My couch is buzzing. Literally. I don’t know what it is. I’ve heard it all morning, and despite having spent time with my ear cocked to one side, listening intently (whatever it is seems to stop when I do that), and making a couple of spectacularly half-assed attempts to locate it under the enormous piles of crap that are covering every square millimeter of the seating area except for those immediately beneath my backside, I still don’t know what it is. And instead of removing everything on the couch to clean up the mess try to locate whatever it is that is buzzing, I’m writing this.

Have I mentioned lately that I am a Domestic Goddess? No? Well, that’s probably only because I’ve been a total blogging slacker and haven’t mentioned anything lately.

You’re probably thinking, “It’s your cell phone, dummy. Someone is trying to call you. And you’re not answering. Jerk.” It is NOT my cell phone. I know where my cell phone is – it’s in its little pooch, which is snapped securely to the belt loop of the jeans I wore yesterday, which are downstairs in the basement/master bedroom, laying on top of a heap of other previously-worn garments. NOT on the couch. Also, my cell phone is never set to vibrate: it is either off, or it blasts Myron Floren’s disco version of “Clarinet Polka.” (Yes, I actually own the vinyl album that song is on; it’s appropriately (and awesomely) titled, Disco Polka. It is the only LP I possess, and I paid good money ($7.99, shipping included) for that sucker on eBay because it is surely The Best Album Ever.) Point being, my cell phone is not buzzing. It’s not even within earshot. So you might be right that if someone is trying to call me, I’m not answering. Just like I’m not doing anything about the messy buzzing couch except writing about it.

It is not one of the cats. Buzzing and purring (or snoring – which our cats seem to have a penchant for doing) are different.

I have a theory on the buzzing. For the past few weeks, I’ve been on a bit of a bender. Some people drink or organize Legos or quote Charlie Sheen. I, on the other hand, dive headlong into bizarre hobbies, and so have spent obscene percentages of my time recently learning about bees and beekeeping. Yes, beekeeping. I’ve attended a meeting of the local beekeeping association, taken a field trip to Menards to explore construction material options for beehives (’cause only a sane person would buy pre-made, standardized equipment – duh), doodled hive blueprints that The Mad Russian claims look like something da Vinci drew, and even took a genuine, bona fide class! Yeah, this is for real. Or it will be, once I actually get the hives built and populated with thousands of pollinating, honey-making little friends.

Seriously, though, I don’t think there’s any chance a live bee could have hitchhiked into my house in early March in northern Illinois, found its way into the amazing assemblage of scheit on my couch, gotten stuck there, and not buzzed to make its presence known until today…but that’s sure what it sounds like.

I hope it isn’t a bee. Not because I worry about being stung, but because I would feel really badly knowing the poor helpless critter was stuck in my couch right next to me while I sat on my arse and blogged about it…

If it’s an insect at all, it’s probably a fly.

But what if it is a bee?

Or even if it is just a fly, does it deserve to die a slow, painful death, imprisoned by my clutter?

Is this a metaphor for my life?


Now I feel horrible and guilt-ridden just like I do when that devastatingly-effective ASPCA/Sarah McLachlan commercial airs.


Alright, I’m going to end this now so I can clear off the couch to save the whatever-it-is AND go get my cell phone so I can hear it if you call me.

Neither of which I would have done were it not for a serious guilt complex my mother bees.

Thanksgiving is upon us, and with it, one should reflect on those things one is thankful for. I am thankful for trees.

Yes, trees.

Today has been positively gnarly weather-wise: cold, rain, wind.

The wind here in northern Illinois can be wicked, but thankfully, our property and neighboring properties have trees that help lessen its impact. While that is greatly appreciated — especially on a day like today — that’s not the reason for this post.

I had to run to the feed store today or risk being mauled by either a horde of holiday bargain-crazed humans or four ravenous felines on Friday. On the way there, I found myself following a Jeep, crawling along, pulling a precariously loaded trailer of firewood. I could have passed it, but I didn’t. I was in no hurry. The Jeep turned off right before I entered town, so I didn’t bother to accelerate, either. I just rolled slowly around the slight bend in the road and onto the river bridge…and suddenly a realization hit me that made my stomach drop to the approximate location of my colon: I was sliding. Not the predictable kind of slide where your back end gets squirrelly and tries to pass the front end. No, this was the whole truck, drifting slowly sideways towards the concrete barrier. I gave the steering wheel a gentle adjustment and waited. Slowly, but in time to avoid the barrier, the truck’s slide changed direction. I straightened the wheel. Still, I slid. Sliding, sliding, forward and slowly to the left… then back to the right. Like an ice skater traveling straight ahead, but alternating feet: right, left, right… I still had a good length of bridge to go, so I gave the wheel another nudge, hoping it would be enough to keep my right fenders off the barrier , and finally slid the last few feet off the bridge on onto wet — but not icy — blacktop. I had not thought it cold enough for the bridge to freeze, and was caught completely off-guard by the fact that it was, in fact, a skating rink. So I am appreciative of the tree that became that load of firewood, because had I not been behind it, I would surely have been going faster when I came upon the bridge. But really, it wasn’t so much the tree that had spared my truck a trip to the vehicular plastic surgeon as the overloading of the trailer and my patience. So that firewood is not the reason for this post, either.

Wood chips are the reason for this post.

I have been on the lookout for wood chips all summer, with no luck. In winter and early spring, I rely on them to keep the footing around the pasture gate and horses’ run-in shed from becoming a boot-swallowing muckfest. As mud season approached, I became practically frantic for chips.  I called every tree company in the phone book, to no avail. I commanded The Mad Russian to keep his eyes open for tree crews and to stop whenever he found one, but he hadn’t. I considered dumping limestone instead, but I’m not sure I want rock there forever because I hope to relocate the run-in shed in the future. I felt like Winnie the Pooh, stuck in a tree: “Oh, dear. Oh, my. Christopher Rooooooobin!”

And then today, on the way to the feed store, (post icy-bridge incident,) I passed a tree truck headed in the opposite direction, with a full load of chips! I whipped a U-turn, in hot pursuit of my prize. I followed it into town, around the block, and back out of town, where the driver pulled over to see why the heck I was following him. I jumped out and approached his door. The man eyed me, perplexed. Breathlessly, I asked, “You wouldn’t happen to need a place to dump those wood chips, would you? Please, please say, ‘Yes.’ Please…” “Um, well, maybe. Where do you live?”

I started to reply, when I heard, “Oh, hey! Hi!” I turned, and it was his partner…and my arborist buddy! I’d waylaid this guy for chips several years ago. “Hey, long time no see! Boy, am I glad to see you – I need chips, please!” His response: “Do you have pie?” “Um, no, but I could make pumpkin spice bread…” “With walnuts?” “I’m not sure if I have walnuts. How about cranberries?” “Cranberries are good. Is it from scratch?” “Of course!” He grinned.

Hot coffee and food will get you everywhere with hard-working men. I had built that bridge with this man last time around, so the moment I saw him, my hopes rose. And sure enough, he said, “Aw, sure, we can bring you some chips.” His partner interjected, “But there was that other guy that wanted chips today…” My pal to the rescue: “Eh, so? He didn’t ask nicely. She needs chips. She chased us down.” The partner looked hesitant. “You’ve dropped chips for her before?” (Translation: “Can we get the truck in and out of her driveway, dump easily, and not get stuck?”) “Yeah, it’s fine.” “Okay. We’ll be by around 2:30, maybe earlier. Now get going, it’s nasty out here.”

And it was. But I was beaming. I had my chips!

I warned them about the bridge and scurried off to the feed store, then home, wincing as I approached the river bridge to find it blocked. A truck had lost the fight and was sitting kittywumpus against the barrier. The driver was okay, so I crawled across the bridge and continued home.

Bursting in the door, I was like a 4-year-old that’s just heard sleigh bells on Christmas eve. I announced giddily to The Mad Russian, “I found wood chips!!! They’re coming!!! Wood chips are coming!!!”

As ecstatic as I was, I had a bridge to maintain, so I flew to the kitchen. I’ve never tackled a baking project with such fervor.

Thank heavens for frozen homemade pumpkin puree. I thawed it in the microwave and whipped up a batch of batter that would make 3 loaves of pumpkin spice bread. One for each of the guys, and one for us. Thinking I had some walnuts somewhere, I dug in the cupboard and yes! I had walnuts. I felt simultaneously (and paradoxically) triumphant and Martha Stewart-ish as I practically hurled the pans into the oven and set the timer, hoping that the extra 10 degrees I’d bumped the oven temp would speed things up – they’d take almost an hour to bake and it was 1:35.

Well, when the men arrived, there were still 5 minutes on the timer. Optimistically, I stuck a toothpick in the loaves. Gooey. Drat. I ran out, explaining that I really had made bread, but it wasn’t done baking. That brought smiles. “Oh, don’t worry about it.” I offered coffee, but they declined. However, my bridge-building was not in vain! They will be back with more chips! Lots and lots of chips. I am a happy, happy girl.

I am thankful for trees. And their products. And arborists. And bridges. And frozen homemade pumpkin puree.

Instead, I am introducing two new blog categories. Yes, TWO! It’s like Christmas, only better, because you didn’t have to buy anything for anyone, you don’t feel hypocritical celebrating because you don’t go to church, and if you’re wearing a ridiculous sweater, I had nothing to do with it.

First, I present “Things That Only I Find Funny,” which is pretty self-explanatory and is also shamelessly ripped off from another person’s blog; I can’t remember whose, so I can’t give credit, sorry. But I really needed this category, because there are a lot of Things That Only I Find Funny, and despite the fact that I know I’m the only one amused, I feel compelled to share them.

Second, “Gems From Menards.” For non-Midwesterners, Menards is a regional home improvement warehouse/lumberyard along the lines of Home Despot or BLowes. (I have nothing in particular against the companies whose names I just altered, I just did it to amuse myself. Menards, however, is the ACTUAL name of the company, requiring no modification from me to make it interesting. I mean, “Menards.” Seriously. I like to say their tagline in a Scottish accent, “Save BIG money at Me-nards.” Which brings us right back to new category #1 – Things That Only I Find Funny.)

In Menards’ weekly printed advertisements, at the bottom of each page, in tiny font, you will find a little one-line quip or quote. I love these wee words of wisdom for a number of reasons, a big one being that they’re NOT disclaimers, which is what one expects the miniscule print at the bottom of an ad page to be. Plus I used to write disclaimers for a living, and I always desperately wanted to screw with the lengthy finance disclaimers by inserting something funny into one of them just to see if anyone ever actually read those things. But I never did it, because I was a good company woman. So to my warped way of thinking, seeing these non-disclaimers-in-disclaimer-font is almost like screwing with a finance disclaimer, and that makes me happy.

I plan to share some of these literary morsels from time to time going forward, so I thought I’d be proactive and set up a category for them because I’d like to pretend to be organized. And also, I think that giving them their very own category is like an itty-bitty prize for the person at Menards whose job it is to select these bits every week. Here’s to you, Menards Bard!

To start these two new categories off simultaneously and with a bang, I would like to share a Gem From Menards That Only I Find Funny.

I like fruit baskets, because they give you the ability to mail someone a piece of fruit without appearing odd.

You should know that not only did I find that funny, I laughed so hard I cried.


Don’t you hate it when you stand up after relieving yourself and get smacked in the back of the thighs with something really wet and realize that the tail of the shirt you’re wearing is apparently long enough to have dipped into the toilet while you were sitting there and is now dripping not-clean water down your legs?

Trust me, it’s broken. Throw it away, even if it looks like a minor crack. If you do not, the glass will inevitably wait – through months of use – to break until the ONE time you decide to hand-wash it instead of putting it in the dishwasher, and will slice open TWO of your fingers.

Collateral damage.

After composing my last post, I was rocking out to the Mr. Potato Head song when I got an email from The Mad Russian, informing me that one of the stocks we own had finally recovered its value, and we were “back in black” on it.

So of course, AC/DC pops into my head.

And then I got a mental image of Mr. Potato Headbanger.

And then his nose flew off.

Bucket of parts.

Sometimes I wish I was like Mrs. Potato Head and could pluck off body parts at will and replace them with ones that fit my mood, my activity, or worked better.

Imagine the possibilities!

Take this morning. I was trying to practice my trumpet, but for some reason, my lips just didn’t want to cooperate. And my left hand kept cramping up on me. So it would have been nice to just fish through my toy box and pull out my trumpet lips and Mr. Potato Head’s beefy left hand.

Yesterday, I was wondering if my plan to grow out my hair was totally impractical because it kept blowing in my face and getting all tangled. If I had removable parts, I could have simply scalped myself and gone bald for the day.

Transversely, were I preparing for an activity that called for a formal feminine style, I could pluck off my standard tomboy ponytail, insert my Audrey Hepburn upsweep, and go.

I’m allergic to nickel, which makes wearing earrings and other jewelry uncomfortable, if not impossible. Plastic earlobes, to the rescue!

When the weather changes, my right knee is fond of reminding me that I wrecked it back in high school, by aching miserably. On those days, I could angrily yank off my leg and dump a bunch of Legos on top of it as revenge for it’s betrayal. And then I’d wear my Mr. Pirate Head wooden leg until my knee shaped up.

Is there a Mr. Pirate Head? If not, there should be. Only not lookin’ like those sad, wanna-be Somali pirates. No, real pirates, with eye patches and parrots and stuff. And a string in the back that you can pull to make it talk, and it says, “Yo-ho,” in Johnny Depp’s voice.

Where was I? Oh, yeah – body parts. Heh.

You know when you’re trying really hard to be angry about something, but you just can’t stifle a grin? Frozen-in-place mad lips would be convenient.

Halloween would be a breeze – one could so easily dress up as a Picasso.

Men could entertain themselves. Penis envy would be non-existent. And I’m going to stop now, before I start to sound like Kathy Griffin.

Have you ever been asked what super power you would pick if you could choose one to possess? Now I know my answer.

P.S. The Mr. Potato Head song is stuck in your head, now, isn’t it? Ha, ha! You can’t remove your head. That’s against the rules.


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