Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Big Excitement

There is big excitement here in the Desperate household. Yesterday we replaced our old broken-down sliding glass doors with (drum roll please) brand new French doors! And not just any French doors. The kind with the blinds built in. You know, between the two layers of glass.

Impressed? Huh? Huh?

We did not do this for reasons of style, although "style is, of course, Desperate's middle name. We did this because a few months ago we noticed the non-glass part of the sliding glass door was actually split, from top to bottom. If you yanked the handle hard enough-- and you had to yank it hard, otherwise it wouldn't open- half the frame took a second to catch up with the other half. And none of us could work up any enthusiasm for a winter with the wind whistling through the split door.

So, a trip to Menards, a phone call to the priceless Chad, carpenter extraordinaire, and voila! New door!

The best thing about all this is we can now go in and out through our back door. Which we couldn't, with the old door. The old door only locked from the inside. We had to lock the back door and then go out through the front. Then whenever I parked the car int eh garage- which is behind the house- I had to walk around to the front so I could open the back door to bring the groceries in. It was complicated. And annoying.

So you can imagine my joy today. In, out! In, out! WHENEVER I FRACKIN' FEEL LIKE IT!

I know, I know. You're jealous, aren't you?

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Price of Fame

I just got word that this guy is following me on Twitter. Any comments?

"haifabains456 @haifabains456 is now following you (@SusanVigilante).

Are you a young guy that wants an older hot girl? please follow me. "

I Got My First Present Already!

Knowing my devotion to Jean Shepherd's "A Christmas Story," Sophia gave me the official Ralphie-in-the-pink-bunny-suit ornament yesterday. It looks perfect on the tree.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this classic, here is the relevant scene. And I can never type "relevant" without hearing Shepherd's rant on the word, on WOR Radio in New York. (I was hiding under the blankets with my transistor radio listening every night.)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

New Translation Day

DIH normally hits the 11 am mass on Sundays. But for once she's thinking seriously about hitting the 5 o'clock this afternoon.

Why? Because I want to be among the first to screw up new responses.

Anyone of a certain age knows how long it took to get used to the translation of the mass that officially dies today. Anyone with a rudimentary education, and mine is nothing if not rudimentary, knows how irritating it was to have to translate "Credo" as "we believe." I mean, come on. Sister Gerarda would have torn me a new one for a gaff like that. Seriously- the dumbest kid in my Latin class would could tell a first person singular from a first person plural! Sheesh.

And anyone of the crabby nature knows how annoying all those little "pep talks" we've been getting for the past year on the new translation have been. "Now, see, everyone? You've been doing it WRONG all these years!" And how we had to suppress the "Yeah, we know, Einstein, but it was all your idea, not ours" type of response.

So today we start the new translation. It's about time. I will do my best but I am sure the occasional "And also with you--oops,, I meant to say 'and with your spirit,' sorry" will slip past her lips.

For which she begs her pewmates' pardon in advance.

But I'm trying. Try to remember that.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Lately I've been counting my blessings. I figured the fact that I wasn't counting them often enough explained why I'm usually such a crab. So here are a few of my faves.

Hot running water. No kidding, is this awesome or what? You turn a handle, it comes out all nice and warm and there's so much of it! Anyone who grew up in a house with five siblings and no hot water tank will understand how I feel about this.

Warm weather for Thanksgiving! It must be 50 degrees here in Minneapolis today! This, by the way, is more like my idea of Thanksgiving. This is how I remember all those D.C. Thanksgivings. THIS IS THE WAY IT SHOULD BE.

Between a good-natured labrador, my sweet Bella, and a ferocious miniature pinscher-- Mitzi-- I have the canine spectrum covered. P.s.-- any would-be burglars out there who are contemplating a raid, I leave you to Mitzi. She will deal with you.

Next week I am finally getting my back door replaced. No more dislocating my shoulder every time I try to "slide" this "sliding door " open. Thank you. God!

Those wonderful Peppermint Joe Joe's are back at Trader Joe's for the season. I wait for them all year long, and now they're here. Nirvana.

And most of all: for yet another year I have dodged the bullet and I am not cooking for Thanksgiving. I intend to make this trend last the rest of my life. This may necessitate making a few new friends who will invite me over. Hence my decision to work on this "crab" thing.

So-- how am I doing?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ode for St. Cecilia's Day

In honor of the feast of this lovely saint, a few words from one of my favorite Cecilias.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

First Snowfall Serenade

Thanks to Terry Teachout for this one.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Last Chance

Today is the last day of fall. I repeat, the last day. As of tomorrow morning winter moves in in all its wet and freezing foulness.

Please remove all lawn ornaments, garden hoses and anything that could suggest you might still be happy to be outdoors from your property immediately.

Thank you. And sorry about this.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Season of Giving

It's that time of year when we start dropping off cans of food at various spots, to help stock the various local food banks. At our church we do this throughout the year, But yesterday my favorite pizza place announced if you dropped off a non-perishable food item they'd give you a few dollars off your favorite pizza.

Well, you don't have to twist my arm to get me to my favorite pizza place anyway. But offer me a deal like this and I'll stand in line for hours. Even in the cold and wind. Which was the weather last night.

As always when an appeal for canned food and the like goes out I head for my pantry shelves and select a suitable item. This is not as easy as it sounds, as my pantry shelves are stocked with things like maraschino cherries and black olives. (Come on, you never know when you're going to need a maraschino cherry, am I right?)

But I can usually come up with a canned item or two that is rumored to have more nutritional value. That's when I make the mistake of reading the expiration date on the can, and find out the item's shelf life expired in October or 2010.

But last night I found two cans of cannellini beans that just expired two weeks ago. Well, I said to myself. How bad can they be? I mean, come on, two weeks. Not exactly a big deal.

My first thought was to cook up a batch of some nice Italian-style soup, preferably involving escarole. But failed to inspire, and refused to recognize the word "cannellini." So I kept digging.

I eventually found a recipe for a soup that involves chicken and cannellini and canned tomatoes. I have decided to chance it.

Unless anyone out there has any serious warnings about expired cannellini.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Top Then Reasons Why Kicking the OWS Crowd Out of Zucotti Park Was A Mistake

10. The guys who were cooking up a batch of bubonic plague down there will never get to see if the stuff worked.

9. Bad as the park smelled, Janitor in a Drum smells worse.

8. Protestors are confused: does this mean they have to get jobs now?

7. And does that make Working for the Man a good thing? Or a bad thing?

6. Ja-Z had just signed on a killer Chinese factory to make his tee shirts.

5. CBS News now may be forced to cover something else.

4. Ditto the New York Times.

3. Santa won't know where to look for half his "Naughty" list.

2. Soup kitchens thought they might catch a break at Thanksgiving this year for a change, but no-ooooo...


1. Bob Dylan will be disappointed and may even feel the need to release another Christmas album.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Desperate Hours

Still trying to catch up on my NaNoWriMo word count. At the moment it's not looking so good.

This is my excuse for not blogging so much lately. Which is better than using "blogging too much" for lagging on the novel's word count.

There are still two weeks left in November, right? So I still have a chance, right?

I should hire some cheerleaders....

Friday, November 11, 2011

And Happy Corduroy Day!

11-11-11. A corduroy lover's dream.

Happy Nigel Tufnel Day

Today everything goes to eleven!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Winter Awareness, Con't.

REMEMBER: Beware the sneak heat wave!

Just In Case You Haven't Checked Your Calendar (Or, Your Tax Dollars At Work)

Or the weather. Or the nearly-bare trees, or those fat furry little caterpillars that keep crawling across the sidewalk.

My fellow Minnesotans. Did you know that-- drum roll please--

Winter is coming?

That's right. Just when you least expect it. Somewhere toward the end of that cute cat calendar you got at Barnes and Noble there's a page marked "December." Even more sinister is the one before that, marked "November." November is the sneaky one. Remember that. Never trust November any further than you can throw it.

How can we know what to expect?

Luckily for you, the State of Minnesota has declared November 7-11 to be Winter Awareness Week. Or more fully, Winter Hazard Awareness Week. WHAW.

No kidding, there's an official website. From the opening paragraph:

"The cold and snowy season is almost here and the question is – are you ready for it? To make sure everyone is, HSEM--" [that's Homeland Security, folks-- everyone knows the dastardly plans terrorists have for winter weather]"-- is again sponsoring Winter Hazard Awareness Week.ˆ"

Isn't that decent of them? They're making sure everyone knows what time of the year it is! Because if the State of Minnesota didn't tell you, how would you know? What, you're gonna rely on that old "see how furry the wooly caterpillars are" trick? Everyone knows you can't trust a wooly caterpillar!

But I feel safer now. More aware. Less completely clueless about the seasons.

"The week is a dedicated information campaign designed to educate and remind people of the most common hazards associated with winter and practical tips on how to avoid them."

The most practical tip, of course, would be "Move. Somewhere south." Followed closely by "We're really, really sorry we thought this would be a good place to set up a state."

"At some point every winter, temperatures in Minnesota drop below zero." No kidding. I like that "at some point" part. I guess it's more tactful than "about a dozen times, sometimes for days at a time. You're gonna love it."

"Naturally, the best way to avoid any danger is to stay indoors in a well heated environment." Well. I'll only believe that if a real live climate scientist wrote it. Did a scientist write that? Credentials, please?

"But if you do feel the need to venture outdoors, make sure you take proper precautions and know how to spot the signs of frostbite and hypothermia." Also "death." They left out "death." It helps entertain the kiddies if you can also properly identify the following: snowmen, skating rinks, and anyone without snow tires. But you want to keep your distance from that last group. Stupid is catching.

And to make it all more fun, they are sponsoring a Photo Contest. They're calling it "What's Your Winter?"

"The public is invited to show us how they enjoy their safe winter by sharing their best digital photos throughout the season."

The winner of last year's contest- youth division- can be viewed on the website.

It is a picture of some snow.

Now say it with me, everyone: We love living in Minnesota. We really, really do!

Monday, November 07, 2011

TopTop Ten Reasons Why "Occupy Wall Street" Is A Good Thing

10. Living in tents reminds us why mankind developed better shelters.

9. The "Save the Sexually Transmitted Diseases" movement gets a real shot in the arm. (ba-dum-bum.)

8. Proof that if you wait long enough someone will show up with a steam table and a chafing dish.

7. Six weeks of OWS drumming has done more to revitalize music education programs than years of begging and whining. (Why didn't the teachers' unions think of this?)

6. Compared to OWS'ers, Conan O'Brien's beard doesn't look so seedy after all.

5. L.L. Bean now looks positively classy.

4. Lack of a catchy theme song offers job opportunities for aspiring songwriters everywhere. Create jobs!

3. Debbie Wasserman Schulz has clearly had a chance to share her hairstylist. More job opportunities.

2. Anyone who misses Times Square in the seventies can take a walk down memory lane, a


1. At last this guy's musical genius is known to the world:

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

All Souls' Day

So what do you do for the souls in Purgatory?

When as I was little grade school kid, one of our teachers told us that when you pray for the souls in Purgatory, they are so grateful that when they get to Heaven they will happily pray for you.

As my life progressed and it became clearer and clearer that I was going to need all the heavenly help I could get, I made it a point to offer little sacrifices for the Holy Souls.

But I kept losing track of things. So finally, one day about 25 years ago, I came up with a plan: henceforth I would have three standing sacrifices that i would offer for the Holy Souls. Two things I have to do on a regular basis- so there's volume right there- and that I really don't like to do (the sacrifice part). And the third thing I only do once a year but I really hate it.

Since today is All Souls', I thought I would share my master plan for releasing all the poor guys in Purgatory.

The two things: a) pump gas into my car, a tedious exercise at best but in the winter it really sucks, and b) blow dry my hair.

Anyone out there love to blow dry their hair?

I didn't think so.

The third thing I usually do at the beginning of Lent, thereby making it a twofer on the sacrifice front: get a dental checkup. Being the generous sort I am I also throw in any subsequent dental work. One year I had some godawful root canals that I am sure had Purgatory temporarily empty.

So I offer these ideas to you, my fellow Catholics who are hoping one day someone will pray you out of Purgatory, too.

Which I am pretty sure includes most of us.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The First of November

A better Catholic blogger than myself would take this opportunity to blog about the saints.

November first, after all, is All Saints' Day. A day that, for many of us, signals the beginning of the holiday season. A day that sees many more of us frantically scanning our parish websites, trying to find out if All Saints' is a holy day of obligation in our particular diocese or not. This is assuming we can remember what diocese we live in, after the sugar shock hangover of Halloween.

And in fact the better sort of Catholic bloggers are all writing about the saints today. Check out The Anchoress, or Happy Catholic, or Julie over at Conversion Diary. Those dames know how to do it.

As for me, November First is a day of reckoning. The day when I examine my life and conclude, Sooner or later, Desperate, you're gonna have to quit watching the funny dog videos on YouTube and sign up for NaNoWriMo.

Which, and I am trembling as I write this, I just did.

Yes, it's National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo, and that's the last time I capitalize those initials. Nanowrimo, the challenge to writers al over he world to produce a complete novel by the end of the month.

Some writers plan ahead. They have a plot outlined and everything, and they just blast through with their first draft. This, to my mind, is cheating. I think all Nanowrimo-ers should be like me, clueless and optimistic, with just a dash of panic thrown in. Fairly sure this effort will not do a damn thing for our careers. Well, okay, there's the wild hope, but it's a wild one.

But what the heck, right? A novel in a month. Why not? Hiroshima was destroyed in like an hour, right? Give me a month and I promise to do the same for the English language and all its rich literary tradition.

Wish me luck, reader.