Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Carol-ish


I hate being cold. Really, I do. I’m very delicate that way. But what I hate even more is having a $900 heating bill for one month, which I had one winter. It wasn’t even unusually cold that year, not for Chicago, but prices for natural gas were even more through the roof than usual.

So of course, I’m very conscious of the need to keep the heat at reasonable, i.e. low, temperatures. Or rather, at least the 66-68 as dictated by the city, since I have a tenant, Kathleen, and for some reason the politicians won’t let me freeze people out, dammit. But even with having an adjustable thermostat and keeping the temps down, I still wind up with heating bills that are $500+ a month during the winter. Which sucks.

And while Kathleen is a great tenant, she’s also the type of person who is always cold. Always. So I stopped letting the temperature adjust down, and just keep it at a constant 68-70 these days, which is highway robbery in my book, but it’s the most I’m willing to do. Oh, I know Kathleen still thinks it’s cold, but I’m not made of money here.
Present day

The Kone and I are snuggled on the couch, having our ‘nog and bonbons, when there’s a knock on the door.

“Harrumph,” I mutter, “who pray tell could that be?”

Kathleen, at the door looking all shivery like a wee street urchin: Hi, umm, it’s pretty cold out there tonight, about 14 degrees, and windy, and it’s kind of cold upstai….
Me: ‘Tis a fine excuse for picking a man’s pocket every December!

(I find it helpful to transition into Dickensian speak at such times.)

Kathleen: But……you’re……not…..
Me: Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses??
Kathleen: Bu….
Me: Bah! A humbug I say! A humbug!
Kathleen: But…..
Me: Good day!
Kathleen: But it’s not da….
Me: I said, GOOD DAY!


I look at the thermostat and drop the temp down a notch, just because. Hmph.

Even later that evening

The Kone has wandered off for his nightly ablutions, and when he comes back, he as usual insists I move over so he can have my spot on the couch.

Me: Koney, you’re such a sillums, my little Chunkers, you…….wait……what’s this?

Kona is maneuvering so he’s buried under the blankie, and now, he’s trying to nestle his head under there as well.

Me, horrified: Koney! Are you cold? Is my poor little monkey-chunky a bit chillums? No no nonononono……….this cannot stand! This will not stand!

I run to the back of the house, make sure the heating element back there is cranked up, then dash back to the front and turn the little space heater on. Then, the coup d’grace, I beeline to the thermostat and crank that puppy up. Then pile more blankets on The Kone so he doesn’t get a chill, and so he defrosts from the block of ice he had surely turned into. Poor baby.

And so, as The Kone and I snuggle on the couch with the furnace blasting, heating bills be damned, and I wonder how we can get that really big turkey to Bob Cratchit on Christmas morning for his poor wife to slave over plucking and cooking as if she doesn’t have enough to do with the blasted Christmas pudding….the words of Tiny Tim come to mind.

“Papa, you hold old mistah Scrooge down while I kick ‘em!”

Okay okay, not those. Not from when Scrooge was still in his pre-ghostly-visitation Republican let-them-eat-cake phase. But the later ones.

“God bless us, every one!”

Yeah, those.

Merry Christmas to all…..

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The cup (of alcohol) runneth over

So Grandma and I managed to make it through the Thanksgiving holiday relatively unscathed, as we went to Normal Brother’s place and had a cheerful, gala sort of day with him and his family. That was actually the one fly in the ointment, so to speak: Grandma isn’t happy unless she has something to complain about. But Andrew cooked up a feast, everything was perfect, Crystal and Scarlett were helpful, and even the dogs were well-behaved.

The only time that Grandma could show that her methods of doing things are far superior was when Andrew’s wife Angela was trying to crush some almonds for the stuffing version she was making, and she was doing so by putting them in a plastic bag and pounding on them. Grandma was having none of it, and took over the task, using a knife to chop up the almonds.

But other than that, seamless.

This presented a problem though when I was driving Grandma back to her place. Normally, this would be an hour+ drive of one lament after another – but now? Poor Baba had nothing to work with. Oh, she tried. She certainly did try:

Baba: ....як вона там с оріхамі..... (what she was doing with the nuts)….

Then she’d lapse into silence. Then 10 minutes later, the same thing, then more silence. She was completely stymied by Normal Brother and his family’s competence.

It was almost sad.

Then the day before I was leaving California, I craftily decided that Baba and I and her friend Rosemary would go to dinner, so that I could pay for Rosemary as a thank you for picking me up from and taking me to the airport. But first, we had to decide on a place.

Me: I don’t care, where do you guys want to go?
Baba: You decide.
Me: Okay, is there a good fish place around?
Baba: Kentucky Fried Chicken!
Me, patiently: Okay, we are NOT going to KFC. Seafood maybe?
Baba: Marie Callender’s!
Me: Okay, fine.

So off we head to Marie Callender’s, which I had never been to as an actual restaurant, though I’ve seen their frozen food in the stores. And apparently Rosemary and my grandma had been there enough times to know what they served, so this seemed like a good choice.

Until we got to the restaurant.

Me: Baba, what do you want to have?
Baba: I don’t know! I have what you have.
Me: You won't like what I have. Look, they have everything. Chicken pie, pot roast, beef stroganoff.
Baba: I don’t know!
Me: Baba, how in the world can you not know what you like??
Rosemary: You once had the fried chicken, right?
Baba: Kentucky Fried Chicken!

They then lament that the KFC that used to be nearby is no longer there.

Me: Okay, they have fried chicken, do you want that?
Baba: Hamburger!
Rosemary: What’s that place across the street, The Islands or something, where we’ve gone before for burgers?
Baba: Yes, hamburgers!
Rosemary: But theirs are less expensive. We should have gone there – we could have gotten less expensive burgers.
Me: Baba, do you want a hamburger?
Baba: I don’t know!
Waitress: Hi, and welcome to Marie Callender’s! Can I start any of you off with a…..
Me: YES, please, for the love of god, just bring me a mojito as quickly as possible……

Several mojitos later, we were all having a lovely time, even as my grandmother and Rosemary continued to discuss the demise of KFC, and what a fine establishment that was. Then the check came, which I grabbed up. Rosemary was having none of it.

Me:….but you have to let me pay! You do so much…
Rosemary: If you pay I’ll just leave this $20 as a tip.
Me: But I’ve already left a tip. That’s silly!
Rosemary: I’m leaving the $20 as we speak, see?
Me, to waitress: Can I get another drink? Maybe to go?

Monday, December 12, 2011

It takes a village

I was shocked, nay dismayed, to find that my grandmother didn’t have a drop of alcohol in the house. What the hell happened to the older set having a tot of brandy in the evening as part of their constitutional?? Where have the principles on which this country was founded gone?

And another thing: where exactly WERE the bottles of water in the frig coming from? Grandma had told me to not drink the water from the sink, but the bottles of water in the frig weren’t new; their squishiness seemed to indicate that these poor bottles had been used for quite some time now. Hmm. Then, a call from my mom.

Mom: Blah blah, blah….
Me: Blah blah! (whispering) Psst, so I have to know. Those bottles of water, where are they coming from?
Mom: Well they…
Me: Because the water from the sink is supposedly a no-no, but we’re not buying water, so….
Mom: Oh, your grandma goes to the fountain near the pool and fills the bottles up there.
Me: So she goes to some fountain and fills the bottles with the exact same water that’s piped into the houses?
Mom: Well….

Okay, so we’ve established I seriously need some likker.

But this means I need to head to the grocery store on what’s now the DAY before Thanksgiving, Shit. I can only imagine what chaos this’ll be. But, emergency times call for emergency measures. Courage.

At Ralph’s Grocery Store, down the road from LeisureWorld

Hmm, the parking lot doesn’t seem insanely packed – maybe the store isn’t open? But no, it’s open, and as soon as I walk in, it’s like stepping back in time, to a world where people were kind and smiley and nice, especially around the holidays. In other words, a world that doesn’t exist anymore. Clearly, I have died and am now shopping in heaven. Oh well. Easy come easy go. I wonder how pricey the Cheez Doodles are up here?

Dead or not, I need my alcohol, so I find the likker display – where another sign points to the presence of a celestial spirit, as the spiced rum I want is on sale! Whee! A dilemma presents itself though – the really big jug, i.e. the optimal one, is highly discounted if you have a Ralph’s card, which I do not. Then the smaller bottle is almost the same price as the mega one, which irks my frugal Ukrainian sensibilities. Hmm. I finally decide that I’ll rely on the kindness of strangers at the checkout in helping me deal with the no-store-card situation, and pick up the mega jug-o-rum.

I wander around the rest of the store, and discover we all seem to be tourists here at Ralph’s. A woman actually asks me, “Are you local? Do you know where I might find the stuffing?” Another kindly person who overhears steps in to help her, and I realize that all the local people are shopping at Costco. So here you just have all the out of-towners, on vacation, NOT having to cook for 32 irate relatives for Thanksgiving. No wonder we’re so benevolent.

But then, the moment of truth: the checkout. The guy scans my rum and asks me if I have a Ralph’s card.

Me, smiling winsomely yet regretfully: Nay, I do not, kind sir – if I lived here I’d certainly have a card and shop only at this fine establishment, but I’m from out of town.

I’m about to up the ante by putting on the Sad Cancer Face, when the woman in line behind me pipes up: “Oh, you can use my card!”

Well then.

Me: Why thank you, that’s so sweet of you!
Nice woman: Oh, no problem. Where are you from?
Me: Chicago. And I’m visiting my grandmother, hence the need for the big bottle of alcohol.
Checkout guy: Amen to that!
NW: Oh, do I ever hear you! I’m stocking up as well!
Bagging guy: Yep, don’t wanna forget the alcohol, no sirree.

And we all smile at each other jovially, having found the ultimate common ground, i.e. the need to get likkered up to deal with one’s relatives.

Who ever said there’s no such thing as holiday spirit?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hi ho, hi ho, to Costco we will go……

I’m not quite sure exactly at what point it was in my trip to Grandma’s for the Thanksgiving holiday that I lost my mind entirely – I just know that it happened. Maybe it was the accumulated effect of getting all sorts of beauty advice from the residents of LeisureWorld that caused my mind to snap. From my grandmother, standing there demonstrating to me over and over how I should apply moisturizer to my face, to her neighbor Rosemary who dragged me over to make me apply something to my hair to hide the apparently glaring grey strands (ahem, premature grey, of course).

Maybe it’s all the snickering I’ve been doing every time I drive onto the LeisureWorld property, onto Golden Rain Boulevard.

Whatever it was, all I know is that 2 days before Thanksgiving, I had this actual conversation with myself:

“Self, Costco will be insanely crowded the day before Thanksgiving – but if we go on Tuesday, it should be pretty quiet. We’ll go and get that all-important pumpkin pie.”

So you see what I mean about the crayzee setting in. Because of course 94-year-old Grandma would insist on coming with.

The happy holiday scene at Costco 2 days before Thanksgiving

“Hey, watch it, ASSHOLE!” I snarl as we almost get run down by someone in the parking lot. It’s total chaos, of course, and Grandma forgot the handicapped parking card so we’re off in Siberia, slowly trundling our way to the entrance, trying to navigate through the hordes of people at the outside food window buying their insanely cheap Costco hot dogs and churros.

“Now Baba,” I note, “we’re just going to get the pumpkin pie and maybe a couple of other things and that’s it, okay?”

Grandma smiles serenely. “Yes yes!”

Okay, whew, in out, how bad can this be?

Two steps in, Grandma is off and running, so to speak. Towards the shirts. Boots. Trying to convince me that I need boots that are exactly like the ones I’m wearing, but newer. Trying to figure out what kind of shirts Normal Brother might wear. Apparently she wants to do all her Christmas shopping in one fell swoop. Sigh.

We somehow manage to wend our way to the back of the store, which is when Grandma has to go to the bathroom. As in now. Apparently the expired food is still having an impact on her digestive system. She heads off to the bathrooms at the front of the store, walker and all, while I look at my shopping list and realize I only need a couple more things, including the (ahem) big jug of EGGNOG which my own Costco in Chicago does not have! Oh, the humanity!

I pick up these things and start making my way back towards the front, keeping an eye out for Grandma – after all, she has a walker, how fast can she be? I don’t see her, but get into a line where I have a clear view to the bathroom so I’ll see her when she comes out.

After I pay, I head over to the bathroom and look inside, and……no Grandma? WTF?

I’ve lost Grandma.

At Costco.

With masses of people in a pre-holiday shopping frenzy. Shit.

I careen up and down the aisles, wondering, how the hell did she get so far? So fast? My grandmother, even at 94, likes to act all doddering and slow when someone else is around to see, but left to her own devices, it’s pretty clear she’s a speed demon.

Because yes, I eventually find her, all the way at the BACK of the store.

Grandma, looking at me beatifically as she stands next to a pile of shirts: “You want shirt?”

I so need a drink…….

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To grandmother’s house we go…..

So this year as opposed to my usual sojourn to Boston, I decided to head to California for Thanksgiving, to spread cheer amongst additional little people, and to make myself useful. Even more useful than usual, that is. I would stay with Grandma in Seal Beach, then be her designated chauffeur on Thanksgiving Day, driving her back and forth to Normal Brother’s place, in Tujunga.

I know, I know – the extent of these sacrifices I make of my time and effort, it’s astounding. But that’s just how I am.

Of course, this trip to Normal Brother’s on Thanksgiving was only going to happen if we survived that long. Because as soon as I got to Grandma’s, it became clear that food poisoning might be imminent.

Take the stuffed cabbage, or holubtsi, as we call them. I loooove stuffed cabbage – that’s one of the few Ukrainian dishes I can make really well, modeled after my mom’s way of making them, because no other kind I’ve tried ever compares. And naturally Grandma makes them the same way. So the night of my arrival, I was all set to happily dig into my plate of holubtsi, when my mom calls.

Mom: ….and blah blah…..and this and that……and oh yes, remember to be careful about what you eat. Grandma has a tendency to keep food that’s expired. That’s probably why she’s had an upset stomach and been running to the bathroom for the last 2 weeks!

I swear I am not making this up. I pause with a forkful of stuffed cabbage on its way to my mouth.

Me: Umm…..what kind of food?
Mom: Oh, one time there was the ground beef that she left in the frig for over a week, then decided to put it in the freezer. Ha ha, that was something!
Me: Umm….but……..
Mom: And the sour cream! She left THAT on the counter, and it was already old! Make sure you check the expiration dates on everything!

Shit. There’s my 94-year-old Grandma, smiling at me beatifically, waiting for me to dig into the stuffed cabbage. So it’s the feelings of Grandma – and for someone who likes to trash talk and complain about pretty much every other person under the sun, she gets her feelings hurt VERY easily – or my entire digestive tract at stake here. That’s an easy call.

Me: Дякою, Баба. Дуже смачного! (Thanks, Grandma. Very tasty!)

She then tries to push on me the blintsi (crepes), which unlike the holubtsi, do taste kind of……off. Like the flour or butter she used wasn’t quite fresh. Sigh. At least the sour cream is okay, I hope. I sidle over to the counter to surreptitiously take a look at the sour cream container. Which…….has a Country Crock lid. Sigh again.

Oh well, down the hatch. What can you do?

Though it’s interesting to note that when I posted this adventure on Facebook, about my mom belatedly telling me about grandma’s problem with paying attention to expiration dates, it turns out that pretty much EVERYONE has a grandmother-with-spoiled-food-like-on-Hoarders story. Everyone.

From Shannon: “My Gram always had these...containers...she used to pack up her care packages she'd give me when I'd leave her house. They were usually some type of former food container that had been re-used about 100 times.”

To Jen: “Hoarders!!!! My grandma sent leftovers home in used kool whip and country crock containers. I think that is a grandma thing too.”

To Andi: “Omg. I was just talking about that with my family! Little old Swedish grandma insists on cooking the whole meal for holidays and last year was... questionable, to say the least. This year her eyesight has gone even more... so she doesn't see dirty plates etc.”

Then Lisa reminisced about her Baba, who I knew, leaving meat and cheese out on the counter until it was eaten, and Debbie chimed in about the bottle of salad dressing at a family dinner at grandma’s that had an expiration date of 5 years prior. And of course, Andi and I have in common grandmothers who clean and dry paper plates and paper towels, as if they’re meant to be reused. The “universal elderly money-saving technique,” as Andi puts it.

Somehow this makes me feel better, as if we’re all part of this vast network of grandkids of aging relatives taking our lives into our own hands so as to not make the elderly feel bad. It really does take a village…..

Next up: Why taking your 94-year-old Grandma to Costco 2 days before Thanksgiving is a Very Very Bad Idea....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Never did no wanderin’….

One of the things that I learned at (ahem) Wharton is that a sure bet in advertising or any kind of marketing is to go with kids or dogs. That basically applies to anything, really – when in doubt, kids or dogs.

So! There I was with Noreen in town to do the Chicago marathon, and of course, as part of her pre-marathon prep, I had a full schedule of activities and other things to do for the week that would make sure she showed up at that start line on Sunday in optimal shape. Normally I charge the big bucks for this kind of advice, but for friends, I do make exceptions. At least on occasion.

This meant that after she got in Monday, on Tuesday we went to a winery. On Wednesday we went and walked miles around downtown, and had Chicago-style pizza at Due’s.

Thursday, I proclaimed it to be Big Fun Day. That is, Big Fun Day for The Kone, which involves a trip to the huge-ass dog park in Lake Forest, the one that’s 44 acres of fenced-in forest preserve, then a trip for hot dogs. Oh sure, some of you may be saying, but Miss Tasha, how is this different from any other day for HRH?

Big Fun Day, or BFD, dawned bright and sunny, so off we went. I made sure that Noreen wore running-appropriate attire, so that she could run after Kona a bit as part of the ramping up portion of her marathon training plan. This was all uneventful yet much fun, in keeping with the spirit of BFD.

Then, off to Superdawg, whee! Where The Kone got his double-cheeseburgerski, while Noreen and I had the Superdawgski and onion chips. Perfect pre-marathon food, clearly.

As we were driving through the suburbs after our glorious Superdawg visit, I had the brilliant idea of hey, we’re near my old stomping grounds! Let’s really top off BFD and go for a walk in the woods near my old house, where I used to take Hudson all the time, and where I’ve taken The Kone on occasion!

Not to foreshadow or anything, but this was a really stupid fucking idea.

This path that goes through the woods, I always let Huddy off leash, and he’d go running through the woods like a deer, occasionally running back to make sure I was still there, then running off again. Many many times I took my Hudkin there over the years, and never a problem. There aren’t any big roads nearby, so he could take off and only find more woods, and a creek, where he’d stock up on water. Same for The Kone, though being the momma’s boy that he is, he never wanders far from me at all.

And so it was this time. We all wandered along, went to the creek, turned around, with Kona the whole time in my sight. Or rather, him keeping me in his sights, because that’s the kind of momma’s boy he is.

So when he first disappeared into the bushes and trees, I wasn’t worried. At all. I heard him rustling around in the bushes, as Noreen and I stood there chatting. Rustle rustle rustle. Suddenly, no rustle.

“Kona?” I call. No answer. “Kona!!” I yell, more loudly. What the hell?

I go trudging through the trees, to where there’s a slope on the other side, that goes down to railroad tracks. I know this. There’s a freight train that goes by on occasion, but rarely. Still no sign of The Kone. I go sliding down the hill to the tracks.

“Kona! KONE! KOOOOOONE!” Where the hell could he have gotten himself to?? There’s no sign of him, no telltale rustling sounds, nada.

I stand on the railroad tracks so that I can get a better look around, and peer up and down the tracks. No sign of him….wait, what? What the…… that his little butt all the way off there in the distance? Hustling his way down the tracks, trotting along purposefully, with I think a stick with a bandanna sack tossed over his doggie shoulder? It IS! What. The. Fuck.


He’s totally ignoring me, still trotting away, from what I can see off in the distance. Suddenly I have the words from a song from A Mighty Wind going through my head:

Never heard the whistle of a lonesome freight,
Or the singing of its driving wheel,
No I, never did no wanderin’
Never did no wanderin’
Never did no wanderin’ after all

“KONE! Get back here! There are NO PETITE SCONES on the RAILS!” I yell.


I’m running down the tracks as I’m yelling, and I don’t know if it was the increasingly frantic sound of my voice, the mention of scones, or the realization that leaving the comforts of home was a Really Bad Idea……but as I’m running, it appears that he might have at least stopped. Turned around? Started to come back? YES!

As he trots up to me, I scoop my heart back up and shove it into my chest, and then snap the leash on The Kone before he gets any more brilliant ideas about riding the rails to the carefree freedom of a hobo’s life. I don’t yell at him, because you’re not supposed to yell at your dog when he comes back to you, plus I’m so astonished by this whole incident that I’m basically speechless.

“You….you…..the rails…..taking off…….hobos….wanderin…..” I babble, still shocked. “The call of the rails! What was that?”

We get back into the car to head back into the city, and Kona collapses in back as if he’s the one who almost had a heart attack. Hmph. The entire drive, he's snoozing away, no doubt dreaming about what might have been, while I just keep looking back at him and shaking my head. Riding the rails? Really?

That evening I exact serious punishment on my boy, by giving him one less marrow bone to gnaw on than usual. Severe, yes, but he needed to learn his lesson.

Then, two more days of eating our way through Chicago, from Italian beef, to pie ala mode.

Needless to say, Noreen kicks ass in the marathon. I, on the other hand, am still in recovery mode.....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why I’ll always be single

I always figured I’d meet PerfectMan in one of the usual ways. For example, a "meetcute", whereby we’d be walking our respective dogs near a duck pond, when the dogs see the ducks and go bonkers running around and the leashes get tangled around our legs and PerfectMan and I go tumbling into the duck pond and fall instantly in love, sodden hair and all, while our pups gambol and frolic about happily.

Or PerfectMan would fall in love with me through my blog and would start sending me gifts and cards that would seem creepy if they weren’t from someone with the amazingly good taste to love my blog, and then PerfectMan would be accidentally arrested for stalking when he gets a little overzealous but someday we’d laugh and laugh over how I maced him the first time we actually met as he snuck into my backyard to plant some unusual varieties of tomato plants for me, his true beloved.

Like I said, the typical ways.

But I’ve recently come to the realization that even if these scenarios were likely to happen – and I’m not saying they’re NOT, but The Kone and I aren’t exactly in the habit of daily strolls near duck ponds – that I wouldn’t exactly be batting a thousand in the man-keeping department after that.

Why? Well. I’m glad you asked.

I came to realization #1 when Kim and Melindy came to stay with me and The Kone in May for Kim’s Birthday Extravaganza. I figured that Melindy could have the spare bedroom, and Kim and I could share my bed, and Kona would graciously allow Kim to have his usual spot, while he slept at the foot of the bed.

I was clearly smoking crack when I came up with that little rosy scenario, because this is what actually happened:

On night #1, I had the brilliant idea that I’d sleep in my usual spot on the left, and when Kona saw Kim in his spot on the right, he’d sigh but jump up to sleep across the bed at the end. So Kim and I get into bed first, and I encourage Kona to follow, as I pat the foot of the bed, where there’s plenty of room. He stares at me. Goes to Kim’s side (aka his usual side). Goes to my side. To Kim’s. Ignores me patting the foot of the bed. Then he eventually does decide to jump up after about a half hour of this…..jumping up where Kim is, totally ignoring the laws of physics that say that 2 objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time.

He does that a lot.

So Kim’s sitting forward, and he’s behind her, with absolutely no inclination to move. So I get out of bed, at which point my beloved sweet momma’s boy of a dog who can’t be without me for seconds…..nestles into my spot, sighs contentedly, and promptly shuts his eyes. I think he even started snoring.

I sleep on the couch. The rest of the time that Kim was there, she got into bed on the right, and The Kone had no problem whatsoever occupying MY usual spot. So much for the whole “I can’t let you out of my sight, momma!” routine that he likes to use. Hmph.

So there’s an issue with the bed routine, should I be dating PerfectMan for 6 or 10 months or so and deign to let him sleep over. But wait, that’s not all! Because quite frankly, I’m not even sure we’d make it to that point.

You see, Kona and I have this, well, routine. Which would kick in after, say, I’m out on a date, and decide to invite PerfectMan in afterwards to sip some fruity cocktails and watch Hoarders, while we talk about how astonishingly funny I am, in a wittily ironic and bitter way.

The problem would arise when we step into the house, because this is what would happen, as I envisioned in Realization #2, as this is what happens every single time I come home, whether I'm gone for 30 minutes or 2 hours:

Kona would come running up and jumping, all excited. Then he’d dash to the back of the house, holding a shoe or toy or something/anything in his mouth, and I’d have to run back there to let him out. At which point he’d barrel outside, do a lap around the yard, then barrel back in. Then he’d pick up a shoe – preferably one I would have just kicked off – and he’d run and scamper around the house while I chase his little puppybutt around like a lunatic saying “Who’s got the SHOE! Oh boy! Who’s got the shoe??”

Oh yeah, and Kona expects some kind of treat or leftover when I come home after an evening out with friends, so I’d snatch out of PerfectMan’s hands whatever he thought he’d be having for lunch the next day, and give it to The Kone.

Then if PerfectMan hasn’t already left enough of a vapor trail as he quickly departs the loony bin, we’d attempt to snuggle on the couch while following the aforementioned Hoarders/TashaAccolades plan……with Kona sprawled out in between us, pushing at us with his little pawsums as he takes up more and more space on the couch in an enfeebled attempt to eke out just the slightest bit of comfort.

Now personally, me, I don’t see why any of this should be a problem, but hey, maybe that’s just me? Probably. None of this really fits in with the romantic little cocoon one hopes to be ensconced in after a date with PerfectMan, not when you add the running-around-the-house-chasing-Kona bit. Oh well. Priorities, right? It’s not like my whole life revolves around HRH The Kone or anything……

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Flying the Tasha skies

Ah, so much to catch up on, so little time! Where to begin? Well, how about with the trip to Philly to see my Cancerchicks at a conference, which started out with a cropduster powered by a generator? But I get ahead of myself…..

So there I was in the American Airlines terminal, waiting for my plane to Philly, which is of course delayed. Mechanical issues, of course. Which is always worrisome, because what with the fines they give airlines these days if they’re late, I imagine them frantically slapping things together with duct tape, just to get the plane off on time.

We finally get onto the plane, which is a tiny little кукурузник, and I’m already peeved not just because of the delay but because the plane is SO tiny that there’s no room in the overhead bins for any of our wheelie bags. Then the true fun begins.

Captain: Okay folks, this is your captain speaking. Sorry about the really loud noise at the back of the aircraft! That’s the generator we had to plug in to power up the plane, since we couldn’t get one of the engines to work.

I swear I am not making any of this up.

He continues.

Captain:… we put in a new computer card and plugged in the generator and hopefully that’ll get us to Philly without that one engine!

The girl sitting next to me and I look at each other.

Girl: Okay, I didn’t need to know any of that.

Me: Umm, yeah, me neither. Not really on a need to know basis.

Girl: Down an engine?

Me: Plugged in a generator?

The whole plane is unusually quiet.

We manage to take off, and other than some major turbulence, the flight is pretty uneventful. Then as we approach Philly, sort of, I notice that the plane is starting to circle. Our illustrious captain speaks again:

Captain: Well folks, we were slated to get into Philly relatively on time (because we now cushion the schedule with an extra half hour just in case), but then we got word that there’s a boat in the harbor, so they’re rerouting all of us until they can get that boat moved. Shouldn’t be too long!

Again, the girl and I look at each other.

Girl: A boat?

Me: Blocking the planes from landing? WTH?

We finally land – finally! – and as we sit there on the runway, yes, another message from Captain Cropduster:

Captain: Okay folks, we need to wait for our chance to taxi in, but in the meantime, so that our generator doesn’t overheat, could those of you sitting near the windows close the shades, and make sure those air vents are open? Thanks! Should have you in in a jiffy.

I start laughing at this point. Seriously? Close the shades?

Me, to my seatmate: See, this is par for the course for me. I’ll tell my friends waiting at the airport for my plane to get in about our кукурузник plane powered by a generator delayed by a boat, and they’ll just say, oh yeah, we figured as much.

Sure enough. I call Cori to tell her I’m waiting for my wheelie bag to be dumped in the gangway, and explain the delays.

Cori: Well, it IS you – this doesn’t surprise us. At all.

Let this be a warning to the rest of you – if you see me at the airport, you might want to rethink your travel plans…..

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Portland Pattypan Gods speak?

So once in a great while I like to head out of Chicago and share my greatness among the little people far and wide. After all, the gifts such as those I possess shouldn’t be contained within such a small area, n’est-ce pas? (that’s French for “Tasha, are you on crack again?”)

Thus, over Labor Day weekend, I decided to head out to grace the city of Portland, Oregon with my presence – to visit beloved CancerChick friend Kim, who lives there, and meet up with equally beloved CC Melinda, who was flying in from Ohio. In a fortuitous turn of events, I managed to get the very last ticket to Portland on United using my miles. Hmm, interesting. I mean really – they try to scare you on the website with the “there is ONE ticket remaining, buy now or you’re screwed!” thing – but in this case, it was true.

So off I went, whee! Kim came to pick up me and Melinda at the airport, and we head out to the parking garage, where I got the first indication that Portland exists in some weird time-space warp that is so unlike Chicago as to be scary. Or rather, it just confirmed how absolutely fucked up Chicago is.

Because we get to the garage-ticket-paying thing, and I pull out my wallet, ready to be the polite guest and pay for the stuff that our wonderful host wouldn’t incur if we hadn’t foisted ourselves on her. I figured it would be what, $26, maybe $28? You know, like in Chicago. And Kim had surely been there almost an hour.

We patiently wait for the machine to tell us the total owed.

$2. Yes, $2.

I promptly put away my wallet. “Hell, you can pay that!” I cheerfully say to Kim. I am nothing if not the most considerate of guests.

We then proceed to have one of the most amazing weekend ever, truly. I never laugh so much as when I’m with my CancerChicks. Katie joined us on Friday, and then Debbie came down from Seattle on Saturday, all of which led to us having the most amazing and brilliant conversations, replete with astonishingly wonderful ideas, like this one.

Me: Hey, we could totally do a doggy food truck here! Think about it, people would love it, especially since this is already food truck central! And we could have special things based around Kona and Lucy and Daisy.

Kim: Yeah, like….

Me, interrupting: I have it! Kurmudgeonly Kona’s Kookies! Because everyone knows me as Miss Curmudgeonly, so it would all blend seamlessly, and….what?

I noticed that Melinda is looking at me with that long-suffering “Tasha you’re insane” look on her face.

Melinda: Umm… you realize that Kurmudgeonly Kona’s Kookies spells out……KKK?

Thank god I have my friends to save me from myself.

But the truly remarkable thing happened when we went out to dinner on Saturday night. The Portobello restaurant we wanted to go to was booked, so we went to another cute place, Café Haydn or something like that, which had an outdoor seating area under a beautiful gazebo. After we ordered our drinks, I noticed that they had a lawn area to the side, with gardens in raised beds, so I got up to wander over there and take a look.

I’m walking along, noticing the nicely trellised lemon cucumbers, the lack of tomato plants (sigh), the…….wait, what? Is….is that what I think it is????

“Oh my god, oh my god, give me my camera QUICK, before it disappears!” I’m practically hyperventilating as I bustle back to our table, waving my arms and demanding someone hand me my camera.

Melinda: What the heck did you find? A tomato?

Me, breathlessly: No!

Kim: A…….pattypan?

Me: YES!

I grab up the camera and run back, and lo and behold, the pattypan beauty is still there, perched on the railroad tie, like a beacon from heaven in all its glory. I swear I am not making any of this up. It’s bizarre. This lone lovely pattypan, right there at this random restaurant – when there’s not even a squash plant in sight, because I look closely.

Is it a sign? Is it one of many signs I’ve been getting, like my deciding to read the latest Outside magazine (which I never do), which names Portland as one of the top places to live? Actually, THE top one, right after Chattanooga (which, really, what the hell?)?

Would it be crazy to pack up and move to Portland in part based on a sign from a squash? Does the fact that the idea of moving from my sedate comfortable ordinary life scares me shitless mean I should just go ahead and do it? I have no idea.

We left the pattypan there, as I didn’t think it would be right to relegate it to an ordinary end, like being cut up and grilled. That seemed a bit….ignominious. Better to leave it in its exalted state, right where I found it.

Of course, no discussion about Portland would be complete without mention of Miss Lucy, Kim’s most adorable and wonderful pup. I’m happy to report that Kim runs a tight ship just as I do, ever the strict disciplinarian. Then there were the daily jaunts to Papaccino’s, the best coffee shop EVER, and the trip to Breadquarters, aka home of Prisoner Bread, and last but not least, the visit to the incredible rose garden, which wowed even me, aka someone who’s generally ambivalent about roses.

Portland – Chicago – Portland – Chicago. Hmm. I need more signs. Off to the store now to get alphabet soup – I will report back. Though I kinda feel like god or fate or whatever is out there is right now saying "Oh for chrissake, now you want words written in alphabet soup??? I gave you a fucking PATTYPAN, wasn't that enough?? You people!"

Oh, and if I do move to Portland, I need insta-friends, so please, blogosphere, send some cool people my way. M’kay, thanks.