Thursday, September 28, 2006

Raccoons, Part 1

A few months back DC and I started hearing odd chattering noises coming from the fireplace. Clearly, there was something alive in the chimney. The noises sounded vaguely familiar to me, but I couldn’t quite place them at first.

I know what you’re thinking. Why in the world would anyone put fireplaces in houses in a city where the average summer temperature will fry eggs on the sidewalk and where the air conditioning regularly runs on Christmas Day? I don’t know the answer to that. Maybe the fireplaces are subsidized by the Duraflame™ industry. Twice a year, whenever the temperature falls below 40 degrees, they want us to run out, buy Duraflame™ logs, burn them in our useless fireplaces and pretend it’s winter.

DC and his brother climbed up onto the roof to see what was going on. They discovered that the chimney cap was missing, leaving our chimney wide open and available for anyone who cared to move in. They couldn't see anything inside the chimney at first, so they dug around in their respective toy boxes and returned to the roof sometime later with some sort of camera thingy on the end of a cable. Lo and behold, the camera revealed that a mother raccoon had moved into our chimney and was living on the ledge just above the flue with one or more babies.

My first thought was, “Oh, how cute! Baby raccoons! That’s what that chattering noise was. We should let them live there. They’re not hurting anything.”

DC’s first thought was, “How can I most expeditiously remove this infestation?”

He immediately started the eviction process. The process involved him burning very tiny pieces of paper in the fireplace while I hovered behind him, bouncing on my tip-toes, waving my arms and wailing “What are you doing??” and then “Stop it! YOU’RE GOING TO SUFFOCATE THE BABY RACCOONS! ARE YOU COMPLETELY HEARLTESS?? LEAVE THEM ALONE! STOOOOP IIIIITTTT!! ”

In order to understand the origins of my distress, we have to go back to around 1973. One rainy night my father came home with a wet baby raccoon in the trunk of his car. He had spotted the baby on the side of the road, clinging to body of its squished, dead mother. Being the softie that he was, he stopped, put the baby in the trunk and brought it home, I guess intending to bottle feed it until it was old enough to take care of itself. Turns out that once the baby dried out and fluffed up, it wasn’t nearly as little as he had originally thought, so there was no bottle feeding necessary, but it was still too little to be on its own.

After a few days, the raccoon became very tame, and we named her “Waddles.” We brought her into the house sometimes to play with her. We gave her pieces of carrot and dry dog food and watched her wash her food in a little bowl of water before she ate it. She used to crawl around on our shoulders and nibble our hair and make that little chattering sound that raccoons make. She was friendly and funny and CUTE.

(She wasn’t, however, housebroken. I have no memory of the incident, but my mother claims she once backed up into a corner of the dining room and crapped on the new carpet.)

Anyway, she didn’t stay with us long, just until Dad thought she could manage on her own in the woods. Eventually we took her out to some property that my grandmother owned and let her go. In my mind, she’s still there, living a healthy, happy raccoon life, and I’m not interested in hearing anything to the contrary. Please, if you have any stories about animals raised by people that were too tame to survive on their own in the wild and starved or were eaten by wolves, just keep them to yourself, OK?

Now, fast-forward 23 years and here was my husband trying to kill Waddles’ kinsfolk! Just imagine my anguish.

DC stopped the burning long enough to convince his semi-hysterical wife (i.e. me) that we really didn’t want raccoons living in our chimney. These were not tame, friendly raccoons that would nuzzle our hair while we fed them Purina Raccoon Chow. These were wild raccoons that would sink their teeth into our flesh and scratch out our eyes if given half a chance. He also tried to assure me that no one wanted dead baby raccoons in the chimney any less than he did. He only wanted to convince Momma Raccoon that the chimney wasn’t a good place to lodge her family. I stopped wailing, but continued hovering and bouncing, not completely convinced.

Luckily, the ending of this part of the story is a little anti-climactic. There were no baby raccoons killed. After a couple of smoke treatments, the raccoon family abandoned our chimney, the chimney cap was replaced, and our chimney and fireplace have been sans wildlife ever since.

But, the story isn’t quite done yet. Stay tuned….

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Human Treats

I’m currently dogless, but I’ve seen friends occasionally give their dogs something like this:

Kong Stuff-A-Ball Dog Toy

It’s a rubber doggie toy that you load with treats, a doggie treat-toy, if you will. Then you give it to your dog and watch him spend the rest of the day driving himself insane, knawing at the toy and trying to get at the treats inside. Definitely sounds like a good time for everyone.

Last week I made something comparable for myself. Here’s the recipe:

1. Obtain one medium-sized lady’s handbag.

2. Load the handbag with all manner of bulky items. Be sure to include more items than the handbag is designed to comfortably carry. I use: wallet, checkbook, address book, cell phone, travel-sized bottle of Advil, pillbox with emergency supply of Lactaid and Xanax, travel-sized hair brush, several pens without caps, tube of lipstick, backup tube of lipstick in a different color, and keys.

3. Add about 3 pounds of loose change.

4. Shove at least a dozen wadded receipts into the spaces between the bulky items from step 2.

5. Add a handful of Dove Milk Chocolate Promises™. If you don’t have Promises, Hershey’s Kisses™ or miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups™ will do in a pinch. If there is PMS’ing going on, you may want to substitute the Dark Chocolate Promises.

6. Close the handbag. If you have to sit on it to accomplish closure, sit very gently so as not to crush anything.

7. Shake the handbag vigorously.

8. Give the handbag to the woman of your choice.

9. Watch the burrowing ensue.

This is guaranteed to keep any given woman occupied with pawing through the handbag for at least an hour or two. From personal experience, I can add that this human treat-toy will last a little longer if she’s driving and can only dig with one hand without looking. Gentlemen, if you’re looking for something besides conversation to entertain your woman on those long car trips, this might be just what you need. Enjoy.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A New Category

I think a new list category may be in order. I’ve got the “Things I Hate” and the “Dead To Me” lists, but they don’t quite cover everything. The new list would be something like:

“Things That Make My Head Explode”

or maybe

“Things That Drive Me Bat-Shit Crazy”

Any preferences?

Last week, well before September 23 (the first official day of autumn), I opened my mailbox and what did I find? A fucking CHRISTMAS catalog! And underneath it was another one! For crying out loud, it’s 97 degrees outside. The trees are still green. The grass is still alive. The mosquitoes are still biting. I still need a second mortgage to pay this month’s electric bill. IT’S STILL SUMMER!

What is the matter with these catalog people?? Oh I know, they hired some consultants, didn’t they? Yep, they found some expert Christmas marketing consultants who convinced them that sending their catalogs out in the summer would get the jump on all their competitors and fill all their customers with an unnatural, urgent need for snowman-shaped candles and dinnerware decorated with Christmas trees. The consultants must think their marketing acumen will drive us consumers into shopping-frenzies. They picture us climbing over each other in a stampede to the mall where we will load up on Hickory Farms cheese logs. Big, fat bonuses have probably already been passed out, along with lots of back-slapping and self-congratulating. Yeah, I bet the geniuses that recommended sending out those catalogs have really prestigious business degrees from really prestigious business schools.

Here’s the thing, Christmas Marketing Virtuosos. Driving your potential customers insane with Christmas shopping propaganda in September will not improve your sales numbers. We, the marketees, are still mowing our lawns weekly and sweating when we take the trash out. We’re not yet ready to deal with the familial guilt and the ass-expanding diet of fudge and sugar cookies that the Christmas season brings. We haven’t expanded our asses with leftover Halloween candy yet. We don’t want to mount wreaths on our doors and hang lights on the eaves of our houses yet. We don’t want to buy silver reindeer with candles in their antlers or Santa sweaters. We can only handle one holiday at a time out here, and it’s not your turn yet. So just pipe down and get in line. Yes, that’s your spot there, right behind the Thanksgiving people.

P.S. Please oh please, for the love of God, don’t send me a copy of the same catalog with a different cover every week from now until New Year’s Day. You’re not fooling me. I can see that it’s the same catalog. Please, both the mailman and I are begging you, save a tree or two this year. I only need one copy of your Christmas catalog.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Fuzzy Memories

I’ve never been a big drinker. I don’t have anything against it at all. It’s just that more than one drink (of any kind) gives me the irresistible urge to crawl under a piece of furniture and fall asleep. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t generally make for a fun time, for me or my drinking companions. So, I usually end up sipping at a mixed drink for the entire evening, long past the stage when all the ice in the drink melts and the condensation on the outside of the glass makes a puddle on the table, and on through the stage when the glass and its contents reach room temperature. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like a diluted, room temperature Tom Collins or Margarita. Mmmm mmmm.

Last week, I had the Mother of Stressful Days™. I spent most of the day working with a group in another city, trying to get good copies of some files I needed to produce a usable copy of some software that my entire team was waiting for. About 4pm, just as I was about to try out the latest copies, I discovered that a coworker in yet another group had inadvertently removed our team’s entire build archive, including all the work I had done thus far that day. And, even better, it was going to take several hours for everything to be restored from backup. So, I went home then and there, comforted with the knowledge that I could have accomplished just as much if I had not bothered to come to work at all. Clearly, a drink was in order.

As soon as I got home, I started rummaging through our liquor stash. I wanted something that didn’t taste like alcohol, but would get me shit-faced anyway. The tequila and vodka were eliminated right away. I didn’t even consider the bottle of Glenlivet left over from a recent family visit. I know it’s supposed to be good scotch, but scotch is yucky. A room-temperature, 3-year old bottle of champagne that may or may not still be fizzy? No. I might have tried it with some OJ if it had been cold, but I wasn’t willing to wait. I pulled out a bottle Bailey’s that was a definitely possibility. But then I found it, exactly what I was looking for. A bottle of peach Schnapps. Oh yeah. A fuzzy navel is exactly what I needed, something sweet and peachy and wonderful. This would make everything OK.

The fuzzy navel was my drink of choice in my college years. The taste of it brings back memories of stale cigarette smoke, bad cover bands, and jerky, drunk fraternity guys. I can practically see the dark little dives where we used to hang out, illuminated AND decorated only with neon beer signs. The floor was always bare concrete, I assume to make it easy to hose out all the vomit, cigarette butts, and other detritus on Saturday mornings. Ah yes, those were the days.

Anyway, after dinner I made myself an extra-large fuzzy navel, stuck a straw in it, and parked myself on the sofa for an evening of TiVo’d episodes of “Rock Star: Supernova” and “The Daily Show.” I didn’t even wrestle DC for the remote, that’s how pleasant I was feeling. By 9:30pm, three-quarters of the fuzzy navel was gone and I was fighting to stay awake. By 10, DC shook me awake and told me to go to bed. By 10:15, I was sound asleep for the night. Yes, it was a thrilling night, just like my college days, only without the cigarette smoke and drunken college students. God, I’m such a party animal. Woohoo.

Monday, September 18, 2006


1. The first sign that you are getting old:

You see a group of kids passing a doobie and the first thought that goes through your head is "Oh, that's a cold sore just waiting to happen."

2. The sign that something fun happened last night after you went to bed:

You awaken to find the kitchen counter littered with:
- a half-eaten bag of Lays potato chips*
- a mostly eaten can of Pringles potato crisps*
- a partially eaten milk chocolate Dove bar*
- one empty beer bottle
- one used shot glass
- a cork screw

*not in the house when you went to bed

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Every now and then, when I'm not looking, all the available job-related crap in my life converges into one big crap-fest. I don’t know, maybe all the stars and planets align, or I maybe accidentally piss off some higher power without realizing it. For whatever reason, more stress lands on my head than I can handle. My stress-coping tools, i.e. liquor, Xanax and compulsive exercise, are completely overwhelmed with the magnitude of the situation, and I lose the ability to cope with anything at all.

Currently, I am experiencing one of those convergences. I’ve dealt more stress at my job in the past week than in the previous six months. I’d say the stress escalation started last Wednesday and the peaked yesterday afternoon about 4pm. There isn’t much coping going on around here today. Not much at all. And I’m not seeing any clearing in the stress forecast for the next week either.

Unfortunately, my aforementioned stress-coping tools have already failed miserably. If one more person demands one more thing from me, or even asks nicely for it, or complains about something that I have or haven’t done, there's no doubt that I’m going to turn into the Tasmanian Devil. There will be spinning and snarling and spitting and screaming. Perhaps even destruction of office furniture. Comments inappropriate for a professional work environment will emanate from my lips. Sensitive people will take offense. I know this is going to happen, I just don’t know when. Therefore, for the next few days, anyone who wants to avoid being the target of the inappropriate comments and property destruction should take the following precautions:

- Don’t tell me to do something for you, in person or via email.
- Don’t ask me to do something for you, in person or via email.
- Don't ask me to redo something I did for you last week.
- Don’t complain about something that I did yesterday, to me or to anyone else.
- Don’t talk to me about anything whatsoever.
- Don’t come near my office.
- Don’t make eye contact with me in the hallway or restroom.

If you follow these few guidelines, I’m pretty sure you will be OK.

On the other hand, if you happen to see me running down the street, screaming obscenities and holding clumps of my own hair in my clenched fists, you’ll know that the melt-down has already happened. In that case, please just tackle me and wrap me in a blanket. Secure the wrapping with duct tape, making sure to keep my hands and teeth restrained inside the blanket. Feel free to cover my mouth with the duct tape too, if the cursing becomes annoying. Then strap me to the top of your car with a couple of bungee cords (it will be too dangerous to put me inside the vehicle) and take me home. Dump me on the front lawn and ring the doorbell, if you can, to let DC know that I’ve been delivered. Then leave. DC will take it from here. He’s experienced with these matters. Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Few Booby Awards

My Worst On-Going Fashion Crime: Short, chunky legs clad in Capri pants

My Worst Culinary Vice: The Hostess Ding Dong

The Most Overrated Movie Ever Made: Titanic

The Most Embarrassing Song on My iPod: Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca”

The Second Most Embarrassing Song on My iPod: The Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You”

Monday, September 11, 2006

My Latest Creation

Here it is, my latest creation. TA DA!!

Family and friends make the babies. I make the baby quilts. This one will soon be on its way to California. It’s for Mikatrin Ava, Paula and Patrick’s new baby daughter.

Paula and DC used to be roommates. She introduced us to each other, as a matter of fact, and also lobbied hard against DC’s rule against dating her friends. Without Paula, I’m sure by now I would be well down the road to becoming a weird, reclusive cat-lady. You would have probably seen me on the local 6pm news, being raided by the SPCA for having 73 cats in a single-family house. The neighbors would have finally had enough and called in the authorities.

Instead, I am the semi-normal, cat-less, happily-married woman you see before you today. Thank you, Paula!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Running Again

Looks like the worst of the summer heat is behind us now. We’re finally seeing thermometer readings below 80 degrees early in the morning. Praise. This morning I celebrated with my first run in about 2 months. Actually, it was more like a runwalkrunsweatgaspwalkrun, but I made it through the whole 4 miles without barfing and that’s good enough.

Last year about this same time, I did the same thing, also went on my first run after several weeks of not running. That night I ended up in the emergency room with serious back pain, peeing blood. The jolting from my run had dislodged a kidney stone and said stone was scraping its way down my urinary tract, causing me just a teensy bit of discomfort in the process.

The medical professionals I saw over the next few days weren’t terribly concerned about my condition. To them, my stone wasn’t a very interesting stone. It wasn’t big or pointy or stuck someplace where it could do serious damage to my plumbing. It wasn’t doing anything unexpected. It was just a boring, vanilla, garden-variety kidney stone, making its way through the urinary tract, causing some expected discomfort. No big deal. To them.

To me, it wasn’t boring at all. This stone was a brand new experience. This was more pain than I had ever felt before. Something was seriously wrong in there. Hellooo people?? I’ve got a ROCK stuck in my body over here. It’s not supposed to be in there. Get some expert on the phone and consult. Maybe I need to be air-lifted to the Mayo Clinic?? At least scurry around a little bit. STOP YAWNING AND ACT CONCERNED!!

I spent the next two weeks stoned on Vicodin and peeing into a plastic funnel with a screen at the tip. The doctor wanted me to capture the little fucker on its way out, so he could tell me what kind of stone it was. Those stone-catching funnels are not designed well for the female anatomy, especially when you’re messed up on opiates. I ended up peeing on my hands every single time, peeing down my leg as often as not, and generally splattering urine everywhere. It was even worse on the few days I went to work during those two weeks. How do you inconspicuously take a big white plastic funnel with you every time you go to the rest room? And I was going every 20 minutes because I was drinking so much water. I settled on sticking it in my backpack and just taking the whole thing with me. I don’t even want to know what my coworkers imagined I was doing in there. Probably something a lot more interesting than peeing all over myself and my belongings. Yeah.

Anyway, I’m hoping to make it through the next 24 hours without an emergency room visit. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Lawn Care

We live in a modern suburb and have a modern suburban lawn, which consists of about 5 feet of grass around the perimeter of the house. It is nothing like the semi-rural, acre-sized lawns of my youth, where getting the whole thing mowed required Dad spend an entire Saturday driving the John Deere Lawn Tractor around in spirals. No, our entire lawn can be mowed and trimmed by one moderately fit person in about an hour and a half. That moderately fit person is usually me.

For the most part, I enjoy doing yard work (unless the temperature is 101 degrees with 156% humidity). I think I like it because there’s nothing else in my life where I can make such a big difference in the appearance of such a large area with such a small amount of effort. And as an added bonus, after I mow and trim I can rationalize that there’s no need for me to go for a run or clean something or really do anything else useful that day, because I can point and say “Look at what I’ve accomplished already today. I spent an hour sweating AND the lawn is immaculate!” And then I can eat peanut butter M&Ms and watch “Project Runway” free of guilt.

Doing it myself also helps me maintain my self-image of being a liberated, self-reliant woman-of-the-world who doesn’t need a man to mow her lawn. Of course, that’s totally stupid, because there’s nothing about operating a lawnmower that proves anyone is liberated or self-reliant. It’s just not that complicated. You push the priming button, you pull the little cord until the mower starts, and then you push the mower around until all the grass in your yard is the same height. It’s usually hot and dirty, but there’s nothing about it that requires a lot of physical strength or brain power or anything other than a willingness to get sweaty and dirty. I know all that, and yet it still makes me feel self-reliant to mow the lawn myself. However, I do applaud all the women who have convinced the men in their lives that they couldn’t possibly manage the complexities of pushing a lawnmower in circles. Those women are smart.

For a while we had a neighborhood kid mow our lawn for way too much money, but he has since grown up and gone off somewhere. He’s probably sailing the world in a yacht he bought with the money he made mowing our yard. I tell you when I was a kid you could get someone to mow your yard for five or ten bucks, sometimes we actually paid people to let us mow their yards for them, for the sheer joy of it…….OK, that’s total crap, but he was a little pricey. I’m just saying.

We briefly had a professional lawn care guy, but he wasn’t reliable about showing up. He ignored our requests for mowing until the grass had grown so tall that we started keeping a machete in the car glove box to hack a path from the driveway to the front door. DC wanted a scythe, but I thought that that might be too dangerous. A little advice: No matter how tempting it is, do not pay a lawn care professional in advance, ever, even if he makes you an extra-special deal on a package of 10 mowings. DON’T do it.

DC mows every now and then, but I prefer that he not because he has some allergy issues. Mowing the yard makes him cough up his internal organs, and he needs to keep those on the inside of his body. Plus, I have to listen to him cough them up, and I don’t have to tell you how annoying that can be.

Really, the only drawback of my doing the mowing is that I know it gives DC a twinge of machismo every now and then. Deep down inside, I know there’s a tiny little piece of him, probably in his testicles, that doesn’t like the neighbors seeing his wife mowing the lawn and then probably assuming he’s inside watching professional wrestling and drinking beer in the air-conditioning. I know, because it’s much like the twinge I get whenever someone finds out that DC does all the cooking and then gets “that” look on their face. No one ever says anything, but I know what they’re thinking. My womanhood is being silently questioned. Then I resist the urge to announce to everyone that I am indeed a woman and DC cooks because he LIKES to cook and there’s nothing wrong with me because I don’t like to cook and the fact that someone has ovaries does not mean that person will enjoy spending an entire day standing in front of a stove, cooking dinner for a house full of ingrates who will spend about 45 seconds eating that dinner and then go back to watching a football game without even thinking about helping with the dishes. So. Clearly, I have no issues here. Let’s just move along….

DC and I have both learned to live with our twinges. The occasional deviation from the norm in male-female areas of responsibility around the house works for us. We can handle the random look or assumption. The important thing is that we deviate in complimentary ways, so at least all the chores get done.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Forbidden Words and Phrases

In our house, we maintain a Forbidden Words and Phrases list. Any visitor to our home is welcome to add any word or phrase they don’t like to the list, and that word or phrase will then be unofficially banned from use in our house. Here’s the list in its current state on the fridge:

The list started with DC and his former roommate Paula. About eleven years ago, they were painting their apartment prior to moving in, and the word “spackle” came up. That is a word that DC hates, for reasons that I won’t go into. Then Paula mentioned a word that she hated. Then they both came up with a few more. After a little more discussion, they decided those hated words would be posted on the fridge and banned from use in their house. The Forbidden Words and Phrases list was born.

Friends, family, and acquaintances have been adding to the list since it was first posted. The first word I added was “coitus.” (I HATE that word.) A few new words always appear during parties. For some reason, the list is hilarious, especially when everyone has been swilling margaritas. A friend once called us from a bar in Minneapolis for the sole purpose of adding “sans-a-belt” to the list, while her drinking companions cackled in the background. Yes, alcohol does indeed seem to make the list funnier. Go figure.

The list lived with DC and Paula initially, but was transplanted to our fridge when DC moved in with me and Paula got married. I still have the original list stashed someplace, but I copied it to a bigger sheet of paper when DC moved in, because it was outgrowing the 3.5x5 inch sheet where it started. Here is a transcription of the current list, roughly in chronological order. Notice that “synergy” made the list twice. Also, I realize “blog” is on the list. Please forgive me. It was added without my knowledge or consent by some as yet unidentified person.

“per se”
“if you will”
foreign object
friendly fire
“weapons of mass destruction”
irregardless (sic)
“no problem”
“change it up”
sanitary napkin
monkey bread
“so it goes”

Monday, September 04, 2006

Things I Hate, Part 4

Before we begin today, I’m wondering if anyone out there thinks 19 years is too long to hold a grudge? Anyone? No? Good, neither do I. Now, let’s get on with the bitching, shall we?

Things I Hate, Part 4: Ford Motor Company

19 years ago, in the fall of 1987, I bought a brand new red 1988 Ford Mustang LX. I had just graduated from college, had my bright shiny degree in hand, and I was about to move to another state to start my first real job. I needed a car that at least capable of getting me to this other state, and the 1979 Chevy Chevette I drove throughout my college years was not capable. I didn’t put much thought into the purchase of the Mustang. Of course, this was back in the dark ages, before the World Wide Web existed, so I couldn’t get online and check out the repair history and level of customer satisfaction for any particular vehicle, so I did the next best thing. I bought the one that was cute.

Plus the yellow Chevette that I was driving at the time died directly in front of the red Mustang on the car lot and would not start again. I just knew it was some sort of a sign. Unfortunately my sign-reading skills were still in their infancy. I thought the sign meant “Buy this car.” The sign actually meant “Anything that comes near this car will stop working.”

Little things started going wrong with the Mustang almost immediately. A couple of months after I started my new job, the cassette player started malfunctioning. (If you’re too young to remember what a cassette player was, ask your Grandma.) The local dealership required that I make an appointment and bring the car in and leave it for the ENTIRE day in order for them to pull out the old cassette player and pop in a new one, an operation that required about 30 seconds of effort. So, I made my appointment, brought the car in early that morning, made arrangements for a coworker to pick me up on his way to work and then had another coworker drop me back at the dealership after work. I did all this and yet when I arrived back at the dealership at the end of the day, I learned that my car was not ready. No, they had not yet spent 30 seconds working on my car, but they would get right to it while I waited on the ratty sofa with the stuffing sticking out of one arm, in the disgusting customer lounge that smelled like three-day-old coffee and motor oil. Then, one of the service managers called me “Hon.” No, I was not happy that day. I gave them all huge, glowering glares of unhappiness.

In the fall of 1988 I moved to Austin and here is where things got weird. The car started acting like it was possessed. Sometimes the engine would rev by itself while I waited at a stop light, causing the guy next to me in the Subaru to wonder if I was challenging him to a drag race. Or, the engine would sputter and stutter, apparently having some sort of seizure, while I was driving in traffic. Sometimes it would just die while I was driving down the road at 60mph. In case you’ve never experienced this yourself, flying down the road at 60mph is definitely not the time to lose the power steering and power brakes, which is exactly what happens when the engine dies.

Clearly it was time to try out the dealership in Austin. I tried it again and again and again. Over the course of a year, they replaced sensor after gizmo after dohickey, each time with a different explanation about what the problem had been. Each explanation was wrong. The car continued to rev and sputter and die randomly. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Oh, and this dealership didn’t take appointments. No, they had an even better customer scheduling scheme. Each time I needed work, they insisted that I bring the car in and leave it until they could get to it, usually about three days later. Could I bring the car back in three days, when they could actually do something with it? No, I could not. The only way they could work on my car was if it sat in line for three days, ignored and unused, in a lot behind the dealership with all the other walking-wounded Fords, waiting its turn. There were no “savesies” at the Ford dealership.

Finally, after the third or fourth visit, the geniuses in the service department replaced some little computerized thingy that controlled how much gas the engine got, and what do you know, the revving and sputtering stopped. Halle-freaking-lujah.

Nonetheless, the car continued to gradually decay over the course of the next five years. Every time it went to the dealership, they kept it an extra day or two so they could replace all the parts that had been recalled since the last time I was in. Once, some wench in customer service tried to convince me that I should be happy, because they had replaced all these things FOR FREE! Yeah, I was deliriously happy. Look into my eyes and observe my extreme happiness, you nitwit.

In total, I owned the car for seven years. It was never abused, and always maintained as specified in the owner’s manual. And it was a never-ending pain in the ass. A couple of more years and I think I would have walked out into the garage one morning and found nothing but a pile of red dust, surrounded by 4 tires. I swear there wasn’t a single part on that car that didn’t break and need replacing. After about six years I didn’t trust it to drive more than 30 miles in any direction, because I didn’t know if I would ever make it back. After seven years, I could finally afford to buy something else, and I did. It wasn't a Ford.

I bought that Mustang when I was 22 years old. I figure I had at least 50 years of car-buying ahead of me at that time. Ford had the first, best shot at being on my short list for those 50 years, except for a couple of things: 1) their car sucked, and 2) their service sucked even harder. Ford will never get another cent of my money ever again. Ever. I don’t care how wonderful they are now. I don’t care if they make cars that run on air and never need an oil change or new tires. I don’t care if they’re giving cars away for free. They made my life miserable for 6 years and for that they must be punished. In fact, their crimes were so bad that they have been added to the official “Dead to Me” list:

Jill’s Dead to Me List:

1. yogurt
2. Ford Motor Company

There. See? I am not to be trifled with.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


It’s been a grumpy week over here at Casa de Jill y DC.

It appears that we have a water leak somewhere under our house. Our house sits on a concrete slab, so the leaking line won’t be easily accessible without the aid of a jack hammer and a lot of money.

Demonic spirits took possession of DC’s primary and backup business computers this week. He has been on the phone with various technical support organizations around the globe for the last 48 hours. The backup computer is now resting comfortably after a successful exorcism. The primary computer’s head is still spinning and spewing green vomit all over the office walls.

Our now ex-accountant screwed up DC’s estimated quarterly taxes yet again and, as a result, the IRS wants us to give them $8000 on or before September 15. Oh, and the screw up is extensive and pervasive enough that we also need to pony up an additional $3000 for the 2005 tax year.

The cubification of my workplace is about to begin. This week I found out that within the next three months, I will be removed from the spacious window office that I’ve been in for the last 16 years and will be relocated into a 6 ft. by 8 ft., corporate-approved, standard-sized cube. Anybody who even thinks about saying something like “Oh, you were really lucky just to have that office as long as you did” can bite me.

I am cross.