Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fall Swap, Anyone?



Click and look.

If you're interested, you've got til...er, Friday to email my friend Lindy.

Who knows? You might get to be my swap partner and get the totally stupid things I'll be sending...

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Miss My Grandma

I do, I really do. It is beyond my means to visit her now; I haven't sent a letter in awhile because my aunt told me not to bother since she can't really read anymore because of dementia; I've sent pictures before, but I'm sure she doesn't know who the pictures are of; she doesn't know who you are when you call, but she'll still talk to you.

I just wish I could be there with her. And I wonder, how much time do we have left? And what can I possibly do for her?

A letter from her
smells like her: coffee
grounds and yellow
roses, the smell of
a bird's first note in Spring.
But in between the words
(about the dog having fleas and how
big the Mr. Lincolns are this year)
is a void like the vacant
half of her bed.

Mornings, she cracks eggs
in the frying pan and
twitches the white curtain
wide, coaxing in sunshine,
looking for the mailman.
The house if full of the sound
of the phone not ringing.

Later she stands in her garden
her skin folding like the
bark of a tree, staring into a rose.
There is a secret inside
about the bittersweet dance
of blooming
and wilting.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My House Is Attempting to Eat Me Alive

"Where have you been?" the masses* want to know.

Well, I've been busy. It's not like I want to be this busy, it just happened.

My house is trying to eat me alive and I am attempting to ward it off. Or, perhaps, I keep thinking if I ignore it, it will go away. (Note my stance in the picture I took today: I am very calmly puffing on my pipe, giving no heed to the roaring beast behind me.)

Our "handyman" has been MIA** since July, and things have been sitting around and remaining broken. They refuse to fix themselves, I don't know why. The interior walls are painted, perhaps, but not the trim. Jeff washed the yellow window in the back room, but the room still smells like the Public Restroom for 100 Cats That Had Too Much To Drink. The yard is still a Dandelion Jungle, even though I have pulled my own weight in weeds.

And every day, the house has more new complaints.

"Wow, you're not done painting yet?"
"My carpet is dirty. You'd better vacuum me again." (And since it's new, cheap carpet, it gives the vacuum hairballs every five minutes.)
"You know, all those unpacked boxes in the garage aren't going anywhere. I mean, they're just sitting there. Aren't you going to unpack them sometime?"
"Did you know my fireplace hasn't been cleaned in twenty years?"
"Oooh, the dishes are dirty again! I know, I know, put them in the dishwasher that sort of works! (snicker)"

And life goes on. The cat needs someone to trip, the boy wants food and walks and trips to the park, Jeff still expects to be fed, and then there is that new calling-thing...there just isn't room for it all. And so I'm sitting at my computer in a state of FIRM REBELLION and attempting to thumb my nose at the house (when it's looking the other way, anyway).

*I flatter myself. A lot.
** "Mutton-like inebriated ape." Or was it "murky in attendance"? I can't recall what this initialism means, actually.

Monday, August 6, 2007

LDS* Overdose

*No, that's not a typo. If you have no idea what it could mean, perhaps you are not LDS?

When I started this blog, I had no idea that All Things Mormon were going to seep out of me. I mean, hey, I know that I'm housebound, my contact to other adults is a little limited, and those I do see are mostly from church, but reallydoesn't my life extend beyond the boundaries of my church's social system?

Apparently not.

Since I do not wish to alienate any of my non-LDS readers (assuming I have any at all, that is) I have thought about constructing a glossary of LDS-related terms to explain strange concepts such as "enrichment" and "LDS." It would probably only succeed in confusing people, but that might be fun in and of itself. Whee.

I had this really cool idea that all you would have to do is roll your cursor over a bit of bold text like this: Relief Society
...and presto! The definition would pop up in a little box for your enlightenment!

Or, rather, I was going to. I had some different ideas, but every time I found some code that would work, blogger shot it down. Why, blogger, why? So I just have to use footnotes, like always. Boo-hoo.

I recently received a new calling1 from the Bishop2. He asked me if I would be willing to be lead guitarist3 for our ward4 Christian Rock band. Since I don't play guitar, and there is no Christian Rock band that performs in any ward I ever heard of, I told him he might've made a mistake. He said he didn't, so I said okay.

While I was up on the stand strumming my guitar, watching the congregation wince and plug their ears with their fingers, I really, really wished I had accepted his first offer: to be the Enrichment Counselor5 in the Relief Society Presidency6. Which just goes to show you how desperate this particular ward is. Me? In a position of responsibility? In a position in which other women look up at you either as a role model or a subject for criticism? Something seriously wrong with this picture. And to think, I thought I could leave Enrichment7 behind in Vegas.

1. Temporary job in the church. Of course, I have known someone to have the same calling for over 20 years (as a member of the choir). I kept wondering why someone so tone-deaf and who had no enthusiasm for music kept showing up week after week...
2. A man who has far too much to do. At least he only has to do it for 5 years or so (he hopes).
3. Okay, I made it up. As far as I know, this is not a real calling, and hopefully, will never be.
4. A congregation that lives within certain boundaries. The whole world is mapped out into ward boundaries at this point, so if you are not a member of this church, do you know what ward you're living in? Beware! They are knocking on doors to find you!
5. My current calling (I'm not really ward guitarist).
6. Three women who have far too much to do. At least they only have to do it for 5 years or so (sigh).
7. The Bane of My Existence, because it will not leave me alone. If you want to know more about it, I've posted about it before.
8. Ha! There is no 8! Just checking to see if you were paying attention.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Potty Training Pointers

The other day, Jake and I were having a discussion about underpants.

Jake: I 4! (He's 3 and a half, actually. Some days he prefers to be 2, other days, 16.)
Me: Did you know that when you turn 4, you are no longer allowed to wear diapers? You wear underpants instead.
Jake: No!
Me: Really, it's true. Ask Taylor. Taylor, how old are you? (We are outside, playing with some of our neighbors.)
T: 7. And I don't wear diapers, I wear underpants. Neither does Riah. Ask him.
(Jake turns to Riah)
Me: Riah, how old are you?
R: 5.
R's Mom: Do you wear diapers or underpants, Riah?
R: Underpants!
Me: See?
Jake thinks about all of this for a minute, then: I not turn 4. I will turn 20 and wear nuthin' at all!

About a year ago now, I made the first attempt to potty-train my son. I was a fool to try. It did not go well. But I did learn a few things about potty-training, and I thought I would pass them on to you. Just in case you ever have this problem.
GOOD IDEA:
A cushy toilet seat, preferably with something friendly on it: Elmo, for instance.
BAD IDEA:
This.






GOOD IDEA:
Giving a little boy something to aim for to prevent leakage on the floor. My mother-in-law suggested cheerios. Or, you could go the expensive route and get these.


BAD IDEA:
Keeping pirahna in the toilet.

GOOD IDEA :

Keeping a small basket of books and toys within easy reach of the toilet to encourage your little person to stay there, and to have a happy experience.
BAD IDEA:
Keeping a small basket of firecrackers and matches within easy reach of the toilet.

GOOD IDEA:

Since wiping is difficult for little hands, sometimes a product like this helps.


BAD IDEA:
Flypaper.

GOOD IDEA:

Making it easier to wash hands at the sink: i.e., a step stool, inviting soap, and a hand towel within easy reach.
BAD IDEA:
If they forget to wash, the medicine cabinet springs open and the Reminder Monkey leaps out, lands on the offender's head, and proceeds to jump up and down, screech, and pull hair.
Some days I'm pretty sure I shouldn't be a mom.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Trying Again: "Meme" Continued

Let's see...now where was I?

What were you doing 1 year ago?

Moonlighting as "Rachellette the Pineapple Head" on a Strip G-rated revue down in Vegas.





You're not buying that? Well, how about...


Celestina

Queen of the Peacock People


appearing nightly at Sigfried and Roy's Secret Garden?



No?

Well, how about...







...Elvis?

No?

Of course not.

One year ago I was merely battling a cat and a child in a daily battle of wits and wills, struggling with the stifling Las Vegas heat, and playing on a computer. Almost what I'm doing today, minus the stifling heat and adding a heck of a lot of house repair.

Can we talk about 4 years ago? That may make for a better story. And it's a story that I've already written up. (A bonus, being short on time as I am.)

So. 4 years ago.

We had recently moved to Las Vegas, I was pregnant, and I was searching for a job. I finally found one working out at Nellis Air Force Base for a civilian-contract company that prepares lessons for the Air Force's Weapons School (the Weapons School is where they send their hot-shot pilots to learn how to use their hot-shot equipment properly, blah, blah, blahblahblah).

This is what I wrote to a friend about it:

The work environment is interesting. A bunch of the employees are retired AF pilots, and many of them have really REALLY big egos. I have a hard time taking any of them the slightest bit seriously. For example, they post a sign on a cubicle...wait, I have to back up.

For this job, they get everyone a security clearance. They go to all your old homes and knock on doors to make sure you really lived there. They talk to your neighbors. They ask questions like “Is it true that she liked to consume large quantities of chocolate when her husband wasn’t looking? Because that sounds like an addictive personality, and we’re afraid the Enemy may try to bribe her with chocolates to tell Top Government Secrets.”

Yeah.

It takes a year to do all this, and it’s an incredibly expensive process. And they do it so that I can edit some highly-jargonized material that I don’t even understand for a make-believe consistency*...Very, very silly.

Okay, so they get you a clearance, and that means that you can look at classified, secret, and top secret lessons. Since I don’t have my security clearance yet, I can only work on unclassified garbage. So, when someone is working on something that is classified, secret, or top secret, they hang a little sign on the outside of their cubicle, and I am supposed to stop at that sign and not progress any further into the mess of cubicles. If I need to talk to someone in there, I have to shout for them, clap, or something equally ridiculous. It feels for all the world like I’m back in the second grade playing secret agent with a bunch of other second graders. Very, very silly. Do you know what makes it even worse? Most of the people around here prefer to be called by their AF code names, like “Buzz” or “Thug.” How can I take my boss seriously when he insists that I call him “Taco”?

And wait—there's more! As long as I only have to copy and paste this stuff, why not? Here's some from another bit of correspondence:

The folks at work sometimes tell me stories about what Air Force life is like. For example, up until a few years ago, there were no such things as coffee breaks, or any sort of break at all, unless you smoked. If you smoked, you were entitled to a ten-minute break. However, if you did not smoke, no break for you. What this resulted in were an awful lot of people pretending to smoke or starting the habit who really weren’t interested in it. (This rule was only changed in the past few years because some officer’s wife was tired of her husband smoking, and apparently he fell back on this bizarre rule as an excuse. So she had it removed.)

Another thing is that if you live on base, you can be ticketed for leaving your porch light on after a certain time because it wastes energy (but you can have your A/C going full blast with your windows and front door wide open, and they won’t say a thing). You can also be ticketed for your grass being too long, or your bushes being too tall (they actually have people that go around and measure your grass, apparently on Tuesdays, and since they have a quota for how many tickets they are supposed to give out, you could get a ticket even if your grass is an appropriate length).

Rank is another weird thing. The difference between and officer and an enlisted man was something I never even considered—I never knew there was a difference, honestly. But apparently, if you are enlisted, you are a second-rate citizen. However, if you are an officer, you must have the perfect wife to attain rank, and at least one perfect child. If you are that perfect officer’s wife or child, other officers’ wives and children don’t like you if their officer outranks your officer. If your officer outranks theirs, they don’t like you then, either. I had no idea such strict social strata even existed in America.

Now I almost regret never having been associated with the military, because it affords such rich material for satire. (It turns out that Catch-22 is pretty close to the truth, if any of you have ever read that.)

And one more, just because I can:

I have a little anecdote for you on the importance of usability testing**! (Hooray! Just what you were all wanting to hear!)

It involves the bathroom situation here. (A bathroom situation may seem like a strange choice, but you must remember that I spend quite a bit of time in them. I can’t help it. Baby likes to kick/lean on?/poke?/jab with fiendish delight? My bladder, and so I feel more comfortable if I can keep it on the empty side. Of course, I drink so much there really isn’t an empty side. Hence, obsession with bathroom. On to anecdote.) There is only one women’s bathroom—and it’s just a bathroom: one toilet, one sink, no stalls—so it’s difficult to find it empty. Installed on the sink and the toilet are those lovely water-saving motion-detection sensors, only, they are installed poorly. When they are installed correctly, you just put your hands under the faucet and the water turns on; withdraw your hands, and the water turns off. Efficient. However, instead of buying a new faucet with the sensor in it, they tried to make the existing one work by installing a sensor on the wall. As a result, every time you walk into the restroom, you are greeted by the water enthusiastically turning on, and remaining on for about a minute (‘cause the sensor is the wrong type, and keeps the water on for awhile after the sensor has been activated, like motion-activated lighting). The toilet is even better. There is a motion sensor for the toilet as well, mounted on the wall even with the back of your neck. The toilet paper is where it starts to get good. Some genius installed an industrial-sized toilet paper dispenser—the kind you see in truck-stop restrooms—on the wall just low enough that you have to lean over and reach to get any toilet paper (try doing this with a bulging belly). So what do you think happens when you lean over to get some toilet paper? The motion sensor on the toilet, unlike the one on the sink, reacts immediately to your “absence,” resulting in several flushes before you can finish your business.

The best part about all of this is that Nevada is in a severe state of drought and the military probably installed these things in order to save water. I love the way the government works! They’re so cute with all their misapplied principles!

Five snacks you enjoy:

I THINK THAT'S ENOUGH MEME FOR ONE DAY, DON'T YOU?

*My official job title was "Word Processor." I checked Power Point presentations for typos. Really glamorous, huh?
**Don't worry about it. I'm still not sure what that phrase means.