Monthly Archives: March 2007

Arguments You Can’t Win

Jean and I never really argue, nor do we fight, but we both let the other know how we feel about what is or isn’t going on. Yesterday Jean said, for at least the hundredth time (and I’m not exaggerating), “We ought to get the screens on the windows and the slider doors. It’s so nice out and we need to warm up that basement”.

As you know by my rantings and ravings, Jean is very visual. She can’t picture things in her mind so if you’re trying to describe something to her it’s like talking Spanish to an Eskimo. When she looks outside and sees the sun shining she says things like “It really looks warm out there”.

Knowing this, and knowing I had no chance of winning any argument, I went by paragraph 81 on page 63 of the husband’s playbook, and argued anyway. I told her that it was 53 degrees outside and 63 degrees inside. I know the sun was shining, and if you stepped out on the deck it was warm, but if you open windows, 53 degree air is going to go into a 63 degree house and there was no chance it would warm it up.

So when she said “But it’s warmer on the deck than it is in the house”, I tried to explain that the deck was on the side of the house that was sheltered from the wind and tried to explain the science of radiant heat off the vinyl siding. Once I said radiant heat I could see her mind shut down. To her it sounded like a Mr. Wizard show from the fifties and she would rather watch The Adventures of Spin and Marty on the Mickey Mouse Club.

Immediately she threw in the “fresh air” card. I explained that fresh air is nice, but if it’s 5 degrees outside, fresh air is too fresh. That didn’t work either. I know she really believes that 53 degree fresh air is better than 63 degree stale air. Luckily Judy walked in and the conversation ended.

The runners came this morning and ran from our condo. There was enough food to feed fifty people. Now we have to figure out how to hide the leftovers from me so I don’t stuff myself all week. I made beer soup, a recipe I got out of a brewing book. There are three bottles of Irish Red #5 in it, but the alcohol all evaporates out of it. It does have a base beer flavor, and I’m not sure whether it’s the malt, hops or yeast, but it is quite good. I’ll make it again and tweak the recipe a little until I’m satisfied that it’s the best I can make (at least to me).

This last week was the Tour de Pennock. It’s five days of riding a spinning bike (or in my case, my Trek on a fluid trainer) two hours each day while watching parts of the Tour de France. My rear end got a little sore by Wednesday, but things got better Thursday and Friday. After we finished Friday evening there was a pot luck. Again, there was enough food to feed any army. There’s always lots of pasta and other carbs to replace the ones you’ve burned up. My problem is that I don’t stop there and I pick at the leftovers for days.

I vow each week to restrict my caloric intake and lose a few pounds by triathlon season. As with all diets, my vow lasts about a day and I’m back in the same old rut. With no will power and genetics against me, I’m fighting a losing battle.

Just (Slap Me If I’m Eating A Cookie) Jack

b/t/w If you drive by the condo you’ll notice that the screens are on all the windows and the slider doors.

Apparent Marital Faux Pas

I’m 60, as you all well know since I whine about my age often, and I’ve been married 37 plus years, although not to the same person. So you would think that I’d see it coming, but, I got “schooled” again by one of the best.

The weather is chilly, but sunny, so it looks nicer than it is. I hope I’m not betraying my “man-brothers” when I say that I’m almost basket-balled out. So yesterday afternoon I was antsy for something to do. I thought about putting on the screens, but the wind made it too chilly to stand out there and do that when I know the weather will get warmer, and we won’t have the windows open much until then anyway.

We have a spot down in the basement that would work nicely for a bar area. I know, we’re past the party stage of life, but being close to the country club now, we may have to rev up the old Margarita machine and cap off an evening of golf now and again. And if we don’t use the bar, it still will make that area functional rather than empty. I said something about wanting to go to Watson’s on 29th Street to look at their bars and stop by Best Buy to pick up an Ethernet card and a network cable for Jean’s computer for Tuesday when they hook up our phone and DSL. Jean made an offhanded comment about riding along with me, like she wasn’t really interested but she didn’t have anything better to do.

Before I knew it we were in World Market looking at dishes, bowls, decorating ideas, and other girl stuff. After what seemed like a couple of hours there, I found myself transported to Pier One Imports where we spent another lifetime looking at the same stuff. I looked around and we were surrounded by people who appeared to be newlyweds so the guys didn’t know any better, and the occasional guy like me who must have been paying for a recent sin. Once we got in those stores I had a hard time finding Jean. I think she was hiding out so I wouldn’t come up with the “let’s go” line every two minutes.

I was joking about most of what I said last week about the silverware, the cupcakes, and the pantry. But the pantry shelves have been straightened out, Jean hid the cupcakes, although I did eat the rest of the can of frosting, and all of the silverware from Green Street is now intermingled with the “girly” silverware. Not only are the regular forks and salad forks mixed together, but each fork space contains a couple more forks from each of four different patterns including some three tined forks which I hoped I had seen the last of.

So I must have touched a nerve and yesterday, although she didn’t say it, Jean was probably thinking “Criticize my homemaking skills again in front of my friends and next time you’ll wish we were only going to two stores”. I’m not out of the “husband of the year” running yet, but I’ll have to watch what I say from now on. On the bright side, it makes all you other guys look good. Sometimes someone has to “take one for the team”.

Just (Overwhelmed By Scented Candles And Decorative Plates) Jack

Retraining Again

It wasn’t all that long ago I wrote about having to train Jean with a list of “mobe rules”, something that allows two people to live in confined quarters without shooting each other. She struggled just a bit with them but finally was catching on. She didn’t spend much time at the mobe this year and, now that brother Bob owns it, neither will I.

I thought that the mobe rules would spill over into the new condo, but I was mistaken. At the condo Jean put all new silverware in the silverware drawer in one of those plastic things that keeps the forks separated from the spoons, etc. I’m not thrilled with the silverware pattern, but I won’t complain even if it is a little “girly”. There are two sets of forks; the regular forks and the salad forks. They look identical except that one is about an inch shorter than the other. So when Jean empties the dishwasher, they are mixed up. Some of the salad forks are in with the regular forks and vice versa. That’s just not right. But it does give me something to do putting them back where they belong.

The food pantry is a total disaster. First of all, the top and bottom shelves both contain something other than food. If it’s a food pantry, everything should be what? You guessed it…FOOD!!! The first time I looked in there, there was salad oil on one shelf, olive oil on the next shelf, and the flavored oils and spray Pam on still another. Chaos, chaos, chaos!!! Training will start tomorrow at 0700 with a surprise inspection and some food placement drills. We’ll see how much more help she needs before basic training is over. I think my chances of making a soldier out of her are in the single digit percentages.

And another thing, again something I’ve mentioned before. My name is Jack and I’m a food-a holic. So today Jean baked cupcakes for her “birthday group” and left four of them on a plate at home in plain sight. She might just as well have left four shots of whiskey for an alcoholic or a baggie of crack for a drug addict. She’s an enabler and there ought to be a law against it. I haven’t touched them yet, but they’ve only been there 8 hours. We’ll see how long they last.

This week’s message is a couple of days later than usual. For one thing, we have no phone at the condo and the Green Street house is at 50 degrees, so it isn’t that pleasant to sit at the computer and write for any length of time. Your fingers get so numb you hit two or three keys at once. Today was warm so I’m taking advantage.

As to the question from a couple of weeks ago about Becky’s mishap with the saw horses, I guess I had the details all screwed up and Becky corrected me. It was her father who made the saw horses, not her father in law. I didn’t get any response when I asked for anyone who had heard of that happening to them or someone they know. One writer, and I won’t mention any names but her initials are Lynette Doele, said that it hadn’t happened to her but a mammogram isn’t much fun either. I suggested she pinch herself between a couple of two by fours in that same place at let me know which was worse. I haven’t gotten a report yet but I’m guessing I would have heard the screams even from Gun Lake.

I saw a robin today, but I’ve seen them all winter so it doesn’t seem that big of a deal. Spring is just around the corner???

Just (Sick Of The Winter Weather) Jack


Many of you know I’m a little hard of hearing. Not unusual for elderly gentlemen, but I’ve been that way for quite a while. My doctor told me to check into a hearing aid when I got to the point where it was causing a problem, but then I’d be able to hear everything Jean said and my built in excuse would be gone, so I haven’t done a thing about it.

I guess my hearing isn’t quite as bad as I’d like it to be. My flight for Florida by way of Detroit left Tuesday at around 5 PM. We were held on the ground in Grand Rapids for about 15 minutes before we got clearance to take off. During the flight we circled the Detroit airport about 15 minutes before we could land. From the time the plane door closed until it opened in Detroit, a young child directly behind me screamed non-stop and I heard every bit of it. I also heard, much to my dismay, his mother say at least two hundred times “Let’s go. We’re going to go now.” If it was an attempt to get the kid to stop crying she should think up something new ‘cuz it didn’t work.

If that wasn’t enough, I stayed in a motel about 35 miles South of Nashville (Tennessee, not MIchigan) on the way back. The exit I stopped at had four hotels. One was a Sleep Cheap motel attached to a truck stop and it looked like it rented rooms by the hour, so I passed on that one. The other three were across the street. On one side was a Holiday Inn Express and on the other side was a Clarion with an indoor pool and jacuzzi. In between was an “America’s Best”. I can’t stand to spend $100 a night just to sleep, get up at 5 AM and take off, so I chose the America’s Best for $57.

I should have known that if you call it “Best” it probably isn’t and I was right. There was no clock, the TV was the smallest one you can get and the remote had no numbers on it, so if you wanted to go from channel 3 to channel 50, it took 47 clicks on the plus button. The furniture was cheap, there was no shampoo, and when I showered and dried off, the towel felt like a burlap bag. The heater made a really loud noise when it came on so I turned the heat off. But it was clean and adequate until 3 AM Central Time, 4 AM Eastern. I woke up feeling the call to nature. When I got back in bed I could hear the people in the rooms on both sides of me snoring…loud…in unison.

Yesterday afternoon, somehwere in Indiana, I stopped at a McDonalds for another home cooked meal, my last one on the road. It got really busy so they started cooking several batches of fries. When they dropped them into the grease a beeper started and didn’t stop until they took the basket out. It must be a safety thing. Since they made one batch right after another the beeping continued from the minute I walked in ’til the minute I walked out twenty minutes later.


I drove a rental truck full of furniture back to move into the condo. I haven’t driven a truck like that in several years and it takes a little getting used to. Being the accounting geek that I am, I can usually figure out where on the trip I’ll be and when within 30 minutes, give or take. Not so this time. Driving a truck is different than a car. I’d stay in the right hand lane a lot since I was going 5 m.p.h slower than most cars. When I got behind a really slow one, I realized you don’t just “dart” out and make a quick pass. So there I’d be as a parade of cars from behind passed us both.

The Florida trip usually takes between 19 and 20 hours depending on traffic, weather and which route I take. That’s start to finish time and includes gas, meal and bathroom stops. This time it took me 25 hours and I felt every mile of it. My rear end feels likes it’s flattened to twice its normal size, which is big enough as it is. It’s boring riding alone so I’ll do anything for entertainment. Since you have a bird’s eye view, you can see what’s going on in cars when people pass you.

Yesterday I was going through snow…not exactly a white-out, but snowing quite hard and the wind was blowing about 25 m.p.h. at least. I had to fight to hold the truck on the road. I saw a guy passing me with his car packed to the roof with clothes and other junk and he was reading a map. Apparently it’s easier to drive a car in a blizzard than a truck. Now I know why I went to college to study accounting. The idyllic thought of truckers leading an exciting life immortalized in “trucker songs” is blown way out of proportion. It’s hard, it’s monotonous, and it’s dangerous with all the crappy drivers out there.

Just (Roll On Eighteen Wheeler, Roll On) Jack