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

18 Sep

(Note: This will be the last post here at plumbananas.wordpress.com. New stuff will be forever at plumbananas.com. Adjust your bookmarks.)

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.

My Wife Should Know I’d Write About This

13 Oct

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.

PurposeSoap2012_opt

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.

TWObottles

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?”

The Great Summer Peach Fail of 2013

27 Sep

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.

PeachMess

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.

Crushed by Cow or Penis Bitten by Snake? A Thought Experiment Gone Wrong

27 Aug

In mid-July, I stumbled upon the following headlines on Gawker.

Brazilian Man Killed in His Bed By Falling Cow

Mr. Souza was crushed, but his wife was unharmed. Mr. Souza survived the initial impact, but died the following day after suffering from internal bleeding.

Snake Hiding in Toilet Bites Israeli Man’s Penis

The injured man told emergency workers that he noticed a strong burning sensation as he was using the toilet in his parents’ home in the northern Israeli town of Nofit. At that point, the man looked down and saw a snake in the toilet. He then “ran from the room in horror” to call paramedics.

As a philosophical being, I’m left trying to decide which man’s fate I’d choose to take on for myself.  Would I rather have a cow fall through my roof, killing me, or would I rather live, but have my penis nipped by a snake?

It seems simple because in one case, I live, in the other, I’m finished, but it also involves fear and uncertainty. If I pick the snake and I’m on the toilet anticipating the bite to my penis . . . . Well, I just don’t know if I can do that. If I pick the snake and you tell me my penis will be bitten, like, eventually, maybe next week, maybe 2024, then that’s something that could ruin my life.

In the article: “There will undoubtedly be bite marks on the area in question.” This is attributed generically to the hospital. Who at the hospital? A woman visiting her grandma? A crazy dude from the psych ward?

Okay, let’s say the doctor who treated the penis made the statement. What if the doctor considers a half inch of penis loss to be “just a bite mark”? What if people around him–and I’m including people close, like family–are always like “Wow, Jim, that sure is an understatement!” Maybe for this particular doctor a whole goddam inch would need to be snipped off for him to more accurately depict the damage.

“There will undoubtedly be a decrease in satisfaction for the patient’s sexual partner due to the loss of penile length.”

Another worry would be if I’d get the same snake to bite my penis or if a replacement snake would be used. I mean, who’s  choosing this snake? A venomous snake expert or an electrical engineer from St. Louis who wouldn’t know a garter from a copperhead?

You know what, I just can’t do this. I’m done. Too many unknowns.

I’m going to choose death by cow.

Moo.

Attack of the Puppy Slayer

11 Aug

I’ve been conspicuously absent from my blog, beaten down by a curious lack of confidence in absolutely everything I write. It’s not like I stopped writing though; I’ve been kicking some ass over at 750 words, a website that encourages a daily “brain dump.” It’s based on an exercise in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way called “morning pages” where you clear your head making room for all kinds of supposed creativity. I can write over there like a crazy mofo because it’s not meant to be read by another human being. Ever. No way. 

But I have no excuse for not writing a blog post about the puppy we adopted in April. I mean, that’s a big deal, right? We brought another living being into our family, one that licks our faces and poops behind the couch and chews up my socks and brings cat turds up from the basement.

Coco

And to think I almost killed her last week.

No, really. I seriously almost made our live puppy dead. I poisoned her with XyloSweet, the “sweetest of all natural sugar substitutes.” I buy the stuff–I’ll call it X like it’s a dangerous street drug from here out–in five pound bags in our local health food store for around $20. Yeah, I know, it’s expensive compared to your everyday teeth-rotting white sugar. (Xylitol is said to protect teeth!)

You can read the following paragraph or skip it and just believe me when I say the stuff is toxic to dogs. Also see: Why is xylitol so dangerous for dogs and cats?

Xylitol is well established as a life-threatening toxin to dogs. According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, the number of cases of xylitol toxicosis in dogs has significantly increased since the first reports in 2002. Dogs that have ingested foods containing xylitol (greater than 100 milligrams of xylitol consumed per kilogram of bodyweight) have presented with low blood sugar, which can be life-threatening.Low blood sugar can result in a loss of coordination, depression, collapse and seizures in as little as 30 minutes. Intake of doses of xylitol (greater than 500 – 1000 mg/kg bwt) has been implicated in liver failure in dogs, which can be fatal.

For café coffee, I keep a small Ziploc bag of X in a zippered pouch in my backpack, and sometimes–mindful that X is toxic to dogs–I carelessly throw my backpack onto the couch instead of hanging it up in a closet.

The Set Up

J and the girls are on their way home from Grayslake, a suburb of Chicago. I’m home alone with no vehicle and–thanks to another blunder–no phone. Normally, I’m fine; I have my computer and tablet for texting and my bike and bus for transportation. But it’s Sunday night, nothing’s open and the buses aren’t running. My backpack is on the couch.

The Downward Spiral

I’m walking Coco and Dexter. Coco looks up at me with sad eyes. She stops, vomits on our neighbor’s sidewalk.

Eww, that’s groos.

We reach our driveway. Sammie is tied up in our yard. The chain is all messed up and stuck. It takes me five minutes to get her unhooked. I look over, Coco is lying down, breathing funny. She vomits on herself without getting up.

wtf?

She stands up, walks over to the grass and vomits one last time. 

Holy hell, what’s going on?

I run in to search for evidence that she’d consumed something damaging, like, oh I don’t know, maybe a fork.

Please, let me find a bloody, recently decapitated human head on the couch instead of scattered X. 

Oh no.

On the couch: the Ziploc bag, shredded. I had left the zippered pouch open.

I jog to the window. She’s stumbling around like she’d just tossed back six or eight beers. 

I jog to the computer. I google “my dog ate xylitol” and find “sudden drop in blood sugar” and “seizures” and “liver failure” and “DEATH.”

I’m so f*!%ing screwed, I can’t even believe it.

I stand up and thunder a continuous stream of expletives so impressive that–looking back–I wish I would have somehow recorded it for posterity.

I go out, scoop her up, and bring her inside. I lay her on a blanket next to my laptop.

I’m having thoughts like Boy, I’m going to really miss this dog, but more urgent in my mind was explaining what happened to the girls. 

Hi girls! I’m glad you’re home. How was the ride home? By the way, do you know how Coco was alive when you left? Yeah, well, she’s dead now because I let her eat poison out of my backpack. Forgive me, maybe?

Recovery

Here’s where I should have ran across the street to use the neighbor’s phone. I didn’t and, I know, it was stupid, but that’s what social anxiety does. It makes me think dealing with a dead puppy is easier than asking a neighbor for help.

Instead, I spend ten minutes texting phone numbers for Jennifer to call to see if there’s a local vet that deals with Sunday night emergencies.

Coco is lying there acting like she’s going to “go to sleep,” when, miraculously, she stands up, walks to her food bowl, and starts eating.

Yes! Yes! Yes! The little bitch is going to live.

And she did. And that’s that.

Thanks for reading!

I sold my Catrike and I eat Dessert in the Desert

14 Jun

Jeez. How embarrassing. I misspelled dessert, like, nine times in two posts on the other blog. Yes, I left out an “s” so the spell checker was all like “That shit’s fine, bro, no problem here.” I guess a “desert” dish would be glassware that one uses in the Sahara and is, of course, shaped like a cactus. Jesus.

I don’t know how I finally realized the mistake. While thinking about and writing the posts I probably mentally mouthed the word four dozen times, and then I sat down this evening, took one look–desert dish? Holy Hell!–and felt this rush of warmth across my face. Yes, all by myself, I blushed and felt like a dumb-ass.

* * *

Hey, that's not me! Just too lazy to find photos of my own trike.

Hey, that’s not me! I’m simply too lazy to find photos of my own (former) trike.

In other news, I sold my fluorescent green recumbent tadpole trike for $1500 to a cool-cat 85-year-old man from Godfrey, IL. At 65 this guy won his age group in the Lake St. Louis Triathlon. I was amazed to hear he still rides his bicycle, but he’s been falling over lately, which can’t be good for 85-year-old bones. So now he’ll be on three wheels. I hope he rides the wheels off that thing.

I loved that freaky three-wheeled beast, but it mostly sat around, bored, as I rode my common two-wheeler. It also attracted excess attention; people would stare and point and  yell “Nice bike dude!” I guess I should have expected that, but it kind of drove me bananas. I wanted to point out that I wasn’t atop a purple giraffe wearing a clown costume and maybe yell back something like “Why don’t you watch the goddam road . . . dude.”

Anyway, If I’m lucky enough to live another 40+ years, I wouldn’t be surprised if my old, wrinkled ass ends up in another three wheeler. When my ear hair starts growing up and over my head as part of my comb-over, I’ll know it’s time to add another wheel to the mix. And by then I’ll be too senile to notice the rubberneckers. I’ll think I’m in a canoe or something.

That’s it. Really, I just couldn’t go to bed without setting the record straight about how I totally mastered the desert/dessert problem, like, 32 years ago.

Attack of the Squash Puddle

3 Jun

The post-storm, 48 hour blackout ended last night. The flashlights, after discovering a renewed sense of purpose in their empty “flash lives,” were again ignored. One minute they’re essential; the next, they’re stuffed back into dark, dusty drawers.

But I need to back up and cover a few things about the storm that left us in the dark. I know, I’m reporting out of order.

* * *

Back story

Months ago, we were given a giant squash that I thought I’d need a chainsaw to cut up. I dragged it down to the basement through our storage room and into the little room under our front porch. I’ve talked about how our house is too large and this is a perfect example: Our large storage room has its own walk-in closet.

At some point the large squash, sitting right in the center of this smaller room, began to decompose. To help you visualize, two words–squash puddle. Yeah, I know, gross.

Attack of the Squash Puddle

* * *

I love experiencing severe storms, preferably from a covered outdoor area where you can feel the full force of the wind and hear all the sounds. But that was B.K., or “before kids.”

Now, A.K., my job is to hug, to comfort, to protect, to be responsible. I hear the stories and see the photos of far-away monster tornadoes, tornadoes that kill, and I think about the kids.

So when the psycho storms blew into Edwardsville Friday night, we headed down to the basement where, fortunately, we have several options for hunkering. I decided the little room under the front porch would be perfect to ride out the storm if a tornado were to rip away the rest of the house.

So we’re in this tiny room, under a  bare, flickering light bulb, looking at this horrifying mess on the floor. What’s more frightening, the squash or the storm? Nobody can say. I’m holding our puppy, Coco, in my right arm. I want to put my arms around the girls, pull them close, but I can’t put the stupid dog down because of the squash.

The bulb goes dark. We can’t see the squash or each other. The girls are scared. The puppy is strangely silent and still. Ainsley’s asking me over and over Are we going to have a tornado? I tell her the truth: I don’t know but probably not. I tell her I’ve never seen a live tornado, only on TV. I tell her that even if a tornado comes into our city, it’s unlikely to come to our street, even less likely to touch our house.

From the sounds, it’s obvious that the storm is almost right on us. Jennifer delivers a small flashlight and disappears back up to watch from a window. Now we’re at the point where I should be saying “Okay, girls, get down on the floor, put your head between your knees and cover your head with your arms.” Instead, here are a few things that were uttered at the storm’s peak:

  • Ainsley, your blanket’s almost touching the squash.
  • Let’s all scoot towards the corner away from the squash.
  • Daddy, why did you leave this squash in here so long?
  • Oh my God, that squash is seriously disgusting.
  • Scoot over Chloe, you’re pushing me closer to the squash.
  • Girls, I’m sorry, I really, REALLY wish I had taken care of this squash before tonight.

It was the most disgusting storm experience of my life and I haven’t even mentioned that we keep the litter box in the storage room in front of the squash room entrance. Any time I get near the litter, the cats are like “I think I’m going to take a crap right now.” The smell of cat poo combined with the sight of squash puddle was almost more than I could handle.

We left our hellish, mess-riddled shelter a little sooner than we should have–according to the radio–but we’d had enough.

Of course, it’s too early to know but I’m already worried about how the girls handle future storms. Will thunder and heavy rain forever bring forth visions of menacing squash puddles? Have I unintentionally ruined–for life!–their appreciation and enjoyment of acorn, delicata, butternut, spaghetti–pumpkin even?

Anyone have a hazmat suit I can borrow? Today I’m sopping up the squash puddle.

Wish me luck.