Monday, July 28, 2008

That Ain't No Burglar

Just the burglar alarm.

At 4:00 AM.

We don't use the damn thing. It came with the house, and the account was deactivated because we aren't interested in security systems and never renewed it. But we left the equipment in place in case we ever sell the house to someone who thinks they are a plus. And we didn't want to patch all the holes we would have made in the drywall.

Now we know that, when the battery is low, the alarm bleeps...alarmingly, while the indicator reads "BATTERY LOW!" Great. Thanks for the info. A-ha! I have a code. I got it from the previous owners and wrote it in my planner in 2005. I don't really mean to save planners, but it just kind of happens, and now I'm glad. I rummaged blindly in my nightstand and put the code in, which made the alarm stop.

Yes. Back to bed.

For 5 minutes.

I called the alarm company. They were very nice, but seemed unsure how to proceed. They put me on hold for a long time while they consulted about it. While waiting, I amused myself by alternately punching the code in when the alarm blew every five minutes and trying to rip the keypad off the wall. I did get some pieces to come off, but not enough to make it shut up.

Finally Mr. Nice Guy came on and told me that he'd like to help me, but I wasn't an account holder, so his hands were tied. I explained to him that any guidance he might offer as to how to most effectively destroy the thing would be good enough.

He guided me to the basement, where I found the (Holy Grail!) secret box he was describing, with the guilty battery inside. I was to unplug the alarm box and disconnect the battery. I told him that I loved him and hung up. I had unplugged it when Si showed up and told me that I had in fact unplugged the water softener. We couldn't find where the alarm plugged in, so we turned off all the power in the house, disconnected the battery, pulled out some other random important-looking wires and went to bed. That was it. Now we're good, except the phones don't work.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Short Circuit II

I got a grant from Salt Lake County for my program, and it's time to negotiate the contract. This is when we discuss how many people will be enrolled this year, how many of them will show advances in their English, and other fascinating facts that will need to be tracked in the (enthralling) Quarterly Statistical Report.

We have been tossing drafts of the contract around, e-mailing about this or that detail.

Today, I replied to two messages from Dorothy, my grant administrator at the County offices. She phoned me shortly after.

We talked about the contract for a while; then she said, "So, what ARE you going to wear to the Quinceanera?"


(A Qinceanera is a celebration of a girl's fifteenth birthday. Think debutante ball meets first communion meets wedding. These celebrations are huge in the Latino community. I have been invited to a Quinceanera on Saturday, but how the hell does Dorothy...]

"How did you-"

"It's right here in the e-mail you sent me:

Hey, Robin!
I am SO SORRY that I still haven't called you. The last few weeks have been f***ing insane at work! I still want to hear ALL about the hot guy you met in Puerta Vallarta. I'm going to a Quinceanera on Saturday. Just the mass, not the dance - what do you think I should wear?

1. Dorothy has a sense of humor.
2. I really did use the asterisks that you see above.

Anyway, Dorothy has had her share of moments. I watched her give a PowerPoint presentation once, oblivious to the fact that the projector cord was wrapped around her ankle. She could not seem to figure out why, every time she moved, the images slid across the wall. All was revealed by a sudden movement, which sent the projector sliding forcefully across the table, at which point, several people in the group threw themselves on top of it before it crashed to the floor.

And Robin? Honey, if you're out there, I think we could commit to serving 300 students again this year, for a total of 16,500 instructional hours. Could you just sign off on that and fax it back to me?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Short Circuit

I have been so bad about reading and posting blogs lately. There has just been a lot going on and I'm going 90 MPH.

At this pace, I'm easily disconcerted. I arrived at the office today to a list of phone calls I needed to return; some in English, some in Spanish. One Spanish message requested a return call with information about registering for classes.

I placed the call, making a little mental note: Spanish, this is a Spanish call.

Someone answered the phone with, "Bon jour?"

I froze.

"Bon jour?"

Bwoop! Bwoop! Does not compute.

"Uh...Bon jour!" I said. Then of course, I remembered that I don't speak French.

[Ridiculously long pause while my brain attempts to send a message to my mouth. The message is, "Say something you dork." ]

I found myself asking NOT, "Do you speak English?", but (in Spanish) "Do you speak Spanish?" The person switched to Spanish. Halfway through the conversation, the person realized I was not a native speaker of Spanish, and switched to native-like English.

I froze.

Does not compute.

It's like a faulty automatic transmission, which allows the car to rev! rev! rev! Before finally moving to the next gear. Be nice to me. Let's pick a language and stick with it, OK?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Care Package

My parents do this from time to time: send me my old stuff. Or even stuff that they think might be my old stuff. I know it's bad that I still have junk in their basement, but we live 2,000 miles apart, for Pete's sake! Every time I come home, I squeeze a small item into my luggage; but it remains a tiny grain of sand in the precious oyster of our relationship *snort*.

My dad had a great time with this, some years ago, when we were still living in our cabin up in the mountains. I found a note in our mailbox informing me that I had a package waiting at Silver Fork Lodge, a little restaurant on the canyon road. I stopped in for it and found the proprietor a bit put-out. Seven LARGE boxes filled the bar area of the restaurant. I loaded them into the pickup and took them home, wondering what marvelous gift my father had sent. A bedroom set? In the winter, we didn't have road access to the cabin; so after parking the truck, I had to sled each box in, one at a time. When opened, they revealed...CRAP! Carnival prizes, old dolls, dime-store vases. Basically, the contents of my room in Wisconsin. Much of it I didn't even recognize. Of the 7 boxes, only about one box-worth was anything I wanted to keep. The rest was put back in the boxes and sledded (one box at a time) back out to the truck and down to the dumpster on the canyon road.

Thanks Dad! That was so special.

He laughed his ass off when I called him to...uh...thank...him. Good one.

Mom is not quite the practical joker that he is. Not that's it's such a big deal, since we're living in a place with road access now; but still, the box I received yesterday was small-ish and contained:
  1. A brown envelope labeled in my late grandmother's handwriting: "Made by Porter Seymour". Inside there were cut paper silhouettes of two people that must be Grammy and Grandpa. If so, this guy got Grammy's nose all wrong. I'm very familiar with that nose, as I have the dubious pleasure of looking at it on my own face every day. He probably knew better than to be too accurate in that regard. And who the hell is Porter Seymour? I will have to investigate.
  2. My old Girl Scout vest. At least, it must be mine... a lot of the badges look familiar. But some of them don't. How did I earn the computer skills badge? I finished Girl Scouts in 1983 or so. I don't think I touched a computer for the first time until I started college. Scratching my head, I reach back into the box and find...
  3. two more brown envelopes, one labeled "Alice" and the other "Flora". OK. These are actually mine: paper dolls I bought with my allowance in my later childhood. They're meant to look Victorian and the dresses were all taken from period issues of Godey's Ladies Book. There had been others, too. Probably long gone in the bedroom depredations of my nieces while I was in the Peace Corps.
  4. Books. Of course. Mom and Dad think that, given enough tiny bites, they will be able to eat this elephant and reunite me with all of my books. Let's see...what do we have? A Cricket in Times Square; The Trumpet of the Swan, by E B White; and a couple of those Scholastic Book Club books. You know, in which a book would arrive by mail every month? I loved that. This one is McBroom Tells the Truth. One of several stories about Farmer McBroom and his wonderful one-acre farm. I plopped right down on the sofa and read it to the kids. Still funny.
  5. Necklace and matching earrings. SO not mine... Gold and, uh, mauve. Heavy and good quality, though, and the clasp says "Chico's". Ooooh. LOVE Chico's. I only go to Chico's if Mom comes to visit and goes in first, brandishing her credit card. Even a belt from Chico's gives me sticker-shock. Ah-hah! Elementary, my dear Watson! I'll bet Mom bought these, ended up not wearing them much, figured I could use them. Thanks, Mom! I might own something...mauve. Or gold. I''ll have a look in my closet.
  6. Finally, I unwrapped the tissue paper in the bottom of the box and pulled out THE SWEATER. I've never seen Mom wear it, except for old photos: she and my dad out to dinner in the Bahamas in 1965 or so. I guess the Bahamas were dressier then? And colder?? Poor sweater - hasn't seen the light of day in 40 years. Look out, Mom! When you give me stuff like this, I'm actually going to WEAR it. Somewhere. It has a convertible collar. The low-key trim...

or the mink stole.

Won't people run up and throw super glue at me or something if I wear it? Does it make a difference that these minks died before I was even born? I could not have saved them. At least it doesn't have eyes and one of those little clip-mouth things.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Man! I Needed That!

Thank God for Hike Day!
We went up to Red Pine Lake in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The mountains are melting off late this year; there was still quite a bit of snow on the trails, but not enough to deter me, in spite of the fact that I hiked in an old pair of running shoes instead of my Foot Wreckers. I was also able to sneak a little nap on a boulder by the side of the lake.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Poetic Interlude

When I was a kid watching TV, K-Tel records used to offer the greatest hits of music "legend" ("has-been") Connie Francis. She'd croon:

I'm sorry/
So sorry...

I never learned the rest of the song, 'cause that was the extent of that clip. But it comes to me now, and in my head, I sing:

I'm tired/
So tired...

Then I stop. How does the rest of the song go? Beats me. So a few seconds later, I'm back to:

I'm tired/
So tired...

Tired enough that, when I kissed Simon good-bye this morning, I said, "Good-night, Honey. See you in the morning." Sleepy enough to doze off in my chair at the supper table. It shouldn't be a big deal: to get Sara to Guadalupe Summer Camp on time, I just have to set the alarm for about 45 minutes earlier than usual. However, since I was generally on pretty tight sleep-rations, I am now realizing just how much those 45 minutes meant to me.

BUT! I'm taking tomorrow off. It's my July hike-date with Si. I wan't cait. I mean I can't wait. And even sooner than tomorrow, I'm looking forward to tonight. I have a HOT date with my bad. I mean bed. I need to be a leeeeetle bit more rested before I can think about "bad".

Oh for Pete's sake! I've just remembered, as I sit here in a fog that, if I'm going hiking tomorrow, I need to do something about my boots. I wonder if I can squeeze in a trip to REI after supper tonight. I either have to deal with the fit issues in my boots or....suck it up and buy new boots.

Now I'm rambling as well as slurring. Just to make sure that this posting is irredeemable, I'll conclude with some Redneck Haiku. I have to say that these are not as funny as Spamku, but they're all right.

Naked in repose
Silvery silhouette girls
Adorn my mudflaps

Damn, in that tube-top
You make me almost forget
You are my cousin

In KMart toy aisle
Wailing boy wants 'rassling doll
Mama whups his butt

Monday, July 7, 2008

Vocabulary Builders

In a bizarre synaptic burst a couple of days ago, I invented two new words.

you' tha-nize, v. trans. To seek actions, language and dress that give outmoded person on the cusp of middle-age the illusion of youth and hip-ness.
Should I buy that tie-dye tee shirt to youthanize myself?

kni' ti-ot, n. Person with poor aptitude for knitting.
This so-called scarf looks like crap! I'm such a knitiot.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Photo Journal: Regular Day

OK, this is an experiment inspired by JYankee and a posting she did last week with images of a regular day. I used to do this - take pictures at regular intervals through a random day and put them in a little album for the kids. They like to look at them and talk about the "old days", when they were "little".

Wake up, Sara! We need to get going early today.

It's the first day of Guadalupe's Summer Camp, and Sara's going. We need to be there by 8:00 AM.

A lot of the teachers have known Sara forever, but she has never met most of the kids. Have a good day, Sara! Breakfast is in the cafeteria.

Check a couple blogs...

This is the view for most of the day, I'm afraid. This week and next, I'm closing the books for the year and getting everything ready for the next school year, which starts on July 15. Reports to write, files to clean up, etc... No students, sadly.

Sara finishes Camp at 3:00. She gets a few minutes on while I do a little more work.

C'mon, Mom. Let's get going.

Time for a run before supper. Barely.

Too hot to eat in the house.

I choose clothes for tomorrow the night before. I'm not a morning person. Better not to have to make too many tough decisions at 6:30 AM.

When will they start putting their own stuff away? Good Night!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sexy, in a Parallel Universe

We should have a name for this. Like... "weeder's back" or "short shirt hell" or something. I remembered to screen up all the rest of me, but forgot this bit. Because I have vitaligo, I can crisp up like a tasty bacon bit in 10 minutes or less.

OMG! Of course! I have discovered my gift! Albinism!

There is an up-side to this. (Quick! Buy aloe vera futures!) It's a trial "slut-tat". That's what my friend Moira calls tattoos on the small of the back; but, despite my fear of her low opinion, I have always been tempted. Maybe that would look good.... I asked Simon for his feedback on my sunburn-as-trial-tattoo. He looked at me as if I were a specimen recently acquired by the Mars Rover. "It's a sunburn." "OK, OK, yeah. But squint at it." He gave me one of his "get back on your ship and return to your own kind" looks and picked up the newspaper.
I tried out my concept on my coworker Becca, when I asked her to take the photo. She pondered my ass for a moment then said, "Wait for this one to clear up, and then do it again. But next time, I'll come over and do, like, a tribal pattern with sunscreen before you start, so you can really get the effect."
Maybe a press-on would be good enough.