Make Friends, Not Beds

As a family-oriented blogger, I get a lot of questions about all kinds of relationships. In response to those of you who have been writing to ask about friendship: e.g. what makes a good friend? how does one know when one is no longer friends with someone else? what are the limits of friendship? There is one simple key to a solid friendship. You know those sheets that go on your bed first – not the elegant rectangular ones, but the ones with elastic and horribly misshapen corners. Well if you have never asked me to fold one of those for you, then we are probably good friends. If you haven’t heard from me in a while, think about your laundry and my interaction with it.

Meanwhile, for those of you still struggling with folding such heinous linen, consider my three step process:

Step 1: (unfolded)

Step 2: (folding)

 Step 3: (folded)

Best of luck to all of you in your laundry endeavors. 


The Renovator

I’ve been away from the blog this week, as I have been busy pretending to work on the house and grade my students’ papers while secretly reading The Great Book of Amber. Yesterday, in fact, when I was supposed to respond to student quizzes, I asked them all if they’d got the all the right answers. Some said, “Yes.” For those who said, “No,” I said, “Would you get all the right answers now if I gave you the same quiz?” They said, “Oh, yes. Oh, my, yes.” So I marked them all down for A’s and drove to the hardware store parking lot to pretend to shop while I secretly read a fantasy novel.

Before we begin, I have a morality tale from earlier in the week:

Have you ever been stung by a wasp whilst spraying for mosquitoes?
Me too, which begs the question: who is the real monster here?
It’s the wasps. Trust me, that’s the moral.

Anyway, what’s wrong with me? Well, it probably all has to do with my plumbing. Plumbing is a delicate art that, if I understand correctly, was invented 8,000 years ago in Egypt, perfected 2,600 years ago in Rome, and introduced to Western Pennsylvania in the late 1970’s.

A lot of one’s personality can be determined by answers to fundamental questions about plumbing. For instance:

When there’s a problem with the plumbing, do you:
A: Call a professional?
B: Call for Sam to bring you a pair of socks and a roll of duct tape?

One’s answer, I believe, speaks volumes.

So yesterday, when the problems arose, Sam showed up with the duct tape and said, “I couldn’t find any socks. What about the one you have on.” That’s my boy. Problem solved.

Sometimes the kids ask me, “How did you learn so much about building stuff?”

Well, just from paying attention mostly. Also, I spent some time doing various forms of construction when I was supposed to be studying for my Intro to Biology final exam. But at the heart of everything I know about stuff getting built is Pappap. For instance, I remember his vivid instructions about plumbing. When I was very young, he told me, “There are three things you need to know about plumbing. Hot water goes on the left. Cold on the right. And shit don’t run uphill.”

Clearly I was destined for renovating.

Some people like to call it “home improvement,” but, really, would anybody call this improvement?

I think not. Renovating, rather, from the root word “novate,” meaning: screw up real bad. I think. I hope not to be redundant here in quoting the great plumber and writer Ray Carver, who said, “We all do better in the future.”

Meanwhile, Blaisey borrowed Zac’s guitar this morning and wrote three songs. Song 1: “All the Penguins Go to School.” Song 2: “All the Other Animals Go to School, But Not the Penguins.” Song 3: “The Animals Don’t Go to School, But Sissy and Blaisey Go to School.” Each of the songs has similar motifs and rhythms, a lot of humming in the middle of the lines, and several words that I’m not familiar with. Each song also contains the lyrics, “But you and me will never die, hmmm hmm hmmm hmm I like pie.” Needless to say, if Isaac Brock gets a hold of this talent, Blaisey certainly be a Glacial Pace artist any day now.

For the record, did anybody hear me ask for cpvc rubber cement in my coffee this morning? No. You didn’t. Which again, is sort of beside the point as it leaves me wondering: if the cpvc rubber cement applicator is in my coffee mug, what’s holding all the plumbing together? The answer, I believe, is clear: we’ll never know.


Cup Half Something

In response to your questions about distinctions between optimism and pesimism:

On the one hand, I spent three hours this morning / afternoon installing one particularly tricky piece of drywall. Granted there was some plumbing and some wiring involved. But still.

On the other hand, I got to listen to We Were Already Dead before the Ship Even Sank and The Moon and Antartica (twice) today, and all I had to do was hang one crumby sheet of drywall.

Everything said, I've had worse days. How was yours?


Surviving Wet Shoes

How to Learn to Love Teaching in Wet Shoes
by Jackson Connor

Step 1: Make sure to put the spaghetti sauce near the hatchback in a plastic bag so it will just roll right out.

Step 2: When it falls, stand there – do NOT try to get out of the way or try to catch it under any circumstances – just sort of watch it roll and listen to it explode.

Step 3: Look really stupid for a little while, because let’s face it.

Step 4: Get the hose.

Step 5: You know what: the shoes are simply not going to dry over the next few hours, so suck it up. Slosh into the classroom. When your students moosh their faces all up like you’re an idiot, act like they’re the idiots who don’t know the pleasures of moderately damp shoes. When all else fails, think of it like this: you’re kids love stories that end in with you standing there at a slight disadvantage, but somehow coming out on top – that oughtta get you through the day.

Post Script: if you resubtitle the post “How to Learn to Love Working a Twelve Hour Shift at the Steel Mill with Boots Full of Very Hot Coffee from Sheetz,” everything remains the same. Except “Step 4” which now reads, “Hop around on one foot for a long time, trying to decide whether you’re madder about the lost coffee or the moist boot.”

Meanwhile, happy Labor Day everyone.


Animal Health Recommendations

A lot of you have been asking me lately: "How do you get Desi to take her doggie vitamins?"

Well, he are five easy steps to getting Desi her pills:

Step 1: Buy a loaf of fancy bread at the grocery store.
Step 2: Eat some of the bread, but forget to wrap it up, so it will go bad.
Step 3: Put the pill in the bad bread.
Step 4: Put the bad bread in the garbage can.
Step 5: Sit back and watch the magic.

It’s true, with just these five simple steps you, too, can give Desi her medicine. This time-tested technique has proven itself over and over – flea medicine, heartworm prevention, antacids. Research here at our household indicate Desi will eat damn-near anything that’s been placed in a stale loaf of bread and hidden deep in the trash can. traci has even suggested that if you hid her salvation in the garbage and Desi found it, she would eat that, too.

And, of course, Desi says Hi:

Post Script: We would never hide Desi's salvation in the trash can.