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London’s Burning (No, just my feet)

Wow, has it been over three months since I last posted? Shit, I didn’t mean for that much time to pass.

Here’s my explanation for why I haven’t written and what happens when one moves to another country over four thousand miles away. Consider the clichéd idiom “Get your ducks in a row.” When I have my ducks in a row it means I have my shit together. My ducks were pretty much all lined up until October 27 when we moved to London. Upon arrival I opened the cage to let my ducks stretch their little legs, but they were like “Holy shit, we’re in London. Let’s go party with British ducks! Woohoo! Duck orgy!” I yelled at them to line up and they all quacked at me to go to hell. Yep, my stupid ducks abandoned me at Heathrow.

I had one duck that made me exercise. I had another duck doing the grocery shopping. I had a junk food police duck. A vegan police duck. (That one was a real hard ass, but without her, I ate about fourteen pounds of cheese in the first month here.)

For three months I’ve been collecting new ducks. I’m only writing this because I found my creative duck.


What I’m saying is, everything is turned upside down when you leave everything you’ve ever known. I found myself asking stupid things like “What did I used to eat for breakfast?” It’s bizarre, but, anyway, I hope to have all my ducks back in a row soon.

* * *

Oh crap, I now see with some regret that I promised to write about a disastrous bath I took in September.

Fine, here goes.

It seems I’m like a kid in that I have trouble figuring out the controls in unfamiliar showers. (Or is this common for some of you adults as well, because I really feel dumb when I get into a strange bath tub.)

What does this big knob do? Is left cold? How can I get the water to stop pouring from the lower pipe so I can bathe, like, standing up? Whose hair is that stuck in the corner and who’s going to quickly make it no longer in here before I seriously gag?

Are any of these questions familiar to you? I hope so.

Now let’s time travel back to September.

After a long day of looking for a home in Southwest London, I’m tired, standing naked in the bath tub in room 22 of the Richmond Gate Hotel and the water is streaming from the lower faucet. Hot. It’s so hot I start freaking out. I turn the big knob left. Nothing happens. I turn it right. Nothing happens. I’m praying I don’t accidentally switch this scalding water to the shower because I’m sure my face would melt off and disappear down the drain. That’s how hot the water is.

My Bath is Hot

My feet are burning and the water is creeping higher. You might be wondering why I didn’t just step out of the tub at this point. Good thinking! But consider that I’m an idiot and fold easily under pressure. Instead of getting out, I climb UP so I’m standing on the edge of the tub, straddling the lake of fire, facing the water controls. Now I’m a little too high to see if there are any clues written on the knobs so I squat down a bit. I look like I’m doing an ill-timed obscene thigh exercise.

My feet are now safe, but I suddenly remember that I couldn’t get the door locked earlier and my wife and kids are right on the other side of it. The view of myself hovering naked over Hell’s River from the door behind me flashes into my head and–well, I said I was freaking out earlier, but the prospect of them barging in on this was scarier than any injuries I could have sustained form the scalding water. So I’m squatting there working the knobs like I’m driving a race car while looking every two seconds behind me hoping like hell no one appears.

I thought about yelling something like “please don’t come in,” but that would’ve sounded weird and they surely would have heard the desperation in my voice.

Imagine: “Uh, guys, uh, please, if you have to pee or grab the toothpaste or whatever, can you FOR-THE-LOVE-OF-GOD wait about sixty seconds? Whatever you do, do not open that door because you’ll never be able to un-see what you’ll see right now if you come in here right now.”

In the end I survived and had a nice shower.

Now, I’m off to tend to my ducks.

I take showers (very seriously)



The mover dudes–yes, they were all male–threw the last box of our crap into the truck Friday afternoon leaving our house filled with nothing but items to be donated or stuffed into suitcases for our flight Sunday evening. I started writing the following post three weeks ago. I want to get it out there before it becomes too stale. If you find mistakes…good job, you should become a copy editor.

* * *

On our September home-finding trip to London, I had what could be called “A Bathing Incident.” The purpose of what follows is to familiarize you with my views on bathing before writing about the actual incident at a later date.

When I decide to clean my entire body, my go-to method is to stand in the bathtub under a shower head. Most people call this “taking a shower,” as in “Hey, I’m going to go take a shower” or “Dude, I’m gonna hop in the shower real quick.”

Some people prefer to lie down in a tub of water. People call this “taking a bath.” Someone might say, “Dude, I’m gonna jump in the tub” or “It’s bath time, baby!” On average, I take one bath a year. I would take more, but…

Taking a bath is hard, dirty work 

  • Water temperature control. When I’m standing under a shower head and notice the water is too cold, I turn the knob to instantly fix the problem. Bam! Just like that. Preparing for a bath requires some work. I need to pay attention as the tub fills and generally I prefer not to pay attention to stuff. If you can turn the water on, walk away, and return to find a tub of water that’s not too cold and not too hot, you are an asshole because that’s never happened to me. Changing the overall water temperature of a tub of water is anything but “instant.” And if you’re like me, which you’re not because you’re an asshole, you have forgotten about the whole affair and the tub is so full that it will be impossible to correct the temperature without draining half of the water you’ve collected. Who has time for all that?
  • Hair washing. I’m truly clueless about this. I think some people seperate the washing of hair from the washing of the rest of the body. Like they wash their hair in the morning and then take a “dry hair” bath in the evening. But if you’re like me, you want to get it all done at once. I have stuck my head under the faucet while on my hands and knees. (Don’t you EVER walk into the bathroom with me doing this!) I have also, while on my back, slid down to submerge my head. Either way, once my head is sufficiently lathered, how am I supposed to rinse the shampoo? Again, I have rinsed on my hands and knees and I have rinsed by submerging. Both methods suck.
  • Floating Filth. The purpose of bathing is to remove loose hairs, dirt, oil or whatever nasty shit I’ve been into. During a shower, gravity is my friend. Everything is washed down your body and disappears down the drain. (If chunks of dirt from your body are getting stuck in the drain, you need to bathe more often. Seriously.) But during a bath, all the stuff you’re trying to get rid of just floats to the surface and sits there, like “Look at me, I’m gross and I’m not going anywhere!” People say baths are relaxing, but this is not the case for me when I see a pubic hair or even a tangle of arm airs or god-knows-what floating towards my face. And then when I scrub with soap, the water turns cloudy and a bit slimy. As a child, when I took baths nightly, when finished, I simply hopped out. What a little idiot I was. What about all the dirt and soap that clings?

After reading over my three bullet points, I think I have figured out what all you bath-takers are doing. You’re showering off real quick after your bath. Am I right? The problem I would expect is my fear of that first blast of water from the shower head. It could be chilly. If you think for one minute that I’m going to STEP OUT of the bath tub to fuss with the temperature of the shower water only to step back in to take a mini-shower, you have a goddam-nother thing coming. This is all madness!

Anyway, now you know why I take one bath per year and why next year I’m taking zero baths.

Next I’ll tell you about the disaster that was my bath at the Richmond Park Hotel.

Home Finding Trip to London

Oman Air

The four of us are flying to London on Sunday. We’ll have four days, Tuesday through Friday, to find a place to live. No pressure, huh? We’ll be escorted around by a letting agent. Our first choice is to settle in the Richmond area, specifically St. Margarets, which is only nine miles from Central London. If we’re lucky, we’ll find a place on Tuesday and will have all week to chill and to explore.

After being home owners for ten years, we’ll be returning to the world of renting. Believe me, this is a good thing. If I end up owning another house in my life something has gone terribly wrong. When I was born, family took one look at my naked, slimy body and said “Oh look, this little guy’s a renter.” So I have been literally living against my nature since before Hurricane Katrina messed up New Orleans.

(Mini-rant: In the United States, it’s drilled into our heads that the “American Dream” includes owning a house, but for many people, renting makes more sense. To be a good citizen, we’re supposed to take the following steps in adulthood: Go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids, retire, die. The most important thing that needs to happen at every step is to consume. Fill your over-sized house with tons of shit. Follow the current fashions so you don’t get too comfortable in your old clothes. Don’t stop spending or the economy will collapse. Drives me nuts.)

The girls will be flying for the first time and they’re excited, but I’m afraid they’ll realize pretty quickly (shortly after take-off) that flying completely blows. I enjoy the speed of getting around, but hate that I can’t sleep and the constant assault on my personal space by people I don’t know. Who knows, maybe they’ll love it.

In my early twenties, I flew to Las Vegas and to Florida. This was the 90s. For some reason I didn’t go near an airplane for the next twenty years. Until this year. 2014 will go down as the year I flew my ass off: three flights to London and one to San Diego.

But let me get real. Flying is the least of my worries. It’s stressful to be on the verge of a new life. We’re extricating ourselves from what we’re familiar with, snipping the connections. We’re nearing the end of a large book, like War and Peace, and we are brushing our fingers along a row of other dusty tomes with strange titles and we’re not sure we’re going to like what we choose, but we know we’re going to be stuck reading it for the next few years. And paper cuts. We’re going to cut our fingers on sharp pages and drop books on our feet and–okay, I’m over-stretching this metaphor.

British books

Have you heard we’re at war?

With my rotten luck, I will be abducted by ISIL (also called ISIS or IS or Islamic State) because that kind of stuff is more likely to happen in London than Edwardsville, IL. I would blame my abduction on our current and former president for being warmongering boneheads. You might eventually see me beheaded on YouTube.

Three reasons I don’t want to be beheaded by ISIL:

  1. It would be embarrassing because who knows what kind of distorted facial expressions I’ll be making and they usually grab their victims by the hair and that would totally screw up my carefully crafted ‘do.
  2. Being beheaded will surely leave some kind of scar around the neck area. Unsightly.
  3. My freaking HEAD would be separated from the rest of my body, making it extremely difficult to continue living my life. I would imagine it being incredibly hard to make friends in a foreign country without a head. “Oh, look at that guy without his head–bloody foreigner!”

The Great Purge (Saws and Tight Underwear For Sale, Cheap!)

One of the most exciting aspects of our impending move to London is what I’m calling the G-POOSH, or The Great Purge Of Our SHit. (Okay, I’m not really calling it that.) It’s the process of jettisoning everything but the essentials. For example, I have a shirt that pisses me off when I look at it because it fits a little funny. I like the idea of wearing it, but not the actual practice of it. At one point it had potential, but ultimately, it’s a huge disappointment. Needless to say, it’s not going to London. In fact, if it had a face, I’d punch it. Yes, I’m the kind of dude who would punch a cantankerous shirt right in the face without remorse. Pow!

Not me, not my shirt. This is the worst shirt I have ever seen in my life. Or the best. I'm not sure.

Not me, not my shirt. This is the worst shirt I have ever seen in my life. Or the best. I’m not sure.

That reminds me of my tight underwear. A year ago, I bought two pairs of tight underwear at Target to wear while I jog and exercise. You know, to keep things in place. I haven’t decided if they’ll make the trip. Sure, they’re small and take up very little space, but I haven’t touched them all summer. Each time I open the drawer where my underwear live, they’re like “You bastard, you better not abandon us!”

This will probably be a last minute decision. I’ll be at the airport with my tight underwear balled up in my hand, and the authoritative airport voice will say something like “Last call, get on the plane now or we’ll leave your ass in the United States!” and Jennifer will be, like, “Come on Mike, we have to go!”

Me: But what about my tight underwear? Do you think I’ll need them?

Her: Are you freaking insane?

As a family we have a thousand decisions like this.

But some have already been made for us. We have a Blendtec blender that cost about as much as a 1984 Honda Civic (with low miles) that is worthless in the UK. It’s not that they have strict anti-smoothie laws, but the thing just won’t turn on over there, or, worse, will electrocute my dumb ass for even thinking that a spinach-blueberry drink is a good idea. I would tell you why this danger exists, but I have no knowledge of basic electricity. I will just type words like “voltage” and “fire” and numbers like “120” and “240” and leave it at that.

Blendtec and 1984 Civic

Since I no longer know how to use electrical hand tools (I swore them off in 2009), I am especially happy that they won’t work over there either. Actually, I haven’t even checked, but I’m hoping really, really hard because I would rather read or sit around looking at the walls than saw boards and drill holes. Books will never, EVER tear my fingers off. (I especially hate circular saws. If I believed in hell, I would think there would be running circular saws all over the place.)Saw Injury

The most annoying problem so far are the toys we have accumulated in the “play room.” I would say that it looks like a tornado has swept through the room, but that’s an overused, boring expression. So I’ll go with this: it looks like three elephants devoured the contents of our kids’ youth and took giant shits all over up there.

I’ve collected enough broken crayons and pencils to choke a rhinoceros. No, a HERD of rhinoceroses. (If it were up to me, the plural of rhinoceros would definitely be rhinoceri.) I have amassed a pile of broken and mismatched toy parts taller than me. Tiny doll blouses. The smallest blue jeans you ever did see. Itty-bitty rubber shoes that won’t even fit on my pinky. (Where’s the doll wearing all this tiny shit?) Plastic pellets from exploded bean bags. Confetti. A headless Toy Story Woody doll that does absolutely nothing when you pull the string. And about four thousand pieces of paper with, like, one scribbled line on each.

What I don’t throw away immediately, I have been bringing down for Ainsley to go through, to choose what goes and what stays. So far–luckily!–she’s decided to “shitcan” about 95% of it. Since she’s discovered Minecraft, she’s much less interested in REAL blocks, like Legos. It’s pixels over plastic.

Okay, that’s it for today. If I continue to write about moving, that just means that I’m avoiding the actual work of preparing to move to the other side of the world.

A Re-Examination of Derek Jeter in Rhyme in Light of his Enormous Retirement Home

Derek Jeter is in the midst of his 20th and final season of playing professional baseball for the New York Yankees. He has earned over a quarter of a billion dollars because of his ability to hit a leather-covered ball of yarn with a stick and to catch that cork-centered ball with a large leather glove placed on his non-throwing hand.

Obviously, I’ve never met Mr. Jeter. People say he’s a great guy, a natural leader. They say he’s private. They say he plays baseball “the right way.”

Here’s a curious quote from Albert Pujos on Jeter: “On and off field, he’s the way you want your kids to grow up. Only Jesus is perfect, but he’s pretty close to that guy.”


Apparently, each time the guy farts, he cures eight kids of cancer. That’s what I’ve heard. (If you’re a Red Sox fan or, like me, you’re sick of people losing their minds over His Royal Highness, go read The Hater’s Guide to Derek Jeter.

I want to remind baseball writers and Yankees fans that Mr. Jeter is a human being like you and me. He was lucky to be born with this specific set of skills that allow him to play a game at the highest level. He was born into the right family at the right time and received the right encouragement and development. That’s about it.

All this good guy stuff? Please stop. We know nothing of how he behaves within his four walls, nor should we know. I think I’m a decent guy. You’re probably a decent human being, right? Have you kicked a puppy recently? I haven’t.

Let me just say: Celebrity worship is a big fucking problem in the United States.

Look at the house Jeter built in Tampa. What do you think?

Let’s hear the justifications for this sickly monstrous house, this flagrantly immoral display of wealth.

  • He’s earned the right to live like a king. This is the United States, the capitalist king of the world!
  • He needs a fortress to hide in from the paparazzi and other curious people.
  • He “gives” back through the Turn 2 Foundation.

Whatever. Here’s what I think:

A Re-examination of Derek Jeter in Rhyme




Our Dogs Kind of Love Uncooked Brown Basmati Rice

Warning: This post contains profanity and several references to feces. If you’re offended by this type of thing, you might want to skip this one.

*  *  *

I’m carefully crafting a blog post about how I literally almost crapped my pants on the evening of Wednesday, May 7 at approximately 8:30 pm.

Often people exaggerate and use the phrase “I almost crapped my pants” casually, like “This big, hairy spider came out of nowhere and was, like, right by my face; I almost crapped my pants!” This person doesn’t really mean that they actually ALMOST SHIT THEIR PANTS. I’m almost certain of this.

But once in awhile it’s real. Because I almost shit my pants thirteen days ago–FOR REAL! So check back every couple of days or, better yet, subscribe to this blog because you seriously don’t want to miss it. Now, for more poop talk . . . .

*  *  *

I wasn’t going to write today, but the dogs got into the pantry yesterday afternoon and helped themselves to a six dollar, 16 ounce bag of organic basmati brown rice, ripped it open and scattered it about the front room. (It was my fault; I left the door open.)

When I discovered the mess at around 2 pm, it was impossible to know how much they had eaten, if any. I mean, it’s uncooked rice. Eww. For humans, eating uncooked rice is not much fun. I can think of a 150 things I’d rather eat. But dogs? Who fucking knows. Dogs are crazy.

The mess our dogs made


This morning while walking them, Dexter stopped and assumed his pooping stance while I jabbed my hand into a black shit-bag (because I pick up after our dogs unlike most people in this neighborhood) and waited. And waited. His eyes bugged. He strained. Nothing came out. The other two dogs were like What’s your deal? Come one, let’s get going! We ain’t got all fucking day.

Finally, after much effort, he pinched off this amazing little rice roll that put an end to me wondering if this particular dog had eaten any brown basmati rice. He definitely had. The rest of the way home, I fretted about all that rice sitting in their guts soaking up water, wreaking havoc and wondered what all this meant for our future walks. Alas, I predict much standing around staring at dog ass today and writing more about rice rolls tomorrow.

(I didn’t snap a photo of the rice roll. If I had known it was coming, I probably would have. But since I was standing there with a ready poop bag instead of a camera, I had it scooped up before I could think about it. Too bad for you because it was pretty awesome, though still gross, because, well, it’s dog shit.)

Since this is a shit-centered blog post, I’m sitting here trying to think of another incident I can talk about, but I can’t think of anything significant. I mean, I walk the dogs 3 to 5 times a day, so I see a shit-ton of dog poop. “Shit-ton” is a word that means “a lot” if you’re unfamiliar. I pick up so much dog poop, such a shit-ton, that we buy pet waste bags in bulk, 700 at a time, like the people who have pet waste removal companies.

Okay. I agree. Enough shit for today.


Help, I Married a Gum Litterer

It’s a miracle that I’m able to write today during such a difficult time. Here’s the problem: I just found out that my wife is a litter bug.

I’ve been asking myself: Should I alert the authorities? Should I file for a divorce?

I know. It’s not like she killed someone. She littered.

But before you stop reading because you think I’m a crazy person, know this: she’s not your typical public nuisance, she’s a chewing gum litterer, an assault to shoes all over Madison County.gum-dailymail

The first time I stepped in someone’s chewed gum, as a kid in the early ‘80s, I instantly hated all people who had ever spit their gum out on the sidewalk and hated unborn people who would someday spit their gum out on the sidewalk for innocent people–kids like me!–to step on while wearing their favorite and fastest pair of running shoes. (I didn’t particularly care for those who even had a passing thought of disposing of their gum improperly, but thought better of it. If you’re related to someone who has spit their gum out on a sidewalk, I hate you. I hate everyone!)

It’s a cruel twist of fate that I would end up married to one of those people.

I found out from our responsible (non-littering) fourteen-year-old daughter.

Here’s how it went down. While pulling out of our local Home Depot, my wife removed her well-chewed gum of indeterminate brand and flavor and chucked it across the front seat and out of the passenger side window onto the ground. She kept driving and apparently didn’t look back. The gum practically zipped right under our daughter’s nose, so I have no reason to doubt her account of this incident.

Obviously, it’s difficult to admit that I’m married to this woman. We took vows and stuff!

When confronted, she shrugged and said she was trying to throw it in a bush. Like that makes it okay.

You’ve probably stepped in chewing gum too. What a mess, huh? Maybe you went through the familiar stages: confusion (Why does it feel as if my right foot is partially sticking to the ground at every step?); anger (I’m going to break the friggin’ neck of whoever left their gum here!); uncertainty (How am I going to get this gum off my shoe without touching it?);  resignation (I’m going to throw this fouled shoe into that pond and walk home with one bare foot!); and finally, practicality and acceptance (I’ll scrape off what I can with this stick and deal with the rest later.)

Stupid gummy shoe in a pond.

Stupid gummy shoe in a pond.

Of course, I’m not perfect. I littered like a madman as a teenager. I would eat an entire McDonald’s meal while driving and, without guilt, toss all evidence of its existence–including the receipt and straw wrapper–right out the window. But I stopped littering during the Clinton administration. Before Monica Lewinsky! Over the years, to avoid littering, I have swallowed enough chewing gum to choke a stable of thoroughbreds.

And I thought she stopped too.

There were signs.

Two years ago she tossed a banana peel from a moving car and seemed surprised at my disgust.

Her response: What? It’s organic! It’s not littering when it’s food.A discarded, gross banana peel

We’ve all seen a rotten banana peel on the sidewalk or side of the road. It’s not pleasant. And here’s something I have never said during such an encounter: “Oh look, some thoughtful citizen has started a compost heap right here in downtown Edwardsville.”

I think it’s safe to say that no person has ever said that about food scraps thrown from a car window.

But it’s my nature to find the silver lining in sour situations. And here’s mine. I realize that I have raised a daughter who, instead of repeating such a foul act, would report it. Obviously, gum littering is not okay with her or she would not have even thought to tell me about it. Thankfully, after being raised by one littering parent and one non, she has taken the path NOT fouled with globs of synthetic rubber.

Like her father, she wraps her chewed gum in its wrapper that was thoughtfully saved and placed in a pocket, or, again, like her father, she dutifully chews gum that long ago lost its pliability and flavor until it can be disposed of properly.

No, this won’t end our marriage, but we’re going to renew our marriage vows to reflect our current reality. I’m working on a couple of spots where I can insert some common sense.

Until death or gum litter do us part.

And, I promise to be true to you until you throw something gross from a moving car.

Let me know what you think.

My Wife Should Know I’d Write About This

I might change the design around here; things are looking a bit stale to me, and I can’t stand that pink border WordPress insists on wrapping around my photos. I’d like to wrap it around their heads.


Anyway, this is too funny not to write about. This is the stuff I wash my face with at night. I recently used up the last bit in a bottle (well, as you know, the very last bit is impossible to reach without sawing the bottle in half) and filled it with water, shook it up, poured it out and filled it again to clean it to recycle. I set it aside out of the way and forgot about it. Amazon sent a new bottle, which and I placed in its usual spot in the cabinet. Here are the bottles, on the left with water.


Jennifer, my wife, who normally uses her own facial cleaner recently began to use mine. One night last week she asked me something like “Why are there two bottle of that stuff?”

“That one’s just water.” I pointed at the old one.

Heh. This is hilarious. For several nights in a row, she’d been washing her face with the one filled with water. Notice on the bottle it says “Clinically shown gentle as water.” I guess that’s why she kept trying. She was rubbing like hell in her wash cloth wondering why it wasn’t lathering even just a little.

Needless to say, I laughed my ass off that night and showed her the obvious difference in color and consistency.

Whew, that was fun to write. I’ll hear about this later when she reads it. I’m sure she’s done some other dumb stuff lately, but I can’t think of anything. Of course, I do dumb stuff all the time, but it’s not as funny, and I’m holding the “pen.”

* * *

 It’s getting colder every day. Some observations and predictions.

  • Ice cream will be less fun to eat.
  • Riding my bike will begin to suck.
  • I’ve almost completely stopped saying, “I’m sweating my balls off!”
  • More often, I’ll be saying “I’m freezing my balls off!”
  • Soon I’m going to say “Where’d I put my damn gloves?”
  • Getting the girls to walk the dogs will be five times more difficult than it already is.
  • Once I find the gloves, on a dog walk, I’ll spend too much time trying to open those maddening poop bags, while the dogs wrap themselves around my legs. Then I’ll get all pissy and tell Jennifer we’re getting rid of the dogs. And cats.
  • Our puppy, who will be experiencing her first winter, will be like “What the hell?”

A review of my death as a way out of sorting girly undies

This is something from a long ago abandoned blog.

Today I’m reviewing my death as it relates to the end of sorting laundered socks, underwear and random female accessories.

If I’m in an elevated mood and a rogue “death” thought takes over my brain, my good mood is stomped on, punched in the mouth, spit on, and then tossed out the door like a sack of garbage.

A rogue thought can sneak in like this: one minute I’m staring into space thinking I’m hot shit (you know…cool) and the next minute an image of myself in a coffin flashes behind my eyes. Where did that come from? Contemplating the end of my own existence is a sure way to bring me back down to earth.

I think about my own death, on average, once a day. What will happen when I take my last breath? Will I “survive” my own death?

The hell if I know.

On the heels of the coffin image in my head, I can instantly bring myself back up (so I can be hot shit again) with the realization that, after I die, I will never have to dig through a big pile of socks and underwear trying to piece together this weekly puzzle.

Four baskets of clean clothes reduces down to one of just socks, underwear, and other random female accessories that I don’t understand (tiny scrunched up black things that I just toss into the box of American Girl doll clothes, belts that I thought were scarves, and head bands that, at first glance, I thought were underwear).

Nowadays, when I find scrunched up black garments that look way too small for human use, I know that I shouldn’t throw them into a toy box. That leads to Jennifer rampaging around the house–usually when we’re running late to get somewhere important–yelling things like why can I never find the girls’ tights? I know the damn things don’t just get up and walk away!

What the hell IS this?

After much delay, it’s time to suck it up and tackle that basket of hell. As the girls have aged, the size of their stuff gets harder to differentiate. Six years ago, it was easy to tell the difference between a diaper and a tiny pair of underwear. It was easy to pick out Ainsley’s socks (they looked like adult thumb covers). Her shirts really could fit a doll back then.

When I reach into the basket and find that I have pulled out one of my own items, I feel this slight jump of satisfaction in my belly (I’m feeling it now as I think about it). All of my socks are big and black. All of my underwear are boxer shorts. Nothing is pink. It’s simple. It’s a temporary break in this horrible, ugly work. I sometimes hold a big, black sock tight in my arms, close my eyes, and just take a couple of deep breaths, savoring the moment.

I don’t want to move on (it’s like setting a rose down just to reach into a bucket of snakes). I know that eventually I’ll pull something out, hold it up–what the hell is this?–look at the four piles I’ve made, and just sit there stumped and pissed off, because I don’t know where to put it.

Lately–and this is a very recent, very IMPORTANT discovery I’ve made–I immediately throw “unknowns” onto Jennifer’s dresser BEFORE I spend much time fretting. I mean, I’ve really turned a corner here, I think. She seems to know where all this stuff belongs anyway.

My death, on its own, would earn less than a full plum. Death, when seen as a way of escaping this evil chore, scores four plums on my scientific five point scale of review.


The Great Summer Peach Fail of 2013

On a hot Saturday morning in late July, my wife and I walked down to the local farmers market. We came upon a busy stand selling one thing: large, perfectly ripe, locally grown peaches. I slid in line and began to study the options. How many peaches were we able to haul home without a car?

The options and prices were confusing: a peck, a half peck, a bushel?

Five dollars for a half peck, that’s like, two big peaches. Isn’t that kind of high? How much more are we willing to pay for local peaches?

To make things worse, we had brought our puppy who was attracting attention. Every kid in the city was petting her and she was acting a bit flustered, as was I.

A Peckel of bushes? A Bush full of peckers?

Then I spotted a large box of slightly inferior peaches under the table. Written on the box: Seconds, $10. My bargain radar–my bardar–went off. At “above table” prices this big box would cost forty bucks. I squatted and inspected a couple.

Hmm, minimal squishyness. A young girl behind the table noticed and said the peaches were not rotten or anything, just bruised or otherwise inferior to the peaches above the table.

I threw down my ten triumphantly. Ha suckers! I wondered why all these people ignored the Bargain Of The Day. I knew I could cut ’em up and freeze most of it, and Jennifer said she could make peach preserves. In fact, she even mentioned she was excited about it. It’s going to be so good!

I imagined myself spreading deliciously sweet preserves on many slices of toast. And we’d have peach smoothies throughout the fall and into the winter.

Yes, life was good.

The heaviness of our bargain box combined with the brutal heat made the walk home uncomfortable. I arrived a sweaty mess, but I was riding a peach fuzz buzz so that made everything okay.

Immediately, I got to work slicing the peaches. I grabbed a small bowl to hold the icky spots, but it quickly proved too small. I replaced it with a larger one.

As I made my way down into the bowels of the box, my peach high was wearing off. I found entire peaches that couldn’t be saved, completely gooey and icky. Fruit flies zipped from the box and into my face. With each toss into the discard pile I imagined a meter like a speedometer with the needle moving incrementally from “bargain” to “rip-off.”

I despise rotten produce. Once in awhile, in a bag of spinach, I’ll find a slimy, black piece among all the nice looking, green leaves. I seriously have to suppress gagging. I have to beat back this urge to toss the whole freakin’ bag because it’s been contaminated by this rot. So, at this point, I’m hesitant about reaching into this big box of sketchy peaches.

And it’s not my nature to stomp down to the vendor demanding a refund. I can be assertive, but I knew the young lady thought the peaches were in decent shape. They were probably much firmer when they were placed into the box. And then maybe they sat there for a couple of days. Who knows.

Anyway, I put some in the refrigerator, some in the freezer, and I took two miserable trips to the compost pile for a wet peach dump.

Jennifer took what she needed for the preserves, and later I found it simmering on the stove. Let me say here that I don’t know a thing about making preserves. I didn’t even know it involved heat.

Before I poke fun of her, I have to admit that I also abandon ideas and put off projects. In June I wrote about ripping the dryer apart, finding the broken part, and ordering a replacement. I still haven’t fixed it. We have a replacement part for our dishwasher that I have not installed, so I’m still washing dishes by hand.

I’m not here to make fun of myself, so let’s get back to the brown peach stew on the stove that would soon be preserves. Later in the day I noticed it had been transferred to the fridge.

Let me remind you that this was late July.

It hasn’t been touched since.


Though I look at it every day, I haven’t said a word about it to Jennifer. Normally, I’d be all sarcastic like “Are you saving that for NEXT summer?” I’m afraid to open it. But even if I could muster the courage, I’m kind of curious to see how long it stays there. Heck, maybe it’s supposed to age like wine. As I said, I’m clueless.

If you add up what we tossed into the yard with what we wasted for the preserves, the bargain box of second-rate peaches turned out to be a disaster, a totally shitty deal.

If you didn’t think it could get any worse, the frozen peach chunks are so stuck together that it takes a chainsaw to dislodge enough for a small smoothie. I’m almost certain I’ll lose a finger this fall screwing with the massive peach iceberg.

Peach season next year I’m staying above the table.