Norm Abrams, I’m not

I’ve been promising my wife that I’d put together a cabinet for the kitchen.
She bought it several weeks ago and everytime I’d walk through the kitchen I swear I could hear “baaaawk, baaaawk . . . “coming from inside the box.
Its purpose was supposedly going to reduce some of the cabinet clutter and organize the pot and “pandemonium” wreaking havoc in the heart of our home.

How hard could it be to put together a small and innocent antique cabinet?

I’m no Norm Abrams, alright? Building things just isn’t my thing (stop laughing, Laho).

I consider myself a reasonably intelligent man but when an inanimate object begins making a monkey out of me, I have a problem.
I should have known better when I spied the little gold oval sticker proudly proclaiming “made in China” on all 76 pieces.

Assembling this hunk of shit (from the directions given) was worse than trying to comprehend quantum physics.
I seriously think the Chinese are out to get us, all of us.

Said directions were a series of “exploded” pictures; no words or explanations, just pictures . . . all 14 of them. Bastards.

Does the term 3-D puzzle of wood mean anything to you?

The cabinet was mainly black and I almost went frickin’ blind trying to screw this thing together. The phone starts ringing, I spill my coffee, I gotta take a crap and one of the cats starts throwing up a hunk of the Styrofoam packing this thing came in and I’m only Step #1.
I only have 13 more to go.
Please shoot me.
Point the gun at my brain stem and mercifully pull the trigger.
End my pain.

I think about throwing the damn directions away but err on the side of caution and instead start talking dirty to the sad looking unassembled pieces still littering the kitchen table. Things start clicking and I’m beginning to enjoy the dirty talk.

By the time I was finished (2 hours later) I look Chinese, well, my eyes do anyway.

Some people really have a talent for this building shit.
Not me.
I say pay another 20 bucks and let some other choad go Oriental.
I’m an artist, damn it, not Norm Abrams.

~m

Norm Abrams, I'm not

I’ve been promising my wife that I’d put together a cabinet for the kitchen.
She bought it several weeks ago and everytime I’d walk through the kitchen I swear I could hear “baaaawk, baaaawk . . . “coming from inside the box.
Its purpose was supposedly going to reduce some of the cabinet clutter and organize the pot and “pandemonium” wreaking havoc in the heart of our home.

How hard could it be to put together a small and innocent antique cabinet?

I’m no Norm Abrams, alright? Building things just isn’t my thing (stop laughing, Laho).

I consider myself a reasonably intelligent man but when an inanimate object begins making a monkey out of me, I have a problem.
I should have known better when I spied the little gold oval sticker proudly proclaiming “made in China” on all 76 pieces.

Assembling this hunk of shit (from the directions given) was worse than trying to comprehend quantum physics.
I seriously think the Chinese are out to get us, all of us.

Said directions were a series of “exploded” pictures; no words or explanations, just pictures . . . all 14 of them. Bastards.

Does the term 3-D puzzle of wood mean anything to you?

The cabinet was mainly black and I almost went frickin’ blind trying to screw this thing together. The phone starts ringing, I spill my coffee, I gotta take a crap and one of the cats starts throwing up a hunk of the Styrofoam packing this thing came in and I’m only Step #1.
I only have 13 more to go.
Please shoot me.
Point the gun at my brain stem and mercifully pull the trigger.
End my pain.

I think about throwing the damn directions away but err on the side of caution and instead start talking dirty to the sad looking unassembled pieces still littering the kitchen table. Things start clicking and I’m beginning to enjoy the dirty talk.

By the time I was finished (2 hours later) I look Chinese, well, my eyes do anyway.

Some people really have a talent for this building shit.
Not me.
I say pay another 20 bucks and let some other choad go Oriental.
I’m an artist, damn it, not Norm Abrams.

~m

Maniac II

If you’ve yet to read part one, scroll down the page a bit.
And for those of you mewling outside my window, here ya go.

 

I’d never squeezed anything harder in my life than that Adirondack bat (a bat I still have, btw) when I reached the bottom of the cellar steps.
I took a quick look around the corner and saw several odds and ends that had been knocked to the floor. No big deal.

But things got real weird when I happened to look up at the ceiling tiles.

Long, deep and ragged scratch marks ran down almost all of the dropped-ceiling tiles. Gouges and rips were everywhere.

Holy shit, I thought, what the hell…
I’m thinking claws here.
Big ass claws.

I consider myself to be a man not spooked by many things but this was a bit much.
I had no idea what the hell was down here with me and finally decided to deal with the situation in the daylight.
My first thought was, ok, this is an animal of some sort, albeit a wicked pissed-off animal. Maybe it was time to re-think my strategy.
I locked the cellar door and scanned the phone book for an exterminator.
Maybe they would know what the hell was going on here.

It’s always amazed me how different things look in the daytime versus the night.
I went back out to the house the next day (bat still in hand) and called the exterminator (Varmint’s R Us).
Mister Varmint asked me several questions before he gave me his professional thoughts on the situation.

“Sounds like you got yerself a squirrel problem, sir.”

It didn’t sound like much of a problem at all to me.
It sounded like batting practice was just going to be a bit early.
The bottom line was that this problem had to be resolved immediately; the sale of the house depended on it.

“It’s fifty bucks for us to show up and have a look. Okay?”

I gave them the address and began drumming my fingers on the counter as I stared at the cellar door (which was still locked).
After 20 minutes and no Mister Varmint, I thought, screw this, opened the door and went down cellar. My lifelong hatred of squirrels must have made me do it.
Besides, these little bastards owe me a friggin’ fortune in stolen birdseed.

I wasn’t in the cellar for five minutes when I heard the Varmint van pull into the driveway. As I turned to go upstairs, my peripheral vision picked up on something so subtle off to my right that I instinctively looked.

There was a large picture window in the cellar (We used to display one of those cheesy tinsel Christmas trees. You know the kind. It was illuminated by a tri-colored light turned by a chintzy servo motor. Ugh, tacky) and there behind the gauzy curtain was the silhouetted object (monster) of my desire.

No, it wasn’t a squirrel as I’d hoped but an emaciated “Nicole Ritchie” version of your basic housecat. I figured this animal had been without food and water for at least 2 weeks. And boy, oh boy, was he happy to see someone.

I went upstairs and told Mister Varmint what had happened.
He just laughed and handed me a bill.

Lunch was on me that day.

I called the next door neighbors to see if they had any cat food which they didn’t but they did have tuna and crabmeat.
My heart went out to the ‘skin and bones’ cat so I fed him and gave him several bowls of water. I flirted with the idea of taking him home but the idea vanished when the cat looked up at me, meowed (Sucka!), and took off for parts unknown.
Basically, he was starving and began looking around for food.
There wasn’t a crumb to be had in the house.

Except for flour.

We had lots of flour.

And cats don’t like flour…it royally pisses them off.

I could only surmise that the animal had gotten in when we aired out the cellar; it was a Kirstie Allie in, Jenny Craig out scenario that I was happy to resolve.
The house was finally rid of one of its many ghosts and sold shortly thereafter.

~m

Maniac

It was shortly after we moved my father into assisted living that we put the house up for sale.
I had a fruit basket full of mixed emotions over the ordeal which you can read about here. The main problem was that the house would be sans people 24/7 and that meant someone had to keep a watchful eye on the place until it was sold.
It was always heartbreaking whenever I stopped out there.
The house was silent, listening, barely breathing; there were no voices (save for the ones screaming in my head), no sights, no lights, and no smells of Beef Stew simmering on the stove.
There was nothing that signified life of any kind until one misty summer night. Continue reading

BlogMind and the Writer-Chick

blogmind

In a day or two, I’ll be giving up this blog (temporarily)…
to this chick I know.

She’s not just any chick though, be sure of that.

I need to spend some downtime with my family and do some serious work on my memoir.
I’ve put a snazzy graph on my sidebar so you can keep track of my writing activity (or inactivity, at which time I expect you guys to say, dude, what up?)

I saw the graph on Deb Woehr’s blog and thought, cool; an inspirational tool.

I am making some progress.

I mention the memoir simply because Writer-Chick is a major motivator for me to get the damn thing done. I met her years ago during a brief stint at Writer’s Village University, an online writing website. We immediately connected and became very close friends over the years.

Treat her nice.
She’s almost like a sister to me.
I mean that.

She is undeniably intelligent, unabashedly funny, opinionated, insightful and a wonderful writer in her own right. She’s currently finishing up a novel so this is blogsitting thang is a very huge favor to me.
I would say it’s a ‘ginormous’ favor but my wife hates that word and would kill me if I used it… before my vacation actually begins.

I talked with Writer-Chick tonight and she read me a few titles for some possible posts; oh, yeah, you guys are going to like this.
I will be giving her total administrative power so she will be the temporary Smoke and Mirrors Goddess.

Obviously, I trust her implicitly.

I ask only that you make her feel at home.
But know that she doesn’t need me to stick up for her.
She’s a big girl capable of handling herself.

I wanted to give her the pen name ‘Zephyr’.
She immediately wrote me back and said, “Isn’t that something you’d name your pet ocelot?”
She has a great sense of humor.

This will be my last post for a little while.
I plan on resting, writing alot, sleeping late, drinking some good beer, smoking many cigars, swimming endlessly, wearing sunscreen, eating lobster, finally finishing ‘East of Eden’, spending some time with my wife and daughters and ….hey, I’m getting tired already.

Anywhoo- check back here often and ready yourself for the Writer-Chick.
I am so very excited by the possibilities.

And I’ll be back soon.
That’s a promise…

 

~m

Drip

Being the romantic bastard that I am, I gave my wife a new Koehler kitchen faucet for Christmas. (I can hear the ooh’s and ahh’s….sexy!)
After being (happily) married for over 22 years romance sometimes takes a backseat to let practicality ride shotgun for Christmas. We both try to stay away from anything too superfluous because we’re on a fairly limited budget and have neither the money nor the desire to give each other matching silver and gold Beamers adorned with gargantuan matching red bows (honestly, puhhhleese!)
I got up early on the 26th to go to Home Depot in search of Plumber’s Putty and a Basin Wrench. (it almost sounds like I know what I’m doing) After getting all the tools I thought I’d need I began taking out the old to make way for the new. My wife left the house with the girls in tow presumably to give me an empty house that I could scream in. I should have prefaced this post by re-posting this.
Anyway, everything was going pretty well or so I thought. With plumbing, even a chimpanzee can look good doing it. That is, until you turn the water back on.
When I turned it back on, a firehose-like column of water shot out of the bottom of the sprayhead and soaked everything within a five foot radius of the sink. Ooops.
I felt like Curly in a plumbing episode of the Three Stooges.
My father-in-law came over to see how I was doing.
He’s one of these guys that could put in one of these with his eyes closed and one hand behind his back.
He looked at our semi water park of a kitchen and said, “… you got a leak.”
I caved and called a plumbing buddy of mine who promised to come over around noon that day to see what was wrong. I was cleaning up when I found a small and insignificant black washer that must have blown off the sprayhead when I purged the line. I put the washer back into the bottom of the sprayhead where I thought it went and once again turned on the water expecting to see the return of Ol’ Faithful.
Amazingly dry as a bone. One little black washer had been my problem.
Maybe that’s where they got the phrase, “Little things mean alot.”

~m

For the want of a nail…

I suck at home improvement. I mention that basic fact only because I spent the better part of three hours this weekend trying to get a clogged pipe to magically unclog. Living in a house with a wife and three daughters (and only one bathroom) has a way of filling the plumbing system with enough hair to cover the Taj Mahal. There are hair products in the bathroom closet that I can’t even pronounce the names of, for God’s sake.
One day, my father-in-law taught me the technique and proper use of a plumbing snake. If you’ve never seen one, it’s basically a long thick coil of wire that is inserted into the pipe and worked through until it clears the clog. I have these nightmarish visions of this long piece of coiled metal slipping out of my hands before disappearing into the bowels of my septic system never to be seen or heard from again. That particular scenario never played itself out but I did have to go to Home Depot in search of a longer, better snake. I was using a 15’ and instinctively knew a 25’ would surely do the job. I’ve never been anywhere near adept at any home repair skill and can usually manage to screw up any simple task to the point of “you better call a professional before someone gets hurt”. Cooking? No problem. Want a nice stir-fry? Maybe a nice dish of Beef Stroganoff or a Chicken Tarragon Salad sandwich with alfalfa sprouts… That stuff is easy. But show me a project that may involve the use of power tools and a tape measure and I’ll run away faster than King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Truth be told, I’ve never had an interest in plumbing or electrical or basic carpentry 101, although I can totally admire someone who does have that talent, especially if they’re bailing out my sorry unskilled ass. I’ve thought many times about taking a Night Life course in basic wiring or plumbing but something always keeps me away. Maybe it’s just that I feel a bit insecure when I walk up the power tool aisle of Home Depot and think out loud, wow, I wonder what the hell that thing does. The woman (a manly woman at that) working the power tool section overhears me and launches into a 20 minute discourse on the advantages and benefits of owning a Rigid router and lathe. Lady, please speak English.
At least I admit my inadequacies and damn it, I know my boundaries. Actually, my inability to fix the leaking faucet in the shower still astounds my wife (and rightly so). She scratches her head and wonders how someone so brilliant in some areas could be so incredibly stupid in others. I’ve got the problem solved though. The trick is to get my daughters to marry guys who are, how shall I say it, sympathetic to my cause? (Oh, he’s a plumber? We just gotta meet him!) This is going to work out just beautifully.
I did manage to unclog the pipe the other day but not with the 15’ snake or the 25’ snake but with an old crusty, mundane bathroom plunger. A few pushes and POP…look at that water go down! After I start the Coq au Vin, I’m going to take a look at that leaky faucet. You know duct tape is really underrated…

© michaelm 2005