Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's My PityParty And I'll Cry If I Want To

"Spring Break"...yeah, right. It's been Winter here forever.

Today, I looked out on our deck and was greeted by the omnipresent glacial pack of icy snow. No, I am not kidding. That damnable slab of snow has been there for a month. I cannot even begin to think of traversing the Arctic tundra that is the backyard to check on the status of the fish, whose pond I have just now seen the surface of. God only knows if any of them have survived. We have reached the giddy heights of 47 degrees one day this week for our high temperature. There has, at least, been sun. Yet, that effing snow has barely ebbed a centimeter. I told Rick last night that by tomorrow, if that goddam snow hasn't disappeared, I'm taking the hose to it if it is the Last Thing I Do. I am at DefCon 5. Or whatever DefCon it is that means stark raving apeshit.

We are in The Snowiest March On Record. We've had two blizzards. Our district is down to only one last Snow Day. I have worn my winter coat every single day. I'm sick of all my sweaters.

I get that it's all a big cheat this year. That Easter is way earlier than usual and that Daylight Saving Time is, too. That we're all jumping the gun.

But, dammit. I'm cold, I'm tired of the cold, and it was supposed to be "Spring Break."

So there!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pillow Talk From The Marriage Bed

**Scene Opens**

Interior of Rick and Nance's bedroom. They are in bed. As last scene of "Medium" flickers to a close and endless litany of pre-news commercials begins, Nance shifts to pre-sleep comfort position in which she lies on her side facing Rick in fetal position, bony knees jabbing into his side, shins carefully touching him for warmth. Slyly, she slides the remote control onto his chest, thereby abdicating all responsibility for volume, sleep-timing, and anything else television-related should they not make it through the entire newscast. Again.

Rick: (sighs, then suddenly draws his breath in with a sharp gasp as if in pain)

Nance: What!? What!? What did I do?

Rick: (with real effort) Nothing! I have a terrible cramp in my foot! OW!

Nance: Well, geeze! I thought it was something really horrible the way you were acting.

Rick: Nance, this really hurts!

Nance: I'm sorry. I'm sure it does. What should I do?

Rick: It's almost gone now. God! That's just horrible. It would be nice if you would rub my foot.

Nance: (look of revulsion) It's not like you can't just pop down there and reach it yourself.

Rick: (look of pained amusement) I would rub yours, you know. I have rubbed yours. And not because they hurt, either. Just because I'm a nice guy.

Nance: I know, and that's very nice of you. Thank you.

Rick: What if I was dying? What if I was dying, and the only way to save my life was for you to rub my feet? Then what?

Nance: (pause) Then that would be rough. You might die--

Rick: (incredulous, interrupts) You have got to be kidding me! Are you telling me right now that if I was dying--

Nance: (interrupts, calmly) You didn't let me finish. I was going to say if they let me wear gloves or put plastic baggies on my hands, then I would do it. This isn't fair. You know how I hate feet.

Rick: No. No. No plastic bags or gloves. It has to be bare hands or I die. That's just the way it is for some reason. Now what?

Nance: (pause) Now you're just making shit up to piss me off. I would try probably. I would try, but you might die. There. Why do you insist on making me say things that just end up hurting you in the long run. Now turn off the tv and go to sleep. We've missed the weather.

**End Scene**

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

If There's Such A Thing As Reincarnation, I'm Coming Back As One Of This Guy's Cows

Certainly, things looked bleak for bovines after horrific videotapes were released showing the brutal treatment of so-called "downer cows" at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Packing Co. in Chino, California. Thankfully, our local NBC affiliate gave ample warning with regard to the content, and I was able to look away, but Rick and many friends relayed to me their savage and inhumane content. Poor animals!

Happily, the suffering of those cows is not the lot of all cattle. Let me tell you, all Bossies should be as blissful as the cud-chewers hanging out at the farm of one Bill Timmons of Geauga County, Ohio! This is a man who has a soft spot in his big farmer's heart for his dairy cows. And, as a result, not only do I heart Bill Timmons, but so does his harem of lovely Holstein ladies. They've upped their milk production by more than twenty percent. Why? you may ask.


Oh, yes. You read me right: waterbeds. Timmons installed 200 of them, and the herd is happy. Ideally, a cow should spend about 12-14 hours a day lying down, chewing its cud, stimulating blood flow to the udder, making milk. Most pastures and stalls just don't provide the optimum comfort that encourages Her Highness to recline and do that. But these new bovine waterbeds, designed in the UK and recently introduced to the States, do. They're made of a tough rubber hide and contain only 14 gallons of water, so they're more of a water mattress. But they cushion the cow, provide comfort, and do not irritate the skin or the udder. "Research shows that the mattresses help keep the cows healthy, limiting hock swelling and knee and thigh scratches," said Temple Grandin, an animal-welfare expert and professor at Colorado State University.

Advance Comfort Technology, Inc. is the lone North American producer of the cow waterbed. Their website boasts the many features of its product, the least of which may not be that it is flexible, thus preventing manure buildup. I know I'm sold.

And so is Timmons. He spent $40K rehabbing his barn into a Bovine Boudoir, and he thinks it's been worth every penny in increased moo-juice production. "You take care of them and they'll take care of you," he said of his contented Dairy Queens. What a guy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

On Lying

In the book To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout sagely observes, "one must lie under certain circumstances and at all times when one can't do anything about them." That kind of lying is no fun, and is what I term "Survival Lying." It's the kind of prevaricating we invariably practice out of kindness to our mothers, in tolerance of our in-laws, and with sheer instinct for our children. Serious business, that kind of lying. How many times have you said outrageous untruths in emergency rooms, seriously minimizing the level of pain or the number of stitches? How many times have you told your mother that "it's no trouble at all?" And the in-laws...grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Then there's the fun kind of lying--what I call "Recreational Lying." This is really best done with children, of course, because they are most gullible. (Certainly, if you have some of your own, this is easier and safer.) Often, when the boys were little and we would go out to dinner I would lie to Jared and Sam about the status of their meals. They were usually hungry and a little impatient, so after several minutes, one of them would say, "Mom, how much longer?" I would say, "Oh, I forgot to tell you! A little bit ago, a big dog sneaked into the kitchen and ate up your dinner! They have to start all over." Or, if I heard a loud noise, I'd immediately turn to one of them and say, "Sounds like they dropped your dinner and now they have to start all over!" After a while, naturally, that would get old, so I'd have to be more inventive. I would excuse myself and go to the restroom or wander over to another area of the restaurant, then return and tell one of them that I'd overheard one of the waiters talking about how they'd run out of whatever one of the boys had ordered and that they'd had to send a member of the kitchen staff to the grocery store to get more. I know it sounds mean, but really, after they'd look very tragic, I'd assure them I was kidding, and then they were so grateful that they'd be thrilled when their dinner was out sooner.

And you'd be surprised how often and how long they fell for it.

Then, there's a whole other genre of lying that's kind of gender-based. You know, Chick Lying. Don't make me flash my Feminist Card! You know what I'm talking about, and you know I'm telling the truth! Women lie about Certain Things, and that's just The Way It Is.

1. Weight. I will always tell the truth about my pants size and my dress size and my shoe size, but there is no effin' way I will ever tell you my weight. When I was heavy, I lied. Now that I'm a size 2, I will still lie if anyone dares ask me. And when I was in trouble with Dr. Doogie for being way too thin, I lied the other way and told people I was heavier than I was. It's a thing.

2. Recipes. Oh, sure, I'll give you the recipe. But not The Real Recipe The Way I Actually Make It. Because I don't really follow it. Because I don't really measure. And because if I give you The Recipe, then you can make it too and mine won't be special and wonderful and in demand and then maybe I won't be, either.

Those are the two Chick Things I lie about. There are other Chick Things to lie about, I know. Some women lie about age; I don't. Hey, I'm in public education--every year is a victory. I am often accused of lying about coloring my hair. I don't. I'm fortunate enough to have inherited the Slow-Greying Gene from my dad. If you are close to me, you can see the grey hairs; they are definitely there. Will I ever dye my hair? I'm vain enough to know better than to say no. I'm hoping to grey in a very stylish way so that I won't have to because A) I'm cheap and B) I'm lazy. The upkeep would kill me. But my natural color is very, very dark. Grey hair is not. Sigh.

Do I have to even mention Guy Lying? They're just not good at it. They're all over the place, too. No specialization. Reminds me of the republicans.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Extra! Extra! Read All About It! They Said It, And I Talk About It! (What Could Be Better?)

In this modern, plugged-in world, information moves at breakneck speeds. News travels around the globe at the click of a keystroke, the flicker of a fiber-optic cable. No one knows when a microphone or camera is nearby, and then it's too late. Words and images are captured for posterity, such as it is, on film, tape, digital media, or HTML code for at least the near future.

Here at Dept. of Nance, I'm just trying to do my part. In case you missed them, I've gathered a few of the most memorable quotes spoken over the last few weeks that I've found newsworthy. Naturally, I can't help but add a bit of commentary, and I hope you'll be moved to do the same.

"We don't have much. What we have in excess is women. So if you want them we can give a few of those to you, some tens of thousands."--Mao Zedong Mao said this in 1973, according to some documents recently released by the US State Dept.'s historian. The occasion? Trade talks. I can only imagine what he wanted in return. What did we have in excess in 1973, do you think, that Richard Nixon would have traded in order to gain tens of thousands of Chinese women? Skylab? Perhaps, in hindsight, Mark Felt.

"I'm standing on the roof of Parliament because the democratic process has been corrupted."--Richard George This man was one of five people who climbed out onto the Houses of Parliament to protest the expansion of Heathrow. Can you possibly imagine what the Capitol might look like if Congress protested the fact that the United States' democratic process has been corrupted in just this fashion? How many people do you think would be perched on the roof? I'm hoping plenty.

"I'm not sure why it's going to take them three hours to learn how to press a button."--Mike Perry, owner of a small, locally owned coffee shop on Starbucks' three-hour closure to " retrain employees and improve coffee quality." Exactly, Mike Perry. Call bullshit exactly what it is when you smell it. Hey, Starbucks! Everyone knows what your three-hour session was: a corporate panic attack. And you're doing exactly what all big businesses do when the bottom line goes red, and that's blame the employees. I live near Cedar Point, a major amusement park. When it started losing money because it jacked up ticket prices, guess what it did. Did it say, hey! People around here don't have that kinda cash to lay out for a day at a rollercoaster place? No. They berated their workers (my sister-in-law was one at the time) and said that the Number One Reason park attendance was down was...Employee Rudeness. So, Starbucks, keep charging exorbitant rates for a cup of basically highly-sugared, overly-creamed, super-caloric java and I'll keep patronizing my second-floor lounge at The Rock.

"We're not gonna change. I'm too country."--Tonya Harris This woman is the winner of $275 million dollars in the Mega Millions lottery. Oh, that silly, silly woman. Of course she will change. I saw her and her husband, a very Georgia country singer looking guy with silvery hair and Colonel Sanders moustache, on television. They were still in shock. They lived in a little trailer-looking house and were talking about giving money to their grandkids and all that. I do believe that part, about giving money to the grandkids, but trust me, Tonya. You'll be shoe shopping and going on cruises and dropping the phrases "Manolo Blahnik" and "Marc Jacobs" in no time. No time.

"Last year, after Virginia Tech, I thought, 'I'm not going to be a victim.' "--Nick, senior at University of Utah. This student carries a gun now to his classes on campus in the only state to allow weapons at all public universities. I don't know whether to cry or throw up. I hate that Nick feels he must do this. I'm sickened that he can.

"The problem is time. There just isn't enough time. Men won't spend a whole day away from their family anymore."--Walter Hurney, a real estate developer on the decline of golf. Hey, Walter, here's a news flash for ya: golf is boring! And it promotes bad fashion. Remember what Mark Twain said, "Golf is a good walk spoiled." I think golf is too time-consuming and it's basically a downer. Rick and I have a rule, and this is it: he isn't allowed to tell me his score if it's more than 40, and that's for 9 holes. Really, any more than that and he should be embarrassed anyway. The only good thing about golf is that it gave me a husband. I met Rick in college phys. ed. golf class.

Finally, here's one that made me miss "The West Wing", which was one of the best television shows ever. I used to love when Rob Lowe's character and Bradley Whitford's character would suddenly crow "He got The Question!" And The Question would be something that would make that candidate or whomever become totally undone. Like when Poppy/Bush 41 got "How much is a gallon of milk?" and he had no idea. Well, get this: "That's interesting. I hadn't heard that. "--Angel of Death, unaware of predictions that gasoline would reach $4 in the coming months. "Interesting"?! That doesn't even begin to cover it, buster.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Back In The Dating Pool

My husband and I are dating, and I highly recommend it. Dating one's husband, that is, not you dating my husband. Obviously, he's taken. We've just decided to begin going out with one another again, just like Old Times--you know, back in the Eighties. (That's the 1980s for those of you ever-so witty DoN readers who like to imagine yourselves quite the youngsters. Sigh.) Hmmm...actually, we met in 1977, so we dated in the late seventies, got married in 1981, so I guess we actually dated in both decades, but--

But I digress. The point, and I believe I do have one, is this:

It's astonishing that those Things We Used To Do are, in fact, still out there! Are you all aware of this? And, you do not have to do only one of them in a day! Even if you are no longer a teenager, it is entirely permissible to, say, go to dinner and go shopping and go to a movie ALL IN THE SAME DAY! That is a date! And you can go on one with your husband!


Listen, don't feel bad if you're sitting there totally blown away by this. I know I was when I first figured this out a few weeks ago and then broke the news to Rick that what we had been slowly doing over the past month or so was actually "dating." But once we realized it, we embraced it.

No more Saturdays spent at the grocery store and bank and quickie oil-change places for us! No longer was his weekend attire going to be old college sweatshirts and paint-spattered jeans. That life was over. As a matter of fact, Rick got so into it, he didn't even hesitate when the saleslady helped him shrug into a gorgeous Michael Kors sportsjacket. (Of course, it helped tremendously that it was on sale.) He wore it yesterday on our date. He also wore cologne, dark denim jeans with no paint splatters, and shoes that were not his work boots.

We started off on a little shoe shopping trip for me. I haven't bought shoes in ages, and I've been feeling bereft in that area. That, and the foot of snow on the ground here left me in a sort of Fashion Funk. Thankfully, there were clearance sales, and I picked up two pairs of deadly sexy shoes for less than $65 total.

The first pair is a wicked little pair of black lace-ups that plays off of the old-lady sensible shoes that your grandma used to wear a long time ago. Vivienne Westwood showed a lot of these, but these are made by, believe it or not, Aerosole. I don't know if you can see the detail or not, but they have a great stack heel and lots of stitching. Very witchy. Great with a skirt or pants.
The second pair is made by my shoe god, Franco Sarto. He can put a heel of about eleven inches on a shoe and it will still be the most comfortable shoe in the world. These are steel grey suede and very sexy. I am glad I waited this long to find my perfect pair of grey pumps because these are it.
We had to drive to two stores to find shoes that I loved at the price I would pay because I am both picky and cheap. There is also the fact that I will not buy spring shoes now with a foot of crappy snow on the ground. As we drove, we chatted and laughed and held hands and talked politics and music.

After scoring the shoes we decided to get lunch because we were going to the afternoon movie! I know! (Yes, this is the man who hates to go to movies "in the middle of the day because it always makes me tired and then it's dark when we come out and the whole day is gone.") We got a nice lunch at a restaurant where we sat down and did not use paper napkins or plastic cutlery. Then we went to see There Will Be Blood so that I could finally witness Daniel Day-Lewis's brilliant Oscar-winning performance. (And let me just say here that oh my word his performance is not only riveting but downright scary.)

During the movie I never took my coat off because it was so frikking cold in that theater. Horrid. I was freezing. And because it was the weekend and we live in Ohio where everyone eats between the hours of 5 and 7, all restaurants around us were packed to the rafters when the film let out at 6:15. Knowing that we'd have to wait forever to get seated and I'd be eating with my coat on anyway, we opted for Chinese takeout at home in the comfort of our toasty little house. In our jammies.

For those of you keeping score, that's: shopping (2 pair shoes), lunch, movie, dinner. A pretty darn good date.

Tomorrow, he's ordering concert tickets for a June date. He's really getting good at this.
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