Friday, August 31, 2007


It's Friday night, after 10 p.m., and I'm still at work. But don't feel bad for me! Because this is the most exciting time of the year. Better than Christmas, even. It's high school football season, baby! I LIVE FOR THIS.

OK, so maybe this being my seventh season of high school football, I'm not actually as gung-ho as all that. But it IS pretty much the most exciting time of the year when you have my job. When some people hear that I work in a sports department at a newspaper, they get all starry-eyed and ask "Oh! So do you get to go to all the games?!!" Ah, no. Actually, all those guys out there tonight, walking the sidelines with a notebook and pencil? They will go back to their computers in a little bit and write stories. Then they will send those stories to newsrooms that contain folks like me, who read the stories, write some headlines, and then poof! You have a newspaper. It really is just that simple.

But the real thrilling part isn't even those stories -- it's the phones. I have to write this post sorta fast, because in about 15 minutes or so, the four public lines in my department are going to light up my phone like a Christmas tree. And I have a small team of folks in the room with me right now who are going to pick up those phones, talk to a bunch of coaches, take game statistics and type them into the computer. Then I'll gather up all that info and smash it into a "roundup" that will contain information on a bunch of games. Maybe it'll be five games. Or maybe 10. OR MAYBE 25 GAMES! WHO CAN TELL?!?! It gets very chaotic, because it is impossible to predict how many calls and results you'll get. And what you WON'T get, meaning you have to scramble to find it yourself. And we'll have to accomplish all of this in the span of about an hour, which is how much time we have before our first deadline.

It is during this hour of an autumn Friday night, an hour that happens just 11 times per year, that I actually look like those journalists you see on TV and in movies. My colleagues and I actually look, you know, COOL. Fingers flying over the keyboard ... phones ringing and slamming, ringing and slamming ... hollering out scores to each other ... running laps around the room to see what games we're getting ... sweat on the brow and a hard-thumping heartbeat. It is pure, exhilarating chaos.

My attitude about it today is a far cry from that of my very first football Friday night, back in 2000, when I worked at The Bakersfield Californian and was one of those clerks spending that hour being trampled by ringing phones. I literally knew nothing about football, and I had this paralyzing fear that all my new coworkers would sit there listening to me sound like a total dumbass with these coaches. And they would probably send each other secret e-mails mocking me behind my back. "Can you believe she didn't even know what a two-point conversion is?! What a dumbass!" It was the only time in my life I was so nervous that I actually barfed, in a bathroom stall an hour before my shift started. So every year on this night, I feel so grateful that nothing about football, not first downs or fumble returns or quarterback keepers, makes me want to toss my cookies. Well, except for Michael Vick, but I don't have time to go into that right now, because the phone just rang! Gotta go! Woooohoooooooo!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Nice knowin' ya

We're having a housewarming party Saturday, and as part of pre-party housecleaning I wanted to clean out the laundry room. Our washer and dryer are stacked in this closet-type area, and on either side of the machines are these black holes where socks fall but you can't ever reach them. So I had Sal get me one of those long pincher things, like you see prisoners picking up trash with? Looks like this:

So I plunge the thing back there to grab the one thing I dropped in the two months we have lived here: a black sock. Twenty minutes later, I have this pile of dusty new treasures:

What's that, you ask? Why, yes! YES! That IS a psycho killer doll, that appeared as if from nowhere! The doll who will no doubt climb out of the trash can tonight, crawl into my bed, and pierce my jugular with its teeny killer-doll teeth! Huh? Oh, yeah! I know! IT DOESN'T HAVE ANY ARMS! AND YES! YES, I DO SEE THE SPIDER CORPSE CLINGING TO ITS ARM STUMP!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Don't know, how you do, that haiku, that you do

My friend Robyn has a cute new blog that features haiku. Do you know haiku? Several years ago, I wrote this haiku about my favorite burrito in the whole world:

Foil-wrapped heaven
Meaty goodness swathed in spice
Hunger dies happy

And just now, I wrote this!

O, funny Robyn!
Homemade bags and poetry
Who could ask for more?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Happy Chickenversary!

Exactly one year ago Sunday, Chickenbone Jones joined our little family. And to celebrate this very special anniversary, I will tell you exactly how much I used to hate his furry guts.

It's true! I really did! Me, the crazy broad who now blathers endlessly about good ol' Chickens right here in this very blog!

What got us all off on the wrong foot was the issue of crate training. In case you don't know, crate training basically means keeping your puppy in a kennel or cage at night, and during some daytime periods, while you're potty-training them. It sounds mean, but it really isn't. You can read about it here. But Chickenbone's discomfort during this process was, ah, intense. His crate was in the living room, and the moment we'd go into the bedroom at night, the barking would begin. Piercing barks. Relentless, agony-filled shriek-barks that would make your ears shrivel up and fall right off your head. It was absolute torture, laying there listening to that each night -- and imagining how our neighbors must feel about our new tenant -- but I didn't know what else to do except ride out the storm.

Eventually, of course, Chickens would settle down and sleep for awhile. But then he'd be wide awake six hours later. Barking. Barking. Barking. Then it was five hours. Then just four. Each time I heard the first morning bark, a vision popped into my mind of his wee bladder bursting to smithereens if I didn't take him out RIGHT NOW. So each morning I'd put on a coat, grab the dog and trudge outside. Around day six of this routine, I opened the door to chilly darkness, and I realized it wasn't even 5 a.m., and the little devil had let me sleep for just four hours. Horrified, I stared down at him and knew we made a terrible mistake.

That night I sat Sal down and tearfully brought up the idea of taking him back. The shelter offers a two-week return period, and I didn't even know how I'd survive one more night, much less another week. I was frustrated with this dog. I didn't understand what he wanted, or how to make him feel happy and safe. ALL I WANTED WAS SLEEP. But luckily my level-headed husband had already fallen so deeply in love with this pooch that there was no convincing him. And by "fallen so deeply in love," I actually mean "could sleep through a Category Four hurricane, and never once heard a single peep out of this precious baby after the lights went out."

But I did want it to work, truly, and so after this conversation, I did two things.

One, I signed us all up for an eight-week doggy training course at PetSmart. We learned things like rattling coins in a can when he gets noisy, which works like a charm. We also moved his crate into the bedroom, so he wouldn't feel scared and alone. Within a couple of months, he was out of the cage and sleeping in the bed, just like a real boy.

Two, I did what any respectable 21st-century human being does when faced with an important question, and I turned to Google. I actually typed in this phrase -- "how can a dog make you happy" -- desperate to find something, ANYTHING, that could make me believe it was all going to be OK. And in honor of Chickens, I will show you what I found, and I cannot possibly explain how much better it made me feel! You can enjoy it here.

Oh, and that picture up there? It's the photo the shelter had on its web site, back when Chickens didn't have a home. The humane society had picked him up about a month earlier, and he had been living with this rescue agency and coming to the animal fair every Saturday waiting for someone to take him home. Look how skinny he is! Poor little guy! But today he's nicely pudged out, he's happy as can be, and he only barks at squirrels, at the mailman, and when taunted with treats dangled juuuuust out of his reach.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My cat-loving friends will dig this

You know who you are.

With that, I'm outta here for one last getaway before the summer's end. A girlfriend trip to Yosemite Valley, where we'll no doubt drink wine coolers and wear lingerie and scare away the bears with a nice feathery pillow fight. Tell you all about it in a couple days.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Bloser (BLOO-zur). n. 1. Blogger who fails to blog for two entire weeks, and actually feels quite apologetic about that, but warns that this is the only mention of that you'll find in this post, as said blogger finds "sorry I haven't posted on my blog" blog posts to be incredibly annoying.

On we go.

Had the husband's extended family over on Saturday for a housewarming barbecue. Overall, it was a successful party, though if you could have peered into my kitchen an hour or two before the guests arrived, you probably wouldn't have predicted a happy ending.

For one thing, I screwed up the homemade ice cream. Instead of gently mixing in the whipping cream AFTER dissolving the sugar in the milk, I dumped all the ingredients in the mixer at once and whipped the shit out of it. Which gives you a nice, big frothy bowl of WHIPPED cream, not the milky liquid you freeze to make ICE cream. So I had to run to the store to purchase all new ingredients.

Then, in the middle of homemade-ice-cream-attempt No. 2, I opened the freezer too quickly and a can of frozen lemonade fell to the floor, the silver cap burst off, and syrupy sweet lemonade concentrate pooled all over the kitchen floor, the cupboards, the stove and my feet. The ensuing F-bomb could be heard two counties away.

And then there were the beans. OH MY GOD, THE BEANS. So here's the thing, when I'm cooking for company, I don't like to do anything from a can, or a microwave, or even a freezer. And I desperately wanted to make my very own homemade beans. So I scoured the internet for hours and found a recipe that got rave reviews called "BBQ beans." On Friday night I excitedly rinsed and sorted my beans (so cool, just like on the prairie!) and Saturday I mixed them into the crock pot with a whole bunch of seasonings, sauces and other ingredients. Four hours later, I closed my eyes, lifted up the lid, and waited for the yummy scent of the broth to waft up and tantalize me.

My nose crinkled. I looked down and saw a glob of the absolute worst-looking food I have ever seen in my life. It looked like vom. And it smelled worse. There were thick pools of red, glistening grease floating on top, and below that were the pound and a half of pinto beans, still hard like little pebbles. I sipped a little bit of the broth from a spoon, and it tasted like ass. I frantically stirred the beans, hoping maybe it just wasn't mixed well enough, but no, it was still just a big disgusting vat of brownish-grey prison food.

So 30 minutes before partytime I decide to blow the whistle on the beans. No way am I serving this. But then I'm like, shit, how do I get rid of this stuff?! It's boiling hot, so I can't very well put it in the trash can. And I'm thinking 14 cups of uncooked pinto beans probably won't mix well with a garbage disposal. And I sure as shit can't leave it out, or Sal's family will see it and know that I'm a miserable failure as a cook, a wife, and a human being. THINK, GODDAMN YOU!! THINK!!!!!

Then it struck me: I slammed two oven mitts on my hands and hoisted the crock out and over to the sink. Then I stuck a colander underneath, where I poured (er, splattered) the contents of the crock. The steaming broth went down the drain and the beans landed in the bowl, and on top of them I dumped two trays of ice cubes and cold running water. After a few minutes, I took the whole slimy mess and double-wrapped it in a garbage bag, which went into the dumpster. I couldn't clean the crock yet, since you can't stick a hot crock in water or it will crack (this, sadly, I know from experience) so I simply wiped off the rim, stuck it back in the crockpot holder and popped on the lid. Voila! It's like the whole thing never happened!

And now I have to go, because -- jesus christ, will this mistake ever end? -- I just realized I forgot to clean the crockpot. Which ought to smell even more appetizing now that it has been sitting in decaying bean crust for three days.