Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Miracle schmiracle

I fully realize this is the wrong reaction seeing as it's the miracle of life and all, but I can't help but look at the young pregnant woman in my yoga class and think, "Honey, what a damn shame. You had one of the flattest, firmest stomachs I've seen in real life. Why'd you want to go and do a thing like that to mess it up?"

As I said, I realize this is the wrong reaction. In my defense, however, at least I didn't voice the sentiment out loud (or, I didn't voice it out loud to the expectant mother; I did of course have to share the thought with my good friend and yoga partner, Lisa). I'd like to think this is a sign that the mental goalie who's been missing in action for so very many scenarios in my life thus far (the little guy in my brain who's supposed to deflect the inappropriate thoughts before they make their way from my mind to my mouth) had finally checked back in. More likely, however, it was just a lucky fluke. We'll see how long it lasts.

Still, though, if yoga girl isn't using her nearly concave abdomen, couldn't I just borrow it for a while?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Plastic not-so-fantastic

News flash: The fact that a particular food storage container is microwaveable doesn't necessarily mean its accompanying plastic lid is.

Do what this information what you will.

I'm now going to take my chances and hope that no mysterious toxins leaked into my lunch as a small hole bubbled and burned its way into the lid just centimeters above it. I don't have a backup lunch, so I'm deciding that a potentially poisoned lunch is better than no lunch at all.

I'm as bad as those men on the first Gladware commercials, whose wives made them rest their hand on the "good container" that held their lunch and take an oath that they would bring the container back promptly and in the same condition that it left. That lid is not coming back home with me tonight. Clearly this is just one of many reasons I'd make a terrible husband.

Monday, September 26, 2005

23rd and 5th

I don't generally do memes just for the sake of memes. I may do one occasionally if I think it's an interesting topic, but the majority of them are just not that intriguing to me. That and the whole point of these things is to "tag" people you know to do the same and A.) that's just as bad as those stupid chain emails I don't pass along and B.) I don't even personally know five people who have blogs (yet).

I'm doing this one, though, just because when I counted through my entries to find the right sentence, I was pleased that it was actually an intriguing sentence and not some boring or random transition like "So." or "Maybe not."

Here are the instructions:

1. Delve into your blog archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five people to do the same.

Here's my result (from this post back in July):

I do hope it's not just the element of sacrilege I found amusing, though I can't say that wasn't at least a minor factor.

I'm not officially tagging anyone, but maybe Jamie will want to play along.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

After the storm (an update)

So I tried to have a positive attitude about this storm damage thing; really I did. That was easier, however, before I found out that my deductible is actually one thousand dollars, rather than five hundred. So much for the momentary relief from money worries during my month without a mortgage payment.

I was also not particularly cheered to come home to my still powerless house and see that the popsicles I had forgotten were in my freezer had melted and were dripping down the refrigerator door into a gross, sticky puddle on the floor. It was like a scene from Carrie in my kitchen, and it was not a lot of fun to clean up. Note to self: clean under and behind the fridge once in a while, and buy some of these to make the job a bit less arduous when you do.

I about had a heart attack while shoving the fridge back into place... not because of the effort and strain of it all, but because of the pointy little nose and beady little eyes I suddenly saw poking out from under the grate beneath the door. My logical and rational self knew that the face was not moving, and therefore could not belong to a real, living thing, and that if it were a live mouse or other critter, surely it would have scampered away when I first muscled the fridge away from the wall, not hang out under there during the whole process of moving, cleaning, and moving back again. I knew this rationally, but it still freaked me the hell out. The eyes and nose (actually, beak) turned out to be part of some dumb little plastic seagull magnet that's probably been stuck under my fridge for twenty years. Stupid Ralph and his stupid "we don't need to clean this place before selling it" children. Really.


I was going to write something to post here last night; really I was. My goal of writing something once or twice a week has more often become "once a week if it's a slow week." I have no idea how so many people find the time to post something witty and clever nearly every day of their lives. (I'm less interested, of course, in the many more people who post witless and inane prattle every day of their lives. Their time, I feel, would be best spent elsewise.)

Anyway, so I was going to write something last night. The storm that made CNN had other plans for my computer, however--namely, rendering it useless by knocking out power to the entire city of Minneapolis.

As the sirens started whining around 7:00 last night, I was on my way to my yoga class in St. Paul. I looked out at the pinkish-green sky and listened to the sirens and thought, "Is it just plain old stupid to get in my car to leave when they're suggesting people just a few miles north of me retreat to their basements?" At that point, however, there were no warnings for St. Paul. I reasoned that if something was going to hit my house, it would hit whether I was there or not. If I was in St. Paul (presumably out of the path of the storm), at least I would be safe.

So I went to yoga, and the scariest thing I encountered was a garbage can rolling directly across the path of my car on a side street near the studio. There were no power outages as far as I could tell, and though our class huddled our mats as far away from the front windows of the studio as possible (just to be on the safe side), we barely heard even a drop of rain.

The situation when I got back to my own neighborhood was entirely different, however. The only working lights in view anywhere were car headlights and tail lights. Every street light, traffic light, and residential light was out. The many downed trees and power lines made an interesting obstacle course for the drive (particularly in total darkness). I was twice forced to turn around and choose a different route due to an impassable barrier in my path.

When I got home, my sister was there waiting for me. She'd been unable to reach me by phone and decided to come over and make sure I and my house were OK. I was fine, obviously. My house was fine too. The great big 50-year-old tree in my backyard, however? Not so fine. Half of it is still standing tall (for now, anyway). The other half, unfortunately, is lying on my neighbors' deck. The parts of it that don't fit on their now-structurally-unsound deck are covering the entire rest of their yard. Bummer.

my neighbors' yard

I didn't realize how much I appreciated that tree until now. It's in kind of a weird spot a bit too close to my back steps and railing, and it covers my entire yard with leaves that I have to rake into dozens of bags in the fall. But it also provides shade in my no-central-air house, and adds character to the lot as well. Or, it did, anyway. Now I'll have to replace it with some sad little sapling, like I live in a newly developed suburban sprawl development or something.

When I left for work this morning, the power was still out at my house. As I suspect the culprit is the two power line wires dangling precariously across the alley for my block (rather than just a grid outage that simply needed to be reset or something), I don't anticipate it being fixed yet by the time I return.

I can live without TV (for a few nights, anyway), and luckily my lazy self didn't go grocery shopping this week like I meant to do, so I don't have a hundred dollars worth of food spoiling in my currently useless fridge. It's odd (and it proves what a boring grown-up I've become since purchasing a house) that the appliance I'm most concerned about right now is my sump pump. The alarm on the pump started screeching last night, presumably to warn me that the tank where water from my backyard collects to avoid flooding my basement was now full, and with no electricity, the pump couldn't pump it out. I'm not sure exactly what happens if the water continues to drain in and the pump can't push it out... I'm envisioning some sort of cartoon-like scenario where the lid to the tank bulges and recedes repeatedly, letting in small drops of water with each bulge, until finally the screws on the tank lid blow off and the lid shoots to the ceiling, a veritable geyser of water spurting in all directions out of the tank to fill the entire surface of my basement. That's the cartoon version. In reality, I'm sure the water just kind of leaks its way in and leaves a slimy, musty mess throughout my laundry room. Sounds like fun. Can't wait.

I do realize that the tree, the potentially flooded basement, and even the anticipated $500 deductible I'll likely have to pay to remove the tree and possibly replace my neighbors' deck are all minor concerns compared to what could have happened. I am of course grateful for that. Hundreds of houses in the area fared far worse last night, and twelve hundred miles from here, people who've already evacuated their homes for one hurricane are bracing for another Category 4 or 5 on its way. So I do have perspective, and I do realize I'm lucky. I still wish I could watch tonight's new-to-me syndicated episodes of "Sex & the City," however. Call me selfish; that's just how it is.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Give up the ghost

I have a friend who thinks it's fun to assume there's a ghost inhabiting my house. As I am only the second person to own this house since it was built in 1950, and as the previous owner vacated the house due to death and not because he was relocating to a retirement community in Arizona, I suppose I can see why this friend would think a ghost roommate is likely. Not that it isn't just as entirely possible for said friend's 1980s condo to be haunted, but his condo doesn't have a creepy basement with numerous artifacts from its previous resident, so again, I see his point.

I've never really given a lot of thought as to whether I actually even believe in ghosts. I'm entirely creeped out by stories of hauntings and demons and spirits and the like, so I figure that means I must believe in them. Needless to say, I am not one of those people who thinks having a ghost in my house would be "cool." I do not appreciate the constant comments and questions and allusions to "the ghost."

The good news is, in the two years I've lived here, I've yet to see any real and convincing evidence of a ghost. Because I live alone and am probably borderline crazy, I do talk to him from time to time,* but I've never heard him answer back.

Still, whenever I feel slightly uneasy in my home alone--when I think I see a strange shape out of the corner of my eye, or when I hear an odd noise above--I wonder about the ghost. Likewise, when something seemingly unexplainable occurs, the ghost is a convenient scapegoat. This is really limited to quite minor things that normal, logical people would rationalize away immediately, but for which my overactive imagination apparently needs to find a more creative explanation. For weeks last winter I was convinced that the unexpected menthol scent I was smelling in one corner of my bedroom must be Ralph's 80-something-year-old ghost self refreshing the Icy Hot on his ailing muscles. Eventually I determined the source as the Burt's Bees travel pack of sample-sized toiletries that my friend Sarah gave me for Christmas last year. I finally discovered this, of course, not because I came to my senses and more carefully sniffed each item in the vicinity, but because I noticed that the smell shifted to the hallway when I moved the travel pack to my linen cupboard. I'm a quick study, you know.

I also blame Ralph when things go missing in my house. It's not a terribly big house, and there aren't that many unusual places I might stash things and forget about them, so I figure when I can't find something I should be able to locate, clearly Ralph must have moved it. Ralph seems to like to move shoes in particular. I think perhaps it's because he observes me from day to day and thinks of me as almost a daughter or granddaughter figure, and as such, he disapproves when I don't put my shoes in their proper place in my closet.** A year ago, when Fall came and I switched from sandals back to proper shoes, I was unable to find a pair of brown loafers that I'd had the past two years. I looked in my closet, moving all bits of clutter out of the way to search the entire floor surface area. I looked under my bed, behind the laundry basket, under the hooks in the stairwell where I hang my coats. I checked the trunk of my car and the insides of my overnight bags and suitcases. I even asked my ex-boyfriend to check his hall closet where I know his shoes all end up, thinking perhaps I'd come to his house with a change of clothes one day and left the second pair of shoes behind. I still have yet to find those shoes. My suspicion is Ralph might have hidden them in the same spot between two floor/ceiling support beams in my basement where I once found an ancient pair of ice skates he'd stashed there. I'm too scared to actually look in that spot, however, since if I do find the shoes, it will only confirm that I do, in fact, have a ghost.

I had almost forgotten about the missing loafers until earlier this summer, when a pair of black sandals went missing as well. Again, I checked all the usual places, digging behind all the random items on my closet floor where I typically kick my shoes off at night. The sandals were nowhere to be found. I started being more careful about putting my shoes away properly each night, worried that Ralph might see my treasured Birkenstocks strewn about idly in my living room and decide to teach me a lesson with those as well.

Yesterday I found the black sandals. Predictably, they were in a completely logical place that I swear I'd checked numerous times before--hanging in the shoe rack in the corner of my closet where I should properly store all my shoes but instead store only the ones I rarely if ever wear. (The loafers aren't there. I checked. Again.) So maybe Ralph is still messing with me, or maybe I really need to stop listening to my friend the amateur Ghost Buster and just accept that I'm a scattered girl with overactive paranoia tendencies and just relax already.

Incidentally, I wore the AWOL black sandals today, and I remembered that they're really not terribly comfortable or kind to my feet. If I do have a ghost, he's apparently a kind one, as he's only looking out for me (or at least, my feet), it seems.

* Typically just when I'm feeling particularly annoyed by some attribute of the house, as in "It's very nice that you purchased new windows shortly before your death, Ralph, but they're quite shitty windows, you know. Could you not have splurged for something that glides shut smoothly each time, or that has a ventilation lock that lets more than one inch of air into my home while still protecting me from intruders?" or "Why, Ralph, why? WHY did you paint the tile? You don't paint tile, because paint wears off in time, particularly when that paint is in a shower where water flows freely each day. WHY did you paint the tile, Ralph, WHY?"

Just stuff like that, really.

** I did say I was borderline crazy, after all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I Voted

I votedDid you?

Truth be told, today was the first time I've ever voted in a primary election. I've voted in every "major" election since I was 18, but I typically skip the less significant (i.e., less publicized) ones, just like nearly everyone else I know. But today I actually went to my polling place--my eerily empty polling place--and cast my votes for Minneapolis Mayor, Parks & Rec Board, Board of Estimation and Taxation, City Council, and Library Board. I had to bring a "cheat sheet" with me to remember which names I wanted (the Library Board candidates certainly haven't been duking it out in mudslinging ads during prime time TV and therefore they aren't exactly household names), but I did vote, and I didn't just choose names at random.

It's weird to wear an "I Voted" sticker with pride in mid-September, but I'm wearing it anyway. I don't know when I became such a civics nerd... It's not like I ever particularly related to Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club, whose response, when asked why he needed a fake ID was, "So I can vote." But anyone who knows me knows that the last two national elections got me more worked up about politics than I ever have been before, and I guess I feel like I need to take that energy and put it towards whatever small efforts I can. I get so frustrated when I think about the directives and priorities towards which this country seems to be trying to swing. I feel enraged and yet so powerless. I write my Congressmen; I click the possibly pointless little "sign our petition" buttons on the mailings from MoveOn and True Majority; but I don't really feel like I'm doing anything of influence or value. So I feel maybe I should try caring a bit more about my immediate surroundings--take more of an interest in the local goings-on, in the hopes that the "trickle-up" philosophy might have some merit. That or maybe this civic-mindedness just comes from my platonic "celebrity girlcrush" on Sarah Vowell; the people you're smitten with always influence you in one way or another, it seems.

So. Back to today's primary. I must say, if you've only ever voted in the rush hour time periods of a major election (i.e., the before and after work slots just after polls open and right before they close), I recommend checking out a primary sometime. It's a completely different, albeit more lackluster, voting experience. There will be no wait in line... in fact, with no line of neighbors to follow into the polling place, I actually had to seek out the "Vote here" signs and their accompanying arrows to find the proper room. Moreover, the experienced set of election judges who normally greet me--the alert and organized group of mostly retirees taking their civic duties very seriously--were not out in full force. I think for the primary, they bring in the B-Team--a significantly mellower (and more scattered) group who apparently left their "game face" at home.

It was also strange to see the volunteers flip through a near-empty voter registration roster a mere hour and a half prior to poll closing time. Maybe I shouldn't recommend voting in the primaries after all, as my neighbors' overwhelming lack of interest in the political process is really a bit depressing. On the other hand, being one of only about 20-some voters to register my preference for City Council representative also provides a feeling of power and influence that's disproportionate from that of a "normal" election. Small victories: I have to take them wherever I can.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Because apparently one post about pineapples wasn't enough

I really should have talked to that Pineapple Consultant at Cub Foods a couple months ago, because in my kitchen right now (for the first time ever) is a whole pineapple, and I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do with it.

Yes, yes, obviously I realize that a pineapple is an edible fruit and a perfectly fine fruit on its own, and I really ought to get a bit more citrus into my diet anyway before I acquire an anachronistic case of scurvy (just in time for Talk Like a Pirate Day next week). Still, there's no way I'm going to eat an entire pineapple. And I'm apparently the only self-sufficient adult who doesn't own a blender, so pina coladas are out of the question as well. I consulted for pineapple recipes, but let's be serious. I can barely imagine me taking the effort involved to cut and slice and de-rind the pineapple; there's just no way at all I'm going to make a Frog Eye Salad or a Pineapple Cheese Casserole or Gingery Fish Kabobs (even if they do have a five-star rating).

So if anyone in the Minneapolis area wants a pineapple, let me know. I could probably hook you up.

The pineapple, incidentally, was a gift from my neighbors, who brought it to my "End of Summer / I'm Finally (Almost) Finished Painting My House" party on Saturday. It was a very sweet and kind gesture meant to allude to the pineapple's history as a symbol of hospitality and welcome. It seems to me that if a pineapple says "Welcome," then it should have been me doling out the fruit (heh; "Dole") to my guests, rather than the other way around, but I suspect it was a two-years-belated housewarming offering, and in that case, I'll appreciate the sentiment. If this was a housewarming, however, someone really should have brought me a blender.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Did you at least get a picture in the Mountie hat?

Overnight I received two phone calls between the hours of "I'm obviously in bed" and "I'm still trying to sleep." The latter call came at 7:40 a.m. Nobody, NOBODY who knows me would call me and think I'm awake at 7:40 on a Saturday morning. Not even my mother calls at that hour (at least, not since she got an earful about it after a few early morning phone calls while I was in college).

Speaking of my mother, there is, apparently, at least some small trace of her in me (I cringe to admit), because I couldn't hear the phone ring at an absurd hour and NOT consider that it may be concerning an emergency of some sort. Apparently my worrying streak is outweighed by my lazy streak, however, since I just couldn't bring myself to get out of bed and run to the kitchen to catch either call and find out.

The caller ID box this morning shows that both calls came from the same source: a friend who's currently on vacation in Canada and presumably staying up late engaging in all sorts of hijinks and debauchery. In that case, I can explain the first call as perhaps an attempted diversion while her travel companion chatted up some sexy French Canadian or maybe just a desire to reach me and let me share in whatever fun and amusing sort of evening the two of them were having. I can't explain the second call, however. Anyone who's out having fun at close to 2:00 a.m. should not be up for a chat a mere six hours later.

If she were in the Twin Cities right now, I would worry these were "Come rescue me, please; I'm in a bad place I don't want to be" calls. The Girlfriend Code is much like a parental responsibility in that situation. When a friend is in need, running to her aid is unquestionably more important than a bit of sleep. I very much doubt she'd expect me to come to Canada to rescue her, however, so another explanation is likely in order.

This leads me to ask... If you get arrested in Canada, do the police let you make your one phone call from your cell phone, or do you have to use their phone? Because if they let you use your cell phone, and my good friend was actually behind bars (or at least in an uncomfortable chair beside a very stern-looking man in uniform) when she phoned, then I am indeed very sorry I missed the call. Also, however, Bravo to said friend for having the most interesting "What I did on my vacation" story I'll likely have ever heard.