Wednesday, June 30, 2010

F*ing Cable Box

I need to rant.

Along with the summer craziness in this house that causes me to maniacally throw myself into projects, I enjoy watching Food Network, HGTV, Cooking Channel, and various assorted reality shows including my new favorite The Fabulous Beekman Boys. Somehow, the two drastically different activities keep me balanced. It's a Libra thang.

Yesterday, I sat down to have a little couch potato time only to find the holy grail of cable boxes, the MOXI, had inexplicably died. I had failed to notice that the box had quit broadcasting the time, the surest sign of life.

At first I thought it had simply come unplugged. I checked the back of the box. I located the electrical connection, and unplugged it. After counting to ten, then plugging it back in again, there was still no sign of life. I refused to accept the flatlined status of the box. I determinedly continued to push the power on button on the remote over and over again.

I could feel my face getting all screwed up starting with my pursed lips. My eyes squinted together as if I were looking at the grim reaper himself eyeball to eyeball. I imagined daring him to perform his duties.

"I am just not aiming it properly," I say aloud to myself. I did what could have looked to any onlooker as a potty dance, minus holding said parts. I began aiming the remote at the box in various angles. I was willing the magic of the remote to make itself evident any second. I eagerly anticipated the lighting up of the time clock.

Nothing. It was dead.

That's when my hot flash started. I could feel the now familiar glowing begin about mid chest then slowly start to suffuse itself through the entire trunk of my body. It was growing like a proverbial Genie out of a bottle. After the smokin' Genie filled my lungs and belly, I could feel the hot boiling blood spill over into my limbs. In seconds flat, I was one hot momma.

In more ways than one.

Phyllie was hole up with Stig in her office, so I yelled, "The F*ING cable box is dead, AGAIN!!!! Please check the internet, will ya?" She promptly complied.

"Yep, it's working. Is the phone?" she questioned.

"Yes. I checked it all already."

We have the famous BUNDLE. It is comprised of multitudinous channels on TV, the internet, and phone service all cozily bundled together with one provider. Costs a f*ing bundle of loot too.

"I'm calling Charter!" By this time I am SEEING red too, not just feeling the heat.

I march into my office turned-dog-den to retrieve my file containing all things Charter. Yes, I keep an entire file on the Charter company. Now that I think about it, there is most definitely something wrong with a company that I HAVE to keep a file where I document previous service calls.

In my flaming, furious fog, I make a mental note. Time to check on Dish. My mind starts whirring with the steps necessary to change providers.

Stop. Attend to the matter at hand. I mentally have to arm wrestle the errant thoughts. I must stay focused.

Phyl shouts from her girl cave, "Go get 'em," cheerleader style.

I still do not actually see her, but I know she is sitting in her office on her favorite reading chair with her feet propped up on another chair; her obedient Kindle snugged into her lap. The two poodles and the yorkie are lazing about at her feet. It is, after all, nap time.

I have learned over the years that when Phyl is in the middle of an addiction, there will be no getting her away from it. The addiction(s) of the moment include reading Stig Larson's crazy girl series (I think she is on book three), and chocolate walnut fudge. Now to be fair, she did not have any tell tale signs of chocolate on her lips, so I could have stood a chance of getting her involved in my ass kicking, but really, I can handle this thing myself.

I rifled through the papers in the file to find the official Charter phone number. I hate those "Call 1-800-Charter" things. I also looked to see the last time a Charter service person graced our home. It was on June 9th. I knew the tracked-in mud was barely dry on my lovely fake, slate floor tile from their last visit.

I remember the day very well. I had to come home early from work to be available for the technician. The only good thing about having to be home to meet the technician was it was the last day of school. I was eager to get home. Grades were posted, everything was packed up for the summer. I was DONE.

I begin to feel a new roiling start up. This one coming from my toes.

I immediately start talking to myself in very soothing tones. Calm down now. Make sure you are nice and calm when you start this conversation. Nothing good will come of it if you immediately start the conversation by ripping the poor unsuspecting a new one. Somewhere in my consciousness resides a rational voice.

I fake being calm very well. Inside, I am a tempest. After working with the criminal element of society, trying to teach them English, everyone's favorite subject, I have perfected my game face. To the world I can seem very calm, but inside my head, I am having quite a lively ass-ripping conversation with myself and whomever I am currently at odds with.

"Welcome to Charter Communications. Listen to the menu items carefully and ...."

Keep calm. Slow your breathing.

My first menu item is, "Do you want English?

I press one.

After listening to a mind numbing list of possibilities, and none of them MY problem, I finally shout OTHER!!.

I immediately hear music. A soothing computer voice has informed me my call will be answered in the order it has been received. In other words, Don't hang up or you go to the end of the line, asshole.

I continue to count one, two, three as I slow my breathing. I realize I am gripping the hell out of the handset on the phone. I believe my fingers have turned white.

Finally, a human. A human, with a slight Jamaican accent, welcomes me to Charter Communications and asks what he can do to assist me.

At least I am not in India, I think to myself. I have been there many times before. I hear it is a lovely country, the people very polite, but my cable box is HERE.

The Jamaican begins by asking me, "Have you tried unplugging and plugging in the device?"

No shit, Sherlock "Yes. It didn't work."

"Okay. Let me see what I can do from here." Click.

Let's just say, I am still mentally counting my inhales and exhales.

Back on the line, "Looks like we will have to set up an appointment with a technician."

"Fine. I want a NEW MOXI box as well as a Charter trained technician. The last time, June 9th, the guy, a sub contractor, tried THREE boxes before he could find one that worked. I had nothing but trouble with that service call."

I, calmly and succinctly, began my recounting of the previous dead MOXI service call.

"First he was HOURS late. I called two times to see if he was coming.He finally showed up at 6:30 pm, hours late. Great.

Next, when he unplugged the first box, he did not look to see how it was hooked up. He just ripped out the plugs. When he started to plug them back in, somehow there was no color on the TV set. What?"

I guess my poker face failed that time because the technician took one look at me and immediately started ripping out cords.

I continued, "After the stereo system had been disconnected, and we both removed the television set itself from it's hole in the wall, it was determined that whomever set the service box up in the first place did not do it properly.

WTF? "That was FOUR years ago!!!!" I told the guy.

I am still trying to remember to breathe rhythmically. Now, I am back on track. I begin to replay the tape in my head as I relay the debacle with a voice as if I were reporting the event on the evening news. The only thing I lacked was the microphone. I carefully recount the innumerable Peter Principle antics of the two and one half hour service call.

I ended with, "And the box never did get placed online that particular night. I was patient. I agreed that he could redeem himself by coming back tomorrow to complete getting the thing online."

The service technician pleaded with me, "I will do it on my own time. Just give me a chance to make it right."


In one of the last phone calls made to the home office, I overheard him talking to the dispatcher. He did not want an unsatisfactory report on his record. I wanted to help him out, but I remained doubtful.

Why is it I have a hard time kicking someone's ass when they are right there in my home? I saw his frustration painted like a Picasso on his face. I know how technical things can go awry even in the hands of a most capable person. In the hours he was in my home, I learned a few things about the young man.

First, he was a trained biologist. I suggested he get himself to the Gulf immediately. Maybe there were a few birds he could wash off instead of plugging in patched together, old ass MOXI's for a living. He did get a bit glossy eyed as if he was contemplating my suggestion.

"It's the economy," he sighed his reply.

After offering him a cookie because he had missed his dinnertime, I learned he was a bit of a bodybuilder, and I could see the effects of that labor. He politely refused my cookie offer by telling me he was going to, "Get a pizza for dinner."

Now there's a healthy dinner.

I rolled my eyes and listened to the logical one in my head.

That and quite a few beers I would think, judging by the amount of frustration evident on his face.

He reminded me of my son. Just call me a an ole softy, but I actually felt sorry for the guy.

He did come back the next day, and he did get the thing working.

Or so I thought until just now.

Slowly, I take a deep cleansing breath, and wait for the Jamaican to tell me when the next opening for a service call would be.

"I see we can schedule your technician for July the 4th."

"That is unacceptable. I was out of my service for days and days already once this month. You have to do better than that. Do you have a supervisor? Please just connect me to your supervisor." I am in a huff, and very clear in my demands.

The Jamaican back peddles. "I can help you. Why do you need to talk to my supervisor? That action will take much longer. I will have to put you on hold, and it will go to the queue. Then you have to wait for the supervisor, who already has a line waiting to talk to her."

"I am HAPPY to wait for the supervisor. Please connect me."


"Okay, but in the meantime I will check the schedule to see if I can get you a technician to your home any sooner. Please hold."

By this time I have started pacing around the house. I end this part of the conversation with the Jamaican by standing right in front of Phyl, in her girl cave.

Phyl, voyeuristically, enjoys sicking me on problems. She was smiling broadly, and gave me a thumbs up.

The Jamaican is back, "How about tomorrow between one and three p.m.?"

"Oh, so MAGICALLY, in 15 seconds you have managed to find me a service time DAYS before the proposed last date? Wow, I'm impressed." The sarcasm oozed from my pores.

Phyl covered her mouth so the Jamaican wouldn't hear her hysterical screams of laughter.

"Yes ma'am. Do you still want to talk to my supervisor?"


"May I ask why?"

"Because I wish to register my complaint about the MOXI boxes."

He sounds resigned. I wonder how many brownie points he looses when his customers ask for the supervisor.

The supervisor comes on line inside of a minute. That queue wasn't so full after all.

"Yes, may I help you?" It's Ashley. She sounds perky yet professional. I imagine her with blond hair, and dressed casually. Maybe with a pink polo shirt, and a pair of loose fitting tan Dockers. I hear other operators in the background. I imagine I am talking to the Queen Bee in her nest.

"I wish to register my complaint about the MOXI boxes. As you may already know by looking at my account, I had another service call on this MOXI earlier in this month." My pace is steady.

"Yes." She is quick to reply, yet perfectly trained to listen at this point.

I continued telling her my story. "The last three boxes the previous technician tried did not work. This one is refurbished and looks as if it has been through the all the wars to date. It is all scratched and banged up. Can I PLEASE get a NEW one?" The pace of my breathing begins to quicken.

Ashley assures me she has placed that request on the order docket. "Does it HAVE to be MOXI, or can it be another brand?"

"Look, I am not married to this MOXI. I only say MOXI because I thought that is the type of service I am paying for. All I want is for the damned thing to work. I want it to record. I want to watch On Demand. I want the channels I am paying for. By the way, do I get a credit for the days of service I am NOT getting?"

"Yes, you can get a refund. Just call us back when the service is connected again and we will credit your account."

"Wrong answer. Why can't you front load the missing days? Why do I, the paying customer, have to call you? Can't you deduct the days of non-service right now?" My jaw is starting to get tight. My eyes are getting squinty again.

Phyl raises her hand to give me a high-five.

"Of course, let me take care of that right now." Ashley sounds resigned.

"Is there anything else I can help you with?" Ashley hopes not. I can hear her brain.

"Yes, could you please make sure the company sends out a Charter TRAINED technician? The last guy you sent me was a nightmare." I give it up on poor Nick. Without thinking about his plight, I told BIG TIME on Nicky boy. Secretly, I am thinking up my justification for turning snitch.

Maybe this will get him back to his calling. Yep, Nick, you can thank me later.

"The last guy you sent here came two and a half hours late to begin with." I recount the entire story complete with wire ripping and reattachment woes. I even ratted out the fact that the service was not complete until the next day when Nick came by on his lunch hour to finalize the connection.

"I mean, really, how f*ing hard can it be to hook up a few cables to a box? Come on now."

I really did feel bad for poor Nick, but I am on a roll.

"Well, I can certainly understand your frustration now. I am sorry. I have made an additional note to send out a Charter trained technician. They will give you a call tomorrow if that cannot be accomplished."


"Oh, no. They better be here tomorrow at the established time. My time is worth something too. I have been a loyal Charter customer for years and years. I am getting sick of this run around. How much does it cost to get me out of my contract?" I continue to try to remember to breathe normally. I really feel like I want to stamp my foot, but I successfully control that urge.

"I don't know. I will have to connect you to that department. Would you like me to do that when we are finished with our business?" I can tell Ashley is working the clock to get me off her line NOW.


"Is there ANYTHING else I can help you with right now?" She sounds hopeful that she has done her best, and I shall be shuttled off to the next unsuspecting....


"Okay, hold on one moment and I will connect you to the services department."

Lickety split I am off Ashley's line, and here comes Tammy.

"Good afternoon. I understand you wish to see about your price guarantee?"

I am a bit confused. Price guarantee?

"No. I want to see if we signed a contract, and if so, how much time is left on it?"

"Do you mind me asking why?" She is perfectly demure.

Here we go again. Eye roll please.

For the third time inside of ten minutes I recount my tale of woe.

Tammy listens as trained.

When I have finished regaling her with the entire story, Tammy offers a genuine sounding disappointed apology.

I accept her apology, and immediately head for the phone book.

I make a mental note. Signed contract has now become a Price Guarantee. Check.

I am unfazed. I have worked myself into an absolute lathered frenzy. I feel like I have just scored a tie in a major tug of war battle. I can actually feel my chest heaving with every breath.

Crazy Grandma vs Charter Cable Co.

I think, This would make a great training call. I am sure to be a hit. Nobody could make this shit up.

Today, in a matter of hours, I will see if there will be a resurrection of my services for the second time this month.

It is currently 1:38 in the afternoon. My scheduled appointment time was between one and three p.m. I just received a computer generated phone call confirming my technician will be here between 2:15 and 3:15. Additionally, I am informed I need to be over 18 to allow the work to proceed. I think I have that one handled. The nice computer lady asks if I can confirm my appointment time? I pressed the 'yes' button.

If that damned box goes out again, I am ready with the phone numbers of Charter's competition.

I feel a bit worried about who I might encounter today. I hope I can be on my best behavior, but there are no promises.

I am positively jonesing for my Food Network fix. It's time for lunch!!!!

P.S. It is now 3:34 and J.T. (James Thiessen, yes I spelled it right the first time) has left the building. I am a satisfied customer. Cable did right hiring that young man.

At precisely 2:38 the doorbell rang. The poods went nuts, as usual. After corralling them into the backyard, I was able to open the front door.

My heart was filled with trepidation.

It needn't have been.

When I opened the door a slight breeze entered on the smile of J.T.

From his "Hi, my name is J.T." to "this is how you use your new remote," I enjoyed having J.T. be my installation guy. He had a genuine smile, and a fantastic sense of humor.

The best thing? He had a brand new cable box!!! I KNOW it was brand new because it was wrapped in plastic.

I think Charter sent in the Calvary to complete this project.

Now, Charter boys and girls, can you PLEASE get rid of the ancient MOXI boxes? Your customers will thank you, and maybe even continue receiving your services as well.

You know you are on probation here at this residence.

Secondly, could you please get rid of those damned boxes so your techs can do their job efficiently as well? There is absolutely no excuse for a company of your caliber to be forcing your employees to deal with inferior equipment.

Thanks J.T. I've got your number buddy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Making Sense of it All

I feel pressure. What I imagine my body would feel like if I were, say, 50 feet underwater. A little panicky because I can't breathe as easily as I can above water. My analogy is probably some weird kind of mixed metaphor, but that is as good as I can come up with to help you, dear reader (and myself), excuse why I have not posted in a while.

Every time I have had a couple of moments to jot down a few thoughts, there comes a squeezing around my diaphragm. I wonder if it some kind of mental python I have conjured up to keep my fingers off the keyboard because I lack confidence? I tend not to do things that hinder my ability to deliver oxygen to the cells. Maybe it is simple avoidance behavior. Some might call it smart, but could it also be an excuse for laziness?

Every writer is told to write for an audience. I don't know who my audience is. Who reads blogs? I know I write because I need to keep track of what the hell I am doing. My memory is going to shit, and I would like to have some chronicle of life after menopause.

No, I feel pressure to live up to imagined expectations. I am such a putz. NO, I don't mean putz as in the second definition of the online dictionary either. Last I checked, I did NOT have any kind of vulgar penis.

I believe I started this blog in order to chronicle my summer adventures, primarily as a Crazy Grandma. Now, I am up against a wall trying to figure out what is acceptable for me to write about. Does this blog have a personality? Can I only write about humorous activities, how about just plain life?

I have no easy answer.

In the absence of an easy answer, a clear directive from an editor, or anyone standing over my shoulder with a whip yelling, "WRITE, DAMN YOU, WRITE!!!" I have decided to channel Virginia Woolf.

It has been suggested that perhaps I could be a Grannie Evanovich, but I think I lack the discipline to stay with one style. Don't get me wrong, I love Stephanie Plum. I think though, I might be some kind of a weird hybrid between Stephanie, her grannie, and her hooker sidekick. No, that is much too disturbing of an idea to admit even to myself.

Lately, I have been reading a lot of James Patterson, but I definitely know my brain can't plot out a story with as many twists and turns and still manage to make sense in the end. I am no James Patterson.

No, I believe I will stick with Virginia. I remember some lovely days spent reading her stream of consciousness stories. I still have a favorite one I think about intermittently. I have tried numerous times to find a copy of it, and I can remember most of the details of the story. I think it is called "Lady in the Looking Glass." It isn't particularly pithy, but somehow the style of writing perfectly captures the moment. The story is about a woman sitting in a room and looking at a mirror that is reflecting a path outdoors. A mailman comes and delivers the mail then leaves. That's it. Well I thought that was all it was about until I did some more research. Turns out it is indeed a narrative about examining oneself. I guess that is what I am up to. Virginia had her style, I shall evolve mine.

That IS it. Life is a string of moments. Some worthy of the labor needed to bring them to life on a blank piece of paper. Others, not.

I worry that I run the risk of capturing the wrong moments, but really, how could that be? I need to talk myself down off that ledge.

I can be writing about a particular moment, and simultaneously follow connections to other similar moments even before I get the slippery sucker of a moment corralled onto the paper. Who says writing isn't a physical sport?

Or perhaps what I describe is the essence of the menopausal mind? Ya think?

I really don't have a clue.

All I know is along with the pressure I feel to create something worthy of reading, I also have the pressure to get these moments documented. I want my grandbabies to know how much fun I am having being a part of their lives two days a week.

I do feel though that my life is about more than being a grandma. A person doesn't make it to be 56 years old only to live for the moment they can be called grandma. Or in my case, Crazy Grandma.

BTW I will talk about that moniker at a later date, remind me will ya?

No, I guess I need to write to hear myself think. The act of writing actually forces my brain to go in somewhat of a straight line. Something I desperately need right now.

School is out. I have only two days per week where my days are ordered for me. The rest of the week I tend to float about flitting from one activity to another. Kinda like a balloon on a lazy windless day. Those days are easy. Sweet.

Other days I fight mightily because I am a kite in a 100 mph wind storm.

Like yesterday.

I spray painted the backgrounds to three boards for yard art, eight patio chairs, a love seat, and finally two tables. All this activity took place on the hottest day of the year so far. I tried to combat the heat by wearing a bathing suit. Good thing I have a high fence. No, I am not sunburnt, but I almost suffered heat stroke despite periodically dousing myself with water from the hose.

My right forefinger is still numb from holding down the spray nozzle on the cans for such a prolonged period of time. I don't give it any credence because I know it will eventually gain feeling again, either in this life or the next. It obeys my commands, and it is only slightly irritating that I cannot actually feel what it is touching.

I learned a long time ago not to sweat the small stuff.

Oh, and I also incurred a small gash in my left hand. I had locked myself out of the garage because a gust of wind came through slamming shut the self locking door.


I could not gain the attention of my dearly beloved because she was ensconced in her latest Stig Larson book, deep in the bowels of the house. I had no other option but to scale the fence.

It wasn't a big deal until my flip flop got caught on the way over, and I lost my balance. Thankfully, my hands still had some grip left in them because I got a hold of the top of the big wooden fence. This action kept me from doing a face plant in the decorative jagged rocks.

I am happy to report the ragged top of the fence only ripped a tiny chunk of skin as I catapulted myself over the attached, and very wobbly, wire dog barrier.

I put up said enclosure up to keep the poods from eating my tomato plants. Last year, Lula Mae waited until the peak of ripeness before plucking my long awaited tasties. I was determined to have my tomatoes this year for my Giada recipes. So far, the tomatoes are unmolested. I just have to remember to water them daily.

Back to the story.

Once I stumbled over the fence(s) and made it into the house, I scarcely missed a beat. Staggering into the bathroom, I put some triple antibiotic ointment on the slash, slapped a bandaid on, and headed back to my project armed with my precious paint cans.

Phyllie made some mention of the redness of my face, but apparently it wasn't bad enough to drag her away from Stig.

Or derail me from my painting mission.

All I could think about was how it really sucks to have your cans of paint on the OTHER side of the dog fence. I felt rather Pavlovian as I looked at the cans just out of my reach. I think I was particularly worried about being spotted in my bathing suit, jello thighs and all. Between wanting to get on with my project, and the realization of what I actually looked like in pursuit of my painting pleasures, I would have climbed razor wire to get out of my predicament.

Thankfully that wasn't necessary.

After approximately four hours spent in the blazing sun, and some partial shade, I had a tremendous feeling of accomplishment when I completed my projects. The daughter has always said, "If it doesn't move, Mom will paint it." She is wrong there, I have painted a few moving targets in my lifetime. Ha!!!

No, I still can't figure out what I am doing with this blog, but I do know I feel much better when I get these experiences vomited onto a piece of virtual paper. It is forever frozen. I can count on it. That thought alone is very comforting to me.

For now, I will continue to write about whatever is on my mind, that is what I have left of it.

For now, it is about THE moments. The moments who allow themselves to get lassoed, wrangled and put down on paper. I will try not to let the python squeeze me too hard.

Maybe, it is that feeling of pressure which brings my lazy butt to the laptop.

Maybe, there IS no definitive reason to write except as a way for me to make sense of my life adventure.

Yes, I think I will just write, and see what makes its way out.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day Two, a Little Late

As we resume our Theraflu inspired backyard landscaping tale, please remember all this happened in a window of ten hours.

After the ever patient Christian deposited the eight bags of sand in precisely the right spots where I could simply rip open the bags and redistribute their contents, I attended to my task with renewed zeal.

I joyfully hacked opened the packages with my hoe. The stabbing of the bags was strangely therapeutic. I found that as I faced each new bag I would automatically raise my hoe higher, and strike harder with a renewed vigor. Of course there were lots of grunts and groans. Sweat poured down my cleavage as well as traced a channel down the crook of my nose. I couldn't really tell if it was sweat that dripped off the end of my nose, or the snot from my cold.

I imagined myself metaphorically hacking all the virus out of my lungs as I tore into each bag. Problem was, I think I read this disclaimer on approximately the fourth or fifth bag, "Do Not Inhale Contents. Contains Silica." stamped onto each bag.

WTF???? Here I am, hacking and HACKING, down wind no less, and inhaling as I go about my frenzied activity. Even after reading the dire warning, I did not slow down. I just changed directions.

I believe I also had a set to my jaw that frightened the poodles. Both Tito and Lula Mae lounged a good ten feet away from the wildly striking hoe. Smart poodles.

The Mominator, my 13 year old Yorkie, had seen this kind of behavior from me many times before. Even on this gorgeously sunny day, she preferred to lay on the comfy couch the entire time I was laboring. Well, once she came out and deposited a tiny tootsie roll next to all the activity. I swear she rolled her eyes when she went back into the house.

"Thanks Mommy, I needed a break." I muttered to myself as I cleaned up her addition to my project.

Slowly as I worked, bag by bag, and as I jigsawed together each piece of meshed-together by meshed-together stepping stone, the area of mud was slowly converted into a semi-patio.

I stopped for an occasional drink, or sometimes I stopped to splash water all over my snotty face. For hours I worked feverishly to complete my vision.

Remember I said I wanted it to be rustic? Good thing that was what my vision was. I managed to get the area covered. It is uneven, but do-able.

I have a warm feeling of accomplishment. I watered down the sand, and then sat on a chair on the cement patio to admire my creation.

"Looks good. It will work." I say to the poodles as they sit next to me.

I still need Christian to bring me some more sand to pour on top of the stones. Hopefully, it will fill in the cracks. After that, I will plant the small ground coverings of Alyssum and Wolly Tyme. Yes, that should do it....


Later that evening, Phyllie comes home. "I don't think the poodles will like them. I don't think they will want to romp on them."

"Excuse me, but have you checked on the poods since you got out of the shower? I saw a streak of white followed by a streak of black. I think they like the pavers just fine. Thank you very much." I replied in a huff.

"Really?" Off she goes to investigate.

True to my word, the poodles are happily celebrating the new surface. There tends to be a bit of sand flying as they race by, but I will take that any day over clomps of mud.

The project is far from over, but my main mission has been accomplished.

Now, if I could just cough up all that silica......

Friday, June 18, 2010

I've Gone and Done it Now

Friday, day seven of the now infamous cold, and I could not take it anymore. The laying around. I quit the Theraflu on day six, came out of the antihistamine induced fog, and got royally pissed off by the mud hole on the side of the house.

I love my standard poodles dearly. I even tell people I could be like the cat ladies, but instead of cats I would have tons of poodles. There is a huge problem. They have created so much destruction to the lawn it is hardly recognizable. Previously, I have only had little dogs. I was ignorant to the devastation big dogs could cause. Between the nightly high speed romping, and Lula Mae's acidic urine, we are lucky there is anything green on the ground at all. I daydream of a time when I can have acres of grass for them to romp on, but for now I must get real. I am happy to report they have quit cavorting with my flowers in their mouths, so now I can concentrate on plugging the muddy dirt holes. My plan? Stepping stones. I gathered some a while ago from my very favorite store, Homo Depot. I carted 15 packages home, and they have sat on the corner of the patio for months now. I loved them then, and I love them now.

We have a neighbor who is into landscaping. Two months ago we started the backyard negotiations. After many aborted attempts to mesh schedules along with ideas, screaming fits between the significant other and myself, horrifying costs of materials as well as labor, I have taken the bull by the proverbial horns. Mistress Phyllie, my wife, gave me carte blanche to "Create your art. That is what you are doing, isn't it"? She said with a tiny bit of fear, and a bit of trepidation in her voice. Her only requirement is that I not drag her into my insanity.

No problem, I have another helper in mind.

The mud has gotten to Phyllie as well. I don't understand why, but I know it is almost as bad as my own loathing. I think I have worn her down. Now she is as supple as the willow. Perhaps it was the constant harping I do while mopping up muddy paw prints, or the maniacal slinging of the vacuum while I mutter a string of naughty words that tend to end in "Damn Poodles."

Remember my OCD? Poor Phyllie.

I have been frustrated for months now because, you see, I have a vision. That is the one thing about me, I have this map maker in my brain. Between the map maker and my overactive imagination, I can get myself into, and sometimes out of, a whole shit load of trouble. Problem is my body isn't a young pup any longer. I don't know why my spirit continues to transmit these fabulous visions when I lack the physical ability to get 'er dun. I think they call it aging. I know I am not doing it very gracefully. Ignoring reality, I think all I have to do is figure out another way to get things done.

Eureka! I can be like the ant and the rubber tree plant. That's it. Get light pieces, and trek them in a little at a time. I can move that rubber tree plant. "I've got hi-i-igh hopes, I've got hi-i-igh hopes," I sing the little ditty to myself, what I can remember of it that is. Immediately I am hopeful.

I remembered putting in a paver patio in a new home I bought several years ago. "It wasn't that hard," I said aloud to myself. Of course that was a bit o' time ago, and lots of helpers, but I know how to do it, MYSELF. Ah, yes. That's the ticket. My brain was on fire with possibilities.

I calculated with lightening speed all of the pieces to the puzzle that had to go together to make the 564 square feet of offending mud disappear under the meshed-together multicolored slate stones. I laid out the 15 pieces of meshed-together stepping stones, jigsaw puzzle style, until I ran out of them. Then I did some visual calculations on how many more pieces I might need. Roughly 25 more ought to do it. Yes.

Now, sand. I have no idea how to calculate the amount needed to get the meshed- together pavers kinda level. I make no pretense in being a professional. I am aiming for rustic here. Not perfection. I like rustic. Especially in a backyard nature type setting. I thought the guys at Homo Depot will be able to assist in helping me determine how many 50 pound bags would be needed for that piece of the job. Here is the part which becomes very tricky. I can't possibly lift a 50 pound bag of sand, but I know someone who can. All I had to do is find out if he was available, and more importantly, willing.

Christian is my daughter's boyfriend. He is a big strong guy with a very sweet heart. He had never been involved with any of my hair brained schemes before today. I thought it was high time he get his opportunity to have some fun with the ole lady. I picked up the phone, and gave him a quick buzz. I was so thankful he was willing. He had some previous engagements he had to take care of, but he said he would call me when he was through.

I promptly put the dogs in their kennels, and I bolted for the store. I jumped into the trusty SUV, and realized I needed to first hurriedly remove the grandkids car seats. I needed the max space to cart home my booty. Details.

After stashing the booster seats in the garage behind CRZYGMA, my white Crossfire, the proverbial mid-life crisis car, I made a mental note to myself. When I get back, I need to reinstall the car seats because I tend to forget them. Nothing like having Grannie pick up the kids only to find she has left the seats at home in the garage. Simultaneously I also got a clear visual premonition of me getting in the Crossfire, firing her up, and promptly backing over the car seats because I forgot they were there. Gawd, I hope that vision doesn't come true. I shook myself awake from that nightmare, and headed off.

Before I could get to Homo Depot, I decided I needed some nourishment. I pondered the possibilities. Should I have the Mesquite Chicken on parmesan/rosemary bread from Quiznos? That sandwich is one of my all time favorites, but I had it for lunch yesterday. Humph. I mentally ran the other get-it-and go possibilities in the same shopping area in my head. I couldn't decide until I turned the corner and saw a Carl's Jr. sign. Santa Fe Chicken sandwich immediately popped into my mind. Even my taste buds ignored their sorry state and they gave a woo-hoo too!

I was on it. I hated to waste much time on the eating thang, so I decided to do a drive by, then munch on the go. Not too bright on my part. I notoriously cannot do anything but drive. I blame the attention deficit on my advancing age. I cannot fathom how my daughter can listen to music, as well as text and talk at the same time while driving. It's a mystery to me.

I recently learned I had to pay close attention to the driving at hand because a couple of months ago I was taking the grandchildren to Wally World when I tried to take a free right without paying much attention to the car ahead of me. Thankfully, I had already come to a full stop once. Otherwise the damage would have been much worse than the little nudge I gave the car ahead of me.

Invariably, my grandson will remind me of my "accident" whenever we are out driving. I worry he is scarred for life. That bit of information flashed in my consciousness instantaneously like a bolt of lightening. I shuttered.

I decided to put my Santa Fe Chicken burger down on my lap, but I did nab a burning hot french fry. After the first bite, the remainder of the furiously hot nubbin was chucked next to the chicken sandwich. Yeow, my tender taste buds were complaining. I grabbed a gulp from my diet Pepsi.

I was back to paying attention to getting myself safely to my destination. I chuckled aloud when I looked about to the other speeding motorists who were oblivious to me having taken my task seriously enough not to put their lives in jeopardy.

Finally, I arrive in the parking lot of Homo Depot. I picked a spot next to the gardening entrance. I hurriedly gulped down the chicken burger and a few fries while I listened to my country music. A guy in a gray Lexus SUV pulled in next to me. He smirked at me when he got out of his car. I imagined he would NEVER listen to country music. Smooth jazz maybe, but decidedly not country.

Unfazed, I bounded out of the car. I immediately began surveying the parking lot for the perfect cart. I was in luck, there were numerous flat orange carts just outside the garden gates. Problem is, they are unwieldy. After I fight with the cart, I manage to get it semi-heading in a bee line for the entrance. The cart looked like a dog on a trot. You know, the hind end seemed like it was moving faster, trying to catch up with the front end in parallel fashion. I knew where the held-together-by-mesh stepping stones were the last time I bought some, so I steered the flatbed in that direction. Thankfully, there were not many customers. There were no casualties.

I started loading the flexible yet held-together-by-mesh stones onto my cart as I sang, "She has hi-i-igh hopes, she's got hi-i-igh hopes.
She's got pie, apple pi-i-ie in the sky-y-y hopes," as I merrily loaded the stones.

Christian called.
"Do you still need some help? I'm done."

"Yepee. Yes," I tell him where I can be found. He arrives just after I had to get a clerk to help me load up some stones because they were out of my reach.

"I will finish this here. Can you go into the store and get some bags of stepping stone sand? I was in earlier, and I am afraid the guy will recognize me because I ordered some stuff and then decided I did not want to go with what I picked out. I had to cancel a $650 order. You can ask anyone of the guys there which bag of sand is the type to use with pavers." I am confident he could pull it off. Silently, I blame my gaffe on the fact I think I was still under the influence of Theraflu a tiny bit.

Fifteen minutes later, Christian is victorious. We meet up in the parking lot to load up the bounty. I am astonished to see Christian load TWO fifty pound bags of sand simultaneously into his Durango. Next, I turn to see the clerk, a fine strapping young man, take a pile of seven stepping stones, not the held-together-with-mesh kind. These are the real deal pavers. The blond youth effortlessly loads the huge pile at one time. My mouth gapes open.

I ask him if he wants to come home with me to help unload. He is kind and only rolls his eyes and says, "Sorry ma'am." I wondered how many times a day he gets asked that same question.

Finally, we make our way home. Again I marveled at Christian taking two 50 pound bags out of the car simultaneously, and dutifully marching them to their appointed destination. I fluttered around bringing in the various six-packs of ground cover I intended to place between the meshed-together stepping stones. After the very patient Christian finished bringing in the heavy stones, I did notice a bit of sweat on his brow.

Maybe it was a little difficult for him after all. I didn't get a chance to offer him anything to drink because he was summoned home. Off he went.

The 50 pound bags of sand were placed perfectly. I tore into them with my hoe.

The real work had just begun...

See part two tomorrow, that is if I can type!!!!! I finished the 564 square feet all by myself.

After my shower, I took two Advil and a Benedryl. In my haste to get started on the long overdue project, I forgot to put on sunblock. My lips are burning, and my typing fingers are giving out.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What happens to????

Ever wonder what happens to the snot that gets dried up when you take that lovely flu medicine?
I have a summer cold, and that thought is the first one I had this morning when I awoke to wracking spasms of coughing at 2:30 a.m. I don't particularly care to have an answer to the question, all I really want is for the hacking to stop.
I stumbled out of bed and headed for the 'sick cup' whereby I can warm my hot water to place the Theraflu. I try to hit the appropriate buttons on the microwave, precisely one minute and not another second more, so I can get that warming liquid into my body to stop the infernal machine gun fire sounding hack.
My lungs hurt. My stomach hurts. Most of all, my throat hurts.
I checked my throat yesterday with a hand mirror. After some thought as to how I was going to shine a light and hold a mirror at the same time, I believed I had found the perfect lighting solution. Good thing no one could see me in the backyard (or can they???). No matter. I am a woman on a mission. Some how visual confirmation of what I feel is the only thing that will satisfy my OCD.
I grabbed the hand mirror from the bathroom, and headed out to the backyard. It was early morning. First, I tried looking straight into the sun holding the mirror out in front of me. My rationale was flawed. Instead of the sun shining straight into the back of my throat like a flashlight, it blinded me so I could not see my throat even if the shadow cast from my front teeth weren't there. Moron.
Next, I decide to flip around with the sun to my back. If that darned sun was so blinding perhaps I could capture it in the mirror and reflect it back into the mucus cavern I called my throat.
I searched for evidence of strep. I, of course, know nothing about strep except I had heard it looks like streaks. I saw streaks, or are they? Blotches were more like it. The road map of red veins captured my attention for a few seconds, then I was on to sleuthing out the source of the infernal irritation. EEEWWWW, I grew wide eyed as I spotted the whitish spots. Irregular in shape and dotting the back of my throat. Victory! Now I have something to visualize when I whine about the soreness of my throat with every breath I take.
Somehow that knowledge brings me comfort. Sometimes I think I am a hypochondriac. Or maybe I am from the great state of Missouri. I need to see it to believe it. In any event, I march back into the house feeling weirdly relieved.
Another day passes. Therafluing it every four hours; narcoleptically going through the hours of the day and night. Actually I started out with the classic Nyquil, but it just wasn't cutting it. I really dig the warm liquid as I slowly sip the cup of lemon flavored magic down. That is when I can get it down without spilling half of it on myself because I am hacking up a lung.
Precious liquid spilled. I NEED it in me, not on me.
I am happy to report as of day three I have now perfected the containment process. Perhaps I should call BP and offer my services????
Day three passes like day two with the exception of an entire hour of my life devoted to paralyzing spasms of cough so bad they could only be relieved with a steam shower. How is it possible to cough and wretch at the same time?
I turned up the AC, it is 90 degrees outside, and step into the soothing effects of the steam. It takes a couple of minutes for the steam to work its magic. As I stand naked, coughing and wretching, I look out through the fog to see three sets of brown eyes peering at me. Both standard poodles and my tiny yorkie are in attendance. They wait patiently for me to emerge so they can lick me dry. A real oxymoron, isn't it?
I finally get myself calmed down, dried off, and blow dried. I dig out the Mentholatum and slather my chest and under my nose. I get a nice warm t-shirt and wrap some towels around my chest. I put some mentholated magic on a washcloth with the intent of sniffing it whilst I sit staring like a zombie at the television.
All 12 legs pitter patter after me as I drag my hacking self back into the living room. I am exhausted by the 20 minutes of extreme exertion of taking my shower. I do feel a bit better though.
I begin making cup after cup of warm water with lemon squeezed into it and a single teaspoonful of honey. The uncontrollable coughing ceases. For the minute.
I get myself into bed and sleep like a dream for four hours. At precisely 2:30 a.m. I am awakened by a renewed attack of coughing.
Now we are back to where we started. I am thinking why cough if there is nothing to cough up???? Day four of Theraflu has taken care of the presumably copious amounts of mucus I should be producing if I had not been so diligent in medicating my symptoms. Where is the liquid? Should I be trying to get rid of it? What if my body needs to produce it to get rid of the vicious virus? Have I somehow short circuited the body's defense mechanisms and thereby actually participate in prolonging my misery? I guess I will never know. I crave relief from these nasty symptoms.
Today, day four, I went to the doc just to make sure strep wasn't in the picture. After going through the litany of things I am allergic to, the final diagnosis is, "Go home and do whatever you have been doing. Oh, and drink lots of fluids."
I left there feeling both relieved and confused.
I forgot to ask him where all that liquid goes.