Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Problems On The Follow-Through

Brussels Sploots?
We're all going to have to learn new things. Old things, really, things our grandparents knew and every generation before that, but not us. Things are going to need to be decentralized. We need to learn how to make our houses comfortable without pumping in a lot of energy from somewhere else; we need vegetable beds in every front yard. Time's a-comin'.

We're on board. In theory. We wear sweaters and we have a vegetable garden. Or something like it.

It's so exciting to think you can plunk a little package of Life into the soil and wring dinner out of it later. In fact it's so exciting that we expend all our enthusiasm right off the bat and have no follow-through. We always planted sugar snap peas. It says right on the package that you can plant successive crops every two weeks, but we feel so accomplished after the first batch comes up that we never remember to do it again. We have a collection of open seed packets (rolled over at the top and a little soiled) going back a decade.

Same thing with lettuce. We put in six plants and a few weeks later there's more lettuce than we can even eat, and then they bolt and we put them in the compost pile. If we'd sown more seeds earlier, we'd have new lettuce, but we forgot, and now we have to wait a few more weeks.

We watch the first few peas ripen and pluck them happily for a few days and then something shiny goes by, and the next time we look the pea pods are fat and nubbly and overdone, and we put them in the compost pile.

We've got basil, and extract a few leaves now and then, but we leave the rest for Donna around the corner to make pesto out of. This year we forgot to bring it over and she forgot to fetch it. First cold snap we'll be putting the plants in the compost pile.

The peppers always do well. Or they used to, but this year we put them in the pea bed just to shake things up and put kale in the pepper bed. The peppers sulked. We picked a few small, dispirited ones and the plants went into the compost pile. The kale was tremendous and we had kale salad for a good week and then the white flies showed up and we pulled them up and put them in the compost pile.

No one needs lettuce flowers.
Know what we have a ton of? Acorn squash. We didn't plant it. It just showed up. There were plenty of seeds in the compost and it could've just as easily been butternut, or delicata, or that stripey thing that looks like a toilet float, but no. Acorn. Every last one. They're easily our most successful crop. That is because you can put them on the counter and ignore them and they'll still be edible months later. And that's what we need in a vegetable.

In short, this is not a vegetable garden. This is an avatar of a vegetable garden.

What to do? There are a few ways to go on this. We could begin paying attention, with sticky notes on the calendar ("PAY ATTENTION") and bone up, and buckle down, and can, freeze, grind, dehydrate, stomp, juice, dig a root cellar, and, in short, go full Grandma on the thing. Or we can find a bright-eyed kid with braids, a Bernie button, and a fug of Patchouli and tell her to go to town on the place in exchange for a fifth of the take. We'd be way ahead doing that.

But we'll probably do the same thing. We'll see what wanders into the yard, feed it, water it, admire it, watch it make a mess in the bed, and then humanely euthanize it. We don't grow vegetables. We grow pets.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Billionaire Protection Party Playbook

There are 4,398 candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for President. It's a sharp bunch. There are some differences in their proposals but they're all operating on the side of goodness. You should pick one or two you really like and toss them a few nickels and see where it all lands. What you shouldn't do  is worry too much about something called "electability."

Because every single one of them is electable. Most citizens do not like Donald Trump, and do not like him hard. Even most of the ones that do like him don't care for him personally, because he's rude and childish, but they like how that gets liberals all worked up. Of the remainder who really, really like him, a significant percentage will fall down go boom or soil themselves on their way to the polling place.

So if you really like one of the leftmost candidates (formerly known as Eisenhower Republicans) but think you'd have a better shot with someone beiger who can't be pinned down to any position, think again. It doesn't matter who we pick, because the attack machine will be the same for any of them. If we nominated that flamer Jesus, he'd get the same treatment. The massively-endowed think tanks and focus groups that champion the Billionaire Protection Party never let the truth get in the way of a good tactic.

The eventual Democratic nominee will be called a socialist. Doesn't matter that there aren't any socialists running, or that people don't know what socialism is. Most of the ideas Democrats are espousing are very popular. You call the very same platform socialist, and the public turns on them. There will be very sophisticated memes out there proliferating, depicting the candidate as crazed or drenched in red or wearing horns, because that is how we choose a President these days. If you ask the average voter what a socialist is, you will be told that it is a person who wants to take all you have worked for and give it to someone who doesn't deserve it. That's actually what the billionaires are doing, but the Billionaire Protection Party has plenty of cash to devote to confusing you about these things.

Once they've gotten the public all heated up about socialists, they'll start hammering away on the idea that our Democratic candidates not only want to take away what you have, but they want to make fun of you or shame you. They'll say they're coming after your favorite light bulb and your drinking straw and they'll force you into a skinny little car you don't want. They will say this is taking away your freedom. Focus groups have found that Freedom plays really well with Americans. Americans will happily ride the last glacier to rubble and pull the last fish from the sea as long as they still have their freedom. And they hate to be scolded. They will jam a dozen plastic straws in their sodas and blow black exhaust out of their big rigs just to stick it to the scolds and know-it-alls. This is exactly what a two-year-old would do, but the Billionaire Protection Party can afford to shower them with Legos and cheap candy so Mommy and Daddy can go out and paint the town red.

So go ahead and nominate a real grownup. You might just as well. The public might even surprise you and elect them.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Are You Ready For Some Basebrawl?

It's time for a baseball post. So it might as well be this one.

We were at our local Triple-A ballpark watching the Portland Beavers. Or maybe the Portland Mavericks. It was years ago. We were ahead. Or maybe we weren't. I was distracted.

I don't like to be distracted. You can watch a lot of baseball without actually watching but every now and then something incredible happens and you'd rather not miss it. Dave wasn't missing any of it. We're in the bleachers. And I start to hear something behind me. It was a couple of young dudes, about five rows up. Underage, maybe. But they've been knocking back beer for a while, and they're hollering at our pitcher, who is struggling a little. Basically, they think he's a bum. Specifically, they think he's a stupid fucking nigger. That's the theme. I swivel around and glare hard. It's not a huge crowd but you can tell everybody is appalled. Nobody's doing anything about it, though, and glaring pretty much shoots my entire repertoire of aggressive moves. There are two security people at the top of the section, both of them African-American, but they aren't doing anything either.

By the time I have managed to hone actual daggers out of the vapor between us, and am pretty sure my glare is not survivable, one of them points directly at me and sing-songs "Ooo, lady, are you offended?"

I can't remember if I said anything at that point, but their next move is to yell at Dave, "Ooo, big guy, your girlfriend is offended. What are you going to do?"

Finally Dave notices something. He's not sure what. He hasn't heard any of this but I'm clearly upset and these dudes up in the bleachers seem to be challenging him for some reason. So he stands up and turns around. Seemed like the thing to do, although he's not sure what the next move is.

Dave is a big guy, but nothing like the man one row down who rises up slowly and turns around. He's three hundred pounds of solid don't-even-think-about-it; his own shoulders are a threat to his t-shirt. He had Pipsqueak for breakfast and he's still peckish. He points at the dudes and tells them it's time they sat down and shut up.

They sit down and shut up.

Dave turns back around and asks me what the hell is going on. He's pretty sure, whatever it is, I had something to do with it. I am livid. I'm so pissed off that the dudes wanted to fight Dave instead of me that I'm spitting tacks. Dave does not approve of people my weight class and skill level picking fights and is just about to explain why, when he's hit square in the head with a nearly full beer as the assholes are making their exit.

Dave has the reaction time of an electron. He's' already bolted up the bleachers, grabbed one of the dudes by the shoulders, and spun him around for a little chat, and the dude pushes back. Unfortunately, Dave is not quite squared up and he trips over the bench and tumbles end-over-end back to where he started. It's horrifying, but before we can ascertain if he broke any bones he kips back upright and thunders up the bleachers again. Ten seconds have gone by. And in that time, the entire section has ignited and fifteen people are pummeling the dudes for all they're worth. Dave can't even get a shot in. A very slight bespectacled young man turns toward Dave with a grin for the ages and says "I got him in the kidneys with my binoculars!"

Both security guards continue to stand impassively, chins up, pointedly surveying every section in the stadium but ours, and move just enough to let the young men crawl by them in pulped form on their way out.

Don't know if they learned anything. But there are some lessons to be learned here.

Dave's lesson: Smack the snot out of the guy first and ask questions later.

My lesson: Doesn't matter. I didn't learn it.

Lesson for the rest of you: the kidneys are at the back, up a little higher than you think.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

It's Not Fitting

I couldn't bear to drive all the way to the fabric store for only four buttons, so I bought a shirt pattern and some yardage too so the gas wouldn't have been wasted. (This is true.) It was a simple style. I've made a couple hundred similar shirts for Dave and although he and I have way different topography, I thought this should be a snap.

I'm no whiz. My least favorite part of sewing is the cutting out of the fabric pieces, followed closely by the sewing of them.  Sewing is a straightforward process. My mom taught me. All you need is a machine, a seam ripper, and a few choice words I didn't learn from my mom. I opened up my pattern and pulled out the instructions. Oh, crap my pants.

This isn't a simple shirt. This is a "3-hour perfect fit shirt." In other words, this pattern is going to ask more of me than I ask of it. And three hours won't even get me to the fabric cutting. Did I ask for a perfect fit? I did not. The deal is, you buy the pattern, you sew the shirt, and if it gaps weirdly in the front or bunches up funny, you hang it in the closet and give it away in twenty years.

"First, buy the right size," it says in the instructions. I always review the measurement table for the various sizes, just for drill, but I'm invariably on the cusp. Or I suspect I am: I haven't actually measured myself since I was an adolescent wondering where it would all stop. Then I give up and pick Medium because it seems the least controversial.

To find your right size, it says here, you measure your high bust.

I've never heard of such a thing, but I know I don't have one. Nothing on me is at all high. If I even have a bust line, my bust is nowhere near it anymore. That bust line is more like a chalk outline in a murder scene. My body parts have gone nomadic. There's no point looking for them where I remember seeing them last. They could be anywhere by now.

So. Medium it is.

Then the instructions get peppy. "Don't waste time sewing a garment that doesn't fit!" it chirps, without suggesting anything better to waste time on. Four pages of alteration possibilities ensue, for women with broad backs; with square, sloping, broad, or narrow shoulders; with a full bust; a hump; advanced osteoporosis; skin tags; a third nipple; an alien. In order to determine how well or badly the basic pattern fits your private scenery, you are to cut the pattern tissue, pin the pieces together, and stick it right on your actual body.

Good one! Pattern tissue has the integrity of a moth wing and it will tear if you so much as look at it crossly. Not to fear: you are to iron the tissue, cut around your pieces, and then reinforce the seam lines with tiny lengths of Scotch Magic tape (in the green box, it says). You're going to want lots of little pieces of tape, and then you snip the tissue to the tape in a sawtooth pattern, and then pin all the pieces together and try the thing on, and see if (for instance) the center front actually achieves your own personal center front or comes up a little shy, in which case you consult the alteration lines on the tissue and then there's more cutting and taping, folding and pleating, slicing and dicing, and a strategic introduction of dart lines.

If done correctly the tissue should have a confetti look to it. Carefully transfer the ribbons of tissue to the fabric, close your eyes, and start cutting.

We're a week into this now and only just getting to the part I hate the most: the beginning. It's like opening the pantry for a peanut-butter sandwich and finding a bag of peanuts and a tray of wheat starts.

But it all worked out. Fabulous, in fact, with a kicky two-tiered ruffled peplum, Juliet sleeves, keyhole neckline, side slits, and a hammer loop! And there's fabric left over for fringe.

It was supposed to be a camp shirt, but done is done.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Wherefore Art Thou Murr?

Murrelet Halterman
Got a message the other day. "Do you get Birding Magazine? There's a Murrelet in there."

I hadn't gotten the latest issue but I wasn't surprised to learn there was a murrelet in there. That's where I'd expect to find one. As opposed to, say, Sports Illustrated. Not an actual murrelet. They're small enough, but not flat enough. I figured there'd be an article about the Marbled Murrelet.

They're incredible little birds. In a world wherein we might assume we've found out everything by now, the murrelet's life has remained a mystery until very recently. They are sea birds, but they breed onshore. Somewhere. It took a lot of legwork and time, but a dedicated group of scientists finally discovered they nest in the very highest parts of very old and very tall conifers. They find a small cushy platform of moss or lichens swaying way the hell up there and they pop out a single egg on it, sit it for a month, feed the baby fish for another forty days, by flying fifty miles to the ocean and back at least twice a day, and then the baby up and flies to the ocean by herself, if she's so very lucky to still be alive. It's a tough road. And if there weren't a hundred other reasons to leave those Pacific old-growth forests the hell alone, that would be enough, right there: murrelet eggs, on a high moss cushion.

Yeah. I read a whole book about them. But that wasn't what was in the Birding Magazine. Instead there was an interview with a surpassingly cool woman named Murrelet. Murrelet Halterman picked her name out herself.  She's another Mary slid sideways. She was flipping through the bird book and picked that one out for a nickname, figuring "it was enough like Mary that her parents wouldn't notice." A different woman might have gone for Robin or Lark, but clearly Murrelet has a certain kind of class. Also, she is a nutcase. I like that in a person.

My own Mary name slid sideways without my intervention. It's easier to report that my college friends were too stoned to pronounce Mary, but it's not really true. What happened was my friend Walter and I were pretty much the only Southerners in the whole college, which was populated almost entirely from New York, New Jersey, and New England. Walter was from Atlanta. This was the closest either of us was ever going to get to feeling ethnic. We started drawling in each other's company just for drill and solidarity, and it proved contagious. Pretty soon everybody was saying things like "Turrible, turrible." (We opted for Walter's more adorable accent. Nobody wants to hear the version from Virginia, where my name would be pronounced "May-Ree.") Thus and then I became "Murry." And eventually "Murr," because my friends were too stoned to...well. Anyway.

I was certainly not going to spell it Myrrh. Too fancy. And I had no idea that there was such a bird as a Murre. I wasn't a birder. Forty years later, when I joined that fraternity as its least adept member, it was too late. Theoretically, since Mom didn't name me Murr, I could add an "e" whenever I wanted to, and some of my friends do out of affection. But by now it feels like putting on airs.

In any case, Murrelet and I aren't all alone in this. My Dave married a girl just like the girl who married dear old Dad: Mary Alice Price.

Her friends called her "Murry."

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Fuzzy Wuzzy Just Becausey

When I met Dave he had a beard. It wasn't the greatest beard of all time but we were all hippies back then and beards were just part of the package. He did have one of the finest heads of hair I'd ever seen. Long and glossy and spectacular. I believe the beard had less to do with fashion than a sincere desire to not get up every morning and scrape his face. I couldn't argue with that. But after a while, when I knew I was worth something to him, I did let on that it would be fun to see it trimmed up a bit.

He looks better with a trimmed beard. Most men do.

So we're going on 43 years now with me mentioning about twice a year that a little snip around the edges might be nice. One of the best things about him keeping his beard short is that it doesn't hide his neck, which is long and glossy and spectacular. He's not moved by this argument.

I've seen his face two or three times, when he had to shave his beard for work. I've still never seen his upper lip. He's got a dimple in his chin. What the hell. Mostly he used it to store facial hair, I guess, so it was a surprise to me. He always grew the beard out immediately and there'd be about a week or two when it was all sexy and short and then we're back in beardville again.

This is what comes of being a couple union blue-collar workers. We save oodles on wardrobe but some of us get scraggly in the beard region and some of us don't wear makeup or even, really, make an effort. Actually, all of that applies to both of us now.

In the last few years Dave went through another sexy phase wherein the top of his beard was dark and the bottom gray. That was a really nice year. Then it went straight to white and somewhere along the line that whole routine of trimming it up every six months whether it needed it or not went by the wayside. I offered to take a scissors to it myself, but somehow something else always came up, and then one day I realized we now have a situation. That situation being my husband has crossed over into Homeless Dude territory.
Note long glossy spectacular neck

But that also means, for the first time in his life, he's right spang in fashion. This is Portland. Portland men get their strength (which they are not allowed to show) from letting their beards grow. They don't shape them. They don't trim them. They want to see what they can produce, and they can never be sure until they've pushed out as much secondary sexual characteristic as their little hormones can manage.

Every now and then you see a splendid beard that is a marvel of architecture but the vast majority run somewhere between curious and repellent. Maybe they're so sparse the beard looks more like a vapor. Or a bad hedge. Or, frankly, pubic. There's an entire traveling ecosystem happening on the streets here. Nobody knows what's in those beards. Could be pizza. Could be Legos. Could be gerbils. And in that illustrious company, suddenly, Dave is looking kind of cool again. His beard is developing some internal shape, is not pubic, gets some wave action going, and is an appealing white rather than gray. Even I'm kind of interested in what else will happen. Right now it looks like his face is wearing a sweater. Down the line, he might develop a cable knit. He's a creative guy.

And I've just noticed, because beards are such a Thing now, that when we walk down the street, he sometimes gets a little personal nod from another bearded man. A little "Nice one, dude." An acknowledgment. A signal from the fraternity.

I don't want to take that away from him. I do miss his neck but Marge and Studley might need nesting material. And besides, the homeless dudes don't ask Dave for money anymore.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Cascara Your Fate To The Wind

We've discussed this before. There are people who worry about every little thing and fret their lives away only to find the thing they worry about doesn't come to pass. Although this is probably because they did something about it. And there are people who don't worry about anything and live lives filled with joy and happiness and then pay someone ten grand to rebuild the side of their house, not that I'm naming any names.

I have been aware, however, that the cascara tree just outside my writing room window has been dying for several years, and in fact now sports only a cowlick of a living portion arising from one live branch on an otherwise dead trunk. Let it be noted I also knew that the base of the tree is split and a good three-quarters of it is heading north, i.e. toward my window. And at a fair clip.

So it's not that I didn't know. The thing is, like any other person fond of birds, I do not consider my nearly dead tree to lack value. It is perfectly clear that many, many people find it very valuable indeed, if by "people" you mean "birds." Our chief chickadee Studley Windowson considers it his home base, and like the nuthatches and scrub jays, has been studding the bark with sunflower seeds all summer. I don't know who gets to harvest, but it's a laudable enterprise with winter coming.

Other than that, the tree is ugly as hell, from a human standpoint. It looks like it was designed by a drunken menorah maker. Branches curve out from the base and verticals soar up from them. Whereas Studley has been observed to light on any available twig, he does favor a certain few. These days he lands in them specifically to stare at me and chip-chip while I'm at my laptop until I put one finger up, run down to the fridge for the mealworms, and pop back, where he is waiting patiently for me to open the window. He will come for a worm, fly back to a branch, pin the worm down with his foot, and nip off bite-sized segments like a gentleman sawing a steak. If he had a napkin, he'd tuck it under his chin, if he had a chin. If he had a pinky, he'd hold it out.

The upshot of all this is that although I know the tree is destined to crumble away, and not necessarily in a tidy or insurable fashion, I am fine with leaving its ugly self be, where Studley and the woodpeckers and bushtits can do their things. So this is where denial starts to play a role. I want the tree to stay, so I will it upright, mentally.

It was only a month or two ago that I noticed I had to tilt my head to walk the path next to it. I wasn't sure, but it seemed possible I'd been doing that all along, right? A few weeks later, I was actually ducking. Hmm, thought I. That seems new. Last week I had to crouch to get under it. Upstairs, when I looked out at all the verticals in the crown of the tree, they were diagonal. I finally put three and four together and sent Dave out with a pruning saw. "Just take a little weight off of it," I said, as though he were my hairdresser. "I want to keep as much as possible for Studley and the gang."

Note Diagonalness
Which he did. However he shook the tree enough in the process that it's a good foot and a half closer to my window now. "Try not to pull the whole tree down," I distinctly remember instructing, which shouldn't be necessary, but I've seen him do that before. He can pull down a tree. I suspect I'm going to have to take the whole thing down after all, except for the one live bit coming out the middle. I have two apprentice cascaras growing up through it. They're eager enough, but they're several years away from getting journeyman height to them. I don't know what to say to Studley. I don't know if anyone is going to want to rent the birdhouse next spring with nothing to land in nearby. It's a sad day in the bird real estate world.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Murder On 29th Avenue

A Northeast Portland neighborhood was shaken the other day by the catastrophic loss of a Douglas fir tree, cut down in its prime.

The deed was undertaken with deadly efficiency by a hit squad of three young men who had clearly done this sort of thing before; not a branch was seen to hit the crappy house of the crappy homeowner who hired them, who got away scot-free, except for abrasions to his soul.

Not much is known about the perpetrator. Neighbors report that he kept to himself, but not quite as much as they'd like. He has a fondness for two-stroke engines and noise, an enormous truck, and a small wiener, probably climaxed a minute into the sound of the chainsaw, and is widely rumored to be a Republican.

Penthouse resident Chucklehead the Crow reports she had just returned from her nightly roost downtown to discover her home being reduced to toothpicks. Chucklehead is a particularly valued member of the community, entertaining nearly everybody with her unusual musical stylings. She has raised numerous children in that location, and had planned on doing so for several more years.

This tree was approximately forty years old and started out as a Christmas tree before aspiring to greater heights and was by all accounts healthy at the time it was murdered. Motivation for the crime is unclear, although one neighbor had complained about the shade, and another groused about needles in the gutters.

Songbirds up and down the block remember the victim as a tremendous source of seed-filled cones and abundant insect fare. "I remember getting some nice sap from that tree," says local nuthatch Lonesome Larry, "with which I smeared up the entrance to my nest box to protect my wife and kids. It was real good stuff," he went on, lamenting that it was not his fault his wife got stuck in it and nearly lost a foot. Two downy woodpeckers have threatened to peck someone's eyes out and local crows are planning a massive shit attack as soon as blame can be assigned. Scrub jays were philosophical, noting that they can hang out pretty much anywhere and bash pretty much anyone's head in, pretty much anytime they like.

The ubiquitous Eastern Gray Squirrel immigrant population, though indubitably harmed, has been given no legal standing in the case, and nobody really cares what they think.

"I'm appalled, of course," said neighbor Murr Brewster, to whom we are indebted for the photographs. Unfortunately, Ms. Brewster felt she was not able to intervene because she is small and also she had recently taken down a 15-year-old scarlet oak in her own yard, even though, as she explains, it was a shitty bird tree that nobody would even perch in, it had hardly any leaves at all if you looked at it right, and was replaced by five native vine maples. The murder suspect in the case of the Douglas fir is expected to replace his tree with a new big-ass truck, a smelly leaf-blower, and maybe a bigger-ass TV.

The mood was somber except for several tons of local carbon that danced and sang "Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we're free at last," but that kind of thing goes on all night long, and the community has largely become used to the disruption.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Happy ****ing Birthday To Me

I don't put much store by birthdays. I don't encourage anyone to give me presents. In some moods, I think a little spanking might be nice.

Obviously when I was a kid birthdays were special. But by the time I was in college, the shine had kind of come off of it, although I still used it as an excuse to drink. Which made it much like any other day. Which is how I still feel about birthdays: they're like any other day. You can think of them as a day in which you're one step closer to dead, but again--that makes it like any other day.

I like people saying Happy Birthday and stuff but I don't plan anything special. This year, for instance, the plan was to wait for the dishwasher installers to show up, which they finally did around four. There were three of them. Their hobnail boots crunched ominously on the wood floors. I worked at my computer in the kitchen while two of them ripped into the box containing the dishwasher and set it out on the floor, where it promptly tipped over with a mighty crash. I looked around and one of them said Oops. Meanwhile the third was busy hauling out the old dishwasher.

This was their second trip. The first trip they announced my water shut-off was corroded and they couldn't do anything until I got a plumber in to fix it. The plumber was a week out and charged more than the new dishwasher cost. But that's water under the, uh, sink.

The installer wanted to know if I'd ever tripped the dishwasher breaker before. Because the wires were all melted. "And if this goes far enough in, we won't be able to install it."

"You mean I'll need to get an electrician in?" This was fast becoming a thousand-dollar dishwasher.

He investigated and the damage was limited to the first inch of the wires and he said he could do it. I relaxed. Went for my email.

Just at the exact moment I finished reading the letter from my literary agent in which she said she was sorry but she was dissolving my agreement with the agency, the installer said "Uh-oh."

"What," I said, in a tone any good TV detective would recognize as homicidal.

"Have a look," he said, and I got up, made a wide arc around the kitchen knives, and had a look. Mouse turds in the cabinet hole. An inch deep.

"Huh," I said. He said nothing. There was a long pause. "Do you want me to clean that up?" I said. In fact, he did. "Do you see this sort of thing often?" I said.

"All the time," he said, although he apparently kept no vacuum in the truck, and turd removal was not in his contract. He stood back helpfully.

I got a broom, dustpan, and vacuum cleaner, and I got on my hands and knees with my ass in the air in front of three strapping young dishwasher installers, and swept up ten thousand mouse turds, on my fucking birthday, and imagined that somewhere behind a two-way mirror folks were pointing and giggling and popping corn, and I creaked back upright thinking a hantavirus was probably as good a way to go as anything, and they put in the dishwasher and left.

It's not at all the color I thought it would be and doesn't match anything. It is, unfortunately, the color I ordered. I intend to find it charming.

Donald Trump arguably was having a worse day. The impeachment inquiry had officially just begun. Then again, any day you wake up and you're Donald Trump has to be the worst day ever. Only, in his case, he doesn't realize it. He thinks he's a perfectly fine appliance, the best, like you've never seen. He doesn't know he's sitting in a tub of rodent poop.