Sunday, November 26, 2006

Premature EjacYULEation

D isaster averted at the house today.

What was I thinking? I know the rules--hell, I made them! But it's a perilous time of year, this Wad O' Weeks known as The Holidays. This year, it arrived on October 1st! You know I'm right! The little boo-ghosts were jockeying for position next to Santa and Rudolph. Candy corn was nudging the candy canes. And as soon as the Marketing Mafia allowed us that brief, non-profitable moment known archaically and whimsically as "Thanksgiving," people stood outdoors in lines that snaked for fifteen football fields just to be able stuff.

Were things being given away? No. Were things being handed out gratis? No. Would these cold, ridiculous people who were in this ridiculously long line since 3 a.m. have to pay real money for things at the end of it that they would also have to walk around and have to find, heft, and stand in line for again? YES!!

H U H!?!?!?!?

But I digress.

My original point, and I do have one, is this:

Today, I took my mother out to a craft store so that she could buy something which I cannot mention here because it is a Christmas secret thing. While I was there, I found very charming, very serviceable coffee mugs with lids on them to keep the coffee hot whilst one is, say, working the Saturday Plain Dealer crossword puzzle or browsing the Sunday Plain Dealer sports section or ads and one does not wish to keep getting up and rewarming one's coffee in the microwave. I purchased two of them at the fabulous price of one dollar apiece. Later, when I brought them home, I called my sons and husband into the kitchen to admire and, yes, validate this purchase as 1. a great deal, 2. a great idea, and 3. very cute. As they returned to their activities, I busied myself making room for the mugs on the counter next to the coffeemaker. It was then that disaster struck:

Sam: (urgently from livingroom) Mom! Umm...What are you doing?
Me: (merrily, from kitchen) Making room on the coffee counter for our cute new mugs!
Sam: (triumphant) Wrong!
Me: What? Why?
Sam: Why?! You know the rules.
Me: Ohhhh. There's holly and...dammit. There are candy canes on this one!
Sam: Then no way are you putting them out.
Me: But the candy canes are so small!
Sam: Doesn't matter. It's not December 1st.
Me: I want a ruling. Jared?
Jared: (looks up from computer, instantly alert) Holly is seasonal, not Christmas. And same for snowmen, which are just wintry. How many candy canes? I can be flexible.
Me: The candy canes are small. And there are more snowmen and holly together than candy canes. Rick?
Rick: (groggily, from depths of recliner) Isn't tomorrow December 1st?
Sam: No! No! December 1st isn't until Friday. You people! You know the rules! You can't put them out yet. They're Christmas mugs.
Me: You're right. I'll just put out a couple of regular mugs to mark their place until Friday.
Jared: (chuckling) Like ghost runners, huh, Mom? Remember ghost runners? "Ghost runner on first!" Remember that, Sam?
Sam: You people are such idiots.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A New Tradition at The Dept.

For me, blogging is a complicated process. I'm not a fourteen-year-old who plops down in front of the computer at 3:25 p.m. with a bottle of Powerade and a bag of Funyuns and proceeds to type in all lowercase letters about " goin 2 the mall 2day bcuz im 4 sher gettin tha new fitty cd, hun."

Sometimes I mull over blogpost ideas for days, discarding some, stretching out others, cursing under my breath at V-grrl or Neil because they have such a great post up and I want to write about that, too, but I don't want to steal their ideas.

And when I started blogging back in August of 2005, I was pretty much writing in a vacuum. Not many people even knew I had someplace on the web. My own mother still thinks this blog is a message that I only send to my Aunt Shirley and Uncle Dick in Gettysburg. (...and your aunt and uncle say they really love getting your messages and they read them all the time. They let me read some of them while I was there. They're cute. Sigh.) Little by little, though, my humble blog got picked up and noticed. I started finding ways to publicize it, and more people started to read it. How did I know? Only a Non-Blogger would have to ask that.

The Comments!
On August 07, 2005, I got my very first comment on a post. Check it out.

I'm happy to join with Neil at Citizen of the Month and participate in the now Second Annual Thank Your First Commenter Day.

So! Thank You, St. Jim of Southern Maryland for being the very first commenter ever on The Dept. of Nance!

I still don't get very many commenters. I'm nowhere near the 12-15 commenters a day that V-grrrl, the expat in Belgium gets; nor am I even within dreaming distance of the 30-75 daily comments that Neil racks up. And some of the earliest, now big-time bloggers like--hell, why should I give them any more publicity?--get hundreds and hundreds of comments a day! I don't even have close to that many readers, let alone commenters. I'm not going to pretend I don't have Blogger Envy; I sure do. But I'm still a rookie blogger.

But this post is about St. Jim of Southern Maryland, my first commenter ever. Thanks, St. Jim of Southern Maryland. You will be commemorated every Wednesday before Thanksgiving here at The Dept. of Nance for giving me a virtual thumbs-up; that little cyber-pat on the back.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Doncha Think?

The tragedy of Irony Lost on Somebody was implicit in my last post. Alert Reader Danielle commented on it, and now, thanks to her, I have Irony on the Brain.

Apparently, I have Pompous Capitalization Syndrome as well.
But that is beside the point.

Last night Jared and Travis-cat had a major falling-out which was precipitated by Travis's predatory behavior towards Emily-cat. Travis had slept the entire day on Sam's bed and when he finally awoke late in the evening, he expended his energy by picking on and ambushing Emily (who is, as you may recall, 16, arthritic, almost deaf, and has snarkiness issues). Jared defended Emily, and the result was that Travis bit Jared, who retaliated. Travis puffed out like a blowfish and retired, shaken, under a chair for the rest of the night.

Now to my point, and I do have one.

I spent the whole evening concerned about Travis's well-being, because I had never seen him so affected. He refused to come out. Eventually, I went to bed.

This morning, he was still AWOL. Sam informed me that Travis had spent the night under the covers with him. Soon, all my men left the house for the gym or their jobs. Shortly thereafter, Travis loped casually downstairs.

He came into the office where I sat at my computer. He jumped up and I made a huge fuss over him. Many embarrassing kittywittyisms escaped my lips. He purred, bounded down, and went into my bedroom.

And yakked up onto my aubergine carpeting.

And then into the hallway, the dining room, and the kitchen, yakking all the way.

To hell with him.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Another Man's Treasure...

The pot to my discarded coffeemaker is sitting on my curb lawn. So is the filter basket. The coffeemaker itself is gone and so is the rest of my trash. But there sit the thermal carafe and basket, stark white and forlorn. They were not even good enough for the garbage-pickers.

Do you have garbage-pickers in your part of the world? We do. And our street is a hotly contested avenue of prime garbage-picking real estate that was the cause of at least one boisterous and noisome argument that I was witness to a couple of years ago because it took place right in front of my home. We are prime trash-gleaning territory, let me tell you. But first, a primer of sorts might be in order for those of you who are not, perhaps, part of the refuse rescue and, cycle.

I live in a charming established neighborhood of mostly colonial homes and some story-and-a-half houses built in the early half of the 20th century. The lots are tiny and the homes are only a driveway's width apart from each other. The streets are lined with old, old gracious silver maples and there is no parking on either side of our narrow avenue. Every home has its mail delivered right to its door; same with the daily news. On every Tuesday evening the neighborhood drags its trash and bluebagged recyclables down to the curb for the next morning's pickup. We can set out anything to be taken: the usual trashcans of household garbage along with appliances, furniture, branches, etc. Many times, I have taken the extra time to arrange certain items rather conspicuously and attractively, such as old tv trays, outdoor furniture, planters, and the like. Then we all go inside and wait for the garbage-pickers to show up.

As soon as it is dusk, we hear the familiar rumbles and clanks of battered pickups. They've arrived. These vehicles cruise slowly up and down the street, checking out what is placed on the curbs. Sometimes the pickers come alone. The driver leaves the engine to idle as he jumps out and inspects each pile. Sometimes they bring one of their kids--usually eleven or twelve years old--or even their wives. Gutters, aluminum siding, any metal goes quickly--it can be sold for scrap. Then the other items are inspected. Once, I heard a woman say loudly, as if she was hoping I was listening, "I can't believe they're throwing these perfectly good plants away! What's a few bugs?"

Once, our basement flooded. Our curb lawn looked like our house threw up. It was a garbage-picker's paradise. I watched fascinated while a kid with an absurdly huge head rode his bike away, somehow balancing two big stereo speakers on his handlebars. I still don't know how, or why, he did it. Don't people realize what's in the water when basements flood?

Anyway, a couple of years ago, two garbage-pickers ended up in a face-off with each other in front of my house. One accused the other, in no uncertain terms, of being in his territory. Seems as though this angry garbage-picker has been scavenging on our street for pretty much his entire career and every other garbage-picker (but this new guy, apparently) knows it and stays away. Much gesturing and posturing ensued, but the Original Garbage-Picker won. I guess you can't argue with Seniority, even if it's in the Garbage-Picking Realm. The other garbage-picker surrendered his stuff, got in his pickup with the scraps o' plywood side panels, and left in a huff. Since then, things have been serene on our little street on Tuesday nights.

But I'm miffed about the coffeemaker. Why take just the maker and not the carafe and the basket? I already know why the city's garbagemen didn't take it. I've had that conversation already. I had occasion to call the city's sanitation department before because the garbagemen left so much crap all over my lawn. Here is what went down on the phone:

Me: Hello. I have a concern regarding the city workers who are supposed to collect my trash.

City Worker: Yes? How can I help you?

Me: Well, they leave a lot of garbage on the lawn. It's not there in the morning when I leave for
work, so I know it's not coming from an animal getting into the cans. They are spilling it
from the cans and not cleaning it up.

CW: Well, ma'am, they can't go picking up garbage at everybody's house.

Me: Excuse me? Did you just say that they can't pick up people's garbage? Isn't that pretty
much their JOB?

CW: Well, ma'am, if they stop to pick up SPILLED garbage on everyone's property, they'll
never get their route done. You'll just have to pick it up. I'm sure it's just a little bit.

Me: Well, ma'am, if they didn't SPILL the garbage, there wouldn't be a problem. How about
YOU come out and pick up their mess for me? It's just a little bit. Or better yet, how
about you ask Mr. _____ (insert mayor's name) to come out and pick it up for me?

CW: Ma'am, you don't understand--

Me: You are absolutely right about that. Good day.

So, today, my carafe and basket are in the garbage can. Waiting for next Tuesday. As part of the regular trash.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Carnival of the Mundane XXIII: Committees Realigned

Taking a cue from the pledge of Nancy Pelosi, The Sam and BeckyBoo Show has wasted no time and, squeaking in at just over the 100 hour deadline, has already realigned some of the Carnival's most influential committees. Click on the link and visit some Mundane posts (a favorite feline one of mine included) about...oh, just any old thing. Then check back. I'm about ready to file one for The Dept.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Blue Skies...Shining at Me...Nothin' but Blue Skies...

Now this is the kind of Housecleaning I can get excited about!

When I finally got to bed last night, I knew the Democrats had won the House, but the firewall was still in place--Missouri, Virginia, Tennessee, and Montana had yet to be called. And although CNN and MSNBC remained confident in their projections, Steele had yet to relinquish Maryland. I had given up Tennessee, and I was happy enough with the House and the fact that my own state, Ohio, had completely and irrevocably turned a lovely shade of angry electorate
BLUE. The governor, the senate, key house races, my state rep.--hell, even every local seat, judges even, were going Democrat. I felt electrified. I turned off the television feeling pretty damn good.

This morning while getting ready for school, I listened to local radio but was surprised not to hear a single word about the outcome of the Senate. My husband turned on the tv and I stared at CNN and a single word in the upper left corner of the screen. "LIVE", it said, with the balance of power graphic still across the bottom. Virginia and Montana, I heard, were still at stake, with Missouri going to the Democrats. I couldn't wait to get to work and "caucus" with fellow Dems.

All day long, other Dems zoomed down to my room to chat it out and hug and squeal in the hallway. We all had CNN minimized on our computer screens and checked it in between classes or during lulls in our lectures. You could tell just by looking who voted what in our building. The smiles were dazzling for the Dems. It felt good to feel good, not angry. We had gotten it all out at the polls, and evidently, so had everyone else!

But, once the recounts are done and the euphoria wears off, January will inevitably come. The Democrats will have to do a singularly vital thing: they must--they must turn the anger into hope. This country has given them their fatigue, their skepticism, their yearning, and their desperation. This is a weary and resentful electorate. An impatient and mistrustful people. A ready and waiting America. "There is a tide in the affairs of men, " warns Brutus in Julius Caesar, "which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries." The Democrats must take this opportunity bestowed upon them by a hopeful America and reward that hope immediately and decisively, not vengefully and foolishly. This is a time to lead forward, not punish the past. It's not enough now to be the party of who we aren't; we must now be the party of who we are.

And make America what it can be again.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Interim Progress Report: Nance

Interim Progress Report:
I'm not working up to my potential at all. I'm a smart woman, but I seem to be getting in my own way for some reason. When I look at my future, it is bright, but if I don't start applying myself, that future begins to look dimmer and dimmer. I know what I have to do, but for some reason, I'm just not doing it. I just don't seem to be engaged...even when I know that it's in my own best interest to be. I can't seem to get motivated, whether it be by intrinsic or extrinsic means.

Basically, I have a bad attitude lately. I just don't feel like doing anything. Anything at all. Oh, and there's plenty that needs doing, believe me. Let's start with my schoolwork. I have a stack of 65 essay tests over Act IV of The Crucible that need to be graded. I've already held them over from last grading period. They've been ungraded now for over two weeks. Students have been asking, legitimately, about them. "I'm still grading them," I answer them honestly. Because I am. I've already graded 32 of them. It's taking me forever. I have to read them carefully, correct them, and comment on them. Then score them. AAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!! I HATE IT.

Moving on. Housework. The bathroom. Do you have dark-haired people in your house? Because that makes cleaning the bathroom a distasteful job. And by "distasteful", I mean "hairy." We are all dark-haired except for Sam, who is light-brown with blond tips (my little metrosexual!). And my husband and eldest have beards. And my almost-black hair is long. My bathroom is one big hairpit. And because of styling products and a blowdrier (blowdryer?), there is, sometimes, actually hair on the wall. I often harbor a secret evil wish that my sister would lose her job so that she would come clean my bathroom for money. That is how bad my attitude is. But I would pay her eleventy billion dollars.

Two words. CAT HAIR. Why is it not invisible? Why can they not...oh, I don't know...hold it in!? I want to have friends over this weekend. They are dog people. They do not have cat hair all over their draperies at every conceivable level. They do not have cat hair, period. Oh, don't try to make me feel better by saying, "Nance. They have dog hair! It's an issue!" Not the same! Not the same! Not the same! Their dog does not climb on the back of the couch and drag its entire body across the draperies at scalp level! Their dog does not poke its body into every godforsaken drapery opening to see out of every godforsaken window in the entire house and leave a wadcoating of hair 4 inches deep in one day while they are away! You cannot stop cat hair; you can only hope to contain it for the 4-6 hours that your friends are in your home. I hope my sister gets fired in the next three days so she and her Electrolux can come over....BAD NANCE!!!

Basic home maintenance. I feel like my usual fastidiousness (read: borderline manic OCD) has become, well, not so much anymore. I used to come home and, as I walked from the back door to the front room, clean as I went. I threw away detritus, put stuff in the diswasher, tossed the boys' possessions on their steps up to their room, straightened up the living room, grabbed the mail and newspaper, etc, all before even hanging up my coat. Then, went into the bedroom where I would change out of my teacher clothes into my transitional outfit, hung up my school clothes immediately, made the bed, and went into the bathroom to pop out my contacts and clean up in there. Everywhere I went, I cleaned. Now, I feel like I'm just overwhelmed anymore. I look at the Pit of Disorder that is my home and just murmur something about "I can't do it anymore." What a lousy, defeatist attitude. Perhaps I need to consume one of those new energy drinks with the badass name.

Personal appearance. Oh no, you say, well-acquainted with my vanity. Call 9-1-1. If Nance is allowing her personal appearance to suffer, then she needs Bad Attitudes Anonymous. Let me just say this: I have not bothered to wear earrings for two weeks.

I know. I was letting that sink in. This is Code Red. DefCon 1. Or 5. I forget which is higher.
This attitude thing is serious, I told you.

Someone call my sister.
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