Monday, April 30, 2007

Miguel Speaks No English: Part 609

Scene - I'm in the kitchen, doing dishes. Miguel comes over and lurks for a few moments. He's oddly fascinated by my household chores.
Miguel: I need to borrow something. Is small, everyone has in the pocket. For working. (Motions to his pocket, and makes a carving type motion with his hands.)
Me: Umm, my pocket knife?
Miguel: No. Is in your bag. Is small and red. Everyone has. For the working.
Me: (Trying to think of anything small and red in my bag) Uhhh, my iPod? You want to borrow my iPod? I can't think of anything else I carry in my bag that is small and red.
Miguel: (With a WTF? look on his face.) No! Is for the working. (Goes to the front closet and looks in the tool bag.)
Me: Ohhh! The tool bag. I thought you meant *my* bag, like my purse.
Miguel: No, I no say your purse. I say bag. (Holds up a pair of pliers with red handles.) This is what I need.
Me: Those are called pliers.
Miguel: OK, pliers. Thank you.
Me, a few minutes later: (Yelling to him in his room, laughing.) Just so you know, not everyone has a pair of pliers in their pocket!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Me and John Deere

As you might guess, saying the name John Deere gets everyone's ears perking up around here. Or at least the guys, anyway. I spent my Saturday morning at the local dealership, and you'll be glad to know that I came away from that experience with my very own John Deere. Granted, it's a lot smaller than the ones my husband and father-in-law usually drool over, but it will keep my lawn gnawed down to the appropriate height, so we're all happy. Prior to Saturday, we either (a) didn't need to mow because our yard featured only mud thanks to construction and rain, (b) had only the smallest smattering of grass that didn't require mowing because it was too freaking hot for grass to grow, (c) finally had a lawn that was content to be mowed by an old beater mower, or (d) a lawn that was completely out of control because my husband sold the old mower and then we got our tax bill and suddenly freaked out about spending any money therefore rendering our mower shopping over until we could write a check without weeping and leading to a sad incident in which my 5-year-old was convinced that she could control the jungle that was our yard with a small pair of garden clippers.

All of that is in the past, though, thanks to my shiny new yard steed. Considering that our lawn was reaching a state of desperation, and might soon be beyond the help of any mortal mower, I wanted to hop on immediately and get to mowing. But first, I had to learn to use the mower. Remember, I'm a city kid. The lawns I grew up with were much smaller, and frankly, the neighbors would have laughed if you zoomed around your postage stamp twice with a riding mower. Plus, when there was mowing to be done, it was either my garden-obsessed father or industrious mow-for-$10 sister that took care of the business while I lounged poolside working on my tan or cruised the mall looking for a new Hypercolor shirt and pink jelly shoes.

My husband's lesson on the mower began something like this: blah blah hydrostat blah electric choke blah blah blah liquid cooled blah blah. I looked at him blankly for a while, and then said, "uhhh, sweetie? I think this mower might be a little complicated for me if I need to know the inner workings of the engine in order to cut grass." The look on his face was a cross between disbelief and utter pity. He explained again, using smaller, non-mechanical words, and all became clear. Thank heaven, because the daylight, it was waning.

So I mowed. I mowed fast, and mowed slow. I mowed really, really fast just to see what would happen. I nearly overturned the mower trying to figure out how to mow the lagoon dam. I did donuts in the back 40 and laughed kind of a lot. I even had my own little obstacle course going between the apple trees and the creek. After an hour or so on the mower, I got tired of bouncing around over terraces and going around the swingset 40 times and doing a Miss America wave when I passed the front of the house, so I quit. But I felt sort of impressed with myself as I deftly maneuvered the mower into its parking spot after conquering a few acres of unruly fescue. Only later did I learn that my wild mowing had actually managed to puncture one of the tires. Guess I won't be finishing the lawn tomorrow. My husband is being oddly protective of the mower now. See, he used to work at a John Deere dealership, and he serviced lots of new mowers. He's never known anyone before who managed to pop a tire on the very first day.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Splenda and Nutrasweet and Death! Oh my!

Someone on a message board where I'm a member recently posted "warning" other members about the dangers of artificial sweeteners. Frankly, this was enough to brighten up my day a whole bunch. Why? Because people who are convinced that these sweeteners are death machines usually rely on one or more of the many doomsday-predicting websites that have popped up all over the internet in recent years. And those website are funny!

Some of these websites have faux doctors preaching that artificial sweeteners will cause you to develop leprosy, typhoid fever, Ebola virus, fungus on your toenails, peeling lips, ringing in the ears, hair loss in good places, hair growth on inappropriate places, thirst, hunger, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, fatigue, the bird flu, weight loss, weight gain, instant death, to many bowel issues, not enough bowel issues, social awkwardness and foot in mouth syndrome, all at the same time. The good news is that if you buy the faux doctor's book on the evils of artificial sweeteners, you will learn that you can be instantly cured from all of the above ailments simply by not drinking any diet soda or chewing sugar-free gum. $24.95 plus shipping and the rights to your tell-all testimonial about how quitting Splenda saved your life! No medical evidence of such is necessary, naturally.

Other websites add to the hysteria by decorating their manifestos with spinning, flashing skulls and other graphics that convey the appropriate level of fear I should feel when confronted with 12 ounces of death in a Diet Pepsi costume. Because spinning, flashing skulls trump peer-reviewed medical studies every time!

No matter who is running the website, there are always testimonials. Lots of testimonials from people who apparently lack the insight to realize that just because they ate a tub of sugar-free yogurt and later developed the flu-like symptoms, it may not be the yogurt's fault. Sometimes flu-like symptoms mean, you know, the flu. Or that because they chewed 14 sticks of sugar-free gum and got hives, that maybe they're allergic to an ingredient (maybe even the sweetener! gasp!) and just should avoid that product, or at the very least not chew 14 sticks of gum in one day, for pete's sake. But no, hives mean that the product is evil and should be banned from human consumption, just like peanuts and shellfish.

Most of all, reading some of those websites reminds me of when I was pregnant with my daughter and was a member of some pregnancy boards where "is it OK to drink diet soda?" was a daily question from a newly pregnant mom. Some of the gals I met on those boards are still my friends to this day, more than 6 years later. I still giggle when I see mention of aspartame being evil, remembering the speculation over whether my poor, Diet Pepsi-influenced child would be born with five heads or six. As it turns out, she just has the one head, and it's functioning quite well, tyvm.

And as for me, I had thyroid disease before I started drinking artificially sweetened stuff. Recently, when I tried to cut back on sodas, my thyroid disease got worse. Could it be possible that, instead of being a death machine, that Diet Pepsi is actually trying to cure what ails me? I like to think so.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Notes from my Daughter

Yesterday, I was listening to music on my laptop, and apparently M was listening along with me. After "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol played, M said, "Mom, can you put that sad music on again?" After a few seconds, she said, "I really like that sad, sad love music."

Last week, in the truck:
M - Mom, I'm going to find a baby bird in the yard and keep it as a pet.
Me - That sounds like a fun idea. Good luck!
M - I'm going to keep it in the house, so maybe we would need to put Danny Phantom (the cat) in a cage.
Me - Well, normally, if you're going to have a bird and a cat in a house, you put the bird in a cage, not the cat.
M - Hmmm. That's interesting. I think I'd like to name the bird Chirp. Is that a good name?
Me - Yeah! I think Chirp is a cute name for a bird.
M - Oh good. Well, maybe I would like to name it Pecker.
Me - (stifling laughter) Umm, I really think I like the name Chirp better.