April 03, 2006

Part One

Well, Friday night was Cleanup Night for some, and Go to Sam’s Club and Get Foodstuff for one particular pater familias. For some reason, Reba thought it would be good if we all went to Sam’s. I dissuaded her of that notion as quickly as possible. The kids are generally past the grabby-whiny phase, but they still aren’t up to the point of actually being helpful, either, such that we could give them a couple of carts and expect them to go get stuff. And there’s always the problem of one particular child of ours who thinks it her job to hector the others.

Friday had been long enough without all that, so I finagled a solo trip to the store for the food items, which was nice, even though I didn’t get there until 8:00 pm, which is just about when I would have preferred to be going to sleep.

Let’s see--Simple Green, soft drinks, premade spinach dip (thus eliminating the need to get all the junk that goes in it), shrimp, chicken, pork, watermelon, grapes, cake--did not get ginger ale, did not want to get sherbet for fear of it melting, and forgot to get a battery for Jonathan’s metronome. Got in line sometime past closing time, and every checkout (not like it was that many--there were only three open) was four deep with convenience store owners loaded down with big flatbed carts full of candy. Or it seemed that way. Probably just me being impatient.

Load up, go to the next store to pick up the remaining items--ginger ale, pineapple juice, sherbet, some biscuits for breakfast (not frozen, thank you for asking). Forgot to get the battery again.

Home, unload, see that remarkably little progress has been made by the children in cleaning up the scattering of toys and paper and backpacks and junk they like to wallow in. Let out heavy sigh and decide to not worry about it.

UP EARLY SATURDAY--somewhat. I really wanted to sleep a bit longer, but once Reba gets up and I can hear her brushing her hair, I know she’s not about to get back in bed and wriggle around any, so it’s best just to go ahead and get up.

Went over my mental checklist of things to do for the morning--get tiki torches, citronella oil, clean off the back patio, cut the grass, throw out some weedkiller. Say, and I might fix the pump for the little water fountain outside. It had run dry so many times, the pump motor had given up. Or so I thought. I figured I would be finished up around 1:00 or so, which would give me plenty of time to get the food ready and get it cooked before people started showing up at 3:00.

Dress, head on out to the first stop, found out I was supposed to get something else--a punch bowl. We couldn’t find our other one. And a melon baller. Okay--no problem. Off then to the hardware store--Marvin’s down at the foot of the hill. Found a new pond pump--a bit bigger than what we had, but it had a cool upward spraying spout feature. Just like me! Got some dandelion killer, and it was out the door to the next stop.

Winn-Dixie--they had cheap torches bamboo-and-recycled tin can lamps for $2.97 each. Got four. Oil? Uhhh, hmm. Well, you’d think they’d have citronella oil by the lamps. No. No oil at all. So don’t tell me we’re fighting a war for it! BUT, they did have a nice big tent awning--we’d tried to figure out what to have for people to sit on--originally we’d thought about just having blankets, but it had rained Friday night and the ground was wet, so I thought maybe a nice cover would be good and have everyone sit in lawn chairs. Got one of the boxes that didn’t look particularly crushed or damaged and stuck it in the cart. PUNCH BOWL! They have all kinds of small appliances and cookware and glassware, but for some reason, no punch bowls. Of any sort, nice or otherwise.


Melon baller? It took me a solid ten minutes of searching for one in the rack upon rack of tiny kitchen implements, but I DID find it! YAY ME!

Hmm--we need a new colander, too. Seems some big idiot left the plastic one that we used to drain spaghetti with on top of an empty aluminum pressure cooker, and for some reason had turned the wrong stove element on, which heated up the empty aluminum pressure cooker to the exact melting point of plastic, causing the previous plastic colander to wilt and adhere to the pressure cooker, as well as a goodly portion of spaghetti.

So, I got a colander.

And a meat hammer. Seems some big idiot broke the last one while trying to break apart frozen biscuit dough. So I got a replacement for that.

Now then--punch bowl, and lamp oil.

Hmm--I wonder if the Dollar Tree has that junk? Grab a soft drink out of the machine, waste valuable minutes chatting with the Pepsi delivery guy about his missing the Auburn A-Day game on Saturday, put away my purchases into the car, went next door to 100 Penny Paradise.

No punch bowls. No oil. Plenty of melon ballers, though.


Got back to the car, which by now was overwhelmingly redolent of Scott’s TurfBuilder Plus Dandelion Control, and headed out for the next-most-likely place to have a cheap punchbowl and citronella oil, Target. It’s just down the road, after all.

No punch bowl, no lamp oil. But an absence that was made much more palatable by all the other chic, yet affordable, merchandise, and store clerks all wearing khaki pants and red shirts.


It’s getting way on up in the day, and I’m wasting a LOT of time looking for stuff. The thought occurs to me that if I’d just gone to Wal-Mart in the first place, I could have saved a lot of time and found everything all at once. But I am a moron.

Well, let’s try Bed, Bath, and Beyond. “Beyond” apparently is inclusive of punch bowls, because I DID find one--a bowl of clear plastic bowliness that was shatterproof and able to hold five quarts of icky pineapple juice, pineapple sherbet, and ginger ale punch. Hooray. “Beyond” does NOT, though, extend to the selling of citronella oil. ::sigh::


By now desperate, I raced in, and [cue angelic chorus] FOUND THE OIL FOR THE LAMPS! PRAISE BE! Got two gallons, because I had no idea how long it would last, and because I am stupid.

Got to the checkout. Studiously ignored by the clerk, who’d torn up her register, and was trying her best not to call attention to herself, lest the register be fixed and she’d have to do something. I don’t know what she was thinking, but it would have been nice if she’d just turned around and said, “Sir, I’m sorry, but my register’s not working right now, and I’m trying to get if fixed.” Instead, she just kept her back turned to me, and after it became apparent that the cashiers can’t get any better service than the customers walking around in the store, I moved to another line that had just opened up.

Paid, left, got home. ELEVEN AM!

Two solid hours of chasing around after stupid crap. And I still had to clean the patio off, and cut the grass. Oh, and I forgot Jonathan’s battery again.

Got outside and got Boy to start helping me move bicycles around to the side of the house, sweeping, hosing, moving--good enough. Now then--what next? Say, how about that pump!

Ick. The little pond outside the kitchen window hasn’t been operational for several months, and as I said, I suspected the pump motor had burned out. So, in order for the proper mood to be set for the party, I really wanted the soothing sound of trickling water. Pulled the old pump out, set it aside, got out the new pump. Assembled it, put on the sprayer head, plugged it in. Nothing. Say, wait just a minute! Oh. Seems that some stupid guy had tripped the ground fault breaker on the outlet. Reset it and WHOA! That’s a very energetic pump! (Which probably meant that the old pump was just fine.) Anyway, too much water, so for the next too many minutes, I tried to devise ways of throttling down the flow. I put stuff in the tube, I put stuff in the spray head, I tried putting a piece of plastic with a tiny hole in it over the tube, and nothing I did worked quite right. To make matters worse, the little tube that would have created an umbrella-shaped, gentle shower could not be connected to the pump, because it was missing the unique coupler that was shown in the instructions. GRR! I tried all different kinds of ways of rigging the thing to work without the Magic Coupling, but created nothing but anger. I knew if I only had a bit more time, I could either cobble something workable together or go get the right thing, but I just didn’t have the time.

SO, in frustration, I picked up the old pump, and as expected, it still worked fine. Except the little frog where the water comes out seemed to be stopped up. YET MORE PRECIOUS MOMENTS spent cleaning out accumulated muck from the inside of a polyresin spitting frog. Seems as though it had a giant clot of dirt in it, which had to be cleaned out. For some reason, I thought I could possibly just blow it out, because I am stupid.

But not nearly so stupid, as stupid-looking, as I took the polyresin spitting frog and placed it to my lips and tried to play it like a trumpet. This probably looked comical--me, kissing a frog. I will wager it was not nearly so comical, though, as when I refused to be defeated by not getting a clear passageway by blowing on the front end of the polyresin frog, and so turned it around and tried blowing on the brass fitting on the BACK end of the frog.

That, my friends, takes a special kind of stupid.

IN either case, the stoppage would not come out, so I had to grab a twig and ram it down the polyresin frog’s gullet, until it pushed a disgusting lump of peat moss out of its threaded brass fundament.

After that, the frog worked just fine.

NEXT: More frustration! (Believe It or Not!)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at April 3, 2006 09:01 AM

People are going to begin to wonder why I have tears in my eyes and I'm rolling around in the floor holding my stomach. They would think it was a laugh if I wasn't laughing so hard I can't seem to make a laughing sound.

Posted by: Tex at April 3, 2006 09:50 AM

Well, frogs do have that effect on people.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at April 3, 2006 09:52 AM

Especially the kind of frogs that have a human's mouth attached to it's mouth, or behind... errrr or both.

Posted by: Tex at April 3, 2006 10:04 AM

And it didn't even turn into a little polyresin prince afterwards. ::sigh::

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at April 3, 2006 10:09 AM

Indeed, you ARE Dr. Possum.

The fact that your area of speciality is clearing the digestive systems of Polyresin (non-Prince) Amphibians only adds to the glamour that is Dr. P.

Dr. Possum. Colonoscopist to the Wet and Long-Legged.

Posted by: skinnydan at April 3, 2006 10:18 AM

Well, you know--it's that whole deal about going with your strengths.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at April 3, 2006 10:25 AM

Regarding that citronella oil shortage- first, get a whale. Get a whale small enough to fit in aging Volvo trunk. Assemble wood fire and cauldron in backyard. Cut whale fat into cauldron sized chunks and render into oil through heating in the cauldron. Take one bushel of lemons, cut into quarters, add to boiling whale oil. Stir. Strain out lemon chunks and transfer newly created citronella oil into tiki torches.

That was easy. [/Staples]

Posted by: Nate at April 3, 2006 10:26 AM

::dope slap:: Why didn't I think of that!?

Well, next time for sure!

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at April 3, 2006 10:49 AM