Consciousness: the new sexy

I can’t remember when I last slept for eight hours straight. Five hours of sleep means I spent the day playing spider solitaire and watching reruns of the X-Files. Six hours follows running a marathon, cleaning the garage, and drinking a quart of warm milk with a handful of aspirin.

Napping always puts me in mind of my Grandpa Matti. When we visited our grandparents, Matti would retire to the Sauna each afternoon to sleep on a hard wooden bench. He found splinters in his butt preferable to listening to pounding on the piano and the constant clink of the glass lid on the candy dish. Weird.

I’m way too proud to lie on the bed (or rest my head on a 2” by 4”) in the middle of the day. This means that my napping is done on the couch, while watching said reruns of the X-Files. Shortly after the opening theme song, my eyes slam shut, my mouth hangs open, and drooling commences. I am not a sexy sleeper.

Movies tend to romanticize sleeping. When the heroine wakes up, she doesn’t have hair smooshed down on one side of her head, her false eyelashes are not migrating towards her ears, and nobody has morning breath.

This morning my husband said he woke up during the night. He went into a mild panic when I stopped snoring. Apparently, my temporary lack of a sinus serenade was cause to check my pulse and call for the coroner. There is nothing sexy about being mistaken for dead if I’m not snoring.

I haven’t worked since my neck surgery a year ago, so at least I’m not drooling on a computer keyboard for the entertainment of coworkers. That’s not a starring role I want posted on YouTube.

My husband has seen me sleeping and still thinks I’m sexy … when I’m conscious. I could be decked out in the Victoria’s Secret wet dream ensemble and he still would not wake me for sex in the middle of the night. Every man has his limits.

Surviving the sixties

For my 60th birthday, my husband wanted to surprise me with some romantic bedroom action. I was all excited, so I trotted into the kitchen to check out my over-the-counter pharmacy.

I shot him flirty looks as I began. “Let’s see. Anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants … that should do it. Give it a little time to work, and in one half hour let the spontaneity begin!”

Nobody wants to admit that they are more fragile than they used to be. In the old days if I fell on my butt, it would be an occasion for snorts of laughter. That was before my bone density scans showed that I was calcium challenged. Now when I fall, I freeze for a moment, take a full medical inventory, and (barring a splinter of pelvis jabbing out of my Levis) snort.

I live with two dogs who have been carefully studying football games for new and painful ways to show me their joy at seeing me when I come home. Lately, their favorite is the chop block. One gets behind my legs while the other jumps up against my chest. Unable to step back to brace myself, my only recourse is to yell, “Timber!”  At times like these, I wish I had shoulder pads and a helmet.

Rather than call the 800 number to order a wrist band that will have somebody remotely monitoring my blood pressure while I poop (operators are standing by), I watch survival shows. You may wonder how watching “Survivor-Guy” or “Nude and Screwed” can prepare one for spending all day alone with ninja canines. Don’t make me come over there and smack you!

Survival shows are about using the materials at hand to (as the title would suggest) not die. I can now make a splint out of old National Geographic magazines and stale bread. In a pinch, I’ll just drag myself over to the pantry where I can live indefinitely off of dog kibble and cooking oil.

In the spirit of idiotic independence and misplaced pride, you won’t find me calling an ambulance when I’ve fallen and I can’t get up. I’m the moron who drove herself to the emergency room while in shock, with a shoulder broken in three places.

So with the help of reality TV I can easily take care of myself in an emergency.  And on the odd chance that I break a hip while having sex, at least I will have loaded up on anti-inflammatories in advance.

Down on the farm

I am proud to say that I have gone 59 years without ever having tasted an eggplant. The very name conjures up a purple morning scramble of slime topped with parmesan. Today that all ends. I recently bought a share in a CSA Farm (Community Supported Aggravation) so I could enjoy the healthful benefits of fresh produce free of GMO’s, DDT, herbicides, and anything else they can think of to dump on my food.

produceI envisioned myself eating my weight in raw sweet peas, strawberries, sweet potatoes, green beans, and corn. I didn’t envision my refrigerator being invaded by unidentifiable squash, cayenne peppers, eggplant, and (still to come) kale. I’m obviously going to have to go outside my cooking comfort zone of fish sticks and box macaroni and cheese.

I’ve known parents who cook three different meals each night to please everybody. Fortunately, my husband grew up in a low income family of eight children, so there was always some degree of rejoicing if little Johnny was late to dinner. Dave would eat cedar mulch if I fried it in bacon grease. I am also no stranger to poor people cuisine, but my mother simply dumped enough salt on every meal to mask any undesirable flavors. We’re talking oatmeal with a salt content high enough to fry every neuron in your body (and those of your unborn children).

Before my first delivery, I went right out and bought a pressure cooker and canning jars. What I couldn’t foresee was a half-bushel box filled with two pickling cucumbers, a handful of wax beans, six tomatoes, an ear of corn, both green and yellow zucchini (more than I could count), six spring onions, and eight red potatoes. Not enough of any one thing to can, and what the hell are you supposed to do with two pickling cucumbers?

Yesterday, I spent about six hours turning five tomatoes and two plastic boxes of cherry tomatoes into tomato sauce. It yielded exactly one half pint. Did you know that when you remove the seeds from cherry tomatoes you are left with a slice of tomato meat the size of a quarter and the thickness of the gold the Franklin Mint uses to clad commemorative coins?

Fortunately, I can eat almost anything that is breaded and deep fat fried. Tonight I will be enjoying the healthful benefits of salt laced with a little eggplant, coated in bread crumbs and fried in enough boiling oil to mount a credible defense of a castle wall. Dave will be eating fried mulch.

It’s one dam thing after another

One doesn’t generally expect to find giant mutant rodents in their backyard. It’s the stuff of B horror movies with really bad special effects. We live in a big cookie cutter community where your neighbors are close enough to hear you fart on the back porch. But one nice feature: our house backs onto a lake and a pond separated by an earthen levee. A gap in the levee has been bridged by what appears to be a beaver dam. Any actual beavers, however, remain as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster. Statistics show that on any given day of the week, there are more UFO sightings than beaver sightings.

The only time I had seen a beaver was at a location so remote that a run to the store for diapers involved a 50 mile round trip over potholes big enough to swallow a Mini Cooper whole. Don’t think I didn’t consider making a loincloth out of moss and tree bark for my toddler.

033116 beaverRecently we’ve had a lot of rain, so the pond has backed up across the nature trail and into the neighbors’ back yards. My husband, Dave took it upon himself to go knock down the top of one end of the dam to allow for some drainage. Every day Dave knocked it down, and every night it would magically get repaired. We attributed this to the elusive rodents, since an Army corp of engineers on night maneuvers seemed unlikely.

Last night, I was sitting on my porch when I witnessed something doing a cannonball off the dam. I grabbed the binoculars, and sure enough, I saw a furry looking head swimming back and forth near the dam. Dave and I decided to walk out on the levee for a closer look through the dusky gloom.

We reached a break in the bushes surrounding the pond and saw three beavers swimming a scant 20 to 30 feet from us. As one of them started swimming straight toward us, a story problem started to form in my head. If a beaver can swim the length of a semi in 6.2 seconds, and I am standing the length of two Volkswagon Beetles away, how long will it take him to gnaw my leg off.

Four things occurred to me: 1) It was now too dark to see the trail 3 feet away from me; 2) I was standing next to the dam buster and probable cause of the ire of paddle-tailed pond residents; 3) beavers can walk on land; 4) beavers can bite through trees. I prepared myself to throw Dave to the ground and run away screaming, “He did it!” … like a grown-up. I love my husband, but it was him or my ankles.

Dave continues to tempt the laws of nature whenever it rains and the pond backs up. I don’t actually know what beavers eat, but if they show up in my backyard with torches and pitchforks, I won’t be serving milk and cookies. I may have to throw Dave out the back door to prevent a riot, but he kind of has it coming.

Under the hood

Last week as I was doing my regular workout routine … you know, 200 push-ups, bench pressing a VW Bug … something distinctly uncomfortable happened in my arm. OK, I was sitting on the sofa eating popcorn and watching Castle re-runs on TV, but it still totally counts as a sports injury. I had butter and salt on the popcorn, which (as everyone knows) makes the kernels heavier than your average styrofoam packing peanut.

I’ve got a lot of miles on the chassis, and you don’t want to look under the hood. It ain’t pretty. It should come as no surprise that I tore either a tendon or rotator cuff. This means that I’ll need an MRI. Somehow, I have to schedule that in between work, a colonoscopy, and a root canal. At the moment, I have a gaggle of specialists on speed dial.

This morning, I had to break down and start labeling my little brown bottles. These pills are for inflammation; these are for muscle spasms; these are for moderate pain; and these are for weeping and gnashing of teeth pain. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery. Damn! I guess I won’t be able to rent that backhoe this weekend.

Seahawks logoSince I excel at setting the bar low, my weekend plans are laundry, and putting away the Christmas tree. The bright shining star on my weekend is the Super Bowl. I will be cheering on my Seahawks (my apologies to my friend, Terri, who believes that the heavens opened up and God personally pooped out Peyton Manning. Maybe why God invented the colonoscopy.). This year, the official reviews on questionable plays have frequently gone in Seattle’s favor. When a referee looks under the hood, chances are that we’ll get the first down, touchdown, and an all-expenses paid trip to the Bahamas. We’ll take it. We have no shame.

DSC00071Fortunately, I’m getting back some use of my arm. I just need to take it easy when raising my arms and doing my touchdown dance. If this blog sounds a little bit incoherent, it’s because I’m currently in a no-driving state of intoxication. Maybe the label should include a warning against operating a laptop. As you may have already guessed, the real reason for this blog is procrastination for packing Christmas lights (definition: wadding up the strings and stuffing them in a zip lock bag), and washing Dave’s socks.

Wishing you a happy Ground Hog’s / Super Bowl / Laundry Day.

Go Hawks!

A double espresso to go, please

The winds of fortune shat on me this week (have shitten?) I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to devote all my time to writing and publishing for the last few years, a fiscally foolhardy courageous move on my part. I’ve made some amazing online friends and have published two books and a couple anthologies. That’s something I can hang my hat on.

A financial disaster has struck our family. Since I’m not willing to stand on the street corner with a cardboard sign that says, “Will rite for cheaz,” I’m forced to once more seek employment of the type that provides a regular check, health care, retirement fund, and a major time sink. This means two things: I’m going to have waaaay less time for writing, and I’m going to have to change my underwear every day (well maybe not on weekends).

sleeping on the jobJobs are scarce around here, so I can use all the happy thoughts I can get during my job search. Fortunately, I got my start in fiction when I became the family résumé writer. Advantage: Karla. Unfortunately, self-publishing is not going to be an option. Realistically, I’m not going to have the time to market my books, and energy went out the window about the time I hit hot flashes. (As it is, I’m going to have to start exercising my eyelids so they’ll stay open during staff meetings.)

I plan to keep writing, and look for traditional publishing while slaving away in the salt mines. Am I bitter? Surprisingly not, although I reserve the right to become cranky in the future. I’ll keep in touch as best I can between scribbling on legal pads, hanging post-it notes, and stuffing envelopes.

Humor has been a life-saving necessity, so I’ll keep posting off-color observations on my blog. Wish me luck as I start this new adventure, and don’t be surprised if I become even less coherent (if that’s possible) than my normal babbling self. This is your brain on 5 Hour Energy drinks.

Bring it!

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As we completed our filing on Turbo Tax this weekend, a very colorful graphic came up. It was a scale to measure the likelihood of an audit. We rang the bell on the red danger zone. Normally, something like this would send me into a catatonic state. This time, it hardly elicited an eye twitch.

Do you hear that, Mr. IRS man? I’m not afraid of you. I have a very well paid CPA on speed dial to attest to the fact that I suck at being a small business owner. I’d rather pay taxes on money I’ve earned over the year, but if I just get taxes back for money I’ve lost, I can live with that.

I can sleep well on the knowledge that I stimulated the hell out of the economy last year-all in the name of doing business. I replaced my geriatric diesel-powered computer, paid for advertising, stayed at a very ritzy hotel for a conference, and generally threw money around like I was told that I only had one week to live. Uncle Sam owes me.

I saw an article about an Oregon man who claims that his female IRS agent seduced him, then didn’t even help him with his audit. While this may make me question the integrity of an IRS agent, who clearly should have cut him some slack (unless he was a real loser in bed), it still doesn’t make me fear a possible audit.

I watch TV commercials where people pretty much admit that they’ve cheated on their taxes for ten years and now owe the government $300,000. They go to a tax consultant who is able to lower their debt to the price of a tall mocha latte (no cinnamon). Don’t they know that they’re robbing the government of the money that it needs to declare August National Toe Fungus Awareness Month? How can our elected officials afford to establish wild squirrel preserves in Utah? These people have no shame.

If the IRS can’t shake down Mr. Mocha Latte for the money he owes, they don’t have a prayer of getting past my airtight alibi: that I really am just that bad at running a small business. So bring your calculators and rubber hoses – I can take it. And if you’re reading this, Mr. IRS agent, I’m pretty good in bed.

Fish or chicken?

I’ve been through a lot of buffet lines in my lifetime. The offerings may vary, but there is one universal constant. Someone ahead of me in line will look thoughtfully into a chaffing dish and ask, “Is this fish or chicken?”

They seem to take an inordinate amount of time pondering the nature of said mystery dish, before poking it experimentally as if they expect the meat to leap out and attach itself to their face. I should point out that this is a guy thing. When faced with the choice of fight or flight, most guys opt instead for poking.

Photo from Wikipedia

Photo from Wikipedia

In their defense, some buffet items do bear an uncanny resemblance to creatures you’d find in a Dean Koontz book. You might ask, “Why should this matter to me?” Don’t make me come over there and smack you. Do you really want to bite into a nice juicy steak, only to find out it’s last week’s catch of the day?

More and more, the food service industry must cater to a growing demographic of people whose arteries will clog up from just looking at gravy. Caterers are forced to serve meat that is gray, skinless, boneless, and flavorless.

Let’s break it down for those of you with the culinary IQ of the average kidney bean.

  • Is it coated with a thick layer of bread crumbs? Fish
  • Is it slightly watery when you lift it out of the dish? Fish
  • Is there a bowl of lemon wedges sitting next to the tray? Fish
  • Does it look like a giant squid? Alien creature

Everything else is either chicken or cocktail weenies. Differentiating between the two is beyond the scope of this course.

Next time you’re in the buffet line, you can confidently assure your fellow diners that they are not eating liver, tripe, or road kill. Just be sure to keep the tongs handy in case you see something that looks like squid.

The joke’s on you

I actually went to Wikipedia to look up the origins of April Fool’s Day. I know, right? Me, doing research for a blog? One story of how the “holiday” started came from The Canterbury Tales. The day is set “Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two.” That Chaucer couldn’t fpell for beanf, which is probably why I never read thif fnooze feft. Continue reading

Social insecurity

Editor’s note: I had my daughter read this before posting, and her response was, “Meh, whatever.” I take that as permission to heartlessly exploit her.

facebookMy daughter is staying with me while she’s looking for a new job – one that pays well enough so she doesn’t have to live in a tent with a steady diet of road kill and pop tarts (strawberry – unfrosted). She doesn’t have enough money to go out and party, so this means we’re together A LOT! Desperate for a pastime that doesn’t include helping her mother fold laundry, clip coupons, or pluck nose hairs, she finally considered social networking. Continue reading