Saturday, August 29, 2009

Selling refrigerators

When we moved into this house, now almost exactly a year ago, we found ourselves in possession of five freezers and refrigerators.

The big black refrigerator used to live in the kitchen, back when the kitchen was a dark cave. I bought a white refrigerator as part of that remodel, and the black guy went into the garage.

The super sized freezer had its own special room built into the garage. It was left by the previous homeowner, along with half of the frozen food he and his wife had been storing there. Before we moved in, my mother and mother-in-law decided to clean out the super-sized freezer (thanks moms). At the bottom, they found steaks carefully labeled and dated -- from 1976. Needless to say, we hucked all the frozen food from that freezer, and unplugged it. Can't be energy efficient if it's as old as I am.

The more moderate sized chest freezer had been ours in Texas. The lid was badly dented sometime during moving and storage, and so we were afraid to plug it in.

The refrigerator from the 1940s had lived in the unfinished room in the basement. It was also a donation from the previous homeowner. He informed me that it still worked, and they used it occasionally to store extra food. We had it hauled out to the garage before the remodel.

Anyway, sometime while my sister's family was spending their two summer months with us (we have been missing them this past week, by the way), I became annoyed that we had five refrigerator/freezers, and yet were only using the one in the kitchen to store food for seven people. I wanted a working chest freezer. I then did a little homework and found we could get all four non-used ones hauled away from about $200 total.

Tim took up the challenge. First, he plugged in the dented lid freezer, and found that it works in spite of the dents. So we filled it.

He then took pictures of all the others and posted them on Craigslist. We have sold the black fridge (for $100), the super-sized 70 freezer (for $50), and now a lady who just bought an old house wants the 1940 fridge for her "show" kitchen (not for the downstairs kitchen where she really keeps the food). She's coming tomorrow to pick it up. For another $100. (Knock on wood).

Possible alternative title for this post:

Craigslist: How a cheap husband can get strangers to haul your junk for free.

Monday, August 24, 2009

School starting

School started for Jonathan, not for me. I still have one week to scamper around emailing TA's and graders and undergraduate assistants and course coordinators. One week to prepare for a semester. Except the last day of the week I'll be at a department retreat. And now that I think of it, I'm supposed to speak at said retreat. I suppose I'd better start writing a talk. That takes us down to less than four days. Dang. I hate this time of year.

Oh how I long for the quarter system, rather than the semester system. In the quarter system, the school year is neatly partitioned into three ten-week quarters, with the first arranged to finish just before Christmas, the second just before spring break, and the third in mid June. On the quarter system, the university doesn't have to pick itself up from summer until late September. And the faculty and students wander through August and those first cool days of fall with serene smiles on their faces, watching everyone else scurry and worry and hurry, knowing they have a whole month free to calm down and prepare for the mere 10 weeks of teaching before Christmas. I am a product of nine years of quarter system schools. Oh how I wish my university were on the quarter system.

Ahem. But school has already started for Jonathan, as you know.

How, you ask, is it going for him?

He seems to be liking it. He misses his old school and his teacher and friends. But he is making some new friends, which is good. I need to remember that making good friends takes time. It usually took me a month or two to settle on a best friend for an academic year. I know this because I have a September birthday, and I recall a couple of years of being annoyed in November that I had invited the wrong people to my birthday party. I hadn't become best friends yet with the girl who would be my recess companion through the winter and spring.

No, September birthdays are not ideal from a school year point of view. Unless, of course, your university is on the quarter system, in which case September birthdays fall into the summer holidays, but avoid the crowds, and are perfect.

For my birthday this year, I would like my university to go onto the quarter system.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

First day of first grade

Jonathan started his new school today. He said it went well, and he particularly enjoyed the morning in French. We talked for a while, and I told him his homework for tomorrow was to make a friend. He needed to tell me (1) the friend's name, and (2) that they played together during recess. And then I would give him a cookie.

Bribery. Because making a friend is not good enough on its own.

Then I left. Fifteen minutes later I heard him crying in his room. I came in and asked "what is wrong?"

"I went to the wrong room after recess."

So he has two classrooms, one in French, one in English. After the morning recess, he returned to the French classroom. After the afternoon recess, he forgot he was now in the English room, and went back to the French classroom. The teacher sent him to the English room. He was mortified.

"What if people laugh at me for going to the wrong room?"

"Did anyone laugh at you?" I asked.


"Then why will they? It was just a silly mistake. In fact, you should laugh at it yourself."

I don't think I convinced him, but he did go back to bed quietly.

I wish I could help him out more with these social things, but I don't really know how. As soon as I shut the door, I called the parents of the boy sitting across the table from him and invited their son over for a playdate. Tomorrow.

I'm not taking any chances on Jonathan missing out on that cookie.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bathroom scale

Many many years ago, Tim and I bought a bathroom scale. I don't remember why. I guess it's a handy thing to own. Maybe I was pregnant. In any case, one day we woke up thinking it was time to buy a bathroom scale. So we did.

There are many options in bathroom scales. But in the end, we found that the perfect bathroom scale was not the one with the ability to track my weight change over a year and give important life messages ("STOP EATING ICE CREAM!"), nor was it the atomically accurate model that tells me my body fat index, my cholesterol count and my horoscope. The perfect bathroom scale was the cheap model that was off by two pounds every time. Because it showed me as two pounds *lighter* than all those other scales. Totally amazing marketing. I bet they sold a bazillion of those models.

Anyway, sometime in the passing years, I stopped using my bathroom scale. I shunted it into the corner under the sink, or into storage, or finally, into the basement bathroom that only gets used if we're watching a movie and I'm drinking too much Coke and I just can't hold it anymore and press pause just for a second while I run into the basement bathroom. When this happens, I'm usually in too much of a rush to see what I weigh while I'm at it.

Yesterday, however, I was in the basement bathroom checking out the shutters in there (which we just installed a few weeks ago) trying to decide if I still want them upstairs (I do). When I noticed my friend the bathroom scale. I stood on the scale and noticed I had gained five pounds. Huh. Then Tim walked by and pointed out that the scale had been adjusted to measure 10 pounds heavier. Huh? (I bet it was my sister's 2-year old). Which means I've lost five pounds.

(Which means I am under stress again. Shocker.)

Then Tim took his turn on the scale.

Marriage is a big step. Deciding on the right man to marry is a big decision, and one that I did not take lightly. Eleven years ago, when I was making this serious choice, I had discovered that Tim was pretty much everything I needed in a man. Smart -- check. Attractive -- check check. Open minded -- check. But for all his positive qualities, he did have two very major flaws.

Major flaws.

Number one: he didn't like to cook. I didn't like to cook either. How were we going to eat? After some serious reflection, I decided that we could probably overcome the cooking issue by taking turns at the painful task.

Number two: he weighed five pounds less than I did.

Tim's weight has been the bane of my existence. How embarrassing, to weigh five pounds more than your husband. When I would bring this up, he would point out that I am two inches taller than he is, and I eat a lot more food than he does. Which is true, but doesn't help.

Anyway, when one decides to get married, one takes their partner for better or for worse, no matter how much they weigh. I realized that Tim's weight was something I'd just have to live with, and couldn't change (you know, given the hating-cooking thing). And so I did. And I never regretted that decision, even a few years down the road when we brought the bathroom scale into our lives.

So last night, I stepped off the bathroom scale and Tim stepped on. And do you know what? After all these years, he actually weighed five pounds more than I did! HA!

They say that the person you marry will never change. That you should learn to live with their flaws. To overlook the bad and accept them and love them for who they are.

Well, my friends. I am proof positive that spouses *do* change. Annoying flaws do disappear. Ten years later, under debilitating stress on my part and a lifestyle that doesn't actually involve ever leaving the house on his part, we have reached the point where there is only one thing seriously wrong with my husband.

He still hates cooking.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I'd like to point out to all of you lamenting the end of the summer, and you know who you are, that technically the autumn equinox falls around my birthday this year. That means you still have nearly six weeks to enjoy summer and shop for my birthday present.

Of course, I do realize that you don't care so much about the season as the start of a new school year. Jonathan starts in a week. We are totally clueless parents. We got a list of supplies, which we bought on sale at a local retailer. We see on the calendar that Back-to-School Night is at 6:00pm on Monday. What is Back-to-School Night? Do we all go? Just the parents? Will we learn important things like where to purchase school lunch and how to find our boy at the end of the first day of school? These are things that I do not know.

But before we talk of school, I ought to write a post about the summer's swimming lessons. I believe that all children should learn to swim. Last summer we intended to take lessons, but it never warmed up above, oh, 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Even though our local pool was indoors, I postponed.

This summer I finally enrolled Jonathan in four weeks of swimming lessons. He made progress. He started out afraid that the water would seep into his ears and wash out his brain and cause sudden death. The first day of swimming lessons, when his teacher told him to lay back in the water, he looked at her in alarm.

"But I'll get water in my ears!" he said.

"But you're supposed to," she replied.

He got over the water in his ears thing. He then moved onto the stage where he is floating on his own, provided the teacher leaves one little finger on his back. As soon as the one little finger moves, a vortex will open up into space and suck him into the vacuum and cause sudden death.

We got over that one, too. After the first two weeks, he was floating on his own, front and back.

He then reached the stage where he ducked under water, flailed arms and legs at the same time, and came up grinning.

"Did you see me swimming, Mom?"

He is still in that stage. Summer swim lessons now end with Jonathan able to push off the pool wall and let the momentum carry him forward. But when he tries to get his arms and legs involved, he sinks or moves backwards. Or sinks backwards. Trying to get the arms and legs involved is definitely progress. Not bad after the first four weeks of real lessons in his life, I think. I have been seriously considering keeping him in swimming lessons in the fall. Except that I would have to shuttle him to and from, and I'm not a big fan of the shuttling. Shuttling is like sinking backwards.

Finally, while talking about swimming and school starting, I should mention that we still have about ten more passes to the local swimming pool which need to be used up in the next week before school starts. I don't think our family will use them. I know I have some readers who are more local. Would any of you be interested in helping us use up these passes?

Unfortunately, to get the pass, you may have to reveal your secret identity in the comments or something.

Dang. I knew there was a catch.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I woke up at 4am this morning, breathing hard, as the traces of a nightmare slipped away into wakefulness. The nightmare: a public shaming. In my dream, several colleagues from work called me out on my mistakes, stripped me of my duties, mocked me publicly, and put me on probation. I woke up feeling tight and tense and paranoid. I immediately got up, logged into my computer, and blocked all public access to my public blogs.

I calmed down a bit by about 4:30 am, and unblocked all public access. But did delete a post for good measure. Not that the post was at all related to my dream, but still.... Sometimes I think it's better not to let the masses know you are human, because they can use that against you.

This evening my computer is running slowly. I was at a conference all week, staying at a resort hotel in the off-season, using unsecured wireless internet to manage email and accounts and editing. Could tonight's slowness be related to the unsecured network?

I changed all my passwords upon my return. Which is annoying. Now I have to remember them all again.... Three of them are completely new.

And so, starting the evening in a bit of computer paranoia, I responded to a friend request by an old friend new to Facebook, and scanned my list of friend suggestions.

Four suggestions this evening. Suggestion number three: Facebook suggests that I become friends with the contractor who I fired nearly a year ago. Yup. That guy who walked off of our project leaving us without plumbing or electricity.

Which means Facebook has been crawling through my email.

Or his.

Is it time to remove my Facebook account? Strip public access to my blogs?

I begin to wonder....

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pipe cleaners

Aug 6: I wrote this a week ago, but never finished or published, because it is kind of pointless. And you know me -- everything on my blog needs to have a point. So now I'm publishing it, because I haven't written anything else for a week, and I am currently really tired of revising papers. OK, quick break over, Ee. I will now go back and continue revising the paper, I promise.

Some time ago, Jonathan took all the pipe cleaners from his craft bag -- and there were dozens of them -- and started twisting them all together into a long giant pipe cleaner. He attached it to one of those door knob hanger thingies, looped it over his closet doors, up around the bedroom door, and into the room across the side of the bed. Serious tripping hazard.

We asked him why.

He told us it was to keep people out.

Then he roped up an elaborate system of lights (pens with lights in them) to let us know when we could or could not enter his room. Red means out. Blue means ok.

Every single night for several weeks we have started bedtime by untwisting the pipe cleaners around the bed.

Every single morning for several weeks Jonathan has started the day by putting all the pipe cleaners back into place.

Do you think he's trying to tell us something?