Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Little History

Yesterday I was doing some cleaning up in my saved email archive, and I ran across something that just has to be shared with the internet. It’s the thing that convinced me that Slag had to have a blog to share his stories with the rest of the world. Or at least a small group of other bloggers with excellent taste. You know who you are.

Before we started our blogs, Slag and I used to email our funny stories to a group of friends. Many of my early posts were based on those stories, because I’m lazy like that. I had been thinking about blogging for a while and also mentioning it to Slag whenever he produced something especially amusing, but what follows is what set me into full-blown nagging. That’s right. I’m taking credit for the creation of Alchemy Anyone.

Slag declined to post this on his blog, so I’m doing it here. It must be shared, and I’m allowed to do that because Texas is a community property state.

But first some background. To get the context, you must first read my Ethical Dilemma post. That post was based on an email I had sent to our “funny story” friends.

Did you read it? I hope you did, because otherwise, the rest won’t make any sense.

This was Slag’s response:

I had a spiritual talk with the bird this morning. I let him know that I totally understood his dilemma, i.e. no chirpee, no feather burger. But, surely he must know that chirping for any reason between roost and daybreak is a total waste of resources considering that all the animals in the animal kingdom that give a sh*t one way or another are UNCONSCIOUS!

So I've been waiting for this law of nature to finally sink in to his little bird brain, but I know from previous experience that there's no reasoning with a retard. I've tried making his life unpleasant by chunking dirt clods and shaking his tree. But, the motherf*cker gets all up in my grill with his flapping and squawking and I'm going “HEY D*CKHOLE, GET THE F#CK OUT OF MY TREE,” and he's giving me the middle feather and making me look like his bitch in front of his homebirds.

So I whip it out and shake it at him and I'm telling him, “Yeah motherf*cker, this is what your little hens are looking for, you pencil-dick rooster wannabe.” I tell him, “Uh huh, that's why you are up all night squawking like an egg laying yardbird. You're trying to make up for your little smoky by playing the *sshole.”

So he's all cocky and he tells me, “Yeah, your lady likes my little smoky fried up hot with her scrambled eggs every morning.”

I tell him, “Come on motherf*cker.”

So, the *sshole pulls a beak on me and I'm ok with that. I strap on the shank spurs from my chicken fighting days and I say, "Let the games begin, dude!"

He comes at me full-on with some kind of rookie wingflap-beak-to-the-eye move and BAM! Down he goes. He's on the ground looking around to see if the hens were watching. Yeah, they saw it all. They are all looking at me like "Yeah baby, you're my daddy now," and he knows it's all over.

Adios amigo. It's just like I said, it's my damn tree.

And then the next day, a follow-up arrives, in response to a question about the first story:

Unfortunately, I don't have time to answer that question. I am packing at the moment and I will be leaving xxx Cove for a while. Mr. Hotnuts bird brain came back this afternoon with a couple of his friends. I thought I could take them, and I was doing OK until the grackle caught me with a kidney punch, and I really don't know what happened after that except I've apparently lost the right to mate with Jill.

Everything is all right though. I found a nice hackberry tree in the projects at the end of xxxx Road that doesn't seem be within the territorial boundaries of the any of the birds in the neighborhood. I count myself lucky considering it is really close to a family thatnever puts the lid on their garbage can.

Jill, be brave and try not to antagonize your new alpha male. As soon as I heal up, I'll start expanding my territory, tree by tree, until xxxx Cove is restored once again to my dominion. That cannot happen soon enough considering the hens in this area are alittle feather worn, if you know what I mean.

And the rest is history.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Search for Steak

There's this Texas-ish restaurant down the road from us that serves steaks and seafood. By "Texas-ish" I mean there are dead animal heads on the wall, and the place is normally full of coach-type people wearing sans-a-belt polyester coach shorts, laughing too loud and slapping each other on the back while smoking fat cigars and talking about football. The women with them sip martinis and wear big hair and too much make-up. The restaurant even has a separate smoking room, decorated with enormous leather furniture and more dead animal heads, where important customers can rent their own humidors. It is an extremely pretentious place, but in a very stereotypically Texas sort of way.

We walked in on a weeknight a while back (after the Truluck's fiasco), still looking for a good steak. We were greeted by three or so anorexic teenage girls in little black dresses, clustered around the hostess podium.

"Do you have a reservation?"

We looked past them into the cavernous, nearly empty dining room.

"No. Do we need one?" said with raised eyebrows and the tiniest smirk.

Apparently not, because they consented to seat us, but only after getting our names and recording them in their book. They didn’t want any other information, just the names. Weird. If I had only been thinking faster, we could have been “Thor” and “Wonder Woman,” but I missed my chance.

They didn’t make us wait, but they seated us, in a nearly empty restaurant, right next to the bus boy/drink station. It was lovely. We got to listen to ice being shoveled into pitchers and dirty dishes being stacked throughout our meal. I suppose we were being punished for showing up without a reservation AND without sans-a-belt pants or big hair. Whatever. Just bring us one of your sucky steaks, so we can decide we're never coming back here again.

Slag ordered the 26oz Porter House steak. It was fabulous. He ate all of it. Every bit. I know he wanted to pick up the bone and gnaw on it, but he didn’t on account of it being such a classy place. He said it was the best steak he'd ever had. Ever. I tasted it too. It was very good. Tender. Perfectly seasoned. Cooked exactly as requested.

Woohoo!! We found a place to get good steaks! Halleluiah!

But “boo! hiss!” because we have to endure dead animal heads and snobby staff to acquire said good steaks.

Slag wanted to make sure the good steak wasn't a fluke though, so we called up L. and made plans to go back again. This time it would be a Saturday night, so Slag made a reservation, with the hope that it alone would be enough to get us a table away from the drink station. None of us were interested in taking the extra step of donning sans-a-belt pants or sporting big hair to improve our image in the eyes of the staff.

Slag didn't so much make the reservations for us though, as for his alter-ego. He called up the restaurant and said, in his best New England accent, that he would like to make reservations for Saturday night. The name? Clayton Endicott III. That's E-N-D-I-C-O-T-T the THIIIIIIIRD. A phone number? Certainly. He gave them his cell phone number. He then informed the hostess, in the snobbiest tone I’ve ever heard come out of his mouth, that the number he had just given her was his driver's number. If they should need to call the number, they should please speak very plainly, because his driver is a “little dim.” The hostess responded with some nervous laughter.

I was working on the computer in the same room while the reservation was being made. By the time it was complete, I had put my head down on the desk and was cradling my face in the crook of my elbow, about to die from a combination of mortification and laughter. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to go anymore. Fortunately, that's where the dramatic part of the story ends. We arrived on Saturday night, posing, I guess, as Mr. Endicott III and his party. L. and I hung back as Slag approached the hostess stand to let them know we were there. I don’t know what he said to them, and I don’t want to know. All I know is that we got a great table and very little attitude from the hostess stand. And, we all agreed that the steaks were still fabulous.

Slag had tried to get L. to wear his tuxedo to the restaurant and play the part of Mr. Endicott III. Slag planned on playing the part of the dim driver himself and amusing himself at the restaurant staff’s expense. Thankfully, L. wouldn't cooperate. The staff at the restaurant would be grateful if they only knew what they had been saved from.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ice Ice Baby

I swear this is my last ice-related post. The ice started melting around noon today, and it’s mostly gone now. Plus I’m totally tapped out of catchy ice-related post subjects.

Yesterday was another “ice day,” spent sequestered in the house. We got even more sleet and freezing rain the previous night. To prove it, here’s another picture of my car with even bigger icicles hanging from it.

By yesterday afternoon I’d had enough of being stuck in the house and decided to go for a run, if only to breath some air that hadn’t cycled through the heating system 12 times. I know it sounds nuts, but as long as you bundle up, the cold isn’t bad when there’s no wind. I much prefer it to the heat in August. The asphalt roads were pretty much ice free, though the sidewalks, bridges, and everything else were still covered. I stayed in the road and had no problems except for almost losing it once crossing one of the little bridges on my running route. I don’t think anybody saw me do the whole “Frankenstein-helicopter-arms” thing, so no problem there.

While I was out, I must have passed at least ten people in their driveways, attempting to remove the ice from their vehicles. The ice was a good inch thick for most of them. They were employing all sorts of ice scrapers, brooms, buckets of water, ice picks, machetes, hammers, etc. to pummel their various vehicles.

But here’s the weird thing. Not one of them had started the engine of vehicle he/she was attempting to de-ice. Not one! WTF?? I did grow up in a more northern climate, so maybe I’m biased, but isn’t starting the engine sort of an intuitive first step?

Your basic automotive frozen precipitation removal process (learned from my Dad in the ‘70’s):

1. Start engine.
2. Turn defroster setting on “high.”
3. Go back in the house, drink coffee and wait until things start to melt.
4. Scrape until windows are clear enough to see through.

I did it this morning and it worked great. I’ve never tried it, but I’m pretty sure that if you skip steps 1 through 3, step 4 is going to be a real bitch. Come on, people, let’s use those brain cells!

Maybe this would be a good topic for the over-excited local newscasters next time we have an ice storm. Must go check to see if they have a suggestion box on their website…..

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Snow Day!

OK, I guess it’s really an ice day, but I’ll take it. Unfortunately, I’m set up to work from home, so I’m not totally off the hook. It’s still fun working in my jammies though, and I haven’t decided if I’m going to shower today or not. Plus nobody else is at work either, so I’m getting about 550% fewer questions and requests, which means that the work I have to do is going a lot faster.

Yesterday would have been an ice day, but it was a company holiday anyway, so I got the day off regardless. The roads were bad in the morning, but Slag was determined to run a couple of errands and practice a little ice-driving yesterday afternoon, like I mentioned earlier. I forbade it.

Turns out I didn’t actually kick his ass, but I did stand in the doorway while he backed out of the garage, looking very menacing with my hands on my hips, going “Get back in the house this instant! You’re not going anywhere! The roads are icy and you’ll be killed!“

And as he backed down the driveway, “DO YOU HEAR ME?? I SAID GET BACK IN THIS HOUSE RIGHT NOW!”

And as he started off down the street, “I’M NOT JOKING WITH YOU! YOU’RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE!”

And then he hit his remote and shut the garage door in my face. I retaliated by slamming the door on my way back into the house. So there. I guess I showed him.

But the roads were much improved by the time he left, so he didn’t get to do any ice driving. Ha! That’s what he gets for not listening to me.

We got even more sleet and freezing rain last night though. Now there’s about ¼ of an inch of ice on everything. Here’s a picture of my car covered in sleet and ice. Can you see that there are actual icicles hanging from the wheel well in the lower left corner of the picture?? (Anyone reading this who lives in northern climes is kindly requested to refrain from rolling his/her eyes out of their sockets.) This is a big deal around here.

To give you an idea of what I mean, a few years ago, I saw an interview with the guy who was in charge of highway maintenance for the entire state of Georgia or Alabama (I can’t remember which) just after a freak storm had dropped like 10 inches of snow onto the northern half of the state. The interviewer guy asked him, “How long do you think it will be before you have the major highways plowed and cleared?” And the guy answered, “Oh…..we don’t have a plow.”

Yeah. So. That’s pretty much the situation here. The two strategies we have for dealing with frozen water on the roadways are 1) sprinkling sand on the highway overpasses and 2) waiting for it all to melt. Since the temperature hasn’t risen above freezing yet today, nothing is melting just yet.

Which brings us to the exciting part of today’s story. Having missed out on the ice-driving yesterday, Slag was even more determined to drive in it today. I was equally more determined that he would not.

I knew I’d have to be sneaky, so I surprised him with a preemptive strike on his shoes. I did get one of them untied before he saw what I was doing and removed me from his ankle. I unzipped his jacket, yanked it halfway down his arms and yelled “You’re not going anywhere!” while he retied the shoe. I came back with an arm lock on the other leg and got the other shoe untied before he got annoyed and pushed me gently back onto the floor and held me at arms reach while I flailed at him and he retied the second shoe. I had lost the element of surprise. I knew I was beaten. I settled for flopping down flat on the floor and yelling “If you end up in the emergency room with every bone in your body broken, don’t call ME to come and get you!” at the ceiling as he left.

He just called me from the grocery store. What do you know, he made it there without being crushed to death in a multi-car pile-up. We didn’t get to go over the shopping list before he left, and he wanted to know if I needed anything. Yes please. A box of Frosted Mini-Wheats and a dozen eggs.

He said he’s going to find an empty parking lot on the way home to practice skid control or something. He better not break those damn eggs.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Ice Cometh

Well, it’s happened. It’s been a couple of years so we were due. It rained AND the temperature has fallen to 30 degrees, so there’s about 1/16th of an inch of ice coating absolutely everything. And around here, that’s the first sign of the apocalypse. Chaos ensues.

Cars start randomly running into each other. Everything is cancelled. We all huddle around our radios and television sets like underground freedom fighters, waiting to hear the word that friendly forces will soon be marching through the city to liberate us.

The local newscasters are reporting everything as if the second coming is imminent. They interview someone who saw someone else drive their car into a tree, and ask some shelled-shocked dude how he feels about his brand new pickup being smashed. They’re broadcasting close-ups of ice covered cars, trees, power lines, road signs, awnings, mail boxes, playground equipment and anything else that will stand still long enough for them to get that shot. They start airing tips on how to avoid frostbite, things like “Wear mittens, not gloves” and “You lose 126% of your body heat through the top of your head, so be sure to wear a hat.” We get hourly reports from the airport, telling us that, amazingly, all flights are running as scheduled. It’s just thrilling.

And oh dear lord, the local weather people are absolutely coming in their pants. They haven’t had anything this exciting to report since that hurricane threatened to bring us a couple of inches of rain about five years ago. They’ve got all this weather-displaying technology at their disposal and they’re going to use it. They’ve got pie charts and historical temperature graphs. They’ve got storm-tracking Doppler weather team radar and they’re going to use it to bring us all the life-saving, up-to-the-minute information they have to give. Over and over again until our heads collectively explode. That’s how much they care.

And then they trot out the historic video of the “blizzard of ’59” from the archive, so we can see how much better we have it than those poor people did back then.

I didn’t pay any attention to the local news report last night, but I’m sure it showed videos of people crawling all over each other at the local grocery store, denuding the shelves of canned food and bottled water, the whole thing probably highlighted with a human interest story about a fist-fight that broke out over that last box of Lucky Charms. Please, can’t we all try to have good will towards our fellow man in these times of crisis??

OK, I know ice is dangerous. You really can’t drive on it at all, no matter what kind of vehicle you have. It’s even worse in an area where people only have to deal with frozen stuff coming out of the sky once every couple of years. This morning there was an eight car pile-up on a highway not far from our house that sent ten people to the hospital.

Here’s a thought: STAY HOME.

I have no intention of leaving the house today. I’ve got one bottle of cheap red wine left. I’ve got seasons three and four of Scrubs on DVD. I’ve got my bunny slippers. I’ll be fine until this phase of apocalypse passes.

P.S. Slag thinks he’s going out later to find an empty parking lot and practice his ice-driving skills. I humbly beg to differ. I predict there will be an ass-kicking in this house today. Whose ass, I can’t yet say.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I’ve never told anyone this before, but deep inside the recesses of my psyche I have an alternate personality. I affectionately call her “The Bitch.” As you may be able to tell from her name, she isn’t the “nice” one. She’s the one who takes over when the nice one is being taken advantage of. The nice one is me. Really.

As I get older, I’m getting better and better at controlling her. I try to only let her out to play when it seems safe and she won’t be able to cause any havoc in my life. Sometimes I even let her write posts for my blog to amuse herself. But last night she nearly overwhelmed me. It was very scarey. I think she could have done serious bodily and property damage, in a public place no less.

First a little background. Without going into a detailed medical history (I love you, Internet, but you don’t have to know everything), I’ll just say that I’ve been taking a particular prescription medication for the last 14 years. It works well for me and has caused no problems.

About 4 months ago a generic version of said medication became available. Since my insurance company only wants the best for me, they immediately switched me to the generic version, because they were sure that the generic version would provide me with quality, cost-effective medication. The cynic might think they were only trying to save themselves some money, but no, my well-being is their top priority. It says so right there in their brochure. And they wouldn’t say that if it weren’t true. Really.

Unfortunately, after 4 months of taking this quality, cost-effective generic medication, it became clear that the generic version was not working for me. My symptoms were back. At that was a bad thing.

My doctor told me that many others were having the same problem with this quality, cost-effective generic medication and immediately wrote me a new prescription, specifying that only the name brand version should be dispensed. I suspected that the insurance company, that only wants the best for me, might balk at shelling out for a new prescription when I still had two months of the generic stuff left from my last three-month refill, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I was totally willing to eat the cost of a couple of months of the stuff to get something that works. That willingness seemed to cause lots of confusion down at the local Walgreens. Lots of confusion.

Last night I arrived at the pharmacy counter to pick up my prescription, the prescription that had been sent in the previous day. One would think that 30 hours would be enough time to fill one prescription. Certainly.

So I gave the pharmacy tech guy (hereafter to be known as Doofus) my name and asked for my prescription.

“I’m sorry ma’am, but your insurance company is not allowing a refill on your medication this soon.”

“It’s not the same medication. The old prescription is for the generic version, but the generic isn’t working for me.”

Doofus and a couple white coats consulted for a minute or two.

“I’m sorry ma’am, but your insurance company considers those to be the same medication.”

“No problem, I’ll just pay cash.”

“So you want it anyway?”

“Yes, I’ll be paying cash.”

“You realize that this prescription will be $100?”

“That’s no problem. I’d like my prescription please,” as I waved my Visa card in his general direction. The Bitch was now starting to stir. I felt her kick my liver.

“I’m sorry ma’am, but we didn’t fill the prescription because we didn’t know that you’d want to pay cash. It’ll take us about 20 minutes to get it ready. If you’d like to wait, we’ll call you over the store intercom when it’s ready.”

The Bitch took control of my eyelids and glowered at him, but I kept her otherwise restrained. “No problem, I’ll just come back later this evening.”

We only live a couple of minutes from the Walgreens, so Slag and I just headed home. About an hour later I was about to leave and go back to pick up the prescription when Slag talked me into calling to make sure it was ready, to avoid a wasted trip. Plus, he likes to avoid the Bitch as much as possible too, and he knew she’d been awakened and was just waiting for an opportunity to take control of my body and do something bad to somebody. So I called. Was the prescription ready? No it wasn’t, but they’d have it ready to go in about 20 minutes. Good call, Slag.

So we killed another half an hour with an episode of Scrubs and then I headed out. I arrived back at the pharmacy counter almost exactly an hour and a half after Doofus told me my prescription would be ready in 20 minutes. Doofus was still on duty, but he looked at me like he’d never seen my face before. I gave him my name and asked for my prescription.

“What’s the first name again?” as he’s digging through the bin corresponding to the first letter of my last name.


More time passed. And then he frowned a little into the computer monitor, and told me, “Your insurance company isn’t allowing a refill this soon. Were you planning to pay for this yourself?”

He said it to me as if we, he and I, the exact same two people, had not had an extended conversation about this very topic a mere hour and a half ago in this very spot.

And suddenly the Bitch was awake and ready to kick some ass. I gagged a little as she rose to her full height inside my throat.

“Yes, I’ll be paying cash,” I squeaked out while fighting to keep her from taking control of my limbs. Ordinarily I would let her go at this point, but I still needed something from these people and I was determined not to let her ruin it for me.

“I’m sorry ma’am, but that prescription hasn’t been filled yet. If you’d care to wait, it’ll take us about 20 minutes to get it ready.”

And then the Bitch started trying to move and talk. She tried to grab Doofus by the hair and scream “GIVE ME MY GODDAMN PILLS, YOU STUPID FUCK!” but I tackled her at the last minute and choked off her shrieking with my throat muscles. The words that actually emerged from my mouth were something like “YOU told me that it would be ready in TWENTY minutes an HOUR AND A HALF AGO.”

“I apologize for that. We’ll get it ready as soon as we can.” And he said it with an attitude that implied that he wasn’t a bit sorry. Not a bit. He got another glower of dissatisfaction from me, and then I parked myself in the waiting area and gave him mean looks while distracting the Bitch with a game of video poker on my cell phone.

Twenty five minutes later Doofus calls me back up to the counter. “The pharmacist would like to speak with you.”

Pharmacist Dude had my prescription in front of him, the one that clearly said that only the name brand medication should be dispensed. He was confused.

“Did you want the generic version of this?”

And then the Bitch went nuts. She gave up trying to take control of MY arms and instead stuck her own arms out of my mouth, braced her elbows on my nose and chin, and used the leverage to pull her entire self out of my throat. Doofus was her first target. She opened her talons and threw herself at his ample, soft underbelly, but he was quick for his size and scooted out of reach behind a big filing cabinet. Then she went after Pharmacist Dude. By this time, I was screaming for her to calm down because I didn’t have my pills yet, but she didn’t care. I did manage to get her in a headlock, but she was already too big and strong for me to stop. She ended up dragging me along as she lunged at Pharmacist Dude. The weight of me on her back slowed her down though, so she only got a grip on his lab coat, which she ripped off his body while he screamed like a little girl. The coat distracted her for a second. While she demolished the remaining scraps, I retrieved the pepper spray from my purse and gave her a direct hit, right in the face. She screamed in pain and anger, and dropped to the ground. I promptly sat down on the back of her neck. I figured that if the tactic will keep a horse on the ground, it’d work on her too. Thankfully, I was right.

It didn’t keep her quiet though. The Bitch snarled and hissed like a Tasmanian Devil as I answered Pharmacist Dude, panting from the exertion. “NO, the generic (pant) DOES NOT WORK (pant) FOR ME. I WANT (pant) THE (pant) NAME (pant) BRAND!”

I think Pharmacist Dude was still in shock over the loss of his lab coat and embarrassed about his girly screams, because he didn’t say anything else after that. He just turned back his work table and got busy filling my prescription. I never saw Doofus again. I can only assume that he had fled the building.

I continued to sit on the Bitch, right there in the middle of the pharmacy waiting area, for the additional twenty minutes in took for Pharmacy Dude to count out 30 pills and put them in a little bottle. I was not going to let her up until she stopped making noises that would cause Beelzebub to tremble with fright. It was just too dangerous. Everybody else could just walk around us. I didn’t care.

Just before my prescription was ready, a new pharmacy tech, Sharp Guy, came on duty. Sharp Guy had noticed me sitting there on the floor and asked me my name so he could check on my prescription, without me even saying a word. He correctly deduced that I was waiting on a prescription. He was clearly smart. He was also helpful. He was friendly. He was on top of everything. He understood what was going on after I explained it only once.

The Bitch liked him. His excellent customer service and reliable short term memory soothed her. She started to purr while Sharp Guy checked on Pharmacist Dude and made sure he was really giving me the name brand. By the time Sharp Guy was stapling my receipt to my bag and telling me to have a great evening, she had returned to her normal size and had snuggled back into her favorite spot, right below my solar plexus.

Thank god for Sharp Guy. If not for him, I don’t know how I would have gotten the Bitch out of the store without someone being hurt.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Two Things

Two things I'm happy about today:

1. is having their annual sale of left-over Christmas merchandise. If you don't mind your chocolates being in a box wrapped with a Christmas ribbon (and really, who does?), you can get them for half price.

2. iTunes finally has some Bob Seger tunes besides that one insipid Christmas album that they've had forever. Now if only Apple and whoever owns the Beatles stuff could get their collective underwear out of a bunch. I'd volunteer to de-wedgie-fy them myself if I thought it would do any good.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

My Latest Quilt

What do you know, I accomplished something over my Christmas vacation besides compulsive eating and watching Scrubs reruns. Slag's daughter had a baby son last Friday and this quilt is for him. Jacob....something. Crap, I can't remember the middle name. I'll get the full name and all the statistics when we go up to meet the little guy, hopefully soon.