Monday, December 29, 2008

What do Rick Neuheisel and Soap Scum Have in Common?

In the past couple of days, people have found this blog using the following search strings:

"Neuheisel idiot UCLA" from somebody in California.

(This University of Washington alum is glad to be of service here. Hope he destroys your football program the way he did ours, and the way he also did at my brothers' alma mater, University of Colorado. With luck people will eventually stop hiring this ethically challenged, sociopathic nimrod.)

Hoo. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. (But I was thrilled that UCLA went 4-8 this year.)

On a lighter note:

"Jesus image in soap scum."

Oddly, I am not #1 here. I am beneath, among other things, "IMAGE OF JACK SKELLINGTON APPEARS IN SOAP SCUM on my shower curtain!!" Or, in other words, Jack Skellington beats out Jesus. What do you think this means for the world?

I am kind of hoping that last google searcher was somebody who had actually read my "Soap Scum Residue Jesus" post and was trying to find his/her way back here. Both because that would be good for my ego and because otherwise I'd be a little scared about the reasons for the search.

May you all find all of the Idiot Neuheisel and Soap Scum Jesus you were looking for.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Poinsettias Live!

It is now December 28, and I would just like everyone to know that all seven of my poinsettia plants are still alive.

Okay, so granted, maybe these aren't the original seven.

Yes, there is a chance that, right at first, after I purchased them at the beginning of the month, I took the "Do not overwater" instruction a teensy bit too literally.

And I guess I kind of missed the part in those same instructions that said, "Don't let them go so long without watering that the leaves droop." (Just fyi? They really do mean it.)

But three of those original seven are doing quite nicely, thankyouverymuch, barely discernible from their more recently-purchased friends.

Well, aside from the fact that they look a And kind of...uh...bare.

But let's get real here. Those three could be sleeping with their four brethren in the yard waste recycling bin on the way to being next spring's compost.

So they need to stop whining.

(Not that I would ever actually threaten my poinsettias. Or anything.)

And, as I stated previously, I currently have seven living poinsettia plants. Just like when I made my original purchase on December 3.

(Do I have an amazing green thumb or what?)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Laurie and The Boys

For some reason this made me laugh. Very hard. This is me (okay, technically me four years ago) and four of the players on one of the soccer teams I'm a fan of.

Okay, yeah, sure, nobody in the world is going to find this as entertaining as I do. But it's worth a watch just to enjoy the art of the people who created it. I hope you're inspired to visit the site and make your own. And if you do, be sure to send me a link!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

And then, because I couldn't help myself, I did the same thing with some of my favorite French players:

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Weather Has Changed

This is my city, right down the street from where my husband lived when we were dating.

Oh, did I mention we finally got our snowstorm?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Scrubbed Away "Soap Residue Jesus." OR: Why St. Peter Will Turn Me Away, Reason #3547

Many years down the road, when I arrive at the pearly gates, the conversation will go something like this.

St. Peter: Okay, looking through your file, everything looks pretty good. Except... Wait just a second. Did you really scrub away the image of Jesus from your shower wall?
Me: You mean...the soap scum ?
St. Peter: Have some reverence. Please. Soap residue.
Me: Um...right...well...
St. Peter: It says here that the image of Jesus in Da Vinci's Last Supper appeared to you on your shower wall, and you... You just scrubbed it away.
Me: But...but...but... You don't understand! It wasn't my fault! My mother-in-law was coming!!!

You see, what happened is this: Christmas is being held at my house this year. Which means that my husband's family, plus various and assorted other players, will be descending on my house for up to two or three days at a time starting Dec. 20 and ending Dec. 27.

I hate this. (Note: I am NOT saying I hate them. I love them. It's everything else I hate.) I am not an entertainer. I am not a hostess. I am not a cook, or a decorator. What I am is an introvert. If the world ended tomorrow and everyone disappeared but me and my husband and kids, it would take me at least three days to notice, and that would just be because nobody was leaving comments on the other site I write for. If the evil force that took away the world assigned bots to automatically leave comments, it might take weeks.

But because I love my husband and family, I'm working at being a good sport about this. Which means that I'm spending a lot of time this week a) scrubbing my toilets and figuring out my "self-cleaning" oven, and b) trying not to throw too many hysterical tantrums. Which is how I ended up taking the advice of a woman I once knew, who said that when she wants to relax, she locks herself in the bathroom with soft music and a glass of wine.

So that's what I did.

So I'm lying there in the steamy bath, relaxing, thinking about the fact that I have to scrub down the shower walls before anybody comes. And, then my eyes fall on a spot I missed the last time I did the chore. It was kind of an inverted V of white -- you can see the swipe of the sponge going off in either direction, on both sides of the spot I missed. But the problem is that you can't see what you've missed till it's dried, and I'm not nearly enough of a perfectionist to go back afterwards and do the job again to get it right. So that's the way it's stayed.

But as I sit there staring (after a glass of wine and with my glasses off,) I see that there is a definite resemblance to Da Vinci's "The Last Supper." There's a horizontal strip of white, like the table cloth. And above the table cloth are roundish drops, like heads. And stuff has dripped from the drops, kind of diagonally. Like arms. And robes. I'm not kidding. It was actually pretty cool.

And then the wine was gone and the bath water was cold, so I got out and had dinner and went to bed. And then this morning I scrubbed the shower surround, top to bottom. And it was only later that I realized I'd scrubbed away Jesus.

I hate when that happens.

So here's how I'm hoping the rest of the conversation will go:

Me: But...Christmas was coming! And we're hosting! And...and... I was stressed! *sigh* I'm sorry.
St. Peter: Fear not, my child. We're very forgiving up here. I understand.
Me: You do? Oh! Thank you!
St. Peter: If it had been me, though?
Me: Yes?
St. Peter: I would've sold it on ebay.

A Snow Day. Without Snow.

They were predicting snow last night -- 1-3 inches. Since it never snows here, that's a big deal. At the sign of the first flake, panic sets in and people forget how to drive and life as we know it grinds to a halt.

(She says smugly as a native Coloradan.)

But to be honest, driving is a lot different here. There are a lot of hills, for one thing. And when it snows, the temperature tends to hover right around freezing, which means that it freezes, then thaws, then freezes again, leaving a sheet of ice on every road. So the powers that be tend to err of the side of caution and shut down everything.

But they do usually wait until it actually snows. Which explains why my thirteen-year-old was making trips to the windows and doors every fifteen minutes last night, searching vainly for that first flake, particularly after he got the email that said, "In the event of school cancellation or late start, there will be no Chess Club."

This is important, because this year he is the coach. He took over running the elementary club that I ran for seven years while he was an elementary student. They tried a paid professional coach last year after I moved on, but the expenses were so high that hardly any kids participated, and the results weren't any better than when I -- a clueless mom -- ran it myself. So this year they brought in my son.

What this means is that this year he's the one responsible for coming up with lesson plans and keeping the kids on topic and out of trouble. (He does have parental help, but still. A big responsibility for an eighth grader.)

I think he does enjoy it, but it's stressful. So he was desperately hoping for the day off.

Alas, no snow when he went to bed. And no snow when he got up. Or actually, as we discovered when we got in the car to go to school, just the tiniest of dustings -- not enough to show up on the windsheild, but enough to provide a tiny line of white once the wipers had pushed it all into one spot.

And so we drove to school. And I found myself thinking, "Wow. There's nobody out on the roads today." And we pulled into the parking lot cars. And the school was dark. And there was a sign that said, "School closed." My son, of course, nearly squeaked with joy. (Did I mention he's thirteen?)

It's the first time ever that we went to school on a school day -- we had no clue in advance that they'd actually cancel today school due to snow. Or, rather due to no snow.

And so we went home, and I made sausage and eggs, and he made Christmas cookies, and together we cheerfully watched a raccon (a raccoon! in the day!) make its way across our yard.

It's windy now, but still not snowing. The forecast said it should have started hours ago.

But my car can make it up our hill, and the garbagemen actually came this morning (which is good, because we've been tidying up for Christmas and both garbage and recycling were full.)

And I'm thinking that maybe a snowless snow day is the best of all worlds.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why I Don't Have to Post in December

I have nothing to say, actually, but I really needed to write a post to get Unpopular Mechanic and his low-riders off the top of the page. Because this is, y'know, my busy season.

It's funny -- this is the time of year when I could write absolutely nothing and still see my blog numbers go up by 10-15 a day, simply because, two years ago, I wrote about my favorite Christmas song, Stop the Cavalry. And, since nobody quite got it (you mean it's an oom-pah kind of song about war and nuclear fallout zones? Huh...what?!?) I eventually included the lyrics and a link to the audio.

And now I am somehow a source. I get hits from all over the world (mostly Great Britain and the US, but elsewhere also) looking for info about this song.

If you're one of those who found my blog by googling, "Stop the Cavalry"?

Audio is here.
Lyrics are here.
Purchasing info -- US only -- is here.

And while you're here, why not stop by and read my Unpopular Mechanics post?

You know you want to.

Friday, December 12, 2008

But I Don't HAVE a Relationship With Popular Mechanics!

To start out, I have a confession to make: I have four email addresses.

The first is the family one. The second is the work one. The third is what was kind of the work one before I was technically working for the website I work for, meaning I was doing all the same stuff, but for free, so I didn't actually qualify for a work address but needed something that I could send work emails from without anybody actually connecting them to my real life.

And the fourth was the email address that didn't fit anything else. Kind of a default email address, where I get all of my yahoo groups quilting emails and google alerts and stuff like that.

It was to this fourth address that I received the following email:

You are receiving this email because of your relationship with Popular Mechanics. If you no longer wish to receive email communications from Popular Mechanics, please see below.

Okay, first off? Where the hell did you get this email address? This is not supposed to connect back to my real life at all. Okay? And second? I don't have a relationship with Popular Mechanics. Or even Unpopular Mechanics.

(You know. The ones who wear the toolbelts that are so heavy that their jeans can't withstand the gravitational forces. Yeah. Those guys.)

So stop sending me emails.

Thank you.

Merry Christmas

How to Tell Your Child is Home from College

My older son is home from college. I could tell when I got up.

How could I tell, you ask?

I could tell because his bedroom door was closed and there was a hamper full of clothes on my living room floor.

He just came out to get them a few minutes ago. I said, "Are those dirty?"

He held his arm up to about the halfway level and said, "Oh, only from here down."

Of course.

Ah, college. I remember college.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jesus Returns! (Thanks to GPS)

In a sign of the times:

When Baby Jesus disappeared last year from a Nativity scene on the lawn of the Wellington, Fla., community center, village officials didn't follow a star to locate him.

A GPS device mounted inside the life-size ceramic figurine led sheriff's deputies to a nearby apartment, where it was found face down on the carpet. An 18-year-old woman was arrested in the theft.

There is so much wrong with this story, I don't know where to start. But I'm glad baby Jesus is safe at home.

I mean, if you have to take something, take a sheep. Or Joseph. Or you can even take a wiseman. (Because seriously, three is overkill. So go ahead and take the guy who thinks myrrh is an appropriate baby gift.)

But a nativity isn't quite the same with an empty manger.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Little Fact to Bring You Holiday Cheer

I just want everybody to know that Excedrin is on sale at Safeway, half off, now through December 25.

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 05, 2008

I am a Terrorist. I Blame My Washing Machine

My husband and I are generally not the kinds of people who replace appliances for "style" or "design" reasons. We're the kinds of people who replace appliances when they're twelve years old and start smoking and nearly burn down the house.

So, last summer, we were in the market for a new washer and dryer. (Although I suppose I'm kind of making a liar out of myself, because I wanted both washer and dryer, when it was technically only the dryer that was smoking. What can I say? I'm a slave to fashion.)

I had heard great things about the energy and water savings from front-loading washers, so I said to the salesperson that this was what I wanted. She pursed her lips. I should have paid attention. She said, "Well, some people have problems with mildew, but you can fix that by leaving the washer door open."

Fine by me. And so I bought my new washer and dryer, and at first everything was great. My dying dryer had been taking two hours to dry a load of towels. This dryer -- aided by the washer's ultra-speedy spin cycle that whipped away the water -- took about forty minutes.

But then? The smells began.

At first it was subtle, and not unpleasant. Not mildewy at all, just not...fresh. My towels kind of smelled like they'd been in a cedar chest for a few months. But as time went by, things got more and more sour, to the point that my 13-year-old, who never notices what he wears, was complaining. And so I went online to look for a solution to the problem.

What I discovered is that the smelly clothes problem is a biggy with front-loaders, and the solutions are hard to come by, to the point that some manufacturers were even replacing the machines of people who complained long enough.

Fortunately I'd only had my machine a couple of months, so the problem didn't seem to be deep-rooted. I read through all the suggestions in the forums and followed each of them at least once. These included:

--Run a half-gallon of white vinegar through an empty machine.
-- Run towels on the hottest setting. (Mine has an antibacterial setting. That works.
-- Go to the faucet nearest your washer and run the tap till the water is fully hot. This keeps the cool water in the pipes from entering the machine.
-- Buy "Smelly Washer" powder and use it once a month.

And so I did all of these. The first three seemed to do the trick, but I ordered the Smelly Washer powder -- a powder created solely to solve this problem -- just in case.

And when I am locked away, deep in a cell, getting waterboarded while my family and attorney ask frantic questions about my whereabouts, remember that this is where it all began.

First problem: Some person along the line in the delivery process hit a wrong button and told some sorting machine that my white powder was supposed to go to "VA" rather than "WA."

Second problem: There is actually a town in VA with the same name as my town. And worse, since my address is all numbers, there is actually a place with the same address.

Third problem: Some mail sorting machine or clumsy mail person did something to the package that literally broke the lid off the bottle, so that all of the white powder spilled into the envelope. And envelopes aren't necessarily made to be powder-proof. So when my package arrived at a business in Virginia, it was leaking white powder.

We got a voicemail on Saturday afternoon from a somewhat desperate-sounding person explaining the situation and wanting to know if it was really laundry products, as it said on the envelope. We didn't pick up the message till Sunday when, of course, nobody was there to take the return call. But my husband left a message saying that yes, in fact, it was a laundry product, and they didn't have to call Homeland Security or stock up on Cipro.

My Smelly Washer powder arrived in the mail a week later. From Virginia. Wrapped in a clear plastic bag, the bottom of which was filled with white powder. I used the stuff in my washing machine, it seemed to work, and all is well.

At least till I go to travel next time and discover that I am, in fact, a known terrorist.

Next time I'm putting my husband's name on the address label.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Oh, Of Course

Conversation in my laundry room with my thirteen-year-old son.

Son: "Is that half a lego? Yes, it is! It's half a lego!"
Me: "Wait. How do you break a lego?"
Son, prodding the object with his shoe: "Oh, wait, no. It's... It's half a monkey."
Me: Ah. Well, that makes it okay, then.

Sometimes it's just better not to question these things.

A New Entry in the "Disturbing Search Phrases" Sweepstakes

I have a new winner in the "Best Search Phrases Used to Find my Blog" contest. This one even beats out "Aurora Avenue Prostitution," "1998 is david beckham what's wrong with this country sarong wearing," and "Play Strip Soccer."**

It's "can too much excedrin cause hemorrhoids."

Okay, so I get the Excedrin part -- I was talking about my junky dog galloping to greet me when I shook the Excedrin bottle. But I had to go back and do a blogsearch to remember when I'd used the word "hemorrhoids." It was this post, about the use of Google searches to track flu epidemics.

Even more disturbing is the fact that I'm #7 on the Google search list. And even more disturbing than that is the fact that this post will probably move me to #1.

My mother would be so proud.

**Oh, about that Strip Soccer thing. I finally figured it out, thanks to one of my soccer blogging buddies who witnessed it firsthand. My friend was watching one of the Euro 2008 games in a bar back in June when a guy came in and said he was going to remove a piece of clothing for every goal the Netherlands scored. Netherlands scored four goals. The guy was not wearing socks. I hear it got pretty scary towards the end.

But thanks to Mr. Netherlands fan, I believe I now know what the "Strip Soccer" searchers (yes, there were more than one) were searching for.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Surviving December

December 1. And so it begins.

It's not that I don't like Christmas. I do, more or less. I enjoy the lights and the decorations, and having all the kids around, and the special church services and concerts. It's just that...

The month of December, for me, feels a lot like being sucked down into a fast-flowing river, knowing that you have to swim as hard and as fast as you can, but regardless of the effort you put into it, you'll still get nowhere and end up swept away and half-drowned. Combine that with the 8.5 hourse of sunlight we get on the shortest day of the year, and I'd really prefer to climb into bed and pull the covers over my head and just wait for it all to be over. I don't want to shop, I don't want to actually do the decorating, I don't want to entertain. I just want it to be done.

Wasn't the original event, that one back in a stable, pretty simple? What happened?

I went into iTunes today and downloaded four of my favorite holiday songs, all of which capture the ambivalence and mixed emotions I feel every December.

The Rebel Jesus, by Jackson Browne

Christmas Eve Sarejevo by TransSiberian Orchestra

The St. Stephen's Day Murders (much funnier than you might think) by Elvis Costello, and

Christmas, by Blues Traveler

Alas, I can't find any site that will actually play the latter song, but here are the lyrics. And, as you can imagine, it's much better in audio-- the harmonies are wonderful.

Comes the time for christmas
And I really have to ask
If this is feeling merry
How much longer must it last
I wish a one horse open sleigh
Would come carry me away
But Ive been waiting here all day
And one just hasnt come my way
Now excuse me if Im not being reverent
But I was hoping for a miracle to hold me, wash me
Save me from my righteous doubt as I watch helpless
And everybody sings
If its chanukah or kwanza
Solstice, harvest or december twenty-fifth
Peace on earth to everyone
And abundance to everyone you're with
Laha da da da da da
Da da da da da da da da da da da
La da da da da da da da
La da da da da da da da da
Laha da da da da
Laha da da da da
Comes the time for christmas
And as you raise your yuletide flask
There's like this feeling that you carry
As if from every christmas past
Its as if each year it grows
Its like you feel it in your toes
And on and on your carol goes
Harvesting love among your woes
I want to buy into the benevolent
And I was hoping for a miracle to hold me, wash me
Make me know what its about
As the longing in me makes me want to sing
Noel or navidad
Season celebration or just the end of the year
Christmas can mean anything
And I mean to keep its hope forever near
Laha da da da da da
Da da da da da da da da da da da
La da da da da da da da da
La da da da da da da da da da
Laha da da da da
Laha da da da da
As if a cold and frozen soul is warm to love
By loves own hand
So goes the prayer if for a day peace on earth
And good will to man
At twenty below the winter storm it billows
But the fire is so warm inside
And the children while nestled in their pillows
Dream of st. nicholass ride
And how the next day theyll get up and they will play
In the still falling christmas snow
And together well celebrate forever
In defiance of the winds that blow
My God in heaven now I feel like Im seven
And spirit calls to me as well
As if christmas had made the winter warmer
Made a paradise from what was hell
As if a cold and frozen soul is warm to love
By loves own hand
So goes the prayer if for a day peace on earth
And good will to man.......
I wish a one horse open sleigh would come carry me away
And Ill keep waiting through next may
Until christmas comes my way