Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The MIL & The Tortoise

Well, the breakdown of machinery continues around the big house. Oh, it’s loads of fun having one thing repaired only to have something else go “kaput”. It’s as thrilling as a red ant enema.

My truck Roxy was in the shop when I had to pick up some prescriptions and groceries. So, I took the Taurus that the MIL has been driving. It’s pretty much her car, but since she rarely leaves the house it’s up for grabs for anyone that needs a vehicle to drive.

For me, it’s not that fun to get in and out of. For a man of my girth, it’s like crawling in and out of a fox’s den. It drives good, but the windows can’t be used right now. Why?

Because we didn’t have the good sense to tell the MIL about the switch that keeps windows locked. The switch is just past where the elbow naturally rests on the armrest. So, when she was out and about picking up prescriptions, electronic smoking devices, “Linda-Ritas”, and cheap little bottles of Sutter Home wine she rolled her window down and apparently triggered the window lock switch with her elbow. So, when the “up” button didn’t work, what did she do?

She did what any old lady with a lack of working knowledge of what her vehicle does… She wrestled it like that bear and Leonardo DiCaprio in the film ‘The Revenant’. My wife and I got a kick out of thinking about the MIL getting out of the car and wrestling that window with nothing to show except for a window pulled out of its track and sweaty clothing.


I pulled off all the interior to see if I could get it back on track myself, but there were some cross panels that hindered my progress. Instead of messing something up that I don’t completely understand, I gave up. I had the window in a fixed position and decided to unplug the electronics to keep her from doing it again. So, she can’t go in drive-thrus.

But last week when I was out fetching my prescriptions, I noticed an issue when I got to one of my two destinations. Steam was rising from the passenger side of the hood. If NASCAR has taught me anything, rising steam from an engine is not a good thing. I checked under the hood only to find out that figuring it out on my own wasn’t going to happen. I called Bait for a hand and he came running with some water. We got it back home and from the smells, he pinpointed the problem as a busted water pump. So yeah, just another piece of machinery that has decided to cause us problems all at once.

But there was some good news… My truck Roxy was ready to be picked up!

I took the “Tortoise” to our mechanic yesterday with the MIL giving me a hand. She FLAT OUT refused to drive my wife’s Honda CR-V. She didn’t want the responsibility of driving the newest car in our stable. I didn’t want her driving the “Tortoise” because if it were to have problems in transport, I thought she’d go off the rails into a panic. After all, this is a woman that panicked after bumping into a car in a CVS parking lot.

Yep, she hit a parked car with someone in it. She backed up and, in a panic, got out of the car before putting it into park. The “Tortoise” backed right into a truck as she’s desperately trying to get back in to stop it. Thankfully, the “Tortoise” only hit the trailer hitch and there was no damage. And when I arrived on the scene from 4 blocks down the road, she was visibly in a panic.

The incident is referred to as the CVS Demolition Derby here around the ‘hood.

But she managed to get it to the mechanics shop without any issues that would cause panic to overtake her.

I finally got a glimpse of her driving, and it wasn’t great. My stepsons have told me a few things and I thought they were exaggerating. Well… They weren’t exaggerating. The MIL loves to hug that yellow line and spent about 30% of the drive on or over it on the way to Hire’s Automotive about 5 miles away. Her speed was erratic as well. It kept varying between 5 MPH to 15 MPH under the posted speed limit. She never got anywhere close to the posted speed limit.

When we got into the entrance she just stopped. I had to pull the CR-V in sideways behind her to get out of everyone’s way on Highway 150. I’m in the car shouting, “What are you doing?! Why aren’t you driving in?!”

She was making hand gestures as I’m hitting the horn in order to prod her into moving forward. Then she appeared to be getting out of the “Tortoise” so I hit the horn again. That worked! She moved forward, got into the lot, and parked the car.

For some reason, the pallet factory right next door was confusing her. She thought we were pulling into their lot. So yeah, I lost a small clump of hair dealing with that.

If I ever have to ride with her, I’m going to be rich! I’ll stick a lump of coal between my butt cheeks and by the time we get to our destination, the pressure from all the clenching will produce a large diamond.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Billy Martin Breakdown

Do you ever have those times where everything breaks down at once?

Well, we’re having a doozy here at The Big House.

I’ve been noticing some issues going on with the outside heat pump unit, but everyone was calming my fears about reverse cooling and phrases like “it’s designed to do that”. But one cool morning while taking the dogs out to sling urine and pinch loaves I noticed that the fan was having some issues. And as it turned out, my fears were there for a real reason. So now we’re just waiting on a service technician to check it out (ironically is now en route as I’m typing this). Sure, the system has some age on her. I suppose that it has been a long time coming. Hopefully, it’ll be a quick fix until we can actually replace the thing once the oldest is out of school.

I did the wrong thing… surprise there, huh?

I didn’t tell my wife about all of my suspicions concerning this situation. And I made the mistake of informing her as I’m about to head off to produce a Carolina Thunderbirds game at WTOB. Nope. It did not sit well with her. She was more upset with me keeping her in the dark than she was with the possibility of the unit crapping the proverbial bed.

And I admit it. I wasn’t protecting her as much as I was protecting myself from a bout of anger about something that we have no control of. You know what I mean?

She’s been under a lot of stress lately with work. She has a cousin that was found unresponsive and sent to the hospital in an ambulance on the evening of the Big Game. Her father had a hip replaced along with the checking in on him. We’ve been dealing with some internal issues that arise from time to time because of someone’s deteriorating mental state. After changing the brake pads on Roxy (my Ford Ranger) with Bait doing most of the work, it has developed a new problem. And it’s the kind of problem that will make your sphincter tighten up and fear for your life. It is now sitting at our mechanic’s shop awaiting assessment and repairs. So yeah, you’d think not only was Mercury in retrograde, but it could’ve been doing cartwheels while appearing to travel backwards. But Mercury doesn’t go into retrograde until March 5th. So, we don’t know what the heck is a going on.

I guess that we’re in the monsoon point of the “when it rains, it pours” adage.

I tend to underestimate my wife and how she’s going to handle things. She didn’t bat an eye about Roxy needing to visit the mechanic. So, my feeble attempt to shield myself from a “Billy Martin Breakdown” concerning the heat pump only got me some grief from my wife that can clearly handle anything.


I’m also hoping that the issue with my truck is a simple, easy fix. My father-in-law with his hip replacement isn’t really a big concern anymore. He’s on the mend. The internal issue will always have to be dealt with. Jamie and I are talking about seeking council in order to deal with those wild swings or irrationality. And the cousin thing doesn’t look like it is going to get all that better either, but we’re still maintaining some optimism.

We're maintaining and crossing our fingers that all will be right in our world very soon again.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Sickness Abounds

Well, it appears that I’m sick again for the second time this fall and winter. And I’m not happy about. But then again, who is? I may get one sickness per year and that’s about it. I’m generally healthy through the fall and winters. But things are different this year.


I’m blaming my part-time gig at WTOB on Trade Street in downtown Winston-Salem. Every time I go in there someone has signs of sickness. Deep sickness. The kinds of sickness that may require a flamethrower in order to cleanse the building of all viruses and bacteria. The place has been the go-to place for sore throats, stuffy heads, nagging coughs, snotty noses, and syphilis.

I’m there on the weekends running the Carolina Thunderbirds hockey game broadcasts. And when I get settled in to my places of activity, I wipe EVERYTHING down to avoid the sickness. But it’s just too powerful. Those guys and girls must bring in Ebola style sicknesses into the building. No matter how much hand-washing I do, I contract something. I wipe down everything that I use. From keyboards to mouses. From the phone to microphones. From microphone cradles to hard surfaces that hands touch. From headphones to stools. From door knobs to light switches. It does not matter. Everyone comes in sick and leaves their super-sickness all over the place. One girl even left her coffee cup from McDonald’s in the broadcast booth. I asked Trev Allen, our intern, if it was his and he told me that it was left by the sicko that posted on social media that she went home immediately for chicken soup and sleep.

Once I gave a disgusted look at the offensive and germ-riddled cup, I immediately disposed of the remaining contents and slathered hand sanitizer all over myself. I even gargled some for good measure. But did it help?

Hell to the no infinity!

I work with some sick individuals, ladies and gentlemen. SICK! I urge you to stay away from the WTOB studios. Unless you’re equipped with a flamethrower, I wouldn’t even go near Trade Street in downtown Winston-Salem. And if you live near in and around downtown, you may want to think about boarding up the outsides of your windows and lining them on inside with plastic sealers. HAZMAT needs to be sent in. Do not make contact or even eye contact with Bob in the P.M., Rick O’Neill, Mark Richards, Candance Ray, or Don Mark. They’re sick! And their sickness spreads. Spreads like a wildfire! Oh sure, they seem friendly enough. But their sickness will take you over no matter how much Vitamin C that you’ve had. Not even hand sanitizers or cleaning wipes can destroy their winter funk.

If their sicknesses all got together to form a monster, it would crush Winston-Salem like Godzilla taking a stroll in Tokyo.

I’ve never worked at a radio station with so much repetitive sickness. And I don’t even make that much money. What I do make goes to fighting the funks that everyone gives me!

Just enjoy the broadcasts from home, work, and in your cars! Don’t go anywhere near the radio station unless you have won a prize that needs to be picked up in a timely fashion. And if you do, you’d better be wearing a HAZMAT suit. Just make that the suit is properly sealed and you have a shower waiting nearby.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Turning Of The IPAge

When Jamie and I first met, I knew that she was a beer drinker. And she drank beer for flavor and not quantity. We would visit “the mothership”, the original Natty Greene’s, in downtown Greensboro before a date. I was just developing a taste for IPAs thanks to Weather Dave Aiken and his guidance wherever he held court. But Jamie just couldn’t handle them. And that was fine with me. IPAs can take some time to win over your taste buds. Since I like to chew up aspirin tablets for the flavor, it didn’t take the bitterness of IPAs long to cross the river to my happy side.

Over the years, we have discovered a few IPAs that Jamie has dug. It has always been a hit or miss proposition. I found that the higher gravity IPAs won her over quickly because the booziness can sometimes drown out the bitterness. But those IPAs under 8% just produced the Mr. Yuk face on Jamie.

And sour beers? I wouldn’t even THINK about having her try one or purchase a four pack.

When we took an anniversary trip to Asheville to immerse ourselves in the beer produced there, I purposely skipped visiting the Wicked Weed Funkatorium. I knew that she would find nothing there enjoyable. So yeah, I took the personal hit because I wanted to try any and all of their sour beers. But the trip was for us and not just me. We walked by it more than a few times on our brewery hops. I told her that she probably wouldn’t find a thing inside the Funkatorium enjoyable. She didn’t fight me. I figured that eventually some of their sours would come my way and they have. I’ve had quite a few of them at the Beer Den at Lowes Foods and at City Beverage.

But a few months ago, something miraculous happened at the Harper’s. She tried an IPA less than 8% and LIKED IT! And here within the last month, she’s wanting to try just about any IPA that she can get her hands on.

I kind of got IPA’ed out during the last few years. I’ve been on a discovery of more browns, stouts, porters, pilsners, and lagers. Oh sure, there would be the occasional IPA at a brewery to try. Or if I hadn’t had a particular offering, I tried it to add one more on the heap so that I can score that elusive 2,500 mark on Untappd for a badge. Yeah, I’m a badge whore. But unlike my Foursquare days, I want to earn the Untappd badges as purely as possible.

I just wouldn’t purchase any of my “tried and true” IPAs unless it was a high gravity brew to share with my wife. We have a rule in our home and I have always lived by it since we started cohabitating years before we got married. And that rule is… “The last beer of it’s kind is reserved for Jamie. It shall not be touched unless she expresses otherwise.”

And the rule is for me, really. Because I will drink the hell out of some beer. Jamie doesn’t want me to drink it all up before she gets a taste. So yeah, it’s a sensible rule.

Now I’m getting growlers of IPAs and revisiting some of my favorites for her to try. She has REALLY taking a liken to every single one of them without the Mr. Yuk face. Right now, we have Sierra Nevada’s Hop Bullet, Victory DirtWolf Imperial, and Terrapin Hopsecutioner in our beer fridge. She has been enjoying all but the Hopsecutioner. She hasn’t tried that joker yet.

She has been warming my dark little heart. And when summer hits, I have a feeling that she’ll be floating around in the pool with various IPAs whenever she gets a chance.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Betting On The MIL

We’ve started betting on the MIL here in the ‘hood. It’s good clean gambling that only involves a quarter. And it makes sport out of her annoying habit of waffling on whether she’s going or not going.

For example… Hours before we’re expected, we must tell the MIL that we’ve been invited over to the Harper’s home. She needs hours because she’s not dressed and has no plans to get dressed all day. When we get an invite she simply cannot show up without a full face of make-up, jewelry, added volume to her hair, or proper attire. So, there’s a bit of waiting involved. You cannot just do things on the fly when she’s involved. And if she doesn’t feel invited, she will act out like an angry toddler. Oh yeah, that’s always fun.

Within the last few months, she has started to waffle on whether she’s going or not. No one cares if she goes or not, but it starts out with ”yeah, I guess I’ll go” or ”I think I’ll just stay home”. I don’t know if it’s part of the toddler act or not, but I get the feeling that she wants us to make a fuss about her indecision. As if she’s expecting something like “Oh please oh please come with us! Our lives just aren’t complete when you’re not with us during our every waking moment! We NEED you to come with us! Things just won’t be the same without you. We’ll be like a rudderless ship! Like a motorcycle without handlebars. You can’t let your absence unleash chaos into our lives.”

Then 20 minutes will go by as we’re all doing different things and she’ll say, “I just don’t think that I’m going.”

Our response is usually just an okay as we continue on with our business. A little bit later she’ll say, “I guess that I’ll go.” As if she’s doing us all a favor. And if she gets into gear, she’s going. If she plops down in her TV spot, she’s not going. We may notice that she’s still in her housecoat as we’re leaving and we’ll just say, “See ya later” and skip our asses right out the door.

And that’s where the betting has come into play. Her waffling can be anyone’s guess. The waffling centers around leaving the confines of our home when she doesn’t have to be anywhere. Visits to the doctor’s office or getting prescriptions are off limits. She will leave the house for those appointments and for her meds. It also serves as her replenishment of Lime-A-Ritas, cheap wine, more e-cigarette juice, and even cheaper coffee.

We have only started voting on the social invites that require her to leave the house. That’s where she waffles like mofo. I send out a text alert to members of the ‘hood. Will she be a go or a no go?

Members of our household may bet, but we don’t attempt to rig the outcome. It’s more sporting to see which way she’s going to go. And why would we rig the system when that activity could bite us in the ass?

If we try to talk her out of it, then she’ll feel offended. If we talk her into it, then she’ll expect it every time. We really want to be indifferent even without the betting. And besides, either way would open a can of worms that no one wants or needs to deal with.

We’ve had two bets since Saturday night. She was a go for both invites. A go to the Harper’s and a go for some shopping yesterday. Jamie is the only one with a winning streak. Betting on her going or not going is like betting on which way a squirrel running back and forth in the road will go as you’re driving. And it helps to keep me from losing my mind over someone’s seemingly constant indecision.