Saturday, September 14, 2013

Haciendo Tortillas (Making Tortillas)

The other day I was lamenting the fact that there are no fresh tortillas in Marion. I never learned to make tortillas in Mexico because you can run down to the corner 7-11 (and there is a 7-11 or Oxxo on ever corner) and pick up a package of fresh hot tortillas.  Here in Marion the best tortillas I can find are at only one Hy Vee (Iowa's version of HEB) which come uncooked and I put them on the comal (a flat rimless pan). They're OK but I still would like to buy a package of the hot and fresh stuff. Asi es. Don't get me started on the nearly nonexistent jalapeƱo section at the store. And if I every buy anything exotic like tomatillos or serrano peppers, I bet 10-1 the clerk will ask me what they are. Anyway, back to my tortilla story. As I said I was lamenting the fact that I can't find good tortillas so I asked one of my Saturday adult students if his wife could show me how to make them. As I related the desire to make tortillas to Will  (he's another story for another time, but I will tell you he's from Reynosa, Mexico), he interrupted me to give me some very important information. Apparently one should not say, "Quiero hacer tortillas con la esposa de Florencio" which translates to "I want to make tortillas with the wife of Florencio".   It's a perfectly good sentence but it has another meaning in Mexico. When two women are making tortillas (hacen tortillas) it means they're in a lesbian relationship... not that there is anything wrong with that.  Basically I told Florencio that I want to get lovey-dovey with his wife and somehow he kept a straight face.  I won't make that mistake again. Just like I won't order "camarones sin ano" - shrimp without assholes - again.

The Oboe. Oh, Boy!

I hate to be one of those apologetic bloggers so I must hate myself for saying I feel bad about not writing more often. I have a lot to say. Being silent is not one of my stronger points. Last spring I applied for grad school at the University of Northern Iowa. Surprise, surprise, they let me in.  It was more like an oh, shit, what the hell were you thinking moment when they accepted me. I am midway through my second class in linguistics and I am proud to say I got a 94/100 in my first class. Facebook has taken over for the immediate need to say things like when my nephew recently decided to take up the oboe. Do you all know what an oboe sounds like?  Check out this youtube video.

Yup, that's what I am listening to as I write. A stepped-on duck. A stepped-on dying duck. He already plays the piano for which I have to listen to Christmas music through March until I scream ENOUGH ALREADY. And then when he joined the school band, they put him in the percussion section so I get to hear pound, pound, pounding of unsteady beats (I'm used to that - my son Brian played drums for 13 years). At least he doesn't get to bring the crash cymbals home. Then I found this website for oboe jokes that I yell to him above the screeching sounds. I played flute in the band. We all knew that oboes were the butt of all jokes.

All kidding aside, the kid (he's in 9th grade) hatched the plan and did all the footwork to start oboe lessons. He is the class vice president and he is thinking of going out for basketball and tennis. Did I mention he had straight A's last year? And straight A's so far this year. Can't complain about any of that. I won't complain about the oboe when he stops sounding like a dying duck.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Online Dating

One of my Facebook friends pasted a link to online dating site profile called IWontMurderYou.  I couldn't resist. Basically this guy's premise is if you go out with him, he won't murder you. He justifies it by saying he's never murdered anyone in the past and will not do so in the future. I especially like his favorite movie Silence of the Lambs that he only likes ironically.  I bet he gets a lot of willing women. I'm tempted to contact him just to find out what is his success rate.

I started nosing around to see what other dating sites are out there without paying a subscription fee and came across DateHookUp and Badoo.  In the interest of not wanting to further publicly humiliate some of the guys (they've already done a good job themselves), I won't post links to the winners I found.  Here is my list of what you should NOT do with your profile:

1. Shirtless.  Not too many guys can pull their shirt off and look good. And if you do look good, then you might come across as a cocky asshole who knows it. 
2. Stupid profile names like HotSexyStallion or anything with the number 69.  You will have a lot to live up to and my bet is 9 times out of 10 the women are disappointed and that is why you have resorted to online dating. Stupid names like that make you look desperate.
3. Shots of the crotch even with clothes. We are not interested in photos. It's how you use it. 
4. Photo of you shaving. Really?  No more explanation needed. Next
5. Photo of you standing in bathroom with one foot on top of the bathtub. No more explanation needed. At least it wasn't the toilet. 
6. Private profile photos. Admit it, asshole, you're married. You shouldn't be lurking around dating sites.
7. The obviously fake profile photo that was taken from a professional advertisement. 
8. Sunglasses.  Eyes are windows to the soul. You're hiding something.
9. Laying on the sofa. If you're too lazy to sit up for a profile photo, I can imagine what it would be like to get you to cut the grass. No thanks. 
10. Sideways shots. If you can't bother rotating your photo, I can't be bothered with turning my head to the side. 

Now excuse me while I go back to profile viewing. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Safe In The Frozen Tundra

It's been cold here in Iowa.  The massive amount of rain over the massive amount of snow this past weekend created massive amount of flooding.  Our garage included. The area between our house and the neighbor's house became a lake because the rain caused a snow slush dam. The dam overflowed and went to the lowest point, our garage. The sump pump in the garage was sucking it out back to the lake which overflowed back to the garage. Vicious cycle.  I have two wonderful neighbors who have come to my rescue more than once and so they did again Saturday. Randy created a trench in the snow out to the street and the lake flowed like a river away from the house. The sump pump pulled out the water and the garage is dry again. Nothing was ruined.

As much as I complain about the Iowa winters, at least it is safe compared to the city I lived in just south of the border. Over the weekend, residents of Reynosa cowered inside their homes while a war was raging outside. Been there. Done that.   And here is a report of some of the shit that went down yesterday.  I've read about videotaped beheadings (I'm warning you, don't go there)dismembered bodies (again, you don't want to go there), but a friend's comment on facebook just grossed me out. He witnessed street dogs eating the remains of a dead body yesterday.  

Damn. Makes my bitching about water in the garage seem petty. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pecking Order

In the natural order of the universe the older siblings pick on the younger ones. Deana, the middle child, picked on Lynn, the baby. I picked on both.

I had a school girl crush on the neighbor boy who was as cute as he was ornery.  When I was about 12 and Lynn was 2, I convinced her to yell at the neighbor boy out the window, "Ronnie is an asshole."  Now, why my 12 year old self thought I should call the neighbor boy a name, especially when I liked him and thought he was cute, is a good question. Ronnie sprinted across the yard, opened our front door and started to chase Lynn through the house. I remember how she came running for me in her white high top Stride Rites hugging my knees for salvation.

Next to Ronnie lived Sherry who spent a lot of time at our house. For whatever reason, we decided to put dog kibble in Lynn's peanut butter sandwich and try to convince her that Mom made a mistake and bought crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy.  Lynn was about 4 or 5 at the time and was getting a little wiser to our evil tricks. She didn't eat it beyond the first bite. 

Then there was time I put a realistic looking hairy tarantula spider toy in her bed. I posed it so it was peeking out from under her pillow.  Her scream brought Dad running. They saw through my protest that I was innocent until proven guilty. "Me? ME?? What did I do?" 

I suppose the worst thing we did was to train our dog to attack Lynn.  Sister Deana was as guilty as I. Remember, the pecking order.  Now let me explain the dog was no serious physical threat. She was an 8 pound fluff ball named Candy, as in cotton candy. She was, by all reports, the craziest neurotic dog we ever owned. She did weird things like pee on the blankets we kept on the sofa in the basement. We always had to do the sniff test before using them. She hated thunderstorms, fire crackers, cars that backfired, or being left alone, and could destroy an entire house in a matter of minutes if pestered by any of these things. Deana and I decided we would train Candy to attack Lynn.  Pointing at Lynn, we would sizzle our s's while commanding the dog, "Ssssick 'em" over and over again.  Especially if Lynn was up the steps trying to come down. And the dog would actually park herself at the bottom of the steps laying in wait for Lynn to bravely take one step. That dog would chase her back up the steps and sometimes attack the socks on Lynn's feet. Lynn would always claim that she was 16 years old before she owned a pair of socks without holes from Candy attacks. 

It may seem kind of weird that this how I share my memories of Lynn today on the 3rd anniversary of losing my baby sister. But we did a lot of wonderful things together. I used to pull her around the neighborhood in a red wagon. I taught her how to ride a bike.  I took her to the park. I filled her backyard pool and chased her with a hose on hot days. I pushed her on the swing and we played in the sandbox. In the years following during family gatherings, it was always funnier to recount the awful things we did to her. I sure wish she was here so we could pick on her some more. You'll always be the baby, Lynn, and, therefore, at the bottom of the pecking order. I love Lynnie, the Pooh.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day 2013

I am not the best at showing teacher appreciation during Christmas time. I am too busy with the family. And it is an expensive time of year. After a couple months of economic recovery, I like to come up with a Valentine craft for teacher appreciation for putting up with my nephews, especially the younger nephew who can be a stinker. This year I made bouquets of flowers with soap. They smell heavenly.  Here is what I did.

1. Soap flower buds. I found them at the Dollar tree. Each bouquet requires almost 2 packages. Cost $2.
2. Small pots. I found these plastic colored pots at Menards. Cost .50 cents.
3. Styrofoam balls to fit in pot. I found them at Michaels. Cost $1.00.
4. Glue gun and glue sticks.

I used a bit of glue to keep styrofoam ball stuck in pot. Then I glued each flower bud around the base of the ball packing each bud tightly to the next until the styrofoam ball was full.  Surprisingly, the soap buds are quite strong and don't break easily.  I reused the ribbon from the packages of the soap buds. I probably should have ironed the ribbon but I was too lazy.

These would be great in the bathroom. Each color has a different scent, but they aren't overpowering.  If I, the uncrafty, can do it, so can you.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Can A Dog Have 9 Lives Like A Cat?

I really want to know, can dogs have 9 lives like a cat? Miss Daisy Dog, 16, suffering from infirmities of old age, is nearly blind and deaf, arthritic, skinny, beginning stages of renal failure, and incontinent. (My sisters says I should throw in dementia, too.) Even so, when she went missing last night I became a puddle of tears. We have a fenced in backyard, but when the ice is covering the wooden steps it is very treacherous for a blind, deaf, arthritic, skinny, and incontinent dog. Since the big snowstorm December 20 (minus the week of Miss Daisy's free round trip to Texas), I have been letting her out the front door to do her business. Mostly she pees and poos on the sidewalk about 16 inches from the front door. I never let her go out unassisted and unsupervised. Last night while I was in class, the older nephew, who shall remain nameless to protect the clueless, let Miss Daisy out, closed the door, and forgot about her. For like an hour. In the freezing cold. When he finally remembered her, she was gone. He and a neighbor spent the next 1 1/2 hours looking for her until he finally called me to say the dog was missing.  I went berserk. Several neighbors rallied along with my two sons, sister, niece and her posse to look for Miss Daisy until after midnight. I called the Marion police.  Yes, they will take the call (not 9-1-1) and description to BOLO for missing dogs. I called the Humane Society and the city's Animal Control and left messages. And I made up a flyer to post on all the neighborhood community mailbox stations.  I canceled my teaching job for the next day knowing that there was no way I could face 1st graders without breaking into tears.  This morning the nephews stayed an arm's length away and strangely quiet. The younger nephew had lost one of his shoes. Tough, I told him, wear your snow boots all day. Or go barefoot. He chose the snow boots. I was not in a good mood. But the Animal Control called me at noon when they opened and asked me to describe Miss Daisy which fit the description of the shivering dog that a Mr. David Brown found by the dumpster near his apartment about 3 blocks away. He took my poor dog in for the night and called Animal Control and left a message as I did. So my dog is back here at my side, snoring peacefully. And I will wrap it up by passing the words of wisdom one of the neighbors told me before Daisy was found.  "Take it easy on the boys, especially the teenager, because their brains are not fully developed yet," she told me.  Strangely, that did help calm me down.

I will now chronicle some of the other close calls of Miss Daisy Dog.  In her younger, jumpier days, she used to chase cars. She also chased squirrels and deer. Not sure what she would have done with a deer if she caught one. She never had a chance with the squirrels although she was good a pointing and howling to let us know she got one up the tree. Thank goodness she never caught a car. That would have ended badly. 

Then there was the time years ago when my sister-in-law brought over a plate a brownies. A huge heaping plate of brownies. We left them on the kitchen island figuring the cat wouldn't mess with them. We went to a restaurant and when we came home, the empty plate was on the island. I asked my son who had arrived home before us, "Did you eat all the brownies????"  He told us he found the empty plate on the floor so he put it on the island. Oh, no.  Rat terriers are known for having springs on their feet and she sprang up to the bar stool to the counter.  Poor dog spent the night locked in the basement bathroom ridding herself of the chocolate brownies from both ends. We never left food on the island again. Except that time we had a birthday cookie. She even wrangled the plastic covering off before devouring half the cookie. 
Same story when other son left chocolate mints in his bedroom. He said they were on the desk. I think they were on the floor, but I guess if a dog can get on kitchen island she can climb a desk. This time she smelled mintier as she rid herself of the toxic chocolate. 

I managed to keep her safe while living in Mexico, amazingly enough. Her closest call came in Texas. I rarely opened the front door, but one day about 5 years ago I had a furniture delivery. It is was totally my fault for not securing Miss Daisy Dog by locking her in the bedroom. She zoomed out the door and made a beeline for the neighbor's husky that was tied up on the property line. I didn't know the husky was there. I'd still like to know why the neighbors thought it was OK to stake the dog on the property line. The attack happened on my yard. Puffing up her neck hair and yapping shrilly to show off her small dog bravado, Miss Daisy thought she could show she was the boss of her own yard. The husky nearly made a minced meat sandwich out of Daisy.  Two surgeries and $1500 later for the neck and stomach wounds, she still has a hernia protruding from her abdomen. The vet said Miss Daisy was very, very lucky to have survived the attack. 

Now I feel bad about being angry with the nephews. My initial anger was a knee-jerk reaction to the fear of losing beautiful Miss Daisy Dog. But Daisy has had a few close calls over the years, so I have screwed up a time or two or three. I'm sorry I was hard on you both. But if either of you call my dog ugly again and claim it doesn't matter because she can't hear you just one more time, I will put you both outside and forget about you.