Sparky struggles to get comfortable on the sofa, poor fella.
I stuck my knife in the toaster because the toasted bread didn’t pop up high enough to grab it with my fingers. Yes, I know better, but for a second I completely forgot how stupid it was to do that and went ahead and did it anyway.
My Darling B happened to be in the kitchen while I was being stupid. Not only that, she was looking directly at me and just as I stuck the end of the knife into the toaster slot she shouted my full name using her Mom Voice. I know she used her Mom Voice because I jerked the knife out of the toaster and simultaneously jumped about a foot away from it without having consciously made myself do it. It was as if an entirely different person had taken over my body and made it do something before I knew what was happening. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have stopped myself.
I believe that was the one and only time she used her Mom Voice on me. It was honestly kind of a terrifying experience so I think I’d be able to recall if she did it more than once, but maybe Moms have a more subtle version of the Mom Voice that makes you obey them without scaring you. Or maybe they can rewrite your memories. That actually seems plausible now that I think of it.
While we were in Dayton, we stayed at a bed and breakfast in the Oregon District. The bed and breakfast was in a restored mansion on a side street just off Fifth Street, the road through the district where the tourists could find bars and restaurants to visit. The suite we rented was not in the mansion but behind it in a street-level addition that was almost certainly built at least a hundred years after the mansion. It had a private entrance, a very cozy sitting room, a warm bedroom, and a kitchenette. It was perfect for us.
We arrived in Dayton on Wednesday evening and departed Saturday morning. After driving eight hours on Wednesday we were just a little bleary-eyed and foggy-headed, so a short walk around the district was about all we had the energy or the focus for. We stayed in Wednesday night, mostly reading to get our minds off the road, turned in late and slept well. And except for the garbage trucks that rampaged through the neighborhood at the crack of dawn on Thursday morning, our sleep wasn’t interrupted much by anything.
We slept in until almost nine on Thursday. When we finally did get up, My Darling B made coffee but I couldn’t bring myself to drink it. Not her fault. She did the best she could with the Mr. Coffee machine and the big plastic jug of Folger’s coffee. Luckily I knew where to find a coffee shop just two blocks from the inn, so after a brief walk I fetched back an Americano and a latte and we sipped those as we nibbled on our breakfast.
We had lunch at a Thai restaurant, conveniently located just across the street, before getting dressed to go to the service in the evening. After the service we went back to the inn, warmed up the rest of our lunch (the portions were enormous!) and had dinner in our suite. My Darling B picked up a bottle of wine earlier, which we opened for dinner and enjoyed through the evening. We went to bed after staying up late reading, and slept well, waking to the arrival of the garbage trucks once again.
I got out of bed at about eight on Friday, tiptoed out of the bedroom to dress myself in the sitting room, and let myself out as quietly as possible to seek freshly-brewed coffee. After collecting two large black coffee’s to-go, I returned to the suite to bestow hot beverages unto My Darling B, who had just roused herself from slumber. We had about an hour to sit and enjoy our coffee while nibbling on breakfast, then washed and dressed and went to the service at the cemetery. There was a luncheon after and then a few tasks to take care of, so we didn’t return to the suite until maybe five o’clock. We got sandwiches at a restaurant across the street before settling in for the night. B read while I watched The Shawshank Redemption. We turned in at maybe ten-thirty or eleven o’clock.
And did not get a wink of sleep. Well, maybe a wink. Maybe even a wink and a half. On Friday night there’s a dance club on Fifth Street in the Oregon District where they play music on a sound system so powerful they could shatter granite and melt steel, if they so chose to. On this particular Friday night, they chose only to keep us and the rest of the neighborhood awake until at least two-thirty in the morning. (My Darling B says three, and I don’t doubt her, but the last time I looked at the clock while the dance music was still going thumpa-thumpa it was two-thirty.) I didn’t sleep much after that because I spent every waking minute up until then thinking about how tired I was going to be driving back to Wisconsin the next day, so I wasn’t exactly in a frame of mind that would let me go to sleep when the music finally stopped.
Nevertheless, I stubbornly stayed in bed until about seven-thirty, which I was about the time I got the very appealing idea to go get some delicious coffee. Got there about fifteen minutes too soon; they didn’t open until eight. I made a big loop around several blocks of the district, arriving back at the coffee shop about five minutes before they opened, so I huddled in the doorway until they raised the blinds and unlocked the door. I guzzled down every drop of that twelve-ounce cup and, before we hit the road, went back for more. I won’t go so far as to say the caffeine boost made the drive survivable, but it certainly didn’t hurt.
We were watching the first episode of “The Last of Us” when my mom texted me. She was housebound because she’d been hit by the same deep freeze that was keeping all us inside, but for her it was worse: she lives in Arkansas where the road maintenance crews don’t go out to salt or sand the roads, so she was stuck at the end of her cul-de-sac, unable to go anywhere. We stayed in just because we didn’t like getting cold.
So she told me about the books she was reading and I told her about the zombie show we were watching. “The funny thing about zombie movies,” I texted her, “is that you have to pretend that everybody in the movie has never seen a zombie movie.”
“I have never seen a zombie movie,” she texted back, “and I hope I never do.”
So I guess it is possible, then, that in a zombie apocalypse there might be one or two people who didn’t realize what was going on. I stand corrected.
build a fire
I suffered an especially painful case of dry-eye last night and when I told My Darling B about it, she said, “Maybe you need a humidifier in the bedroom.”
What I heard her say was, “Maybe you need to make a fire in the bedroom.”
When she says something that doesn’t make any sense at all, I stop and let the decoder in my brain work on the problem for a while until it comes up with a translation. It’s sort of like Wordle: most of the phonemes are there but I need time to look at the gray areas to imagine how they should be filled in.
But that doesn’t always work. When it doesn’t, I repeat what I thought I heard her say. In this case when I told her, “I heard you say: Maybe you need to make a fire in the bedroom,” she nearly bust a gut laughing. Then, when she could breathe again, she told me about the humidifier.
My Darling B sent me out to get egg noodles. I don’t know what egg noodles are.
“They’re wide and flat and curly,” she explained.
“They’re flat and curly?”
“Yes. They’re flat. But they’re curly.”
I couldn’t even imagine what that looked like.
“How wide are they? An inch wide? Three-quarters of an inch?”
“They’re about that wide,” she answered, holding her fingers about a half-inch apart.
“Okay. And how long are they? An inch long? Six inches?”
“They’re about as long as spaghetti noodles, but you can’t see them.”
“I can’t see them?”
“They’re in a bag.”
“They’re in a bag I can’t see through?”
“Well, you can, but you can’t.”
A bag that’s transparent but it’s not, something else I couldn’t imagine.
Eventually I had to fall back on this: “When I leave, I’m going straight to the store and I’m going to send some photos of noodles to your phone, so watch your phone for incoming texts with photos from me.”
And that’s how I bought egg noodles. I found three or four bags of flat noodles that were curly in different ways, snapped photos of them, and sent the photos to B, who responded with a message telling me which one to buy. Thank goodness for modern technology.
Random recollection: My mom told me she wanted to teach me and my brother some basic housekeeping skills: cooking, cleaning, that sort of thing. Dad wouldn’t allow it, apparently because it was women’s work.
Fast-forward a couple years: I was living on my own in an apartment in England. I had to call my mother to ask how to bake a potato. I did actually try to bake it myself before I called her. I don’t recall what I did wrong, but it was not at any time during my kitchen experiment what I would have considered edible, and back then I was okay with a lot of canned foods that I would not eat now except as a last resort following a global catastrophe.
I suppose eventually it would have occurred to me to visit the library to check out a cook book, but honestly I had no clue at all and could conceivably have starved during the lag between trying to learn through trial and error, and twigging to the idea that I should put my hands on at least a few examples of one of the most well-documented human activities of all time.
Maybe some day I’ll tell you how long it took me to warm to the idea that I should, from time to time, vacuum the floors of the rooms I lived in. Maybe. Maybe not.
One of the things I do for my day job (I don’t know why I call it that; I don’t do anything else for pay) is a routine audit of the daily reports of customers who have logged in to the Wisconsin DOT web site to order ID cards or driver’s licenses. I’m looking for “red flags” which might indicate that an impostor might have logged in using a victim’s personal information. Thousands of IDs and DLs are ordered every day, so reviewing them is a very laborious process.
To make it a bit easier on myself, I use a spread sheet to automate the process as much as possible. I know a few tricks, just filters and searches, really elementary stuff, which helps, but lately I’ve been reviewing a year’s worth of reports at a time to see if I can spot trends. My simple tricks don’t work well on a spread sheet with 250,000 lines because my laptop bogs down whenever I ask it to crunch that much data.
Last weekend I told my son Tim about the problems I was having because I knew he was very good at writing macros in MS Excel and I hoped he would be able to give me a few tips that were simple enough for even me to understand so I could attack this problem. “Let me think about it,” he said, went home, did a little research, called me to talk it over again so he was sure he understood what I wanted to do, and then a day or two later I got an email message from him with an Excel spread sheet attached. I couldn’t figure out how to make it work. When it comes to Excel, I know just enough to be a danger to myself.
I didn’t want to break it, so I just held on to it until he came over for supper yesterday. He showed me all the bells and whistles and even fine-tuned it a bit so it did just what I wanted it to do. And it did it very, very quickly. I knew our kid was smart but wow. It was like he revealed his superpower to me.
My Darling B’s Twitter account was hacked! She sat down on Tuesday afternoon to see what manner of madness befell the world and discovered that someone had logged into her account and posted a few hundred tweets extolling the greatness of a particular brand of cryptocurrency. After several failed attempts to log in, she finally correctly recalled her password and deactivated her account. Then she changed her password (it still mystifies me why the identity thief failed to do so), logged in again, and began deleting the offending tweets. There were so many that she finished deleting them only this very night. It’s the first time I’ve known anyone personally who had fallen victim to a hacker.
It’s lap time
Sparky doesn’t sit in laps. He just doesn’t. Or he didn’t. Well, he used to. It’s complicated.
When he was a kitten, he sat in our laps occasionally. Not very often, but he did. Then he stopped. Not entirely sure why, but it may have something to do with his extreme sensitivity to sudden movement and unexpected noises, which will very often send him scrambling to his hidey hole the basement.
It’s been so long since the last time he sat in my lap that I couldn’t tell you how many years it’s been, but tonight he reached a milestone. Tonight he sat in my lap again. Not sure what made tonight so special. He didn’t do it with a lot of fanfare, he just jumped up on the sofa with me as he’s done lots of times, looked like he was going to curl up next to me but instead, he settled into my lap and allowed me to scritch his ears for about twenty minutes.