PlazaJen: The Blog

Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: Amusing (page 1 of 6)

Pumpkin Muthahfuckin’ SPICE

Yeah, it’s White People Month when this stuff comes back to Starbucks, you know it, there’s 800 variations of memes and pictures and squeals of happy happy happy on Facebook once the Heralded Return Of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, like the swallows of Capistrano, baby. Now, I appreciate my over-priced, delicious beverages as much as the above-average-income JoCo soccer mom, but it’s got to be “right” to fully enjoy it. And daytime highs of upper 70’s/mid-80’s ain’t it. For me, Pumpkin Flavored-Everything Season starts when I feel a chill letting the dogs out in the morning, and I see my first red blaze of autumn leaves. Our weather has been unseasonable since summer began – a milder, cooler version of last year, so much so that I really worked hard not to bitch when we got some hot weather, because days on end of 100’+ weather was torturous. Now we’re warming up and cooling down and warming back up so the tomatoes keep on putting out fruit and it’s almost October.

Sometimes I think about how lovely it would be to live in certain climates, where it never freezes or blisters hot, where it’s sweatshirt-and-shorts weather most of the time, and I think that while I’d enjoy it, I wouldn’t love it the way I love a true Fall. Fall is my favorite season of all, despite it’s symbolism of death and decay and ripe life coming to an end, (boy I can really put a damper on shit, eh?) But I LOVE IT. It fuels me and buoys up my mood. The smell of leaves on the ground, moistened by a fall thunderstorm, turning into compost that will re-energize the ground next year. Puffs of smoke from chimneys, the smell of wood in the air, it alerts the senses. Sounds around us change, the wind sweeps through branches and bring a shuffling of paper, the natural evolution from the velvety sounds of green leaves rustling in a summer’s breeze. As the humidity leaves, sounds become sharper, unmuffled by the damp air and heat that keeps windows shut and doors pushed tightly closed. Fall ushers in a return to cooking; soups and stews and warm dishes that take on the new flavors of squashes and root vegetables, complemented by the harvests of summer, transformed into jarred and frozen bags of produce that bring the brightness of summer’s hot sun to bursting flavor in chili, peppers and tomatoes taking on new forms. And it brings with a renewed desire to knit, to work with wool, to create and draw the calm from the meditative repetition of needles and yarn moving in unison.

So, Pumpkin Season, I realize you’ve “Arrived”, and I still love you, but you’re going to have to wait until it’s truly time.

I Am Not Nice.

Well, that might be overstating things, but yesterday at lunch, my co-worker relayed the story of his friend who will be engaged soon, and the fact that her sister spilled the beans after shopping with the fiance, and then told the not-quite-yet-bride-to-be that the ring choice would “grow on her.” Because the sister is a royal fucking cuntbitch (CB), as I was quick to point out, and the sister has been jealous and sabotage-y of NQYBTB throughout the relationship because she wanted a boyfriend and SHE wants to get married first and SHE never obviously grew up listening to Marlo Thomas and Friends singing “Free To Be, You and Me” in which we learn that bitches who insist on “Ladies FIRST” and behaving really selfishly will ultimately get you eaten by tigers. or Lions. Or something, but it would be a horrible, mauling death. With the exception of Queen Latifah and her awesome song “Ladies First,” because nobody fucks with Queen Latifah.

So after hearing this story, I ripped into the CBSister, because that is some lame shit, putting your own insecurities and problems with the world onto someone else’s joy, and how lucky she is that I’m not CBSister’s sister, and he could only respond with the fact that NQYBTB is just hoping she can grow onto this ring whenever it happens and she’s not mad at her sister. To which I responded, “NQYBTB is a HELLUVA lot nicer than I am,” and was met with vigorous nodding.

I’ll own it. I will say, in my defense, I do not like hurting people and I work hard to be diplomatic and empathetic. But the flip side is that I’m blunt as hell and unafraid to call people on their shit, if they’re being extra shitty. Guess that just means it takes a strong, secure person to be my friend and stay in my life! I think Queen Latifah and I could kick it for sure. AND Monie Love. Where did she go? I loved her.

As The Grocery Turns

This is week 2 with a grocery store story. Last week, a woman walked up while I was unloading my cart and inappropriately squeezed the 10-lb. tube of hamburger I’d purchased, commenting, “Nice package!” I was a bit dumbfounded, but I cheerfully informed her it was on sale, and wondered how on earth I attract crazy, interesting people. I assume it’s because I also am a boundary pusher/crosser and I will easily talk to strangers myself.

So now we’re on to this week’s shopping adventure. I have taken to meal planning out the week, including Crock Pot Mondays, since I detest cooking on Monday nights, and coming home to a meal that’s made itself all day? Magical! The weather today is bleary, dreary and blah (the rejected dwarves of Disney) and as I exited my car, sleet came down in droves. I had even paused before leaving, thinking I should wear my Kangol hat, but -I actually thought these very words- ah, nah, I’m not going to run into anyone I know, so it doesn’t matter what I look like. OMINOUS FORESHADOWING!

When I got in the first set of doors & went for my cart, I realized my hair was full of these tiny ice pellets, so as I’m brushing all this stuff off my head, I feel someone approaching me and by god, if it’s not my client. ARE YOU KIDDING ME, UNIVERSE? We chit-chatted briefly, and off we went, he with his son, me with my list and completely no-makeup face not even lipstick what the HELLLLL and then continued to “bump” into each other as I got a bit discombobulated and just sailed by several aisles, eventually having to circle back to finish my shopping. While not as funny as the previous week’s meat-pinching incident, it certainly has me wondering what in the hell will happen next week!

Trying to Outfox a Fox….

A couple weeks ago, the handle apparatus inside the toilet broke. Snapped right in two, it was a plastic lever that had been there since we moved in 9-some years ago. James procured a replacement, made of metal, and after some internet consulting and installation, everything was fixed. (Apparently, you have to bend the metal ones to make it fit your tank, which wasn’t immediately clear on the package.) So, after being teased all evening about using brute force and tearing things up when he’s off hunting, I decide I can razz him right back! He had gotten into bed, and I was in the bathroom, and I flushed the toilet, immediately exclaiming, “Holy SHIT, I can’t believe it, the handle broke again!” I hear, “You’re KIDDING ME!” from the bedroom, and just as I say, “Yes, I am!”, the last consonant is leaving my lips and he appears in the doorway, indignant and ready to Battle Royale the toilet. I hadn’t meant for him to get back up, but I burst out laughing, and he scowled at me, having gotten him, and I was told to “watch out”, because he was going to get me back.

A day later, he calls to me from the kitchen, asking what’s wrong with the refrigerator. I say, “What do you mean?” He says, “The light won’t come on. I thought the milk was a little warm.”

Pause.

Me: “Are you trying to get me? Because it’s not working. I just got milk half an hour ago.”

Him: WHARRRGARRRRBLLLLLEEEEE “Dammit, Jen!”

Time Passes.

The toilet handle has issues with not stopping the water from running, so, fancying myself an apprentice plumber, I try things. At one point, I’m certain I’ve fixed it, only to discover a while later, the running issue continues. So this past weekend, I took the whole thing back apart, and adjusted where the bar went into the handle, and while it returns now to a more upright position (aesthetically annoying to me), it works. I told James this on Sunday.

This morning. I attempt to flush the toilet, to be greeted by silence. By now, I’m a motherfucking pro at whipping that tank lid off. I see there’s barely any water in the tank. Hrmph. How can this be? I stare at it. I lift the flapper. I touch ALL THE PARTS. Now, it’s still pretty early, but I’ve had a cup of coffee, and clearly, the issue at-hand is water. I think to myself, “Is there an issue with the water line?” I reach down and feel the shutoff valve knob. It seems solidly in place, no leaks… so I stare into the tank again. Brain tells me “Righty-tighty, Lefty-loosey!” and I reach back down to the valve.

Yep.

:Somebody: got up in the middle of the night & turned the water off. And the last time I checked, the dogs don’t have the requisite opposable thumbs.  I restore balance to the universe, turning the water back on, and decide to leave the tank lid off as a message. “Message Received,” as it were. Two seconds later, I grin. Nope. Better to put the lid BACK ON and leave everything in a working state, and say :nothing:. Because I learned about jokes, practical and otherwise, at the knee of the master, my father. Slicing open a package of M&Ms to fill it with one color, as a joke on his best friend after a hunting trip – left in the car for the friend’s ride home. The best moments can be had when you don’t even witness them, that filament in the brain, rapidly burning with realization as the person processes they’ve been had.

I stepped out of the bathroom this morning as James got up, and stood outside the door, toweling my hair, waiting to hear the water rush. Clink. Whoosh. Everything works. He turns, still stumbling with sleep, and I stand in front of him, leaning in to kiss him and whisper, “You’ve got to get up earlier if you want to outfox the fox….”

 

Draw Something!

I discovered this game and I love it. It was not without some chagrin, though, to acknowledge that after 20-some years, I was putting that pretty expensive, private education with a degree in Studio Art to work….in a fancy game of Pictionary for the iPad.  If my father had a grave, he would be twitching….

I’ve saved my favorites, so let’s start with the edibles…

 

 

 

Reclaiming One’s Youthful Spirit

Yeah, that’s what it’s called. We went out to The Brick last night, had a blast – caught the tail end of Howard Iceberg & the Titanics, saw our friends Hillary & Tommy perform in their band, “The Hillary Watts Riot”, and then our friend Camry was in the last band, “The Sexy Accident”.  Since the first band was slated to start at 9:30, I knew we had plenty of time to get there, so we went out to dinner at The Beacon on the way there. It’s weird to go out to dinner at 9 pm in the Midwest, and while I’d been pining for Chai Shai, their kitchen closes at 9. In any event, we had a great meal, headed down to the Brick, saw people, were seen, made new friends, had a great time just listening to music, sipping a beverage, people-watching. I also did an amazeballs job of parallel parking, if we’re recounting ALL the wins of the evening.

At one point, I leaned over to James and said, “OK, wearing a kilt is cool. Very cool.”

pause.

“But if you’re also drinking PBR when you’re wearing one, does it make you a hipster?”

He laughed, and while he couldn’t say if that particular formula was a hipster recipe, he did observe there were a number of hipsters around us. (In the wild! I felt like Jane Goodall.) I said, “Am I a hipster?” and he laughed even harder.

“No.”

“Why not? It’s because I’m fat, isn’t it. You can’t be fat and be a hipster, can you.”

Maybe part of being a hipster is caring a little too much about how you… present oneself, all the way down to what you drink and the brand of shoes? I dunno.  I did feel like I really needed about 3 large tattoos to “blend in”, that’s for sure. And the dogs were completely perplexed by our atypical hours – what is this, 2:30 a.m. and you’re just going to bed?

Well, they sure didn’t hold back at 6 am, 7 am, and finally I gave up around 8 am and hauled my un-hipster ass out of bed to let them out, make coffee & head to the garden to collect a basket of veggies to whip into a mega-breakfast scramble. Now, I bet on the cooking front, I can outpace any damned hipster there is. I sauteed home-grown garlic, onions, kale, peppers, tomatoes & tossed in some potato, eggs, spicy beef sausages & cheese for a smashingly flavorful, vitamin-packed breakfast.

Oh, and I had to take a two-hour nap before we could even go out. Definitely not a hipster.

If It Weren’t For Handguns, We’d Still Be British Subjects

I always think of that line on the 4th of July. Our local nutjob in the small town in Iowa where I was raised had hand-lettered it (with electrical tape) onto the back of his very long trenchcoat.

A tall, imposing silhouette, children ran from him or taunted him from a safe distance. I knew of three classmates who waited until he left his house and then dared each other to go in. Apparently he was a hoarder long before they made TV shows about them; piles of newspapers and magazines created a path (and only a path) through the two rooms they dared to enter. Nowadays, I wonder what Marvin’s story really was – was he one of our lost veterans, abandoned to live in their own haunted minds? In any event, he still crosses my mind, thirty-plus years later.

Freedom is an interesting thing. A friend posted on Facebook that the First Amendment was her favorite and worthy of celebration. I couldn’t agree more, though the true definition of Freedom of Speech can be very subjective.  I ponder why I write on this blog, I ponder why I don’t write everything I want to say. I ponder what would be in a book, if I wrote one. I am always excruciatingly aware of how easily it is to fall into the trap of passive-aggressiveness when you want to scream out at people who’ve fucked up, insulted you, abandoned you, all that shit. Then I think, is it worth it? I already gave you fuckers some rent-free space in my head, now I’m giving you bandwidth, too? And is it really what you wanted in the end, to “make the blog”? LOL!

Anyway. I always ruminate as my birthday approaches. What will the next year hold, what triumphs may come, what heartaches, there’s no crystal ball, so we reflect on what has passed. People we said goodbye to, whether with sadness or in anger – the new opportunities that have come along, and the doors that closed.  I realize this is more typically done at New Year’s, and I suppose I do so then, but it’s always different, more intense with birthdays. Maybe more so now, as you realize the older you get, that there are only so many you get. And it’s important not to waste time on the things, people, projects, emotions that hold you back.

I realize it sounds darker than it feels; introspection is like that, I guess. I’m looking forward to the new chapter ahead, and even without the crystal ball, I know there are going to be some awesome things in store for me. As for anything else, well? I just have to trust in my own wisdom and experience to get me through it! I know I wear my heart on my sleeve sometimes, but much like Marvin and his trenchcoat, I guess I’d rather have people see me coming, know who I am and how I feel, than to pretend to be anything else at all.

 

 

Oooops….

Soooo Crazy Cat Lady has issues. She’s like an octogenarian collector’s back room of National Geographics, to be exact. The cray-cray is strong with CCL. We found out she doesn’t “socialize with mean people,” as she waved at our house; what’s hilarious is the notion of her socializing at all, given that she seems to subscribe to my mother’s newsletter on “Social Drinking” and has her own subset of drugs she takes. ANYway, a couple days ago, BING-BONG, there goes the doorbell. James went to answer it and I could tell the crazy times were ON just from the tone of his voice. “WHADDYA NEED?” he brusquely said, through the barely-opened door.

WELL. Turns out she had a small fire (good lord, I can only imagine how that happened) and it somehow rendered her land line useless. Could he call Donny and let him know that her phone’s not working. O-kay, 10-4, CCL, will do. He followed through, and back to her hovel she went. The fire does explain the random furniture showing up in the ditch by her house, though none of it appeared to be burned. And she’s somehow called the action line to have it removed, but I haven’t spent to much time puzzling that one out. ANYWAY.

UPDATE: DOUBLE OOPS! I neglected two minor details – she came over with one of her feral lovelies, AND was carrying a roll of toilet paper. Let the mystique and intrigue continue!!

Next day? BING-BONG. (Really, I don’t plan to stay in my jammies all day so I can avoid the door, but hey, look who’s dressed to answer it this time? NOT ME!)  We thought it was the guy fixing our lawn mower; as James entered the breezeway he said, “Nope, it’s Crazy Cat Lady.”

And CCL? Says through the door, “YES, IT’S CRAZY CAT LADY.”

(Thus the aforementioned, “Ooops…”)

This time she’s got her corded phone with her. CLEARLY her phone does not work, can you not see this? (Um, sure, because there IS NO PHONE WIRE.) But she needs a phone. Can we give her one? She’s had a fire.

Uhhhh.

No.

I think had we given her a phone, it would have been akin to when my co-worker started bringing McDonald’s for the homeless guy who lived in the stairwell at work. And the feral cats she feeds. They will only stay longer…..and keep coming back!

Plus, now she knows she’s got a nickname. Whups. Given the back story on her, though, I think she’s had that label waaay before she moved in across the street.

View from the Tripper

Tripper: Hullo. Hullllooooo, we came right back this morning, yes, did you notice?

Me: Good dogs! Very good. Sit.

Tripper: We were so good. Now let me show you with my nose where the real treats are, ok, lady? OK?

(Tripper counter-cruises the stove, snuffling like a truffle pig. I see the pork shoulder that was in the smoker overnight is wrapped in foil and parked squarely – safely – on the back left burner, which also happens to be the furthest accessible point from either direction.)

Me: Laughs.

Tripper: Oh my god, so, like, can I have that? I’d really like that. That smells AMAZEBALLS, and you know, you did take my balls away from me. I’d really like that meat. (SNUFFLES DEEPLY) I mean, ok, I sound selfish. I’ll share. With her. (looks at Polly) Like, so, can WE have that? We’d really like that. We’ll be super good. Swear.

Later, I discover Mr. Tripper paid Polly with false promises of future treats to go in his kennel last night (in the dark hallway, after they came in from their nightly constitution) instead of him, so he could have free-range of the house for just one night. James got up at 2 am and realized the mistake, as a waggly happy Tripper was ready to go go GO outside (I smells meat!) and poor Polly was in the crate. Guess I need to turn the light on tonight to make sure this sort of mischief doesn’t continue! And no. No meat treats for breakfast. They got plenty of bones yesterday, and a rib bone tonight, so no matter how pathetic they try to act, we are ON to them.

Sure, Fern.

We went to a draft party last night at Arrowhead – had a great time, except I brilliantly put my (full) bottle of water into my purse, only to discover after I sat down that said bottle  had been opened and then semi-re-shut – so at least half of it poured into my bag. Fortunately, I’m vigilant about putting my phone in its little side pocket, so no iPhone died, and my iPod was in a case that soaked up the water before it reached the electronics.

It did make me think of this, though, one of my all-time favorites from classic SNL. And with some  of the things I see that get posted on the internet it’s certainly still germane today, in that we masterfully protect people’s rights to Extreme Stupidity. I’m just glad when my own doesn’t cost me money!

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