December 2005 Archives

Mike left this morning on a skiing trip with the family of a friend of his. I think it's neat that he skis. I think it's great that he has friends who like him so much, and whose parents like him so much, that they invite him to go on skiing trips.

I'm also jealous. Because he skis. Because he gets invited to go on skiing trips.

Yesterday, at his request, we drove to REI and I bought him some ski pants and gloves. He already has a good jacket for skiing, but in the past he's skied (sp?) in jeans and fleece gloves, which get soaked very quickly. How he has survived these episodes is a mystery. He rents skis and ski boots each time he goes.

While we were at REI I saw all the ski gear for women, and I was feeling jealous, and I thought: why couldn't I learn to ski? Mike and I could go to one of these ski places in January and I could take lessons, I thought. I mentioned the possibility to him and he said "sure, sounds like fun." So I started trying on ski jackets, and I found a nice one that fit me.

Then Mike said something that hit me like cold water in the face: the mother of one of the friends with whom he skis also goes on family ski trips, but "his mom doesn't ski anymore." I asked why not. He wasn't sure, but he thought she'd had a bad accident, maybe broken a leg, and given it up.

I was wearing the nice jacket at the time, admiring it in the mirror. Mike said "even if you don't start skiing, it's a nice winter jacket--better than the one you have now" which is certainly true. I looked at the price tag: $250. I took it off and hung it up and said "We're going to Starbuck's and we're going to talk about this." I bought Mike the pants, gloves, and knit hat he'd chosen, and we left the store.

On the way to Starbuck's we passed Pho Viet, a Vietnamese noodle restaurant, and Mike said "I could eat," so we stopped there for some bowls of noodles instead of going to Starbuck's, and we talked. I have back problems, and I asked Mike how hard skiing is on the back. He said it was hard on the legs, not the back. He described the beginner's method of "snowplowing" to slow down on a steep hill, and I thought about my knees.

I said to Michael: we don't do anything together. And he said: we're going wine-tasting next summer in Napa Valley; that'll be fun. And I said: oh great, we drink together. That's great parenting, huh? We also went pub-crawling in Dublin together in the summer of 2004; drinking together again.

I felt bummed. And then I remembered something: HEY! We bowl together! Yes indeed, we've gone bowling together for years, and it's a blast. We can bowl anywhere, in any weather. We both have balls and shoes, so the capital investment is behind me; now it's just $20 for a night of bowling, plus another $12 or so if we eat at the bowling alley. Alexandria Lanes, the bowling alley near us, serves great chicken fingers with good honey-mustard sauce.

And they have beer on tap. Four months from now, on May 1, Mike will be 21 years old, and he'll be able to drink beer at the bowling alley. So we'll be able to drink together AND bowl together at the same time. If that's not quality time, I don't know what is.

That's right, Walmart is selling gift cards with Christmas themes. Tell that special someone you care with a gift card from Walmart.

Also, McDonald's sells gift certificates. I've actually received McDonald's gift certificates for Christmas in years past--from my father-in-law, rest his soul.

What a great combination: a Walmart gift card and a gift certificate from McDonald's. Hey that's perfect! because there's a McDonald's inside Walmart! So my loved ones could spend a pleasant morning shopping at Walmart, and then have a nice lunch at McD's! What better way to say "I love you" this Christmas?

The universe smiles down on moi

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Yesterday I had a couple of electricians do some work in my TV/computer room: installing new recessed lighting, mounting some speakers on the walls. It was an all-day job for two guys--they worked from 8am until almost 6pm. I stayed home from work so I could monitor progress and answer any questions they might have. It was a good thing I did--in the afternoon I had to make a trip to Radio Shack to buy a roll of speaker wire.

I worked pretty hard all day. I vacuumed (I vacuum constantly; I am the vacuum queen) finished putting my Christmas decorations up, cleaned out the aquarium filter, washed some bedding, etc. etc. I had a nice fire going in the fireplace all day.

Around mid-morning I noticed that the light fixture over the dining room table had gone out. I went downstairs and asked the guys if they'd turned off the power, and they had not. One of the guys said he'd take a look at the fixture. I'd installed it myself four or five years ago, and it seems I'd done a poor job of connecting up the wires; one of the connections had failed.

So the connection held for four or five years, then failed when there were two electricians in the house. What are the odds of that?

A woman needs a good socket wrench

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...and by this I mean not just a good socket wrench, but a good set of sockets so she'll have a socket to fit any recessed bolt she may encounter. Better to have a good socket wrench handy than to curse the recessed bolt.

A woman needs two or three ordinary, adjustable wrenches: small, medium, large. And a couple of pairs of pliers, small and large, and at least one needle-nosed pliers. A woman needs a couple of pipe wrenches: a smallish one and a big mother-of-all-wrenches pipe wrench. Not that she'll be doing any plumbing, but the leverage provided by such a wrench makes up for not being built like The Rock.

A woman needs at least four screwdrivers: small and large Phillips, small and large flathead.

A woman needs two regular claw hammers; a light-weight one for small jobs and a heavier one for bigger stuff. And a sledge hammer--as heavy as she can comfortably swing. And a rubber mallet, although this falls into the category of kitchen utensil, since the rubber mallet/cleaver method is the only way to split a winter squash without risking major injury. I'm not doing kitchen utensils here, but I'll list it because you can't buy a mallet at Williams least I don't think you can.

A woman needs a quarter-inch drill and a good collection of drill bits, and by this I don't just mean a variety of bit sizes, but bits designed for a variety of materials too. The collection should contain a couple of masonry bits for drilling through brick and cinderblock, and a couple of cobalt bits for drilling through metal. If a woman doesn't have the right bit she'll wear down her bits and she'll fail to comprehend why she can't drill a stupid fucking hole and she'll curse her ineptitude. Better to have a good collection of drill bits on hand.

A woman needs a couple of wire-cutters; big and small. On rare occasions a woman needs a jigsaw and a hacksaw and a file.

A woman needs to have a large bottle of Advil in the medicine cabinet at all times.

UPDATE: Mike asked me if this is a Christmas wish list. It is not. This is pretty much a list of the tools I own and use on a semi-regular basis for minor home maintenance. I was inspired to write this after I had to dismantle Mike's old pine loft bed and was relieved to discover that I had a socket that fit the recessed bolts on the bed perfectly.

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