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Preview: Tales from the "Liberry" 2.0

Tales from the "Liberry" 2.0



An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while still dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.



Updated: 2016-09-23T08:16:09.436-04:00

 



THE FINAL PODCAST (until I do another)

2016-09-09T12:27:28.017-04:00




The Endy Bit (a.k.a. "Actual Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #141")

2009-06-15T17:36:35.018-04:00

I had cause to pay a visit to the Tri-Metro area, recently, so I popped by the "liberry" to see everyone. The last few times I've been in, I've only seen Mrs. B, Mrs. D and Miss Temp, but this time nearly everyone was in house, including former bosses Mrs. A and Mrs. C. They're all doing fine and wanted to hear the latest news from me. ("Uhhhh, I got a cat.")

While I was there, Mr. B-Natural came in, signed up for a computer and then noticed me standing at the circ-desk.

MR. B-NATURAL— (In what I thought was an uncharacteristically bright tone for the grumpiest old man in all the world to take) Hey, you're back!

ME— Only temporarily.

MR. B-NATURAL— What? You're not working here again?

ME— No. I moved to BORDERLAND.

MR. B-NATURAL— How come?

ME— My wife got a job there.

MR. B-NATURAL— (Nods knowingly.) I need to get me a wife who has a job.

We stood there for a few minutes as I finished up what I was doing at the desk and Mr. B waited for Miss Temp to finish helping another patron and come log him on his computer.

MR. B-NATURAL— (Gestures toward the computers) Hey, you wanna put me on one of these for old times sake?

ME— Oh, sure.

They hadn't even changed the password.



Year Five (and this blog) in the Can (almost)

2009-11-09T14:23:22.220-05:00

Today is the fifth anniversary of the beginning of this blog.I'm normally a fan of writing entries in advance, but I put off writing this one until today because I didn't know quite what to say.Other than, "goodbye," maybe.Sort of.You see, I no longer work in a library. It has therefore been pointed out to me, seemingly by more than one person, that perhaps another venue would be more appropriate to the continuation of the sort of tales I've been telling lately. My initial attitude toward this idea was to give it the finger on the premise that it's my blog which I may use to write about whatever I please regardless of how little sense it might make to the average observer. And as much as I still fully support that attitude on my part, I also have to concede that the opposing view does have a point. There is something to be said for bringing one story to a close before spinning off into something smaller with a few of the same characters. Granted, this almost never works in TV, where for every Frasier there are fifty Tortellis. (Unless, of course, you're producer Norman Lear in the `70s, who wound up having successful spin-offs of successful spin-offs of All in the Family.) It works better in comic books, where series end and new #1 issues begin all the time. In other words, I think it’s probably a good thing to give Tales from the “Liberry” a bit of closure and let it be its own boxed set (or glossy hardcover collection) before starting something new.I have no illusions [p----------------nmm cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk,(Sorry. Walked away from the keyboard for a bit and Avie seems to have trod on it.)As I was saying, I have no illusions that all of my regular readers will find my non-"liberry" observations as entertaining. Lord knows I didn’t read most of the spin-offs of the library blogs that closed up shop during my five years in the business and lord knows my stats have dropped off since I stopped posting new material daily here (or, since I stopped posting about my job, depending on your point of view). But if you've stuck around since my retirement as a "liberry" ninja, and if you like reading about occasional encounters with assholes in the wild or the antics of circus animals like the one who sat on my keyboard a few minutes ago, you’ll like the new place, too.There are a lot of people I’d like to thank before I go, many of whom are present in the sidebar links, but some of whom have moved on. I'd like to first thank Tiny Robot (a.k.a. “T," formerly of the late lamented blog Poocakes, currently of Hermes’ Neuticles and the Chronicles of Bleh), Sonny Lemmons, (currently of Through the Windshield, which was formerly Chase the Kangaroo) and Glen (who never had a blog when he worked in a library, but who really really should have cause his tales were better than mine, and who has just embarked on a massive new adventure by knocking up his wife). Those three more than anyone originally inspired me to take up the blogger's pen, though I believe at least one of them said something about there being money in it, which I haven't found to be the case. I'd also like to thank some of my colleagues who've especially kept me entertained over the past five years: Tiny Librarian ("liberrian" of the Great White North), Foxy Librarian (whose work I've always enjoyed and who I've failed to congratulate on her recent edition/addition (heh, see, that's a book/baby joke for ya)), Tangognat (who works constantly to keep comics a part of the library), Bizgirl (or, I should say, James--who fooled us us all, did it with style, and whose link to me got this blog a mention in a New Zealand newspaper), Daisy (a former co-worker of Glen's who, as far as I know, has left the library blogosphere, though not libraries), and a fond farewell to Happy Villain, whose spin-off blogs I do continue to r[...]



Adventures at Wally World #2 (a.k.a. "Revenge of the Asshats")

2008-11-18T17:22:30.519-05:00

While making my daily Wal-Mart run, I was cruising through the parking lot when I came upon a large van that was slowly pulling into the yellow-lined NO PARKING zone at the end of one of the parking aisles. A quick once over told me that this was not a handicapped vehicle in any way and had even less business parking in this yellow-lined zone than most of the asshats who regularly do. Given my recent ire at such folk, I decided to stop and give this person the stink eye, full bore.

I pulled around the van into the next parking aisle and brought my car to a halt behind the legally parked car in the first space there. I then stared through my side window and through the van's windshield at the woman behind the wheel, giving her my very best expression that said, "Really? REALLY? You're really gonna park there where you know you damn well shouldn't? You're truly so lazy that you can't walk from B.F.E. like the rest of us?"

The woman looked back at me, but didn't appear at all ashamed of her behavior. Moreover, she seemed annoyed. I gave my glare of doom another five long seconds and then motored on out to B.F.E.

By the time I returned to the end of the aisle, I was already kicking myself mentally for not printing out some tickets from YouParkLikeAnAsshole.com. Only when I reached the van, I found it was no longer parked in the yellow-lined zone but was now in the first available space on my aisle, the very one I'd stopped behind to glare at the driver. Doing the math, by stopping to glare at her I was probably blocking the vehicle in the legitimate space that was attempting to back out, making way for the woman in the van to park there.

Oops.

Guess I'm the asshat.



Adventures at Wally World #1 (a.k.a. "No, don't bother putting that in a bag. I'll wear it home")

2009-06-15T17:36:56.672-04:00

I like a good beer.

Barring a good beer, I'll drink whatever--particularly if it's cheap. This is why I've come to develop a taste for Foster's BIG ASS can o' lager. It's 25.4 oz of AustralCanadian goodness that comes in is around 8 cents per ounce, which is far better than almost any other beer on the aisle, outside of a "forty." Plus, it's a really good single serving of beer--more than your average can, but not enough to make you do things best reserved for Will Ferrell movies.

While visiting Wally World this weekend, I picked up a Fosters Big Ass straight out of the cooler. I put it in the cart with the rest of our groceries.

When the wife and I were checking out at the express lane, our checkout clerk rang it up then paused at the klaxon alarm telling her to check my ID. She offered to ignore the register's request, but then took my birth date off my ID when I passed it to her anyway. The clerk started to put the beer into a bag with other groceries, then paused and looked up at me as though she'd done something impolite.

"Oh, do you want this left out?" she asked.

Now, I've been asked this about purchases before, but it's always been for things like candy or gum that I might want to partake of before getting home. I've never EVER been asked if I'd like my cold beer "left out" in case I'd like to drink it on the road. The wife and I were floored.

"Uh, no," the wife said in an astounded tone.

"No, no, thanks, that's okay," I said.

"Ohhh," the clerk said, an explanation dawning on her. Then, as though parroting a catchphrase she didn't particularly find amusing or realistic, she kind of rolled her eyes and said, "Don't drink and driiiive."

Wow.



Mystery of the Ghost Pirate Plastic Footsteps of Doom

2009-06-15T17:37:06.695-04:00

At 3 a.m., Monday morning, I was awakened by a whimper from Sadie. It was the usual whimper she gives off when she has to "go potty" and isn't going to be able to go back to sleep until she does. I waited and tried to snooze, hoping I was wrong.Moments later, my peace was disturbed again, this time by a cold dog nose thrust into my face from the side of the bed, followed by another plaintive whimper."Whadayuwant?" I said.*whine*"Youhavtagopotty?"*WHINE!*I got up, put on my robe and slippers and went out to water the dog. Avie Kitty heard us and got up to see what we were doing--cause damn if the dog gets to go outside and she doesn't. Turned out she was hungry, so I fed her and gave Sadie a dog cookie to keep her quiet and then tried to get everyone back to bed before this hour-of-the-wolf trek turned into a fit of insomnia for me.About half an hour later I was lying in bed still pretty much awake, but I could feel myself drifting toward slumber. Then I heard something that caused my eyes to pop open and my ears to perk up. Elsewhere in the house, I heard the distinctive sound of plastic sheeting being disturbed. In fact, it sounded exactly like two footsteps being taken across plastic sheeting. Now, the plastic sheeting part was explainable because we still had one section of drop-cloth sheeting affixed to the wall and another lying unattached in the middle of the living room, left over from our weekend painting project. (And, YES, hippies, I did buy the biodegradable kind of plastic sheeting which I'm pretty sure is made of high-fructose corn syrup, or some such.) The real trouble with hearing two footsteps on plastic sheeting is that my wife was asleep in bed beside me, the cat was asleep on my chest and the dog was snoring away on her giant pillow by the bed. The only other pet in the house was a fish. This meant that I'd either dreamed I'd heard footsteps on the plastic or something or someone else had made them.Er.I slid out of the covers and retrieved my brainin' stick from beside the bed. At no point did it strike me as wise to wake my wife, even though I was potentially about to do battle with another human being. I went to the bedroom door and debated the merits of turning on the hall light. On the one hand, it might expose a prowler prowling in the hall; on the other, it would also blind me. Instead, I crept into the hall, through the dark and made it to the foyer. There, I reached around the corner into the living room, where the sheeting was located. Keeping the wall between me and the hanging lamp, I flipped on the light switch. There was no movement to be heard so I peeked around the corner. No one was there.Great, so if there was a prowler, they A) were elsewhere in the house, and B) now knew I was looking for them and exactly where I was. The fortunate part of this, though, was that because of the painting project we had enough furniture scattered in obvious walkways that if they tried to escape or run to attack me they would be unable to keep from running into it, alerting me to their location. I heard nothing.I moved through the living room and into the kitchen. No one was there.I checked the garage door. Still locked.I circled back into the den where I checked the back door, also locked, and returned to the foyer, where prowlers still weren't visibly prowling and where the front door was similarly locked. Then, after searching all the other obvious places for a couple of minutes, I decided to file the whole thing away as misheard leaf noise from a deer outside, otherwise I'd never be able to return to sleep.At nearly 7a, I woke to find the wife up and about, readying for work."I heard an odd noise at 3:30," I told her. I then explained about the plastic footsteps."Huh," she said in a tone that suggested I'd provided a clue to a mystery she was working on. "Well, there is an odd poo in the hallway. Maybe we have a mouse."A mouse, I th[...]



Once and Future Assholity

2011-02-22T14:43:11.762-05:00

If you're a homeowner, you're more than likely an asshole. Or, you will become an asshole as soon as your home passes into the ownership of someone else.Let me back up.The wife and I have more or less finished up the painting project we embarked upon on a whim last week. In fact, we were so happy with the results that the project expanded in scope and we have now extended the color from below the chair rail of the living room, into the foyer and all the way down our main hallway. So now much of the house looks really nice and warm and Autumnal in a way that the coat of white paint that we're pretty sure was slapped on by a team of color-blind rhesus monkeys, hired by one of the previous sets of owners, working in the dark, and applied using only one-quarter monkey-ass-power, did not.Yes indeedy, we have long since considered the previous owners of this home to be assholes for a variety of good reasons, but seeing the truly incompetent paint job they left behind convinced us of their assholity. It was clearly done very quickly with little attention to detail and an obvious lack of care. It's the kind of thing you expect from a couple of people who know they're only going to be in a home for a limited time--say, a year--and just want to put a good whitewash on the whole thing so some rube might be fooled long enough to buy it. If only they'd also managed to whitewash the horrid shade of salmon they threw up with even less care in the master bath. (I also take deep issue with the vanity top that's nearly an inch too wide for the hall bathroom, which forced some previous asshole owner to sawsall a long slot into the drywall in order to wedge it in anyway, when a lot of time, effort and putty could have been saved had someone first thought to MEASURE THE EFFING ROOM! But I digress...)The trouble with crying asshole at someone else, though, is that it's very easy to do during the painting job itself, when you are first noticing all the unforgivable flaws in the previous guy's work. Yep, when you're down at the baseboard seeing all the places where previous painters have spilled white paint onto the wood, or allowed thick drips of paint to travel down the length of a wall and dry, or left fragments of painter's tape behind, it's real easy to cry "asshole." It is also very easy to continue crying asshole during the cleanup process, when noticing the white paint splotches that appear beneath your own painters tape, which you'll have to scrape off, etc.When it becomes a problem to cry asshole is that after putting in an entire weekend to paint a coat of pumpkinish colored paint across much of your interior wall surface, you look around at the kind of flaws in the previous painters' work and realize how closely they resemble the left over flaws in your own, such as the splotches of pumpkin on the white hall ceiling. Magnifying this realization is the fact that the flaws in your work are not limited to the current painting project, but to all painting projects past, such as those forest green splotches accidentally rollered onto the white ceiling of the bedroom that you fully intended to paint over with a bit of primer back in April.That's when you realize that there's a real long half-life to not only most home-improvement accidents, but also to the good intentions people have at fixing them. After so many days, weeks and months go by, you look around and realize that no one has died because you never went back and touched up your mistakes and furthermore no one has noticed. In fact, you'd really have be looking for mistakes before you'd notice most of it. And who does that?Now that I've realized I'm the asshole, it's become my resolution of the week to repair my future reputation with our home's future owners, and go around and fix all my crappy work.And I'm gonna use my whole ass, this time.[...]



Borderland Report

2009-06-04T09:26:59.485-04:00

Since Obama won, we decided to paint the living room.

Not really, but I thought it sounded nicer than "We got a wild hair up our ass and decided to paint the living room."

We've been considering painting at least a wall of the living room for some time, as plain old eggshell just didn't seem all that great to us. Adding to the problem is that the living room has a massively high angled ceiling that I didn't relish the thought of having to set up scaffolding or climb up and down a ladder to paint walls that high. However, the room also has a chair rail, giving us the excuse of painting only the section of wall beneath the chair rail, saving a lot of time and labor. That decided, we mulled on the color until we noticed one of our pictures by the front door had a very nice pumpkiny sort of shade to it that went very well with all the wood in the room.

An hour and one trip to Lowes later, we had plastic down, baseboard blue-taped and were slapping on a first coat.

Of course, having two animals in the house gave us pause in this. It seemed pretty likely that Sadie Dog wouldn't be able to resist coming onto the drop sheet and pull the tape off the wall, or poke holes in it with her claws. And after half an hour of not doing this, she finally gave in and tried it, forcing us to baby-gate her in the back part of the house. Avie Kitty was not to be stopped by a mere baby gate and had fun playing across the plastic. She wasn't heavy enough to mess with the tape, so we left her alone. However, during one burst of kitty energy, she did run through the paint tray and get it all over her feet and tail. The wife managed to grab her before she could run onto the carpet. Then, in my attempt to wash the cat's feet off, I drug her through a patch of paint on my shirt and got it on her back.

One complete kitten bath later, and we called it an evening.



From the department of: I Could Really Give A Rat's Ass as to Whom You Vote For...

2008-11-04T10:53:25.133-05:00

Just vote, damn you.

That is all.



Hanging Birthdays

2008-11-01T13:05:45.930-04:00

The wife's birthday was yesterday.As I've learned from long experience in my nearly nine years of marriage, it's difficult to surprise the wife when it comes to her birthday. She pesters me for hints and if I give her any she can pull the reality of the gift from the air no matter how cryptic or perfectly crafted those hints may be. My policy for the past couple of years is to keep my damn mouth shut and it has served me well.Back early in the month, I began pondering what to get her. She could use a new laptop, but I've been holding off on buying one until A) all the crap gets shaken out of Vista; or, B) the economy improves enough that we can take out a second mortgage in order to buy a MacBook. She's already told me not to buy her one, though, cause she has her computer at work and doesn't need mine so much. The other thing I've been meaning to get her is another hammock chair.Before we married, the wife owned a truly high-quality hammock chair, the kind that can be hung from a tree or other support and just cradles you up like a baby. You set that thing up in a shady spot on a nice warm day with a gentle breeze and you're headed for Nap City quick.Trouble is, her original one got clipped with a weed eater by the hillbillies our old landlord hired to do the lawn, causing it to come unraveled. And before we even had a chance to get off our butts and repair it, several years had suddenly passed and the chair hung there beneath the old deck until it was rotted away by the elements. We finally threw it out before we moved to Borderland.We had talked of buying a new one, as we already had a perfect place for it at the new house. The back yard came equipped with a wooden swing setup that boasts a space for a bench swing (which the house came with) and a single child's swing (which it didn't). The child's swing space would easily accommodate a hammock swing. After a bit of research, (which I had to do because I couldn't remember the company she'd ordered the first one from ten years ago) I ordered one that looked exactly like her old one. I was pretty sure I'd be at home when it was delivered and could hide it among the many cardboard boxes that have been piling up in our garage waiting to be recycled. She'd never be the wiser.Last week, at 7:30 in the morning, UPS phoned to ask directions to our house. The wife answered it."You must have a UPS package arriving," she said after hanging up."Yep.""Is it a birthday present for me?" she asked."That is information you may not know," I said.She pestered me for hints, but I couldn't come up with one that I thought she wouldn't see right through.By the time I had to leave for a multi-hour out of town trip, UPS had still not arrived, so I had to leave assuming she'd at least see the box waiting at the door when she arrived home. She'd probably note the company it came from and know immediately the contents and UPS would once again have ruined my plans.There was indeed a box leaned up against the long window beside our front door when I came home, but the wife had entered through the garage and had not noticed it. I hid it and went to bed. She bugged me for hints over the next few days, but I gave her none.Yesterday, after the wife left, I installed the hammock chair in its place in the swing housing. I tested it out and it seemed plenty solid and of as high a quality as the last one.At noon, I popped over to the wife's clinic for her surprise party, thrown by her coworkers. While there, she asked about her present, but I told her she'd have to wait until she got home. I told her she'd notice it right away."Is it a new light for the dining room? Did you already put it up?" she beamed.I shrugged."C'mon! If I guess it you have to tell me.""Well, ya haven't guessed it," I said. "However, it does hang." And with that, I le[...]



Walter the Farting Dog: The Movie

2008-10-28T08:50:41.445-04:00

Just read over at Ain't It Cool News that 20th Century Fox is looking to make a big screen adaptation of my favorite kids book ever, Walter the Farting Dog and are hoping to get the Farrelly Brothers to direct it.

That sounds pretty perfect.

However, the not-so-perfect-sounding part is that the script for this film is by the guys who wrote Evan Almighty and Daddy Day Camp. (Mmmm... Daddy Day Camp.)

Oh, and Fox is somehow looking to use the film as a vehicle for the Jonas Brothers. As long as they get farted on a lot, I guess even that would be okay.

Find all of Variety’s story on the matter here.



Reluctant Adulthood

2012-01-29T09:59:52.298-05:00

Funny dogshit story...A while back, during one of our semi-daily visits to Wally World, I happened to notice some asshat had parked his car across two spaces in Wal-Mart's parking lot. I'm not saying he was double-parked, as that would imply that he had attempted to park in one space, but missed. No, this butt-grape in humanity's cornhole was parked almost perpendicular to the intended direction in which his vehicle was supposed to be facing, across two whole spaces. His was an expensive sports-car of the kind I don't even lust after because I just can't be bothered to come down from my practical car pedestal to give a damn. It was a car so far off my radar that I don't even know the manufacturer. My instantly formulated mental theory was that this driving gallstone had parked his swankmobile in that fashion to avoid any incidents with wandering bands of door-ding gnomes. And that remains my theory."That guy REALLY needs his car keyed," I said as the wife and I walked past. For the record, I've never keyed anyone's car, nor have I ever had any particular desire to key a car until that very moment. But dammit, I wanted to key this one! I don't think I could have even quantified WHY I wanted to key his car at that moment. I can't even say I'm coming from a place of concern for the legality of it or even for common courtesy. I think what galls me most is that parking that particular car in that particular manner says in a very loud voice to everyone around MY CAR IS BETTER THAN YOUR CAR AND I DON'T TRUST YOU NOT TO DAMAGE IT WHILE I'M BUYING THE SAME CRAP YOU'RE GOING TO BUY IN WAL-MART, SO I'M GONNA PARK LIKE AN ASSHOLE.Upon hearing my declaration of ill will toward the owner of the car, my wife gave me a very dirty look, but otherwise kept quiet. And, being an adult, I refrained from actually keying the ever-loving shit out of it.On our way back, following our shopping, the car was still there, still parked like an asshole."God, I really want to key that guy's car!" I said.The wife, having had enough of my attitude, told me that I needed to calm down. I countered that this guy was clearly begging to be keyed by parking like an asshole. I would even lay money that he was a horrible human being who really deserved it. He probably kicks puppies and everything. The wife then countered my counter by noting that I was getting really worked up over something very very minor and therefore acting like my father. I got real quiet at that, because my only defense would be to say, "Nuh uhh!" I dropped the subject, opting to seethe quietly.Jump ahead a week.The wife and I went out for Blizzards one evening. We took Sadie Mac with us, cause the dog likes Blizzards, too. After Blizzards, we were on the way home and realized we hadn't made our daily stop by Wally World again. Before we could even enter the parking lot, though, Sadie began whining to go "potty." We hadn't brought a leash, so instead we wrapped a length of audio cable through her collar and tried to let her do her business in a grassy area near the lot. Nothing. There were far too many fascinating sniffs to be sniffed there, and Sadie refused to potty. I decided maybe she'd been fibbing, so we parked the car and left her in it.On our way out of Wally World, some twenty minutes later, we were just entering the parking lot when I saw a P.O.S. Primermobile parked in the middle of a lined off yellow zone at the start of the parking row. This, as every single human being on the planet is fully aware, is a no parking zone due to its proximity to the handicapped space right beside it and is only there to allow handicapped vehicles with wheelchair lifts room for them to be accessed. I was instantly infuriated at the sight of this vehicle parked illegally and opportunistically and star[...]



The Brief Life of Milo Soulpatch (PART V)

2008-10-23T11:51:13.254-04:00

We quickly discovered that despite not having had the best treatment in her old home, the new little kitty was pretty sweet. She jumped right into rhythm with the inlaws household, learning litterbox skills in record time before moving on to master such concepts as being playful, energetic and obnoxiously cute. This was a good thing, because the cat was going to be there for a while.One of the first things I did after rescuing the kitten was to find out how long it takes for the vaccinations against panleukopenia to take effect. It's not a one shot process, but actually takes three different sessions of shots spaced three weeks apart to be fully immune to PL and lots of other nasty kitty diseases. (The vets in Ma's town and mine back home did indicate the kitty would be pretty much safe a day or two after her second round of shots, provided we did eventually get her third round done, but we were still looking at at least 6 weeks quarantine at Ma's house.) Ma was willing to keep the kitty for as long as it took, but we warned her that after 6 weeks she wasn't going to want to give the kitty up. She assured us that she'd be fine.The only thing left we needed to do was come up with a name for our new pet. That was when I realized exactly which raccoon-eyed celebrity the kitten resembled. I had initially thought her dark eyes made her look like Kate Moss (as did one of our commenters), but decided there was actually an even better fit. After musing on it a bit longer and doing an image search on the internet, I found the precise candidate: Avril Lavigne. It was uncanny, down to the eye color. I already have something of a history of naming pets one thing and then calling them something else. My first dog was named Luke, but we called him Boo. My first cat was named Boots but we called him Bay. My longest-lived cat was named Winston Churchill: The Infinitely Bad Kitty, but we called her "cat" or "the kitty" or "Maowey" or "Itsy bitsy" or "hey, cat!" most of the time. So it made sense to me to have a cat named Avril that we would refer to only as "Avie." And thus she found her name.The following weekend, we returned to North Carolina on other family business, but I tagged along to get to see my kitty again. A week had made an enormous difference in Avie's appearance. No longer was she skinny and waif-like. In Ma's care, she had become a well-fed and healthy little thing who no longer wolfed down her food, but ate normally. She was playful and energetic and funny. Everyone loved her, including my father-in-law, a man notoriously uninterested in cats who suddenly became very mindful of when Avie seemed hungry, laughed harder than anyone at her antics, and who gave her a a tiny stuffed dog he'd found to use as a toy. No more was she banished to the back porch come bedtime. Avie now had the run of the house and often slept on the foot of their bed.After seven weeks, we decided it was probably safe for Avie to come home. On my way back from a trip to Missouri (about which I'll soon be writing), I flew into Charlotte and then drove over to the Hickory area to stay with Ma & Pa for a nite and pick up the kitty. Unlike Winston, who always whined and cried whenever we went anywhere, Avie traveled like a dream and slept most of the way. I'm pretty sure Ma didn't want to see her go.At home, we again kept Sadie separated from the new arrival for a couple of days before starting the introduction process. And as with Milo, Sadie had mostly reciprocated interest in Avie. There followed the usual hissing and spitting and barking and lunging until, after a couple of days, both parties were able to determine that the other wasn't out to kill them. After that, we just had to deal the[...]



The Brief Life of Milo Soulpatch (PART IV)

2011-05-04T15:24:24.497-04:00

The following day, we buried Milo in Kitty Corner, which is what we call the back corner of our property where Winston was laid to rest. The funeral consisted of me, the wife and Sadie, who seemed especially sad, but still helped us move dirt while we buried Milo, though not actually toward the hole.I was pretty down for a couple of days. I just kept thinking what a true shame it was to lose such a high-quality pet. Truly great pets only come along a handful of times in a given life and I could see that potential in him. And while I'd loved Winston, she had also been a neurotic mess who was afraid of everything unless there was a stout screen door between her and the threat. I was looking forward to having an animal that wasn't terrified of its own shadow. It didn't make any sense to me that Milo had struggled his way into our lives only to die from something as preventable as panleukopenia. Even more criminal to me was the fact that I'd had no idea that virus was was even something to be concerned about. In this day and age where the majority of deadly animal viruses are negated by vaccines, we take for granted that our animals will be fine. But Milo was taken before he could even be vaccinated.A few days after Milo's passing, the wife asked me if I was considering getting another cat. She'd already talked to the vet and he'd assured her that as long as any future kitten was vaccinated prior to coming into our house, we should be good to go. A deep cleaning of the carpets and a bleaching of everything else couldn't hurt either. In fact, someone she worked with had a friend who rescued stray animals and had some kittens and was willing to keep one for us until the vaccinations took effect. I told her, no, I wasn't ready yet and thought some more solo time would do me good.Two weeks later, we were visiting my inlaws at their house in NC. It was a big weekend and everyone was getting ready for a baby shower for the wife's cousin. Midway through the morning, Ma came to me and said we had another problem on our hands. Her next door neighbors had two kittens they were trying to get rid of and they weren't too particular how the goal was achieved. (While Ma didn't spell it out in so many words at first, I have since gathered that her neighbors are rotten human beings who have no business owning animals of any kind, yet seem to collect them anyway. In fact, some months ago, after Ma had to go over and give their dog some water to keep him from dying in the sun where they'd caged him, she'd told the male half of her neighbors of her intervention and implied heavily that were she to have to do so again the authorities might become involved. Their dog disappeared shortly thereafter, though what happened to it Ma never knew.) These ass clowns now had two kittens, which they were allowing to roam their unfenced backyard in full view of a group of dogs known to be none-too-friendly toward kitties. In fact, that very morning, Ma had to rescue one of the kittens from those very dogs and return it to its cage, at which point she discovered that it was actually the only kitty remaining. And when she called her neighbors, the woman of the house answered and thanked Ma for her help but assured her that if the dogs were to "get" the kitty it would "be okay."As soon as I heard that I knew I had a new cat. There was no way in hell I was leaving it in the care of assholes like that.Ma called the neighbor lady and let her know we would take the kitten of their hands. I went over to their house, walked into their back yard and found the kitten there in a large cage placed just outside a nice shady and empty aluminum-roofed carport.The kitty came right over to the ed[...]



The Brief Life of Milo Soulpatch (PART III)

2011-05-04T15:25:00.194-04:00

On the way back from the vet, Milo pooped in the car. Twice. Once in the floor and another time UNDER MY CARSEAT!!! And it was poop of the consistency and stench levels that you really REALLY don't want to have in carpeted upholstery. I had to stop by the wife's workplace to get cleaned up, too, because he'd drug his leg fur through it and then onto my pants, at which point I drug my hand through it and onto my shirt. By the end of the ride there was just poop everywhere and I had to give him a complete bath. He was so miserable and looked even worse wet. I dried him off good and kept him wrapped up.Milo mostly stayed on a big gray pillow atop the wife's desk in our office. It was directly beneath a skylight as well as a big heat-producing lamp, so we thought he'd stay fairly warm from that. (Keep in mind, this was back in August.)For the next couple of days, he pretty much lay there and looked miserable. Twice a day, we gave him his antibiotic dose, but it didn't seem to be improving his health much. We fed him water with an eyedropper, though he did still drink some on his own. And, following more advice from the vet, we began forcing droppers full of a puree of rice and chicken down him. He threw up a lot of what we gave him, but we still thought our efforts were helping. Milo seemed to have a bit more energy, but even this was open to interpretation. The wife was of the opinion that he was dying. I had more hope. Still, the wife was determined that if Milo was going to die we were going to do everything in our power to save him.We phoned the emergency vet line several times during the next five days, trying new things, hoping something would turn a corner. We began giving him Pedialyte instead of water. We ditched the antibiotics altogether, because we didn't want them tearing up his already miserable stomach, preventing appetite. And by the end of day four, we'd switched to giving him a feline appetite stimulant, as well as some liquid nutritional supplements the vet had recommended. Nothing really helped.At the end of the five days, after a full evening and several overnight feeding sessions, we woke to find that Milo was mostly unresponsive. He would occasionally open his eyes, but I don't think he saw us. The wife had to leave to go in to work early, so for the second time this year I was left to care for a dying cat until the vet's office opened at 8:30. I was there waiting when it did, sitting in the car with him, trying to keep him warm, singing kitty songs for him.After some blood tests, the vet told me that Milo's white cell count was almost zero, meaning he had nothing in him to fight with. His other numbers in the test didn't look good either. In the vet's opinion, this was indeed panleukopenia. The spasms he was having were seizures caused by his brain shutting down. She told me that she believed he only had a 10 percent chance of survival at best and it would be a long hard fight if he did. The only way to treat him was to keep him hydrated and fed intravenously, because the virus had, at least temporarily, destroyed the ability of his intestines to absorb water and nutrition. She assured me that because of this there was really nothing we could have done differently as far as our at home care that would have made any real difference. Her unspoken recommendation was clearly that we have him put to sleep. I couldn't wrap my brain around that, though. With Winston, back in April, it was the obvious choice. With Milo, I just found the idea of ending his life--even though it would also end his misery--to be wrong. Here was a cat who'd struggled against the odds already to make it to Ma's care and then to ours. He was a fighte[...]



The Brief Life of Milo Soulpatch (PART II)

2011-05-04T15:23:52.155-04:00

Immediately upon Milo's arrival, we sequestered him in my office, out of Sadie's sight, to let him acclimatize before adding giant puppies into the mix. Already I could see that he was a high-quality cat. He had litterbox use down to a science (though a science that still allowed for unfortunate variables such as occasionally dragging his porcupine-like leg-fur through his poop, causing us to have to wash them off).The wife headed out to Wally World and came back with all sorts of good things, such as a kitty play tower, kitty food, kitty litter, several small kitty toys and a scratching post (which he immediately used and loved, giving him several hundred cool points over our former cat Winston "Will make physical contact with the scratching post you paid $18 for, but only to move it out of the way in order to claw the hell out of the sofa" Churchill in this regard). He went nuts with all of it.Wanting to let him explore a bit, we put Sadie outside on her line and gave him the run of the house. He had a fine time of it, too, until hours later, when we forgot he was still out and let Sadie back inside. She came walking around the corner and found him sitting in the middle of the hallway. Sadie didn't quite know what he was, but she didn't attack. And Milo impressively stood his kitty ground and just growled and hissed at her, not backing down. It seemed a pretty successful first meeting.The following Monday, I scheduled a kitty tuneup at our vet. I wanted to get Milo all his shots and make sure he was on the up and up. In the waiting room, a little kid was there with his puppy and asked my kitten's name."Milo," I told him."Oh, like in the movie," the kid's mom said.Grrrrr.The vet said Milo was running a bit of a fever and had some worm and earmite issues. He probably had an infection and we'd need to get that fever down before we started with the first round of shots. He gave us antibiotics, wormer and earmite medicine and we scheduled an appointment for the Tuesday, a week later for his shots.Over the week, Milo did great on his antibiotics. He blossomed into a very energetic and playful kitten. He had such personality that I found my early hesitance to accept him faded away. I could tell that he was truly a high quality, well-adjusted and happy cat--unlike Winston, who was a neurotic mess. If he was going to succeed, though, we had to come to some sort of common ground between him and the dog. Gradually, I began introducing him to Sadie.The earliest introduction sessions were done with Sadie on her leash, the other end of it tightly wrapped around my hand, and amounted to them getting to look and sniff at one another from a couple feet away. Sadie was very interested in him, but Milo was not as enthusiastic. He growled a bit, then Sadie growled a bit and I then separated them. More such sessions continued with the extremity of their reactions lessening. Usually a session would end when Sadie got a bit too barky. By the end of the week, though, they had reached a level of familiarity that we were pretty sure Sadie wasn't going to eat him and he seemed okay with her being around provided he had a good place to hide--say beneath a desk or behind a filing cabinet. I made sure that in each room of the house, there were some places he could hide that Sadie couldn't get to, not that she didn't try (see above picture.) As far as we could tell, Sadie just wanted to play with him and her barking was due to her frustration that he wouldn't play--or, at least, he wouldn't play by her rules, because we quickly determined that he was playing with her by his own set.The game was simple: Milo would come[...]



The Brief Life of Milo Soulpatch (PART I)

2011-05-04T15:23:20.020-04:00

Let me just say up front that what I'm about to write is a real downer of a story involving the life and death of a new pet. It's a story I knew I would eventually tell, but not one that I've looked forward to writing, particularly so soon after losing my previous cat. I have no desire to tug on heart strings with it, so it will be fairly clinical. Mostly I am writing it for other pet owners as a warning of the dangers they may or may not be aware of. I also write it to celebrate the awesome soul of a new and tragically short-lived friend of mine named Milo Soulpatch. And while it does have a sad ending, there's a very happy epilogue.After Winston's death, back in April, people asked me if I would soon get a new cat. I told them that, no, while I was sure I would eventually get another cat, I didn't want one right away. It had taken me weeks to stop expecting Winston to appear around every corner and I thought some solo time would do me good. Then, back in May, we got Sadie and she has filled the pet void in me quite nicely. (In fact, she's getting so big that the void is now filled and straining at the seams.)In August, shortly after we returned from our July adventures, my mother-in-law, Ma, phoned to ask if we'd like a new kitty. One had wandered up while she was out in the yard and he was very cute. She was pretty sure he was from a litter some of their neighbors had and that they would be happy to give him over. The wife and I talked about it, but I decided that with Sadie still in her rambunctious puppy stage, it might not be best to bring a tiny new animal into the house. (And, just to put minds at ease, let me go ahead and tell you that Sadie had nothing to do with this kitty's eventual demise. In fact, they were friends, of a sort.) We declined the new kitty and Ma said she would just take him back to her neighbors' house.A little over a week later, Ma called back to give us a second chance. She said the kitten had come back , having evidently been turned away from the other house. She'd already called the humane society where she lived and they were going to come round and pick up the kitty in the morning if no one wanted him. She said he was very cute and she'd be happy to send us some pictures. Then, true to her threat, she did, and they were some of the cutest kitty pictures I'd eve seen.The wife told me that it was going to be my cat so it would be my decision as to whether or not to get him. I took a couple of hours to consider it. On the one hand, we had no idea how Sadie would react to a kitten. We hoped she would be cool with it, as she does have border collie in her and the only other border collie we've ever known, belonging to our friends John & Ramona, had no trouble being around a whole litter of kittens, other than his need to constantly herd them. Then again, Sadie did tend to play rough, as evidenced by the scarred up limbs my wife and I now possess, and she might accidentally hurt him.In the end, I did what I knew I was going to do, which was to give the go ahead. The kitty's chances for life at the humane society were pretty low and Ma really seemed to think he was a sweet cat. ("He's already litter-box trained," she'd said.) Add to this my longtime desire to do something cool for Ma, a lady who frequently does cool things for me. What I didn't know then, but learned later, was that there was more to the kitty's story than Ma had said.Ma had indeed taken him back to the house she'd believed he had come from. No one was home at the time, so she left him there along with the other animals her neighbors have. A full week lat[...]



Quests for Rings that would give Tolkien the Willies

2008-10-14T13:24:17.023-04:00

Funny dogshit story...While talking to my sister on the phone, one night, I happened to look down and see my dog Sadie chewing on something silver. On closer inspection, it was one part of the wife's wedding set: the engagement ring part, i.e. the valuable part. I snatched it off the floor before Sadie could devour it. I then saw that the other part of the set was perched on the edge of the coffee table, right at Sadie-mouth-level.Aw, crap, I thought. Here we go.Now that Sadie has grown larger, we're finding we have to police new territory to keep her from eating things we would rather her not eat. She's mostly given up on chewing up our shoes, which is good, but still finds socks, fabric softener sheets and snotty tissue paper to be tasty treats. My fear was that if she had decided metal rings were great to eat, we'd be in trouble, because the wife is forever taking her rings off.I brought the wedding set to the wife and told her what had nearly happened. We laughed and joked about how it would have been unfortunate to have to wait around for Sadie to crap them out and the wife put them on her hand and said she'd be more careful in the future.The following morning, a Saturday, shortly after breakfast, the wife announced she couldn't find her wedding set. She swore she'd put them on that morning, havnig taken them off before bed the night before because they didn't fit well and she suspected the msg-laden Chinese food we'd eaten the night before might be the culprit behind her swelling finger. But now the rings were definitely not on said finger, so a searchin' we did go.The logical place for them to be was in the kitchen, where the wife had cleaned the fish's bowl earlier that morning. Not there. We tried the messy breakfast nook table, piled high with papers in need of sorting. Nada. We tried the coffee table, which was equally piled with papers and mail, but it wasn't there either. Bedside table--nope. My office desk--nah. Bathrooms--noperino. The kitchen again--still not there. The tables again--nerrrrrr. Etc.After nearly half an hour of searching, we both stopped and stared at the dog. She looked innocent enough, but who could really tell?"You don't think..." the wife began."Maybe," I said. I then proposed a scenario. During the previous night, we had been awakened by the sound of the wife's alarm clock falling to the floor, having been pulled off of the bedside table by Sadie who had become tangled in its cord as she slept. My thought was that the wife's rings had also been on the table and could have been pulled off by the clock and potentially gobbled up later at Sadie's leisure. This theory spat in the face of the wife's claim that she remembered putting them on again in the morning, but it wasn't beyond reason that she was mistaken in this memory. We dashed to the bedroom to check again, but found no rings on the floor nor under the bed.With no other obvious location for the rings, we began to monitor Sadie's "big potty" sessions and poke through them with sticks to check for rings. We knew it was probably too soon for them to have made it through her system, but we had to check to be sure. It turned out to be a lot of work, too, cause that dog is a dogshit manufacturing plant running at peak efficiency. The following day we were starting to run out of sticks and I began to regret having recently hurled all the ones from the yard into the woods.Monday evening, at dinner time, the wife and I sat down to have a meal and took our places on the sofa as usual. (Hey, we can't exactly eat at the breakfast nook table with it being glutted w[...]



Our first snake

2008-10-01T14:17:43.635-04:00

Ever since our Dish Network guy predicted that we might have something of a snake problem, we've been on the lookout, but have seen no serpenty things about.Have I mentioned that my wife is deathly afraid of snakes? Oh, she's deathly afraid all right.Sure, under controlled conditions, such as a snake in a cage or a known non-venomous pet snake held by someone else, several feet away, she's okay with them; it's the unidentified snakes in the wild she's none too thrilled with. This is understandable, really, as she grew up in Alaska where they don't have any snakes. She therefore has no idea of the usual snake etiquette the rest of us take for granted (or, at least, the rest of us who grew up in snake-infested south Mississippi) and would actually prefer fighting a bear.Recently, having just finished planting some new perennials in the flowerbed by the garage, the wife called me over to see her work. Just as I arrived, she stooped down to move the garden hose and then yelped and jumped back."There's a snake!"Sure enough, slithering along the seam where the flowerbed meets the house was a small grayish snake with a white band of color around his neck. I didn't know what kind it was, but it was not a copperhead and not a rattlesnake and was kind of cute, so I reached down to see if I could grab the tip of its tail."Don't pick it up!" the wife yelped.Huh, I thought. That hadn't occurred to me. Probably a good idea. I pulled my hand back and a moment later, the snake slithered around the corner of the house and then down behind the drain pipe and out of sight beneath the low boardwalk of the back deck."Oh, no!" the wife said. "He canNOT live under there!""I don't see that we have a choice in the matter," I said. "We can't exactly get him out." Well, we could, but it would require destroying the boardwalk to do so. "I tried to catch him, but you said not to," I added."I didn't tell you not to catch him. I said `don't pick it up.' ""And I didn't," I said. "Besides, he's harmless. He's probably just some sort of little garden snake."The wife was less than thrilled by this assumption. "I should have sprayed him in the face with the hose and when he was distracted I could have killed him," she said."And then we'll look him up online and it will say: Little gray snake with a ring around his neck-- harmless, friend to all human beings, will give you five dollars, very bad luck to kill.'""I'll show him bad luck."We left the matter there, but I could tell our little snaky friend did not leave the wife's thoughts. In fact, I took no small pleasure in playing snaky pranks on her throughout the rest of the day.While loading up the last twigs from what had been an enormous pile of sticks I've been assembling over the past few months, composed entirely of ones I pulled from the yard, I spotted a large earthworm wiggling on the pavement."Oh, look, a snake," I said calmly. The wife looked, yelped again and clutched at her heart, Fred Sanford-style. Then she hit me really hard in the shoulder. I had to admit, I deserved it, but it didn't stop me from continuing to play with fate.Later, after the wife had wondered aloud whether or not the snake could get into our garage, I pointed out that it would actually have little difficulty getting into the house, what with the back screen door being cracked open like it was, and all. I was out of reach for that one, but I know she wanted to belt me again. I assured her that snakes don't like people and avoid them at all costs, so they'd not be real likely to want to get into the house.Just to further ease her mind, I went[...]



Huddle House Hurtlocker Theatre

2008-10-01T12:13:56.144-04:00

If you spend any amount of time hanging out with my in-laws, there's a story that will eventually come up that hearkens back to their younger, wilder days. The tale involves several occasions during which, as a proper young woman, my mother-in-law, when in her cups and sometimes not, was known to frequently tell anybody who happened to be pissing her off (say, some jerk who spilled a drink on her or someone on the road who just wasn't driving properly) that my father-in-law was going to kick their ass. The jerk would then say something like, "Oh, he will, will he?" and then my father-in-law would shake his head knowing that once again he was having to fight someone because of her. Then he would have to put up or shut up and a fight would usually ensue, which he would often win, but not always. To my understanding, this sort of behavior continued from Ma until once such incident when, after telling a couple who'd pissed her off that Pa would kick both of their asses, was shocked to find that the female half of that other couple was something of a warrior-prodigy when armed with a swinging set of jumper-cables. The girl swung them, wrapped them around Pa's head and then pulled him onto the ground with them where her other half proceeded to administer a solid beatdown. My father-in-law doesn't remember much of that one, but I think it was a turning point for Ma and she refrained from making such threats by proxy from that moment on.I say the above to demonstrate that my wife comes by this behavior naturally.Our last Saturday in Mississippi, the wife and I headed out to breakfast with my parents. This is a tricky proposition, as my dad is unwelcome in many of the finer breakfast establishments in town due to his propensity for "showing his ass" over what he perceives as "bad service" but which the rest of us just call "service." One of the remaining restaurants unaware of his reputation was the Huddle House. We drove there, in the pouring rain, and parked. While dad--ever the gentlemen, unless you work for a restaurant--was helping my stepmother from the car, the wife and I dashed toward the restaurant in order to secure a table for us all. Just outside the door of the Huddle House, there was a guy standing in the rain screaming and dropping F-bombs into his cell phone like the reanimated corpse of a Tourettes-afflicted Redd Foxx. I don't know what the conversation was about, but dude was pissed off. And to give you an idea of just who this guy was, he was in his early 20s and wearing shorts, a golf shirt with the collar turned up and a ball cap turned backwards--you know, the official fratboy douchebag uniform."Nobody wants to hear any of that," my wife said to him in a low voice. And I know it was a low voice, because at the time I remember thinking, "Oh, she said that in a really low voice. Maybe he didn't hear it and we won't have to deal with shit from him." At the same time, though, I wasn't giving Mr. Douchebag any quarter, so as he hung up his phone and attempted to enter the restaurant, I blocked his way, opened the door for my wife and let her in, never once making eye contact with him.Now, as those of you who've read this blog--or even just this entry--for a while now, will know: I have no problem with cursing. In fact, I'm a big fan of it, moreso than I should be. And if it had just been me having to hear f-bombs from a man standing outside of the restaurant, I would have been annoyed at his display of obvious anger, but it's not like I don't curse for far less emotional uphea[...]



Won't you come home, Tom Servo? Won't you come home?

2008-09-26T09:42:59.389-04:00

A movie has been released on DVD this week that is CRYING OUT IN THE NIGHT WITH TEARFUL SOBS to be riffed by Mystery Science Theater 3000. Alas, MST3k is no more, so perhaps Mike Nelson and crew will have to do it on Rifftrax.

This cinematic wonderment was apparently filmed under the title "The Black Pearl" but is now alternately titled, at least according to Netflix, "10,000 A.D.: The Legend of the Black Pearl." It was actually that latter title that caught my eye and made me wonder if it was some sort of hybrid parody of 10,000 B.C. and Pirates of the Caribbean, (an idea I might very well watch, cause while I really like Pirates, 10,000 B.C. is really trying to lure the goat population away from Halle Berry's Catwoman). The scary thing is that neither title is available on Amazon.com nor seem to appear on IMDB, except for a possible 2009 listing for The Black Pearl that has no information whatsoever and is listed as being in development. Clearly this is a direct to DVD release that has gone under EVERYONE's radar but Netflix.

The reason I bring this to your attention at all is that I've now found a trailer for it on its official website and it is most assuredly not intentionally a parody. However, from the quality of the acting, cinematography and fight choreography (which appears to have been accomplished by people of some degree of skill, but shot with all the dramatic flair of a nine-year-old with a Super 8) it may as well have been. I think a more accurate title would be "10,000 A.D.: Chiseled Hippies Kicking One Another and Emoting Badly and Ninjas."

Do your sense of humor a favor and view the trailer and subsidiary clips. After that, read some of the behind the scenes production material and chuckle even further. (This is evidently a labor of love student project filmed back in 2004/2005 by some filmmakers trying to get their footing in the business. I can't argue with some of their technical points about guerrilla film-making, but beautiful scenery shot on the cheap don't a good movie make.) I'm almost curious enough to rent it, though, just to: A) see if it actually exists; and B) receive satisfaction that SOMEONE is riffing on it even if it's only me.

Or maybe I'll just wait for it to turn up on the Sci Fi channel.




I, Dalek

2008-09-24T14:57:00.680-04:00

For a very long time in my life, I held a personal record for only having been stung by one particular type of flying insect: the yellow jacket. My first sting came at about age 5 at my papaw's farm in south Mississippi. This produced in me a fear of all flying insects that lasted for years, causing me to run in terror from anything with wings. (I know, I was a wussy kid.) My terror might have been overblown, but I didn't get stung again until the 5th grade, when another yellow jacket stung me after he'd landed on the side of my Donald Duck Grapefruit Juice can and I accidentally mushed him against my inner wrist, not knowing he was there. Sensing a trend, I made a conscious decision to try and get through life being stung exclusively by yellow jackets. (I know, I was a weird kid.)This decision actually liberated me of my fear of flying insects. In fact, I came to consider all yellow jackets to be, if not friends, at least associates on the planet, and I went out of my way not to kill them and would even let them land on my skin if they happened to be nearby. Showing no fear, I didn't get stung. Or, at least, not often. It seems I did get stung again at some point, because I think my record of being stung by yellow jackets was around three when I hit college.During my freshman year, while rescuing my sister's rabbit from the back yard because the sister was too scared to go outside while there was a big red wasp flying around, I got stung again, this time by that very big red wasp. Popped me right behind the ear, it did. I was instantly furious, not so much at the pain of the sting but that my burgeoning lifetime record had been shattered by a damn wasp. (I know, I was a weird eighteen-year-old.) And, once my record was shattered, it seemed I would never again be stung by yellow jackets. For years afterward, I was stung only by wasps. I also no longer viewed any kinship with any flying insects, though I did still try and humanely remove them from my apartments rather than killing them outright.Jump to 2001, to our first apartment in West Virginia, where a swarm of yellow jackets set up a nest behind the bricks of our back door. , that yellow jackets decided I was good enough to sting again. (Of course, they first lulled me into a sense of security by not stinging me for weeks as I passive aggressively kept sealing up their hole with a variety of harmless caulks, foams and silicone sealants, which they just as passive aggressively ate. After they stung me, I abandoned passivity and got medieval on their ass and poured poison foam down their hole. After that, they would lie in wait for me in the clover when I was barefoot.)Cut to two weeks ago. I was out mowing the grass, minding my own, when I felt something light on the back of my calf, then felt whatever it was sting the hell out of me. I didn't get a look at it, but the initial sting, painful as it was, soon grew in strength, sending sick little electric shocky feelings through my stomach and spine. I suspected it was a yellow jacket, as I recalled seeing some flying into a hole in the ground near where I'd been mowing. I made a note to cover their hole with a rock before mowing there again. No use killing them if they weren't immediately near the house.Cut to last week. I was out walking the dog and had made it to the mouth of our neighborhood, when some giant tractors equipped with side-mowers of the kind that extend over the shoulder of the road and mow any grass there d[...]



"Hey, Charlie's not wearing a bra, again. Everybody take a drink."

2008-09-24T10:45:00.843-04:00

This weekend, the wife and I decided to plow the flowerbed. (So that's what the kids are callin' it nowadays?) No, really, we rented a gas-powered tiller and plowed up the big flower bed out back, the soil of which was pretty much hard clay with a dusting of leaf compost I'd sprinkled there. In order to rectify this, we thought we'd churn it all up a bit, mix in some cow poop, peat moss powder, some of those little beady things that look like bean-bag chair-filler, and soil- moisturizer jelly. In order to do all this, however, we had to dig up the existing plants that we wanted to keep. We also had to dig up a couple of stumps.The first and visibly largest of the stumps was easy. That thing was so rotton that while the above ground portion of it was still rather solid, the below ground portion had pretty much rotted away, allowing us to tip it over and haul it out of the flower bed with only a small amount of effort. The second stump was much smaller as far as its visible aspect went. It didn't pry up with the tug of a shovel, so I decided to chop it out.Granted, it was not long ago that my doughy butt could barely be bothered to mow a lawn, much less do any serious gardening, but something about owning a house where that kind of thing is not taken care of by the shitty guys the landlord hired has really brought out my inner... um... crap... What's the name of a famous TV gardener type I could reference that most folks would know? Ehm... Er.... I got nothing. Oh, wait. Okay, that famous lawn guy in England who was on Ground Force on BBC America... you know, the show with the hot red-haired chick whose specialties were water-features and never wearing a bra, but then who left the show and then it got canceled--er, that's the man who left, not the braless chick? Yeah. My inner him.No, these days I'm becoming fairly handy about the house. I own a pitch fork. I own a shovel. I own a gigantic and deadly aluminum landscaping rake. I have a compost pile. I have cut my own trail through the woods. I'm even in the market for a chainsaw. More importantly to this story, I also own an ax. I bought it a couple months back, when the wife's folks were up for a visit and my father-in-law and I decided to do manly things like drink beer and saw up some of the half-forest of dead trees obstructing the aforementioned trail path. I didn't actually chop much of anything with the ax, nor have I since, but I own one dammit and that's the important part.I then took my ax and gave that stump 40 whacks. I'm actually not too bad with the ax. I don't know if this is due to three years spent playing a logger in the Outdoor Drama What I Did for the past Three Years But Which I Didn't Do This Year, Cause I Moved Away, And All, or that I inherited some skill from my grandfather, but I do all right. I chopped a goodly portion of the stump away, took a break and came back for the rest. It was only later, after we got the tiller into that particular neck of the flower bed, that we discovered this stump was iceberg-like and had quite a bit more beneath the surface, not to mention a goodly reach on it. There would be no tilling of that soil until we got it all out.Again, I took my ax and began whacking away at it. I could only go for a minute or two before having to take a break to stand, catch my breath and think. Eventually, the wife suggested that my energy would be better spent if we instead shoveled away all the surrounding dir[...]



Meanwhile, back in my real life...

2008-09-19T13:10:39.245-04:00

A lot has gone on in our real lives since my departure from the "liberry."We took almost the entire month of July off to go on vacation at the beach, where Ash's grandmother lives. Well, the wife was pretty much on vacation. I got a week at the beach before flying back to my home town in Mississippi where I had a three week job lined up as the script coordinator for a junior high/high school theatre camp. It's a camp I went to as a camper and then worked at as a writing assistant and eventually counselor, lo over a decade ago. This is a camp in which the writing campers write either a three act musical comedy or three one act musical comedies in the span of about five days. After that, the production campers come in and the play is cast, blocked, choreographed, rehearsed and, at the end of the three weeks, performed twice. My main part of it was the first week--y'know, the whole getting kids to write a three act play thing. This wound up being incredibly stressful, but ultimately fruitful. By the end of the camp and with the assistance of various directors (music, dance, drama, writing, etc) the kids had written and produced what, in my mind, is the second best show I've seen the camp do. The wife spent the first two weeks of the three week camp back at her grandmother's house at the beach in NC, teaching Sadie to swim and generally taking it easy in advance of being dumped into her real world job back in Borderland come August 1. She then drove down for the last week of camp, at which point the strangely pleasant Mississippi in July weather we'd been having took a sharp turn for the hellish, producing 104 degree temps and sweat O' plenty the rest of the week. The nearly bad news is that the wife nearly got me into a fist fight while we were there. (That story's on the way.) The good news is that my parents like their grand-dog.Speaking of which, at six months old, Sadie is now eFRICKINnormous. She's already 46 pounds and if I leave for more than two days, I can tell that she's grown in my absence. Her behavior has improved greatly, meaning she no longer chews up everything, has dialed back her desire to eat anything she finds (eh, except for one horrifying incident, the story of which is on the way) and her repertoire of tricks we've taught her has grown. She can sit, shake (or as we call it, "Gimme Howdy"), lie down ("chill"), stay, come, and wait to eat until we tell her it's okay. (I'm currently working on "Super Chill," which is like chill, only moreso. Kind of a "Chillax," really.) Unfortunately, some of the commands she knows, such as "come here," are only effective if we happen to be holding a Pup-Peroni. If she's off leash, outside and we have no food, she pretty much gives us the finger and goes where she wants for as long as it takes us to go get food. She's got us trained, I guess. The good news is that she's not yet allergic to yellow jacket stings. Nor, as it turns out, am I. (That story's on the way.)The whole while we were out of state, we both secretly harbored inner fears that something would go wrong with our house while we were out of state. Friends had warned us that once we'd become new home owners, the house would start to rebel against us and things would begin coming apart. We worried about the kinds of things that might happen while we were away--you know, a burst pipe or a fire or a plague of frogs. Fortunately, when we at least returned to Border[...]



Epic Conclusion (Moving Days R)

2008-09-16T18:17:53.908-04:00

In the days since I left the "Liberry," life has proceeded as usual over in Tri-Metro. I know this because I've been back for several visits. Most of these were in the days prior to us fully vacating our house in Town C, when the wife was still living there as she wrapped up her medical residency, but I've made a few since. In fact, one such visit of mine was made specifically because of her residency.Each year, the hospital holds a mini-graduation ceremony for all of its residents, giving out graduation certificates to each class as they either pass into a new year of their residency, or, as in the case with my wife, fully graduate and pass into the real world. Now, unlike most graduation ceremonies, which tend to be pretty boring affairs, these residency ceremonies are great because there's an open bar, massively tasty hors d'oeuvres beforehand, followed by a catered buffet dinner with dessert and then what amounts to about half an hour's worth of award-awarding, which is usually a pretty fun time because most of the people giving the awards are friends and colleagues and very funny people who know how to make such ceremonies interesting and fun. (Or, maybe I've just been to the open bar one too many times to know otherwise.) This year's ceremony promised to be very similar, only this year the wife was the major honoree when it came to graduating third year residents. Actually, she was the only graduating third year, not to mention she's also chief resident, so it was even more of a focus on her. Unfortunately, the graduation ceremony fell on June 12, a day I was already committed to being at a conference for a non-profit organization I am a member of, in another part of the state. Not only that, but this was a conference for which I did the majority of the planning and at which I was obligated to be in order to help get things set up. The date had been set in stone for literally the past year. The wife wasn't happy that I couldn't get out of it, nor was I, but she said she understood that that's the way things had rolled.As the days went by and the conference date grew closer, it occurred to me that it would be the ultimate surprise if I was somehow able to get out of the setup portion of the conference and turn up at the wife's ceremony after all. I get so few opportunities to surprise her without her managing to spoil it in advance, so I thought this would be a great choice. I kept completely mum about it and didn't actually make the final decision on whether or not to pull it off until two days shy of the conference itself for fear of my big mouth letting something slip early. The longer I waited, though, the more I knew it would be gold. None of the wife's family was going to be able to come, so she would be there alone. I knew it had to be done. After making arrangements with a trusted colleague to take over my setup duties, and with a trusted colleague of the wife's to run interference if need be, I officially decided to slip in and surprise the wife.On graduation day, I snuck out of Borderland and hit the road for Tri-Metro. I had to head over early, to pass some of my setup materials on to someone headed to the conference, so afterward I had a few hours to kill before the ceremony kicked in around 6. So I headed over to the "liberry." The alphabet squad was happy to see me. Mrs. A even had me go around and mark all the shitty shelf-ends with tape yet again in prepara[...]