History repeats itself

And it repeats itself

laverne out 2

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The heart wants what the heart wants

Because Out is Out and In is In and they are not the same

Laverne yard

Saturday – or any morning – at our house.

Laverne: I want out I want out I want out.

Me: Grabs leash. Changes from indoor flip flops to outdoor flip flops. Puts on hat. Opens door. Walks with Laverne to the back yard. Lifts Laverne and sets her on top of trash can. Puts harness on cat. Puts cat down. Clips leash to line attached to garage. Goes back inside. Takes off hat. Changes from outdoor flip flops to indoor flip flops. Returns to previously-scheduled reading.

Ten minutes later.

Laverne: I want in I want in I want in.

Me: Changes from indoor flip flops to outdoor flip flops. Puts on hat. Opens door. Walks to back yard. Unclips cat from line. Walks cat back inside. Takes off hat. Changes from outdoor flip flops to indoor flip flops. Removes cat from harness. Hangs leash back on thingy where leash hangs. Returns to previously-scheduled reading.

Laverne: I was so thirsty. Soooooo thirsty. And did Shirley leave any food? No. Rats. And by the way? I don’t care if you put water outside for me, even if it’s Inside Water. I want Inside Water inside, not Inside Water outside. It’s not the same. I want to come in for my water. In.

Laverne: I want out I want out I want out.

Me: Grabs leash. Changes from indoor flip flops to outdoor flip flops. Puts on hat. Opens door. Walks with Laverne to the back yard. Lifts Laverne and sets her on top of trash can. Puts harness on cat. Puts cat down. Clips leash to line attached to garage. Goes back inside. Takes off hat. Changes from outdoor flip flops to indoor flip flops. Returns to previously-scheduled reading.

Laverne out

Ten minutes later.

Laverne: I want in I want in I want in.

Me: Changes from indoor flip flops to outdoor flip flops. Puts on hat. Opens door. Walks to back yard. Unclips cat from line. Walks cat back inside. Takes off hat. Changes from outdoor flip flops to indoor flip flops. Removes cat from harness. Hangs leash back on thingy where leash hangs. Returns to previously-scheduled reading.

Laverne: I was so thirsty. Soooooo thirsty. And did Shirley leave any food? No. Rats.

Laverne: I want out I want out I want out.

Me: Grabs leash. Changes from indoor flip flops to outdoor flip flops. Puts on hat. Opens door. Walks with Laverne to the back yard. Lifts Laverne and sets her on top of trash can. Puts harness on cat. Puts cat down. Clips leash to line attached to garage. Goes back inside. Takes off hat. Changes from outdoor flip flops to indoor flip flops. Returns to previously-scheduled reading.

This repeats many many times until I get some sense.

Ten minutes later.

Laverne: I want in I want in I want in.

Me: Changes from indoor flip flops to outdoor flip flops. Puts on hat. Opens door. Walks to back yard. Unclips cat from line. Walks cat back inside. Takes off hat. Changes from outdoor flip flops to indoor flip flops.

Leaves harness on Laverne because to streamline the process a tiny bit.

Returns to previously-scheduled reading.

Laverne: I think I’ll sit in the window and lick myself noisily. I think I will pick at this harness and make a lot of noise because the harness? It bothers me. What? No. No, I’m not thirsty. Sheesh. Can’t a cat just sit in peace and enjoy the morning?

Cat drams

 

The Art of Deliberate Imperfection

My eyebrows are my spirit line

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Squinty eyes.

I have always had squinty eyes with droopy eyelids. They have not made me famous the way Renee Zellweger’s eyes made her famous.

They haven’t even been functional – I didn’t get glasses until I was in fifth grade but undoubtedly needed them well before that, if I can blame my complete lack of hand/eye coordination on anything and yes, I am seeking an excuse for my total lack of athletic ability.

I was always picked last for any team at school and I guess I can’t blame the other kids. I can’t hit a ball. I mean, I can. I did hit a baseball. Once. It was after it had passed the bat, so I hit it into my chest instead of away from me.

I think being able to see the ball before it actually is in front of you is probably essential for doing well in sports that are played with a ball.

I have squinty eyes with droopy eyelids. I thought this was just going to be how my life was. It never occurred to me that this was something that could be altered.

Then I learned that a surgery exists – a surgery to lift the eyelids discreetly so they don’t flop over the eyes.

Not only does this surgery exist but my mother had it.

My mother, whose physical clone I am.

(There are those who say I have inherited certain tendancies of hers as well. When my former boyfriend, John, met my mom, her sister, and my sister, he commented dryly that it wasn’t that the apple had not fallen far from the tree, it was that the tree had placed the apple exactly where it wanted the apple to be.)

(He was right.)

My mother is 20 years and eight months older than I am.

Which means that 20 years and eight months after she had her surgery, I could expect my eyelids to look like hers the day before she had the surgery.

Which suggested to me that if I was going to have to have the surgery anyhow – hers was covered by insurance because the droopiness was affecting her vision, I might as well have it when I could benefit professionally or at least, you know, assuage my vanity.

Although the reason I said out loud was because younger skin heals faster than older skin so I Might As Well, which sounds a lot less vain than, “I don’t like looking so old.”

I asked around and did some research and found the local doc who is known for this and made an appointment for a consult.

He was not exactly oozing with bedside manner, but I suppose if I have to choose competence or choose charming, I will pick competence.

He looked at my droopy eyelids and asked me a few questions and answered my questions impatiently and then we were done and I went into the waiting room to wait for some coordinator to tell me more about costs and scheduling, which is the business model I would use: why waste a doctor’s time talking about the money when you could pay someone ten percent of what the doc makes for that work?

I was drumming my fingers on the chair and thumbing through my phone, annoyed at having to wait, when he ran out of his office and into the waiting room.

“I almost forgot!” he announced. “When I do your eyes, I can also adjust your eyebrow!”

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Your eyebrow! Your left eyebrow! It’s crooked!”

What?

“What are you talking about?”

He turned and grabbed a hand mirror and held it to my face. “Here,” he pointed. “Don’t you see how your eyebrows don’t match?”

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Me and my emerging asymmetrical eyebrows before glasses.

Um. No. I didn’t.

I squinted and looked more closely. Oh yeah! My eyebrows don’t match! They are not symmetrical. One has a more pronounced arch than the other.

I had honestly never noticed in my entire life.

Is that a thing? I mean, should I have noticed that my eyebrows are not perfectly symmetrical? I had never even known to look for that.

Every now and then it would bother me slightly that my glasses seemed crooked. I always assumed it was because my ears weren’t even with each other.

It was probably because my eyebrows are asymmetrical.

I guess I am kind of oblivious.

The next week, I saw my aunt Pat at my great-uncle Fritz’s funeral. Uncle Fritz was my great-aunt Helen’s husband. Aunt Helen was my grandma Sylvia’s sister.

Pat is a nurse and I told her about this doctor and that I was maybe thinking about having the surgery but was conflicted because the local anesthesia in the office method was not an option because I had told the doctor I am A Fainter and fainting people have to have the procedure done at the hospital, which costs about a thousand dollars more and I paid only $1,200 for my first car and was I going to pay as much for only part of a surgery as I paid for a car? Was I going to pay $6,000 total for a surgery? That’s more than I paid for my master’s degree.

Then I told her what he had said about my eyebrow.

“You can’t change your eyebrows!” she gasped. “That’s your Granma Sylvia eyebrow! Your eyebrows are just like hers and like Aunt Helen’s and your dad’s! That’s a part of you!”

I looked around. I looked at my dad’s brothers. I looked at my aunt Helen. I looked at her two sons, my first cousins once removed? My second cousins? My – well, my dad’s cousins.

I looked at my dad’s cousins’ kids.

We all had that eyebrow. Just a tiny little extra arch on the one. Just a tiny bit of unevenness. Just a bit that tied us together.

Nah. I don’t need that fixed.

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My dad, growing into his uneven eyebrows.

 

 

 

 

My career as a girl detective

When I was a girl, I wanted to be Nancy Drew. I think I still have it in me.

Oxtail restaurant

So Marido and I went on vacation to Spain this winter and we were in Madrid and we were hungry and we wanted to eat at the fabulous little mom and pop place where we had oxtail several years ago but we couldn’t remember what it was called.

We were googling things like, “mom and pop oxtail madrid” to no avail. Nothing that popped up looked familiar.

Then I remembered.

I had taken photos the last time we ate there and posted them on facebook because I am all about the food on facebook. I have taken two selfies – one where I am wearing sunglasses and a hat and another of my shadow. I am not a fan of selfies. I don’t like it when other people take my photo. I sure don’t want to do it myself.

Anyhow. I searched my posts from a few years ago. We had been there over Christmas break.

I found the photo.

We did an image search with it.

We found a similar image.

That image was tagged with a location. Not with a name, but with a location.

We checked the map.

It was near where we thought it had been

We started walking.

We found it.

Taberna Juan Blanco.

And it was delicious.

Maybe this should become my new career? Finding places? And things? Would people pay me, do you think?

25a

 

The real North/South divide is not politics it is Coke and it is Dr Pepper

What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?

Dr pepper

 

  1. In the South, everything is A Coke. As in, Would you like a Coke? Yes? What kind? We have 7 Up, Dr Pepper, Pepsi, and Sprite.
  2. Dr Pepper is better than Coke.
  3. Dr Pepper does not have a period after the “r” in “Dr”
  4. For whatever reason, it is difficult to find Dr Pepper up north

I don’t know why for #4.

I don’t know why for #3, either, but I also do not care. One character fewer to write is fine with me. Why bother with an extra period? We already know “dr” stands for “doctor.” Does a period after the “r” make it easier to understand? I think not.

But back to #4.

Why don’t they have Dr Pepper up here? To see Dr Pepper in the fridge in the hotel lounge on a business trip I had to go to Dallas! Not that I mind going to Texas. I didn’t mind at all. But seeing the Dr Pepper and the diet Dr Pepper in that fridge made me realize they don’t have it in the machine at work. At company lunches, they will offer both Coke and Pepsi but there is no Dr Pepper.

Do people up here just not know? Do they not know diet Dr Pepper tastes better – well, less bad – than diet Coke and that in the morning, when you need an additional caffeine delivery system after you have already had your coffee and need something that won’t make your teeth all nasty and your breath bad, both of which are highly undesirable under regular circumstances but even more so when you are around other people, like your co-workers, you want that clean, carbonated taste?

They had diet Dr Pepper in the machines at work but took it out because not enough people bought it.

Which is why I was so excited to see it in the lounge at the meeting in Dallas.

And then I got into the meeting room and saw the neat pyramids of soda for the meetings and saw only Pepsi products.

Dr pepper no

Which seriously what the heck?

Bad enough that there was no diet Dr Pepper – which I knew they had in the hotel because I had just seen it – but now there was also no diet Coke?

Who does that?

Who?

I wanted to say “evil people who hate me and don’t want me to stay awake and hydrated,” but that might be too strong.

So I will say, “Corporate people who invited to the meeting Major Customer headquartered in Dallas whose name rhymes with ‘Mempsi.'”

All I can say is we better get that account because I was asked to suffer greatly.

 

When things go wrong at Aldi

Or, when your cloth grocery bags from your college are so attractive someone wants to steal them

Aldi 1
Me: Hey! You complain that we don’t ever do anything fun but it’s Saturday night and where are we? Marido: Aldi? Me: EXACTLY!

 

Marido came home from Aldi, which, if you do not have in your neighborhood, I am sorry, because it is the best place for basics and for Italian and German goodies like ladyfingers and chocolate.

It’s not because they exploit people, either. It’s not like Amazon where they make their employees go through a search after they finish work – but after they clock out. If you have to wait more than a minute or two to leave after your shift is over, you should be paid for that time. Making people wait 15 minutes to go through search and not paying them for that time is – I don’t know if I want to go as far as evil – I save that word for people like Jeffrey Epstein – close to evil. People don’t work at low-wage jobs as a hobby.

Aldi is inexpensive because they cut all the frills. They don’t play music in the store, which I love for its own sake – can’t we just have some quiet in public spaces? – because they don’t want to pay royalties.

They display goods in the boxes to save unstocking fees. They have limited variety. They don’t pack the groceries for you.

And they charge you a quarter to get a shopping cart and give you the quarter back when you return the cart to the stall. This keeps carts from being left in the parking lot where someone has to collect them and probably makes it harder to steal them. (Unless you are a cart thief who is willing to lose a quarter.)

So Marido was at Aldi and he stepped away from his cart for a second and returned to find it – gone.

He was confused, as the cart was gone. Who takes a cart with someone else’s food that hasn’t even been paid for yet?

He wandered – well, “wandered” does not impart the sense of confusion and probably panic and for sure growing ire that he felt – looking for his groceries.

No luck.

He told an employee that he couldn’t find his cart. The clerk helped him look and eventually, they found all the food stacked carelessly by the blueberries.

The cart was nowhere to be found.

The clerk got another cart for Marido. He put the food in it.

But he had no bags.

So he searched the store and found a guy with a cart that contained our grocery bags.

Marido: These are mine! Where did you get these!

Guy: They’re mine!

Marido: Um. I went to Rice. [Which is a college many states away from where we live.] Did you? Because that’s where I got them. [They gave them out at homecoming a few years ago.]

Guy: They were in the cart when I got it!

Marido: Yeah, well, they’re mine.

And he snatched them out of the man’s cart.

And came home all discombobulated because that really is a clear violation of the Social Contract: We Do Not Take Each Other’s Carts Or Their Grocery Bags. And Marido is used to (I don’t know why as so much evidence is to the contrary) people playing by the rules.

I hope he can recover from this trauma. Aldi has been good to us.

 

 

 

Produce Honor System

When you live in a place where we figure if you steal food, you are probably really really hungry

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My mom and dad are from a small town in northern Wisconsin. One set of aunt and uncle(s?) (my dad has two brothers, my mom has six siblings – they are all married and I have 26 first cousins) live in the town with stoplights, eight miles from the small town. Medford has three stoplights, I think? One of them is new this year. When we discovered two months ago, we were annoyed.

Years ago, I stayed with an aunt and uncle. They let me borrow a car. When they came home, my aunt asked where the keys were.

On the counter, I told her. Duh. Like I was going to keep them in my purse?

Why didn’t you just leave them in the car? she asked.

Umm. Because at the time, I lived in Austin and you would never leave the keys in the car in Austin?

Also, they did not give me a house key. Because why would they lock their house?

So yeah – roadside produce stands are on the honor system.

It’s like there’s been an invasion

What the heck is happening to MY ARMS?

funnel cake
Eating our bi-decade State Fair funnel cake. (Does that mean once every five years? Because that’s what I mean.)

OK you guys. WHAT IS GOING ON?

For the record, I have been working out with weights for – *does the math in her head* – 26 years.

Nope, I am not muscle bound.

Nope, I am not lean.

I am sad to report that the adage “Great abs are made not in the gym but the kitchen” is absolutely true.

I am not willing to be hungry to lose weight and that’s kinda what it comes down to in my case. Plus I just like to eat. It’s my hobby. I don’t work out almost every day because I like to exercise, I work out almost every day because I like to eat.

And maybe if I worked out five hours a day, I wouldn’t have to worry about what was happening in the kitchen, but I can tell you that even when I was riding my bike to work every day – 20 miles, round trip – plus going to the gym at lunch because I was bored and I am not paid by the hour so why would I work through lunch?, I was still not ultra lean.

My ancestors gave me a body designed to survive in famine and in winter, which I suppose will be useful if the apocalypse comes but honestly does not do much for me fashion wise now.

But then I remind myself that if my worst problem is that I get more than enough food, I have a really great life.

But now I think I am getting a worse problem?

Despite the bicep and tricep work – 26 years’ worth, I am getting Old Lady Arms.

You know what I am talking about. I have also heard them called Cafeteria Lady Arms.

I am getting the upper arms that don’t stop moving.

Maybe this is a slightly chubby person thing? Does this happen to thin women? Do their upper arms keep shaking after the intentional movement has stopped?

Is this a problem I could solve if I lost weight in my upper arm? Or would the skin stay the same size?

I feel as if my body is betraying me. I exercise. I eat a healt – ok, a moderately decent diet. I don’t smoke (yet, but once I already have face wrinkles, I will start, because it looks like fun and the only thing keeping me from doing it now is vanity), I don’t drink (not for moral reasons but because I think beer and wine taste awful and for the calories, I would rather have butter), and I now, unlike my misspent youth, stay out of the sun.

Yet I occasionally catch a surprise glimpse of my neck. Or an in-focus view of my eyes. And now the upper arms. And I wonder when it all happened and if all my sisters who have gone before me were as surprised by their new selves as I am.

 

 

My cats don’t know they’re going to die

Contemplating my own mortality at 10:11 p.m. on a Thursday when I should be sleeping and will surely regret it tomorrow but I can’t sleep anyhow so whatever

cottage 3

I find myself drifting into melancholy lately. Part of it is probably because everything is all verklumpt at work – new CEO, new VPs, new boss. Most of what I loved about my job was the people I worked with, especially my boss but he is not my boss anymore.

I need to find a new job but I don’t want to look for a new job because it’s hard and I don’t feel like doing anything hard. I thought I was done with hard.

(OK you may laugh at that because how dumb is that to think you ever get to a point in your life where you don’t have to do hard things?)

Everything is changing.

Have I mentioned I hate change?

Except I want to escape my life now. Which would be change. But – it would be change I choose, right? And that makes all the difference.

I think the other part of it is that for me, summer is over.

We were robbed of a decent May and June and then early July was hectic. We had a chance to visit the Museum of the American Military Family, which is the very first time in my life I have ever seen my life represented in some way outside of actually living my life. (Except for Major Dad, of course.)

The lives of military brats don’t show up in popular culture. This museum is just a small collection in what used to be someone’s house but there are archives dating back 100 years – diaries military brats and spouses wrote about their lives and artifacts that I recognized – beer steins from Germany – and many I didn’t.

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The woman who runs the museum stepped out for a second and left Marido and me alone. I burst into tears. I still don’t know why.

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I, too, shined my father’s shoes.

We went on vacation in mid July and – now we’re done.

There is nothing to look forward to.

Even vacation didn’t have all that we wanted. That first photo of the water? It’s of the same dock as the header photo for this blog. But the front half of the dock has been washed away. Lake Superior doesn’t care about what people build.

We had our vacation, which, even without half of the dock, was lovely, but it’s over. And now there is nothing ahead of us but winter and death.

Honestly. That’s what it looks like from here. Winter. Cold. Then death.

cottage 2

 

Smashing the patriarchy, one barricade at a time

When you can’t tear down that wall, you go around it (figuratively, not literally)

bathroom

Can we all agree that the greatest tragedy possible is when a man has to wait to use a public restroom?

Of course it is! What? A LINE FOR THE MEN’S ROOM? What kind of monster would ever think this was a good thing? And if it ever did happen, we would want men to be comfortable while they waited, right? Hence the chairs outside of the men’s room at this theater. No chairs outside the ladies, though. We are made of stronger stuff and don’t need the be comfortable while we wait.

men's room

Hahahahaha. I joke.

It’s not a tragedy if a man has to wait for a public restroom. I mean, in theory, it’s not a tragedy. We don’t know what it looks like when men wait because it never happens.

Unless we take over.

Which is what a few other women and I did at the airport in Albuquerque recently.

The ladies was closed for cleaning. The two family restrooms were in use.

There was a certain degree of urgency: the need to pee plus the need to catch a plane.

And the ladies was blocked.

So I did what any rational person would do.

I asked the man who came out of the men’s room if it was empty. When he said it was, I told the other women waiting that I would stand guard if they wanted to go in if they would do the same for me.

In the spirit of solidarity, they agreed. And our missions were accomplished.

Marido was stunned when I told him. “You BLOCKED the men’s room?” he asked.

“I blocked it from MEN,” I said. “It was being used.”

What else was I supposed to do? I needed to go.

Are we women really supposed to wait to pee and men are never supposed to wait? It’s time. We all wait or none of us wait. Potty parity.