Monday, February 22, 2010


Papaw, my paternal grandfather, would be appalled at how sloppy my signature has become since the advent of those electronic signature devices you use when you pay with a credit card at a store now. My digital signature looks very little like my signature when I use an ink pen, so much that I'm genuinely surprised that it's ever accepted by the electrons in charge of signature approval. I blame this on the electronic reader. There's usually a lag time between the moment I first put the stylus to the display screen and when my first initial actually appears on the screen. By then I'm well into writing my first name, and the delayed appearance of my electronic initial startles me so much that I focus on the lag time instead of actually writing my name. Sometimes the electronic screen picks up the movement of the stylus even when it's not actually touching the screen, and this creates an awful snarl of lines and letters. When I'm done, you really can't tell if I've written my name or "Theodore Dostoevsky" instead.

But I can tell that my handwritten signature has also gotten sloppier over the years as well. Maybe because I halfway expect the ink on the paper to suddenly snarl itself just like the way my electronic signature usually does. When I was little, Papaw would make me practice writing my name in cursive over and over again. I have a vague memory of him trying to guide my arm itself rather than let my fingers direct the movement of my writing, which makes me think he had been schooled in the Palmer method of penmanship. At any rate, Papaw had beautiful handwriting and mine never seemed anywhere as elegant as his. He'd be utterly ashamed at what passes for my signature when I sign for a credit card electronically.

On the other hand, Papaw wouldn't have approved of anyone using a credit card in the first place, but that's another story.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

So I honestly thought that Mardi Gras was last Tuesday, not today. That's a fair indication of how much I'd like to wrap up February and get on with March now, thankyouverymuch. February hasn't been much more than snow, ice, cold temperatures, and cabin fever. I was telling my mom about how much snow still remains in our yard and she asked if I'd seen any daffodils yet. I don't think we're going to see any spring flowers any time soon, not unless they come equipped with a miniature flame thrower to blast through the 18-24 inches of snow and ice still on the ground here. And we got another snow squall yesterday, which thankfully "refreshed" the area of the yard we've stamped down so that our dog has had a place to use the bathroom for the last two weeks but didn't accumulate so much that our driveway returned to its previous status of a luge run.

Mom lives in Tidewater, so the concept of this much snow on the ground is completely foreign to her. Remarkably Poquoson has had two snow storms with actual snow accumulation on the ground already this year, and there's a chance that they may get even a third snow shower this week. That's a harsh winter for that part of the state, but none of the snow lasts very long. Unlike where I live, where snow that fell in mid-January is slowly compacting into a glacier under the weight of all the snow that has fallen since then. I think I heard yetis yowling in the yard Saturday night.

I may be exaggerating a little here. I believe that's one of the symptoms of cabin fever.

At any rate, I was very surprised this morning to hear that Mardi Gras is today, not last Tuesday. Some of the participants are complaining about how cool the weather has been in New Orleans the past couple of days, even dipping down to 34 degrees one night. We've had unending weeks where 34 degrees would have been a welcomed high temperature, but I'm done complaining about the weather. For today.

At least the fact that Mardi Gras is today gives me a fantastic excuse for polishing off the rest of those cheesecake bars in the fridge. Laissez les bon temps roulez, let the good times roll! Lent begins tomorrow, and while I don't observe Lent, I'd like to participate by giving up winter. Please take it away now.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Got Them Low-Down, Dirty Movin' Blues

I am tired of moving. I do not ever want to move again. I do not even want to think about the remotest possibility of moving in the next two decades. I despise the sight of cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, and packing tape. And we're still not done yet.

Honestly, if someone offered us the house of our wildest dreams in the absolutely most wonderful location for free, no strings attached, if only we'd pack up and move there next week, I'd probably kill him and stuff his dismembered body in one of the many cardboard boxes we have lying around the house at the moment. But each part would be carefully wrapped in bubble wrap and the box would be securely fastened with packing tape, 'cause that's what you do when you're moving.

Moving has been a perfect illustration of the 80/20 rule. It's taken twenty percent of our time to move the first eighty percent of our belongings, but the remaining twenty percent of the stuff still at the old house will consume 80 percent of our time by the time we're through with it.

I have a theory that cave people probably moved around from cave to cave a bit when the old cave got too full of junk and dirt. When Thagmina couldn't take the fleas and dust bunnies any longer, she probably told Thag to pack up the hides and bones and they schlepped off to stake out a new cave. Thagmina probably knew of a good cave that was available because she'd been keeping an eye on the real estate section of the Paleolithic Times. Thag probably grunted and did as he was told because it was easier that way. Moving must have been pretty easy back then as there weren't any Targets where you could buy throw pillows and scented candles and decorative plates to fill up the cave. You might have had a spear and maybe an extra fur or two to take to the new cave, but certainly you weren't going to regret buying that large entertainment center for a flat screen TV that was so big you had to take the door off to get it through the front of the cave. Besides, you'd would have been too busy scrounging for food or grooming the fleas off your mate to check out the clearance aisle at Target in the first place. At least until Thag Jr. came around, and then Thagmina probably shopped at Target every week trying to find toddler pants that would fit over a Dinosaur Jr. Pull-up and would still be long enough in the legs for her little caveman.

Wait....where was I on this rant about moving? Oh yes, the remaining twenty percent bit that's still at the old house. That's all the stuff that either 1) we just haven't had good weather to put it on the trailer and haul it over or 2) I'm not convinced I want it so much that I'm willing to pack it up and move it to the new house. As a result of scenario number two, there's a growing pile of items that would make good garage sale fodder. We got the idea that we could have an indoor garage sale and a simultaneous open house sometime in February, which is ingenious except that it's already February and we're still not done moving, the house isn't ready for sale, and a real estate agent we know has a potential buyer already identified.

I wonder if we could convince the potential buyer to also buy all the garage sale fodder along with the house? It would save us the effort of taking the front door off to move the entertainment center.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Meet the Neighbors

Our closest neighbors at the new house are of the bovine variety. Here are the girls with their youngins. They're good country people, not like them urban soccer moms you find in the big city of Ronoake.


Last night some of the girls were out in the pasture bawling their heads off. I don't know if they were nervous about the incipient snow storm that arrived after midnight, or if they were just calling their calves in from playing in the snow. Regardless, I finally had the occasion to tell someone "that the cattle were restless."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The New House List of Questions

If I could ask the previous owners of our house a list of questions, this would be the top ten in no particular order.

1. What was that white stuff that was splattered all over the kitchen floor and cabinets? Yogurt? White paint? Milk?

2. The window screens are bundled together in the garage. Did you ever use them at all in the seven years you lived here?

3. Did you ever think about wiping down the drawer front for the pull-out trash can in the kitchen? Or any of the cabinets for that matter?

4. What made you decide to take both sets of gas logs from the fireplaces and the remote for the garage door opener, but leave the shower curtains?

5. The sink in the master bathroom took ten minutes to drain due to a horrendous clog. Was that something that just didn't bother you?

6. Likewise, the shower head in the stall in the master bathroom could have been used for waterboarding at Guantánamo. Did you find this relaxing?

7. Did you ever realize that the double towel bar in the mater bathroom was installed upside down? Or that there's a mishmash of shiny chrome, oiled bronze, and gold-tone fixtures in there?

8. Did you ever think of re-plumbing the sink in the master bathroom so that the hot water came out of the hot water tap and not the cold water tap? And the garden tub, which has the same problem?

9. I'm guessing you had a yellow lab given the color of dog hair up on the log walls and the chewed up baseboards in the master bath. Am I right?

10. I realize that a log home lends itself to a certain decor, but what possessed you to put up the pine towel bar and shelf in the powder room? Did you just cut down a pine tree over in the woods, hack out a section to use as a shelf and then varnish the whole thing bark and all?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Stupid Groundhog

So, as you may have heard already, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning in Pennsylvania, signifying that we have another six weeks of winter before spring arrives. And it's been snowing here going on three hours now. Gah! I'd like to shoot the groundhog and make brunswick stew out of least the stew would help keep me warm.

It's been a long, hard winter so far and February is usually the hardest month. I find myself turning up the hot water in my shower and craving salsas and hot sauce. Soon I'll be showering in the hot sauce. I'd gladly take a week or two of August's heat and humidity right now, just for the novelty of it. Of course I know that I'll be wistful for all of this snow and sleet come August after several months of heat and humidity, but I'm willing to deal with that later.