Friday, August 22, 2008

Dog Blog

I would love to bring our dog on vacation with us, but the last time we did ….

“Whine, whine, whine, spluck”

“Whine, whine, whine, spluck”

….in the middle of the Upper Peninsula with nothing to clean up with, no where to stop, and “The Barfinator” woozy, in her kennel, all we could do was make jokes and have a gross-out contest describing the smell. I won with “Graham Cracker Lawn Clippings After a Rain.”

So….my friend and I usually take turns sitting with each others dogs when we go on vacations. “Bear” is Jasmine’s BFF. Once, when caring for my dog, my friend taught her to “drop”…as in give up her “booty” (I don’t ask how she did it.) Now--no matter where she is, or what’s in her mouth, if you even whisper the word, “Drop,” Jasmine opens her mouth, spits it out immediately, looks at you and says:

“There---it’s OUT. Happy?”

I am not skilled enough to teach "Bear" tricks, but last spring, when we had her for a week, I documented her diary:

Bear's Spring Break:"Vegas this Ain't"

Hello Family! Having a great time—wish you were here! No-really, I wish you were here. Although Jasmine’s family is providing a fun-filled vacation for me complete with DELICIOUS PUPPY FOOD (which is WAY better than that “Club” Lamb and Rice crap you buy me, FYI), and entertainment in the form of a constantly “up”, hyper dog who, in my opinion needs to be MEDICATED, I miss you.

Bringing me here and saying “goodbye” eased my separation anxiety considerably. I have not made the trek home once. I don’t look longingly at my house and have found AMAZINGLY interesting scents around Jasmine’s house to follow and then pee on. I smell deer, wild turkeys, the vole graveyard and various instruments of rodent torture in abound. It’s a more of a nose vacation if you ask me!

I am enjoying the power of being able to lie down in the “No-Jasmine” zone. I try to get as close as possible to the line to torture her. For an old dog like me, this is “Disney-world” fun! I have managed to instill some good behavior habits in Jasmine-- better manners when it comes to sitting when company comes and more efficient return to the front door when whistled for. Heidi has been treating me each time I come back to the door so I hurry up.

Unfortunately, however, I’ve taught Jasmine a few bad habits too. Due to my preference for my OWN pee-spot, Jasmine decided to un-train herself and we’ve been taking turns peeing right outside Heidi’s door on the new grass. I not disciplined for this, of course, as a guest, but JASMINE! Sheesh! Yesterday, Heidi yelled at her MID-PEE! Next time Jasmine came out, Heidi leashed her and walked her down to her own pee spot. I don’t even think Jasmine had to go—but I’m sure she managed a few dribbles to appease Heidi. Heidi was not happy having to trudge down to POO-FIELD on un-level terrain.

Today, we’re going to try a walk with Jasmine and Krista. I wouldn’t mind just staying home and watching TV (Heidi and I are a lot alike, I’m finding)—but it’s worth a try. I saw a robin this morning and Jasmine promptly chased it away-- a metaphor for a delayed spring?? I am walking about very spryly and not limping at all. I heard the neighbor kid’s lurching, muffler-less, beater-car speeding up and down the street. It’s a good thing I wasn’t crossing the road or anything like that—damn teenagers!

In the world of dogs, there’s not much to talk about but nature and “calls” of nature, I’m afraid. I had some sensational gas as a result of a dropped, peeled, hard-boiled egg I ate along with some shredded cheese. It was a pretty proud moment. Hurry home!

Love, “Bear”

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

If I Only Had a Purse

When we are at any event, my husband, Fred, will turn to me at some point and say:

“Can I put (fill in the blank) in your purse?”

Sometimes it’s his keys, wallet, cell phone, or all three. Once the event is over…

“Can I have (fill in the blank) back?” So, I, the keeper, the retriever, have to rummage, find his possessions and hand them back to him.

Deep down, I know Fred married me for more than just my pack mule abilities and my roomy bag. But after 11 years of marriage, I want to say…

“Get your own purse!”

Fred has all kinds of legitimate things he needs to bring along with him daily. Why waste time searching for a pen, roll of mints, cell phone charger--when all those things could go in a perfectly wonderful little pouch with zipper compartments and a comfortable shoulder strap? Somehow, just the idea of carrying a purse-like bag (so feminine, so foreign) figuratively castrates him.

My husband has lots and lots of “man” bags. Lap-top-bags full to capacity, brimming with folders, devices, sticky notes and all kinds of random things. The problem is, his big man fingers cannot easily grasp things that inevitably fall between books and newspapers. He also carries gym bags, which are far too vast a space to be organized.

Fred will consent to bring a “Fanny Pack” with him with when he’s “tailgating” or traveling. In it he keeps a checkbook, pens etc. He will not “wear” it, but keeps it in the car. When he needs things--- tickets, mints, whatever--he takes them out and puts them in his pockets. Inevitably, something is forgotten back at the car in the “Fanny Pack” and Fred has to go back for it. This is not an efficient system for an engineer. He’s avoiding the “Ultimate Solution.”

Men actually have a better body shape to wear shoulder bags. Because they don’t have female hips, the bag can hang straight down. It doesn’t have to be fancy, shiny or sequined. It can be made to look masculine---black, with a deer head, or a sports logo—or maybe some decorative math equations along the front pocket. To get the fad started we need a few good, extroverted and emotionally secure men.

Recently, Fred experienced a catastrophic “Wallet Loss” which punctuated his need for a lovely, purposeful purse-- to a painful, festering point. Never has this need been so dramatically highlighted. Devastated, Fred, filled with self-loathing and “what-ifs,” had one more blow to “salt his sore.” The muttering of his wife, in a barely audible voice:

“If you put it in the same place every time, you wouldn’t have lost it.”

DOH!

Anyone looking for Christmas ideas:

Fred needs a new wallet with a chain on it…

and a muzzle...for his wife

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Breaking Ground

Our yard has been neglected for many years. The lawn was always mowed, but we only had one embarrassment-of-an-apple-tree and a couple of overgrown gardens with a few REALLY determined rose bushes peeking out. This year though, we’ve come up out of the ground like 7-year Cicadas… to do our life’s work…and then go back in a deep hole. We planned a yard-wide overhaul.

We have many areas of our lawn. There is “Poo Field” a spot out on the outer edge of our ¾ acre that is devoted to our dog, Jasmine. “Poo Field” is a marvelous deterrent to “would be” “Ding-Dong-Ditchers” in our neighborhood because it’s a logical escape route from our front door. That area is of course the greenest, most lush grass we have.

Then there’s the “Vole Graveyard” near our garage, where Fred “The Burbs” Frazer buried several of these blackish rodents when a service we hired called “Wil-Kill” never retrieved their traps. The grass grows pretty well there too.

When planning this landscaping project, we went to several nurseries and got lots of ideas. All plants we were shown were said to be “hardy.” But are they “Black Thumb” hardy? I inherited the black-thumb birth defect from my mother, which makes me a hindrance to the natural cycle of plants. I am oblivious to their non-verbal cues, begging for shade, water or fertilizer. I’ve tried this gardening thing many times before with no luck. I’ve never been able to keep a potted plant alive. I even killed an “air fern” once. If only they barked or cried.

We also checked out the Botanical Gardens for ideas. There, they should issue a strong warning to amateurs:

“Enjoy these beautiful acres, maintained by professionals and students of horticulture.”

In slightly smaller print:

Heidi: Don’t even THINK of doing any of this yourself. You know what will happen.

But, I see all the colorful petals, think of the Monet I could create in my yard, stretch my arms out, stiffen my legs and walk Frankenstein-like toward them repeating “Pretty Flowers, Pretty Flowers.”

Consequently, we bought WAY too many plants.

We had many quotes from reputable, reasonable landscapers, but Fred was interested in saving money so he convinced me he could do the digging, leveling, planting, weeding, mulching and debris removal-- all that-- himself.

"Fine, but it’s going to be a HUMUNGOUS project and I’m not up for going up and down the hill,” I said, which is absolutely true thanks(?) to my Achilles heel injury.

Fred started the project after work one day. In less than an hour, he had a bib of sweat all the way down to his navel. So…I started to feel guilty….and trudged out there, limping, to help him. My son, Jon, taking pity on me, came out to help (although offering him a few bills on the sly motivated him too.)

It took 4 nights and a weekend to finish.

Our neighbors are admiring and complimentary, but I’m sure they’re thinking:

“What are those people ON?”

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Snickering, Weeping Heathen

There are two reasons I attend a particular local “generic” community church. One is that it’s not overly serious. If something strikes me funny (as it often does), people aren’t stone still. They could deal with a small, pressure relieving snicker. What happens when I suppress laughter in church is “blog-fodder” for the other parishioners. I might entitle their entries:

“Rude Demon in Pew 13” or

“Evidently… Satan has a Daughter.” But that’s just me….

Think I’m exaggerating?

At a Good Friday Catholic mass years ago, a guest priest presided, who had a little “pronunciation issue.” Every time he said…


“Wet us knee-ow” instead of “Let us kneel”---it tickled. Then…“Wet us stand.”


At these services, those two phrases get repeated about 2 million times. The dirtier a look my husband, Fred, sent me, and the longer the marathon of “speech-impeded” words went on, the more truly, awfully, miserably painful it was to keep the laughter in. At some “I-can’t-hold-it-in-any-longer” point, my young son David elbowed me, pointed to a statue and whispered, “Why doesn’t Jesus have any nipples?” I spit-sprayed “PBBSSST”---which caused a chain reaction in my two sons.


There IS no shame like crouching out of a somber mass, having a congregation of kneeling-Catholics turning backwards, looking at you like you’re bubbling up from Hell.

The second reason I like the community church is their upbeat music. With the electric guitars playing, it’s like I’m at a rock concert. I seek out “happy” music because traditional, hymnal, choir-type music makes me cry. Every time I hear it, I see my father in his later years, dressed in his suit and choir tie. When there are divided music parts—I hear his bass voice again.

I’m talking… total sap.

I sent my daughter to their Vacation Bible School last week. The program played a skit at the end of the day on Thursday. As soon as they started to play the SLOW music and the boys’ choir started to sing, “Run to Jesus”….I started sniffing. The scene on stage involved a man dressed to resemble Jesus with children bandaged up, limping to his outstretched arms and putting them near him. A couple comes in holding a baby and hands it to “Jesus” who takes it with him. At one point a feeble-looking old man is wheeled on stage and the “Jesus” character reaches for him to walk across the stage.

I became Frankie “Angel” in “Scrooged”…. NIAGRA FALLS! I was the Emerald City Oz-Guard when Dorothy is saying, “Oh...Now I’ll never get home.” Nothing helped….not a distracting zit on my chin… not “X”ing my skin to cause pain …nothing.

“How did you handle that?” I asked my daughter, who is also a sap.

“I was thinking of pickles.” she said.

“That was UNNECESSARILY sad!” I told Fred that night.

Imagine my distress when this Sunday, they reprised their performance at the Sunday morning service.

Cue the slow music.

I hear Krista saying, “Pickles, pickles, pickles.”

Cue the children’s choir.

Cue the WRECK in Row 34. Faucets on? It’s a go.

At least the lights were dim this time.

Fred, does not know what to do. I’m sure he’s just a little afraid I’m having some moment of “Rebirth” and I’ll put my hands up and run to pulpit (which would embarrass him….to death.) He’s found himself, as he often does, at a forked precipice.

“Do I comfort my wife, offer her my hand or a handkerchief, or do nothing?” he mulls.

Fred opts for nothing.

Mid-song, my daughter motions me to lean down.

“The baby is plastic.” she said.

That made me laugh, which sucked the tears back in my head.

Girls rule!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

JOB INTERVIEW: CHINA’S OLYMPIC OPENING CEREMONY PERFORMER

Interview Panel Member (IPM): What is your name and what can you do?
Heidi: I am Heidi and I can do a lot of things. I do a great “Hog call,” sing Karaoke and make brownies without a recipe.
IPM: No. Physically. What are you able to do?
Heidi: I am a water aerobics instructor. I can also ride a bike and touch my toes.
IPMs talk amongst themselves, then call out to someone stage left:
IPM: You'll be a RECTANGLE TOWER BOBBER. You stand inside rectangle tower and jump up, sit down, crouch….create beautiful patterns with hundreds of others, also in rectangles.
Heidi: With it on me? Like over my head??
IPM: Yes. Try it now.
Heidi: I’ll try. THERE. How was that?
IPM: Good. You did o.k. You do 30,000 times for 10 minutes and only when it's your turn.
Heidi: Huh?
IPM: Like Wack a Mole with no Wack.
Heidi: 30,000 squats? I don't think I can manage that.
Pause, conferring with one another. Then…
IPM: O.k. Then you be a CHEERLEADER for athletes when they come into Birds Nest.
Heidi: (thinking) That would be cool. I never got to be a cheerleader. I’m sure they’ll put me at the bottom of the pyramid. I’ll have to limber up if they want me to do the splits....still....
Heidi: I’ll take it. What do I do?
IPM: You stand in a giant circle and kick, jump and Rah-Rah for athletes.
Heidi: That sounds great. Will I have to do that for 10 minutes too?
IPM: No. Cheerleaders cheer for 2 hours.
Heidi: On my feet, kicking, jumping and Rah-Rahing for 2 hours?? Well...if I can wear my comfortable shoes with my heel inserts, I might be o.k. We get breaks right?
IPM: No breaks. You wear high heel boots.
Heidi: For 2 hours solid? I'd rather be a lunch lady. Pass.
IPM: We need someone to LIGHT TORCH. Can you go up high?
Heidi: Like on my tippy-toes?
IPM: No. High like 20 meters.
Heidi: What would I do?
IPM: We hook you up to giant cables, transport you straight up in the air, then you walk sideways along the side of the Bird Cage, exaggerating legs as if running. There. Now try to run in air.
Heidi: O.k.
Heidi puts one arm in front, lifts other leg behind.
IPM murmering to each other then….
IPM (laughing to each other): Yea, hee-hee, like the "Big Fig Newton", yes, yes...hee-hee .."Here's the tricky part." hee-hee.
Heidi: I heard that.
IPM: O.k. Then you be POLITE SPECTATOR IN STADIUM. You sit and observe. No leaning over others to speak, no looking at watch, no tapping American flag on knee.
Heidi: I don’t think I can handle that either. I’m getting hot.
IPM: You go to TGI Friday and watch on Big Screen.
Heidi: Now you're talking!




Friday, August 8, 2008

Produce Chronicles: The Saga Continues….

At the grocery store the other day, I realized there’s a lot I don’t understand about produce. I know the basic fruit and vegetable dos and don’ts. I know a few things about what constitutes a good cantaloupe or how to choose a good head of lettuce. I can also gauge a fairly good long white potato. Good ole’ American 1960s produce and I get along with each other well.

But beyond that….

Here’s an example: A Tomatilla. What the hell is a Tomatilla? I’ve never seen one before in my life. It looks like a riddle ….”What do you get when you cross a Brussels Sprout with a Venus Fly Trap?” It’s very “Dr. Seuss-like” too---it belongs on the top of a “Cocka-lot Tree.” I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I bought it.

Next come Pluots (which I actually researched when I got home). They are a “new” fruit and a cross between a plum and an apricot.

I think I’m a little uncomfortable with a “new” fruit.

Sounds like something from the hydro-ponic garden on “Lost in Space.” What if I eat one, and the genetic mixture sets off a chain reaction in my body and I grow a tail?

Then there are the fruits that are too much trouble to eat. Number one on my list is Kiwi. They start out the size of a “Ped-egg” and by the time you’re done manipulating the mush and sticky peel, you’re down to something the size or a marble. Pomegranate is also a ridiculous fruit. I THINK you eat the seeds…but I’m not really sure. Also, I heard if you get the juice on you, it’s like the Cat and the Hat Comes Back’s “Pink Ink.”


”I would not eat Pomegranate today,

I would not eat it, Mora-Mi May.”

If they’re taking requests for fruit engineering, though, I’d like to see a Kiwi, Pomegranate and all other “difficult to deal” with fruits be crossed with bananas such that they have a no-mess zipper-like peel.

….in case anyone’s asking.

Then there are the herbs and greens. I might like to try some fresh herbs once in a while, but why don’t they label them? I might need a “Field Guide to Vegetable Leaf Distinction” or a horticultural degree to recognize the differences. I know about “leaves- of-three,” but not “leaves of cilantro.” I’m also confused about which stems you eat.

Once you decide to buy some vegetables you have to fuss with the plastic bags the grocer provides. WHY are they so hard to open?? I’m 43, with fairly limber fingers and I was rubbing my index finger and thumb together so hard I saw smoke. If I have to work that hard to get fresh vegetables…I might want a Big Mac instead.

But all this talk is making me hungry, so….

Take Care and may your melons be sweet scented, your bananas, slightly yellow and your kiwi, firm enough to peel!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Heidi’s Kitchen of Produce Demise

I’m on a mission to eat healthy and help my family to eat healthy. Today is day three of this endeavor…. and I’m all out of healthy food!!

There are several “staples” I routinely buy at the store whether I’m dieting or not: onions, carrots, celery, lettuce, apples and bananas. Also, every time I grocery shop, I buy a large carton of non-fat, large-curd cottage cheese…. to “house” in my fridge… to throw out unopened well after its expiration date. I like cottage cheese, but I never want to eat it. There’s has to be some yet-to-be-named neurosis associated with that!

As a mother and lord of my kitchen, I am amazed and ashamed that I don’t instinctively stock the house with at least 3 full days of healthy food. Where does the stuff I buy go? Apparently, my “keep-it-fresh” refrigerator drawer, dark and uninviting, is where most of the fruit and vegetables I buy go… to rot.

For lunch yesterday, I wanted to make homemade vegetable soup from the “produce department” in my kitchen. I found a shrunken onion, dried-out brown garlic on the top of my stove and garlic ball growing into a giant squid in a storage jar. In the “vegetable graveyard” moldy refrigerator drawer, I found flaccid celery, hairy carrots and a bag of slime labeled “favorite greens.” I salvaged three bald carrots and used a lot of canned beans instead.

So, “vegetable-less,” I made whole-wheat spaghetti for dinner and portioned it out for my husband, Fred, daughter and I.

Fred looked at me like I had a squirrel on my face.

Is there any more?” he asked, as Winnie the Pooh.

“Yes, but that’s one serving.” I said, amazed myself now.

Apparently for the last, oh, 15 years, everyone in my house has been having “servings per container” as a single portion-size.

Last night for a treat, we made sugar-free-fat-free strawberry mousse. It looked and smelled good:

“You know, if you want to improve this, you could add some fresh fruit on top.” Fred suggested, not knowing what to do with the “floofy”, styrofoamy mousse in his mouth. I would have, but the bananas were flat and black and my apples, wrinkled and squashy.

“Thisth-isth-thick” my daughter said. Maybe I whipped it too long?

With no more “good” food in the house, what we have plenty of, for a change, is junk. The longer junk is in my house, the more dangerous it becomes. Maybe I could hang a flag on my front door with a big “JP” on it (for “Junk Purge”), and some nice junk-deprived camp could come and take all my delicious chips, salty crispy crackers, succulent cheese-its and….

Oh, have a hairy carrot, Heidi!