A Note Upon His Desk, P.S.

November 27th, 2015

“There’s only one thing more boring than listening to other people’s dreams, and that’s listening to their problems.”

Sue Townsend/Adrian Mole

Ok remember last time on I, Asshole when there was little bitch whining? What, that was ALL the posts? Wow, you are cheeky, aren’t you? WHAT IS THE POINT IF NO DRAMZ?

Here is a thing that happened. I walked into work on Tuesday expecting a normal day, and got a fuckton of work piled on. “This is going to take all day,” I told my co-temp. How wrong I was; it was much more than a normal day. My boss left us, without clear instructions on how to finish. Over thirteen hours later, after helping my co-temp, I left, and left my badge on my boss’s desk, after cleaning the scant belongings out of my own desk.

The next day I talked to my recruiter, whom I’ve known since ’09, since I like to do-si-do between FTE work and contracts. “Well, it’s too bad you didn’t give notice,” he said. “You’re blacklisted with Amazon now.” I was worked over thirteen hours and have a black mark now for walking out. “Are you interested in X Other Company?” he asked. “Everything pays more than Amazon.”

NEAT. So I slept in after my walk off, and prepped some fangsgiving.

WHAT HAPPENED THO? The usual, a motherfucking car wreck.

“MA’AM were you involved in this accident?”

“No, I just live here. I heard the crash but I didn’t see anything.”



I have to say, learn to take a left across my street. Any street. It’s the same thing, over and over. I hear the crunch crash and I think to myself “Christ I hope I won’t have to see PETE performing CPR on someone’s lifeless body again. The son of a physician with a conscience…yes, he is going to run out and deal with someone’s ragdoll body. The die is cast once the crash happens. Apparently the neighbors have a first aid kit for this street. FUCK.

I heard the crash so loudly because we were in the backyard preparing to walk the dogs, since my food was prepped and it was very sunny. We left the scene and the dogs flushed a really beautiful speckled, but mostly white, pigeon from the bushes. When we came back I saw a hawk on the ground where it was with what looked like insulation or something…it was the pigeon exploded. Dreams of getting shot in the chest on my birthday and then death pigeons on Thanksgiving. I am getting weird(er).

I spatchcocked the turkey. Franny said, let’s give it a bikini tanline.

This means…wow…I cooked it for 80 minutes. So nice. I’m not sure about the tan lines. Franny said I should tell everyone it was a FAIL since I posted the pre-cooked turkey on Twitter. I think there’s no failures on the internet, only “so, that happened”s.

Anyway, we had a nice time.

I made my special dairy-free potatoes, which involves nutritional yeast, broth, and a lot of salt and pepper. I made “stuffing” out of rice and quinoa, and a lot of spices. I made two types of cranberry sauce. The turkey was VERY juicy.

Pete made a weird fruitcake that was “Jamaican” out of Moosewood. Rum, pineapples, molasses. I’m not going to explain this shit to you.

We’re watching Jessica Jones now, and I’m really excited to see some Marvel repulp that actually applies to me. I mean I will watch angsty dudes but I like to see women too. I love Krysten Ritter and I love hard-boiled, so it’s working for me. I too had SPECIAL ISSUES and used to be a peeping tom. The road not taken.

Waiting to hear on work tomorrow or Monday. What’s it like to be having the longest midlife crisis ever? What’s it like to feel like a crashing failure at this point? Line up and I will give interviews for a donkey ride or a coffee.

I know you’re hanging on tittyhooks but since I have souped out of my job like a little bitch I have time to finish getting the first podcast up tomorrow and apparently we are recording #2 as well. So. Stay tuned. Thanks for glancing awkwardly and acting like this is working.

“I see you’ve managed to get your shirt off”

November 7th, 2015

You know those Victorian corsets with all the boning, but not in the good way, that would squish women and girls to the nth degree? Where does the fat go? I will tell you, but you probably already know. It displaces.

So like the poor lady’s maid assigned to tighten said corset, I’m struggling a little right now after going back indoors. I felt really good this summer, strong and like I was getting stronger every week, literally. Like it was easy for me to build muscle and my lungs were huge. The first three weeks I started I thought I was getting sick by every Friday. Sore throat, fatigue, aches, lymph nodes rising on the back of my head and neck. Fuzzy brain and memory leaks. I’d be a dead ducky on Saturday and then on Sunday I’d be refreshed again and would cram ten hours worth of chores and errands into about six.

Cod pie

I think…I figured it out. The minute I walk in to my building I’m hit with fragrance and my face starts to dump. I sneeze and scratch my face all day. People are covered in corn-based deodorants, lotions, perfumes, aftershaves, laundry detergents. I think being around adhesives, industrial lubricants, dirt, and welding fumes actually agrees with me more. I’m going to die of something. It’s probably going to be my colon shredding and bleeding out like other members of my family have gone, but I think I want to feel good and spin the wheel with construction in the meantime.

I have to tell you though, it’s shaking my confidence. Corn makes me so weak. How can I go back onto a jobsite and lift buckets and rebar and do math and whatnot? I’m trying to remember that I’m going to be really sore at first but I’m probably going to feel great and be able to think super clearly in about a week. I’m still hanging out waiting to hear if I have interviews with anyone. In the meantime I have the best temp job I can get in terms of hours and pay. I’ve found some temp warehouse work which pays similarly, and is calling to me, but it cuts off a bit sooner and it looks like there’s some graveyard shifts. I’m weighing the advantages.

“I’m her mother.”

Desk jobs are comfortable in that you’re warm and dry but I don’t feel comfortable being forgetful by the end of the week, feeling my anxiety rise for no reason, and having physical symptoms. I’m having trouble explaining to some people why I want to leave these types of offices forever. I guess I don’t have to explain it to anyone.

“No she isn’t.” PS I Derp You

There is an interesting side effect when I get ill again, but not too ill to function. The corset squeezes and the fat displaces and it makes my wheels spin creatively. I read that the flu virus can make you more gregarious. I think my brain gets kind of frantic when my immune system goes off–“we’re dying here, make something!”

I’ve been kicking around doing something fictionalized with Samuel Pepys diary for almost five years now–kind of a story that takes place in that world. I thought it might lend itself to a podcast, sort of a “17th century mecha dystopian London meets Night Vale” thing (what’s that you say? Kevin Costner’s Waterworld?). But I realized I don’t want to work alone right now, so I wrangled a cohost to podcast with. And it will have NOTHING to do with Samuel Pepys, don’t worry. I’ve got a domain locked down and recording equipment on the way.

I’m excited. I need a carrot. I need to continue perusing my ridiculous hobbies. I will link when the first one drops, which I’m hoping will be around Thanksgiving, and put it in the sidebar, etc, but as usual I won’t really push it and see if it finds an audience. If nothing else it will be fun times with my cohost and a chance to dick around with Squarespace, which I’ve been wanting to do since my site’s design is STALE as hell.


A nerd with cheap custom fangs.

Me: We’re going to be seeing a lot of these fangs, aren’t we?


Franny is switched on permanent Owen Meany capslock right now.

P. birthday cuppycakes: Orange cream with pecans.

“Bonus” Franny birthday. I forgot about this batch because I probably shouldn’t be driving two cameras at once.

Read my fax! You’re fired!!

October 22nd, 2015

Two nights ago I dreamt I heard a noise in my sideyard and I walked to my kitchen window to look out. There was an old-fashioned black car parked there with the deepest tinted windows. I heard a pop from the car and my kitchen screen split, and a bullet went into my chest.

I slumped and P. was behind me, holding me up under my arms.

“I’m dying,” I said.

“I’ll call an ambulance.” He is always very calm when someone is dying or really hurt. Then I got lightheaded and woke up.

After I woke up, I realized it was a hearse. Then I remembered it was my birthday. THANKS BRAIN. This does not bode well at all, does it?

Last night I watched Back to the Future 2 with the girls, as many people did last night, I think. The opening credits played as the DeLorean flew through clouds.

“This was like, the best moment of my young life when these credits rolled,” I explained.

“I couldn’t even follow this movie the first time I saw it,” Strudel confessed.

“It’s convoluted as fuck,” I said.

P. popped in and out of the room as he made cookies. “I always forget that most of this movie is Marty fucking things up.”

Franny had her own observations. There was a scene where Marty returns to what he thinks is his home, but it belongs to a different family and is in a run-down and crimey neighborhood in a dark 1985 timeline that he returns to. He slipped into his window to discover an African-American family living there.

“Mom, so that’s actually racist,” Franny said. “Now that the neighborhood’s bad, there’s a black family in his house.”

“That’s true,” I said. “The director made the choice to put that family in there to show how upside down everything is in this 1985.”

Later we noticed when Marty was tailing Biff, the antagonist, Biff lived at his grandmother’s house, who had a lawn jockey in her yard, which was framed by the camera as we were shown the obligatory “keep off lawn” sign. The viewers were meant to understand these were bad, backwards people.

I still enjoyed it. I always do. It was a happy childhood memory.

In Other News: Bothering P on chat, who actually has things to do unlike me

I sent him the link to this image, which I think is an internet golden oldie at this point.


Outlook hates my name.

More Corn Dramz

When I mentioned “troubleshooting myself” in the above chat, I was being kind of silly but I really did figure something out this month. When I started work I didn’t bring a mug right away, but wanted some tea. I always bring a mug, just like how I always bring a bag, and always retick my mattress with sheared pubes and lentils. It’s just what you do in Seattle.

After many years of working in the same corporate veal-fattening pens with the same pretty okay corporate tea offerings, I thought the English breakfast was making me ill now. I was disappointed. My face broke out and burned, I got very tired, my lungs got “smaller” and congested. My joints hurt. And I was so crabby I could laser someone in half with a single glare.

I started having my crazy thoughts. “Maybe I can just GROW MY OWN TEA.” (wat) “Maybe I can just whittle down to one basic meal template of rice, chicken, and broccoli three times a day like I’m a dog. SJ Chow.” (No)

“I think there’s something going on with the teabags or something,” I complained to P. I stopped drinking tea for a few days and completely improved. Then I brought a mug in yesterday and cautiously experimented on myself. No effects but +5 to Caffeinated.

Then I fell down the rathole…okay International Paper Company, what are your cups coated with? Surprise, a polymer made from dextrose (corn). Don’t worry, gentle citizen, it’s inert and safe for allergy sufferers. Okay. I feel much better now.

I want to also tell you a story about how Franny asked me last night if I think she should be participating in more “teen activities” and all the outrageous high school stories she’s been telling me lately, but I think that will have to wait til the weekend! Happy Thursday?

Assholes what do they know do they know anything let’s find out

October 16th, 2015

“And so I rose in good temper, finding a good chimneypiece made in my upper dining-room chamber, and the diningroom wainscoat in a good forwardness, at which I am glad, and then to the office, where by T. Hater I found all things to my mind, and so we sat at the office till noon, and then at home to dinner with my wife.”

SAMUEL, you don’t even know! This is pretty much my exact day here. Okay, there was no new chimneypiece, but we did talk about having our first fire this weekend. And I painted the wainscot a long time ago. BUT I am out of here at 12:45 as they’ve been working me 9-10 hour days and I’m running out of time on my clock. I will be home to dinner with my wife, who made me garlicky eggs for breakfast.

News news news! I got an email yesterday letting me know I passed the electrician test and was actually above the bar needed for the branch I want to go in. Based on my test scores alone, I can choose any route. The scoring is weird, so roughly speaking, I got a ‘B.’ What a great feeling! Hard work has paid off, but I believe it would simply not be possible for me a year ago to study and retain math on and off for months. I am supposed to hear if I get an interview in 2-3 weeks. I wonder what happened with the woman sitting next to me who was visibly squirming and groaning through the whole thing.

What a long process. I left my FTE position of 3+ years on Halloween 2014, and I’ve been working toward this change since then. It’s been discouraging and tiring at times, but I think I’m most of the way through this marathon. I am so excited to have a math class once a week, and to be walking around working and moving on the other days.

I’m dicking around with my new camera that was a graduation present this summer. I wanted to embed some pics but my photo service is acting up. I will have to be content with linking to my flickr for now. I’m not great at this camera yet! Blurry shots! I don’t really give a shit with my little point and shoot, but I want to take better pictures with this one.

Otherwise I am just kind of living! It’s nice not be be gripped by paranoia or despair or just pain at random times. When you don’t have to manage pain constantly, it’s freaky how much space you have for other things. Everything feels consistent and often very boring. I feel like it took me about a year for my body to really open up and have some kind of foundation for hard work or going for a longish run. I struggled to exercise for years–my lungs always felt too small and my back/joints always hurt somewhere. Now I just glide along and if I go slow enough I feel like I could run forever.

This, of course, adds to my confidence in being able to do more, like a major career change on the doorstep of 40. Ha! Samuel Pepys always inspires me. I need to push on a little farther in my progress, meaning secure an apprenticeship, but then I am thinking about getting back to writing. For my own pleasure, as usual.

I thank God I have no crosses, but only much business to trouble my mind with. In all other things as happy a man as any in the world, for the whole world seems to smile upon me, and if my house were done that I could diligently follow my business, I would not doubt to do God, and the King, and myself good service. And all I do impute almost wholly to my late temperance, since my making of my vowes against wine and plays, which keeps me most happily and contentfully to my business; which God continue!


October 5th, 2015

It actually has to be some dog stairs

I keep realizing I’m not capturing things from this summer in anything resembling a timely fashion. This was my final project in shop class. When I get paid I will carpet them. I’m feeling…berber. EH? These are going at the foot of the bed when they’re done so the spaniels don’t have to go all DB Cooper on me every time they have to go pee.

In case you have a sharp eye, you will see the jigsaw hole I cut was wonky. I was down to the last five minutes of time! Whoops. I am also reminded that I need to get rid of my liquor decanters, since we don’t really drink brown liquor anymore.

Todd Chavez has displaced their old home. My new hobby of aquarium-keeping has replaced the old hobby of despair and malnutrition. Anyone need some cut crystal decanters? Also, don’t get me wrong. I still like some wine or vodka sometimes, which seems pretty safe as long as I don’t go for the super cheap stuff.

P. got soap on himself while doing the dishes, and then stripped off, and THEN went out to give the bees a little fall snack of heavy syrup. Naturally he just threw his beecoat on. He thinks he has invented Topless Beekeeping and wants me to start the website. N-O. But I had to snap him.

“Har har,” he said, as I papped him.

So here’s me and my face, which will be 38 in a couple of weeks. WHAT HOW DID THAT HAPPEN.

For fun, here is me ten years ago, at 27:

On this day in history I went to the electrician’s union and took the math and reading test. Reading test–very easy, of course, and I was the first one finished. Algebra test–I dunno! I think I got a majority of them. But ENOUGH? I will let you know in two weeks. I am allowed to call then and inquire about results. I think a letter will be coming and there are interviews next month and in December.

There were three ladies in the room, out of maybe 60 people, and one of them sat next to me. Which was cool. She started talking about her kids immediately, which was also nice. I like people who are like that, though we were told this summer to keep being a mother a secret. She was going for limited energy, which is stuff like data comm and alarm systems. I’m signed up for indoor wireman, which pays very well but I will not be swinging from cherry pickers at 2 a.m. in a power outage. I didn’t get a chance to speak to the other lady.

I saw the new members of the Ladies Hammer Club filing into the building, which is housed with the electrical union. They looked harassed and tired in their exercise clothes and I wanted to talk to them but they looked so serious, which is the same as I was.

Here are some things I was told this summer.

1. “There is one ‘hen’ per jobsite, so watch out. Wait no, not really. But actually yeah kind of.” What we should watch out for, I am not sure.

2. “If there is a gossipy man on the site and he is trying to bend your ear, you will be the one fired for being the distraction, not him, so get rid of him ASAP.”

3. “Your pants are all too tight.” To be fair, that day most of us were wearing pants that were too tight. I pulled a page out of the Americorps workers’ books, who usually showed up to Habitat for Humanity in the those really stretchy lady jeans that are more like denim-colored leggings but do not cross the line into jeggings. Boy howdy are those nice to work in, though. What I finally ended up doing was buying enormous bib overalls. ZOOP! Gender vanish!

4. “This one guy wouldn’t leave me alone about my hair when it was down this summer, so I had to you know, corner him, and deal with him privately.” There followed meaningful jaw-clenching. I imagine this guy’s remains are entombed in a column of the new 520 somewhere. “Now I wear it up every day even though it’s brittle (sigh).”

5. “Sometimes guys will whine that they are special and should have a key to the female portajohns for some weird reason. HELL. NO.”

6. “DO NOT date on the job site. Whatever you do, don’t marry an ironworker. Don’t ask me how I know that.”

7. “Females.” I am no longer a woman, chick, lady, or girl, but a female. Females can be trouble, but the union needs females, so that’s lucky for me. Females cannot expect special treatment on a jobsite. They have to work harder and faster. Don’t let that 26-year-old white knight lift things for you. Help females out when you can, but look out and know a lot of them will try to stick the knife in your back.


9. “What is the sounds of two turtles fucking?” ?? BONK *Get bonked hard with riddler’s hard hat*

I am going downtown to work tomorrow until Xmas, thank god, shoveling consumer goods into the maw of capitalist desire. I mean, I’ll be doing marketing again. More number-crunchy and less copywritey this time. HOORAY MONEY. And waiting for that call. That call for the scrappy, oldish, last chance, eight-of-nine-lives female to go to work. C’mon, phone. Do your ring thing.

Snore Club

No I will not wear the cone of shame

September 29th, 2015

This week we are focusing on things like multiplying binomials and solving inequalities in systems of equations. Have you flashed back to tenth grade yet? FOILing?? I woke up in the middle of the night last night a few times and I was kept awake by the idea that maybe I should be reviewing volume. WHAT IF THERE IS A VOLUME QUESTION? I think I was supposed to go through this 20+ years ago with the SATs but I never bothered paying for them. Too busy buying Boone’s Farm (sangria flavor, because that’s the classy one).

Post apple picking in August

I don’t think I felt this way ramping up to the GREs either. If you have seen the melodramatic, snot-silently-running-into-your-mouth fest that is Les Miz! then you know there is a super maudlin scene where a bunch of children in pirate shirts are all Morrisseying about how they need to pour one last one out for their homies, etc, before the next morning’s last stand, where they will be bayonetted into curly frites. That was my run-up to the math portion of the GRE in 2002; the freedom fighters were unprofessional and doomed, but had to make a good showing so historians wouldn’t call them little bitches later.

Stepping stones I made at the cement masons union way back in July

Now, I actually have a shot, because stuff is staying in my head now. I get what everyone meant about math building on itself. I have that crazy hoover-it-all-up cokehead feeling like the more I cram in the better because it’s only 30 questions! If I miss just one or two I actually know how to calculate that percent now! AGGH.

On the positive side of things I am getting a lot of rest right now. I think I had a successful in-person yesterday for a temp holiday gig, after a good phone interview with them. I have a better feeling about going back to tech now for a short time. Mostly because I feel like it’s going to be A SHORT TIME. And a paycheck to boot. They told me they want someone “yesterday” but I am hoping that means Tuesday (the day after my exam) so I can take full advantage of this time to obsess and lick my hot spots.

Dinner Doge would like more gravy plz

Of course I am focused on other things right now, also, like making sure the girls are transitioning back into school smoothly. Franny has an analytical writing class that’s based on the films of Hitchcock and Kurosowa. She is also taking bio and geometry, as well as her usual Japanese and art. She is about to turn 15 in less than two weeks and very shyly asked if Boyfriend, Neo, could come over for dinner and cake. Hell yes, as long as he takes the bus home later. It’s a Friday and what is happening is yoga pants.

Strudel is having a VERY good fifth grade year so far and is over the moon in her advanced program. She can now also hoover in and retain all the information now, like me, but better, because her brain is new and spongy. Her teacher is very organized and enthusiastic, and apparently has the whole class enraptured. We hear that her terrible teacher from the third grade, who told the dead bunny story and screamed at people most of the time, now has a classroom monitor. There is justice, albeit slow justice. I hope the angry emails I wrote from when I was sick in bed are stuck to her file like glue, along with the other parent complaints.

A turkey sleeping in my armpit who is much larger now:

I’m the cool dad, that’s my thing.

September 22nd, 2015

Can I make a normal face? A: no, I think you have to have a normal face to make one. ANYWAY. I graduated. It wasn’t pretty. One of us didn’t make it and has to make up shop classes. D:

I’ve been super stressed this month–having nightmares, I stopped losing weight (plateaued) and, shockingly, didn’t have a period this month. I haven’t skipped periods since I was an irregular kid 20+ years ago. The program itself was fine, in fact it’s a great idea to prepare women for the trades, but the people who run it are absolute nightmares. Our primary teacher left at the end of our session to become a bureaucrat with the city. I was interested to talk to someone who knew a former teacher for the program quite well, and was able to comment on how it’s in the toilet right now, insofar as it’s being run. I have no fear of writing about this because I’m already on the shitlist with them and have already been on the receiving end of some minor retaliatory behavior. YAAAAY! Expect the worst from humanity and you won’t be disappointed, eh?

BUT, I made really excellent friends and contacts with my peers. The esprit de corps happened in spite of all the jackassery.

So now I am in a weird place. I have been invited to take the electricians’ aptitude test on the 5th, which is algebra and logic and reading and I think some personality test. I have already taken and passed test for the sheet metal union. I need more money and I am being recruited for holiday high-tech contracts again, which makes my stomach churn. I am also applying for work in sheet metal and machinist shops, but my resume says high tech. What a great place to be! Someone give me a job. URRRRGH

My math class this summer was very rudimentary compared to the electricians’ test, so I am now jumping back into my solo algebra studies. And just trying to keep busy.

Just kidding. My life is now peeing into cups.

Good timing to finish–I needed to get the chicks outside safely. Usually I let chicks fully feather in the house, but this batch is different. I think Laura the turkey poult might be extraordinarily messy with her water, or playing with it, because every time I turned around, it was empty, and the water was on the chips/box floor. Not good, and the box was starting to go funky, and the chips smelled worse than the chicks (the chicks are dusty, but aren’t too bad as long as you change their chips once a week).

Historically I’d been able to keep 3-4 chicks in a Uhaul wardrobe box until they were feathered out and ready to go outside, but I knew the box would disintegrate before then. I like having them in a basement or garage because they get lots of attention and handling, and get very used to people noises, but they had to go.

I decided to make something that I hadn’t before called a “chick playpen.”

This cage goes inside the coop, taking up part of the space so the chicks can come in and get warm. I cut a hole in the top with a hole saw and hung their brooder lamp inside it.

Here it is in situ.

The hens still have space to lay, perch at night, and can get used to the chicks existing.

I “meshed” off the back section of the coop’s attached run, which is roofed as well. The chicks will have an outdoor space that is completely covered and enclosed with hardware cloth on the outside so nothing can get them, and the hens can see them but not peck them.

At night (or anytime) they can go up into the coop in their playpen and be warm. Food and water is on the ground level, on pea gravel. When they get a bit bigger I can cut a hole in the temporary internal mesh so they can enter the main yard with the hens, but pop back into their area for their special grower food and in case they are being pecked. Eventually the mesh comes down and the playpen is removed.

Goethe is my shadow when I’m outside.


Assholes can do anything

August 31st, 2015

“It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.”
–Douglas Adams

Have you ever been part of a group and have just known you’re despised by the people who are in some way responsible for or are otherwise forced to interact with you? I’m not talking about being a libertarian, or a vegan, or a mommyblogger, either. My pre-apprenticeship is going down in FLAMES, people. IN. FLAMES. It’s open revolt, except it’s not us, it’s our keepers. Everywhere we go everyone knows what a terrible group we are and how awful our attendance is, and we were told with a month left to go that absolutely NO ONE will qualify to receive recommendation letters.

It’s rather freeing, actually.

It’s freeing in part because I know it’s absolutely hooey and none of this really matters. I’ve gotten a lot of skills, and have made a lot of contacts, and have learned so much, and as far as that goes, it’s been completely worth it. I’ve learned about trades that I never would have known about or applied to, and have learned that I really like volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, especially when they let me run the nail gun.

But what these people think about me and my classmates, who are actually an awesome, capable group of women? It don matter none.

Today we went out to Kingston where the laborers are. I didn’t know until a couple of months ago that laborers are a trade that do almost everything but licensed work (like electrical and pipefitting). Mostly we talked to women there, but a guy came in and talked to us and said things several times to the effect of, “Despite what everyone says about the laborers, we work really hard/are very skilled/are constantly working” etc. Finally I took pity on the poor man, who seemed to be getting crushed under the enormous chip on his shoulder about his chosen profession and interjected: “Actually, no one has anything bad to say about the laborers. It’s mostly the ironworkers people talk smack about.”

“Ironworkers! Well, those guys are REAL ASSHOLES,” he said. We all nodded.

Due to a typical lack of communication on the part of our unwilling stewards, I didn’t know I was supposed to park and walk on the ferry to be picked up on the other side, and so paid and drove on. Finally the thousands-of-tons ferry made its gentle and miraculous kiss against the rubber of the dock (how is that even possible almost every time?) and I drove myself to the site, parked early in the back lot of the training center, and pulled out my trusty book.

Currently it’s Anybody Can Do Anything by Betty MacDonald and BOY HOWDY is it speaking to me. It’s memoir by the Mrs. Pigglewiggle/Egg and I lady about her 12 jillion jobs she held during the Depression, mostly engineered by her psychopath sister.

So I’m sitting there and I hit on this phrase that MacDonald drops about the ancient-by-1930 house she lives in with her mother–she says it has “elastic bedrooms.” What is this, some kind of 19th-century magic? My mind raced. Did they change size? Was it some kind of terrible wall covering? I’d heard of coin-operated heaters….

I was distracted. And my smartphone is DRAWERS. If I tell it to go on the internet it just has an aneurysm, wets itself, and wakes up with 3% battery, claiming it has no idea who or what I was talking to it about. It’s your selective-hearing granny. So I texted P.

>Do you know what an elastic bedroom is? Depression era

P: No, but I can look it up.

HOLY SQUANCHY, IT WORKED. I am actually interrupting this busy important guy who is at work solving real problems and he is looking up something stupid for me.

>Thanks Poogle I am desperate reading my book here

Later, P.: Best I can come up with is that they hold as many people as need be.

OF COURSE. MacDonald had a large family and they crammed into a three-bedroom. Ask a librarian indeed.

After dinner, Franny’s birthday came up and I was trying to get out of her what she might like to do, since she’s not keen on parties. I told her she could go to the mall with her little friends and I would even kick in a sawbuck for a virgin mangorita.

“What is a sawbuck,” she AND my sister (over for Monday night dinner) said, almost at the same time.

“You know, a ten?”

I had to explain I was reading a Depression-era memoir and I was enjoying some of the slang, old and new to me. I think I probably picked up sawbucks in all the noir trash I am often reading or watching. I started telling my sister about the memoir, thinking it would be of interest to her since there’s many mentions of the Seattle streetcar and the Public Market and they live in the University District and at one point she works out past Skid Road. I told her I’d texted P. earlier that day about something in the book.

“…Poogle, because it’s like ‘Google,’ GET IT?” I was saying when P. came in from the kitchen where he was doing dishes.

“What book is this?” he asked.

Anybody Can Do Anything.”

“Is this about that–”

“Elastic rooms, yeah.”

“Oh, that was the book I found that I was using as a source to answer your question,” he said.

CONTEXT! Go figure! I’m running off to my first test at a union tomorrow. I am VERY TIRED so I think I will sleep long as well tonight. And then…MATH.

Act Three

August 22nd, 2015

It’s that funny part of summer where I feel like I’m assessing every day. Is this the last warm day? How about this one? Are the rains coming back? The clematis is blooming again. It does this little last hurrah mini-bloom, I think when the light gets the same as the beginning of summer.

The bees are packing away the honey and the combs are getting really heavy. The girls are also getting shitty when we crack open the hives now. The theory there is because they have something to protect and know the season is ending. Wasps descend and attack when we open the lid now, and we try to help the girls kill them with the pairing knives we use to cut propolis off the bars. I didn’t know wasps and bees would literally tear each other apart until we starting keeping them.

The orange hive, which is the one that lost its queen, is still struggling. We have moved more bars over and they did hatch some queens, but I think they were suffering from a lack of food. We’ve put syrup feeders inside the back of the hive, behind their active bars, where they can access them without fighting with wasps.

So imagine taking the roof off of the hive and looking down into it.

You would see a horrible Paint drawing. Just joshin. The point I am trying to make is that the fragile orange hive bees are protected from the kamikaze predations of the wasps because you’d have to go in through the front entrance, where you’d hit a solid follower board with a hole about the size of a small plum. Then you’d have to fight past all the comb covered in bees, who know you smell funny, make it through the last follower board/small hole in the back, and then get the syrup and come back out again.

We have found dead wasps in the very back of the hive. It feels like an Indiana Jones thing when we open it up–behold the skellingtons of the foolish tomb robbers who have come before. We don’t see a lot of that in the purple hive because they have SO MANY FUCKING BEES OMG so there’s always a clean up crew.

Ladies’ Hammer Club was busy busy this week but not very satisfying. I didn’t expect to have my head turned by any of the trades we visited this week, and I was not pleasantly surprised. I think because it’s summer and people are very busy working that we are kind of getting the bum’s rush quickly. Ironworkers were supposed to have us for six hours, but we got there and our guide said, “The usual guy is out crabbing, and we don’t have any ladies to pull in to talk to you today.” We cut some steel with a torch and were hustled out in two hours. The brick and tile masons seemed kind of similarly unprepared and indifferent about having us there. The trades that have been the most gracious, surprise, surprise, have the highest numbers of women and want to recruit them. I want to talk to you about the gender politics I’ve observed but I’m going to have to put a pin in for now since I have a frittata in the oven and am heading out to pick apples this a.m. Soon!

I enjoyed being at the plasterers, but I don’t really want to plaster for a living. I wasn’t aware that McMansions, which look like stone, etc from a distance, are made of thick foam siding with a plaster or faux stone overlay.

It was a great workout though. The mud is very heavy and you’re holding 10-20 pounds of it all day on your hawk and trowel, or heaving huge buckets of mud.

I had fun pressing the hemp threads into the molds, which keeps it from crumbling.

Yesterday I went back to Habitat for Humanity. They’re trying to expand into maintaining communities in need, rather than just building new structures, so I helped with maintenance at a retirement community. An area utility was there as well, providing LED lightbulbs, and the mayor of Renton gave a little talk. I changed furnace filters and fire alarm batteries while my Americorps partner gave a disaster preparedness talk to the home’s residents. I worked with her on the build I went to a couple of weeks ago and she taught me how to use a nailgun. She likes women in my program because we are handy efforty buttkickers and I like her! She said she was hoping I’d join her group.

I was the only person in my cohort there, in part because yesterday was extra and voluntary. Lots of my classmates have to work around class time this summer. I really, really like my group, but it was fun to be solo. It reminded me of when I was doing apartment maintenance right out of high school–landscaping, change light bulbs, dig ditches, whatever. I was outside for most of the day and as soon as my head hit the pillow I fell asleep. We had a second partner, who was my sister’s age and had never done basic home maintenance, and expressed amazement when I could do things like take panels off furnaces without obvious handles or screws, and knew different models of fire alarms and how they worked (which I used to sell/copywrite for at Amazon, plus I’ve always been a little handy).

I heard a lot of stories yesterday, about 50+ year marriages and divorces and children and retiring from good jobs from the state 30 years ago. I cannot fathom being retired for 30 years. I don’t think it’s going to happen.

I’m in the home stretch now–four weeks left. We all have senioritis. I have two more three-day weeks, and then a four day week the week of Labor Day, and then my last week is a five-day including graduation. Next week we are going down to King County Metro to see the mechanics’ shop where they work on the busses, and to a real working construction site to get the lay of the land.

I thiiiiink I may actually get a job when this is over. Whew.

Et tu Useless?

August 17th, 2015

I got up on the roof on Saturday, ostensibly to install gutter guards. We have a pretty serious pine needle/fir bud clog issue here, to the point where the gutters want to overflow if it does more than mist.

Got up, looked around, doot doot. Could not get near the edge of the roof. I’m okay at heights, scaffolding, but sloped roofs always made me freeze. This has not changed, apparently. In fact, OSHA videos may have made things worse. I did manage to talk P. into buying an extension ladder, so he could do all parts safely, including the driveway where there is a 2-storey drop.

“This project is going to double in cost if I buy this ladder,” he said.

“Your life…is worth a $250 ladder to me,” I replied. ~DRAMATIC ORGAN MUSIC~

He was like “oh ok” after that.

Instead I went off and got some new chicks, since my numbers have naturally dwindled again.

I was looking for pullets at Portage Bay Grange (provisioning everything for the urban hipster hobbyist, thank god I don’t have to drive out to the hinterlands for the privilege of buying unsexed chicks anymore), but all the breeds I was interested in were snapped up. Plus I’ve learned at this place the clerks will guess at pullet breeds and then you’ll bring something else home. Last time I got a pullet I was told “Easter Egger” but I think she’s a welsummer. Gingersnap is a fine bird, though, whatever. She does not lay green eggs however.

Franny was oohing over the beeps and I asked her if she was staying put here for the rest of the summer so she could help supervise when I am gone all day. When they’re new they need a light bulb for warmth and someone to make sure they stay out of trouble. Of course I had all the supplies except for chick waterers, which have been repurposed to feed the bees syrup. Also chick crumble, which I don’t keep around. They tried to sell me antibiotics and probiotics, which was new. I’ve never fussed with them so I passed. If this was my livelihood and I was raising hundreds, and not a hobby, I would probably go for it. In my experience chicks drop dead right away or you will probably get 3-4 years out of them.

The dogs are losing their minds about the fact that there is a small aquarium-sized bin in Franny’s room full of delicious bird-snacks. When they get a bit bigger in a couple of weeks I told her they have to move to the basement since they get so dusty as they feather out.

No Name Manson (waiting for a name from P.)

Audrey Horne chicken


Laura Palmer

Should be a busy week–heading to the Ironworkers today and then speed mentoring with tradeswomen tonight. This was announced at the last minute, but the consolation prize for staying late is that I get to watch everyone eat pizza. Ha ha. Then plasterers tomorrow, and brick masons on Wednesday. I will be tired by Thursday!