Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Oh, Where, Oh, Where

has my Herrschner's box gone?

Beats me. I'd really love to know. Because after coming home from a concert last night--later than 8:00 p.m., just so you know, because that's not atypically late for the mail to arrive around here--I decided I would go to the mailbox AGAIN (after having tried this at least four times between 4:00 and 7:00). I flew out the door and fell up the steps to the mailbox. And what to my wondering eyes did I find? The Herrschner's box, home for the holidays after 19 days of some kind of whirlwind tour. And I can prove that I wasn't lying when I said it was ordered 11/30. The box should be ashamed of itself! Its label clearly says 11/30.

Read, and beware. Note the "special message" telling the delivery person to leave it if no one answers. Bwah-hah-hah. As if we wouldn't have gone out and assaulted the delivery person to get that package.

Unless the USPS has nostalgically resorted to using ponies again instead of planes, trucks, and trains, it just does not seem right that it took that long to come a short distance directly due east from Wisconsin. What, are they using sleds? Snowshoes? short-range slingshots?

If you read the preceding post, you will know that mail in our little town is screwy this year, and we are getting mail for about everyone but us. So it would not surprise me if this box had swapped out with some other address and taken a good visit up Governor's Row, maybe sat out a few performances at the University, seen the lights downtown, and gotten back on the mail truck to go . . . to sunny L.A. for a while. And maybe there, Laurie's capricious cats opened it up, played with the yarn for a couple weeks, and then packed it back up and put it on their mail truck.

Just in case you were wondering (like my eyes), nobody's getting any socks this Christmas. Handmade, anyway. From me, that is.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Rant 'n Rave

I love me them internets. I can order anything for Christmas (I started Black Friday and was a statistic on Cyber Monday), and all I have to do is wait and it will arrive in the mailbox or on the doorstep.

Or will it? Huh?

On November 30, I ordered a slew of sock yarn and a sock pattern from Herrschner's online craft store. Spent over $30, y'all. There's an order-tracking system whereby they reroute you to the USPS tracking site. And lemme tell you what the two sites said: The order was fulfilled on December 3. The package apparently arrived in our town at the ***** zip-code post office on December 8. That's right, folks, DECEMBER 8, as in LAST THURSDAY. It is now Wednesday, the 14th. I do not think I was supposed to pick up the package, for I never received a yellow slip summoning me to the p.o.

The mail has been bizarre the past two weeks or so. I could understand why nothing showed up last Friday, it having been a blizzard. But then, apparently nothing came on Saturday until late at night; after going out five times to see if the mail was there, we gave up looking. We found it Sunday. Monday there was no delivery, even though I saw the truck on our street. And what's worse, when the mail has shown up lately, half of it has belonged to other people, either neighbors or huge, egregious mistakes like addresses on Rillbank Terrace. Other neighbors have been complaining, too.

USPS must have put on a bunch of completely untrained temporary staff to cover the extra bulk of the holiday season. I can understand their need, but during such an important season when people are spending a lot of money on packages that really need to be delivered to them and not somebody else, hiring untrained extras is a big gamble bound for disaster.

Tuesday, no luck but one envelope (fortunately, that one was correct and did contain a couple of Christmas gifts I'd ordered. But no yarn). Wednesday, a few regular items, but no box of sock yarn from Herrschner's. If the postal delivery person is giving us everyone else's mail, to whom did he give my Christmas stuff? So I ask you, people of our little town, it's been a friggin' week since the box came to the ***** post office, so it MUST have been delivered by now, and WHICH OF YOU HAS MY YARN? And what the heck do you think YOU'RE gonna do with it? (String it on your packages?) And I'm still missing stuff from Amazon and Land's End, but I ordered those items way after the yarn, so those probably shouldn't be here yet and, while I'm panicking about the yarn, I'll give those the benefit of the doubt. At this rate, if a miracle happens and the yarn does arrive, it will be too late for me to make the zany socks, which I'd intended as gifts. I am too much of an inexperiened "knit-tard" to make 'em up fast. I'm worried my whole plan has fallen altogether by the wayside--no pun intended.

So what do I do now? Go door to door asking the neighbors (and everyone on Rillbank Terrace) if they've seen my Herrschner's box? Go to the ***** post office and harrass them? Attack the mail truck and demand an explanation?

Who's Faster?

Sometimes before the Tyke goes to sleep, we have a little bedtime chat. Last night Tyke provided the subject: ostriches.

It turns out Tyke is afraid of ostriches, knows they can run really fast and kick the daylights out of people, cars, and anything else they decide to obliterate. "Mom, are there ostriches in our town?"

Well, of course not, unless there's a zoo I don't know about, or some wacko criminal is harboring ostriches as an organic protection system.

I tell Tyke a story (intended to amuse and console) that I heard on National Public Radio on the Saturday program "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me." The program has a segment called "It's Not My Job" featuring some unlikely guest. This person has to play the game representing an NPR listener, and the subject matter of the game is always something way out of the league of the "Not My Job" person. For example, past participants have included Adam West, the original TV Batman; and Don LaFontaine, the world-famous voice-over artist who invented the "In a world where . . ." imposing movie preview trailers. He makes millions terrifying theater audiences by simply saying "In a world where . . ." and then describing a movie. (Nice work if you can get it.)

Anyway, in this "Not My Job" episode, the not-my-job guy was an exotic animal remediation specialist who works mostly in Florida. As in, "get this friggin' twelve-foot-long python out of my septic system!" remediation. So when they ask him about his actual job, he recounts several notable encounters, one of which involves ostriches. It seems there were several escaped ostriches that somehow wound up running around on the runway of a Florida airport. Wait, it gets better. The ostriches got near the terminal windows. They are very aggressive but have no self-awareness, so they see their own reflections in the windows, freak out, and get into sparring matches with the "other ostriches." They peck and kick the hell out of the windows and break them. It's ostrich chaos at the terminal. Not-my-job Guy to the rescue!

Not-my-job Guy and his trusty cohort(s) rush to the scene to apprehend the flightless perpetrators, only to discover that they have multiple ostriches, but only ONE tranquilizer dart.

At this point, panelist comedienne Paula Poundstone pipes up, "Hey, in a situation like that if I found out I only had one tranquilizer, you know who'd take it, doncha?"

Ultimately they bring down the one ostrich. I can't remember how the story ends because by this point I was laughing so hard my short-term memory was impaired.

Well, needless to say, this story did not help the Tyke, who now had even more reason to believe in the menacing qualities of ostriches. He is now wondering if they can come through HIS window--three stories up, hah-hah. Well, no, they're not going to. (I have to get him reassured quickly; otherwise he won't be able to fall asleep, thinking about being maimed by angry ostriches coming through his third-story window.)

But it turns out he is now, (for some reason) more interested in the speed of the ostrich than its kicking and pecking. His favorite animal to date is the cheetah. "Mom, are ostriches the fastest MAMMALS, even faster than cheetahs?"

I'm momentarily quiet, stifling a guffaw. "Are ostriches MAMMALS?"

He thinks a minute. "Uh, no. Are they the fastest BIRDS? Even faster than CHEETAHS?"

I give him a look. "Uh. Oh. Okay. But are they here? And will they kick me through the window?"

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My Constant Companion

Though I'm a reasonably well educated person, there are many things I just do not understand. Such as why some Japanese companies think "Dew-Dew," "Hacker," and "Eye Power" are smashingly appetizing names for candy.

(To see that, look here)

Here's another confession of ignorance: Let me introduce you to my constant companion, my best buddy, my I-can't-live-without-you sidekick:

This, my friends, is my nebulizer. I use it for asthma. A lot. Especially in the winter. I have to have it on the same story of the house I'm on at all times. When I get up in the morning, it comes downstairs with me. (Let me not forget to mention my other pal, the little "rescue inhaler," which, if I wish to survive, I must carry on my person, in my pocket, or in my purse. By the way, perhaps it should bear the name, in large letters, "Cute 'n Fun.") The nebby's purpose is to keep me from having to go to the hospital every day. But note its name: "Sport Mist II."

Because, as y'all must know, ASTHMA IS SPORTY! Yep, every time I finish a nebulizer treatment, I feel like jumping up and running a marathon, along with all the other oxygen-depleted lungless wonders in the respiratory therapy ward. What could be SPORTIER than turning on a small machine that's as loud as the backup generator for a skyscraper, hooking up some scary hospital-machine tubing, screwing a mouthpiece on it, sticking that in your mouth, inhaling and exhaling "sporty" mist, and having people remark, "Hmm . . . the way you look right now reminds me of something . . . oh, I know . . . It's the smoking caterpillar in 'Alice in Wonderland'!" And then there are the people who want to carry on an animated conversation with you, when, HELLO, there's no talking going on here because there's no breathing going on!

I guess Sport Mist I wasn't sexy enough, so they had to make model II? Or maybe too many people on the first one died from feeling so good they went out and ran marathons?


Monday, December 05, 2005

Potty Talk

This little gem isn't my story, but I cherish it so much I decided to pass it on. The reason I thought of it is that I was reading a blog that I visit regularly and the writer recounted an event told to her by her elderly aunt. Apparently long ago, the writer's great-aunt's mother once painted the toilet seat. (No color was mentioned--it was probably white--but in my mental picture the color is blue [!].) And this lady-who-painted-the-toilet-seat had kids. But she hadn't told the kids about it and one of the young girls went in and didn't look and sat down on the paint.
8 ^ )
And then the daddy swiftly carried the girl out to the back yard and cleaned her tail off with turpentine. And the victim still finds it a mystery why the mother didn't do the cleaning rather than the dad. My personal suspicion is that the mom was so far IN THE DOGHOUSE for painting the stupid toilet seat without warning anyone that she was ashamed to see the light of day.

Anyway, that is not my story either, and it is also not the main story I mean to recount. The first one was just a warm-up, because it immediately reminded me of something else.

My mother-in-law grew up in a great big Victorian house in a tiny town in upstate New York. Her father had a business which he ran out of the ground floor of the house, but the place was big enough that the whole family lived on the second floor (and above). They had room for extra family members, so mom-in-law's grandmother lived with them, too. One night my mom-in-law woke up needing to go potty. She padded down the long, dark hall to the bathroom, and didn't turn the light on in order not to wake anyone in adjacent rooms. She got to the toilet, sat down, and to her surprise sat on her grandma, who was already using the toilet in the dark.
8 ^ )

When my mother-in-law told me this story I laughed so hard I cried and almost gave myself an asthma attack. And every time I remember it, I still howl.

And there's one more little tidbit: when the grandma lived on a farm (I think it was the same grandma), my mother-in-law stealthily "borrowed" grandma's special ring. Unlike the big house, this farmhouse had no indoor facilities; instead, there was an outhouse. Mom-in-law went to use the outhouse, then went back to the house. And suddenly she realized the ring had fallen off in the privy. To this day she has not forgiven herself. But this is also probably why she is very kind to her own grandchildren when they do inexcusably stupid things.

(You have to wonder how this particular grandma/toilet karma got incurred.)