. He'd pick them up.

So that's what we did.

Across the street, the upscale coffee roaster billowed light, gray smoke and the bitter smell of burning beans into the industrial air.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Let the healing begin

So, I've been a bit under the weather. I've felt like doing nothing. I lie in bed, my mind is fine (just go with it), so I try to do something, and then I need to go lie down again. It's quite boring and makes me feel utterly useless. I even had a dream that Eric was leaving me because I was such a useless drip. I also started smoking crack in that dream. And tried to hide the smell by polishing my nails.

Anyway, I feel remarkably better today than yesterday.

Kelsey is also feeling better. She had a day yesterday that would exhaust a lumberjack, she ate like a lumberjack, then she spent the early morning hours ejecting it all. Fortunately, I had suggested a bucket be put in her room when she complained of a hurting tummy. Eric had the honor of holding it for her. I don't do barf well, I'm ashamed to say.

What is it about barf that gets me into panic mode? It's just barf. But if Eric is here to handle it, I completely flip out. I wasn't so bad last night because it was contained and we pretty well knew it was coming. When there's no cleaning of it, I do pretty well. But if it is all over the floor or the smell is strong, I nearly faint. I can't sleep the rest of the night. Every sound I hear is the child waking up to puke again and I freak out all over again, profuse sweating, heart pounding, full-body tingling, heavy breathing. When Eric's not here, it still upsets me, but I have a kid to help and soiled items to clean, so I have to keep some control. But what a spaz.

Do other animals detest vomiting so much? Most humans object rather strongly. I used to know a guy who said throwing up was natural and animals use it to heal all sorts of ailments, so whenever he felt slightly ill for any reason, he'd make himself hurl. Got a toothache? Upchuck to the rescue. Sprained ankle? Forget ice or Ace bandage. Try purging instead.

That was not a friendship that lasted. Opposite ends of the psycho spectrum.

Which way do you go?

Monday, June 16, 2008

The ark has landed

Well, hey! It hasn't rained in about 12 hours. The lake and lagoons continue to rise, though, as we are downstream from much of the hardest hit areas of Wisconsin. My neighbors down the street have sandbags fortressing their yards and homes, too late, though for some of them. They don't call it a flood plain for nothin'. Even the neighbor next door is down the hill just far enough that the water table has risen into his basement. We had a bit of water, but nothing to complain too much about. Kayleigh, Eric and I worked to direct water and wet-vac the stuff that got in the house. Every time it rains, we're learning what we need to do with our landscaping to keep our house dry. Eric checks the gutters frequently now, and he recently caulked the gap between the house and the driveway. When our neighbor was out with a snow shovel trying to get the water away from his house, Eric tore down a fieldstone garden wall to channel the water to a different part of the back yard and away from our house and the neighbors'.

In the midst of it all, we got our new carpet for the basement. It seemed a bit idiotic to put new carpeting in while we worried about it flooding, but we went ahead. It was the end of April when the old carpet got flooded out, and we haven't had a drop in that part of the house since.

The installers were a couple of brothers doing subcontract work. They were a stitch, singing along at operatic volume to the radio and politely substituting "sugar" for "shit" when something didn't go perfectly. The only trouble we had was that we had asked for the carpet to be glued to the floor and they put pad down. I had seen pad on the invoice, but I assumed it was for the stairs. That'll learn me, huh? They were not pleased, and neither were we. The salesman had written the work order wrong, but we approved it. Eric and Shane, one of the installers, talked to our salesman. They worked out putting down a rubber pad that won't hold water. Shane said he's removed water-damaged carpet with that kind of pad underneath, and the pad was fine. It costs more, though. The salesman ate the cost, and we have a purple rubber pad under our new carpet. We're not convinced it is such a good thing, but we are willing to live with the consequences.

Anyway, I'm glad our corner of the world is drying out.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday the 13th

Today is my brother's birthday. He would have been 59. It's his first birthday without him. It feels pretty crappy.

I took my mom out to lunch. I wanted to do something for her. Food is always good for simultaneously filling you up and stuffing you up. On the drive home, she said, "He didn't live very long, did he. Lee was the best thing that ever happened to him. Lee and the kids."


After he died, my sister-in-law – that's Lee – gave me one of his Coca Cola glasses. I've been filling it with pennies ever since, and now it's almost full. I thought I should do something meaningful with them, but they're just sitting on my dresser. I'll play with them, I think. Clint played with his pennies, some game no one could ever figure out. When I was a kid, I thought he was just screwing around and whenever you thought you figured out what he was going to do next, he told you that you were wrong just so you couldn't figure it out.

Today is also my nephew's birthday. I'll call him.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Pity party

I can't say what I really want to say because it would be rude. It would be truthful, but it could be interpreted as mean. Even when people are rude and mean to me, I won't be rude and mean back. Maybe I'm a sucker. Maybe I'm nice. Maybe I'm just a chicken.

I would love to let fly right now. But I won't because I'm a nice chicken sucker.

How about this: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything. Remember that?

Nice chicken suckers finish last, I think.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

For Heidi, who's gotta have it

I'm sitting at the Toyota dealer, waiting for my free oil change. The free hot chocolate to go with my free oil change is absolutely nasty. It's bitter and watery, and I hope they do a better job with my engine oil than they have with the cocoa. [shudder]

I meant to write a story while I sat here about last night's middle school band concert, but I got distracted by the TV, set to Regis and Kelly. I never watched that show very much, and it has been rather a while since I've seen it. What struck me were Kelly's arms and shoulders. What the hell? Chickie could totally kick my ass. She's obviously been hitting the gym. Her shoulders have that masculine roundness about them, and her biceps are long and large.

Unless it's just a ghost effect on the TV here.

Still, it's disturbing. While I've been sucking lattes, Kelly's been pumping iron with a personal trainer. That bulging-muscle, vein-popping look isn't really what I'm after, but neither is the frumpy mom look that debases me every waking and a few sleeping moments.

Hmm...I've decided Kelly is toned but not huge. Their TV just came in better focus.


And now I'm home again. My car made weird noises after they returned it to me. They tell me it was probably making that noise before and I never noticed because nothing they did could cause it. They looked it over and decided it was the radiator fan rattling things around. I chose not to wait to have it examined more closely. I'll go back on Friday the 13th. What a day for car repairs.

And how interesting.

Regis and Kelly had the kid who won the national spelling bee on. They did a mini-bee between the team of Regis/Kelly and the champ. One of the words was triskaidekaphobia, a fear of the number 13. June 13 is also my dead brother's birthday, as well as my live nephew's birthday, although I have several live nephews and no dead ones.

And speaking of birthdays, today is Kayleigh's birthday. She is 14. Balls and a half. She wants to go to the Olive Garden for dinner and have my monster, triple-layer, triple-chocolate cake.

Fourteen years ago today, my dad arrived in my hospital room to say, "I'm here. I didn't die." I made him promise. He didn't make it to see Kelsey. We videotaped Eric fumbling with Kayleigh's diaper for the first time. Kayleigh puked on me for the first time. I got a migraine. I liked having other people make my meals, even if they were hospital meals.

Kayleigh was such a cute little thing. She had a huge head of black, curly hair and a little upturned nose. Her mouth was a sweet little pink pooch. One of her eyes was bloodshot from getting squeezed through a hole that wasn't quite big enough for her. Man, the sound of those scissors cutting my skin is something I'll never forget. She was a big baby. Nine pounds, three ounces.

She didn't cry when she was born. They whisked her off to suck out her poopy lungs and tried to keep her quiet. They did such a good job that they started to worry about her. Her face, hands and feet were blue. But when they were done clearing her lungs, she let loose a yelp, and they wrapped her up and handed her to Eric. She turned those giant, vulnerable blue eyes to his and he just about fainted. He still gets that way sometimes, like last night when she was dressed for band. She doesn't think of herself as beautiful, but we do, and we always will.

Happy birthday, kid.