Monday, August 24, 2009

Okay, be honest

DO I have a sign on my forehead that says, "crazy people come talk to me!"?? Do I? I do, don't I?

Saturday it was the Angry Onion Lady, tonight it was Crazy Laundromat Man.

I was in the laundromat waiting on my laundry. Normally I'd do that sitting in my car reading, but one of my dryers sounded like it was getting ready for lift-off and I wanted to keep an eye on it for possible trajectory in case I had to chase it down with my car and retrieve my unmentionables. So here I am, sitting quietly on a bench watching the dryer vibrate, when this large, spry old man comes up and starts talking at me.

It seems he had to get insurance to get his red truck licensed so he could carry "fast freight" because he already had his CDL and someone waved their hand in his direction so he got an American flag and put that on his truck and we'll just see how they like that because he's been serving this country his whole life ever since he was just a little boy when he was a G-man decoding secret files that somebody put in a suitcase and threw off a train and because of that 50,000 people died in one day. One day! (The suitcase/train/secret documents makes me think of something I once heard or read somewhere but I have no idea what or where.)

I smiled and nodded and very carefully avoided eye contact and the minute my dryers stopped I grabbed my slightly damp clothes and made a hasty exit.

Why me? One of the managers at Walmart says I look "sympathetic" and seem "nice" and "approachable". I have GOT to stop that!

Ziss Boom Bah!

Also POW, BAM, and Snap, Crackle, and Pop. Definitely Snap, Crackle, and Pop.

Yes, I finally got that pesky electricity hooked up in my new house. The smoke has cleared, there doesn't seem to be any lasting damage to the breaker box and my heart beat has returned to something approaching normal.

Next: Plumbing! :D

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Perils of Produce

Yesterday I had a run in with an Angry Onion Lady. She came up while I was scraping old PLU stickers out of a bin liner with my fingernails and announced that "we have some questions about these onions back here!"

As near as I could tell she was alone, so I must assume she was either using the royal "we" or suffering some form of multiple personality disorder. Anyway . . . .

Answering questions about all things producian being part of my job, I followed her politely in spite of her agressive manner. She stopped in front of a display of bulk yellow onions and asked what kind they were. I told her they were yellow onions and she spun around and literally snarled at me. "I can see that!"

So why did you ask . . . ?

"That's what they are," I said, trying to pacify her. "They don't have another name. They're just yellow onions."

"Are they hot?"

"No, ma'am. The yellow onions are the mildest variety."

"I hate mild onions!"

At this point, I realize in retrospect, I should have said, 'Oh, in that case, they're hot. Thanks for asking. Have a nice day.' and gone back to my PLU stickers. But no! I stick around to try to be helpful.

She goes from there to a side rack stocked with bagged yellow onions. "What are these?"

I cringe. "Yellow onions."

"Are they hot?"

Oddly enough, putting onions in mesh bags does not change the flavor. Still, I probably should have said yes.

"No, yellow onions are the mildest onion."

"I hate mild onions!" she announced, dropping the bag into her shopping cart.

So you're buying them why . . . ?

"Yellow onions are what you generally cook with," I began, trying to clear things up.

She spun towards me and howled, "NO! I cook with hot onions. They make everything else taste better too!"

"Well," I said hesitantly, "maybe you'd prefer red onions, like you put on hamburgers. They tend to have more of a bite."

Picture a mad witch queen in a fairy tale. Picture her at the point where she's just about to defeat the lovely princess, ensnare the handsome prince and enslave the kingdom. I'm not talking Disney here. I mean a real Grimm fairy tale, with blood and torture and stuff. Picture the evil witch queen leaning forward, eyes gleaming with avarice, gnarled old hands twisted into grasping claws before her face, mouth gaping in a half-grin of anticipation, strands of spittle clinging to her chin.

Can you picture her?

She looks just a little less crazy than the Angry Onion Lady did at the mention of red onions.

"Yes! You have red onions? Where are they?"

"Well, we don't have them in bags," I apologized. "Just in bulk. They're right there."

I pointed to the red onions, in the bin next to the bagged yellow onions, which were identifiable by the fact that they were, well, red.

She followed my gaze and her face fell. She glared at me in fury and disbelief. "Pah! I don't want those red onions! I tried those things. They don't have any flavor." She looked me up and down in contempt. "Those aren't red onions. They're just red onions. When I say I want red onions I don't mean I want red onions, I mean I want red onions!"

I backed away slowly, careful not to make eye contact, and returned to my empty bin. I'd left a cart full of oranges there and I figured I could hide behind it and even use them as projectiles if it became necessary to defend myself. The last I saw of the Angry Onion Lady, she was stomping off between the apples and the citrus fruit muttering to herself. "Can't get good-tasting vegetables anymore! It's all this damned organic crap!"

Nothing she'd been anywhere near was organic, but I sure as heck wasn't going to say anything.

Know what she was like? Do you remember The Waltons? Remember how Grandma Walton was always sharp-tongued and snippy? Kind of crotchety-yet-lovable? Well, this woman was sort of like that. She was kind of crotchety-yet-not-lovable. More like crotchety-yet-a-total-bitch. She was even scarier than Cranky Mr. Cauliflower or The Evil Culligan man!

But, here's the thing. Reading this now, you're probably thinking I've exaggerated. I haven't. If anything, I've played down her attitude and speech. She really was that angry. About onions.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chapter and Verse

Mindy Tarquini keeps telling me I need to write a non-fiction book about my experiences converting an Amish-built shed into a liveable cottage (before winter!). I haven't taken too many notes, but I have started a list of chapter headings (in no particular order):

  • TRENCHES, and why you shouldn't dig them until you know for sure where they need to go.

  • Why planning is the second thing you should do.

  • TOOLS and how to lose them.

  • Why you should respect electricity and what happens when you don't.

  • The unfitness of wasps as subcontractors.

  • Why it is important to measure FIRST, cut SECOND.

  • 101 ways to hurt yourself without even trying.

  • Slip-sliding away, or What happens when you try to install a submersible pump without having a clue what you're doing. (I haven't actually gotten to that part yet, so consider this a prophecy.)

  • How many times do I have to give up before I can actually stop trying?

  • Why it is better to have a first-aid kit in advance, than wish you'd had one in retrospect.

  • The importance of clear-cut guidelines and why I wish I'd used some.

  • The folly of shopping for electrical supplies without knowing exactly what you need.

  • How to pretend it's someone else's fault when you're exchanging electrical supplies. ("I told the dog I thought I'd need a 100 amp breaker box, but he was just sure . . . .")

  • What to say when your friends laugh at you.

  • What to say when your cats laugh at you.
  • (Image from here.)

  • 1001 excuses you can use for still not having the electricity hooked up.
  • Power tools and how not to use them.

  • And, finally, a handy glossary of swear words.

So, how's the project going? Uh, kind of like the search for Bin Laden. Nothing yet, but I keep hoping. :-/