Monthly Archives: February 2010

Brakes Plus

Have not written for a while because of the trauma that took place this past week that threw me for a loop. Got Miss W to her drop off point last Wednesday afternoon and Kerri, the woman I collect ehr from, informed me that my engine smelled of burning – and she was right, it did. Got home and started wondering what on earth to do, called the other Mrs W who advised me to get it seen to pronto. I remembered that when the tire went flat last week i’d seen a place – Brakes Plus – just next to Discount Tires that had a big sign advertising ‘full service’ in their window.

I really would have appreciated a quieter drive though so looked to see if there was anywhere in Watkins – there was, but it was called Rottweiller’s. I didn’t think this sounded at all promising, was imagining myself pulling into filthy, debris-strewn yard full of yapping, chained up dogs while a man who looked unstable approached me, scratching himself. Went to Brakes Plus to be on safe side. Paid a horrendous amount. All sorts of things wrong with car. Sat on metal chair for 6 hours waiting, getting up periodically to use loo and make hot chocolate from their machine. I finished my book though, Castles in the Air – usually I avoid non-fiction, but this, this is about a couple who buy a dilapidated castle in Wales and renovate it. I really love any story that involves large neglected houses, and Castles in the Air is such a romantic story,  complete with historical and technical detail, a ghost, it was a really satisfying read.

I got lost on the way home from Brakes Plus, traumatized from writing out a massive cheque and having a completely numb behind from their metal chair, so I’ve been comforting myself  by re-reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which my coworker JoAnna sent me a copy of in a lovely parcel a few weeks ago. I love this book. Read a massive chunk of it last night and finished it this morning in bed (Number 2 actually snoozed beside me!)

And so I have survived another week. Work is going OK and coworker Gita has promised that she and tall, forbidding but very nice husband will come and hold my hand next time at Brakes plus. But I think I will be OK, maybe once you have dealt with these things once they are easier afterwards.  At least car is fine for now (fingers crossed) and I hope my new cell phone will arrive at some point this week.

Woke up with very strange urge this morning, I want to bake a cake. But I only have the most basic of ingredients, flour, sugar, eggs and marge – nothing like glace cherries or confectioners sugar. And I haven’t made a cake from scratch for years . . .

The Tyrannical Amoeba, a story by Miss W

In a wonder story of action, adventure, and suspense, a tyrant rises to power….

Story by Miss W. I hate plagiarism, so don’t copy and paste. Please. You could get arrested, or even WORSE, you could DIE. O_O

Well, here is my awe-inspiring story:

__________________________________________________

In the scummy waters of an innocent lake roved an amoeba, desperate to have a better life than it was living, a life in which it ruled happily and all was peaceful. Sighing wistfully at his fantasies, the amoeba, whose name was Jamizah, engulfed a puny paramecium and munched.

He then saw a strange thorny-looking object just 20 microns away. It was impossible to tell what it was. Curious, he jellied toward it. He extended a pseudopod and poked it. The edges were sharp enough to pierce amoebic membrane, but it was a fascinating thing.

Jamizah placed the item on his indistinguishable head and gasped in delight—it looked and felt just like a crown.

Another amoeba rolled by after some kind of protozoan. “Get back here!” He yelled at it.

“Royal subject!” said Jamizah in a commanding voice. “Stop at once. Spreadith the wordith of my greatith rulith! Now…ith!”

At once the amoeba replied, “What’s thy title, ruler? And how do I know thou art really a king?”

“First question: I shall be knownst as the Tyrannical Amoeba…ith. And second: Kings kill who ever disagree with them, correctith? Then I am a kingith.”

“Oh my! You really are a king!” said the amoeba, amazed, and losing the medieval nonsense. “I shall spread your word at once!

That was easy, thought Jamizah to himself. Now my dream is reality! Now I truly am a king! I shall rule this whole lake!!

Within a day, or 120 days in the amoeba world, word of the Tyrannical Amoeba had spread to the far reaches of the lake, and stupidly, Jamizah was now recognized as a peaceful, kind ruler. The amoebas had bad vocabulary in those days, and to them, the word “tyrannical” was just a synonym for “awesome.”

When the Tyrannical Amoeba found his throne at the center of the lake, young amoebas even started to say things like, “Hey, that new paramecium catching machine is tyrannical! I wish I had one!”

The area surrounding Jamizah’s throne became known as Jamopolis, the    capital of the lake.

Jamizah underwent an immediate change after his up rise. He was now ruder than ever, though still worshipped.

“Get me a paramecium, pronto!” snapped the Tyrannical Amoeba to one of his numerous servants. “Make it a juicy one, too.” He had grown from a puny 210 microns in length while still to 281 microns.

Reluctantly the servant roved away in search of the food. He was one of the most mistreated of the servants and had a couple of welts on his membrane.

Instead of finding the paramecium as requested, the amoeba, called Jellita, left Jamopolis. He was sick of being whipped for no reason by the flagella of dead microorganisms. Angrily he removed his royal uniform and set off. No one would notice his absence.

Jellita had to move fast. Luckily it didn’t take him too long to find a sheltered hiding place. Someone needs to deal with this evil king. I will make a rebellion. He couldn’t think of any friends who hated the Tyrannical Amoeba, thus he began to multiply nonstop.

There were over a hundred of them now. Jellita laughed hysterically. “Let us overthrow Jamizah!” He screamed at his army.

A royal spy, though, had seen the entire thing. The spy amoeba rolled away in a hurry, found a messenger amoeba, and told him, “Deliver this news to the Tyrannical Amoeba—quickly! A rebellion is rising!”

In turn the messenger amoeba rolled away and came toward the throne of the king. “O Tyrannical Amoeba,” the messenger began.

“What in the name of E. Coli do you want?” Shouted the Tyrannical Amoeba viciously. “I don’t have time for you fans. I don’t do autographs, you hear me? Get it through your thick little nucleuses and leave me alone!

“Tyrannical Amoeba, an army of rebels is being raised to overthrow you. We must stop them—“

“We must stop them!” Interrupted Jamizah. “Multiply and raise my army. We will crush them.”

“Yessir.” The multiplying began. The Tyrannical Amoeba did not multiply, though, in case he would overthrow himself.

That night the rebels charged Jamopolis. They had made swords from who-knows-what, as the royals had.

Jellita was at the front of his army; Tyrannical Amoeba’s commander, Maj, and the front of the royal army.

“Attack!” screeched Jellita, and his amoebas rolled forward to attack the opposing force. Tyrannical Amoeba’s army met the charge, and the battle began to rage.

Meanwhile, directly above the battlefield, an innocent boy and his father were fishing. Well, the father was fishing, but the boy just sat in the boat and stuffed his face with beef jerky.

He had smuggled a salt-shaker along, as well, because he hated jerky without a good amount of salt. But the boy had poor coordination and was holding both the salt shaker and beef jerky above the thick, algae-ridden water.

Suddenly he accidentally dropped the salt shaker into the water along with the jerky, and cried out in anguish. “My salt!” He then threw the bag of jerky on the floor of the rowboat and pouted.

All the while his dad ignored him, rolling his eyes as the salt shaker sank to the bottom of the lake, where the amoebic battle was taking place.

“Salt!” yelled a rebel fearfully. He had sensed the sinister compound first, but both armies ignored.

“Don’t try to make us surrender!” scoffed Maj. But within a few moments the salt burned through his membrane and fatally damaged his vacuoles. He keeled over.

It was too late to evacuate now; the salt was all around them, suffocating. All the royal army died, and the whole rogue army was killed too. All but one who escaped at the last second, coughing violently.

This one was named Jamelly, a noble rebel who believed in peace and prosperity for all amoebas, everywhere.

Good thing I didn’t fight, the Tyrannical Amoeba reflected indifferently. Well, at least those pesky rogues are all dead.

He hadn’t seen the shaken, scarred Jamelly escape slowly, looking back miserably at the death trap.

Jamelly rested a distance away from Jamopolis. The next morning he rolled back toward the dark place and saw a royal messenger.

“Hello,” Jamelly said.

“Hi.”

“So. Are you a messenger?”
“Yeah. Who the heck are you?”
“I’m…a rogue.”

“And you’re not talking like you want to kill me?”

Jamelly spat on the ground. “I’m a peaceful rogue.”

“You know what? If a royal spy is watching us, I’ll get fired if I don’t kill you right now.”

“Oh, perfect,” muttered the brave Jamelly, then louder, he said, “Bring it on.”
The two amoebas fought for a good 12 seconds before Jamelly, who was slightly larger than the royal amoeba, engulfed his opponent. Silently the bold single-celled organism stole the messenger’s uniform and dressed up as a royal messenger. He went to the Tyrannical Amoeba carrying a false message.

“What now, fool?” snarled the tyrant. “For Ebola’s sake, spit out what you want me to hear!”
“Two of the rebels survived. They’re making yet another army.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake!” boomed Jamizah. “Fetch me a paramecium. I need to think.”

Hatching a risky plan, Jamelly answered, “Yessir. But if I may suggest anything, sir, resting is a great time to think. You can rest and think while I am looking for the largest, juiciest paramecium for you to digest.”

The Tyrannical Amoeba had never received a suggestion before, but he slightly appreciated it and collapsed onto his indistinguishable side.

And so the brave Jamelly set off, appearing to be searching for a large paramecium. But in reality, Jamelly planned to roll in a huge circle around the Tyrannical Amoeba’s throne—a whole centimeter—and steal the crown from behind. Once he heard a young amoeba quote his words: “Without my beautiful, amazing, awesome, and tyrannical crown, I am nothing.”

Now he hoped it was true.

But the odds were in his luck now—the Tyrannical Amoeba had fallen to sleep. When Jamelly returned, he safely plucked the crown from the head of Jamizah and rolled away as fast as he could.

Away from Jamopolis the courageous amoeba went. He rolled until he was exhausted. A wall of stone rose in front of him, and in a hole in the wall was a gigantic worm of some sort.

“What in the lake is that thing?” The worm asked, looking at the crown.

“I need you to eat it.”

“I’ll only eat it if it’s alive.”

“It’s alive,” Jamelly lied. “It’s…it’s a—“

“Gimme!” hollered the worm.

The Tyrannical Amoeba awoke and realized with a start that his crown was, undoubtedly, missing from his head.

“NO!” He screamed, and called up a multiplying amoeba. “Keep multiplying and go after my messenger!” he cried. “You should be able to track him, because if you can’t, I’ll have you hanged!”

To their relief, those amoebas were able to find out the direction in which Jamelly had gone. They called themselves the Corps, and stealthily followed the thief.

When they came to the wall the massive worm was just about to devour the crown when the leader of the Corps yelled, “Stop right there! Freeze! You have the right to remain silent! You are innocent until proven guilty in the court of law! Don’t move!”

“What are you going to do about it?” said Jamelly.

“I’ll show you what I’ll do,” snarled the leader of the Corps, and shouted to the amoebas behind him: “Attack him!”

They stayed where they were.

“Are you stupid pieces of blue jelly deaf?! I said, Attack him!”

They ignored him, and then one bold Corps member said, “Uh…Sir? The Tyrannical Amoeba said himself that without his crown, he is nothing. So…uh…why should we do anything for nothing?”

“Ugh, you idiots!” The Corps leader swore, and then screeched, “Okay, then! You know what? Go home, all of you! Go home to your mommies and get hung! I don’t care! I’ll take care of this…this atrocity myself!

The amoebas turned and marched away, toward Jamopolis.

“Give it back.”

“No.”

Growing impatient, the worm ate the crown.

“Nooo!!!” Screamed the Corps leader. “Now I’m going to die!”

“Actually, you’re going to be fine. Thanks, worm. It wasn’t a living thing, by the way.”

The brave amoeba rolled to Jamopolis and the throne of the Tyrannical Amoeba.

“Where’s my throne?!” Demanded the tyrant.

“A worm ate it, your majesty,” retorted Jamelly.

Seeing the truth in his eyes, the Tyrannical Amoeba cried, “NOOOO! My dream! My life! Crushed! CRUSHED!!” Miserably Jamizah jellied away, crying as he went.

The Tyrannical Amoeba was never seen or heard from again, and once again peace and prosperity spread across the lake.

Civil war collection

#1,

Well, at school, something good happened today. In my history class we had an assembly with another history teacher, who had brought in all his civil war items. Replicas, clothing, and sometimes even the real thing. Some kid didn’t want to volunteer so I went ahead and did it. I was a Confederate soldier and I was told that I was going to get real hot in the uniform and some of the stuff he put on me would weigh me down. Actually, it was going great until I had to wear a large backpack, then it really started to weigh me down. But other than that, everything was cool. I had a good day until the stupid, bumbling parapro sentenced me to lunch detention for throwing away my leftovers and getting a small dab of ketchup on his pants. I apologized and everything but he told me I had to watch where I was throwing my lunch, which was, in fact, directly into the trash can. I have given them another excuse to torture me. I’ll tell you if things look up.

Baby Bria

The dogs are going insane right now. Number 2 is still a bit sniffly and whiny and just decided (even though it’s only 4) to undress and snuggle up in his quilt next to my feet. Rudy and Emily immediately started scratching at the quilt, jumping on it, dragging along etc – Number 2 is in hysterics. I think this is the first time he’s smiled all day. When I came back from work he was in his room, Alonzya said he hadn’t stopped whining the whole time she was there. I let him out and he did calm down but he looks awful – a bit pale, and (just after I told Dr Henderson this was no longer a problem) he has scratched a big wound into his forehead and he keeps scratching it and it is quite startling to look up and see him covered in blood. Band-aids don’t stay on of course. Eczema is also quite bad at the moment, so first thing on Monday I’ll have to get something, I am just bathing him in plain water at the moment (none of the fragranced stuff he loves) and using Dr Bronner’s soap or the soap Debra left which is very pure, and then I put vaseline on his elbows and behind knees.

I hadn’t seen Alonzya for a long time, I thought she may have stopped working for TTR because she was pregnant but she emerged from her car this morning with the sweetest little 2 week old baby girl, I have gone quite misty.  Was actually a bit worried about her being in this madhouse with Number 2 and Rudy and Emily (who attack little things) and Cloudy but when I came home from work baby (Bria) was perched safely on the dining room table and I had another peek, she is so incredibly tiny.

This is my second encounter with a baby this week. Last Wednesday the divorce became final and I’m not sure how I felt, stunned I suppose, and I came out of the courtroom putting the papers in my bag and there was this baby with a funny hat with big floppy dog ears on it! I just had to smile.

It’s been cold these past few days, but I managed the drive safely to work this morning and Gita asked me how it had gone. I looked at her blankly for a moment as this past week has felt so stretched out and strange and I am all discombobulated. “The divorce,” she said. I told her it had gone through and she gave me a big hug.

I’ve moved ahead with finding Number 1 a mentor – have met with a very nice man named Bill (very young, loves outdoorsy things, pyschology degree) who is going to meet with Number 1 and  they will do some male bonding I suppose.  If Number 1 doesn’t take to Bill my back up plan is to find him someone else at another youth agency place I’ve applied to. Hope this all works out (and I think it will) I don’t expect miracles, but Number 1 so badly needs a friend right now.

Snow and a flat tire

I thought the car semed strangely lop-sided this morning as I drove off with Miss W, then decided I was probably just imagining things. I had the day all planned – was going to drop off Miss W, then come home and clean up the yard and then get Number 1 across town to his appointment and then fill the tank up with petrol before the snow arrived.

Well, I got as far as cleaning the yard – on the way back into the house I noticed the front left tire of the car was really flat. Thank goodness I ahd followed the advice of the other Mrs W a few weeks ago and got around to joining AAA. Spoke to a very reassuring sounding woman on the phone who promised she would send someone out. About an hour later a strangely unsmiling and monosyllabic man named Curtis arrived. He grunted in my direction for a bit and put on my spare tire, then said it was flat and he would tow my car and me to the nearest Tires Plus. I said OK, (and asked Number 1 to come with us) and Curtis set about securing my car to his tow truck. Then off we went (it was filthy and smelly in his truck) and when we arrived, Curtis actually managed a few complete sentences. He said he would get the car in and explain the problem and if I just wanted to take a seat inside, the mechanics would tell me when my car was good to go. I said OK and Curtis grunted a goodbye. Me and Number 1 waited and waited and waited. Finally after a whole hour had passed I asked someone how much longer – there was much confusion and profuse apologies – the strangely neanderthal Curtis had said nothing, he’d just left!! Was he being forgetful, or deliberately awkward . . . ? I guess I’ll never know. Anyway, a few men got to work and after paying for a new tire (I had no idea they cost so much, they are just a bit of rubber and metal surely) me and Number 2 went to Walmart – he had done such a great job of waiting patiently I decided to reward him with some Hot Wheels. He asked for a pizza too, but the power was out and all the frozen food, meat and produce were draped with tarps and not for sale. We were out of toilet paper (I had seriously considered filching a roll from Tires Plus) so I bought some TP at last and Number 2 chose a nice set of cars. 

Made it home, so relieved that my ordeal was over, and then whipped into Watkins for some petrol, just as the first few flakes were drifting from the sky. The sky looked so threatening, and as the snow grew worse, I felt I’d have given anything to not have to drive across town again to fetch Miss W. Steeled myself, put on pair of woolly socks and waited for Number 2’s bus – it was late. And he was an absolute bugger, wriggling free of his seat belts (I now sit him in the middle of the back seat with the waist belt on AND the 2 side belts dragged criss-cross around him) and he even opened the passenger door. There is nothing worse than driving with Number 2, knowing (I’m sure) that I am helpless to do anything to control him while I’m in the driving seat. To make matters worse, traffic was terrible. But coming home was even tougher (although Miss W sat in the back helping keep her brother under control with some skittles and granola bars). The weather had worsened, visibility was poor and we just sat still in traffic for over 20 minutes. Cars were doing U-turns and going off to find other routes, but most just sat there. We listened to NPR, and Number 2 cried for a bit – I just prayed we wouldn’t be sitting there for an hour. Sighed huge breath of relief as we were able to move again, traffic crawling along and I could hardly see anything as the snow was blowing all over the place, brakes not behaving, 40 mph on the motorway – ugh! 

But the chicken was done when we arrived home and Number 2 is in bed now and I’m sooo looking forward to crawling into bed with my hot water bottle and latest Marian Keyes novel . . .

Mataam Fez

I have been wanting to visit this restaurant for a long time. After the trauma of this week (due to problems with the school, Number 1 is now home indefinitely) I had completely forgotten me and Lara had a date to eat out last night. We both felt a bit exhausted but off we went, and were glad we did.

All the walls and ceiling of the restaurant are lined with fabric, there are low round tables and diners sit on cushions on the floor. A belly dancer was dancing when we arrived. There were hardly any customers, presumably because it was the middle of the week, so I’m not sure why service was so slow, but when the staff did get around to noticing us they were very nice and the food was wonderful. Our hands were washed with warm water poured from a little silver kettle and I had a bowl of lamb and lentil soup to start. It was very tasty and thick and flavorful. Then I had the Cornish hen with peaches, honey and almonds, then for dessert baklava. I was absolutely stuffed, and it was a wonderful evening.  

Beam me up Scotty

This morning Number 2 looked so sweet and has been so well-behaved lately that I thought I would write today about how lovely he’s being. I should have touched wood, because he then gave me the most mortifying experience this afternoon.

We were at Intercept, reporting to Dr Henderson for our usual chat on how Number 2 is doing and refill of his meds. I didn’t wait long, Dr H appeared to usher us back to his office which is past a complicated maze of corridors, all lined with desks and work stations. Usually we have our appointments in the morning, this one was in the afternoon and Number 2 was very grabby and antsy, I think several workers must still be wondering who the heck could have rearranged all their pens and photo displays. We turned a corner and I was holding Number 2 firmly by the hand. He came face to face with a worker about to tuck into a succulent looking sandwich – a chunk of salmon lay on one bread bun, on the other lay fresh veggies. Quick as a flash, Number 2 grabbed the salmon and took a bite. Worker looked stunned as I grovelled and apologised, of course she didn’t want it back after it had been in Number 2’s grubby paws and it was half gone anyway. Dr H. thought it all quite funny. I have been reliving the awful moment of Number 2 swiping the salmon all day.   

A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES

(#1) I am reading a Confederacy of Dunces. It is quite interesting, especially with the author, John Kennedy Toole. He wrote it in the 60s, but couldn’t find anybody who wanted to publish it, so he commited suicide. His mother found the story and thought it was brilliant, so she went around to the publishers and she was turned down as well, until she found one. The publisher read it and thought it was the best thing ever, so he published it in 1980. The book won a Pulitzer Prize.

A Confederacy of Dunces follows the story of a 28-year-old man named Ignatius, who lives with his mother and is very reclusive. He is fat because he bloats, and when he is stressed he complains of his “valve sealing up”. There are also many other interesting characters, especially a black janitor named Jones, who smokes and wears sunglasses. I can’t tell you what he says in the story. I think that this is a very good read and I am surprised so many publishers turned this book down. They must have been blind!!!

The cover image best describes Ignatius. When he goes outside(usually with his mother), he wears an overcoat and a green hunting cap.

Louisa May Allcott

What a frustrating evening I have had. Was so excited to see that PBS was repeating their special on Louisa May Allcott, and eagerly tuned in at 7 . . . only to be reminded that I no longer have Directv. I have Comcast now, just the basic channels, and reception is terrible. So trying to watch this 90 minute programme involved jumping up every 5-15 minutes to switch off the TV when the picture dissolved into noisy static, wait patiently until picture returned, then go through the whole routine again.

In spite of the hassle, it was such an interesting show. LMA wrote rubbishy stories for small amounts of $$, so I can identify with that, her life was plagued with poverty and financial struggle actually – I am glad she lived to see the success of Little Women. I loved seeing Geraldine Brooks, who is the author of March and Year of Wonders. I wish Miss W had joined me to watch this, but she was busy working on her novel in her room.

It snowed all day today and I had a bad skidding incident in the car and tension with Number 2. But managed to keep ahold of a reasonably good mood, because I now have a part-time job, and I have discovered that I have dropped another dress size – I am now a size 8!!!! I deserve zero credit for this as it certainly isn’t due to a regimen of careful diet and exercise, it is pure stress, but whatever works! I went to the thrift store a few days ago and found these very nice New York and Co pants (dark brown, cargo style, light summery fabric) and had an impulse to try them on and incredibly they fitted. So there are upsides to being divorced and laid off after all.