telephone dialI have a phone with a dial and it sits on a small table beside the recliner, just inside the front door of Our Humble O’Bode. At about two o’clock this morning I woke up because I could hear somebody dialing it. Whirrr. It sounded like a very short dial. Whirrr. As if somebody was dialing the number two over and over again. Whirrr. At first it was puzzling, then weird, and then a little scary. Whirrr. But after several minutes of whirrr-whirrr-whirrr I wanted to say out loud, “If you’re the axe murderer and you’re doing that to be extra-creepy, you’re doing it too long. Get in here and chop us to pieces already!”


Oh, come on, this is just nuts, I said to myself, and lifted my head from my pillow high enough to get a better view through the bedroom door. I could easily see the far corner of the living room, the recliner and the front door, and there was nobody standing there, maniacally dialing the same number over and over on the phone. With my head up and both ears uncovered, I could also tell that the noise was not coming from the living room. It was coming from My Darling B’s side of the bed, where she was very lightly snoring into her own pillow in such a way that she sounded exactly like the dial of a rotary phone.

If only I could learn to do that, I thought as I fell asleep again.


image of toy dinosaursMy Darling B and I spent the afternoon shopping for clothes. And here’s just one more reason I have to believe she’s the perfect match for me: We both feel that the only thing more painful than shopping for clothes is getting run over by a train. Wait, no: Shopping for a car is probably more painful. I’m pretty sure she’d be with me on that one, too.

Shopping for clothes can never be over and done with quickly enough. Even when I know exactly what I want, and I know exactly where it should be in the store, and the store just happens to have it in my size, it will still take me at least an hour and a half to drive to the store, go into the store, grab the clothes I want, pay for the clothes, get out of the store and drive home. An hour and a half of my weekend is a lot more time than I’m willing to give up for anything but the things I enjoy doing, or absolutely must do.

Unfortunately, we had both put off buying clothes for so long that I was down to the last pair of pants that were good enough to wear in mixed company. I had a few not-so-grubby ones that I could still wear in public, but only if I knew I wouldn’t be going anyplace fancier than the hardware store, or to a place where I knew the lights wouldn’t be very strong, like a corner tavern, or a dungeon. B was in a somewhat similar fix. Looking for new clothes had become something we absolutely had to do, so, with gritted teeth, we saddled up and headed across town to the Hilldale Mall.

B had the idea that she could get what she wanted at Macy’s. That turned out to be wrong, mostly. I think she said she found a handbag there that was exactly what she was looking for, “but I can get it cheaper on the internet.” It turned out she was totally wrong about that. The one at Macy’s was a steal. Well, maybe not exactly a steal, but more affordable than any she could find on teh intarwebs. Now she’ll have to go back.

Macy’s had a pleasant surprise in store (accidental pun) for me: Pants by Dockers. Lots of stores carry Dockers, but never in my size. In fact, I think it’s a state law that Dockers can sell pants in Wisconsin only if they have a waist no smaller than 40 inches. If you’d ever been to the Monroe Cheese Festival, you’d know why. But Macy’s must have been granted a waiver, or somebody goofed up the order, because they had two pairs of Dockers pants in a 33 waist, and I snapped them both up. Didn’t even care that they were priced at fifty-eight bucks apiece. I had to have them. Weirdly, when I checked out, the guy scanned the price tag, then got a little sheet of bar code stickers out of his cash register, peeled one off and placed it on the price tag over the original bar code and scanned it again. He did the same thing to the other pair of pants. I got them both for seventy-something bucks total, so there must have been an unadvertised sale going on. Score!

But the shoe selection at Macy’s was dismal, nothing but very stylish dress shoes, and running shoes. What I really needed was a pair of walking shoes, so I left the store by the main entrance to see what the rest of the mall had to offer and came face to face with a North Face store. That’s too many faces to be coincidental. And besides, North Face wouldn’t sell crappy shoes to hikers, right? So I barged right in and asked the first salesperson I ran into about walking shoes.

She wanted to sell me a pair of flashy running shoes, all shiny silver trimmed with traffic yellow. “Have you got a good walking shoe I could also wear if I wanted to stop into a nice place for a drink?” I asked her. “Something, um, normal-looking?” And indeed she did, a nice all-terrain shoe with leather uppers. She even had it in my size.

Back at the mall, My Darling B was having no luck at all searching for jeans or shirts among the available clothes. She wasn’t doing much better with the shoes. There was one pretty good shoe store at the mall, but a dozen or so people were competing for face time with the few salesmen on staff, so she gave up on that. We regrouped outside Macy’s to discuss our options and she decided to try one more time down the other way, while I amused myself in the toy store. They had dinosaurs. There’s still no toy better than a toy dinosaur.

Eventually, we had to make a trip to the Kohl’s store right down the road from the neighborhood where we live to find some jeans she could live with. They’ve got sparklies on the butt, but I guess she’s okay with that. I’ve never seen her with sparklies on her butt before. It’s a new thing for me. Maybe a good thing. I’ll have to think about it a while.


image of clockCouldn’t sleep in this morning. I was trying, but when I crawled back into bed after a quick trip to the bathroom during the wee small hours, I heard a ticking or scratching sound, very faint but very persistent, in the bedroom. There was probably a mouse behind the book case or poking around in the closet, or maybe the house was settling. It was a pretty cold night.

But the noise was so annoying that, after ten minutes of listening to it, I sat up in bed to see if I could figure out which direction it was coming from. My attentiveness must’ve unnerved My Darling B. I thought she was asleep, but after I sat there for a minute she asked, “What?” in her wide-awake voice.



She paused, trying to decipher what I’d said, decided she couldn’t, and asked: “Bat?”


“No, that.

Pause. “Fat?”

“T, H, A, T: That. That ticking noise.” I laid back down and tried not to think about it. “Probably just the cat.”


“Great,” she said. “Now I hear it.”

I gave up sleeping, got out of bed and went to the kitchen to brew a big pot o’ joe. Felt pretty bad about leaving her there to try to sleep through the ticking, but I didn’t know what I could do about it, other than lay there, wide awake, listening to it myself and getting more annoyed by the minute.

As I sat in my basement lair, doinking around with the internet, I heard her get out of bed and cross the living room. Obviously, she hadn’t been able to deal with the ticking noise any better than I had. I went upstairs to apologize.

She was waiting beside the kitchen table with one of my many clocks in her hand. “There’s your ticking noise,” she said, then headed off back to kick the cat out of the warm spot on her side of the bed.

There must be a word for the thought that gets stuck in your head and becomes so persistently annoying that it won’t let you sleep. Until I find out what it is, I’m going to call it batfatthat.


Apparently I missed all the fun last night. I hit the hay at about half past nine, but B stayed up late and not only got to see everything, she was right in the middle of it! That’ll teach me to go to bed just because I’m exhausted.

While B was sitting up late, working on a project, she slowly became aware that Bonkers the Cat was making mouse-hunting noises. When she finally went to investigate, sure enough, she found him playing cat-and-mouse with a real live mouse. She went away for a couple minutes to find a jar or plastic take-out box to catch the mouse in so she could release it later, but when she came back she found only Bonkers sitting in the middle of the living room floor with the tail of a mouse hanging from his muzzle.

“Did you eat it?” she squeaked at him. “Aghhh! Spit it out! Spit it out! Yuck!” And so on.

Bonkers was not only completely oblivious to her squeamish reaction, he also appeared to be trying to swallow the mouse, and eventually succeeded, prompting a lot more yelling and squealing from the aforementioned squeamish B, who not only continued to make a lot of noise about it, she said she even jumped around in circles a little bit. I, somehow, managed to sleep through the whole thing.


No zombie dreams last night, thank goodness. No dreams at all that I can remember. I was so bushed after dinner that I could barely hang on long enough to drag myself to bed before I fell asleep. I had plans to stay up late enough to sand and finish the book shelves in the extra room, but hitting the hay early to get a full night’s sleep sounded like a much better use of my time. That’s how the zombies get you, by the way. You fall asleep at the wrong time and, next thing you know, they’re munching on your innards. That’s how the pods steal your body, too. And how the Wicked Witch of the West gets your shoes. There really isn’t a safe time to go to sleep, even in cheery kid’s movies.

My Darling B and I had to fold some of the mountain of clothes that have piled up in the baskets on top of the washing machine over the past week. We’ve been champion procrastinators about this, putting it off night after night for at least a week, so last night I set up the television at the end of the coffee table and popped a DVD from the first season of The Big Bang Theory into the player, then cranked up the theme song to lure her into the living room and sit down on the sofa where I’d moved all the laundry baskets. She fell for it. In just two episodes, we folded forty-two million pieces of clothes. Now I just have to figure out how to get her to put her clothes away.

Then, we tried to play Boggle, but I was already having a hard time staying awake. I got one really good word, “footsie,” but the rest were all three- and four-letter words, and my scores got worse as the game went on. I capitulated (that would be one hell of a good Boggle word) after playing just a half-hour or so, brushed my teeth and went to bed to read. I managed to stay awake long enough to finish two chapters of Just My Type, but only because I kept dropping the book on my face. I may have to go back and re-read some of it tonight.


The cats may have locked me out of my laptop. When I came home this afternoon It was sitting on the sideboard by the front window with the top up. The monitor was dark and wouldn’t come back on so I had to force it to shut down. Then, after I booted it up again, I couldn’t get the mouse cursor to move or get any response at all when I tried the function keys, control-alt-delete or any of that other magic. Tried starting it up again in safe mode – still no luck getting it to respond. “You could call customer service,” My Darling B suggested, but we popped in a DVD and watched the second episode of Luther instead. It’s so strange hearing Idris Elba speak with a British accent after all those years listening to his Stringer Bell Baltimore lingo. And we’ve both got such a tin ear for Britspeak now that we have to turn on the subtitles. Still, there’s no question it was a much better way to spend my time on a week night than listening to hold music for sixty minutes while waiting for a tech support rep to answer.


Here’s how you make it rain: You dig up all the onions in your garden and lay them out to dry in the sun for a day or two.

The amount of rain you get will be inversely proportional to how much tender loving care you have bestown upon your garden. When growing onions in a window box on a lark, you might bring on a brief shower, or perhaps a cloudburst. A decent crop of onions that have received middling care might bring on a day or so of moderate rain. More heartbreak equals more rain.

Bringing down rain in this manner requires some preparation: Plant a garden, spend every spare moment of your free time pulling weeds and squashing bugs, wait until just the right time to pull them up. If you put your heart and soul into raising a bumper crop of several varieties of big, beautiful onions, then the very night that you pull them out of the ground and lay them proudly on a bed of straw to dry out before putting them up in the cellar, that very night you are so very certain to get rain that it would be a guarantee if only someone would issue the certificates.

So remember: If the weather in your part of the country is trending toward drought and you want relief, don’t go looking for a rain man – befriend a gardener instead.


A few bits and pieces of last night’s dream floated to the surface of my memory while I was making the morning pot o’ java:

Waiting in line with about a half-dozen commandos to storm the play room of a Chuck E. Cheese. Being scooped up by the petals of a giant plastic flower. Petals transformed into helicopters that whisked me away to a cell roughly the size of O’Hare airport. Walked the corridors to an in-ground pool lit from below by floodlights that made it look as though the water was on fire. My Darling B emerged from the pool, invited me to go for a dip, dived back in. Swam to the wading pool behind her. She had cocktails waiting.


According to the web site of the National Weather Service, the probability of rain this morning is a mere twenty percent. Having just come back from my morning walk a bit more damp than I was when I left the house, I can assure you that the odds are a tad greater. Satellites, focused on the cloud cover, are whirling through space; Doppler radar is measuring changes in wind velocity; trained meteorologists are analyzing the data; and all this to produce a forecast that isn’t as accurate as stepping outside to take a walk down the road.

B’s gripe with the NWS is when they set the probability of rain at one-hundred percent. The first time she saw that she nearly blew a gasket. “One-hundred percent? So there is no chance that it’s not going to rain today? They’re guaranteeing rain?” And she hasn’t become any less empathic about it over time. We’re a little excitable when it comes to the weather as predicted by the National Weather Service.