Saturday, January 24, 2009

An Interview

Coffee Bean over at The Righteous Buzz was recently interviewed by another blogger.

Interviews are voluntary which is nice, I think, since I know up front who will want to play. I happily agreed to be interviewed, and Coffee Bean left me a stack of questions.

1. If you want to play, please leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions of your own choosing.

Coffee Bean provided an array of questions from which I selected five to answer. I think that was very generous of her.

1) What was your favorite toy as a child? If female, did you prefer dolls or stuffed animals?

My favorite toy was a mechanical tin bird. You wound the key and the bird chirped, turned its head from side to side, flicked its tail and flapped its wings. I played with it until it fell apart. My parents, I believe, were quite relieved when that happened. I searched for years until I found one on eBay a few years ago. I refuse to share it with my children. I'm so mean.

Dolls vs. Stuffed Animals: Interesting question. I'd have to say I played with dolls more, but my parents gave me a Steiff bear when I was three. I loved him so much most of his fur wore off, and I still have it.

2) Are you #13, cracks in the sidewalk, black cats, walking under ladders, etc., and in what ways?

I've never been one to worry about broken mirrors, black cats, and open umbrellas in the house, but I am superstitious with The Oracle's dreams. Sometimes his REM sleep tunes into things that actually do happen. It's creepy. My mother was much freakier in this arena, to the point where her dreams predicted my sister's death long before her diagnosis.

My only other superstition is (to The Oracle's dismay) the belief that by clinging to every baby-related item until I hit menopause means that I will not get pregnant. Being Catholic and devoted practitioners of the rhythm method, this idea has merit.

Alas, The Oracle voiced his displeasure over the notion of returning a bunch of baby items a friend borrowed & no longer needed to the already-overstuffed basement, so I left them on the lawn, labeled "Free," for the neighbors to grab. That was last March. I succumbed to his complaints about unnecessary baby clutter, and I'd bagged up a bunch of toys and clothes for the St. Vincent DePaul Society. Literally two days before I loaded the car, I learned I was pregnant. Baby #3 is due in a few weeks. (SEE?? I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!)

3) Do some people's mannerisms such as the way they eat or breathe ever bother you and what do you do about it?

I can't stand eating with someone who lets stuff like mayo or egg salad ooze out of the corners of his/her mouth. I worked with a lady who was so awful that she often allowed stuff to slime across her lips. If we were going out to lunch, I sat as far away (out of spittling range) as possible. I also put a screeching halt to a dating relationship after the guy took me to Dunkin Donuts for coffee. Watching him eat a powdered jelly doughnut left me sick to my stomach. Sure, there are messy foods out there, but that doesn't give you the right to not wipe your mouth even once during a meal.

My daughter REFUSES to cover her mouth when she coughs and sneezes. It's so bad that we're actually screaming at her about it. She also refuses to blow her nose, and when she has a cold her nostrils are constantly glistening while we're constantly nagging. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

4) What is your favorite movie of all time? Wow. I can't pick one. There are several that I'll watch time and again without complaint, even when I know the script backward and forward.

The African Queen, Rear Window (James Stewart), High Society, Charade, Frenzy, Camelot, The Fugitive, Presumed Innocent, North by Northwest, anything created by Monty Python or by Mel Brooks. Oh, and even though it isn't a movie, I religiously watched reruns of The Carol Burnett Show when I was a kid, and it's still one of my favorites ever. I see clips now and they're funnier than ever since so much of that humor went over my kid brain.

5) What is your greatest fear?

Next to losing a child, it has to be either me or The Oracle dying before our kids are grown. Knowing I'll be 60 when #3 graduates high school makes this seem possible.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


My heater is off again!!!!!!!!!

I'm so angry I could chew nails and spit rust.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Around and Around We Go!

In this post from November, I complained bitterly about my heater's malfunction and the hideous after-hours non-service.

Since that time, we've enjoyed four more service calls to the oil burner -- four!! -- and all within the last week.

The burner inexplicably shut off, but I was able to reset it. It ran for a couple days and I thought nothing more about it until it shut off again. I reset it and scheduled a service appointment for Thursday. The tech arrived, changed a filter, and was on his merry way in fifteen minutes.

The next day it shut off and wouldn't reset. Hmph. I know next to nothing about these things, but I did notice that when I hit the reset, there was no flame in the burner. That was something new. I called, and the same service guy returned, reported that the pump lost its prime, so he bled the line, primed the pump and went on his merry way.

That night (Friday night) The Oracle wakes up and the house is cold. The heat isn't running. Niiiiiiice. I try resetting the burner, same problem as before. I immediately called for service and ended up repeatedly calling service, spending another night waiting for the phone to ring.

The same guy called in Saturday morning and said I was first on the list. My house was a balmy 52 degrees. He primed the thing again, changed a little valve, and voiced the ominous threat that, "We can't keep coming back here to prime your heater. If the new check valve doesn't work, we might need to re-run the fuel line along the floor instead."

During our conversation, I expressed my displeasure at being left hanging all night. If someone is on call, doesn't that mean they're supposed to check in or answer a pager or something? He gave me a bit of a flip reply that, "we've gotta sleep too." Well, shoot, I said. I know and respect that, but something as simple as a return call letting me know you'd come in the morning would have been fine. Then maybe I could have slept, too, instead of sitting up half the night waiting for the stupid phone to ring. He had no response to that.

I have this cursed, infuriating inability to "think on my feet." The best I could do was state that my existing fuel line had been in place for eight years and wasn't a problem until two days ago. The math I hadn't done was that my heater wasn't losing prime until this very technician replaced my oil filter. Our heater ran for over three hours in its effort to recover 16 degrees. My house reeks of oil.

Sunday night, my in-laws are here for dinner, and the stupid heater is off again. The House Fairy takes a look, but he's not all that familiar with oil burners and didn't want to risk tinkering with something he shouldn't. I called for service and braced myself for another long night.

To my elation, a different technician returned my call within two hours. Different Technician arrived within the hour and started working, and he didn't just prime the heater and hit the road. He actually knelt on my basement floor for the better part of an hour and a half trying to puzzle out the source of the air leak. When he left, he admitted that he wasn't sure if the problem was solved. There was one more possibility having to do with the flanges of the fuel line inside the fittings, and he admitted that he didn't want to tackle that job unless it was necessary.

Different Technician and I also talked about the whole "on call" thing. He flatly admitted to me that if he's asleep, he isn't waking up and calling in for messages. I told him that stinks, that their after-hours message leads the customer to believe something quite different. He responded that, gee, the top-dog oil company in our area promises service within 24 hours.

Today I called the oil company and spoke with the owner, politely voicing my dissatisfaction with this round of service calls, asking him to review them and see what he could "do" with them. (As in, cut me a break, mister! At $100 a pop, this is costing me a fortune!) All I really want is no charge for the two prime-and-run non-service calls, since Original Tech didn't bother investigating why the thing lost prime to begin with.

Oh, and I also mentioned that they should consider changing their after-hours message.

Let's see how far I get.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I Can Name That Tune in Three Notes (Read post before playing!)

To those who know me: If you can, try not to peek at the YouTube clip before clicking on it. I don't know how that's possible, but if you can, try. The song title is written right across it, and my goal is to send you back in time and to see if you can name that tune as well.

To Everyone Else: My mother was a fairly big fan of this person's musical arrangements, but that's not why it's posted here.

Only those closest to me know why, and that's where it shall remain.

Sit back, listen, and giggle at the once-so-hip clothing and hairstyles,

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I am Driving Myself Crazy

As the weeks dwindle down and I become increasingly uncomfortable, my already-challenged patience is being poked and irked in ways I never thought imaginable.

I know that lack of sleep is the main reason. It was really bad for a while but started getting better, and I was silly enough to think I was "out of the woods." I seem to be backsliding. I can't get comfortable and rolling over is a chore. If The Oracle awakens in the middle of the night, the kids start coughing, or the dog barks at something, I'm awake too. The difference, of course, is that he's asleep in a moment or two, but I lay (lie?) there staring at the insides of my eyelids for at least forty minutes before I drift off again. (Lay? Lie? help me, please, grammar gurus!)

I've mentioned before that I've become irritable and crabby, and my "fuse" is only 1/2 inch long these days. It takes very little to set me off, and I am constantly questioning my judgment in when it comes to the kids and their behavior. If it weren't for The Oracle and his willingness to answer my pleas for guidance ("am I being unreasonable?") I'd probably be in trouble with Human Services.

In addition to all that, I am now annoyed by things that have always been present but never bothered me before, like the sound of Knucklehead's claws on the flooring as she paces about - chik-chik-chik-chik - especially when it's before sunrise. Punctuating my irritation with the chik-chik-chik sound is the whuffffffff of foul dog breath blown into my face in her quest to be let outside.

Let's consider for a moment that, on weekdays, The Oracle has been up and about for a good twenty minutes, but she rarely bothers him to be let out any time during the day unless I am not at home. In the morning, she only decides that she wants to go outside the moment The Oracle undresses for the shower. She does this just about every morning, I kid you not. She'll snore on the sofa until he's indisposed, and then she has to pee. Chik-chik-chik-chik-chik-whufffff. If I "play possum" and don't respond, I am jabbed by her nose and another persistent - and frequently boogery -whuff.

On the weekend, I've taken to closing the door between the living room and hallway after her 6:00 a.m. pee break, because the moment I've gotten out of bed to let her out (even though I've crawled back in) I am fair game, and she starts pacing and huffing for breakfast which normally doesn't land in her bowl for almost another two hours.

Recyclables - Yep, recyclables annoy me. Our recycle bins are outside on the back porch. It's cold, so I don't open the door and pitch every one into the bin as it's emptied because the door would never be shut. We go through a shameful amount of plastic, so I accumulate a few before chucking 'em into the bin. Normally this works well, but my mega-sized middle now bumps everything in sight or my rear-end bumps what's behind me as I continue to try squeezing through spaces that no longer fit. The first thing to fall is -- you guessed it -- bouncy plastic bottles.

Bathing cats - Our cats are twelve years old. For twelve years they've slept on our bed and washed themselves, and for twelve years this wasn't even a blip on the radar. Peake sleeps near my feet and bathes for what seems like half the night. The sound of "Thhp-thhp-thhp-thhp-thhp-thhp" paired with the ever-so-slight rocking of the bed by the rhythmic motions of his neck leaves me fit to be tied. In my state of hypersensitivity, it feels like The Oracle is shaking me by the shoulders into wakefulness. I am trying very hard not to evict the old man (the cat, not The Oracle), but the temptation is damned near overwhelming.

When Peake finally finishes his bath, he hops off the bed and I sigh with relief until he visits the crunchies for a midnight snack. He often has this nasty habit of glutting himself until he vomits, and as I hear him crunching at the bowl and lapping at the water, my ear is tuned for the telltale heec-heec-heec of a cat about to yark up soggy, barely-chewed kibble.

Then, of course, I'm still getting on my own nerves. Most days I just don't like being inside my own skin (clearly, today is another one). I am annoyed by the things that I can't do easily, like bend over for extended periods (or bend at all on a full stomach), haul the laundry up and down the stairs, squeeze through small spaces, or sit with the kids on my lap. Seat belts just about give me fits with the way they're sliding up to my neck. I should be thankful that I can't eat a full-sized meal, but I get annoyed when I'm hungry again a short while later.

I wake up bitchy and I go to bed bitchy after spending a good bit of the day snarling at everyone. At the gas station the other day, I rather loudly complained about some guy blocking two pumps with one car. On two or three occasions I've chased people with way more than 15 items out of the express line at the supermarket. I normally don't do that sort of thing.

I don't get it. I wasn't like this with the first two. Well, maybe I was and The Oracle had the good sense to keep that to himself, but even then I don't think I was this bad. I know I can't put up with it much longer.

It surprises me when I realize there are people who go through life being snarky and miserable. Thank God this is only temporary.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Shitstorm

I was really hoping that The Oracle would take the time to write it down in his own words since he’s the primary victim of this unfortunate experience. He said I could blog about it, but I’d rather he write it and I’d then post it. He has a much better way with words than I do.

He’s been too busy, though, and I couldn’t put it off any longer, especially now that it's been a week since I've posted anything, let alone anything remotely interesting.

Last Friday, The Oracle finally succumbed to his three weeks’ worth of sinus miseries and asked me to call the doc for an appointment. The details are too convoluted to waste your time, but instead of getting an appointment, the doc did something I can’t stand. Based upon the third-hand information (Oracle to me to receptionist), he called in a prescription for the five-day cycle of Zithromax (Z-pack). That’s a whole ‘nother blogging gripe and whine.

On Saturday, The Oracle was still feeling crappy. We made plans to visit my dad weeks before, so the kids and I went and The Oracle stayed home. Later that afternoon, The Oracle was feeling restless and found the ambition to bake a möhn strudel, which is a glorious Austrian pastry consisting of a sweet raised dough rolled with a filling consisting mainly of poppy seeds plus some sugar, honey, raisins, and I forget what else. It was still warm when I got home and we feasted after tucking the already-asleep kids into bed.

By Sunday he was much, much better. I’d mentioned in passing that he ought to load up on the yogurt, because the antibiotics were going to wreak havoc on his stomach. He didn’t have time. He had plans to meet some friends to watch the football game at 4:00, promising as he left to be home by the kids’ bedtime. He took along a couple pieces of the möhn strudel for his friend to try.

The House Fairy calls me at roughly 7:45 p.m. The Oracle, it seems, had a bit of a problem and needed a change of clothes. When he explains that The Oracle needs everything including shoes, it took me a minute to comprehend that he was talking about a stomach problem.

Uh-oh. I hang up the phone, gather what he needs, and the kids and I drive over. When The House Fairy opens the door to me, my sinuses are whacked with the dizzying scent of Clorox. The House Fairy’s roaming the kitchen, spot cleaning the floor and even the carpeting with bleach water. House Fairy grimly reports that The Oracle’s sneakers are a total loss. Oh. My. The kids, oblivious, run into the living room to greet DEB.

Good and devoted wife that I am, I arrive and merely pitch the bag of clean clothes into the bathroom with him, because the smell was already abominable in the hallway and I wasn’t getting any closer than I had to. I knew nothing at that moment of his trials in the bathroom, and I still had no appreciation for the magnitude of The Oracle’s ordeal in general. I knew he needed shoes, but I didn’t do the math. He hadn't showered yet, he said, because he was cleaning the tile. I just figured he was cleaning a little something off the floor before getting in the shower.

Then I start getting pieces of the story.

When enroute home from his friend’s house, The Oracle felt some uncomfortable intestinal rumblings. His route home sort of takes him past his parents’ neighborhood, so he decided a quick detour was in order, what with the antibiotics and all. A few blocks from their house, he senses that this is going to be a close call – wait a minute! – he’s in real trouble here. He knew every second would count, and he didn’t have their house key on his ring. He decides to call in advance so The House Fairy can unlock the door for an uninterrupted mad dash from the car to the bathroom. He rings their house – busy. He calls The House Fairy’s cell and nobody answers. AAAAAGH.

He pulls up to the house, runs to the door (I can just imagine that tight-cheeked gait, can you?) and starts frantically knocking. Nobody answers. The House Fairy is still on the phone with his sister in the back of the house and DEB is as oblivious to his knocking as she was to the ringing cell phone a few minutes before. The Oracle is frantic. He’s desperate. He decides to drop his drawers then and there and let go over the porch railing into the bushes, but his winter coat is in the way and he can’t get it off quickly enough. By the time The House Fairy opens the door, it's too late. The Oracle’s O-ring gave up the fight, exploding and spewing a muddy river down the insides of his jeans over his socks and shoes. He later told me that he had poop squelching between his toes.

It turns out that The Oracle hadn’t showered yet because his bowels weren’t through with him on the porch. He reported to me later that he had no choice but to let the remainder of his innards bomb the bathtub because he would have made an even bigger mess if he’d slimed off his jeans and sat on the toilet. He wasn't just spot cleaning the place; he was in the throes of a full-scale disinfecting of tub, tile, and every other surface in range of detonation. He also had to stop to fix the toilet after his repeated flushings finally snapped the chain.

Anyway, I cluelessly pitch the bag into the bathroom, and scurry away. I walk out to greet DEB, and there’s poop tracked all over the rug. It traces back to the kitchen door. Wait a minute, now. The kitchen floor was clean when we arrived, and I immediately make the kids check their shoes. Precious Daughter’s shoes come up positive. Great, I think, she stepped in dog dirt when we left the house, and as I wonder why I didn’t smell it in the car, I follow the trail out the door. Closer inspection revealed a large dollop of intestinal mishap on the front porch. Somehow, Mighty B. and I walked right past it (the porch light was off), and only Precious Daughter had the luck to step in it.

I cleaned the kitchen floor and the porch, the House Fairy took care of the rug, and I cleaned off Precious Daughter’s shoe. We were there over 30 minutes, and would have been there longer if the kids didn’t have school Monday morning. Looking at the clock, I abandoned a freshly-showered Oracle and took the kids home.

The story would have ended there, but he brought his clothes home (thankfully he discarded his underwear at the scene). He mourned the loss of his favorite jeans. Now the record should show that The Oracle didn’t ask me to clean his jeans. He was quite ready to throw them away rather than deal with them. Truth be told, the last thing I wanted to do was clean them, but I felt guilty over his experience and it seemed to me that losing his favorite jeans would be another insult. I offered to try salvaging them.

I donned bathroom-cleaning gloves and The Oracle started a hot-water wash. The shirt and undershirt weren’t too bad, thank goodness. The socks were 50/50, one merely splattered, one looking like it had been submerged in mud. His jeans were a nightmare, sporting a 1/4 inch thick coating on the inside of one leg. The Oracle passively mentioned that, gee, if you think this is bad, what was on his leg was worse.


I took a not-too-deep breath and approached the job as I did with the kids’ cloth diapers but on a much bigger scale. I still can’t believe they came clean. All of his clothing, except the why-bother sneakers, came out fine.

Some lessons from this story:

Antibiotics and poppy-seed strudel do not mix!!
You may not know this, but poppy seeds do not digest.
Eat at least two servings of yogurt a day when taking antibiotics.
The capacity of the human digestive tract is a lot greater than I ever imagined.
The next time I tell The Oracle he’s full of manure, he can’t deny it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Gone, Fair and Square!

Take a look at this, will you?

When he discovered the looseness of his two bottom-center incisors last June, he wiggled and worked them both out of his bloodied gums within half an hour. N-A-S-T-Y. His gums looked like hamburger, like he'd been punched in the mouth. He was given a firm and lengthy lecture on the evils of yanking your teeth out before they're ready. We told him that pulling them out early is cheating, and the Tooth Fairy won't come for kids who cheat.

Of course, those being the first two teeth ever, the Tooth Fairy let him slide just that once.

Mighty B. does everything "full throttle," even the stuff he can't consciously control. When he was small and started teething, there was no "break" between episodes. His baby teeth pretty much slammed through the gums all at once. He should have dehydrated from all that drooling. Mealtimes were a dreaded, toe-curling, excruciating experience, worse than the c-sections that delivered him and Precious Daughter. Feeling like an awful mother, I ended up pumping and bottle feeding for several months before giving up the ghost and switching to formula. My nipples just couldn't take it any longer.

Anyway, prior to the somewhat-untimely departure of those first two teeth in June, he took a nasty spill at the House Fairy's one afternoon, smacking his mouth and loosening his upper- and lower-center incisors. I took him to the dentist for a look-see. Dr. S. gave him a quick x-ray and told me that they'd be falling out soon anyway and not to worry about it. The upper teeth tightened up a little and I stopped worrying.

So, last Friday, Mighty B. reports his upper tooth loose, and The Oracle and I were on constant watch for "unnecessary roughness" with it. I reminded him several times that Precious Daughter's top teeth took forever to fall out (two to three months at least). If he had to wiggle, the only tooth wiggling permitted was with his tongue.

Last night he was dying to play with that tooth. It was flopping quite a bit and I coudln't blame him, but it was still connected rather securely on one side. He was disappointed but really, really good about it because he wants the gold coins from the Tooth Fairy. When he went to bed I told him I thought it would hold on until this afternoon.

This morning, he asked me to pleeeeaaase try taking it out, it was bothering him. I was only going to do it "for show," because I wanted him to finish breakfast and get his tailfeathers on the bus. Y'see, when Mighty B. gets a notion and insists upon it, any resistance can escalate to nuclear war in a matter of minutes. You really have to pick your battles with Mighty B., and I decided that today wasn't the day for battle. Our morning was actually going well for once, and I didn't want to spoil the mojo.

I reluctantly grabbed a clean tissue and gave a very gentle tug, barely a nudge. The thing popped right out and his gums didn't bleed a drop.

Really, this is early for a five-year-old kid in my view. Precious Daughter didn't start dropping teeth until she was six.

If the permanent teeth behave anything like the first set, the Tooth Fairy had better get to the bank and stock up on dollar coins.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


If this new color scheme hurts your eyes, let me know and I'll change it to something else.

I was tired of dots.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Word Fun

The idea is, after answering the first question, to find one-word answers beginning with the same letter as your first name. When it comes to the boy or girl name, you must use a first name other than your own.

For the record, my first name does begin with A, but it also conveniently starts "Anonymous," which is how I try to keep my blog.


BOY NAME: Aloysius



OCCUPATION: Accupuncturist

A COLOR: Amethyst


BEVERAGE: Aquafina

FOOD: Asparagus


A PLACE: Alaska


SOMETHING YOU SHOUT: A--hole! (just not in front of the kids)

It isn't as easy as it looks.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I hope 2009 is a good year for everyone.

I resolved years ago never to make resolutions for the New Year, and it has worked out very well for me. It took me a long time to notice that there wasn' t much use in setting myself up for possible failure and self-loathing by mid-March.

New Year's resolutions, I suspect, only work for those enviably disciplined folks like The Oracle and my father who, ironically, are the types who don't need a new year to motivate themselves into changing a bad habit or improving their lifestyle. Nope. They can set their minds to something and be done with it.

I am too much like my mother, prone to sloth (especially when it comes to housework) and procrastinating until it's time to panic. Even now, I should be hauling my butt to the supermarket for the casserole I'm taking to a party this afternoon, but I'm sitting here blogging instead.

It's a good thing The Oracle needs a turn on the computer, or I'd sit here another half hour.