Thursday, September 6, 2012

National Punctuation Day...

My blog writing lately is like what happens when an ellipsis is used at the end of a sentence (aka "a trailing off into silence...")... Traiiiiiliiiiing offfffff intooooo sileeeeence... That's me... What can I say... The ellipsis is one of my absolutely favorite punctuation marks...

I think I'll try to make an ellipsis cake in honor of National Punctuation Day tomorrow... Aw, heck... Maybe I'll just go buy three cupcakes and line 'em up on a plate instead...

Here's some stuff you need to know...

This is the National Punctuation Day Meatloaf, which might resemble meatloaf, a question mark, or an intestine--I'm not sure which one it is, but I do like the idea of a Punctuation Day meatloaf and the woman looks very nice.Here's some advice if you have an addiction to using the ellipsis (not like me or anything...)...

And, here's a very neatly edited letter...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Party Pooper

You will notice several things about "The Party Pooper."
1) I end this story in an unusual way. I still end all documents in this way, and I pretend that it is correct.
2) I had a very hard time drawing lines. I am not sure why we couldn't use lined paper, but we couldn't.
3) I was an ambitious writer vocabulary-wise, and if I was not sure how to spell a word I made it up. FYI: This is a good way to go. If you spell a word incorrectly, simply insist that you are correct. Because you say so.
4) I think you will find that this story has it all: intrigue...drama...seething rage, and, of course, Heather Dumbbell.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Adventures in Plumbing: Part II

The Background: Aunt's water heater died. Messily.

Act 1: The Plumber Won't Fix the Floor
Sparkle: "So, I think we should get a few estimates 'cause you didn't like that last plumber. Can you hang in there for that?"
Aunt: "Oh, sure. But, a plumber won't fix the floor, right?"
Sparkle: "No, I don't think many plumbers also fix the floor. We'll figure that out. Just get 'em to come by, I'll pay you back for the estimates, and let's find out what their prices are so we can compare them. Maybe they have someone they can recommend for the floor, but my friend says all we might have to do is put some plywood under there."
Aunt: "Oh, sure."

Aunt: "Well, I called that plumber you gave me the number for. He said he won't fix the floor!"
Sparkle: "No, I don't think many plumbers will. How much will he charge for the water heater?"
Aunt: "I didn't ask him. He won't fix the floor!"
Sparkle: "No, most plumbers won't fix the floor."
Aunt: "He said that he won't fix the floor!"
Sparkle: "No, not the floor. You're worried about the floor, I know."
Aunt: "Yes! He won't fix the..."
Sparkle: "The floor."
Aunt: "The floor."
Sparkle: "The floor."
Aunt: "Floor."
Sparkle: "Floor. Not gonna fix it."
Aunt: "Right."
Note: I am NOT making fun of my aunt. She's a very smart cookie. This is just a situation that few of us cope well with--myself included--and the floor was a big mess.

Act 2: The Plumberman
Sparkle: "GREAT! So, the Plumberman guy came by and gave you the estimate?"
Aunt: "He's here right now."
Sparkle: "Oh! Okay. So what does Plumberman have to say for himself?"
Aunt: "He'll charge XX for this, XX for that, XX for the other, XX for YY, $200 for this, and he'll fix the floor for $105.57, but we'll have to buy the plywood."
Sparkle: "The floor."
Aunt: "Right, the floor."
Sparkle: "Will he put a drip pan in?"
Aunt (asks Pman, comes back): "He will put a drip pan in for $350 extra."
Sparkle: "Okaaay. So far he's charging us too much for some things, I'm surprised he didn't mention the drip pan right away and I think that's too high, and, $105.57 does not seem right."
Aunt (to Pman): "It will really cost $105.57 for the floor and $350 for the drip pan? Oh, it will?"
Sparkle: "Thank him for his time and say you'll be back in touch."
Aunt (to Pman): "Well, I guess I'll be back in touch with you--Oh."
Sparkle: "What?"
Aunt: "He's saying if I sign the contract, he could do it right now, but we'd have to give him a downpayment right now. And he might not have any other time this week or next week."
Sparkle: "Thank him for his time and send him on his way."
Aunt (to Pman): "What's that? Oh. "
Sparkle: "What?"
Aunt: "He's saying he'll throw in the floor and the drip pan for free, but some other costs might come up along the way."
Sparkle: "All of a sudden, the drip pan and the floor are free but some other costs might come up along they way? And the drip pan and the floor cost $455.57 two seconds ago?"
Aunt (in dry, skeptical tone): "Mm-hmm."
Sparkle: "Get that guy OUT of there."
Aunt: "Mm-hmm."

Act 3: The Plumberman Clan
Aunt: "You'll never guess who I just heard from!"
Sparkle: "Wow, who?"
Aunt: "Well, I'm not positive. When I first answered the phone, he said he was the Plumberman's father. But when I asked him who he was again, he said he was 'like a father' to the Plumberman."
Sparkle: "WHAT? What did he want?"
Aunt: "Well, he said the Plumberman told him about the work I need to have done and he said he'd do it for $500 less, including the floor and the drip pan."
Sparkle: "What?"
Aunt: "He talked almost as fast as the Plumberman, so they really might be related."
Sparkle: "Who does he work for?"
Aunt: "I'm not sure. He said 'Clear Answers to Water something something' the first time and 'Waterclear Answers something something' the second time. I wrote it down."
Sparkle: "This smells like bad fish."
Aunt: "Yes, doesn't it? He said he'd fix the floor for free."
Sparkle: "I don't have a good feeling about this one."
Aunt: "No. Me, too. I told him I'd give him a call back after the other guy comes. I don't think I will."
Sparkle: "No. I wouldn't."
Aunt: "I guess he said he'd fix the floor, 'though."
Sparkle: "Yep."

To sum up: There's a lot of gators in the plumbing business--as if you didn't know that already--and she now has hot water again. And the floor? It didn't need to be fixed.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Gas Man! Gas Man! Gaaaaas Man!

Dear FerrellGasTM,

I know that I have an especially juvenile mind. Granted. But, do you know that having a superhero who looks like he is cutting the cheese (Gas Man) as your corporate mascot is just dang funny?

No? It's just me? Okay. I accept that. But, let others judge for themselves.

Have a Super Great Gassy Day!


Monday, July 2, 2012

Adventures in Plumbing...and Research: Part 1

Right now, I'm doing a lot of research for my aunt and my friend. The research for my aunt involves water heaters and plumbers--I will be the out-of-state investor in her new water heater. The research for my friend involves doctors.

Yesterday, I spoke with my aunt 250 times by phone and my friend 75 times. That was cool, I love my aunt and my friend. But, I did find that I was getting confused. Occasionally, I found myself typing up notes that looked like this:

"30 gallons ONLY they'll be ripping you off if they try to sell you residency at University of California Davis, ranked 14th in nation."

I believe I have some rich blogging material in my plumbing conversations with my aunt. We'll see whether that's true when I write it up as Part 2 of this post.

I won't be bloogingTM(Bacon Ace) about the specifics of the doctor conversations, but I must say I know more about these docs than their mothers do. And, I'm kinda drawn to ranking them in odd and rather useless ways:

1) "I do not trust this surgeon's eyes. He looks like a Vegas blackjack dealer. Not a nice one who likes to talk."
2) "This guy seems awesome! He and his wife have the cutest Web site about having their baby boy! Weird! The Web site address is the same as the nickname we used to use all the time!"
3) "Okay, this guy is younger than the others. But, maybe that's good? His hands might be steadier. He won't be as bitter. Also, he might not have that yucky god-dy attitude. In fact, he might be like that young doctor I saw last spring! The one who had mellow jazz playing as I entered the room and who sent me a thank you note after he examined me--which would have been creepy if it was something gynecological but it wasn't so it was nice instead!"
4) "I have a good feeling about this one for no particularly good reason."

Well, sure. In addition to these "intangibles" I've compiled info re: educational attainments, residencies, and middle school science projects. I know who was voted the best by his peers and who's involved in a workman's comp lawsuit. But, I think something even more comprehensive would help--like IMDB profiles for doctors that give their best jokes and quips, summarize their best moments in surgeries, and tell you about upcoming projects.

Anyhoo, please enjoy this gallery of plumbing imagery as a Coming Attraction. And, as a sidenote, let me tell you that in a Google image search of "plumber's crack" the picture below was really the only slightly funny picture I could find. Here's the thing: Accidental plumber's crack is funny. Intentional plumber's crack, "hot" plumber's crack (this becomes possible when the plumber is female or a chiseled male), and "baby" plumber's crack just ain't funny.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Endoscopy Scoopy

I accompanied a friend on her Adventure with Endoscopy today. As always, you can count on me to give you the scoopy.

1) Anything called a "procedure" is not fun.
2) If you find yourself waiting in a recovery ward, sitting on a chair, you will find that it is impossible not to invade people's privacy:
Sit. Sit. Wait for friend to wake up. What's that noise? NAW. Don't look over at that lady there, let's give her some privacy. No, let's look over here. CRAP. No. Abort mission. Let's NOT look at THAT guy. Eyes on floor. Eyes on floor. Gooood, goooood. Whoa...whoa...gurney about to roll over feet. Look up--augh! Same guy! Now on gurney! Evasive maneuvers! Evasive maneuvers! And, here we go...invading lady's privacy again. Okay. "Soiled Linen Closet." Let's just sit here and stare at the door of the "Soiled Linen Closet." Neutral. Non-invasive. And...
3) The term "Soiled Linen Closet" conjures very disturbing mental images. Just keep your eyes closed.
4) It is easier to find your way through hospitals when you are on drugs.
5) Sure--you can call the hospital cafeteria a "bistro." Yet, that does not make it any less of a hospital cafeteria. Let's just call the whole damn hospital a "Procedure Bistro."
6) Dear Hospital Supervisors: Why do you always pick the person who has the most trouble pronouncing names to go and collect people from a waiting room? Do you sit in your special VIP area of the "bistro" and watch the hilarity ensue?
7) Signs that say I can't eat, drink, or talk on the phone make me want to eat, drink, talk on the phone, and smoke--even though I don't smoke.
8) When you have to go to a special phone and push a special button to "confirm your information" and answer endless questions posed by a disembodied voice of authority, it kind of makes it perfect when the button you have to push is covered in red tape. Reeeed taaaaape.
9) Having Martha Stewart cooking holiday pies on the television in the middle of a roomful of people who have been denied food and water is kinda cruel.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Oh, Man. My Stomach Still Hurts.

Tonight, I decided to take Lily for a bonus walk--just a little leg stretch and sniff around before we were in for the night. We scooted along happily down the street, and then we turned around and started to scoot back up the street towards home. And then, we saw them. We were right across the street from them at the same minute we saw them. Two very large American pit bull terriers--they were big and muscly...they might have been a mix, I guess--crouched down next to the garbage cans and recycling bins at the end of a driveway with a very large and very dark house. Watching us. Kinda crouched down, and swaying back and forth a little, and watching us.

Oh, shit. In the back of my mind I thought, "Oh god, I hope there's an invisible fence that I never noticed there." See? The flaws in my panicked thinking are evident now--I would be unlikely to notice an invisible fence. But, I had never even seen DOGS anywhere around that house before, so I was kinda stunned. Period.

And then the two very large American pit bull terriers started trotting across the street towards us because we were keepin' on truckin', if you know what I mean.

Double oh, shit.

See, there were two of them. One of them off a leash would not have filled me with joy. But, there were two of them off leashes with no humans zero humans except me in sight at the time and a big dark house behind them. And: I knew I was NOT supposed to be scared because dogs smell fear. And I also thought, "Geez, these dogs are probably nice friendly dogs with people, but I'm not sure how they're gonna be with another dog and particularly with Lily."

And, here's the little problem: Lily is not immediately overjoyed to meet another dog. She WANTS to meet other dogs, she YEARNS to meet other dogs, once she has met another dog for the first time, it's cool. But, something--probably getting beaten up and almost killed by other dogs when she roamed the streets of Mexico--gets in the way of her being immediately friendly on a first meeting with another dog. Lots of stuff helps--if the other dog is with a friendly human, the dog is immediately okay with Lily because she immediately loves all humans. If the dog is on its own, she can act kind of pathetically aggressive in a "small man syndrome" kind of way. And, she acts kind of aggressive while kind of hiding behind my skirts. I like to give her a pep talk with a lot of "Here's a friend" when she meets another dog. And, I like to stay calm. And I was finding it hard to use either strategy tonight.

Shit. I was scared. And, I hated myself for being scared and for not immediately knowing what to do. There are no houses on the side of the street where I was. There were no houses with lights on close by. Stuff started happening really fast.

The two dogs ran over and Lily made a small growling noise that was kind of like, "Urrr, you're a little close." And one of them whipped its head around. And, I found my deepest, loudest voice and I said, "NO. Go on home now. GO HOME. That's right. GO HOME." And, one of them walked 10 steps away and was heading across the street. And one of them started to circle behind me. And Lily sat down with her tail between her legs and her head down, pushing really hard behind my knees and trying to hide which would have made me horribly sad if I'd had time to look at her much. And then the other dog started to come back.

Headlights started coming towards us all--it was dusk, almost dark. And both of the big dogs walked into the middle of the street and stood there, staring at the oncoming car. And, I picked up Lily and I walked into the road because I didn't want the dogs to get hit and I held up my hand and pointed at the dogs in the road. And, the driver slowed to a crawl and crept past the dogs, waving gratefully at me. And suddenly I thought, "What the EFF am I doing saving the dogs? I mean, that's good, but WE need saving." By that time, the car was down the road and the dogs were coming back to us.

A truck started to come and this time, I was just effin' lucky. I was gonna stop it and ask for help (no matter how feeble that made me feel), but it stopped. It stopped, the guy got out, one dog ran away, one dog stayed in the road, and the guy said, "Holy shit. It's the dog. It's okay. It's okay. Oh, god. How did he get out?" And I think I said,"Peep." And he said, "Okay, you guys just go on home, and I'll take care of Blood-Letter" (not dog's real was probably Cuddles...memory is dim and blurred). And I said, "There are two." And he said, "Oh. Izzy's out, too?" And I said, "Glarp." So, he said, "Just walk on home and I'll take care of these guys."

I started walking home, carrying Lily, and Blood-Letter (Cuddles) started following me. And, the guy called out to Blood-Letter, "Yo! Blood-Letter! Come here!" and Blood-Letter kept following me. So, the guy said, "Yo! Why don't you carry your dog toward the truck? I think Blood-Letter will follow you." So, kinda like a robot I turned around and walked back to the truck carrying Lily. And, Blood-Letter followed me. And the guy said, "Get in Blood-Letter!" And Blood-Letter did not get in the truck. So the guy said, "Why don't you and your dog get in the truck and I'll drive you home?" And I said, "Thanks" and I vaulted up into the truck, still carrying Lily.

And he said: "They don't live here. They're visiting. I don't know how they got out. This sucks. I don't have my cell phone or anything."

And I said: "Uh-huh. I live right here."

And he said: "My name is X and my girlfriend's name is X we live back there."

And I said: "Thanks for the ride. Nice to meet you. I hope the dogs are okay." And Lily seemed to be kind of glued to the seat and not thrilled about exiting the vehicle, so I leaned over and carefully scooped her up.

I feel kind of ratty that I got scared. I don't think they were evil killer dogs--if they were evil killer dogs, I wouldn't be writing this post. I'd be in the emergency room. Lily would be at the vets. But they were big, and they were together, and they were loose. And...there are dominance issues with loose dogs without their humans around. And...there was the moment that Lily went "Urrr..." and the moment that one of them snapped his head around, and the moment that Lily crushed up against the back of my legs, and the moment that one started going away and the other started circling back behind me.

I'll be over this soon. I'm kind of hoping I'll be better prepared next time, 'though. Any suggestions if this exact situation repeats itself?

To sum up: Sometimes I wish I was bigger.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


I went fishing. It was a good day. I did not catch any fish. I did not catch any poison ivy. Study each of the following photos very carefully to identify the aquatic life that I captured with my Lens of Truth.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Low-Maintenance Tenant

I like to think I'm my landlord's favorite tenant. A non-fussy tenant, a timely rent-paying tenant, a swell tenant, a tenant's tenant--a low-maintenance tenant. Lately, I'm not so sure.

Sparkle E-mails Landlord:
Have a bathroom sink snafu that I could use some advice or help with:
1) Bathroom sink is clogged, backs up quickly if I run water, and drains very slowly. (Is it my hair? Not sure what else to blame.)
2) I hate using Drano (and am not even sure if I'm supposed to, given the septic system).
3) Tried using white vinegar, which helped a little but not much.

Is there something you'd like me to do? Drano? Something else?

Landlord E-mails Sparkle:
It's easy to fix. I can do it in 5 min. I think you can probably do it too if you want to try. Look behind the drain pipe that exits the sink for a fitting about 3/4 in. in diameter with a short horizontal rod sticking out. The rod will connect to another flat or round upright rod that goes upwards to the pop-up handle. A little spring clip connects the short rod to the upright rod. You just have to slide the upright rod off the short horizontal rod. Then twist the fitting at the back of the drain that the short rod sticks out of. Pull the short rod and the fitting out (the short rod will have a ball in the middle of it. Then lift the pop-up drain plug up. With all the guts out of the drain, run water to flush the clog down the drain.

Or I can get to it next week.

Sparkle E-mails Landlord:
Look forward to seeing you next week! What time are you back?
(In my defense, the problem turned out to be more complicated.)
Landlord is back. Sparkle greets him at front door.

Sparkle to Landlord: "Thanks for coming by to help with the sink! Something else just came up--did you happen to see the front yard as you drove in?"
Landlord: "Yep."

Something Else Came Up

Sparkle to Landlord: "Heh! Firewood, huh?"
Landlord: "Yep."

Monday, April 23, 2012

It is Nice to Have the Look of Someone Funny

Checkout Gal (scanning groceries...boop boop): "You know, I keep meaning to tell you this when you come in. You look exactly like a comedian on TV."
Sparkle: "Oh!" ( can't be good)
Checkout Gal (boop boop): "YES! Let me tell you! You have a twin out there!"
Sparkle: "It is nice to have the look of someone funny!" (I don't know what I meant either.)
Checkout Gal (boop boop): "Sure! Exactly the same! Those glasses, that hair. That smile!"
(Sparkle to self: I'm wearing my new glasses...I have dark hair...the smile...oh my god! I know who it is!)
Sparkle: "Who is it? Who is it?"
Checkout Gal (scanning...boop boop): "I wish I could remember the name. I've seen her there a lot on the TV. You know, the one that's on TV a lot! I'm sure I'll think of it next time you're in."
(Sparkle to self: Her...whew. ix-nay on the Phil Silvers. Excellent. But??? Who? Let's think positive for a moment...)
(Okay, positivity slipped there towards the end.)

Sparkle: "You don't mean a cartoon, right? You mean a comedian?"
Checkout Gal (handing me my bags): "Yes, sugar. A comedian. Have a good one!"
Sparkle: "Thanks! Have a great day!" (I'm going to have to find a new store.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Person?

Dear New Hampshire Legislators,

At this time, I would like to query you concerning section 266:1, Inspection Authorized, of TITLE XXI MOTOR VEHICLES, CHAPTER 266 EQUIPMENT OF VEHICLES.

266:1 Inspection Authorized. –
I. The director may require the inspection of any vehicle, except an OHRV, snowmobile, moped, or any other vehicle exempted under this chapter, to determine whether it is fit to be driven. Such inspection shall be made at such times and in such manner as the director may specify, subject to the requirements set forth in this section.
II. Any vehicle registered under this title, except an OHRV, snowmobile, moped, or other exempt vehicle, shall be inspected once a year, during the month in which the birth date of the owner is observed, if the owner is a natural person.

My mind runs wild with possibilities. Please explain yourself!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ask Pop Mechs! He Has the Answers to All Your Questions!

Dear Pop Mechs,
My fiance and I love to go to the beach. We find that it is very peaceful to commune with nature and listen to the soothing, gentle crash of the waves upon the shore. We like to look for shells, but we have a very hard time finding whole sand dollars and conch shells. Do you have any tips for us? Thanks so much for your help!
Love, Katie Sue from Kalamazoo

Dear Zoo Gal,
An estimated $30,000,000,000,000 in gold beneath the sea awaits anyone who will take it. Not pirate treasure, but tiny particles of the yellow metal held in suspension in the water. This represents about $15,000 apiece for every man, woman, and child in the entire world.
All set? You bet! Thanks for stoppin' by!

Dear Pop Mechs,
Who's Zoo Gal? Are you talking to me? Either way, forget the freakin' sand dollars. How do I get me some of this gold? Can I use a sieve and my little sand pail and shovel? Do I need to rent some special drilling equipment? Because I'll do that, I'll put on a hard hat and mine that baby for all she's worth.
I'll Call Myself Zoo Gal And Dress Up Like A Kangaroo If You Tell Me How to Get that Gold

Dear Zoo Gal,
It would cost more to extract this gold than it is worth at the present market value. And besides, the ocean holds even greater wealth in animal, vegetable, and mineral resources that can be used advantageously by man.
All set? You bet! Thanks for stoppin' by!

Dear Pop Mechs,
What are you, some kind of sadist? First you tell me there's gold, then you say I can't get the gold, then you draw my attention to the "greater wealth in animal, vegetable, and mineral resources"? And, you said "And besides..." in a very condescending way. Look, I fought hard to get off the farm, mister. I want nothing to do with animal, vegetable, and mineral resources. Give me something I can use here.

Dear Zoo Gal,
Seaweeds are used in many ways: (A) Young specimens of the California giant kelp are a source of acetone and potash. (B) Purple laver is used in soups and eaten raw. (C) California agarweed is used as the basis for microbiological culture media. (D) Irish moss from Massachusetts, which produces carrageenin, is used in candy, jellies, and salad dressing. (E) East Coast broadleaf kelp produces algin used in ice cream, cake icings, and dental impressions.
All set? You bet! Thanks for stoppin' by!

Dear Pops,
Swell. Thanks very much. I can now no longer bear the thought of eating my favorite foods: candy, jellies, ice cream, cake icings, and salad dressings. Thanks. Yes, indeedy. Thanks. You are an annoying old man. Just forget I asked you my shell question, okay? Let's just nip this in the bud.

Dear Zoo Gal,
The practical aspects of oceanographic research--together with the natural curiosity of man--should insure the continuation and expansion of the investigations of this last great unexplored frontier. Maybe science will even find a way to get that $30,000,000,000,000 in gold some day! All set? You bet! Thanks for stoppin' by!