Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Le poisson est mort

I've been waiting a long time to make this announcement.

The fish is dead.

If you've been in my kitchen during in the past months, you probably glanced at our fish tank and thought to yourself, "Oh no! Why did I have see that? Do I tell them? Should I pretend I didn't notice?" But you were a good person and you took an deep breath and said, "Ah. I think your fish is dead."

"Nah!" I answered you merrily and gave the tank a good shove. The little orange fish then started swimming crazy laps around the bottom of the tank until it stopped and laid back down on the brightly colored aquarium rocks and proceeded to look dead again.

That was the state of this poor fish for more than a year. When it first started to act dead, it swam upside down right at the top of the water. Very disturbing. Later on, the fish gave up dead swimming instead choosing to simply lie on the bottom of the tank. Even worse.

I'll never forget the day this fish entered our lives. It was 2004. The Girl was walking up the driveway after being dropped off at a birthday sleepover party. She had something shiny in her hands. It was a glass jar. What's up with the jar?, I thought. As she got closer I saw the tiny orange fish swimming in water.

"Look what we got as a party favor!", The Girl announced gleefully.

Moments later, I'm on the phone with Fearless C0-Leader, whose party it had been. "What are you doing sending live animals home as party favors?"

"What's the big deal?" She sounded dead tired, like she'd been up all night with a bunch of nine-year-olds. "Just throw it in your fish tank."

"We don't HAVE a fish tank!"

"Oh." She paused to consider this. "I thought everyone had a fish tank. I guess you should go get one."

So we went to get one. Actually it took two trips because the "Everything-You-Need-Except-The-Fish" aquarium set we bought didn't come with an air pump. I once worked in a fish pet store for ten long weird weeks. Not a bright point on my employment record but the point is that even though I had never in my life kept fish, I did know a few things about them. The one thing I definitely knew was that you can't just fill a tank with water and throw a fish in. The water has to run through a filter for at least twenty-four hours. Since we didn't have any other options, I put the end of the air hose in the glass jar with the fish, filled the tank with water and went to bed.

The next morning the little fish was still swimming and the tank was ready. We plopped him in and there he stayed. Until yesterday.

That little fish, who was named Finn, had plenty of other tank mates over the years. Other goldfish, tetras, a few plecos. None of them lasted. Finn was a fairly aggressive goldfish it seems and made short work of anybody smaller than him. If they were bigger, he picked them to death. Not a nice guy. But even so, I knew that if we got another fish while he was in his weakened condition, they would rip him apart. I couldn't let that happen.

So we've been waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Since Christmas, I've seen him move even less. I wasn't sure when he was eating. I wasn't sure he was getting enough air. Most days I would go to the tank and see him lying their lifeless and ask, "Is today the day?". He would give an all over wiggle and open and close his mouth a few times. Nope, not yet.

But yesterday was the day. He looked just a little more dead than usual and that was because he was dead for real. We completely emptied the tank and scrubbed up all the pieces. Come Spring we'll go out and bring home a new assortment of brightly colored and fully alive fish to populate our aquarium once more. Until then, the kitchen will seem just a little too quiet without the gurgling bubbles from the air pump and constant company of a mostly dead fish.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The fire at LCCC

While The Man is still travelling to Huron to teach his classes for Bowling Green, all of his classes at Lorain County Community College have been cancelled until Thursday.

A fire was set in the tunnel under the Business Building. Most all of the buildings on campus are connected by tunnels and the smoke filled them all and then rose into the buildings. All the classes were cancelled. The library was closed. It's rumored that all of the costumes in the theater storage have been damaged. All of the new construction has come to a stand still.

It's hard to find anyone around here who hasn't attended classes out at LCCC. I graduated from there in 1992. It's a beautiful campus. Why anyone would try to destroy it is difficult to understand.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Polish His Oscar

Two posts in one day from me is unheard of, but I just have to say that when Kate Winslet was up there accepting her Oscar for The Reader, all I could think of was this scene from Extras. (This is subtitled in French, but it had the best quality.) The spot where she says it starts around 3:30, but the whole thing is worth watching!

Hitting it Right

The Man and I are frequent movie goers. We go to the movies more than anyone else I know. But this year it seems we picked all the wrong movies to see. When the list of nominations came out for Best Picture, we hadn't seen any of them. Zero!

Not to be beaten by this, we vowed to at least see a couple of the nominated movies before the big night arrived.

We only made it to one, Slumdog Millionaire

And while the movie itself was amazing it was the music that we both felt put it over the top. For The Man's birthday, I got him the soundtrack to Slumdog and we've been blasting Indian music in the van every since. My favorite song from the disc is Jai Ho. It's played during the last scene in the movie when the whole cast comes out for a dance number. It might be the most joyful song I've ever heard and I don't even know what the words mean.

Slumdog Millonaire won Best Picture and Jai Ho won Best Song. I guess when it comes down to the wire, The Man and I don't mess around.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cardboard Anonymous

Hello. My name is Jennifer and I have a problem with cardboard boxes.

I'm not a pack rat. I am often chided by my family as having no sentimental feelings for things at all. Books, toys, clothes, knick-knacks. It doesn't matter. If we haven't used it in awhile, I find a new home for it, sell it on Ebay, give to charity or pitch it. Nothing gives me quite the satisfaction as cleaning out a closet or drawer and having a bag of leftovers to show for it.

But I am pack rattish about one thing. Cardboard boxes. I cannot throw away a cardboard box easily. When the basement flooded last year along with losing all the appliances and tools, the water melted down my small mountain of collected boxes. I really can't explain it except to say that when I have an empty box, all I can think is, "We are going to need just this size box soon. I should keep it." When we were doing serious Ebay selling, we did need boxes of all sizes. But it's been awhile since either of us sold anything, so the collection in the basement just got bigger and bigger.

I wrote the other day that the flood was just over a year ago now. When I went down in the basement that very evening, right back in the same spot was a new mountain of boxes. It only took a year to get them all back and more. The Man said they had to go. The kids said they had to go. I relented. They had to go.

Over in the city parking lot is a recycling dumpster for cardboard only. I had The Boy flatten out the collection and load them into the van.
The Man drove me out to the dumpster and helped me load them in. I hated every moment of it.

Then it was done. The corner of the basement was empty. We were box-less. The next week The Man said, "I know I don't have any right to ask, but do we have any boxes?" All I could do was laugh.

But I think I'm cured now. I still put boxes in the basement, but I flatten them first and then stack them. Today, the stack was big enough for me to return to the dumpster, alone, and drop off all of this:Capri Sun boxes, the box The Man's new chair came in and a few extras that have shown up in the past month.

Unfortunately, right after that I went out and picked up 50 brand new boxes!Happy "The Cookies Are Here" Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Putting a bow on it

First, I'll apologize to Nance right now for this post. It's about you, babe. If you want to stop reading, I understand.

One of my favorite bloggers in the whole world is actually someone I know very well. She was my teacher and now is my friend. Over on my sidebar you can link to The Dept. of Nance and get an appreciation of cute bunnies, the stupidity of people and her views on politics. But it's her OTHER blog, The Brian William's Tie Report, that I want to talk about today.

The Tie Report used to be just an updated article in The Dept's sidebar. But her regular readers enjoyed it so much, she made it into a blog of it's own. Her beautiful descriptions of BW's ties on The Nightly News took on a life of it's own.

And then one day, the Associated Press did a piece about The Tie Report. Wow! After that she reported that for a short time she was asked for radio interviews and telephone interviews. The story spread across the country in the way stories like that do. When I went to find that AP link just now, I couldn't believe how many site hits there were. At The Tie Report, for a couple of days after the story came out, each tie review went from having one or two comments per post to twenty plus. Nance had gotten her fifteen minutes of fame.

Just when the story had cooled down, the December 15Th issue of TV Guide mentioned The Tie Report on it's "Hot List" page. Bam! Another five minutes (or so) of fame!

Time travelled on. Nance had picked up a few, new, true followers to The Tie Report. Most every post now would follow with ten or so comments. Her reports continued in the same way with some ties being panned and others adored.

But it wasn't over yet. On February 5Th, Brian Williams went on Conan. In the midst of the interview, Conan brought up the blog and even read one of the posts out loud. Crazy cool! (That part of the interview is right before minute twenty-three.) It was fabulous.

But how did Brian Williams react? Like a jerk. A big jerk. He was completely belittling to Nance and the blog. I just watched the Conan interview today, which is why I'm all fired up about it now. I think the best way to express my feelings to directly to the man himself.

Dear Brian Williams,

You seem like an extremely polite guy. So why is it that you can't accept a compliment?

You claim that you are much too busy thinking about a world in crisis to pay much attention to what you are wearing. That is actually refreshing considering that plenty of respected news persons lost their minds over the President's recent lack of a jacket. But consider, Brian, looking at The Tie Report in this way: Your average Joe, who would rather watch their algae eater clean the inside of the tank instead of television news, hears about The Tie Report from some place or another. For just one night, they tune in to get a glimpse of your tie so they can go to The Report and read all about it. Isn't it possible that maybe while they were looking at your neck, they were also hearing your words. Possibly, if they stayed tuned for the entire broadcast, they might have *GASP* learned something. And maybe, just maybe, they watched you again the next day. Is it possible that because of The Tie Report, some Americans are a little better informed today?

I'm certain that one day soon you will once again be asked about The Brian Williams Tie Report. Please consider being more generous when that happens. The Report is done in the sense of good fun. Why don't you try having some fun with it yourself?

Monday, February 02, 2009

A Boot to the Face

When I go zombie sitting I have a certain set of clothes that I guess could be considered my work uniforms. This set consists of three pairs of pants, assorted tops and sweaters and three shapeless dresses. They are dull, comfortable and if I ruin a piece with a Sharpie or an Expo marker it won't be a big loss. The saying is that you dress for the job you want, not the job you have. That won't work for me because the job I want is Mattress Tester and wearing pajamas to elementary school just won't fly.

In the shoe department, I'm a little more varied and my school shoes make it out in everyday life. But my favorite pair of school shoes, my little black boots that go with everything, were completely and utterly at the end of the line. Yesterday when the Boy and I were out shoe shopping I found the sweetest little pair of black boots that could not only replace the worn out pair but surpass them in style department never looking back. And they were on clearance. Score!

I had first grade zombies today. Donning one of my worst school "uniforms" but paired with my new kicks I set out for a day of loose teeth and bathroom emergencies. First grade zombies, like your own children, time their compliments for when you are looking your crappiest. The more compliments I get, the more I start to worry about how I really look. Today started out suspiciously sweet. Right away a little zombie girl made a beeline to where I was sitting.

"You look cute today", she said smiling at me.

"Why thank you. So do you." She bounced off to put away her coat, tripping over herself as she went. I scowled to myself. It wasn't even 9 AM yet. Could I look that bad so early? Another zombie girl wandered over.

"Are you our sub today?" She was crazy tall for a first grader.

"Yep." You have to keep your answers simple around zombies like this.

"I like your sweater."

"Really? Thank you."

"I like your hair too."


"My mom has glasses like yours."

"Does she?" Knowing little zombies like I do I knew it was best to stop her now before she revealed something I really didn't want to know. "Do you like my boots?" I asked, "They're new." I turned a foot out for her to examine.

"Eh." She shrugged and headed for the pencil sharpener.

Right there that proves these boots are hot! Unfortunately, right now my feet are killing me. Breaking in sweet new boots in a first grade classroom, where you just pace the entire day, was not the best move.